Case Study 1 : Jackie 18 months
Jackie’s mum contacted me as the dog was ‘disobedient’ and out of control, was destructive in the house, had appalling manners, hated other dogs, no recall so was never off the leash to free run, was embarrassing when people came to the house, would hump legs etc. hated letting anyone in and then wouldn’t let them back out again. They had reached the end of their tether and her husband wanted the dog put to sleep.
Jackie was bought as a present for her teenage son and initially taken to classes. When he started to misbehave and the trainer couldnt help, the son lost interest and began to tell him off. This resulted in a lack of trust and respect for his owner and left him thinking he had to care for himself. This results in negative behaviours which then get re-enforced.
Let’s look at door manners for example:
With the trust gone, the dog will step in and display behaviours such as guarding and barking. If the dog is then shouted at he then perceives the threat to be real. The dog does not really want this responsibility, he is a pack animal, he wants his pack to be calm and not be in fight mode.
Let’s look at the problem of hating other dogs:
Due to lack of socialisation he failed to respond to another dogs "keep away" signal and was attacked. His owner panicked and put Jackie on the leash, told him off and never let him run free again. Jackie was punished for defending himself (as the owner did not step in to help him) and this punishment continued with him being confined to leash. On leash a dog cannot follow the fight or flight response so he would start growling when approaching other dogs, his owner felt this embarassing and stopped walking him resulting in frustration building up and being displayed toward objects and people in the home.
Jackie now goes to agility with loads of other dogs, is highly cued and responsive, greets people nicely at the door and can be left for up to 6 hours. The son loves him to bits; he doesn’t have to go into kennels anymore when they go away as they can take him with them. It took 28 hours of training with me and the family plus hours and hours of practice by them alone. It cost them �210; it saved them the cost of replacing more furniture and it saved the dogs life. The last time I saw Jackie he was trundling off leash along side his carer back to the car after a big game of frisbee with my 4 clumbers
How much easier, kinder and cheaper would it have been to have worked through the puppy hood stages with understanding and knowledge?