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Behavioural updates, aggression repression, training dogs not to attack other animals and tracking for the tracklayers view

Updates

I have returned to Romania for a review of the countries roaming dogs problem and look at possible methods to resolve this in ways agreeable to all factions. Both the EU and our own RSPCA are also interested in this particular problem.

I can confirm that none of the dogs display any type of pack instinct as this is simply because this is a learned ability. Whilst the genetic instincts form, the basis of pack life it is certain learned skills that are needed in order for them to build, stabilize and organise any canine group. Since domestication by man dogs never lived again in any true canine pack environment so there is no way for dogs to learn these skills.

In 2002 there were 13,500 dog bites reported to the Bucharest medical centre for precautionary rabies injections. This is a certainly a substantial reduction from the previous year of 19,000. The current removal of roaming dogs from the streets of Bucharest still seems to be slow. Vier Pfoten wanted to neuter all dogs collected from the streets and then release them afterwards wearing a distinctive collar. This seems to have fallen by the wayside because of the general shortage of funds.

Romanians feel heavily taxed and so they do question why so few improvements appear forthcoming. Currently there are petitions for making the other political groups unblock their opposition towards the mayor’s improvement plans. Now the dog problem appears lower on the list now even thought most Romanians would like to see their numbers drastically reduced. Other more important issues are taking priority.

Guidebooks reporting packs of aggressive dogs roaming the streets like in the aftermath of some apocalyptic event are untrue. Yes, there are very many dogs but if left alone they coexist with or simply tolerate humans but this cannot continue no matter how concerned we are for animal welfare. Dogs cannot rule our lives no matter how much we love them.

On the funnier side, maybe other events have created a solution and the background to this is as follows.

During my visit, I have traveled by the metro. These are very good but I would like to see the city by traveling on the cities trams some time. I have used the bus service and found passengers were so squashed you either married the person next to you or at least agreed to exchange Christmas cards.

I certainly do not recommend you try driving for yourself here in Bucharest. Leave this to the experts. I use the term experts to describe those taxi drivers who are still alive because no matter how you describe driving in Spain you have seen nothing yet.

There are so many deadly potholes the rule drivers follow is to drive on any part of the road to avoid them. Some holes are so deep they will completely take off your front suspension. Cars swerve in front of you simply to miss a hole or straying dogs. A road I have seen where they have only resurfaced one side only. All the drivers travel on this side of the road. This is like a chicken run and watching lights coming straight towards you and the taxi driver gunning the accelerator in order to get as much use of out of this strip as possible before having to swerve back to the pot-holed section is disconcerting to say the least.

On Tuesday the 4th March, the Romanian airbase provided for the American army came complete with resident rooming dogs. Unfortunately, a dog probably took exception to this invasion. Though the elite force of the American Rangers are trained to the highest level and trained for biological and gas warfare along with knowledge of every type of weaponry of mass destruction a little lonely Romanian roaming dog bit two the Americas finest and immobilised them.

I had hoped the American Embassy would ask me for my opinion to confirm the rumour in the papers that the dog had affiliations to known global terrorist groups rather than it was simply defending its territory. Other thoughts were the dog was campaigning for canine rights or was against a war in Iraq. Had the Americans accepted that Romanian roaming dogs were indeed a new front of terrorism then maybe a team would have been sent in to arrest all the dogs and transport them all to some isolated island for interrogation. This would certainly solve the dog problem and make more funds available for filling in the potholes.

A further alternative does come to mind that if the Americans do not accept this view then maybe Saddam Hussein might send in a team to kidnap all the Romanian dogs. He could then release them in areas where invading troops could come face to face with a new weapon of mass destruction where they now appear they are vulnerable. Unleash the dogs of war.

It does seem unfair that there are still so many recorded dog bits here without receiving any publicity yet two bites on Americans finest hit the headlines.

Aggression repression,

I have received a number of cases of dogs displaying aggression whilst in dog training classes. It is important for the instructor to understand which type of aggression the dog displays, as each need different solutions.

In order for an instructor to view all the dogs in the class, the maximum number in a class is about eight. No class should contain an aggressive dog that places at risk other owners and dogs. The apprehension shown within the class only reinforces the dogs feeling of power and this needs curtailing immediately. Using a properly fitting muzzle or the halti is a way of removing most of the danger and produces a calming effect.

It is important when retraining a dog from using aggression that you have the approval of those members of the class who are to participate. This is why Behaviourists tend to use our own bombproof dogs.

One dog was simply displaying fearful aggression and only needed withdrawal from the Behavioural with Dog’s exercise. It is then for the instructor to use some of the better-acclimatized dogs and introduce the dog to these in much calmer surroundings. Owners should walk the dogs in the same direction and parallel to one another. Then they should gradually close the gap so the dogs become closer together. Gradually as the dogs become use to these dogs, introduce more of the other dogs and then finally introduce the more boisterous one. This is using a phasing tactic rather than the flooding technique used here. Sometimes it is better to take one step at a time.

Another dog was displaying aggression towards other dogs but this only occurred when the owner was holding the lead. In all other circumstances, the dog plays with all the other dogs quite happily. Here because of the proximity of the owner the dog now feels it is its job to protect the owner so it demonstrates aggression against the dogs. Again using more stable dogs introduce the dogs whilst they are on the lead. When the dog starts to show aggression, the owner should simply drop the lead and walk away calling the dog.

The use of a trailing line attached to the dog is also useful in these circumstances. With this, the instructor could take hold of this so the dog realises that it is not the owner holding the line and if necessary protect the other dogs. This reinforces to the dog that when held by a tether this is no reason for showing aggression. The other aim here is to show the dog that the other dogs do not disperse at the dog’s show of aggression but their owner does and so he must follow. Reinforce this with praise and a titbit.

When using an anti-bite devise, this is not telling everyone you have a dangerous dog but simply you are taking precautions until you have solved the problem. Using these lets all the dog owners feel less apprehensive and the dog realises it is very venerable so creating a very calming effect. Your dog will not need to wear it forever only until the retraining is finished.

Training Dogs not to attack other animals.

There are many occasions where dogs have a problem with other animals. Cats are the most common along with rabbits and farmers cattle and sheep. I have seen a dog have its eye scratched very badly after getting too close to a cat it had chased that was now standing its ground. I have heard of dogs killed after barking at the rear of a horse that has then lashed out and kicked the dog. Farmers are at liberty to shoot any dog that is or appears to be killing his stock.

We were very lucky that we had access to a farm and a farmer prepared to use his animals to teach dogs some respect. I had all my dogs placed into the pens of sheep with their lambs. It was only a moment later that my dogs came jumping out of the pen chased by the sheep. A lesson they did not forget. We had some chickens who, when they had chicks, would chase any dog away by a vicious and aggressive display. We also had sheep who grew up with dogs and any dog who got too close Specky would try to head-but them and this action stopped many dogs from ever chasing sheep

On one occasion Specky, actually head butted a Rottweiler who just stood there and walked off seemingly unbothered. We were told later he never went anywhere near sheep again.

Bringing your dog up to live with cats or any other animals does seem to work but sometimes it will still chase the cat next door or other animals. If you want to stop these types of aggressive behaviour the normal method is to allow your dog to become use to all these animals and to train them not to show any interest it them and not to chase them. Using a lead with a firm no or just a happy “come” with a titbit often suffices.

If you still have a problem then the use of gas collars does come to your aid. When your dog does chase the cat, you can give the “come” command and when the dog fails to come you press the button to gain the dogs attention.

It does bring us back to the need for socialisation for dogs not just to other dog’s or people but all other animal types you may come across. It does not mean you have to meet every type of animal but once you start to train for this, your dogs learn not to chase anything that runs away from it.

Tracking from the tracklayers view.

It is important that in training or in competition the tracklayer understands tracking and is themselves a handler and a competitor. It is not possible to simply bring in a person and tell them to lay a track in accordance with the plan given to them by the judge.

When training, if you use a member of your family they must understand what is happening otherwise they create problems for you and your dog. It is the same if you ask a friend to help and why I am asking you to find others who are like minded as yourselves as working trials is a group self help exercise type of training. If you can send me your name and address, I can connect you to other interested people in your area and you can help one another.

In order to lay a competition track the layer has a plan given to him by the judge. This is about half a mile long and will have at least one article placed at the end of the track. It can be half an hour old to three hours old depending on the competition.

The track shape should be the same for all the competitors and will consist of a number of different length legs with different angles and patterns to show the judge how a team works the track. The harder tracks will contain far more legs than you will find in the Utility Dog stakes.

The next item is to look at the field and see how the track pattern will fit into the field and see if the size or shape needs the track having some adjustments.

A pole will indicate the start of the track and for Utility dog; this has another pole placed at 25 yards along the track to show you the direction of the track. Most tracklayers stand for a moment at the start, set the first pole, and look for a landmark to head for on the first leg. It maybe a tree or anything else but care over some things such as a haystack as one had been on a trailer and had gone by the time it was due to run the track.

Once setting off the tracklayer walks normally but if they come across a bald piece of earth then they will probably scuff their feet to compensate for the lack of plant cover. If there is a problem with the land like having to cross a ditch, this is also noted. It is then up to the judge to inform the competitor to ignore the ditch or the difficult areas to make the tracks fair.

When they get to the first corner layers usually just stand for a moment to get their bearings before starting again. They should not scuff the corner as this creates loads of scent making it more difficult for the dog to spot the corner with the possibly of overshooting and picking up another leg so missing out part of the track.

If there is more than one article on the track then the layer will leave these at given points on certain legs but never on a corner. Most layers will make a note of something close by to indicate the position of the article so looking from a distance they can tell the judge when an article is coming up for the team. Many times a dog has indicated an article but missed by the handler who has then told their dog to “Track On” so they miss the article.

Tracklayers should keep a record of each track they lay together with useful notes to help the judge know where the team is in relation to the track and how they are doing. It is also necessary if the team fails the track to be able to place the team on the final leg to finish on an article and for him to find the other missed articles as we normally use the same field the following day.

The most important point to remember is that the tracklayer is not there to try to defeat the team but using their experience makes tracks trackable and as fair as possible for all the competitors.

Next week:
Behavioural updates.
Walking your dog that is aggressive to other dogs.
Fast and slow Heel work.
Distance sendaways.

If you have any questions or queries, please contact me. My ID on Yahoo messenger is alannewmanmoore. If you cannot obtain any special doggy items please look at www.companyofanimals.co.uk and I can bring them over for you.

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