Pedro is a very happy, sweet dog with his owners and other adults. He was however, becomeng reactive with young children when visiting the house, and other dogs when out walking. The owners were concerned that when friends visiting with young children, Pedro would start barking and lunging towards them.

When I visited I could see that Pedro was unsure about other dogs, and by barking at them in his mind would keep them away. After lunging forward he would lunge back again, in a manner that he was warning, but didn't want to carry through with anything further. He was communicating the need for space between himself and the stimuli.

Often the first dog or person a dog sees will create a small reaction but by the third, fourth, a dogs reaction will be greater and coping mechanism less so. Just like if your having a bad day by the evening, something might feel like the last straw. If your day begins calmly then you can deal with stresses better. However, also if having been out sky diving or dancing with adrenaline up high, your reaction to a stressful situation, can also be out of proportion, because of the adrenaline and cortisol in your body. 

We looked at Pedros daily activities, games he played and how much rest time in the day he had. Recognising that Pedros reaction will be accentuated through over stimulation.

Rarely left alone, as lucky enough to have grandparents to stay with him, when his owners were are at work. Pedro has days filled with social interaction and plenty of ball playing, but not much sleep time.

On reflection, Pedro would be more reactive if he was over stimulated with lots ball throwing and little time out or rest, a bit like an over tired child.

Although we didn't want to stop ball playing and social interactions, it was important, particularly when wanting to change a behaviour, that Pedro begun some calmer games also. Introducing hide and seek games with treats and toys, helping to give more mental stimulation, whilst keeping his adrenaline down. This game also taught Pedro to focus more, on what the owners were doing, and therefore, preparing a partnership of looking and listening for when out on walks. When calmer, Pedro is more likely to listen to direction when another dog appear, as well as having more tolerance and less adrenaline in his system, which would have increased his reactivity.  Along side this ensuring each time when he saw another dog, he had a comfortable amount of space and something good would happen, like praise or treat when calm. This would then help change his perception and put a positive association in place of the unwanted behaviour. 

We focused on calm body language and no eye contact when guests came into the house, particularly important for the children. Normally excited or nervous by the presence of Pedro, he might have misread their body language, and therefore creating a fear and defence reaction. Once sitting, without engaging it was advised to throw a treat away from the children when he was calm, encouraging turning away and giving space was a positive thing. Also, reinforcing that good things happen when the children visit and when he his calm.

ROXY, a West Highland Terrier,very friendly and sweet girl. I was contacted by her owners, due to excessive barking in the house when passers by and visitors arrived. Also, when the postman delivered the post, she would get excitable and very vocal. This previously wasn't a big problem as the friends knew Roxy. However, with a new business being run at home, Roxys' antics were having more of an impact.

Work begun in the home of listen, look and focus games and gradual desensitisation games. Roxy thoroughly enjoyed the attention and very quickly started focusing on her owner, so we could gradually introduced some front door noises, knocks and later the bell. Also, creating a habit of when hearing the door knock, Roxy goes on her bed and learns to wait, until being called over for a cuddle or treat.

After the hard work of her owners and Roxy, all the new habits learnt in place of the unwanted ones. This became far more rewarding for Roxy, rather than the attention she was getting through the excessive barking. All in keeping with the lovely, calm and harmonious environment, given to the owners clients.

 

 

 

 

Dextor and Callie, the lovely duo!! I was asked to help with excessive greeting, licking and over excitement, when guests arrived at the house. Also, pulling on the lead made it difficult to manage on walks.

Indeed, on arriving i was met with two extremely happy, friendly and bouncy dogs. It is perfectly natural for dogs to want to investigate guests when coming into the home, however, jumping up can become a hazard. It is so important that with any training we do not use fear based training methods. Instead, we direct and teach the dogs what it is we want from them. We replace the habbit such as jumping up, with a new habbit which we do want.

We took time to look at other contributing factors also, such as diet, exercise, sleep, as all these can be a contributing factor to excessive energy levels. Looking again at managing guests coming into the house, whilst making it easier for the owners to teach Dextor and Callie some listening and obedience skills. Building up fun, active obedience training games not only helped Dextor and Callie listen more to their owners, but also deepen the bond between them. Mental stimulation was increased which in turn increases the "happy hormone" serotonin levels, whilst keeping adrenaline levels, cortisol "stress hormone" down, creating calmer dogs all round.

I had the pleasure to meet the lovely Star and Wispa. When i first visited the main concerns were jumping up and mouthing, when family and visitors came to the house. Also, a big concern for the owner, was being able to socialise Star and building up confidence with introductions to other dogs, and recall off lead. Initially Star was being kept on the lead due to these worries, and when we took a walk together i could see why her owner was concerned due to the barking and lunging. Assessing a dog and watching the behaviours in different environments and with different dogs is essential with determining the cause, and therefore the treatment plan for a dog. Fortunately in Stars case it appeared to be lead frustration, and was quickly resolved with the careful work of the owner.

If lead frustration is left unresolved, it can in some cases, progress to aggression. Early socialisation is vital for all dogs but this should be positive introductions, to prevent any nervous or fearful associations to other dogs or people. Star was carefully introduced to a family friends dog and then after speaking with different owners, was introduced on different walks.

The second visit showed amazing progress. When i arrived at the house i was met with minimal jumping up and when given the 'sit' command, this stopped altogether. On the walk in the park, Star and Wispa were running off lead and met with many new dogs, politely. This allowed us the opportunity to bring in the whistle for a quick recall, to give the owner even more control and confidence. Although we know Star and Wispa are happy to socialise, not all dogs will be and so it is vital to have fantastic recall in order to respect others space when needed. Both Star and Wispa are extremely quick learning and thoroughly enjoyed coming back to their owner, particularly when receiving a tasty treat!!!

 

 

This lovely girl Luna, now in her fourth home and only six months old. Some difficult habits to manage and so much energy, which could have proven too much for many people. Her new owners wanted to give her the very best chance and clearly already loved her very much. However, new coats each week couldn't continue!!! As a puppy, mouthing is a normal part of behaviour, particularly when teething. We gently teach the puppy by redirecting onto a chew toy or through verbal and body language. It is likely that Luna has missed out on this learning experience, having been intermittently in rescue centers. It was important to start kindly teaching what was expectable and what was not. Luna was also very worried about the outside world. This was not obvious and came across to the owners as "playing up " as Luna would start jumping and mouthing, creating a very difficult walk indeed.

Once a behaviour and the causes of this are understood it is much easier for an owner to feel more relaxed and patient towards a dog. Once the cause of Luna's behaviour was recognised, a plan was put in place to help build Luna's confidence outside. Also, to socialise her and redirect the mouthing and boisterous behaviours, into wanted behaviours. Lots of games also were used to help Luna start listening, and have positive associations with things like traffic and other noises. On my second visit i found a much more relaxed Luna and happier family all round. Well done to the motivation and hard work of her fabulous owners.

Buddy was a rescue dog and was in his new home for two weeks.The owner contacted me to help Buddy with some training and behavioural problems. Primarily, the main concern was separation anxiety. Dogs can become anxious or frustrated when being left alone for different reasons. Therefore, it was important that we found the underlying reason before creating a plan. 

When visiting it was clear that Buddy had not ever learnt to be confident in his own company. Before being re-homed, Buddy's experience of being left alone may have been negative or frightening. We needed to help Buddy feel secure and build confidence. 

Firstly, it was agreed he should have some rules and boundaries in place, therefore he would not be making all the decisions. Its much less stressful for a dog, when they have structure in their lives. This is not about being dominant, it is about having good communication, and teaching in a kind way what is expected.Then remaining consistent, so as not to confuse the dog. 

We used a baby gate to separate the front room from the hall temporarily. This was used to prevent Buddy from following his owner in the home all the time. He could sometimes follow, but at times learnt to stay alone for a small amount of time. Baby steps to build confidence. Along side this, other training games were used to build listening skills. Also, obedience training, to help self esteem and create stability. As well as toys to give mental stimulation, when Buddy was left alone. All of course, fun and motivating!! Eventually the time to leave Buddy alone in the house could be extended, until Buddy became very comfortable staying home alone, for longer periods of time.

Along side this Buddy's Recall was a problem. Having once run off, leaving his owner terribly worried. He was found and returned, but clearly this was a real concern. We established a good training plan with games inside the house, using sit and wait and calling Buddy to her when out of sight. Then outside, we used a whistle to help. We used a long training line and a whistle, as well as calling his name. This was a really great way of ensuring Buddy always turned his attention back to his owner, even with the best smells and most interesting dogs about!! He clearly adored his owner, but just needed to learn how to refocus his attention. Using the long line, gave the owner back the confidence, to recall before risking letting Buddy off lead, keeping him safe.

Both the owner and Buddy put so much energy and hard work into the training, as well as having much fun. They really did do fantastically!! Well deserved, the owner now has excellent recall with Buddy.

 

 

 

 

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Buddy was a rescue dog and had been with his owner for two weeeks when i was called to help with some behavioural and training needs.

It is thought he is a crossbread of Labrador and Staffordshire bull terrier. The main concern was thought to be seperation anxiety. When the owner left him to go out for a few hours he became extremely destressed, toileting 

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