Attacked Three Times by Other Male Dogs. Walks Spoiled

Dogs have attacked Coco. Three times.

Off-lead, out of control dogs can cause so much damage. The actions of people who risk letting their own reactive dog run freely up to another dog can completely spoil the future walks of both the dog it attacked and his owners.

The young lady did everything possible to give her beautiful Shiba Inu, now eighteen months old, the perfect start in life.  She chose Coco so carefully from a good breeder and socialised him brilliantly to people, other dogs, noise etc. They lived in a flat in London and took him everywhere with them, habituating him well to daily life.

She really couldn’t have done more.

Attacked three times.

In giving him the opportunity to play and get to know other dogs, like all of us she took the risk of his encountering ‘the wrong’ dogs. On three separate occasions another dog attacked Coco. It seems they were males each time. Continue reading…

Stressful Walks. Other Dogs. Polite Happy Dog at Home.

Stressful walksIt’s hard to imagine they could have stressful walks or any trouble at all with Badger.

The two-year-old Border Collie quietly watched me walk towards his house through the glass door. He greeted me with polite interest.

A Border Collie could be a challenge for a first dog and the family have done brilliantly. He is happy, well-trained and biddable.

Unfortunately Badger is becoming ‘difficult’ when they are out and meeting other dogs. It’s not all dogs and he walks with doggy friends. He seems to have been targeted by a few dogs and yapping smaller dogs increasingly upset him.

Recently a couple of off-lead German Shepherds went for him and, according to the man, he ‘gave as good as he got’. Rehearsing this kind of thing isn’t good at all.

Out of the blue?

A short while ago the stressful walks came to a head when he saw a smaller dog appear and ‘suddenly’ charged at it. This wasn’t really so sudden. It was against a background of the young man having come home after two weeks away and great excitement. He had the ball thrower and he was repeatedly throwing the ball.

All this will have increasingly wound Badger up.

Then, in full ‘chase’ mode, the little dog appeared. He charged after that instead. He did no damage, but the dog and owner were upset. Badger, whose recall is fine normally, won’t have even heard their calls.

This wasn’t actually out of the blue at all. It will have been the direct result of ‘trigger stacking‘.

Home work

There are a few things they can do at home. Badger should be in the best state of mind possible for being self-controlled and calm around other dogs when they are out. The more stable and unstressed Badger is in general, the better he can cope with the arousal caused by the proximity of another dog.

Like many Border Collies, he loves the movement of a ball. He continually drops it at their feet and those of anyone who comes to see them. Anything quite so repetitive over such a period of time isn’t natural. Anything that’s not natural will fire him up.

They will now save balls for when they see another dog, to gain his attention and to associate the other dog with something he loves. (We thought we had collected all the balls and he would find another!).

To fill the void left by no ball-kicking they will give him things to chew and to forage for. Already well trained, they will give him more activities that exercise his clever brain.

Spot-on recall

A big problem they are finding that contributes to the stressful walks is the number of off-lead dogs that suddenly appear.

Even if they can’t control other people and their dogs, they can control Badger. Reliable recall is key.

Stressful walks would be less stressful if they could get, and keep, Badger’s attention. If he is to be safely off lead they need to get him back immediately.

They will change to a whistle to get his attention, working at whistle recall first at home. They will condition Badger to come, without thinking, when he hears the whistle.

To change how Badger behaves and reacts towards other dogs requires his humans also to change how they behave and react.

They need now to help Badger associate other dogs with only positive and good things. If his human tenses up, so will he.

Negative things have a far greater impact than positives. Something scary has a much longer lasting effect than something good. That’s just life unfortunately.

Avoiding stressful walks

To expect Badger to be relaxed and non-reactive when off-lead dogs rush up to him, particularly if they show aggression or are very noisy, is unreasonable. Unfortunately, each time Badger is (justifiably) forced to react by a dog being too close for him, he rehearses the very behaviour they don’t want.

There should be no more discomfort to Badger’s neck as they change to using a harness. They should avoid him feeling unsafe by no longer holding him tightly beside them while another dog approaches. Instead they should give him more space.

Comfortable distance, relaxed humans and only valuable, positive things like food and his beloved ball should now be associated with other dogs.

Unplanned and scary encounters will add to any dog’s wariness to the extent that he may eventually go for other dogs just in order to maintain distance. He’s given no choice.

Change can be hard

People can avoid the tension of stressful walks by considering carefully where they go. They should avoid narrow alleys where increasing distance is hard without turning around. People don’t like turning round and going back the way they came. They also understandably don’t like to seem rude by turning away from a potentially too-close encounter with another dog.

Badger’s confidence needs building again as does his trust in them to respond appropriately (to him) when he’s feeling uneasy or vulnerable.

Stressful walks with their dogs can overshadow people’s lives. My advice here is to do all they can to avoid putting Badger in a position where he feels he may need to defend himself. To keep his excitement levels down so that he is more tolerant.

Meanwhile they can work on other dogs in more controlled environments – or at least in places where they can beat a retreat if necessary. So far he’s very good with the majority of dogs, but it’s going in the wrong direction.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

Jack Russell With Big Ears

Jack Russell attacked a dogNot being able to trust your dog can ruin walks. The human is anxious all the time and the dog loses freedom.

Little Jack Russell Rags is nearly 4 years old now, and he has lived with the lady since he was one. To date there have now been four episodes culminating in Rags attacking a dog that he knew.

Each incident had seemingly been over a resource of some sort – a ball or food. From how the lady describes it, it’s probable that in the most recent and worst incident with the friend’s dog that she herself was the resource.

I noticed that wherever we were standing Rags carefully placed himself between us, watching me.

In the most recent and worst incident the lady was with a friend in the other lady’s kitchen. The dogs had met a couple of times out on walks previously and had been fine together. The two ladies were chatting and both dogs were under the table between them. Suddenly Rags went for the other dog’s throat. Being long-haired, the much bigger dog wasn’t hurt and he didn’t retaliate, but it really upset Rag’s lady. She decided she needed to do something about it.

Already she has started to put into place some of my advice over the phone regarding encountering dogs on walks and the situation is getting a lot better. The hackling, lunging and barking has reduced dramatically.

It can seem unfriendly and embarrassing when meeting a person with their dog if you simply walk away from them! For this reason I suggest a ‘dog in training’ yellow vest for Rags. This may help a little too with those off-lead uncontrolled dogs whose owners give one an earful when our own on-lead dog responds to being approached!

The lady now needs to address the issue of Rags’ possessiveness of herself, including guard duty in general. She will work on a couple of training exercises to get and keep his attention and give him a bit more mental stimulation.

One month later: ‘walking is going well. I am feeling more relaxed. “Look at me” is wonderful. He knows” find it” . i am better at “reading” Rags now.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Rags, which is why I don’t share all the exact details of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV 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).

Jack Russell Reactive With All Dogs

Jack Russell Rambo is not suited to his nameYesterday I visited Rambo, a dear little Jack Russell and not at all suited to his name. He is now three and came from the RSPCA a year ago. Like many Jack Russells he’s very active, but a little too restless I feel. He’s obedient and affectionate and the the family loves him dearly, and the couple are doing their best to give him fair boundaries, sufficient stimulation and exercise.

He is looked after the couple’s parents during the day when they are at work, at their own house, so Rambo has two different environments, and there needs to be continuity in how he is treated. His persistent jumping up on everyone is a bit too much, but it would be very hard to stop unless everyone deals with it the same way whether family or visitors (and this isn’t by commands or scolding), otherwise it would simply confuse him and make matters worse so may be impractical in the circumstances.

Against a background of being already excitable and fairly easily scared by things at home, walks can be very stressful due to his fear of other dogs. Who knows what his past life consisted off, but his extreme reactivity to all other dogs seems to indicate that he didn’t have good experiences in the past.  As soon as he sees any dog his hackles rise, he lunges and he barks. His defensive behaviour may attract the attention of off-lead dogs and if they approach him it is a nightmare. Poor Rambo, of course, is trapped on lead – it would be far too risky letting him off.

Rambo really isn’t a good name! It suggests tough and brave, but this poor little dog is plain scared. He first of all needs to learn to walk nicely (who ever sees a dog calmly walking on a loose lead, minding his own business, suddenly exploding when spotting another dog?). Avoidance of close encounters for now is key. Rambo needs lots of controlled exposure to other dogs at a sufficient distance not to worry him, whilst his owners behave in a way that convincing ‘leaders’ would. Opportunities can be engineered. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ as they say.

He most likely will never get to actually playing with other dogs, but being calm around them and ignoring them whilst relying on his humans to look after him would be a realistic, if long-term, goal. Things over time will slowly but surely improve if the humans stick to the plan.

 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.