Living with the Weimerana is a Battle

DiefenAs I walked in, 6-year-old Weimerana Dudley was jumping up at the child gate near the front door, barking somewhat scarily. Following the young lady into the living room, he leapt up at my face. I just kept turning away until he got the message and sat down and then I briefly tickled his chest just to show him I appreciated a polite and controlled greeting. I quickly discovered that positive feedback for desired behaviour was lacking. When he is quiet and good they quite understandably and literally ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ so as not to start him off again.

Dudley has been staying with his young lady owner’s parents for several weeks and he has turned their lives upside down. They are doing very best to meet the challenge. His owner is trying to sell her house and because of his behaviour can’t have Dudley there when she is showing people around. In fact I was the first guest the parents had dared have to their house in the weeks they had had him there.

There were such a catalogue of things that need dealing with that it was hard to know where to start without overwhelming them. They all fed into Dudley’s almost obsessive need to control them. With their attention not on him, he whined constantly knowing they all have a breaking point and will give in – I watched him whine at the lady until gave up her place on the sofa to him.

Dudley whines for them in the middle of the night if he hears any movement, he whines if they are talking or on the phone, when he shares the lady’s bed he will bark at her if she moves her legs, he guards the door to stop people leaving. In addition to his own meals, he whines while they are eating so they give him some of their own food.

He’s not as brave as you’d think, though. He backs away and shakes when approached with his collar or lead, and is likely to snap if they’re not careful. They use a Gentle Leader head halter to control his pulling – you can see the mark on his muzzle in my photo (I find it hard to see how this is ‘gentle’ but he is extremely strong and heavy; I hope he will soon be walking nicely without it).

Worst of all, Dudley has bitten several times, drawing blood. He bit the father a couple of times while guarding something he considered a resource, he has suddenly bitten ‘out of the blue’ when stroked, he has bitten the mother on a walk when she bent to untangle the lead from his legs. He may lean his heavy body on them, growling and grabbing an arm or sleeve if he thinks they may be going out somewhere, and may attack the door handle.  ‘Commanding’ him invites defiance. Using rewards can be difficult because he mugs the hand with the food in it.

His behaviour took a dramatic turn for the worse after he had been left with a dog sitter for a week a couple of years ago. One can fairly safely guess that this person used ‘dominant’, punishment-based methods on him in order to force him to comply. It seems that poor Dudley is totally confused and it is all about STOPPING him from doing things. It’s a battle. I started by suggesting they control his food and control his access to certain parts of the house.

I showed them positive feedback for desired behaviour instead. I got them to completely ignore all the whining because he would have to take a break eventually, and we then immediately and in silence dropped tiny treats on the floor in front of him. We did the same whenever he sat down quietly, whenever he lay down – in fact, whenever he did something good. I called him quietly, rewarded him, asked him to lie down which he did, and I worked him. I used gentle ‘requests’, not ‘commands’, and simply waited until he did what I had asked. Then I demonstrated how to get him to take a treat from my hand politely.

Dudley was focussed; a different dog. He needs more fulfilment in life so that he no longer needs to create his own.

This beautiful boy is going to be a big challenge and they will need to be determined, patient and consistent. They have shown already how committed they are. I shall keep closely in touch with them until they feel they have turned the corner. Understanding the things he SHOULD do will take a huge weight from him and he should become a lot more relaxed and cooperative.

 

Weimerana Refuses to Get Into the Car

Bruno is a teenager! He is eight months old and he knows that he is irresistible!

He is very good at manipulating his humans to do what he wants. Because of this, why should he do what they want?

Bruno is very good with other dogs and likes nothing more than a romp in the park or woods. However, he may need to go in the car to get there.

Beautiful young Weimerana on his chairIt is when they want to come home that the real problems start.  Bruno is having such fun. He is tired and exhilarated. He simply refuses to get into the car and he is now a heavy dog.

Consequently other dog walkers have to help to wrestle him into the car.

His lady needs to outwit him and play on his weaknesses, one of which is he won’t let her out of his sight. It is a safe parking area, so what might happen if she got in, leaving the boot open, ignored him and started up the engine? Maybe started to move off?  I think I know!

I recently went to a young St. Bernard who refused to get in the car at home – he was having much too much fun being fed and treated and enticed and then manhandled by several people. His lady owner found it really difficult to be ‘horrid’ to him, but just two times of opening the boot, saying ‘in you get’ and then taking him back indoors, not even taking off his lead, shutting the front door on him and then driving off, did the trick!

Bruno is a wonderful dog, intelligent and testing boundaries! Though beautiful and irresistible he needs to be resisted at times. He can be outwitted!

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

A Wirehaired Vizsla and a Weimeraner

Wemerana Lulu and teritorial barking

Lulu

Viszla

Hugo

What a wonderful looking pair.

There are a few minor issues to fix, but the main aims of my visit are to control Weimaraner Lulu’s territorial barking and hunting – for her to have reliable recall.

At present the dogs run freely off lead a lot of the time, so the price the owners would need to pay in terms of training and restricting Lulu’s freedom is probably not worth the gain in their eyes, and they may need to settle for the compromise of ‘much better recall’, or on lead only if unsafe! When she sights a deer or a hare, without intensive long line work over a long period of time, they don’t stand a hope of getting her back. She has practised freelancing and hunting for a long time and has an extremely strong Weimaraner prey drive.

They live in a lovely house overlooking fields – ideal for Lulu’s sharp eyesight and keen hearing to spot animals or people in the distance resulting in a lot of barking. She has leapt the fence in the past. Some management solutions will help to a degree – including enclosing part of the garden.

Both dogs have been to obedience classes but obedience training doesn’t necessarily mean an obedient dog, or that the dog won’t choose to disobey a command!

The owners believed that Lulu ran the roost, but I saw it a little differently. In his quiet way Viszla Hugo shares the job. He mainly lets Lulu take responsibility for territorial stuff, but he has other tricks. He is protective of his personal space whilst not particularly respecting that of others. He plays games over food – controlling Lulu. He uses his ball to get people to repeatedly jump to his bidding and throw it whilst not letting them touch him. Because Lulu is more hyper, this disturbs him; he may try to control her by humping her, or he may get very worried if her stress levels get out of hand or cause the owners to get cross with her. Their toddler is a bit vulnerable when Lulu jumps over him or pushes past him to frantically chase or bark at something.

So once again it is a leadership issue. From early morning Lulu whines to get them up – and in order to stop her they go to her for fear of waking the baby – proving to her that whining works. She makes it very hard to get her collar and lead on before walks. As I said, a mix of more minor issues, but they all contribute to the overall situation where Lulu in particular ignores what she is being asked to do, her noisy territorial behaviour is causing them problems, she is stressed, and calmer Hugo is a worrier.

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

Weimerana panics when home alone

weimeranaPoor Chloe is a very stressed eighteen month old Wemerana. She has chronic separation problems and because of the damage she has done she is now crated when her owners are out at work. I go to many dogs and even puppies whose owners, having to go to work, are out for eight or more hours a day, and for some dogs this can be a nightmare. Many people unwittingly take on a dog without thinking that it is unatural for a sociable animal to be left alone for too long.  I can also imagine how stressful it must be to be out at work, worrying about the dog you love being frantic and wondering what you will find when you get home.

Separation anxiety is a difficult problem to solve because it has to be done gradually.

Chloe always was unhappy and maybe bored when left alone. She would sometimes toilet in the house or chew. She used to have the run of the house and her male owner, who was normally home first, never quite knew what damage he was going to find.

She had done hundreds of pounds worth of damage already when one day, three weeks ago, the gentleman arrived home to find total chaos. There was toilet mess downstairs but no sign of Chloe. Upstairs there were clothes and belongings all over the floor, along with more toilet mess. Chloe was cowering in the bathroom, urinating. The gentleman was so angry that he lost his temper and laid into poor Chloe. It was the final straw.

He felt absolutely terrible when he discovered that all the mess wasn’t done by Chloe. They had had a break in and poor Chloe was traumatised. Where before she was distressed at being alone, now she was also terrified of her owner coming back.

To keep their house safe they bought a large crate. I was finally called in because Chloe was damaging herself trying to get out of it. She managed it once, cutting her nose and blood all over the place from her tearing a toe nail and now they have had to padlock the crate to keep her in.

Chloe has other stress-related problems – she is obsessed with eating wood when out, she tail-chases and does a lot of ear shaking and licking herself.  Chloe badly needs help.

They are going to find a dog walker to come each day now and they are going to work very hard at getting Chloe used to being alone in the sure knowledge that they will return. In reducing her stress in all other areas also, she will gradually become a happier dog.  I have spoken to their vet who is also involved and prescribing Zylkene to help tide them over the first few weeks.

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