People Walking Away, the Dog Attacks

People walking away from him causes Barney to lose it.

Barney’s lady owner had been so sure that due to his odd behaviour he had something either wrong with his brain or a chemical imbalance in his body, that he has undergone extensive tests including an MRI scan. All is clear.

People walking away from him cause Harvey to attack them

Harvey

His behaviour however is troubling. I suspect this is because he himself is troubled – an upsetting thought for his dedicated lady owner.

Six-year-old Hungarian Vizsla Barney is very well-trained as a gun dog, but training alone doesn’t make a well-adjusted and happy dog. In fact, I have been to dogs where the opposite is the case. Sometimes the owners just try too hard.

The lady is an exceptionally conscientious dog owner and has structured her life around Barney. They have been more or less inseparable for the past four years. He has always been panicked by his people walking away so she has avoided it as much as she can.

People walking away from Barney triggers an attack. One can safely assume this is in an effort to prevent them from leaving.

When they shut the boot of the car and walk away, even if only to go to the driver’s door, Barney goes wild with barking and panic. The whole car rocks.

Recently the lady has gone back to work full time and Barney is getting worse.

He does other odd things. Each evening he will have a lengthy bout of staring and fixating at the garden window, drooling. He will then do the same to his humans. They don’t let him out, they ignore it believing it to be the right thing to do. It’s almost like a contest where he must not win.

If a child were behaving in this troubled fashion, the parents would help him out. If they don’t want the dog to rush out barking at pigeons or trying to kill a hedgehog (he has come back in covered in blood), they can call him away and do something else with him. Currently he’s so fixated he may not even be aware of them calling, but fortunately he’s food driven and we found when I was there that it was easy to get his attention with food.

Having called him away, they can give him something else to do, incompatible with his obsessing. They will cover the lower part of the windows.

The ordeal of going out

At present when they need to go out they have a ritual. Amazingly, having watched the picking up of keys and all the other signals that they are about to go and when the front door is opened, Barney has been successfully taught to go to his bed in the sitting room. They then go back and give him a carrot (the one time when food is used to motivate him) and rush out of the room and out of the front door.

However, if he finishes the carrot before they are out of the door they have to try again.

For now the problem can be temporarily managed by the use of a gate in the sitting room doorway. They can also make the carrot-eating slower by stuffing it into a Kong.

For Barney’s mental health and general stress levels the panic and emotions that drive him to behave like this need to be worked on, slowly and gradually, desensitising and counter-conditioning until he accepts and ultimately even enjoys people walking away.

They believe he is fine once they have gone, but I’m not convinced and have asked them to video the first fifteen minutes or so. A dog walker calls daily and he’s the same with her when she goes.

‘Operation Calm’

Life must be a bit confusing for the highly-strung dog. He is ruled by commands whilst at the same time being worshipped. I would reverse both. I would work on motivating him by using food so he makes more of his own choices with fewer commands, and I would advise worshipping him less!

Humans relax. Stop watching and worrying over him.

He was beside me staring out of the window. He lay down, still staring. Then his head dropped onto his bed. I silently fed him. Each time he relaxed I did this. He now needs positive guidance into how to relax.

I’m sure the very caring lady will herself also feel a big sense of release and relief if she can let go a bit and stop worrying so much. Instead of stressing because Barney is stressing, they can work on Operation Calm, silently feeding when he relaxes and settles. They will give him activities that will help him to calm himself down including chewing and foraging. He has three walks a day – could this actually be too much?

I am sure that if they now use motivation and food and work hard at teaching him that people walking away from him results in him getting something nice – and that they always come back – they won’t need that gate in the doorway for ever. Here is a great little video about motivation.

One strong influence is the lady’s following of breed-specific Facebook groups which has coloured her life with Barney. These groups spread the idea that a Vizsla isn’t the same as other dogs, like it’s a different species. Individuals in these groups can give mis-information and outdated training advice still unfortunately prevalent in the gun dog world.

Primarily Barney is an animal. Secondarily he’s a dog. The fact he’s a Vizsla and a gun dog doesn’t affect the basic principals of behaviour, that positive reinforcement teaches a dog what we want in a way that is most successful both in terms of him understanding what is wanted and in his feeling of fulfillment.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Barney and I’ve not gone into exact precise details for that reason. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly, particularly where aggression issues of any kind are concerned. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)

Giving the Dog Choice

They will be giving Joey more choiceGiving a fearful dog choice

Joey, the four-year-old Collie Labrador mix, came over from Ireland at a year old. Isn’t he gorgeous.

Over the past three years his family has done great things with him. A lot of the general day to day stuff I usually recommend they do already. He is very well trained and regularly goes to agility which he loves.

The one downside to ‘training’ can be that the humans are making the choice for the dog by using a command to guide his actions. It’s not necessarily the answer where fear-based reactions are concerned. A command is no substitute for the dog learning how to make the right choice in response to a situation for himself. A command is unlikely to address what the dog is feeling inside – fear. The dog will only make the right choice if he’s given the ‘tools’.

Joey’s problems are quite clearly all to do with his need to feel safe.

The two times he reacted worst of all were at the vet, trapped in the room, held down by three people while he had his injection and when he was cornered in a small place by a child. In each case he was robbed of all choice. His reasonable warnings and requests had been ignored so, to him, he had no choice but to react ‘aggressively’.

(Where vet procedures are concerned, with techniques worked on over time a dog’s choices can be part of the process. See how Chirag Patel does it using clicker).

Clicker training is ‘choice training’ and is unbeatable where giving an animal freedom of choice is concerned. Joey caught on almost immediately.

 

The walk starts way before leaving the house.

Joey’s fearfulness is causing problems when they go for walks and encounter people, particularly men, and other dogs. He’s also scared of unusual things in different places.

He gets very excited before they start out, jumping about, crying and howling. They try to get him to sit at the door for his lead to go on. What happens back at home is the start of the walk and they are not even out of the door yet. Before anything happens he has a choice. It’s simple. When he’s still and quiet, they can leave. There is no rush – people can wait. Until he is calm and quiet they go nowhere. It’s his choice.

Because of his pulling he wears a head harness. This prevents pulling. He has no choice. With a front-fastening Perfect Fit harness he will soon be walking beside them through choice.

So, Instead of starting his walk in a wild state and in considerable discomfort, feeling restricted, already he should feel more calm and free – in a much better state of mind for encountering people and dogs.

When he spots a dog he should also be given choice. At a distance where he’s happy, they can pair the other dog with something Joey loves. He loves his ball. He can have a choice whether to hold, catch or chase his ball or whether to react to the dog. By keeping sufficient distance we set him up so it’s in effect Hobson’s Choice!

Which brings me to ball-throwing (again!). Constant ball chasing is not necessary when the dog has an hour in the fields to do doggy things. Why fire him up with a ball? They can give the ball much more value by no longer spending most of the walks chucking it to a ball-obsessed dog. By starving Joey of the ball they will have a potent tool for counter-conditioning.

An approaching man may make Joey uneasy. By allowing Joey to choose, they can let him decide how much space he wants to make. One way of doing this is to watch him carefully and reward him for any sign of avoiding trouble by breaking contact – looking away, looking at his human, sniffing, scratching, yawning – and to reward him for making the right choice by increasing the distance from what scares him. Thus choosing avoidance rather than barking gets the prize – more distance and safety, a game of ball perhaps or food.

If Joey knows it’s his choice how near he goes to something or somebody, it’s certain that over time he will choose to go nearer.

I am sure that when Joey knows he has a choice as to how close he goes and with scary things paired with great things – balls and special food – he will gain greatly in confidence.

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Joey. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good, particularly where fear or aggression is concerned, as the case needs to be assessed correctly which it’s hard for someone to do with insufficient experience and living too closely to their own situation. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page)

Allowing the Dog to Work Things Out

Two Labradors lying on sofaWhat a great evening I had with a lovely family and two wonderful Labradors. Black Lab Joey, four years old, is probably one of the calmest and most easy-going Labradors I have met. Golden Milly, also a rescue, is just one year old and a lot more bouncy.

Her lady owner is very committed to Milly’s training, taking her to regular classes with plenty of socialising and doggy daycare. Milly is a very bright and loves learning.

Sometimes there can be a bit of conflict, in my opinion, between what is learnt in formal training classes and the sort of behaviour that is needed for real life. My views may not be popular with everyone.

I myself prefer the dog to be allowed to work things out for herself rather than being given ‘commands’ to get her to do regular daily things. Commands (I prefer ‘requests’ or ‘cues’), have their value in situations where the dog is unable to make the right choice by herself in order to fit in with life alongside us humans.

A dog who is allowed to work things out for herself will become a lot more attentive without repeated commands thrown at her and, importantly, the dog will feel she has choice.

If one were to add up the number of times Milly has been told to sit and wait at the door before stepping out, it must run into hundreds. Does she still need to be told? If sitting at the door is what she wants, the lady simply needs to wait and after all this time Milly will sit eventually I’m sure. She may need to open the door slowly and be prepared to close it again if Milly gets up too soon – but she no longer needs to be told.

It’s the same with the jumping up. Conventional ‘training’ will probably teach the word ‘Off’ or else ask the dog to sit. I wonder how many times Milly has either been told to get down, to sit or been pushed down. Hundreds? Sure, she may get down in the moment but she will still jump up the next time and with the next person. This is causing problems when they have guests and when they meet someone when out. Milly only jumps up because it’s still rewarding to her in some way. If people only making it really rewarding when her feet are on the floor, she will work it out for herself.

The lady wants Milly to sit on a mat beside the stairs instead of jumping up at the stairgate and then onto her when she comes down in the morning.  About five stairs from the bottom she says ‘Mat’. To get her to stay there she has to keep repeating ‘Mat’ until she gets to the bottom.

How many times will she have said ‘Mat’ as she comes down the stairs, I wonder. Hundreds?

I’m sure, if she just waits, Milly will do as she has now been repeatedly taught. The desired behaviour needs reinforcing – the lady can drop food over the rail to Milly as she descends all the time she stays on the mat. If Milly gets up, the lady can step backwards and start again. She need not talk – in fact words will probably distract Milly.

Without my help the lady is already doing brilliantly with Milly. She’s a dog to be proud of.  I hope, however, that changing the emphasis to from obeying commands to encouraging the dog to learn some self-control and allowing her to work things out for herself will contribute that bit extra richness to their relationship.

Imagine how annoying it would be for you if every time you walk out of the room the same person says ‘Shut the door!’. You’ve got it!  You are going to shut that door! If you keep being nagged maybe you will rebel and stop shutting it!

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Milly. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Terrified Outside Their Home

Two cavalier king charles spaniels

Ben and Evan

The two five-year-old Cavs had been left in a garden in London and not taken outside for a long time, if at all. They were picked up in an unkempt condition and with very long nails.

Amazingly, they are very friendly with all people and dogs so long as it’s in their own home and garden where they feel safe, but once a lead goes on them and they know they are going out of the gate, they become different dogs. Excitement doesn’t necessarily mean happiness, which is something dog owners don’t always realise. The two are walked down the road together, squealing and yapping, and to quote the lady, all hell breaks loose if they see another dog.

Their new humans, wanting to do all they can for the little dogs, have cast about to find ways to solve the problem. The first thing people often try is dog training and they have been going to classes but find that ‘training’ doesn’t help at all. At their wits’ end, they have tried anti-bark collars to make them quiet. Nothing works.

Nothing is working because they have not been addressing the cause, the root, of the problem. Terror. They are just trying to eradicate the symptom – the noise. Like many people, they simply hadn’t correctly interpreted from the dogs’ body language and stress signals just how scared they were feeling.

Although happy little dogs in the house, because they are so terrified outside the daily build-up of stress generated by walks is spilling over into other habits, things they do in order to relieve their stress such as licking and sucking themselves until they are raw.

One at a time we put a comfortable harness on each little dog (with the short leads on thin collars, when they do lunge at anything that scares them it will be hurting their little necks). We first took Lenny outside into the garden so I could show the lady how to walk him on a loose, longer lead giving him the feeling of more freedom. Being less ‘trapped’ should eventually allow him to feel less unsafe..

Before even leaving the garden Lenny was panting and agitated, frequently shaking himself and scratching as a displacement activity to help himself cope. He did calm down sufficiently to follow the lady around on the loose lead and for us to open the gate and walk him out into the garage area.

We got to the opening and then he saw a cat. He exploded. It sounded like he was being murdered. It was perfectly clear to me that even just past the garage we had pushed too far too fast, but now I had seen and heard for myself just what happened and we had established the ‘threshold’ at which we should have stopped – the area behind which the real work would now need to start.

Little Evan was even worse. As soon as the lead went on in the garden he was nervous wreck. He screamed. He bit at the lead. To try to stop these things they tug back at the lead and scold him but he’s so agitated he really can’t help himself. I showed them how to stand still and calm and to reinforce not screaming and not biting the lead. He quietened down a bit and walked around the garden a few times, but we never even got out of the gate.

Evan ended up by sitting down, refusing to move and shaking, so we took the lead off and went in.

The poor little dog is in this state before a walk even starts, so no wonder he is hyper-vigilant and reactive once out. A dog with this level of stress is incapable of learning anything – it does things to the brain. See this.

The cornerstone to their success will be to give their little dogs choice and a way out – an escape. If the dog doesn’t want to move, then the walk should be abandoned.

The lady’s day starts with about half an hour of mayhem as she walks the dogs together before going to work. It’s a nightmare for her too, but she does it as a caring dog owner believing that she’s doing her best for them. She hadn’t seen that where they are concerned this sort of walk is doing more harm than good. A walk should leave a dog happy, relaxed and satisfied, not a nervous wreck needing frantic activity afterwards in order to unwind.

Plenty of happy, short five-minutes sessions is what these little dogs need for now. With lots of repetition and keeping well within the threshold where they feel safe, they can slowly  become acclimatised to the outside world at their own pace. It will be great when they at last feel sufficiently safe to start sniffing as dogs should do. They should always feel they have an escape route. So far they have in effect been ‘flooded’ – with the best of intentions forced into a situation they can’t cope with.

We can’t undo five years in five weeks or probably even five months. It will take time.

Our little experiment with each dog showed the people just how slowly they will have to take things and in what tiny increments, but it’s encouraging, too, because at last they have a plan to work on that makes sense and is kind.

It will all now need some really careful planning. They will have a routine for getting the dogs out one at a time with as little stress as possible. Although walks are an ordeal, neither dog wants to be left behind. I feel they should always go out in the same order so they learn just what to expect and the second one out always knows his turn will come.

There is one big positive. This is that they Lenny and Evan are fine when other dogs have come to their house, proving they are not scared of dogs per se but only when they are feeling unsafe in the scary outside world and trapped on the end of a lead.

Feedback nearly three weeks later: I feel that the boys have made sooooo much progress already, I know its a slow progress and I have all the patience in the world….but to date, I am very happy. We have been able to move to full round the block walks with both of them quiet and they are indications that they are enjoying it too. They are starting to sniff a lot. Alfie sniffs more than bert, bert is watches me.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for these two. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good particularly in cases involving potential aggression. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Reactive on lead to other dogs

German Shepherd with Pointer mixYesterday I went to another German Shepherd who greeted me like a long-lost friend – the lively twenty-two month-old Gordon. Such a change from the many fearful Shepherds I so often meet. Gordon lives with Lulu, a very attractive older Pointer mix.

The problem is that Gordon is reactive on lead to other dogs. He is absolutely fine with dogs when he’s off lead, if perhaps a little excitable, but becomes very stressed the nearer they get to other dogs when he’s restrained.

The couple have worked hard on training their dogs. In the training environment Gordon’s reactivity to dogs can be controlled. These solutions, however, are hard to translate into the real world when out on walks and where dogs may appear unpredictably or the environment doesn’t give them the flexibility. So, despite their hard work and effort, the problem continues.

Reactivity on lead, along with coming when called, can be as much about a dog’s relationship with the human holding the lead or wanting him to come when called as it is about actual training. A lot of trust is involved. If the human has the dog, effectively, captive on the end of a leash then he/she must be trusted when they encounter a potential hazard like another dog, and he/she must be sufficiently motivating to hold their dog’s attention.

The dog needs to feel he has choice too. Formal training seldom allows choice. Walking on a longish loose lead without any feeling of restriction gives the dog more feeling of choice. If the dog signals that he needs more distance from the other dog, then that, too, is his choice and the human should comply. The more trusting he gets, the nearer to the other dog he will get before he reacts. That reaction point is his threshold, and that is where the best work happens.

It’s not always as easy as it sounds because of life’s unpredictability and because the dog himself can be in a different mental state from day-to-day, depending upon stress levels affected by a build-up of totally different things. We can but chip away at it, building up trust and confidence, teaching the dog coping strategies.

Where also most conventional training falls short is that there are things that need addressing in the home, things that, when put in place, will help build this relationship of trust.

If a dog is rushing off to the fence to bark at passing dogs and people, then he is practising the very skills they don’t want. Away-from-home training won’t be dealing with that. The humans in the family can show their dogs, in a way they understand, that they are responsible for people coming to the house, and when they bark at perceived danger they can reinforce their roles as protectors – the training environment won’t deal with that either. Most subtle communication issues can’t be spotted away from the home either, particularly as they may involve all the family members.

If people work on getting their dogs’ full attention at home, away from distractions, then there is a much better chance they will keep their attention on walks when faced with other dogs. If their dogs are taught to come instantly when called in the home environment, without hesitation, there is a much higher chance that recall work out in the fields will be successful.

Gordon’s family is really switched on, and it will happen, I’m sure.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Gordon, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Extensively ‘Trained’, Lacks Self-Control

Chocolate Labrador Oscar chooses to ignore commands  Beautiful eighteen month old Chocolate Labrador Oscar was a difficult puppy. They admit they spoilt him and by the time he was four months old they found him hard to cope with – stealing, grabbing, nipping and so on, so they took him to puppy classes. Oscar has been going to dog training classes (of the ‘old-fashioned’ kind) ever since. They have worked very hard and conscientiously with him and continue to do so, especially the teenage daughter whose dog he is, and she has done brilliantly.

Understanding lots of commands and training exercises is not much use if a dog chooses to ignore them when they are most needed, and Oscar is adolescent! I am certain that with a much more positive approach with reinforcement for good behaviour rather than commands and corrections for the bad behaviour, Oscar would by now be no trouble at all. In fact, if they had applied these methods from the start when he was a puppy, things would be very different.

As it is, he is desperately attention seeking and controlling, and carries on until he gets attention of some sort, whether it’s through stealing socks or spectacles, jumping on people, licking faces or chewing furniture. Commands are attention. Pushing him is attention. Even looking at him is attention. It can be relentless. I imagine the words No, and Leave It and Off are used so frequently they are now background noise to Oscar! Even feeding is a process where he has to jump through several hoops, so to speak, meaningless to a dog, before he’ s allowed to eat his food.

He doesn’t get a chance to work things out for himself and to make his own good decisions. External over-controlling removes opportunities for him to learn self-control. He is required to do so many things that aren’t particularly necessary or relevant, when I feel it would be best to concentrate on the very few important things like not getting any feedback whatsoever for jumping up, for learning that ‘uh-uh’ before he does something is a warning and gives him a chance to make the right decision (with reward and praise when he does so). No dog is happier than when he has to use his own brain to work for us while we quietly give him the time and space to do so – working out for himself what is required and then being rewarded.

I am a little worried about the compatibility between the sort of ‘dog training’ which they want to continue and my behavioural approach to training.

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.
 

Over-Trained Collie Lacks Enthusiasm

Border Collie Ellie can be rather aloof, bestowing her attention largely under her own termsEllie is a clever, gentle, beautiful, well trained 4-year old Border Collie. She knows a large number of commands and names for various objects. She is also a perfect example of how knowing words and commands can be pretty irrelevant if she feels like ignoring them. It always works best if a dog wants to do something of his or her own free will.

Ellie can be rather aloof, bestowing her attention largely under her own terms. She can be quite demanding whilst not putting herself out in response to their demands. This is most demonstrated by her lack of recall, even indoors or from the garden. She absolutely understands what is required, but sees her owners’ wishes as irrelevant so she simply iognores them. In subtle ways she is used to making them do the running.

Where food is concerned her humans, like so many, feel they are in control (human fashion) with commands to Sit and Wait after the food is down, but because her food is always brought to her Ellie may well see it differently – like she’s being waited on. The little routine she has to go through must make no sense to her. Where is the logic of waiting after the food is down or available? Is there any animal that would do that? Waiting before it goes down is a lot more sensible – as does having to put in a bit of effort to go get it!

In some circumstances Ellie can be quite a nervous dog with some typical Collie traits. She is worried by other dogs they meet when out, and very reactive to passing large or sudden vehicles, trains on the nearby railway line and so on, wanting to lunge and chase them. No amount of traditional training or ‘controlling’ has stopped her doing this beyond preventing her through physical strength. She barks at vehicles, horses and dogs as they pass her garden. It is difficult because these things happen suddenly. Dogs react most to ‘sudden’ (as do we). A steady stream of tracters or trains would soon habituate her.

In their role of parents/leaders, her humans now need to convince her that they are there to protect her and to make the decisions,both at home and when out. Commands, telling her to Be Quiet and ‘training’ just are not doing the job. What is needed is a lot more subtle.

This is a classic example of people who have done all the ‘right’ things to give their dog a happy and fulfilled life – long walks, training, socialising, agility and so on – but where things don’t improve. The only way things will change with Ellie is if her humans change what they themselves do. The whole walking, barking, reactivity thing needs to be dealt with in an entirely different way. Instead of imposing human demands upon her, she needs a chance to work out for herself the appropriate behaviour without the distraction of commands. She needs to feel safe.

Don’t get me wrong, commands like Come, Stop, Stay and Sit all have their place, but we tend to use them willy nilly when they are inappropriate or unimportant so they lose their power when they are vital. A calm state of mind isn’t well served by commands. Silence is Golden (I think that was The Tremeloes!).  A loose lead, a calm owner who takes appropriate action rather than using commands, who acts logically as a leader or parent would – and that is not to force her to Sit and Wait, trapped like a sitting duck as ‘danger’ approaches (or to march directly onwards commanding ‘Leave It’ as most traditional dog training will dictate) – will result in a more confident and trusting dog. And this brings us back to the beginning. In order to trust them with her safety, she also needs to see them as the decision-makers and protectors at home too.

There is a lot to think about to start with, but gradually if people work at it and are consistent, if they look at things from the dog’s perspective, a new way of living with a dog becomes a way of life and the dog learns self control.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Bearded Collie/GSD Crosses

Beardie GSD mix

poppy on the left with Jasper

Jasper and Poppy are Beardie/German Shepherd mixes. They look entirely different though, and their personalities are completely different too. Poppy is dark and largely Shepherd, and Jasper is pale and much more like a Beardie to look at. Poppy is just eight months old, and Jasper is eleven years old.

Jasper always was extremely laid back – or was until Poppy arrived. He takes most things in his stride – or did until recently. Poppy is much more highly strung and generally a bit skittish.  She is scared of new people coming to her house, and scared of people when out.

Walks are becoming a big problem because Jasper has developed aggression to other dogs. He used to be fine, but this started a couple of years  ago. It may be because he was attacked, or even perhaps because he’s a bit older now and may feel a little vulnerable. He has become very protective of Poppy, and trouble can start if she goes to see another dog.  Out on walks he tends to initiate the barking, and Poppy joins in. Her hackles rise and she is scared. Their lady owner is slight in build and the joint weight of the two dogs pulling and lunging is more than her own.

So, it’s the same old problem. Reactivity to other dogs out on walks and to some people also. So many dogs I go to are fine in the dog training class, but totally different out in the real world. Traditional training doesn’t always address the problems and it needs to be approached in a completely different way – without the use of correction or force, but calm leadership techniques.

Both dogs are very well trained in ‘obedience’ and Poppy still goes to classes. What they need is something a bit more basic. I describe obedience training as the icing on the cake. You need to get the cake right. Both Jasper and Poppy need a bit more faith in their owners who are already doing most of the right things, but need a few extra tricks up their sleeves, and for each member of the family to be behaving in the same way – drinking from the same water bowl!

Here is some typical early feedback from a client: I had my first “close encounter” with another dog last night.  But for the first time I didn’t panic or tense up.  Jake was on lead and two dogs were quite a distance away.  I kept walking towards them and as soon as he clocked them I stopped and turned to walk the other way, he just followed!!  In the past he would of stood his ground and not moved.  Then to top it all there was another one coming the other way, so did exactly the same.  I did put him in the car (didn’t feel quite ready to deal with 3 dogs off lead running around) told him to sit and I stood in front the window facing the dogs.  They came bounding up to me so I just turned my back on them, Jake didn’t move – normally he would have barked!!  Made of fuss of a couple of them, Jake just sat there.  I can’t believe how in control I felt.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.