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Behavioural updates. A shelter dog on assessment with me for the day

You may have seen the report in CBN about two Pit Bulls that managed to escape from their garden and bite a 29-year-old man. The number of people who see other dogs aggressively barking from behind fences must ask themselves the question what will happen if they manage to escape. Here was a good example and it happens all the time. The Dangerous Dogs Act does require that no one should feel apprehensive of any dog and that does include those supposedly under control patrolling gardens and property. More and more people are gradually becoming familiar with the law now and no one should feel they are exempt from owning a potentially dangerous dog. A further article showed that a Spanish local authority found to their cost that because they are responsible for stray dogs here in Spain they are libel for a man bitten by one. He would have no chance of compensation in Romania.

You may have also read the letter warning of people leaving poison bait around for foxes. This does cause me to remind people they should be able to stop a dog eating on command and for them to remove that food or bone. It is not teasing a dog to do this and may save its life. If you see your dog pick something up and you can say NO that your dog responds to you then you do at least have a chance.

Speaking to a VET last week, she said though strychnine is illegal, it still somehow exists but if not available they use other concoctions of other easily obtainable garden poisons.

I also learned a little more about the critters here in Spain and that the Procession Caterpillars do not actually eat your dog but the hairs cause a server allergic reaction to the dogs mouth that can in some cases prove fatal. Even stepping on the caterpillars, you can carry their hairs back home on the souls of your feet for your dog to sniff at that will start the reaction. A wise precaution is to carry an anti-histamine pill with you just in case. These caterpillars also cause server allergic reactions in humans so in January and February it is best to keep clear of the pine forests altogether. Watch out for the cotton wool nests hanging from the trees. There is even a toad that your dog may come across which can also cause a server reaction.

The Vet also confirmed the opinions I have heard from other Vets that many of their cases are from poising so lets be careful out there. Therefore, this is something now said for the use of muzzles as protection.

Behavioural updates

You may recall I wrote about this dog some weeks ago. It had shocked everyone when it appeared to show major aggression in its first dog training class. This was in the socialisation time where they let all the dogs off the leads to play together. The dog showed aggression but as I reported that this was in fact fear aggression and the owners and friends had previously noticed a problem with the hindquarters of the dog. The X-Ray shows that some time ago the dog had an untreated fractured pelvis that had healed imperfectly with a lot of calcification. Even turning and scratching itself causes it pain so it is understandable that seeing a load of boisterous dogs that it would try to fend off their attentions in the only way in knew. It did not try to attack the other dogs just warn them to "leave me alone". Now the owners know why they can understand and be wary of this for the dog.

This was not the primary problem for this dog. It was barking and howling when left in the house on its own and this was restricting the owner's lives. I had suggested that the owner purchase a new dog basket to leave in the kitchen so that the dog would not realise they were just about to leave but still there are subtle signs that the dog sees 20 minuets before the owners go out and it becomes uneasy.

I called in to see how things were coming along and it so happens they were about to take a relation back to the airport and that they had to take the dog with them. The relation had stayed with the dog one night so the owners could go out and it had barked for 3 hours followed by test barking where the dogs barks a little then listens to see if someone comes. As far as a dog is concerned, when you return it does not matter how long it has barked for your return is reinforcement that barking works.

As this was an excellent opportunity, I offered to stay with the dog and see what happens. At first, the dog barked a couple of times to which I said quiet and shusssssssssh and it was silent from then on until the owners came home. I just read the papers and the dog slept out in the kitchen and then in the lounge.

When the owners returned we discussed the problem and decided I should return on the Monday with one of my automatic gas collars and we would all leave but I would remain in the apartment down stairs. I was then able to listen to what the dog does whilst wearing the collar.

When we left, I remained on the property and kept watch though the drawn kitchen blinds. The dog barked 3 times and setting the collar off which the dog did not appreciate. About 10 minuets later, it tried one more bark and then gave up though it did quietly whine a little during the next 3 hours. I had used the citronella gas this time as I only had the collar for one night and the residue gas in the kitchen could give the dog an incentive not to bark.

I suggested they check the dog the next day by going out and if necessary I would come round to try the collar one more time before I took it back. Alas, the dog still barked so the decision was that the owners would purchase an Aboistop for the dog so they can leave the house secure in the knowledge that the dog will not bark. After a while the dog will become accustomed to the owners coming and going so then need for the collar will gradually become redundant. There is another problem here that this time the dog scratched at the inner door so it was not trying to get out of the house only to gain more accessible space. Possibly temporarily fitting a sheet of Perspex to the door may reduce this until the dog becomes settled. Knowing the history of the dog, I do understand left on it is own is its fear.

There was also a problem if the owner tried to take back the dogs food. It once growled so unnerving the owner. I suggested they bought an uncooked bone and I gave it to the dog then took back to look at it and then return it to the dog. This I did a number of times and had one growl but a sharp NO worked and the husband was confident and able to take the bone without any problem. The wife was not so sure yet and lacked the confidence but that is what it is all about having confidence.

A Shelter dog on assessment with me for the day

The Javea Shelter has a dog that they have found him a new home in Switzerland and he goes there in few weeks time. The shelter asked if I would have a look at the dog because though he was fine with all ages off the lead but when he was on the lead, it had a tendency to lunge at small children. Though he means no harm, it does look worrying.

This meant I had a dog for the day. I took him in my car to meet some other dogs and their pups but the dog and bitch were a little upset, and protective so I had to put him back in the car. He was ok sitting in the car and waited without a problem. There was no sign of travel sickness and he was quiet except for his permanent panting even though the air conditioning was on. After this, I took him to the Arenal and we had a nice long walk on the rough ground to let him go to the toilet before taking him onto the front.

After some exercise, I then walked him onto the Arenal and walked up and down from one end to the other walking in between all the people. Because we were simply walking up and down the dog walked by my side without pulling. I did not have to give any verbal commands but if he looked sideways at a small child, I used my compressed gas spray. After five uses, he then would look at me every time he saw a small child. Once reaching this point I then showed him children playing every where with skateboards, scooters, shouting, running, football everything that children do. He also had a mouth like an anaconda for when the children's football came over to us he managed to hold it. One shot of gas released his grip, as I did not wish him to burst it and become very unpopular. After 3 hours of watching children at play he had settled down and children were coming up to him to pat and stroke him without any sign of him moving. This is socialisation training.

At teatime, I took home to meet my daughter. She attempted to get him to fetch the Frisbee but being born in the shelter, he has never learned any games to play other that mouthing the lead. He responded well to commands and my daughter then taught him to sit on command. This is a good example here not to push the dog's bottom to the floor but persevere to get the dog to sit for a titbit on its own. The first time he kept moving backward but when at her side, he sat. After that, my daughter had him sitting for cat biscuits as if he had been doing this for ages. Pushing a dog's bottom down is a dominance sign, which the dog will try to fight making it harder to for you to teach using the usual enforcement methods.

I will try to take him out again for the day before he goes to his new home and check he has now settled and well socialised. I understand he was born at the shelter so at three years of age I hope he has a well-deserved life with his new owners. Summing up he is a nice happy dog, he learns very quickly and a pleasure to have had him out for the day.

Next week:

* Behavioural updates * An Aid for you to use if your dog shows aggression to bikes etc

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. At alan.newmanmoore@btopenworld.com or chat on line. My ID on Yahoo messenger is alannewmanmoore or telephone 00447803498284 or Spanish 676 662 611. If you cannot obtain any special doggy items please look at www.companyofanimals.co.uk and I will gladly bring them over for you.

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