Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Noisy dogs, behavioural problems updates and Winston
My e-mail is filling up with complaints regarding noisy and aggressive sounding dogs. I think one writer does not actually own a dog but simply interested in purchasing compressed air as a way of silencing them. I certainly do share the writer's point of view having listened to dogs barking late into the evening and sometimes early in the morning. Dogs barking as you go for walk around the areas is also a very common complaint.
Whilst walking Winston we meet many savage barking dogs at fences and I always hope they remain on their side. I do worry what may happen if they ever get onto our side. On the other hand, some are just friendly. I wish these were in the majority.
I have used the compressed air on one very mean and aggressive dog that was barking at us when we were only walking up the street. There is no need for any dog to show passers-by such major aggression. Since using it, Winston does look over the wall now to see where the dog is but it never comes to the fence any more. It quietly wanders off as if we were not there. This is what I suspect the writer would like to see in their area.
On another occasion, one dog that always barked at us from behind the safety of a big gate found he was on the outside as the owner was loading the car. It came straight for Winston but met two shots of air stopping it in its tracks and making it turn back hotly pursued by Winston. Two more shots and Winston returned to me. The owner was most annoyed that we were there when his dog was out and that I had used something that had obviously startled his dog. I dread to think of what could have happened. I did raise the point of his dog's aggression and asked him what could have happen had children been passing. His reply was his dog is always under control.
The owners of the Villa where I am staying have come for two weeks and the wife is fearful of dogs so I have kept a strict eye on Winston never letting him out of my sight. Well so, I thought but told he had still managed to go round to them whilst they were having breakfast to see if there were any titbits of food available. Even for this lady it seems it is very difficult not to look at Winston's pitiful eyes when he is on the look out for food. It does go to show you that even if you had eyes in the back of your head dogs still manage to evade detection. You can never be certain what children or dogs will get up to once your back is turned.
I visited a couple with a barking dog that also jumped up at people and pulled on the lead whilst walking with the owners. The owners are of the belief that the neighbours think the name of their dog is "Shudup" so how to cure. The dog did not like compressed air for jumping up but they only wished to train their dog without recourse to collars and air.
We practiced with titbits and it does speak for them so the obvious answer for them is to teach speak and cease on command. For the jumping up, they will use the ignoring techniques of not looking at the dog and to tell visitors to do the same. Only when the dog has settled down does anyone then call the dog over for some attention.
Pulling on the lead is as always because the dog wishes to get where it thinks it wants to go where it can be off the lead for a run around and for fun. I suggested using a retractable lead to give the dog some more freedom and for the dog to have to make choices as to which street the owners will walk up. If the dog chooses the one to the right, they walk up the one on the left. No commands are necessary, as the dog wants to be with the owners. Gradually the dog sees there is little point in going ahead as the owners simply changes their direction. For the dog not knowing where it is going helps enormously with this type of correction and establishes the owners as leaders.
Just as an example, I asked the owners to put the lead on their dog and fasten the other end of it to the wall. I then asked them to step back and call the dog. Initially the dog tried to jump forward but after the third call sat down, as it is well aware it cannot move the wall. The look of the dog is obvious it is thinking its owners are daft as why can they not see he cannot go anywhere. The question it raises if in three attempts to answer a recall it learns walls do not move why then does it still pull the owners.
Another couple I visited had two dogs and one that barked at any one walking past in the street below. When I went into the garden, it barked and barked so we could not talk until I eventually fired the can of compressed air from behind my back at about ten feet from the dog. Silence was bliss. We now know that gas works so we tried out the gas collar. As soon as I got up the dog barked and shot off into the lounge. The owner called the dog for praise and I asked that as soon as the collar operates they should call the dog with loads of praise and fuss so that there is a better alternative to barking at people. If the owners can keep to this regime the dog, should when it sees people in the street go to either of the owners for some comfort rather that barking?
I have had a request to see if I can help a shelter obtain the UK recipe Chappie. Apparently, this version is easily digested and ideal for those dogs found roaming and abused. I understand from the manufactures that Spanish version is indeed a different recipe and they will look into the possibility of selling both brands here in Spain.
We have solved why the dog is barking in the back of the car but not barking on the back seat. Apparently, the back seat was not so silent free. The answer is indeed the dog is going somewhere it likes. All trips end up at the seaside, which it loves and other trips looking at properties give the dog the opportunity to run around in new areas. Each trip is, as far as the dog is concerned, a trip for it and so is very excited. Whilst wearing the collar the dog did not dare bark but quietly whined in excitement.
Unfortunately, I received another call this week asking me to send them the stronger mustard smelling gas as he now whines enough to empty the collar and then it can bark to its hearts content.
The correct way to retrain your dogs when they are excited in the car under there circumstances is to take your dog on many "no where trips" like going to the garage for petrol and then to return home. A trip down to the supermarket and back is another good exercise to try. Even taking your dog for a trip down the lane to take out the rubbish and home again helps. Another is where you go towards your dogs favourite walk area and drive right by. Do look at your dog's facial expressions when you do this, as it is a picture. Winston gets very excited when we get near the long grass on the Arenal so on occasions I drive right by and go somewhere else.
I understand few Americans have such problems as most trips in the car are for long distances. Their dogs are mainly "yard dogs" living most of the time in a nice big garden. For us using the car as a handy way of taking our dogs for a walk will only reinforce to the dog that the trip is for their benefit and encourage excitement.
I did have a problem the other day with Winston's excitement of going to the beach. He was stood up and wandering about the rear of the car. I told him to get down but to no avail. As this was a danger to my driving I lightly fired the compressed air down at my side and Winston shot to the back of the car straight into a down. From then on, no problem and had excellent behaviour.
The problem was the way he reacted to the compressed air as if I was very annoyed at him and no longer loved him so he was in the down but as far away as he could get from me. I do not wish a dog to fear me or feel I do not care about him so I stopped the car and gave him a big hug and praise before telling him to get down again, patting him and then setting off once more. When I say "Down", I want my dog to do this in order to please me not feel I am giving a command in anger. It is far better to watch a dog complete a down or sit command willingly rather than react in fear of any possible penalty. The hug seems to have paid off as now if I have to use the air again he comes shooting back to me expecting loads of praise from me.
I have now completed Winston's training for leaving him at home. When the owners are not here, he has the door open and the run of the garden. In the last few weeks, I have just locked the wreaker leaving him the run of the house. He does not do any damage and when I return it looks as if he must spend most of his time sleeping because of the heat.
I did wonder that now he has learned to bark for things that maybe he would bark when I had gone out but the neighbours say there is no sound from him and wish the same could be said for the other local dogs.
Following a period of having to shut my bedroom door to stop him trying to sleep with me, I can now go to bed leaving the bedroom door open. In the morning he must listens for any sound that I am awake and he then comes into to see me. Just wish I could get him to bring me in some toast and coffee.
For week 52, I will write about titbits and natural rewards as an aid to training and why this in fact the way we all learn. Used correctly this is a help and not a hindrance many instructors would tell you.