Rushes Over to Other Dogs

MillyYorkeNot all dogs like a little dog to rush up to them and jump all over them. So far Milly has come to no harm.

Three-year-old Yorkie/Terrier cross Milly is an absolute delight – a little bundle of friendliness and joy. Many of the people I go to would love to have a dog whose problem is being too friendly with other dogs, rather than being fearful, barking and reactive.

Milly runs up and play bows, jumps about and invites them for a game.  She’s not deterred if they don’t want to know.

Understandably,  the lady wants Milly to come back to her more readily when other dogs are about, and not to pull towards them so enthusiastically when she’s on lead.

If it were not for this uncontrolled excitement when she sees another dog (which may just also be her way of dealing with slight anxiety) , life with Milly would be perfect.

The lady may now get her dog’s attention more easily if she uses a whistle when Milly’s off lead and sees a dog. She needs first to pair the whistle with extra-special tasty rewards and to practise over and over at home and also when out but only when she knows that Milly will come, before she uses it for real to call her back from running eagerly over to a dog.

Milly is currently kept on quite a short lead and she pulls. She would like to sniff more than she’s allowed. When they see a dog she’s held back and made to walk at the lady’s pace towards it.

Now the lady will be using a longer lead and giving Milly some slack – and time to sniff. I recently discovered the notion of ‘Smell Walks‘ which I think are a great idea. She should then be more relaxed.

When a dog approaches the lady will bend over and gently restrain her by her harness, and just as with the puppy in my previous post, teach her some self-control, being calmly encouraging. The lady will check first to see if the other dog is going to welcome Milly’s attentions, and only then will she release Milly and give her the length of the lead when the dog is close enough.  If the dog isn’t interested, then they can wait until it’s passed before carrying on with their walk.

This will take a while, but isn’t it great to have a dog whose only problem is being too friendly!

At the end of their month: ‘We are constantly going forward with our work, Milly’s recall is so much better now and she comes instantly. Her constant barking has now stopped, she has got the message at last. The barking at the tv is subsiding. She will bark at the tv and then automatically look at me then she puts herself to bed. I haven’t sent her to bed for barking at the tv since we began with you. If I have any problems, I will be in touch. Thank you for your help.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Milly, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. 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 dogs (see my Get Help page).

Too Much Jumping Up

Staff Princess is a great family petPrincess came from Wood Green Animal Shelter two months ago and is a wonderful dog. She is friendly and stable with no apparent hang-ups at all.

The problem I was called out for was her persistent jumping up. There are three children in the family, aged between 6 and 11, and the youngest could easily be knocked over. The children are very good and try to turn away, but they may wave their arms in the air. Naturally they will get excited. Their grandfather, whose dog Princess is, will be grabbing her and scolding her. She also jumps on the adults who tell her ‘down’ and push her off, but they also, at other times, pet her while her feet are off the floor. Very confusing for Princess.

What Princess is learning is that jumping up gives her high-value attention – under her own control, especially when people have just come in. She may get down initially when told and pushed, but she has learnt it is a sure-fire way to get attention next time! Telling her to get down, pushing her and especially looking her in the eye is, to the dog, a mix of saying ‘come up’ and ‘go away’. Very confusing!

Not surprisingly due to lack of experience and training and her enthusiastic personality, Princess is a big puller on lead and now they use a head halter which she hates. This really isn’t necessary if they go back to the beginning, and teach her to walk beside them through choice, one step at a time.

These problems should soon iron themselves out with consistency and a bit of effort – and she will be the model family pet!

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

Jumping Up and Pulling on Lead

Givvy and Angus are beautiful chunky Black Labradors, four year old brother and sister. They do what a lot of Labs (and other dogs) do – jump up and pull on lead.

Black Labrador brother and sister lying togetherImagine how a dog would feel, already very excited before leaving the house, pulling madly down the road, being corrected painfully with perhaps a choke chain while a stressed owner shouts ‘Heel’…..and then a person with a dog appears in front of him. More discomfort as the anxious owner immediately yanks the lead and holds on tight. The dog is more or less set up to be reactive – to lunge and bark.

How often do we see dogs walking on loose leads, being allowed to stop and sniff and do what dogs like to do, walking like there is no lead at all, barking and lunging at another dog?

I rest my case!

A family member is now pregnant, so the jumping up has to stop. ‘Dog training’ methods have been used for four years of their lives – one dog has a choke chain. They are corrected, the lead is jerked and they are told ‘heel’. They pull so badly, especially when they see another dog or a person, that they can’t be walked together and even the young man is too anxious to walk them down their own lane.

Have four years of correction, ‘heel’ and tight leads worked? No. Have four years of being told ‘Off’ or being pushed down when they jump up worked?  No.

It stands to reason that a different approach is needed.

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

Young Labrador ‘Won’t Listen’.

Two Golden Labradors lying togetherTwo beautiful Golden Labradors. Roxy nearly six months old and Lola is four.

As a puppy, Lola was taken to puppy classes so is the better ‘trained’ of the two, but she is nervous. Roxy is a lot more confident and is already trying to dominate Lola. She can be pushy, jump up and be generally annoying as a puppy entering adolescence can be! They may tell her to stop jumping up, to sit, to go away when they are eating, or to come back when she is off lead, but she won’t ‘listen’.

The real problems are out on walks. Both dogs pull – Roxy especially. Her recall is very unreliable as is that of many a pup and possibly they are expecting too much here. Whilst some dogs come back willingly from the word go, with many dogs recall has to be worked on for a long time before the dog can be reliably trusted to come back if there is something else she would rather be doing, like chasing cats or going after other dogs.

What is bringing matters to a head is Roxy’s behaviour when she sees other dogs.  She will run up to them barking, backed up by Lola who has begun to snap and growl at them – something she never used to do before Roxy came. It seems to be getting worse. I am wondering whether Roxy thinks she is protecting Lola, while Lola thinks she is protecting Roxy! Either way, the person with them is not relevant as decision-maker and protector.

Whilst Roxy and Lola get on very well, it seems that having Roxy hasn’t been altogether easy for Lola. Already sensitive, she now has become protective of her. For her to try to keep Roxy in check is an impossible task. I am worried that as Roxy grows older, more determined and dominant, and that if the owners don’t give stronger leadership, there could be trouble between the two dogs.

Walking needs to be brought back to basics. The dogs need to be walking calmly on loose leads without the need for checking – which often simply isn’t achieved by traditional training methods – Lola is proof of that.  When they encounter other dogs, they need to keep calm and rely on the person walking them to make the decisions.  When off lead, the owners may feel that the dogs should come back when they are called, but in these situations they simply are not sufficiently relevant. We lack relevance when we are at our dogs’ beck and call and touch them every time they come near us. If our time and attention is readily on tap and never has to be earned, it lacks value.

The humans need to earn that relevance throughout all aspects of their life with their dogs – and then the dogs, Roxy in particular, will start to ‘listen’.

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

Two Beautiful Keeshunds

Keeshund

Betta

Out of over 850 clients and thousands of dogs, I had never visited a Keeshund until yesterday when I visited two, Betta and Tilly. What beautiful looking dogs with wonderful natures.  They were originally bred in Holland as barge dogs – watch dogs and for catching rats. Consequently, one would expect them by nature to be protective.

Despite the dogs having Good Citizenship Bronze and Gold dog training certificates, out of class they are pullers on lead and Betta is wary and reactive to some people – boys in particular. She may also want to dominate certain dogs they meet. Her owner wants to make sure this side of her protective nature doesn’t escalate.  Due to their guarding nature, they bark a bit too much for the liking of the neighbours.

KeeshundTillyBetta, the older girl, can sometimes run her owner a merry dance – especially when she’s called in from the garden, and this ends up in a chase, great fun for the dog but not so much fun for the lady! Another favourite trick is to constantly ask for the back door to be opened, and then either not to go out at all, or to run out and come straight back in again!

These dogs seem to have a sense of humour, and that’s what we need too! A mix of outwitting them to think they are cooperating through choice, management by removing some of the barking opportunities, and by the lady behaving a little more like a leader should do the trick. In this way her wishes become relevant to the dogs, and part of the leadership role being that of protector.  Some work on the pulling on lead will need to be done.  The ‘training’ method using commands and correction, despite all the classes, is not working in real life.  These dogs need to learn that the only way to make any progress is when the lead is loose, so this will take some weeks of work – but not nearly as many weeks as their conventional training classes have taken so far.

Then walks will be enjoyable for all.

If you live in my area and would like help with a dog like Betta, please contact me.

UPDATE FIVE WEEKS LATER “I took the dogs out together for the first time today, both on their front-fastening harnesses, which fit well.  It was wonderful.  We went to Maulden Woods and I kept them both on lead.  They were lovely to walk together.  They mostly stayed on my left. And they understand the instruction “left-hand-side”.  The only time they pulled was when they saw something in the hedge, and that was completely controllable.  What a transformation!  Out with Betta yesterday we both saw a dog, Betta pricked up her ears and started forward, but we did a very smooth turn-around and came away, and she forgot immediately to make a fuss”.
This is only five weeks on! Give it a few more months and both dogs will be walk past other dogs and people without a fuss, and possibly by then have reliable recall even with other dogs about.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.