Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Winston, the Bulldog again, the fighting bitches and more ways to solve pet problems
We have now reached a total of 100 articles and the information, the stories, and cases continue piling up on my desk. Sometimes an article will have a theme and then at the last minuet I must change it because of the wealth of information I have on a subject or because I think the new theme is more interesting and may follow on from the previous week.
For me this week had a bad start. First a printer packed up and then my phone would not start up. The air conditioning stopped working on the car. I burst a car tyre and after having changed this, I found I have taken on board a cockroach. This I fear is still be running around inside the car somewhere. Added to this Winston has now taken a dislike to driving in the car with me. Is it the Spanish winding roads or is it his comment on my driving ability.
So suffering from annoyance or depression, what do I write about for my centenary article? Many people have asked to know more about Winston. Many times now when we are out walking people, come up to us and say, “This must be the famous Winston and you must be that chap that writes for the Costa Blanca News?” See Winston is more famous than I am and they can even remember his name. I simply hold the end of the lead.
My dog Winston
Winston is a cross between a Rhodesian Ridge back and a boxer who has not had his muzzle slammed into a door to give him that squashed appearance. In his body shape, he looks like a Ridge back but his ridge does run the right way, not the opposite way but he has the head similar to a mastiff. I do find his well-defined ridge of hackles very useful as I can clearly see the level of aggression or lack of it in any dog we meet. This tells me if the other dog’s bark is just worse than its bite and this does take a lot of pressure off me.
He is brilliant for the behavioural work because his doggy language he has learned from having to spend the first 3 years of his life in the shelter before I adopted him. This is an invaluable skill to help solve doggy problems. Sometimes I have to place him right in the firing line when he meets some very aggressive dogs but he handles it and no dog has been bitten him to date.
For fun I also do other training like scent for tracking, searching for articles, drugs, explosives, weapons, lost, or injured people as well as cadaver searching. All this extra work does keep us busy.
From Winston’s successes in finding lost or stolen handbags, we went to see the owners of a villa where a burglar had stolen two handbags. The only way into the villa, other than from the front where all the family were working was from a wood at the back.
The owner gave me an article of clothing so Winston could memorise the owner’s scent. After this we looked round the back garden and I realised I had not taught Winston any agility like jumping over the 3ft garden wall. Eventually he managed this and we were then able to commence our search for the most logical routes to and from an assumed parked car.
We found two likely tracks with one longer that the other. The short one to the left came out next to an empty villa and in the drive, I found recent tyre prints. The longer one had the problem that in a panic it was possible to become lost. This burglar thought he had been seen and had tried jumping through a fly screen to make good his escape so he could have become disorientated and lose is way. The end of this longer path came out on a dead end track but there were no car tyre imprints or any signs of a car having turned round there, so the logic was he took the shorter route.
We did search both routes for handbag debris because if he were only searching for money he would have thrown everything useless away into the undergrowth. It is not often they wish to have bags in the car or if they do, they try to get rid of them as soon as possible. Normally they throw them out of the car window into rough ground along the side of the road on their escape route.
During one of the searches back toward the villa and after about an hour and a half of searching, Winston began to smell something on the breeze. He started to work his way into a dense thicket. I immediately thought the handbags had been dumped here as the burglar when he though he had been disturbed. As I came round to the other side of the undergrowth I could see Winston coming out only to find for me the piece of the owners clothing where I had left it on the garden wall. I was pleased with him and gave him a huge fuss as it proved he was still looking and working and not just wandering about.
For the owners it was not a success but for Winston and for me it was an excellent training exercise. We did then check all the areas of rough ground on the expected escape route back down to Javea but found nothing other that a few very old and dry wallets and bags that did not contain anything.
If you do have a similar burglary do give us a call and you never know just maybe Winston’s excellent nose could just find your stolen bag obviously minus the money but there are many items that are difficult to replace or irreplaceable.
That Bulldog again
Two weeks ago, I was telling you about introducing a new dog namely a Bulldog to a home having already two existing dogs along with some parrots.
I had thought all was calm now but the Bulldog was not giving up that easily. Over the next few days, the owners found the following problems. Once allowed back inside the house he would still try to evict the other dogs back into the garden. He would jump up onto the glass coffee table chasing flies. He would not allow the owners to fuss their other dogs whilst in his presents. Nor would he leave the parrots alone when they jump onto the cage sides and flap their wings. At 7am he would bark from outside the villa at any of the neighbours and when the owners were swimming in their pool he would run round the outside barking.
The owners had looked at the various corrective collars on the Web and then they asked if I would bring mine over to evaluate whether they would help to solve any or all of these problems.
As the Bulldog rarely barked before commencing any of these unwanted activities the Aboistop automatic citronella collar would not be much use. The remote version on the other hand is where the owner sets the collar off with a remote fob seemed the more likely solution.
The only problem is that when the owners use compressed air it does stop him doing what ever he was doing only to change to chasing the gas instead. I wondered what he would do if the gas appeared in front of him when released from the collar hanging underneath his jaw.
We waited for him to be naughty and then I fired the fob. Instant stop and he just wandered off. That was brilliant for me as this meant the owners now had control. One test was to open the doors to the room where the Parrots were and when one started flapping its wings the Bulldog started jumping up at the cage, the collar stopped him instantly.
Another was for the lady owner to pick up her other dog onto her lap. Normally the Bull dog would pounce on the bitch and hold her down to stop her owners from fussing her.
Seeing the impending fussing the Bulldog charged but before he reached her the owner pressed the button on the fob. This released the gas so stopping him in his tracks and he walked off.
As for the morning barking, I went outside with the collar and the owner went into the bedroom and fired the fob. It worked so the next morning when he barked pressing the fob whilst the owners were still in bed stopped the barking.
Sometimes a dogs barking is positional so the dog can think he cannot bark here but maybe he can bark over there. The Bulldog tried this but with the collar, this plan failed for him.
The owners were telling me they had gone to the vets to register the chip and on entering the waiting room there were four people with their dog. Once inside the Bulldog created mayhem with dogs and owners going everywhere until they pressed the fob and then instance peace.
It seems that the Bull dog appears to have somewhat diminished in size now and there is an air of calmness. I would expect that in a few more weeks of tiding up any other little attempts of trying to become top dog all three dogs and parrots should finally accept a peaceful status quo.
The case of the two fighting bitches
You may recall the case of two fighting bitches where the junior bitch came into season and began to organise all the dogs according to the normal rules of pack behaviour. The original dominant spayed bitch would not submit to her as the Alpha female and so the normal and only alternative must be eviction from the pack.
After many weeks, the owner telephoned me to bring me up to date with how the vets were progressing with their ideas of behaviourism. Unfortunately, all they are doing is textbook experimentation and it is not working. They could not deicide which bitch should be the dominant one so as it progresses we still have the older bitch unwilling to relinquishing her position. Now the pups have grown up under the normal rules so they two think she should be banished from the pack.
There is a possibility for this to happen where the older bitch could go to the UK in six months time. I have suggested they spay the other bitch and giver her something to keep her calm. It will not change back to how it was as the younger bitch has learned the rules and you cannot change that now. Taking away the hormone drivers though may reduce the need to fulfil those rules and possibly peace will return to how they were before the younger bitch had her first season. This is a good option because if it works then the whole pack could remain together.
The owner still had a hard struggle to persuade her vets to spay her puppies before they had their first season. Eventually they agreed but they are not aware that this is now the standard and established recommendation by both behaviourists and vets. If you do not wish to breed from your bitch then have her spayed as soon as she is fit enough for the operation and before her first season. Letting a bitch have one season is now an outmoded practice.
More ways to solve problems
I receive many questions each day that cover a multitude of topics. Aaron my web designer has now introduced a message board onto my website so that if you have any pet questions do place them here. Not only will you recived answers from me but also anyone else who may have had a similar and found an answer or know from experience the answer you seek. Please do have a look and try it out. It is free and continues the theme of everyone helping each other because there is a wealth of useful experiences out there. Let’s use it.
Finally, from the end of August we hope to have opened a walk in centre in Javea for you to call in and discuss any of your pet problems that you may have. I will give you more details as soon as I have them.
Looking back over the articles I do now see a change in people’s attitude towards training and how to solve the odd problems that crop up for all of us from time to time. The more we learn the language of our pets the easier it all becomes.