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Rocky continued plus a bitch test for J and mealtime aggression

To continue with Rocky, (not his real name) he has now gone back to the shelter but on my return to Spain, I will go and see how he is doing. I would like to complete some more socialisation training with him as well as to check if his pulling on the heelwork has decreased.

I also want to give him a bath. This is one of the strongest dominancy training we can give to our dogs. When we wash them and touch them all over, we are reinforcing our influence over them. This is also helpful for the Vets as they too must touch them at times that are distressing so this helps calm our dogs. We must let our dogs know that when we handle them it is for their benefit.

He could also do with a good grooming as he has a lovely medium length coat that will look great once a brush has gone through it all. When Amber first saw him through the gate, she said "Dad he is a gorgeous dog". If anyone is looking for a nice big dog that just is looking for a family that will love him then he is defiantly one to see at APASA in Javea.

Whilst writing this week's article, I received a telephone call regarding a small dog that howls and barks when the owners leave the property. The owner was asking about collars. We do not like to use collars on dogs that are possibly showing signs of separation anxiety as they are effectively crying because the owners have left without them. Why make their anguish worse with a collar? Providing it is separation anxiety, we need to use other methods.

The dog use to sleep in another room but has now moved into the bedroom and also follows them about everywhere. It only took Rocky just over a day to start to show the same anxiety symptoms with me so please be vigilant you are able to have your own free time and space without your dog always being there with you. Do not make them so dependant on you.

I have asked them to follow the actions I described last week for Rocky and how I defined for him my own free space.

The best time to train is after walking your dog's legs off then giving the dog its meal then leaving it in a room to rest and relaxation with a closed door between you. Go in some times but do not look at your dog and go out again. If your dog barks or knocks on the door, go in to make a coffee and come out again without taking any notice of your dog.

Ignoring your dog is defining to your dog you wish to be alone and gradually build these times up until you can just go out. Your going should not follow any ceremony for when you depart even for a short time. Once the times have increased for you to just go out and come back in again without showing your dog any interest. Only after your return and allowing for 10 or 15 minuets to have elapsed should you call your dog over to you for your attention and fuss.

Whining and barking must not achieve your dog's goal of you releasing it into your company. You do not need to do this forever only until your dog recognises your right to be alone.

The bitch test for J

APASA has other dog that I will call J. He was to go to Switzerland as a guard dog and this is he was rightly suited for. Whilst he looks the part and barking when people enter the property, he shows no sign of aggression.

This particular breed of dog seems to act aloof and superior towards all other dogs. I walked him one day and he completely ignored Winston and a bitch that followed us. The request from the prospective owners was how would J react to their existing bitch.

Most dogs do not harm bitches. They are interested in them but usually it is more likely that the bitch would react more aggressively towards a dog to tell it to keep its distance until they are better acquainted. (Just like a woman)

Jackie at the shelter could not see the point of this as she felt we could introduce J to a hundred bitches to whom he would react favourably yet the one in Switzerland, on her own territory, could still react unfavourably towards him. I simply suggested the new owners allow both dog to meet off the bitches territory then to walk back to the home once they were happy with one another.

To just check I agreed with Jackie that she would leave a bitch in one of the large compounds. I would then attach J to 12 meters of safety line and to then walk him into the compound on the lead. With the safety rope, this gave the bitch a large area of refuge should there be any major aggression from J. There was absolutely nothing.

I asked Jackie if she had a bitch that may object to his presence and so we tried again. This time the alternative bitch did warn J to keep away and he reacted only to find compressed air fired across his mussel to show him we do not tolerate such actions. Even the bitch had second thoughts of any further warnings towards J.

At this point Jackie felt there was no point in going further. He did react but only following a lot of provocation and now will probably think twice were he ever to do it again.

You will find that most dogs are fine with bitches but occasionally you find a dog will dislike a certain bitch for no apparent reason.

Unfortunately having done all this testing the prospective owners obtained another dog in Switzerland and so J is still here in Spain. Anyone looking for an excellent guard dog that is not aggressive and looks like a big cuddly bear then he is available once again.


When I picked Winston up from the kennels the gentleman who brought out my very happy dog asked me was I also a dog trainer. I replied yes sort of asking the question as to why.

It seems once Winston goes to the kennels, which he loves, he goes back to his old rules of barking, playing merry mayhem and whilst on walks he chews and pulls the lead. This is the only game he knows after his first three years of living in the shelter.

Winston has spirit and I do not like to break any spirited dog into submitting to my will. I only wish to influence them but I can also see the kennels problem. Normally Winston only barks at the shelter or at the kennels but never with me. It took me ages to teach him to speak. Only when his frustration boiled over at wanting to go for a walk than go in the car that he started barking at me. At this point, I could then start to teach him to bark for things. One night at 3 am he barked at the side of my bed as his water bowl was empty. I have learnt before I go to bed now to make sure it is full then I can have a peaceful night.

This time before I went back to the UK then to go onto Poland followed by Romania and back again I approached the kennel gates with one very happy dog going on his holidays and barking to get in. I had to say to him "Finish". He obliged but to meet up with new and old friends is a major temptation with all the other dogs barking too.

Maia placed him in the kennel next to his friend. This was a huge beautifully mastiff bitch that the owners have simply deserted and disowned at the kennels. I am certain Winston and the other dogs have a lot to talk about again. Anyone wanting a beautiful mastiff bitch please do get in touch. She is a delight.

I have to admit that Winston's heelwork off the lead is declining so he is in need of some remedial training yet again. On the lead, he is excellent but his recalls are mediocre and when cars are coming it is he who should hear them first and be on his way back to stand still by my side. It is not for me to have to call him. I will have to revert to using titbits again for a while to speed him up again.

The other day we came across a lady with a bitch who was walking her off the lead and I called Winston over to put his lead on just for safety. She immediately waved her arms to signal her dog was not a problem.

I do like to see people willing to socilise their dogs with each other. The dog was certainly very friendly when I patted her dog but not so friendly when her owner patted Winston. This was too much and she warned him to stand back clearly as if to say "that is my mum who is patting you". Dogs can get a little jealous some times.

If this happens to you do not give in to your dog. Simply pat the other dog for shorter occasions or to pat them both together. Just watch the reaction and try to leave friendly but not with your dog, feeling it can scare all other dogs away from you. You should be able to pat any dog you like. It is not for your dog to set the rules.

Mealtime aggression

Following from my article on aggression at meal times, I did receive a number of emails from owners of such dogs or those that placed their feet in their water or feed bowls.

Two were aggressive and I retrained them but for those placing their feet in the water bowl this, was just a boisterous game and they will grow out of this as they grow up. Just show no attention to this action and walk away. If you use dog bowls that are off the ground by using a stand, this usually solves this problem.

To date I have only heard from two owners of dogs showing major aggression towards them. A know a number of vets have remarked to me that they have many owners frightened of their dogs when it comes to the dog's meal times. This should not be happening and is easy to retrain. Dogs should not be setting the rules and certainly not growling at the owners.


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