Border Collie Blaze on the sofa with the two other dogsBlaze is a four-year-old Collie – maybe Collie X. He lives with two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in a lovely family with two little girls and three cats. He is wonderful with both the little girls and the cats – and the other two dogs.

He has attacked other dogs several times when out on walks, but never causing damage. His owners are very careful, but a week ago he attacked a puppy. They had been walking with a friend and several other dogs and had also met two Labradors. It was near the end of the walk. Because of Blaze’s previous  history, whenever they saw a new dog, the lady would catch Blaze and put a muzzle on him. On this occasion she wasn’t quick enough.

They are very responsible dog owners and the lady is devastated for the injured puppy which is why they called me in.

Blaze would never show any aggression to a human. He is biddable and loving if somewhat demanding and lacking in manners. As we chatted, they began to realise that the dogs, Blaze in particular, get away with behaviours that would never be tolerated from their children – standing on the sofa, walking over them, pawing and nudging for constant attention.

Before they even set out on a walk there is huge excitement. The dogs charge out ahead and pull the lady down the road. Due to a certain lack of respect in other aspects of life, it’s unlikely that Blaze, when off lead, will feel there is any reason why he should come back straight away when called if there is something else he needs to do – like warn off an approaching dog.

At home Blaze is restless. He paces. He is demanding. He looks permanently anxious. He is most settled when nobody is about.

If the exact circumstances preceding these attacks could be remembered, I would bet that he had a build up of excitement and stimulation. He is permanently stressed to a certain extent, and it won’t take too much more to drive him over the edge. When he sees a dog his humans panic, they catch him, put a muzzle on and so on – which must be transferring even more stress onto Blaze.

He must never again have the opportunity to attack dogs while off lead. Full stop.

Hard work needs to be done on his recall and his relationship with his owners so that he feels that they are sufficiently important to come back to immediately when they call him. With work he should be able to leave the house calmly, to walk happily and comfortably down the road on a loose lead. They will be careful not to overdue the stimulation that can come from long bouts of play. Sometimes too much exercise can worse than not enough, and it is interesting that the final bad attack happened at the end of a long walk with lots of action, when one would have expected him to be tired and satisfied.

In a calm state of mind Blaze is unlikely to suddenly ‘go’. With a better balanced relationship with his owners, he will obey pronto when the call ‘come’.

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