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Behavioural updates. Further socialisation training with the shelter dog II

When people telephone me now they always ask where I am today as they try to keep track of me. This week I returned to Romania and now knowing much more of the country I was surprised when a client expressed concern at faxing information to me. There was also a security check on a credit card and a client was worried the Romanian Mafia had somehow obtained information relating to the card. The Romanians are worried about how we perceive them and if we think, they are living like gypsies. They too like to check my articles to see how I describe their county. The only connection they have with Russia is they too start with a letter R and Romania was simply a prize given to Russia by the Allies for their support in the WWII.

Originally, there were the Dacians who after the invasion by the Romans became the Romania ancestors. There language is very similar to Spanish but most of them can speak English. They are also very religious like here in Spain and you will always see a Taxi driver make the sign of the cross on himself when ever he passes a church. (Take away the potholes)

For Easter, I travelled to the north of the country a trip of over 7 hours on the train to a large village near Suceava. Here on Easter Friday at 12 midnight the whole village goes to the church to light candles from the church to take the light back to their homes. They also purchase candles to place on all the graves. Everyone greets you with Hristos a inviat (Christ has risen) to which I tried to remember to reply Adevarat ca a inviat (truly he has risen). In Romania like in Spain, the family influence is still very strong.

Though there are no roaming dogs here, many dogs like in Spain are guard dogs living in kennels and sometimes on the end of a chain. I received a request to do my dog whispering encounter to what was a very aggressive dog but he was fine with me but not with any of the locals. On my third meeting with the dog it only wanted to play showing me the normal play bow sign. After 6 years, living permanently on a 3-meter chain yet it still knows how and wishes to be able to play.

I must apologise to Traian Basescu Mayor of Bucharest about my past comments on the potholes. This time everywhere I went the equipment was out re-surfacing all the roads. Now this could be due to the European Bank releasing funds to bring the county up to EU requirements. Or the opposition MPs have now let the Mayor get on with his redevelopment plans or now the ice has gone this the first time they can start the work or the Mayor has a subscription to the CBN and reads my comments.

I also learn that he who wishes to become President of the United States of Europe wanted to have a Victory in Iraq Parade through the streets of London. The idea was apparently shelved because there were so many potholes in the streets this would not be a good advertisement for Labour.

For those of you who have 'she who must shop' I am certain you both would find shopping in Bucharest very rewarding. They have shopping Malls Multiplex cinemas MacDonald KFC and all the rest. I have a new set of prescription glasses with anti scratch and anti glare for 35. Clothes are so cheap.

I must say that seeing Bucharest in the spring all the grey has gone and it reminded me of when my dad took away our old black and white TV and brought in our first colour one. Gone have all the thick coats, hats, boots and at 35 degrees the fashions (wow) are just like in Spain.

So much information crosses my desk every day relating to doggy problems they almost write the articles by them selves until the other day I read of the 4 year old girl requiring 40 stitches after a dog attacked her in Cullera.

How do we view such reports? Are we becoming desensitised to such attacks the more they happen so they are becoming an unfortunate way of life. I am sure we are all shocked at such stories but I cannot imagine how the parents are feeling. I can understand their anger and for their need in requiring that the dog be put to sleep within the 40-day period.

It is usually at this point that I meet the owners of the dog who are then very much prepared to accept a retraining programme for their dog in order that the judge may show leniency. In every case and understandably the owners of the offending dog wish, they could rewind life. If is a very big word.

We do not know what actually happened here to give us some idea as to why the dog attacked the child but children are the most common of tragedies. Dogs do not attack without a reason so something the child may have done quite innocently like just being there may, because of the dogs poor socialisation training, have given it a reason to attack. A child simply wishing to hug a dog is one of the commonest of scenarios. >From a case many years ago, a Judge said children can be children but dogs cannot be dogs and so they must pay the price. If we taught children at school on how to interact safely with dogs, maybe we could reduce future attacks.

There is a belief that all dogs naturally love children, as they would like the puppies within its pack. Children are not puppies they are humans just smaller ones but their position within the pack must be higher than that of all the dogs. Is this simply a fallacy based on our common observations that most dogs in our family pack have little interest in hierarchal positions? This begs the question why not all dogs are the same. They can be but some need a different approach so where we go wrong and why I hope to highlight this week and in coming weeks.

Behavioural Updates

I have taken the Aboistop to the owners of the dog that barks whenever they go out and leave it left in the kitchen. I had to telephone Roger Mugford to see why the collar had not arrived and learned of his concern that I was maybe using the collar on a dog displaying separation anxiety. To use the collar on a dog that is effectively crying because it is separated from it owners and be gassed as well is unkind.

This dog was abandoned and locked up in a house so it knows by experience that barking will eventually bring someone to let him out. The dog is not a problem when left in the car. It will go downstairs and sleep in the casita. When I watched it in the kitchen, it did not attempt to tunnel its way out of the back door to follow its owners. The next time it only tried to get further into the house not to get out. When left with a minder it does not pine after the owners. I believe the dog's experience of desertion has made it claustrophobic. Originally, it never barked and preferred to sleep outside. The problem was when left outside it barked at the other dogs so upsetting the neighbours and so why the owners left it in the house.

When I arrived, the owners had made a tape recording of what happened when they left the dog in the kitchen. Where things were going wrong became obvious to me as I listened to the tape. The beginning contained many minutes of the husband trying to calm the dog with reassuring words. The owners are very caring people and act in the same manner but what this was in fact doing was reinforcing to the dog that there was something to worry about in their leaving. How many times do we leave Granny by saying "Bye Granny do not worry we will be back soon so just phone if you worry"? Granny knows you will be back and knows she could phone. Do you think she is senile or you know something she does not? When I drew their attention to this, their realisation showed immediately in their faces.

I understand the dog now has the kitchen and the hall to use when they leave and once it managed to gain access to the lounge but fortunately no damage. When they leave there is no ceremony they just go and shut the door. Wearing the collar the dog only barks once and this is confirmed on their return because there was no strong smell of cinturella associated with a number of barks.

The wife had been following the dominancy control with the dog's food by preparing it and putting it in a cupboard then later giving it to the dog in many different places. The owner says she could tell when he finally admitting defeat that it was the owner who was in control. You may remember I asked the owners to purchase a nice juicy bone and I gave it to the dog then took it back to look at it then returned it to the dog. I had one growl and a firm NO stopped that. The husband could do this but the wife was reticent. She now has the confidence to take anything off the dog and at last feels in control. I will call in next week to see how things are progressing.

The owner of the now not so dominant bitch is also now in control with never having to use the Radio controlled collar for recalls. The collar does seem to be waterproof, as the dog has played in the sea wearing it. It is just the guarantee says its waterproof but do not submerse. We still have a problem with the barking at passers by at the garden fence using the Aboistop and she now knows when it is on her neck and when it is not. For this I think we will have to simulate a situation where we can curb the barking using the compressed air followed by retraining as I did with the shelter dog.

Further socialisation training with the shelter dog

On my return to Spain I move into an apartment the shelter have kindly found for the dog and me as I feel like a stray now. I just hope he will still be keen to see me when he sees what I have planned for him. I will have to introduce him to everything now in order to make him into a bombproof dog. I need him to work only on hand and body signals because he must not become confused when we are retraining another dog and where I must give that dog verbal commands. I will have to introduce him to all manner of sounds crashes bangs fireworks etc and to learn not to retaliate to a dog showing aggression but to try to entice the dog into playing with him. This means I will have to introduce him to as many dogs as I can find. For a dog who has lived all the 3 years of his life in a shelter I would love to know what he makes of this new world.

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