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Shelter problems, behavioural problems and Winston

I am certain we are all disappointed to read about the lack of progress regarding the dog shelter in Torrevieja that Tom Cain's has written about once again. I thought from reading the last article action was forthcoming having this problem drawn to the attention of the council. The next I hear is it seems the council has a report that all is well so there is no need for them to intervene. It is also a shame that no professional wishes to neither dispute this report nor become involved in this problem. As Tom writes it is a problem that the council would like us to forget.

By law, they must financially support and ensure roaming dogs live in humane and reasonable accommodation. Is this not what we the electorate expect?

Do we have so little say over what our politicians should do for our benefit? Is it naive to ask who are they suppose to work for? Why are we so sceptical of politicians now? What is the real reason for no action?

We read about so much corruption and hear sleaze is rife everywhere but we must not talk about it. Politicians are all honourable people subject to the same laws as us but if suspected of corruption or if proven guilty, they vote themselves immunity. Truth seems to be the major casualty and the reason why we no longer believe any politician. Are there any people who do not believe the EU looks like the biggest gravy train going? What happed to honest central and local government or did it never really exist. So, what is the big problem here? Why is the council seemingly so unwilling to do anything for these dogs or are they destined to remain in their present squalid conditions? I for one would like to know the answer.

In talking to various Shelters, a common complaint is that Council support is words and promises. Whilst knowing they are legally responsible for the care of roaming dogs they appear loathe to dipping into their coffers to actually keep the shelters running. It seems such a shame that all the hard work given so freely by so many caring people of all nationalities to help run shelters have such little council support. What would councils do if such people were not there?

Dog's welfare seems to rank low on the political priority list. I wish I could take all the council officials to Romania to show them how bad roaming dogs can become but I feel it is better to send the travel money direct to the shelters as more cost effective.

My analogy with dog training is it would seem that in politics, the tail is wagging the dog. On that note ends my aspirations of a political career.

Behavioural Updates

I have spoken to the owners of the incessant barking dog and they say that he now only barks when he is not wearing the collar. This is at least some improvement but it is difficult not to let the dog become collar conscious as they have other dogs that set the collar off with their barking to greet the owners on their return. There are still some dominancy problems that the owners are addressing using the normal methods of ignoring the dog and food training. I have also suggested some off-the-lead work to show the dog the pack goes where the owner goes not where the dog wishes to go.

The dog that showed aggression over its food seems solved and the additional problem of barking whilst the owners are out seems cured now by the use of the Aboistop.

The dog with poorly ears is a little better but this is a slow process. It does at least come back when commanded from barking at the occasional passing local so that is at least something. To keep the remote collar on the dog with so few people coming into the area was impracticable.

His ears seem better much better now using Tea Tree Oil but his blood test is still only 50% clear. The owners have spent a lot of money to try to cure their dog and I hope his cure is not too far away. The owners tell me they are waiting for some silver based medicine that they hope will finally cure this problem. It has been of great success for similar problems for both humans and dogs so lets hope this time it finally works.

Winston

Amber and I have been trying to teach Winston to bark on command but we were having little luck. He barks at the shelter and at the boarding kennel but for us nothing until the other day. When going for a walk if Winston goes to the gate I go to the car and visa versa. This finally must have been having an effect as he started to bark at the gate. I went up to him and said Speak, sure enough, he barked for the gate to open, and I obliged. Now he is telling me where he wants to go and he is beginning to do this when we reach a road junction. He also has started barking when he wants to go outside and when his water bowl is empty. Once we have the Speak command working well we can teach the Finish command. I must take care that Winston does not feel he can dictate to me rather than ask me where he wishes to go. For this reason I must maintain more times when I decide what it is we do.

Food and toy possession aggression is a common problem. I have been gradually teaching Winston that I can give him food and take it away again even if only momentarily. I now give him his meal then remove it to add cod liver oil, which he loves, and then return the meal to him. There is still some reluctance to allow me to remove a fresh meaty bone but in time, I should be able to just go up to him and say leave and take it. I will then return it to him. I could use compressed air but that would be too easy.

Why is this important? It could so easily be a cooked chicken bone or poisoned meat. As the pack leader and other members who walk on two legs they all eat food before the dog. It is normal for the pack leader to own all the food and have first choice. The leader can give the food to other members of the pack and can retake it should he wish to do so. I you are to influence your dog you must be its leader and that your dog respects your position. If he does not then a problem can manifest itself in many ways.

I know that you will read in some books the writers advocate that you do not touch your dogs food once you have given it to them. This is fine if there were not times when it is necessary to remove food so it is better to train for this possibility rather than ignore it.

A vet told me that they had many owners who dare not take food off their dogs. Owners must remember if they ever place their dog in kennels the people who work there can be in danger. Think what could happen if someone came to your house and inadvertently tried to take something away from your dog. It is no defence to say that you tell everyone to leave the dog alone when he is eating or when he has one of his toys, as you cannot cover all eventualities. If you do have a similar problem please do correct this now. No one should live in fear of his or her own dog and with retraining or using compressed air it so easily cured now.

Winston seems fine with Amber's cats now though Tote still hisses at him if she is too close. At 16, Ming's eyes are not too good. Either that or she just does not care. My old dog Tip and Ming were brought up together and were the best of friends.

Whilst this is socialisation working it does not mean that any other cat that runs past he will not try to chase it but at least I can call him back more easily now. I would expect after further contacts with other cats he should learn to leave them alone.

The other day I dropped some old clothes of Ambers off at the bins and Winston went on a sniff about. He did not come when I called so as there were no cars about I got into the car with the tailgate up and drove off. Moments later there was this big brown dog running after me but stopped short of the car after I stopped. As he would still not get in, I drove off again. This time when I stopped, he jumped straight into the back of the car.

Winston is now beginning to take his time on recalls and this evening he walked too far ahead and failed to return as quick as he should when a car came past. To correct this I turned round and walked home with Winston walking perfectly by my side as his walk had come to an early end.

Winston has been in limbo for all of his first three years of his life. He is now learning more about his new rapidly expanding environment. His built in genetic rewards are therefore surfacing to teach him that what he does is correct for survival. With these stimuli's going on inside of him, sometimes he tries to ignore my commands. For this reason I must find other ways to override these or channel them in the correct direction.

Does it seem as if Winston is getting worse? The answer is Yes and no. He is learning new things and finding new pleasures. When faced with such choices he is seeing how far he can go before he must react to my command. I try to create, as many opportunities where such decision times take place and my chastisement is to walk off leaving him to chase after me. When he eventually does come to me, he will receive loads of praise. I know that if I show any anger it will only keep Winston away from me so this is not an option.

I have almost completed a year of dog behaviour articles so for week 52 in two week's time I will write an article all about titbits along with the other natural genetic rewards used to teach a dog to survive covering the answer to everything.

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