In both cases he barks Go Away. This is constantly well rehearsed as he lies looking out of the window barking at people and dogs going by.
Milo barks. People and dogs go away.
Some people don’t go away immediately though, mainly those invaders who are carrying things – deliveries and the postman. They come to the door. The door is opened. It takes a lot of ‘Go Away’ barking to get rid of them.
The four-year-old Milo is shut in another room when someone comes to the door. Or he should be. With several people in the house there is always the risk of a mistake and one day recently that mistake happened. One family member opened the door. Another was in the garden with Milo but the kitchen door was opened.
As soon as he heard the knock he was from the garden to the front door in a flash, pushing out and latching onto the man’s leg.
They will be working on making Milo feel better about people coming to the door. Most importantly, on preventing further barking Go Away to passing people and dogs – by no longer allowing him to see out of the front window. The more he does it, the better at it he gets.
They will also get a gate for the passage near the front door. If this is shut before the door is opened it will prevent a further crisis. Belt and braces.
Milo wants nothing to do with other dogs.
His attitude to other dogs is interesting. A lot of my clients would be pleased to achieve a dog who behaves around other dogs like Milo does. He ignores them. He stays near the lady although seldom on lead and wants nothing to do with them.
Unfortunately they don’t always get the message. When they come to close he barks ferociously Go Away, Go Away. He looks and sounds like he will attack them (hard to believe, looking at him). He’s worst with large dogs and one day he might meet his match.
It’s unrealistic to expect him to want to socialise with all, or many, other dogs. A fair eventual goal would be to tolerate them closer to him but there must be an escape procedure before he becomes overwhelmed.
Milo also barks at dogs on TV which actually is an opportunity – an opportunity, in a controlled situation, to help him to feel better about dogs in his proximity (counter-conditioning him).
Two Chocolate Labradors.
The real reason they want him to be better dogs now is to do with two particular dogs. Two Chocolate Labradors. They have a nearby friend with the two dogs who is soon moving to the West Country. They want to be able to go and stay with her, taking Milo.
For a dog that doesn’t like another dog anywhere near to him, it seems a big step to getting him living happily in the same house. To make it harder, there are two dogs.
The three dogs will now, before the lady moves away, be introduced on walks – carefully.
The friend will walk her two energetic Labradors first to get rid of some of their natural exuberance. Then they will all meet up at opposite sides of a field. The Labradors will both be on lead. They will then all walk in parallel – in the same direction. The distance between Milo and the Labs will be close enough for Milo to know that they are there, but far enough for him to be comfortable.
Each time they all get to the edge and turn around, they come a little closer. The lady will watch Milo all the time. She can even feed him chicken while he looks at the other dogs to help associate their presence with good stuff.
At some point Milo will be close enough to show signs of stress. Before he can start barking Go Away, the lady will stop. The two big dogs can go on ahead and Milo and the lady will follow. Following is always easier.
What happens next depends. They can gradually start to catch up a little. I suggest calling it a day while Milo is still happy.
After several goes I would be surprised if Milo, who is always off lead, has not caught up with the Labradors and they can then all walk together.
Going on from here, in time they could walk back home together and enter a garden. Due to Milo’s territorial behaviour, the easygoing Labradors’ garden would be best. They are very friendly dogs – if a bit boisterous. From there they may even get inside the house without problems.
All the time Milo should be given choice. If he’s not ready they will stop. Choice gives him power.
With patient work, perhaps Milo will be sufficiently confident to go on holiday with new Chocolate Labrador friends before the summer is out.