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Behavioural updates and the diary of an adopted shelter dog II

A lot of information relating to dog problems has crossed over my desk this week and I have read with interest Ian Frewer's article regarding the coming EU constitution. This does have some connection with my forth-coming meeting with the EMPs regarding Dog aggression Laws to help offer ways to reduce the incidents of attacks. The problem is whatever methods suggested the EU could adopt they would never reduce such severe attacks to nil. Whereas the proposition by the Germans to phase out the larger breeds because they are the cause of the most carnage and fatalities probably would. The EU shelved this but they never actually rejected it. The EU then decided to allow all member states to control dangerous dogs in their own way but will this only last until the constitution would allow them total autonomy. The point being made is that with our association with dogs for over 13,000 years we still seem unable to completely control their aggression. There is a feeling that dogs and dog ownership may become classified as anti social.

Who would have thought we would see smokers in a similar way and how they have now become outcasts in so many public places? The ever-increasing rules now being imposed on dog owners is widening all the time with little thought of alternatives for dog owners. Even finding accommodation that accepts dogs is becoming even more difficult. The developers of new building estates are now trying to attach convents that require owners not to own dogs that would otherwise spoil their idyllically designed community.

I can hardly recognise the UK as it is now and to change into a United States of Europe what will the future become? Ian writes along with many others in the English press asking us to wake up to the fact that this huge bureaucratic monster may well relieve us of so many freedoms including the freedom to own a dog. No this could never happen or could it and would you have a chance to vote.

Behavioural Updates

I have again been to see the dog that barked whenever the owners left it alone. This may have been due to separation anxiety but because of its history, it does appear it was claustrophobia. The owners can now leave the dog successfully without making any fuss and they have taped the results. The dog did whine when the telephone rang but other that that silence. The dog did start to sit in the owner's way and begin to show some signs of aggression to other dogs and people, which was worrying to the owners. When I saw the dog, it yelps in anticipation of pain when the owners or I moved. When I checked there seemed there was some pain in the left leg or foot. The vet checked the dog's leg and paw but cannot find anything to account for any pain. I still think many problems are all related to the pelvic fracture and was the original reason behind the aggression shown at the dog training classes. I have let the owners borrow my air can and it had proved very effective when the dog growled at a passing dog. I think the owners are now just tiding up the last of the problems but there is unfortunately little the owners can do for the pain from the pelvis.

I had a request for help from an owner with a young dog that could not travel very far in the car. I did send a reply and asked for more details but did advise that they should check with their vet to ask his opinion and if he would prescribe some calmers. He did just that and the dog can now travel long distances when required.

An owner asked me for information on importing dogs from the United States of America. I knew very little to help him other than the normal basics but know what should happen and how the system actually operates are not always the same. He said once he has successful imported his dogs he will send me the details so we know how to do this in the future and stop re-inventing the wheel. If you have any similar knowledge and you would like to pass this on to other CBN readers then I am certain there are many people who would like to know any tips obtained from actual experiences.

I have not yet seen the dog that had either the poorly ears or the dog that chases shadows or even the dog that barks at animals on the television. Mind you with the loss of the UK, broadcasting leaving many with a blank screen this may have solved the television problem.

I must also go and see the dog that has barked all its life and chained to a workbench for the last four years. This maybe is why the previous owners chained it up in the first place. The barking together with the symptoms that seem similar to those for separation anxieties are I think actually a dominancy problem. I will need to see this dog in action first before I can be sure. There is also the possibly of some un-intentional reinforcement to the dog by the owners having to take 15 to 30 minuets to settle the dog down before they leave it instead of just walking straight out without ceremony. So often, the dogs can find other interpretations to our caring attitude. The owners have two other dogs that are excellent so they are not beginners to dog ownership.

Just as a test for a cure, I have asked the owners that when the dog is barking outside to try the old bucket of water treatment. It hates the water pistol but this is not effective enough for long periods. The dog has been on tranquillisers and to some degree these do work but ending up with a drugged up dog. The vet did lend them an electric collar with three levels and even this was ineffective. It could well be that chained up for four years its neck has high pain threshold. The vet thinks gas collars are ineffective, which in some cases is true, so he has offered an operation to cut the dogs vocal cords. The owner's feel this is a little drastic. The dog is ruling and ruining their lives simply because they took pity on it to try to improve its quality of life.

I have an owner with a dog that cannot be left in the house as it scatters everything about the house and if left outside digs up the garden. It also jumps up a lot at the owner that sometimes hurts. I do not have a lot of information here but assuming the dog is not very big then the normal turning and rejecting the dog should solve the jumping up. For the mess I suspect the dog is bored and needs something to occupy its time or it could be anxcious being left on its own and wants to be with items that have the owners scent on them. If this is the case then old clothing with recent scent can work well here so the dog can sleep on these and feel more secure. As for the digging, there are some smell attachments for plants or that you stick in the soil to keep dogs and cats off your garden. Not certain if such things actually work but if anyone has some experience using them then please send us details to pass on to those interested. You may have read someone who tried making his own electric fence and killed a neighbour's cat.

My telephone crashed the other week so I lost many telephone numbers that were not saved on the SIM card. If the owner of the dog that bit her daughter when she tried to take away, a sweetie paper would you please give me a call, as this is one of the current numbers I lost.

I have heard from the owners who used translation and titbit rewards to train their young dog successfully. The owners also wished to socialise their dog so joined a dog training class that does use check (choke) chains but the dog can do it all. They do have one problem with the downs but only at the classes. Dog-training classes are only to teach the owners how to train their dogs at home. As the dog is able to do downs except at the school, I would not worry. I just wonder why the dog does not like to do them at the school. The instructor has tried pushing the dog down at the shoulders and pulling down on the chocker but to no effect. If I were to push a person the normal reactions is to resist. If the dog has learned it can resist with success then it will continue to do this in the future. The instructor is not keen when owners reward with titbits. His feeling is this will create a rod for the owners back. Titbits are only a reward until you can phase them out to only needing a simple smile or a "good boy" to suffice. Using titbits works and Winston like all my past dogs loves ginger nuts to help reinforce the sit and down commands. Eventually he will only get them on very rare occasions. Just remember Pavlov's rules or Roger Mugford work with training rats.

Diary of an adopted shelter dog

Winston is settling in with me and as his world is rapidly expanding, he is now forming his own character. I have never had a rescue dog before as all my previous dogs all started with me as puppies so this is all new for me.

As I said last week I am not training to stop all the problems straight away but I will let them evolve a little before correcting them. You may then recognise the same problems in your dog and I will go through ways of correcting them.

The current problems are the normal mouthing of my fingers if he becomes excited. At the beginning, he was my shadow, never letting me out of his sight and so his recalls were perfect. I had to use the rejection method to stop this so his recalls vary now as he finds some new and more interesting distractions to investigate.

He likes to meet people and other dogs if they will play with him. The problem is he is beginning to feel he can dominate dogs that do not wish to play or if they show him any aggression. To be my bombproof dog I need to curtail this quickly.

He does not know many games but his favourite is the genetic chase game and there is a certain way to play this so I am the dominant one and not Winston.

He chased a dog simply because it ran off. Winston may have thought this dog was playing the chase game when for the little dog it was not.

Winston does not normally bark but for some reason he has barked at a passing ambulance.

Once I am asleep, on three occasions he has crept in quietly and climbed onto the bed to sleep next to me. This defiantly has to stop.

Whilst sat in the car the other day two ladies were walking towards the car and Winston started to growl and circle around inside the car. My daughter said dogs can feel things about people but we disproved this later when I had to pick Amber up at night and he growled at her approach only stopping when he recognised her. Remember you only have to push the right buttons for a dog to react in an aggressive manner.

He begs for food when I am eating using all the tricks of sad eyes, paws on my leg and the heavy sighs.

He buries the treats and bones that I give him somewhere in the garden.

He does not like me to groom his rear end and gets very irritated whenever I try.

These are the current problems and they are quite normal and common to most dogs. Next week I will go through the ways of retraining and my current training programme to make him into my bombproof dog.

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