Just look at this for a face! Llasa Apso Charlie is eighteen months old and lives with a young couple who describe themselves as ‘virgin’ dog owners. They have read books and taken advice in their efforts to do their very best for Charlie and in respect of teaching many commands and tricks they have done brilliantly. He’s a clever little dog – and a bit of a monkey!
He has always been a somewhat nervous dog, but something really bad happened to him about six weeks ago, and since then he’s not been his old self at all. He went to the groomer just as he had many times before, but this time something was different. Perhaps something that happened before they got there that the people are not aware of had stressed him, perhaps he had reacted to another dog there or maybe there were just too many people and dogs in the place. Anyway, as far as I understand it, the moment the groomer tried to touch him he flipped. He went mental.
His owners can’t understand why they hadn’t immediately stopped and phoned them but instead carried on. It took two or three people to hold him down and ‘double-muzzle’ him while they clipped him.
When the couple fetched him up he was like a different dog. He was terrified. At bed time he wouldn’t go in the kitchen nor near the crate which up till then he always slept in. He would run, cower and shake. He would no longer tolerate his harness being put on. He had suddenly turned and bitten the gentleman when he accidently knocked into him as he slept. Already a restless dog, he was now extra hyper – charging around the furniture which he had never done before.
I can only think, that to Charlie, what happened at the groomer’s had seemed like he’d been pinned down and physically ‘dominated’ and it so clearly demonstrates the possible fallout from sorts of training methods that use force. It also shows how long the effect of extreme stress can last for.
He needs to learn again to trust, and to appreciate being touched and handled – and not only when he himself chooses, which can only be done if it’s not pushed onto him. His lovely owners are very distressed and have understandably over-compensated. His recent phobia of having a harness on or anything else on his body needs to be addressed very slowly and sensitively.
With the techniques I have taught them, Charlie should gradually get his confidence back and put this unfortunate experience behind him.