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Removing a Denuncia from your Dog

Most of us fall foul of the law as some time in our lives and our pets are no exception. Some people do not seem to care if their dogs are a problem and often no respect for the law nor have any interest in their responsibility to other people. We also have people who simply hope it will never happen even if their dog is dangerous, hoping to get through life with as few complaints as possible. Most owners if their dog does something wrong they feel guilty and try to resolve the problem in accordance with the law. This is fine if we know the law so often we only find out when things go wrong.

Here in Spain we can receive a Denuncia for almost anything. Dogs incessant barking, chasing dogs, cats, children, Joggers, not having a microchip, fowling the pavement as well as aggressive behaviour if not causing actual bodily harm but people fearing such harm is possible.

A short while ago a large dog was regularly fed over the fence by a Spanish neighbour. The owners did try to ask her to stop but she persisted. One day whilst she was tipping rubbish in the skip the dog went to her. Possibly, because she did not have any food for him his request was to paw at her and badly scratched the back of her forearm requiring medical attention. This could happen to any of us.

Because she went to her doctors, they are required to inform the Town Hall irrespective of the level of medical problem. Following such a report, owners receive a Denuncia requiring they register their dog as dangerous.

The owners accepted this and asked what they must do in order to register. They first needed to have a psychological test to see if they were suitable to own a dangerous dog. Next, they needed two passport pictures and then they went into the Javea Town Hall office.

I have to give full marks to the Javea office as they looked at the Denuncia and said that their dog was not a breed listed as a dangerous dog. This meant it was unnecessary to register if it was only an accident and their dog was not aggressive. They suggested they should go to their vet and have the dog assessed to see if registration was indeed necessary.

The dog is only a year old but he is large and looking at the size of his paws when he finishes growing, he is going to be big. Whilst the vet felt secure that the dog was neither dangerous nor aggressive, they had to consider its large size and the owner’s responsibility to others to show they have a reasonable level of control. The result was to suggest they have some basic obedience training over the next four weeks.

This is where I came in and asked if I could give the owners and their dog a crash obedience course. I wrote over the last few weeks that any form of training owners do need to have their dog’s full attention. If they do not most of what they try to teach their dog is lost in the translation because of its lack of interest.

Having a crash course in obedience does have many advantages because as it is one to one and unlike a dog school class I can design all the training specifically towards the family and their dog. With such intensity, there is little time for the dog to learn bad habits as owners and their dog have no time to become bored.

For this dog, (I will call him Charlie) lived with a little terrier that was the more dominant as they often are. Charlie was one of those dogs that had no interest in being dominant. With the other dog, already taking this position, meant there was little point in playing, retrieving, and coming as the little dog was always there first.

Food was also of little importance as he was not too keen on the food and only ate as much as he wanted. The owners left food out so he could eat when he chose to. This meant that the food from the owners had little influence over Charlie so why do anything.

On my first visit, I took Winston into their garden inside my car but did not let him out. I wanted to see if there was any territorial aggression. Though both dogs would have liked him to get out, when he did not, they left my car alone.

My suggestion was first to change his meal to dog biscuit with an egg, milk and dog meat. I asked that they split the day’s meal into at least 10 food tubs and leave them all around the house. At any time, anyone could call Charlie to COME to receive a portion of food. He must eat this quickly before it is taking away. Doing this would improve the owner’s leadership skills and dramatically improve the dogs recall.

I then showed the owners how to teach Charlie to walk to heel. It was here that it was obvious that Charlie wanted to lunge at other dogs or cats in the area. Titbits initially keep his interest on the owner but Charlie had a powerful urge to meet other dogs.

The following week I suggested Charlie use the Halti and lead combination that certainly reduced his pulling tremendously. During the training, a puppy came out to play and Charlie lunged towards the dog. I kept walking him backwards every time he lunged forward until he eventually calmed enough to meet the puppy and sniff each other. After this meeting, Charlie did nothing. He had no idea how to play with non-dominant dogs. Because of this, I suggested for the next class be with Winston at a secluded beach. Here we could let Charlie off the lead but attach him to ten metres of rope in order to catch him if necessary.

We did not need the rope Charlie and Winston played for ages retrieving a ball from the sea. When eventually other dogs came along Charlie only wanted to play and when we walked off calling him, he came as good as gold.

One final test was to place a small piece of frankfurter between my teeth and offer Charlie to take it. At first, he was hesitant but then took it ever so gently. This is a very powerful tool to show respect to humans as leaders because it brings back early survival needs when the leaders came back after hunting and regurgitated food to the cubs.

Charlie is a lovely big dog who loves children and now knows how to play whilst the owners know how to get his attention. His walking to heel and recall are much better and with continued training and sociability, he will be fine.

Because of his rapid improvement with his training and together with my assessment of the family and Charlie, I was pleased to recommend to their vet that Charlie need not register as a dangerous dog.

This is not an isolated case as I have a similar one for next week. The issue of a Denuncia on pet dogs is actually very common so let’s be careful out there.

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