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Behavioural updates and the diary of an adopted shelter dog VI

Recently there is an increase in the number of requests for help regarding barking and howling dogs. More and more people are realising that they do not need to have to put up with this anymore and more dog owners are becoming more aware of the possibility of complaints from their neighbours. I do rent my various gas collars to owners, as I understand they retail here in Spain at 100 euros. If you cannot find one I can sell you one or rent it to see if it is a benefit for your dogs. Sometimes they do not work and it needs you to look at why your dog is barking to help retrain the dog by other methods.

If you do buy one, do not use the wearing of it, as a threat so the dog knows it is the collar that produces the gas. Always keep it on your dog and I understand the use of Magic Tape is excellent for placing over the mike to switch it off and easily peeled off again to switch it on. Do keep it topped up so the dog does not learn it can empty it and can then bark endlessly to its hearts content.

A dog that lived in the UK has now come to Spain and stared to howl. I suggested some dominancy training using ignoring the dog techniques and this seemed to have had some success but now the dog is howling again. After talking for some time, I think we have found the reason for the dog restarting. The owner said it was taking them 15 to 20 minuets to settle the dog before they could go out. I know this seems as kind by human standards when you see your dog is upset but by showing your concern as you would to your granny to settle her worries has the opposite effect to dogs. Such signs of concern actually reinforces to the dog that there is indeed reason for it anxiety so as it whines the owner's stay reinforcing again that being upset keeps the owners in the house. When the owners do finally leave the dog will wine or howl or even bark for hours until they return again reinforcing even more that such actions will make the owners return. I know it sounds cruel but for such a problem just ignore and appear happy then come and go over short periods of time slowly building the period up but your must ignore your dog. Try to return when your dog is not making a noise but if this is not possible then enter as if there were complete silence and totally ignore your dog for at least 10 minuets. Later when the dog is quiet and settled only then call your dog over for some fuss. Never reward your dogs barking with any recognition, as this will teach the dog to only bark more as it gains your attention.

Behavioural updates

This week's trip down towards Cartagana we finally met the dog that bit the daughter for simply trying to take away a sweetie paper. The wife and daughter were still apprehensive to take anything away from the dog and if they tried to remove his meal, he would eat it as fast as he could. A male relation had at least shown them that he could take the dogs meal away so it showed them it was at least possible.

When I met the dog, it was in no way aggressive at all but quite the contrary. It was happy to meet me in his own garden and house so aggression was not the cause here. It would bark at people dogs and children who ran past the front of the house and those walking past the side of the garden to gain access to their apartments. It would allow all the children into the garden and into the pool, so territorial aggression was also not a problem. It could all be due to excitement and wish to play mixed along with some confusion of its place within the family so we set about recreating such incidents.

First, the owner gave the dog some food and as soon as she attempted to remove it, the dog began to eat like there was no tomorrow. I then offered the food then gave the command "Leave" which it ignored so I fired the compressed air about 4 times before the dog backed off. He now knew all about compressed air. Next, we tried to simulate the children running past or on their bikes but nothing. I walked Winston past the gate and we had success as he barked at us for which the owner used the compressed air and followed this immediately by praising her dog.

Later the daughter fed the dog and then gave the command "Leave" holding the compressed air in her hand just in case she needed it. Though anxcious she did not need to use it and in one test, she even forgot to say leave but the dog still let her take his meal without question.

I asked them to continue with the dominancy techniques for a little longer and never to play pull games with any toys or for shoes that the dog takes a likening to. If they want to take it away from the dog they just say leave holding the can for support but I very much doubt they will need to use it again but it at least it gives them confidence. A good book worth reading about dormancy problems is Jan Fennell "The Dog Listener".

Luckily the next door neighbours had arrived and when they left they walked past the garden walking as far away from the dog as possible but the dog only looked without any barking.

This day was a bad day for the dog and he sat for quite some time in the corner of the garden trying to come to terms with all that had happened. At one point, he tried to climb up and sit on the back of the owner's chair and onto the owner's shoulders. He had never done this before so he was seeking the owner's comfort and support.

Now the dog is aware of compressed air the owners can fire it from a distance for the dog to know that what it is doing is not acceptable. If the dog barks at the gate, they can fire the can from inside the house and the dog should stop.

After a week I received a telephone call to tell me the dog is barking when the owners are out and so annoying the neighbours. The owner is therefore going to use the gas collar and as we know, he does not like the compressed air so the collar should cure his barking.

I have seen a dog that bit a jogger, as they seem to do. Either the likely reason for this is the sudden appearance of the jogger so startling the dog or that this is just a good chase game. Meeting the owner and the dog it was obvious this was not an aggression problem as the dog only wished to play with Winston and with all the other dogs in the area. It seemed a very friendly dog towards people but as the bite was round the corner and out of sight, we do not know exactly why the dog bit the jogger.

I dressed up like a jogger and ran past the dog. It did show a little interest in me and so I fired the compressed air. Just to make sure he was getting the message I also showed him the eye-to-eye contact aggressive stance to make him give me a warning growl and for which he received a further dose of compressed air. I ran past him a few more times but there was no longer any sign of interest.

I have asked the owner to take the dog on a long lead, near areas frequented by joggers. The reason for the longer lead is safety for joggers but also the dog is further away from the influence of the owner so it then should give a truer response. When a jogger passes, she should tell her dog to leave or come in order to reinforce this week's treatment. I will check the dog's reaction to joggers again next week.

The dog's recalls are also poor and it pulls when walking so the owner is following a plan of dominancy training. I asked if there is anything the dog might like as a reward titbit in order to encourage the dogs recalls along with using happy sounding commands followed with loads of praise on his return. I will bring back all the sizes of Halti head collars for her to try as they do reduce the pulling power of most dogs. If you do purchase one, please get the right size so it does not ride up over the dog's eyes

I have also suggested she takes charge in all things and to make all the decisions not her dog. This is similar to the training programme I am using for Winston. All routines are now at an end and the dog must now come to realise he gets nothing from his requests. Now the owner must decide when and where she goes not the dog. The owner only needs to follow such a programme until she feels it is no longer necessary and it is she who influences her dog not the other way round. After a while, owners do begin to feel they are in control. When this happens the owners have regained their lives again.

Diary of an adopted shelter dog

On our walks in the Arenal, we are now walking off the lead. As it is so busy here with so many people he is keen to stay close to me but I will move away from him until he notices there is a large gap between us and so he automatically comes back to my side. I do not give him any command and I leave it to him to learn to keep his eyes on me at all times. If he does fail to notice I just call his name and twiddle my fingers round and he returns to my side.

One evening whilst on a walk two dogs came over to meet Winston and began to play. Unfortunately, they started to become a little too boisterous and started pushing Winston and he too was becoming more agitated. As the owners were having some trouble recalling their dogs, I released the compressed air into the foray and the two dogs shot off back to their owners.

I read that German postmen are to receive dog psychology training in order they can determine which dogs are more likely to bite them. I have suggested that it would be more cost effective if they were to telephone Roger Mugford for some Pet Persuader.

I understand that Roger is now prepared to re-launch this for general public release but with instructions that are more detailed. This is a very useful aid to have if only just to stop dogfights. It really does work. It is just that if used incorrectly the results can produce some unnecessary and unintentional problems. I have asked if he will export this to Spain for general release and will keep you informed with any further developments.

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