Archie’s life, from the moment he wakes in the morning, revolves around balls. He fixates on them. He has dens in the garden where he lies, staring at them.
From the moment the lady appears in the morning Archie was banging a ball into her legs until she starts to kick it about. She ‘has to’ play ball before anything else. The gentleman refuses to oblige so the whole behaviour centres around the lady. When they have guests, the gentleman talks to them while the lady kicked balls around the garden. She may throw several balls at once. We sat in the garden and I could see at least six.
It may sound ridiculous written down, but this has crept up on her gradually and to her seemed quite sensible. She is doing it out of devotion to her dog, concerned he’s getting enough exercise and stimulation.
We soon saw what happened if she ignored him! He was digging holes in the lawn, running off with bits of wood, digging up and playing with plants – anything in fact that might get attention. And it did!!
I put him on a long line and we worked on calling him away from these things and to us, rewarding him as he came (he had no choice because I drew him gently in each time) and before long he was lying spark out in the sunshine. We discussed harmless and more constructive occupations he could be offered to give him some healthy alternative activity.
To start with the lady was looking very tense. It was her belief that her dog needed constant stimulation and that she was being cruel to ignore him. She was living in constant guilt – even feeling guilty if she leaves him for a couple of hours though they have evidence that he’s perfectly OK. When they are out they have a web cam to watch him.
As she began to see things more from Archie’s point of view the lady visibly began to relax. She was beginning to see that by the constant playing and activity she was simply winding him up. Wherever she was Archie wanted balls, not the lady for herself but as a ball thrower.
On walks he would sometimes become so excited that he would circle and leap and bite at the man. It’s like he was being constantly wound up with a big key and was over-wound. There is a school of thought, encouraged by Cesar Millan (it’s possible in order to make good TV we don’t see a balance), that in order to make a dog good you have to exercise the hell out of it. Whilst I agree there are many dogs who get far too little exercise and stimulation, there are only a few breeds designed for sustained activity.
Anyway, they are going to put Archie out of the way and they are going on a ball hunt to remove all balls! There is going to be no more ball play for quite a while and then it will only be with a ball they produce and that they put away again afterwards. Meanwhile, they will try a frisbee – one Frisbee – or a ring which they won’t leave him with. Then they will look at more constructive and less stimulating pastimes for him – natural things like chewing a bone or even a sand pit for the terrier in him to dig in.
He is a really lovely natured dog, who without this constant stimulation, fuss and worry will grow into a wonderful well-balanced adult dog.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. Please just check the map and contact me.