Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Winston teaching problem dogs
Last week I wrote about dogs training other dogs. Dogs do teach dogsí providing what they are learning is to their advantage or enjoyment. If they do not find any benefit, they will ignore it.
Behaviourist use dogs for correctional work and it does depend on each particular dog and its skills. Visiting Dr Roger Mugford, he had his own little dog that would stand for all manner of investigation by dogs that had problems. The day I visited Rogerís establishment a large German shepherd was lifting his dogís back legs clean off the floor. The owner was obviously worried there might be a fight. Roger just said not to worry and that his dog would show when he had enough. This would involve growling, body stances and facial displays but no real aggression.
Earlier in the day, another problem dog arrived and Roger asked me to go into the office and ask for a specific dog. All the people that work there bring his or her dogs to work. I brought the dog out into the yard and she just stood next to me whilst Roger was watching the reactions of them both in order to gain an insight into the problem.
Here he was using dogs to encourage a doggy language interchange so it is possible for him to assess the problem. After an assessment then it is possible to know how to treat the dog but it is also actually possible to use a dog to retrain another dog as well.
One case that was a failure related to a dog whose owners sent me a long report of its problems. Some days later, they came in to the garden with their dog wearing a muzzle and Winston was wearing his.
The bitch immediately charged at Winston and kept pushing him. If it were not for the muzzle, I am certain she would have bitten him badly. After ten minutes, she quietened down but only to take a rest before starting at him again. Winston went through the play bow routine to invite her to play but she would not.
Compressed air had no effect on her. This meant that citronella collars would be useless. This also meant there was no effective control with her off the lead so she would always need to wear her muzzle.
We walked in my fields and normally they soon settle down once they have sniffed at one another. It is usual that within about half an hour at most they would both play. For this bitch, she would have none of it. Only a ten-minute rest then back at Winston again. He eventually gave up and walked away but she followed him with further attacks. Even after an hour and a half, there was no sign of any improvement.
They said they would come back the following week and try again but then they postponed. My thoughts were that as one of her such focused targets involved children this was indeed a worrying aspect to this case. I wrote suggesting that following what they had seen was the risk worth it. They wrote back to say they would come again the next week, but they never arrived.
Last week some owners came to judge how compressed air and a citronella collar would work on their dog. The dog was barking loudly in the back of the car as it could see Winston. I suggested they bring him in on a lead and I put Winston on his. As soon as the dog came through the gate, he went straight for Winston so I used the Pet Corrector (harmless compressed air) to keep him back. It was certainly effective and it immediately backed off but only for a moment before attacking again. Winstonís heckles were up indicating the dogs threats were real.
Eventually after about ten minutes of constant attacks, the Pet corrector did its job and the dog realised attacking Winston was futile. Once he had calmed down, we let them sniff at one another. This further reduced the dogís aggression so I suggested they let him off his lead. He shot off round the garden in excitement at being able to explore, but Winstonís body language indicated that he was not ready to play. The dog did rush up to him a number of times showing him his version of play bow, so finally, he was showing he wanted to play.
After a few more offers of play, Winstonís tail began wagging correctly so I let him free and the two dogs ran off round the fields together at high speed. Winston is nearly six now so the young dog was quickly tiring him out but it still wanted to play. The owners were so pleased to see their dog finally playing and they were impressed with the pet corrector.
As compressed air worked well on this dog then a compressed air citronella collar should also work just as effectively to teach it not to bark at everybody. This is also providing they give there dog praise when he reacts positively to the use of both. These are only training aids so when dogs act favourably then they deserve lots of praise to help quicken the retraining of antisocial behaviour.
Just putting citronella collars on dogs or using compressed air without praise, the dogs will soon become accustomed to its use. This means they become de-sensitised and learn that it is harmless, making further use ineffective.
In another case, some owners wanted to join on of my obedience classes but their bitch was very nippy and aggressive when playing with other dogs. This meant she always wore a muzzle. They came with their dog and met Winston for an hour a number of times a week to learn to play with him. Eventually they were able to remove the muzzle. Now she and her owner have started in the obedience class and she is certainly much better than the first time she came through my gates.
During the last three years, Winston has met many dogs that were either initially aggressive or those that were never aggressive at all. In both types of cases, it needs the dogs to learn how to meet and make the correct ritualised introductions as well as learning to play without actually biting or nipping. When most owners find that, their dogs are or appear aggressive, it is natural to restrict contact with other dogs unaware that their dogs actually need such sociability training. Also not everyone wishes to risk letting their dogs play with such seemingly aggressive dogs, meaning that Winston is regularly in the firing line.
He started his life in a shelter and remained there for nearly three years. During this time, he had met many dogs learning all the interaction and language skills for him to survive. He now helps me by teaching those skills to those dogs that regularly come through our gates. The majority go away changed dogs due to Winston. This is because I cannot do what he does and that is why I need him. Many owners are very grateful for Winstonís teaching skills.