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Behavioural updates in Romania, walking a dog aggressive to other dogs distance sendaways

Updates

Following from last week, I continued to see more of Romania and visited Domanz in the northern mountains. This is a very beautiful and popular ski resort taking us a three-hour train journey traveling in new carriages built in the old Orient Express style, very comfortable and the system is very efficient. No, I do not ski but would love to learn one day.

Looking out of the window the countryside was still cold and covered in snow. Once away from the Capital the houses changed to an old world distinctive postcard type and nice to see that this style is still copied by the ones being built today.

Domanz was certainly different to Bucharest and showed that tourism has provided the city with the much-needed money to make it into a very picturesque place to visit. Certainly, it lacked the potholes I had become so use to in Bucharest. The second day we visited the Castle of Vlad the Impaler who is suppose to have inspired the beginning of Vampires and Dracula.

Roaming dogs were again everywhere but not to the density I had seen in Bucharest. Even at the top of the mountain near the ski lift there was a roaming German shepherd trying to encourage people to throw snowballs for it to chase.

How does Romania relate to us in the Costa Blanca or why concern the Euro MPs or the English RSPCA. Why should we here show any interest in a state that only hopes to join the EU in 2007?

Here in the Costa Blanca, we are a miniature of the EU and I think very cosmopolitan. How we are and how we integrate is possibly a lesson to all Europeans on how the whole of the EU may ultimately become.

Roaming dogs in Romania is looking at a problem we could all face if dogs really got out of control. Under normal circumstances, I doubt that other member EU states would copy the problem faced in Romania to the same degree. Certainly, the catalyst here was Ceausescu’s rebuilding program and so we have a unique view and opportunity to see how dogs develop outside of domesticity.

Every 50 meters you will see a dog with its own area. They do move around a little and even play with the other dogs but ignore humans passing through their territories. Territorial fights are only ritualised aggression all noise but no physical attacks on one another. Vier Pfoten without adequate funding or shelter premises is unable to neuter all the dogs and so the breeding continues. In the late evening the barking starts to tell all the dogs who is who's territory but no sound of voices shouting “Shut up” as they never learned the command.

Humans tolerate them up to a point possibly as guard dogs attached to the buildings or the area and they continue to feed them. On the other hand, if any dog begins to learn that aggression against humans is possible then if they start to bite they simply disappear.

The interesting point is that dogs do not form packs. They do not work together but are territorial to areas for sleeping. Bin areas and the back of food establishments being the prime sites. Fighting to defend their areas is only in a ritualised form all noise and body language but no damaging physical attacks on one another. Two well match dogs may fight more aggressively but still do not inflict major physical damage

It also shows to me that without human training and influence the dogs left to their own devises revert to the normal harmless ritualised aggression we associate with the pack life of wolves. This is the genetic rule not to damage other dogs within the pack making a pack unable to survive. This is also proof that our enforcement type of dog training actually teaches them aggression works.

In the UK, we quickly notice the existence of one roaming dog. The local RSPCA soon catch it with the hope of finding the owner or a new home.

Being an island this insulated us from Rabies but always there were warnings posted of the perils from this disease so this fear for us controls roaming dogs.

Here in Spain we have the beginnings of roaming dogs. Looking around at the bin areas you can now see them but nothing like the numbers you would see in Romania. The question is should we be doing something here in Spain now before this gets out of hand. Should the shelters receive more money now to stop the problem getting worse as you now know what worse looks like?

For the EU this knowledge will help them formulate plans and laws that can help to keep in check the dangers of dogs. For the Shelter Groups this can give them advance planning of impending problems and how to formulate plans to cope. For us we must take time out to think about how we want our dog population to look and act like rather than only take necessary action later that we may find distasteful.

The Mayor of Bucharest is in a no win situation. If no one is prepared to take the dogs away to good homes and look after them inside Romania or to transport them to outside the country so the problem simply grows. The shelters within the country cannot cope but their program and only hope was by neutering them all so they would eventually die out but this is not working. If he answers the call to do something to get rid of them, we call out that this is being cruel. Would the influx of more money help or a concerted effort by existing EU shelter groups to neuter all the dogs in a short space of time solve the problem? I know the UK RSPCA are interested even though this is one country they do not work in so I do not know if they have any alternative plans to put forward. I will send my report and we will see what transpires.

Without any other effective planning, the only one left is a massive cull. That may sound drastic but just think what would happen if a rabid fox infected a dog near the outer city limits. With such a high density of dogs, could rabies go through the dog population like wildfire? The sort of knee jerk reactions we use to witness in the UK from any outbreak of rabies was to kill everything in a given area wearing a real fur coat.

I am uncertain how bad a Rabies outbreak would actually be because with previous outbreaks within Europe these were normally well contained but Romania has too large a dog density to make a real forecast. Please try to imagine everywhere you look is a dog.

One other point is I do not tell jokes very well and have one that I retold here. This was about a schoolteacher in a kindergarten asking children what a dog sounded like with their reply of “woof woof”. I received blank looks. For what do cats, sound like had the reply of “meow” received looks of approval. For what sound a mouse makes gave the reply from the children of “click click” brought laughter. I asked about the sounds of cows sheep etc and all agreed but for dogs, it is not woof woof but ham ham. For the growl, it was mrrrrrrrrrr not grrrrrrrrrrrr. If anyone has any other variations for me to use this joke again throughout Europe, please send them on a postcard to the Editor.

This time I was staying in a flat so no longer immune to the everyday problems of ordinary Romanians. In the flat various things did not work properly but the TV had cable, but not officially, and the flat had a resident 6 month old un-neutered male cat that had in the previous week jumped down from the fourth floor to the garden below for sex with other cats. That is one keen cat. I was introduced to taste drinks and food that actually took my breath away. I had some very tasty sausages one morning but my mouth felt numb for hours afterwards. It was a great pleasure for me to feel life in Romania and I have to say I enjoyed it all.

After my arrival in the UK, I found driving to work the next day there were potholes in the road. Is it infectious?

Walking a dog that is aggressive to other dogs,

Last week I covered the need not to allow such aggression by your dog to continue or for you to feel embarrassed by advertising to everyone that you have a dangerous dog because you use a muzzle. If you do not wish to use a muzzle then a Halti is the next best thing as your pulling the lead closes the dog’s jaws and it turns your dog’s head away from the other dog. Because of your dogs has a new feeling of vulnerability then aggression will quickly subside. Add to this training your dog to socialise with other dogs wearing such devises will teach your dog aggression is unnecessary. Just a tip if you are teaching your dog to wear a muzzle or Halti tape up your dogs dew claws for a while to stop them trying to use them to pull it off.

Fast and slow heel work.

In most of the Kennel Club competitions, there is a need to display you and your dog’s ability to work at fast, normal and slow paces of heelwork. This is also useful in your normal life for when you are meandering along looking at the shops or if you are in a hurry for some timely appointment.

There are those who think that training a dog for heelwork by working at a fast pace at the outset of such training is an advantage. The dogs normally like to get ahead so by working your dog at the fast pace your dog learns to work by your side. It is then only when you are happy your dog will work at your side you slow the pace down and your dog should remain by your side. A further decrease to slow pace is similarly accomplished and praise and a titbit reinforces this.

Others start slow working on the basis that the dog sees it is obvious that it is in front so the handler goes nowhere until the dog is by the handler’s side. Because this is so obvious to the dog, this should reinforce that walking by the handler’s side is the only way forward. Praising and titbits help to reinforce this.

You can of course work at the normal pace but insist that your dog is by your side or you go nowhere.

Which ever is your preference this is normally the one that suites you both and which teaches the dog the fastest. If you try all three methods you can then compare and judge for your self, which is the ideal pace for your dog to learn.

I often hear people tell me “No matter what I do my dog still pulls” what am I doing wrong? The simple answer is not to go forward until your dog is at your side. Because it does not work straight away, people fail to persist with the training so the dog learns how far it can go before you give in and let it pull. The other one I hear is “My dog does lovely heelwork in the dog classes but as soon as we walk outside he pulls again”. Classes are to teach you how to train your dog outside they are not the only training session dogs need during the training period. You must take time out and train at home as well. The other and common one is “My dog is only a pup and so excited we have no chance of doing any heelwork”. I will cover this one next week.

Distance Sendaways

If you read the requirements of the Kennel Club regarding the sendaways, they give the minimum distance of 20 yards with redirection of your dog through a number of manoeuvres in the higher stakes. Most sendaways are at least 75 yards and can be as far as 200 yards. Many years ago I asked how on earth did others get their dogs to go such distances whilst my dog would only go about 50 yards. We have to look again at the reasoning of a dog and this is “what is in it for me to go all the way out and for what”?

The first point is not to try for the long distances until you have short sendaways perfected. Your dog should wish to dash out the short distance for the reward of a toy or use a titbit but certainly, you must use loads of praise. It should also be happy to respond to your directions when you practice the search square.

The second point is not to recall your dog in the early training period. The dogs logic is why go out only to have to come back.

My problem was the same as most peoples in trying to make my dog go away using verbal commands that eventually contained anger simply because the dog did not respond to me. It is here again if you use hand or arm commands these are the best, as you cannot show anger. When you move your arm in the away gesture your dog must go like the wind and only want to stop when you give the command.

For my later dogs, I used their toy of a ball on a rope and placed this far away but without laying a track to where I left it. He knew he was to find his ball or later on, a hidden person or anything else but he knew he needed me to help him find it. Using scent was not an option. I found this out to my cost using his meal, though covered with cling film, my old dog would charge about the field oblivious to me in order to find his this all by himself.

Next week:
Behavioural updates.
Puppies and young dogs being too excited whilst walking.
Dogs that eat their own or other dog’s faeces. (I don’t pick them)
The Recall.

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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