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Behavioural updates. Further socialisation training with the shelter dog

I see in the papers some good news for all of us dog lovers and for the Kennel Club. Scientists say they now have found proof that owning a dog is beneficial for both owners and their dogs. They have found certain chemicals released into our bloodstream that suggests we receive enjoyment from being with our dogs and these same chemicals appear in our dogs. Because of the appearance of these chemicals, they say this shows there is mutual benefit for us.

I said some time back our we can show that our blood pressure and heart rates do decrease when we sit down and stroke our pets but this evidence is suppose to show there is conclusive proof we and our dogs enjoy this.

The Kennel Club has being promoting to the EU the benefits of owning dogs for a long time but it is an uphill struggle against the evidence of dog aggression and the increasing number of people wishing to introduce more restrictions for dog ownership. More people will write in about dog problems than write in about the positive aspects of dog owner ship.

We can now say if you want to live longer then get a dog.

Another little bit of interest is the introduction of price controls on medications charged by the vets in the UK. The report highlights the overpricing by vets and wishes to introduce prescriptions for pet owners in order they can obtain cheaper drugs at the chemist. Much like the system, we have here. No doubt, the loss of this income will mean higher costs added somewhere else.

Behavioural Updates

You may recall the medical problem in last weeks article where the owners of a dog diagnosed by laboratory test results as having Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. I said that if the test was correct then the drugs prescribed were the ones recommended as having the most effect combating their antibiotic resistance. Just in case there was some new treatment I suggested they take their dog for a second opinion to another vet recommend to me as always well informed. He says the previous diagnosis was correct but only a symptom and not the root cause. Apparently, the dog has in fact Ehrlichia canis a disease caused by sheep ticks and the new prescribed medication has totally rejuvenated the dog so much so it now chases the neighbour's car. This is obviously casing some animosity. The dogs owners need to know if it is possible to retrain, a dog aged six. Of course, you can always teach old dog new tricks.

First though I would like the dog to have some time to convalesce and for it to form a better bond with the owner as the current recall is poor. This is because the dog is keeping well away thinking they are going to touch its ears again. They are understandably somewhat tender and I would rather wait until I get the all clear from the vet first and that he approves my intended retraining programme.

I do like to hear good news but it has shaken me a little regarding the laboratory testing. Our cats, from a second opinion, were diagnosed by an on the spot test, as having the feline form of Aids I understand here this is quite common. My daughter's cat, which is the younger, is not very well whilst Ming at 16 is still paddling seemingly unperturbed and maybe this is due to the climate here.

I have heard from an owner of two dogs that have taken up chasing prams and bikes. I contacted him the other day and he tells me he has purchased a second hand pram and intends to purchase a bike in order to retrain the dogs to leave them alone. I hope he will keep us informed as to how he is getting along.

I received a telephone call the other day from an obviously upset owner whos dog bit their daughter whilst she took a sweetie paper away from the dog. Having bitten a member of the family people were advising them to have the dog put to sleep, as they said you cannot stop this type of aggression against the owner. This too was upsetting to the owners, as the dog had not previously shown such aggression before. We can correct most forms aggression once we know which form it is and why.

From talking to the owner we discovered that they were teaching the dog correctly and were using the normal dominancy techniques of checking they could take from the dog its meal. All they were doing was correct but for one thing. You may recall that to teach a dog attack the padded arm of a criminal we would hold the dog back by the collar and so tease it into wanting to lunge forward to attack the sleeve. The owners had removed the meal but had held the collar so creating a tease situation. We now know why the dog bit so now it is easy to retrain.

Further socialisation training with the shelter dog

On the Saturday 12 April the shelter dog was due to fly to Switzerland to his new owners so I returned to Spain on the Thursday in order I could have all of Friday to check he had lost all interest in lunging at children and to give him a bit more socialisation. Unfortunately, the intended owners had changed their minds in having him so I took this as opportunity to make him bombproof for any new owner.

He was very happy to see me and we went for a walk for some exercise to clean him out and then set of for Javea Park. We visited shops; bars, offices and he made many friends receiving sausage, pork pies and biscuits from those he met. Children who went by were not given a second glance so we once again headed for the rough ground back of the Arenal for some walking and play before going onto the Arenal itself. Children were defiantly no longer a problem. He showed no aggression towards approaching dogs and he would just look at me instead. His walking by my side had improved and he was learning to watch my left leg to keep by my side. I do not give "Heel" commands to my dogs they learn to stay by my side when I want them to. We even tried out the Champagne Bar for a meal outside in the sunshine and he sat by the table without any problem. I took him to see my daughter again. She promptly tested his sit command using cat biscuits and he sat like lightening.

As I could have the dog for the Saturday, I considered Javea would be a little quiet now and needed somewhere a bit busier and so for more socialisation I took him to Denia. As it would happen there, was an antique motorbike rally there and so the town was packed. We had to walk through throngs of people with the smell of two stroke engines up and down the length of the Main Avenue and actual racing on the front by the fish market. People were now no problem and he navigated past them all including children. I heard one person say quietly to another he thought I was maybe the Guardia drug section. We went to watch some of the racing to get him use to the noise of the bikes and the commentary loudspeakers. He was weary at first but he was absorbing all these new experiences like a sponge. We then went for a walk up the main avenue and the Telephonica access covers in the path along with heavy steel plates covering road works were a little worrying to him. After we kept walking over and back a number of times he just gave up and just looked at me. As a treat, I fastened him to a street lamp and purchased a big tub of Rum and raisin ice cream with two spoons. He loved it and ended up eating 80% of it. We then walked back down the street to test his reactions to the covers and steel plates again and he was fine now.

I also tested him for his knowledge of doggy introduction to other dogs. I introduced him to a friends two dogs whilst he was on the lead and off their property. Following some ritualised posturing and the laying down of rules regarding the bitch from my friend's dog, we went back to the house to socilise off the lead. There were no problems apart for him making amorous advances towards the bitch. She simply rejected him, and they all laid down for a short sleep in the afternoon sun.

One thing I did learn from the ladies who look after the dogs in the shelter. The are also using the compressed air to help retrain the shelter dogs that display any problems and noticed they only had to say "Pisst" to a dog and it remembered as if they had used the can. Whilst on the rough ground on the Arenal a dog came up to play and they were both friendly. When it was time to move on and I called him he did want to come but hesitated so I pulled out the can and even at 50 metres the Pissed from the can reminded him that he had to come back to me. After the previous training session when we got back into the car I undid the coke bottle and it Pissed on opening and he shot back to the back of the car with a look "I did not do anything?"

He certainly has taken to me and whilst we were in the car, he would rest his head on my shoulder and give me a lick. I do not mind the occasional lick as it does help form the bond so long as it does not get out of hand.

Later on that day I was told he was still going to Switzerland but now only to a foster home instead and so the shelter asked because of his obvious attachment to me would I have him as a bombproof dog for my behavioural work. I said I would love to but that the problem was most accommodation did not take pets so the shelter has found me accommodation with a pool and a big garden for us to use. I do try to stay detached with the dogs when I work one to one basis but certainly, he is a great dog. It does amaze me the attachment that the ladies form with the dogs in the shelters and yet they are so pleased when they have successfully found new homes. I would take them all home if I could.

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