Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
My update is bad news as my Aboistop decided to stop working (as things do) so I will have to trace an outlet in Spain to keep me supplied. It certainly seemed to be working for the owner. It may just be a loose connection or the battery. If any people who have these and wish to sell them or rent them out please contact me and I can form central exchange information point for those who would like to use one.
Whilst in Spain, I went to see the little puppy companion dog that attacked the legs of any visitors to the owner’s home. There was in fact no problem here and more of my confirming the owner’s current method of retraining. I went into the apartment as would any other visitor so I could see its normal reaction. Apart from a little barking, it then started to show some interest to my trouser bottoms. As I showed it more attention, the dog became more playful with them and to my bootlaces. If I made any quick movement with my hands and arms, the pup playfully nipped them. The owner was aware this is not so much a problem now but will become worse as the dog grows. The dog was quite persistent in holding my trouser bottoms and laces taking a gentle push away as a reason to show even more attraction to them. As I played this game, the nips became a little rougher.
I mentioned the other week that the dog also became protective of the repair man's tools that he laid on the floor. A friend had already sorted this one because the puppy had its toys all over the lounge floor so the tools simple became an extension of its toys. The friend had suggested keeping the dogs toys in a dog box until it wished to play with any of them. The owner did and this solved the problem.
What we had here was a game played with its related puppies and which all puppies try to play. All puppies must learn the rules of survival in the first 14 to 16 weeks so this type of play is for hunting. It is normal for a dog in the chase to immobilise the preys back legs before taking its time in killing it. This is a standard form of play and one you see if puppies remain together longer that 6 or 8 weeks. At this point, pack-hunting skills start to become important and you cannot shut down the dog’s genetic set of rules coming into play. You can only override these by changing the learned skill to augment, change, or override these by teaching that such skills are unnecessary. That is why I disagree with some of my colleagues in that as the genetic trait of aggression is inherent in all of us we can change. Just press the right buttons and we all can kill. It is that we have learned that though we can kill we will not kill today (Captain James T Kirk USS Enterprise) My further support for this is that I have seen many Pit Bulls that are very soft and have not shown any signs of aggression it is just when they do bite then beware.
The pup was now becoming quite persistent to play the game and I was the game. When I jumped about, it became more excited with the game, and so I sat down again. A moment later, I just picked up the pup and hugged it to my chest. What a difference in the dogs expression as this was not the way the game should be played and promptly sat next to his owner and looked at me with new eyes and the game had abruptly ended. The owner had already found this method worked by handing the dog over to the arms of friends with calming words and the dog stopped playing the game.
This is not a game you should play with your pets because it is a chase game and if not humans then next doors cat may become involved in the game and where the end could result in a dog loosing its eyes. Hugging may not work in all cases and in particularly bigger dogs but when your dog does try to play, such games simply say no stand up, turn round, and ignore your dog. Show that you will not tolerate such games and will end playtime. Your puppy will soon learn to play other games instead with you that you are prepared to tolerate.
I have not heard from David Olley yet but will see him on my return to the UK next week.
The case where there is a small dominant dog the owners have agreed with their vet to try the hormone injection to see if simulating castration may prove if neutering would prove beneficial. There are benefits from the operation but do not always solve aggression problems. This means it is a shame to put your dog through surgery if there is no benefit as a result. There is an excellent article on the subject of neutering and I will request permission to reprint it here. For those who have access to the Internet then you will find on www.apbc.org.uk under Neutering of male dogs by David Appleby.
I am in Romania now with meetings for providing information for possible EU legislation relating to possible formulating future laws governing dogs within the EU. You may have seen on the news that Romania does have a dog problem following changes by Ceausescu’s systematisation programme of the 1980s. This led to many dogs released to roam the streets and as a result have breed like rabbits. Travelling from the airport, I saw five dogs roaming and on a walk about of Bucharest saw four more begging. I know that Roger Mugford had seen the roaming dogs in New York and said that feral dogs do not form packs and simply live to survive. I saw no packs nor any sign of aggression only lone undomesticated dogs simply searching and begging.
For myself I have always worried that such dogs would learn a completely different set of rules than those of normal dogs. I found that all the dogs I came across even third generation dogs retain the same rules and it was still possible to react normally with them. In Bucharest with such a number of dogs, roaming the streets this problem has even gained a mention as a warning in a traveller’s guidebook. The residence have the Mayor attempting to rid the streets of such dogs and also he is accused of using inhumane methods from Vier Pfoten and Bridgett Bardott Foundation which both wish to neuter, chip and re-home most of the dogs taken from the streets.
I watched the televising on Tuesday of a programme still promoting the old enforcement method of dog training and using the thin chocker chains. (Ask your vet what they think to these then bin them). They also interviewed me on the same programme about the modern methods of training of simply translating actions into commands in the hope this would improve their current method. The modern approach is about three times faster in training a dog than by enforcement because you do not have to fight the dog with threats of pain.
I had a question on how I trained my dog to play dead after being supposedly shot by my fingers and saying ‘bang’. I asked how they would teach this to their dog. They said they would find somewhere soft for the dog to land on and would shout bang and whip the dog’s legs from underneath the dog. When it lands flat they would then run their hands over the dog in a calming manner saying the word ‘Dead’ This way they would teach the dog that bang meant drop to the floor and dead meant be still and close its eyes until finished.
I have said to you many times there are many movements that you do not need to teach your dog like sit, stand, down etc. It is the same here as all you need to do is using a titbit when your dog is tired and lying on the floor just say BANG quietly and close your dogs eyes and teach the dog to lye still. Do try to stop them peeking as my dog would always peek to see if he could finish. Once you have this formula of Bang equals a still limp body, you can move onto the next part. Your dog now knows that the word bang means to lye still on the floor so if it is standing up it knows it must go into a down and roll over to achieve this. You do not need to teach this movement to your dog as it can work this out for itself. Once the dog goes down and lying still after a moment with praise and a titbit. Do this again but not always with a titbit and you will improve the speed at which the dog goes down and lying still. Eventually you will be able to point your fingers like a gun at your dog and say Bang quickly and your dog will drop to the floor as if shot. Once perfected this trick is a real show stopper and dogs just love to do this one for you. (Show off's and it makes you feel good too)
The next one is really leading on to those of you interested in working trials but is just as much fun as something to alleviate boredom. Have you ever lost your car keys in the house? My daughter bought me one I could whistle for except I cannot whistle. If you have a dog, you can teach it to find them for you. If you have a leather fob, this does help to hold your scent but keys do still have a scent of their own. Do be careful with your radio key fobs so in the beginning use an old one. When your dog wishes to play, show your dog your keys, play with them, and teach your dog to hold them without chewing. Metal is sometimes a little difficult but if a titbit and loads of praise is the reward you will find that your dog will over look this. Once you have your dog bringing them back every time then throw them behind something or cover your dog’s eyes with your hand and then say keys. Your dog will then start to use his nose if it cannot first see them. If you have to just guide your dog towards the correct area and when successful, give loads of praise and a titbit. With this behind you move on to making your dog sit outside the room, go into the room, and hide your keys. Come back out and with loads of enthusiasm (as if they needed it) your dog will shoot off into the room to find the keys. During this time, do not worry that there is a scent of titbits on your hands moving over to the keys. As time goes by be a little more careful so your dogs recognises the oily smell mixed with your body scent of your keys. Eventually you should be able to see your keys on a table and tell your dog ‘keys’ and you will have them in your hands in moments. After this, your dog should be able to find them almost anywhere in the house saving you all that previous panic.
This is our first step in teaching dogs to use their nose for mutual benefit and is the start of Working Trials nose work if you feel interested. You can do these tricks in other peoples gardens and houses and it help towards sociability because your dog has become the centre of attention and they just love to show off. You will also find you are learning to improve communication skills with your dog. Have fun and enjoy.
Next week I will have seen Vier Pfoten Romania (The Austrian version of our RSPCA) and The Bridgett Bardot Foundation to see how I might help with Romania’s dog problems. I will also tell you how to teach your dog to search for articles in a square as the first nose work exercise in Working Trials or just if you want some fun. If you have any questions or queries or want any back issues of any articles or the index to these then as before, please contact me.