Jack Russell With Just a Few Common Issues

To look at his expression you wouldn't think he had been flying all over me when I first sat downWhat a dear little dog! Finn is about one year old and was found as a stray on the streets of Dublin. Over the past six months the couple have come along way in building up his confidence.

To look at his expression you wouldn’t think he had been flying all over me when I first sat down, and then lay down on my own knee. He’s a very friendly little dog, whilst from time to time also showing little signs of anxiety when he looked at me – lip licking and yawning in particular.

The front door of their cottage sitting room opens straight onto the road and Finn is very alert to sounds outside the front. He is worried and he growls and barks. He is also fearful of some dogs when out along with things that are unexpected or different. No more so than many dogs though.

There are various little issues to be worked on. He was very wary of being touched on the back of his neck and they wonder whether he had at some stage been ‘scruffed’ or harshly disciplined. He is a lot better now although he still doesn’t like things put over his head, so he needs help with that. We have strategies for the barking at things outside and the flying all over people and chairs (which has been encouraged by a game they play).

Use of mouthing and teeth has also been actively encouraged by the gentleman playing hand games. Finn has unintentionally nipped a child’s hand when jumping to get something she was holding, so he needs to learn to be very careful.Finn is quite restrained for an adolescent Jack Russell with an uncertain past

No more games involving chasing and grabbing hands. ‘Non contact sports’ are a lot better. They do some very inventive hide and search games already and I have given them a few more ideas.

The lady feels all the dogs they meet on walks are calm and sociable, and feels Finn is in some way unusual. He is in fact very usual.  With gradual work to continue building up his confidence he will be fine I’m sure. Every dog will have his own little individual quirks and it’s good to relax a little and appreciate what we do have.

Finn so wants to please, and I would say he is actually quite restrained for an adolescent Jack Russell with an uncertain past. With Finn they have a little gem.

How to Behave Around Dogs

English Bull Terrier-Staffie mix, a surprisingly small and very attractive little dog.Today I visited an English Bull Terrier-Staffie mix, a surprisingly small and very attractive little dog. Ivor was found as a stray about eighteen months ago at one year of age, and he now has a lovely home. Indoors, apart from being somewhat over-excited and jumping up when people come to the house, he is absolutely fine. Out on walks it’s like he doesn’t know how to behave towards other dogs. He came with scars and it’s probable his experiences of other dogs during the important formative weeks of his life were intimidating.

Because of the excessive pulling, screaming, flipping over and freaking out when they encounter other dogs, they have tried all sorts of gadgets of ‘force’ I would call them, contraptions to make Ivor unable to lunge. These include a prong collar (disapproved of and unavailable in this country), and various types of lead including an elasticated slip lead and ‘no-pull’ harness.

There are at least three dogs that Ivor is OK with, so things are probably not as bad as they seem. Just imagine how he feels when he’s out. Before the walk starts he’s wildly excited – probably not pure joy but apprehension as well, as we might feel before a bunjee jump! He charges out, pulling his strong young male owner who uses his strength to correct and control him. Ivor must be very uncomfortable indeed as EBTSTaffiehe pulls on the short lead – especially if on the prong collar. He will resist the pain and become even more frantic, some of which will understandably be an automatic response to pull away from the discomfort. The lead is constantly being jerked back and he’s scolded. What a tense situation. Then, trapped on lead to a person who is getting frustrated, he sees a dog. He’s in no state of mind react appropriately, is he.

Don’t get me wrong, this little dog is dearly loved and everything else they do is kind and gentle, but the behaviour of their dog on walks, especially with pulling and ‘aggression’ towards other dogs, can drive people to despair as they try everything they can to find a solution. A dog that’s not had the right start in life needs special understanding which most people simply aren’t equipped for. He needs to be taught how to approach other dogs appropriately.

I have found over and over again that for people who are prepared to start from scratch and put in the time and effort, the walk can be transformed. Ivor needs to learn to be tuned in to the person walking him. To achieve this, the humans need to work at becoming relevant and rewarding to be with – and to be trusted to make the right decision around other dogs.

It is a step by step process, which only falls apart if people won’t spend sufficient time on each level before attempting the next, resulting in the chaos of meeting another dog too soon and unprepared. There is simply no quick fix unless it is, basically, an instrument of torture and mostly these only work short term and make things far worse in the long term. Applying certain TV programme techniques can be dangerous.

‘Socialising’ is something that can’t be done with a reactive dog. You can’t force socialising onto a dog. The first step is for the dog to simply accept other dogs nearby without reacting – then build from there in a controlled fashion.

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

There is More Going On Than Meets the Eye

Labrador Shepherd mix from GreeceZorba is probably mostly a Labrador-Shepherd mix, three years of age. He was found as a stray in Crete and was brought home by a family who unfortunately couldn’t keep him because he and one of their dogs fought to the extent they had to be kept apart.

Previous to his straying he may well have had a good home. It is hard to see how otherwise he could be so polite and well trained. He will have spent considerable time in quarantine kennels and he has survived all this change very well.

However, what he seemed like initially to me and what his new family of just one month also believed him to be like, hid a different dog. He was very quiet and calm, almost withdrawn, a little aloof perhaps, and there were little signs of anxiety like lip-licking when anyone left the room. They mentioned he would never give them eye contact. The two teenage daughters found they had to work hard to raise any enthusiasm in him for play. For a young dog he seemed to lack joyfulness. It may be he was being reinforced and rewarded for holding back because of all the effort that was being put into him. Each morning they would go to him and pay homage whilst he reclineZorba, unusually, giving eye contactd on the sofa. I suspect he wasn’t used to this sort of treatment.

From the moment I arrived I only gave him attention when I chose to – played hard to get if you like. There was no pressure on him whatsoever to react for me. Soon he was giving me lots of direct eye contact and actively working for me, doing as I ask after just one soft request – doing things they didn’t even know that he understood! I did a mock play bow and he immediately copied me and then rolled over onto his back, playfully. It’s like he came alive. It was wonderful.

Predictably the problems that they are struggling with are the meeting of other dogs on walks. In his previous home Zorba has had to protect himself from the other dog, as a stray he has had to look after himself, and all the noise of other dogs in kennels will not have helped.

With the humans in his life becoming more relevant at home – worth working for and looking to for guidance – and with calm loose lead walking gradually put in place, along with their appropriate reactions when other dogs appear, things should gradually turn around for the delightful Zorba.

He needs PG – my definition of Leadership: Protection and Guidance.

Email received two and a half months later: “We had a lovely holiday, but it really did highlight the areas of our training where we had probably been less focused than we should have. So we all committed to going home and ‘doing it right’. I feel that we had really expected too much too soon and had tried to move on too fast. Since our holiday we have really started again from first principles and I have to say, you’re absolutely right. At last we are seeing consistent improvements. We are still working on a good loose lead walk and it is so much better. We are getting a fabulous amount of eye-contact from him now, something we never had before, and he is almost a different dog. I feel that he is really with me, rather than feeling that I have ceased to exist. He is responsive and gives a lot of eye-contact.At first I found it difficult to see how loose lead walking would help with aggression to other dogs, but although he’s by no means ‘cured’, I’m beginning to get his attention far more when dogs arrive… but as long as they are far enough away, I can now get his attention and he will look at me instead. I suppose over time we will hope to be able to move closer – but I think that’s way off in the future – lots of consolidating to do first.
At home he continues to be a perfect sweetie. But – he’s starting to play – just a little bit, but it’s a start! He has just discovered that a ball can be fun. All this has happening over the last couple of weeks since we’ve been totally concentrated on small steps – coincidence or because he’s relaxing? He really didn’t care less about retrieving  anything a few weeks ago, now he likes it. I don’t think I’m imagining it – he does seem to be a little bit more relaxed around the home. So excellent progress from our point of view and perhaps the main thing is by adjusting our expectations we’ve actually made progress.”
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.