This is the usual request I have when people contact me for help with their dog. Their focus is on stopping the dog doing a behaviour that they deem wrong. There is always an urgency to get the problem fixed as soon as possible and a hopeful desire that it won’t take too much effort.
If we are honest, we are all the same. We want to solve any problem with as little effort as possible, and preferably achieve the result by tomorrow, well actually yesterday would be better! Who wouldn’t want to lose 2 stone overnight without any effort or be able to run a marathon without any training, or learn everything you needed to pass your maths A level in just one lesson. I get it; however, this mindset doesn’t help when working with your dog. Some issues are going to take time and patience to achieve the goal.
There has been a rise in social media videos showing all these ‘quick fixes’; how if you only buy this piece of equipment or use this easy method, all your problems will be solved overnight. I have previously written about ‘balanced trainers’ and those that think it’s ok to use punishment in training, so I am not going to focus on that today. What I want to talk about is the human end of the lead.
I understand that having a dog can sometimes be really hard work, but I think we sometimes miss all the fun you can have too, especially when working through any behaviour or training challenges you have.
I have lots of puppy owners on my Pawsome Puppy Programme, that reach out and ask for help with toileting training or biting issues; I of course help with advise, but I also tell them to remember to enjoy having their pup as the time goes so quickly, you must remember to enjoy this stage.
If you have a ‘teenager’ and every day seems to produce a new unwanted behaviour, such as chewing or ignoring their recall, then understand that some behaviours are age related and it is part of their journey into adulthood and therefore management might be the only thing you can do for now.
If you have a reactive dog that struggles on their walks, then why don’t you hire a rented dog field and just go and have some fun together or don’t walk them and engage with some fun games at home instead.
It’s ok to give yourself and break and stop focusing on everything on your ‘to-do’ list.
Sometimes I think we need to ‘be more dog’ and treat each day with the outlook of ‘what is the most fun thing I can do right now?’ I love that attitude and wish I had it more often. Building your relationship of trust and understanding with your dog will actually be the best way to spend your time together. Yes, you need to spend time showing them and helping them to be a good ‘canine citizen’ as they do need to live in our human world, but today I want you to remember:
Sometimes you just need to go with it and play with your dog!
It's time to start thinking about Christmas! Now I don't mean what presents you need to buy; I mean thinking about how your dog is going to cope.
Think about all the changes that will go on over the festive period:
Trees and decorations go up, extra ‘nice’ food is brought, family members come to stay and maybe a totally different routine if you are having some time off work, kids home from school and maybe you’ll be going on different, longer, busier walks.
It is hopefully a lovely time to look forward to, but I want you to consider your dog during this period.
If you have a puppy or younger dog, then you will definitely have to manage your house. You shouldn’t leave your pup alone when the Christmas tree that has just gone up! If you have a real tree, I really do think our dogs must think we have gone a little mad that the rules for this tree is different to the ones outside!! Definitely no weeing up this one 😊
Chocolate is toxic and if you usually hang up chocolate treats, then please don’t – it’s just not worth the risk. The box of Celebrations or Quality Street must not be left in the lounge unattended, so make sure the children (or adults!) don’t leave the lid off.
The most common Christmas food that are toxic to our dogs are:
Chocolate, onions & garlic, macadamia nuts, corn on the cob, avocado, artificial sweeteners (xylitol), alcohol, cooked bones, grapes & raisins.
I love giving my dogs their own Christmas dinner, but please be careful with what is included.
Another risk are flowers or plants. Mistletoe is a common plant during this season, but this is toxic to our dogs. Please be aware if you are using this in your home. There are lots of other flowers and plants that you need to be careful of. See this list by The Blue Cross
I want you to give your dog a quiet space. They need to have a safe space that when they want to relax, they know where to go. Now is the time to start using this. This could be a crate, or pen or their own bedroom – whatever works in your house. Show them that this place is wonderful and they get lovely chews toys, or their dinner now is fed there. Make it a positive spot, not somewhere they get put to get them out the way. Some dogs won’t be able to make the decision that they need some quiet time, so you may have to regulate them more than you usually do.
Guests in the house or you going to somewhere new will all disturb your dog’s usual routine. This doesn’t mean that it’s bad, but you need to be aware that if your dog isn’t getting enough rest and sleep then you are likely to see some behavioural fallout. If you have a pup, then biting will almost certainly increase. Toilet training may go wrong as you aren’t watching pup as you are busy doing other things. Stealing opportunities have increased whether it’s new toys the kids have got or all the extra food – please manage your house so that your dog doesn’t make any mistakes.
Have a supply of chew toys, activity feeders or cardboard boxes that if your dog does need some time away from all the busyness, then you have something ready to entertain them.
The Boxing day walk was always a nightmare for me when I had a ‘reactive’ dog. I used to dread these bank holidays when everyone was out at the wrong times and messing up all my quiet walks that I usually use. If you know your dog will struggle with the extra stimulation of these busy walks, then please remember you don’t have to walk your dog!!! It’s still such a stigma that you are a bad pet parent if you don’t walk them every day. Well, I’m here to give you full permission to not walk your dog. There are so many ways you can give your dog lots of enrichment at home and don’t need to increase their stress levels.
I am hoping to just get you thinking about the approaching festive period and think about what your dog might need to make sure you all have a very happy time together.
If you have any questions about how to make sure your dog is supported, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I love having multiple dogs – the most I’ve had is 3 at once but my parent’s dogs are also a regular part of family so that gets us up to 5 in lots of situations. I love the different dynamics, the different personalities and the different ages and all that brings. However, adding a new member to your family should be considered carefully and I wanted to share my thoughts about doing this.
Firstly, have you considered if your existing dog would actually like to have another dog? For example, if they are older and you are wanting a pup – this is fair? Pup won’t have any manners and will just want to play and rough and tumble all day, and your older dog really might not find that fun. What happens if they don’t get along? Have you thought through the fact you might need to have a divided house? Could you cope with this?
When people ask for my opinion on whether a second (or third, fourth) is the right choice then my first response is you only get another dog if you personally want one. You don’t get one just as a play mate for your existing dog. It doesn’t make life easier!!!
Adding another dog means twice the work, twice the time, twice the money. Whatever time you spent raising and training your first dog, your second dog also needs this same amount of 1 on 1 time plus your existing dog shouldn’t miss out so want time with you too. Food, insurance and vet bills will double. If you get a pup then they need to be walked separately, socialised and trained separately (so they don’t become too dependent on your older dog) and then your older dog still needs their longer walks and training/play time. Yes, after some time you can do walks together (when pup is able to do longer walks) but it’s really important to still have 1 on 1 time throughout their whole lives. I recommend a minimum of a 2 year ago gap if you are getting a youngster so that they have time to mature and time to learn their own training skills.
If you rehome a dog, then you need to spend time doing gradual introductions and make sure both dogs are comfortable with each other. Comfortable to share you, space, food, toys etc. This process can take some time. Training them both to walk nicely on lead when in the company of a second dog, especially if one doesn’t have any learning yet, will be a challenge. Can you hold 2 dogs if they both pull perhaps if they see something exciting like a squirrel?
I always like to try to make sure existing dog takes priority – their life shouldn’t be negatively impacted if I want to add another dog to my household. However, the new one usually needs the most amount of your time initially, so be prepared to allow the time and space to give both dogs what they need.
We had a foster dog recently that didn’t get on with Cuba (my male dog) so we had to separate the house (closed doors) to keep everyone happy and safe. We did this for 9 weeks and honestly, I found this really stressful; I was worried about a mistake being made with an open door and the dogs having a fight. I felt guilty not giving all the dogs as much time as I would have liked. I know lots of people that do live with a spilt house, but it’s not something I would like to have long term. Thankfully he has now found a new home and is now very happy with his new family.
This isn’t a ‘please don’t do this’ type of blog. Social learning, so your older dog showing the younger one the ropes, is definitely a thing. It can make some things easier as you don’t have to show your new dog all the ‘house rules’. However, I do find the new dog usually just learns all the things that from your other dog that you wish they didn’t!!!
I love sharing my life with dogs and feel very blessed to work with all your dogs too and knowing that each and everyone is so unique and really can give us such joy and pleasure.
PS The photo is of Pauline who recently added a second Corgi to her household, and this is one of her first walks where she is confident walking both dogs together 😊 I love supporting people to achieve their goals of a happy relationship with their dog – no matter how many they have.
Hallie has been with us for 2 years now. We got her during ‘lockdown’, and I thought it might be useful for me to reflect back on our last 2 years and share our journey.
Whoever said getting a puppy is easy has either been really lucky with their puppy or have totally forgotten how hard it is! Having a puppy is a shock to the system. Your life has to adjust to this new furry family member whether that’s coping with existing pets, or work patterns or simply just puppy proofing your house. For some the lack of sleep as you have to get up during the night for toileting is enough to make them question their decision, not to mention the ‘land shark’ that now inhabits their house and wants to rip all their clothes and chew on their fingers.
Hallie is my third pup and sixth dog (not including dogs I grew up with) so surely I knew what to expect? Yes I did, but didn’t stop it being hard work! Hallie was a very bitey pup! Jon and I had to get changed into old clothes when we were interacting with her to save some of our trousers. A true herding dog! She didn’t want to stop, and therefore finding the balance of activity and downtime was hard to discover. Toilet training took several months to be 100%. Night times she slept in our room for the first month and then she easily moved to her downstairs area once she was confident to be alone. Bria loved her from day one. I was worried about this as Bria had back issues we had to manage, but this pup seemed to win her over. Cuba was interested but definitely gave me the look of ‘what have you done?’ on many occasions! However, the dogs did settle well together quite quickly. I do my best to make sure existing dogs don’t miss out too much and still get their own special time. Adding another dog to your household requires lots of extra time; it doesn’t make it easier.
As the country was in and out of lockdown during her first year, I knew I had to make sure I focused on getting her confident, as she will hopefully be able to help me with clients in the future. The only thing we couldn’t practise during lockdown were visitors in the house, but everything else was available to us, it just took some planning. I know I have written about this before, but there is a big misconception that raising a confident puppy involves loads of off lead romping with lots of dogs and people. It doesn’t! It involves gradually exposure to the world in the whole; noises, places, yes dogs and people, but that’s only one part. Puppy classes weren’t running, so we made sure a few times a week we drove to new areas and saw different locations as our rural village would not have given her the right level of exposure to the human world. She was a confident pup so took most things in her stride. Her breeder did an excellent job during those first 8 weeks to start her journey right.
Adolescence is a hard time for most pet parents. This is when your pup is pushing boundaries, having an increased desire to explore, less likely to listen, prey drive starts to develop (e.g. bird/rabbit chasing) and their desire to be social increases yet at the same time they have fear periods which need to be managed. I actually enjoy this time in a dog’s life. I love getting to know who they are as their personalities are showing through. Yes it can be hard, but I really want to encourage you to enjoy it! They grow up so quickly.
One of Hallie’s big challenges is that she loves to jump, straight up in the air, at any passing person 😊 So we had to a manage her on walks so she didn’t get to rehearse this very Aussie trait. Her guarding behaviour also increased which was timed with her first season. We had to manage the house with regards to the other dogs as she directed her guarding behaviour mostly towards them.
My constant aim is to ‘set my dog up for success’. Management is required for all dogs in some areas whilst they are learning. If your dog is doing something you don’t like/want, then you need to think how you can change something so they cannot practise it. That might mean using a long line on walks or keeping kitchen counters clear or using stairs gates etc. With Hallie she is loves to work, so training any skill she was brilliant, but Aussie’s are sensitive souls, so I always have to be careful with our plans.
Fast forward 2 years of fun, play, mistakes (we all make them!), learning and building trust, she is now a wonderful girl. Is she perfect – definitely not!! Do we still have things to work through? Yes absolutely! Learning is happening 24/7 throughout their lives so the opportunities to improve are always there.
To those that have a youngster, I want to say well done with where you have got to. Keep going. Keep focusing on the small goals and keep moving forward. You will get there. Plus, I want to say enjoy the ride. Our dogs aren’t around long enough so even if you feel like progress isn’t happening, if you focus on building a brilliant relationship of fun and trust with your dog, then you are going in the right direction.
I am definitely a country girl. I feel safe and comfortable with fewer people and more animals and fields. I would be happier to walk alone in a wood than walk down a busy high street. I know this and am very grateful that I live in a quiet village surrounded by countryside.
This fact was really brought to my attention when my husband and I went to Wembley. We have been a few times before, but Jon wanted to be in the crowds on the pitch area – so no seats. I agreed knowing that this wouldn’t be my choice and that I may not be able to cope being surrounded by so many people, but I was willing to try.
So, we got the train into London, my stress levels are already slightly higher, checking the map to see what underground to use, what time and which platform – I am out of my comfort zone. I have been to London often, and I do love it, but it causes me stress as it’s not my normal. I have to concentrate more, and I worry about things I don’t usually. So I am in a heightened state, but this doesn’t mean I’m not excited as well, but my adrenalin is definitely pumping.
A few train changes and we then walk into Wembley. We work our way to nearish the front (well Jon would have been closer I’m sure) and I was doing ok. There was some space around us, and we started to enjoy the warmup acts. Over the next 2 hours more and more people were arriving and our space that we thought we have ‘claimed’ was shrinking. Then Coldplay come onto the stage, the crowd erupts and the dancing starts. I love dancing and was initially doing ok. Yes, I kept being bumped into by the surrounding crowd, but I was telling myself to keep calm! I was enjoying myself, but just really wanted a bit more space. My back started to complain that I had been stood up for many hours. All this started to ruin my enjoyment of the show and after about an hour, I told Jon I needed space. We managed to squeeze through the crowd and get to the edge. Fresh air!!! Wow I hadn’t realised how tense I had actually got, and the relief felt amazing. I was able to stretch my back, to have no one in my personal space and was actually able to see the stage clearer, so was able to finish to show feeling so much better.
However, my anxiety hadn’t finished yet. Because as the concert started to come to an end I was thinking about the underground. Most of these thousands of people will be leaving at the same time and all heading towards the station. The walk towards the station was a real challenge to me. Thousand of people all working their way around stairs, barriers, security staff and then a train platform and the train itself. Sardines came to mind. Jon was of course doing his best to help me, to sometimes create a barrier between other people. A few stations along, the train gained space and I was able to sit and travel back to the hotel.
So why did I put myself through this?
Simple; I choose to.
I knew that it would find parts of it challenging but the overall outcome would be enjoyment. Yes, being on the pitch area wasn’t for me, and yes if it was possible, I would choose not to do big crowds, but I really enjoy live music and I really wanted to see Coldplay.
So why I am telling you all this?
Well, it got me thinking about dogs that need space. We usually call these ‘reactive’ dogs. You’ve probably seen them or might have one yourself. These dogs when too close to a ‘trigger’ such as other dogs or people, will bark, lunge and react in a way that we would choose they did. Well. I felt like a ‘space’ dog during my trip, but the difference is that I choose to do it. I made the decision, I knew what was going to happen, I was able to plan ahead, I was also able to change my mind and move away when I needed to. I didn’t need to ‘bark’ to get space, I simply moved away or was able to talk to myself and keep calm and work through a situation, knowing there was an end coming.
What if I wasn’t given choice? What if I didn’t know what was happening? What if I couldn’t just move away and to make myself feel better? What if I was attached to another species that didn’t understand my communication? Now can you see why I am comparing my experience with that of a ‘reactive’ dog? A dog that struggles in certain situations. Dogs that aren’t given the choice. That aren’t understood and are just seen as disobedient?
Some dogs would prefer to be a county dog. Some dogs love the busyness of town life. Some dogs are social butterflies, some prefer their own space. I believe we can help either version of dog to adapt to living in any environment, to have skills to be around their ‘triggers’, but it may take time and understanding on how to help them cope if this isn’t easy for them. We also need to understand that they all have their own personality, and we should be their advocate, so they don’t have to experience daily stress.
Will I go to Wembley again? Yes!
Will I still probably struggle with the crowds? Yes!
Will I choose seats next time? Yes! (sorry Jon).
However, I gain confidence in that I have choice and know I will be with people that can help me if I need it. Your dog might need some help and support too, so watch, listen, are they doing ok with what you want from them? Do they need something more from you to reduce their stress? If you would like any support, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I have been wanting to write this for a while but due to me not wanting to risk the criticism I have stopped myself. There are very strong opinions on this subject.
I have previously written about making sure people do their research before working with a trainer or behaviourist to make sure they are accredited and use force free methods, but I have always made my posts quite ‘polite’.
However, I keep seeing so many balanced trainers posting videos on Facebook or Instagram that I have to speak up. I want to make sure as many people as possible know that there are other options when training dogs (or any animal) that don’t cause fear or pain.
So let’s clarify what a balanced trainer is. They will usually say they are based in science as they use all the quadrants of learning. That means they will use reinforcements and rewards as well as punishment and fear equally, hence the ‘balanced’ term. Their argument is that science shows that an animal can learn by using these methods and therefore get the wanted results so why would they not use them. However, when I read these arguments about the best methods to use to train a dog, the subject that is missing from balanced trainers is ethics and welfare of the animal.
Does punishment work – in short – yes! If you threaten me with violence or a knife, I will most likely comply, and I’ll do what you want me to do. However, do I trust you now? Do I want to be near you? No! Am I doing the behaviour due to fear – yes. The prediction of pain – the sound of the buss from an electric shock collar, or metal jangle of the prong collar – I would do my best to avoid the pain. So over time can you see that although the behaviour might be learnt (why risk causing pain) I would live in a world of fear and intimidation. I would shut down and wouldn’t feel that I had choices and therefore just wouldn’t engage. The risk of making a mistake would be too great, so I would simply stop. This might look like a very well-trained dog – to me all I see is a broken spirit; the light has gone from their eyes.
Or the other possibility is that I would learn to fight back. To not accept that I had to comply and would react, show aggression by growling or biting. That would most likely result in that person having to use more intensive punishment to get the same result. I would be branded as stubborn, or wilful, or not knowing my place in the pack. Perhaps I am a certain breed, and I need a firmer hand (this isn’t true by the way). The ‘explosion’ of a dog that has just had enough, and the bite that comes out of nowhere. The behaviour is suppressed, not resolved, and it’s likely to rear its head at some point.
Dogs are sentient beings which means they have emotions. They can experience stress, anxiety and fear. This can impact their physical and mental health. If humans are the more intelligent species, it is up to us to make sure we use that brain power for the better. We must treat animals with respect and understanding. Punishment, fear and intimidation should not be in any trainer’s toolbox. The consequences of using such methods should be highlighted. The ‘fallout’ is rarely talked about.
Yes, we do need to train our dogs to listen and respond to us for their safety and to have manners to live in our human world. However, there are proven force free reward-based methods that achieve these goals and doesn’t cause any negative fallout. We keep our loving relationship with our dogs, and they can trust and rely on us. We work together to achieve the goal behaviour.
Ethics and welfare of the animal when thinking about methods used to train are a must.
I know most of you on my page will already agree with me, but I can honestly say most of you will have family or friends that aren’t aware and it’s up to us to help educate people. Can I therefore encourage you talk, to have conversations about focusing on having a relationship with your dog that is of trust and respect and not fear and negative consequences. Let’s do our part to change what is considered normal or even needed in training. Let’s be the change!
A Facebook memory came up for me this week of my first Border Collie Finn. We lost him 8 years ago so some of you won’t have met him and I wanted to share our story. I wanted to get a Collie with big dreams of doing agility and having a dog with a brilliant brain to help me on my learning journey. I was 26 and had started on my own dog training journey by then. Finn (was called Misty) was handed in to the dog warden as his original owner had died and the family didn’t want to keep him. He was 18 months old and very fat! Honestly, I have never seen a collie so round, but he was so handsome – my heart said yes! It took us around 6 months to get his excess weight off and during that time his true personality started to show. From a very cool, calm, and sociable dog, he started to develop aggression towards other dogs and people. He would guard high value food items and struggled being brushed and groomed. My ‘chocolate box’ collie dream dog was turning into a nightmare.
We started to keep away from situations, only doing quiet walks, retreating from social events and had to be careful with people coming into our house. I was not experienced enough to work through these issues alone, so sought help from more experienced trainers. I am so grateful for these people, but I had to accept Finn wasn’t ever going to be the dog I had dreamed of.
Agility wasn’t going to happen as I wouldn’t trust him in that environment, and we would always have to be careful around unknown people. Once he knew you, you were in the club and he was wonderful, however, no matter how careful we were, some people he just didn’t warm to. Same with dogs; careful introductions most were fine, but the free roaming incoming out of control dogs that we met on walks were a definite no. The embarrassment of walking a dog like this that 'reacts', the looks from other dog owners, some of you will understand. I was a dog trainer - surely my dog shouldn't behave like that! The frustration of putting in so much work to then have it ruined by an out-of-control dog; my heart still sinks when I see it happening today.
You are probably now thinking this is a sad story, well it’s not. Finn taught me so much more than I could have ever had hoped for. Showing me that having a ‘challenging’ dog means loving them whilst also some days not liking them is ok. He showed me that my expectations needed to be adjusted to give him the life he needed and deserved. When working with clients that have dogs with similar behavioural issues, I can honestly tell them I have been where they are and understand the emotional roller-coaster ride it is having a dog like that. He was a very loving dog, we had a wonderful journey together and he was the dog I needed to make me the person I am today. He was my teacher, and I will forever be grateful for him. Unfortunately, he was only with us for 8 ½ years. At 10 years he had a brain tumour; he had several aggressive incidents directed towards me, uncontrolled attacks that were not predictable and therefore we made the very hard decision to put him to sleep. He was Jon’s first dog (my husband) having never grown up with pets – what an introduction to the world of dogs!
I wrote this to say thank you to Finn. My special heart dog. I also wanted to share him with you all, so you know a little more about my journey of becoming a behaviourist – he was a huge part of my learning journey.
We have all heard this saying, however do we apply it to dog training? I talk to lots of lovely people that have been struggling with a behaviour their dog is doing that is unwanted. Anything from barking, aggression, guarding, pulling on lead, running away etc. The conversation usually progresses with me asking how long this has been going on for, and the answer is usually many months or even years. Now please understand this isn’t coming from a place of judgement – I am here and ready to help anyone when they are ready for help, however there are many problems that if some training had been done in the early days, then these problems would either not have happened, or certainly wouldn’t have escalated so far.
Last night at puppy classes, we talked about food guarding. Now none of the puppies had shown this behaviour, so we spent time explaining some simple training games to use to make sure it never happens; prevention rather than waiting for it to happen and then dealing with it. Putting in the training before the problem arises. We know lots of behaviours that our dogs are likely to do (chasing, scavenging, jumping up etc) so it’s our responsibility to set them up for success.
It doesn’t matter how many dogs you’ve had; each one is unique and each one will have different challenges to your previous dog. Also, trust me, ‘rose tinted glasses’ kick in here too as people always say “the last puppy wasn’t anything like this one.” I always agree with this, because as I said, each dog is different, however please understand your situation is likely to also be different. You are not in the same life stage as you were before. Maybe you are older, you now have children or maybe they have now left home (or just aren’t interested in helping anymore), maybe your working pattern is different, or it’s a different breed. There are so many reasons why I recommend that you spend time training your dog, so that they can understand what manners and behaviours you want from them. Training is a lifetime job that means you will continually need to update your skills and knowledge. Dog training is constantly changing, as science keeps showing us different, more effective ways to train. So I encourage you to keep up to date and not just rely on what you have previously done before.
Finally, please note that not all trainers and classes are the same. Please know that punishment is NOT OK and NOT required to train any dog. It doesn’t matter what breed you have or what problem you are trying to solve. Research your trainer and make sure they use kind and science-based training skills so you and your furry friend will be in the best of hands.
Ian Dunbar (Veterinarian, Behaviourist and Trainer) asked other trainers and behaviourists, what was the most common mistake people made when getting a puppy. The results probably aren’t that surprising, but I think worth talking about.
Firstly – unrealistic expectations. People getting a puppy really had no idea how much time, energy and money would be needed. Puppies require a huge lifestyle change to most and this is not something people really understand or expect.
Another finding was that a puppy may have been the wrong choice for some people/families and that an older rescue dog would have fitted them so much better.
Thirdly – people were choosing the wrong breed or type of dog usually because people choose for looks rather than understanding what different breeds need or what they were bred for. On a similar theme, it was reported that getting a pup from a ‘bad’ breeder that didn’t raise the puppy well, really did set the new owner up for failure. So again, lack of research before getting the puppy.
And finally, that most people didn’t take time to do appropriate training and socialisation to raise a well-adjusted dog. This will take the first year being very proactive, and actually training is a constant, continuing requirement throughout the dog’s life.
So what do you think? Do you agree with these findings?
In my experience of working with dogs for over 20 years, I think the issues still remain the same, which actually makes me very sad. It’s so important to spend time researching before you get your pup. Find some people with the breed you are interested in and ask questions, talk to several breeders, ask yourself if you really have the time, energy and money to give to this pup. Is a puppy actually the right choice? If you consider a rescue dog from a good reputable charity, they will tell you all about the dog, what it’s behaviour and temperament is, and they will be able to find you a dog to match your requirements.
Please understand I am writing this post without judgement, but to spread knowledge and asking people to really take time and careful consideration as to whether adding a dog to your family really is the right thing for you and the dog.
I bet you have heard there are no bad dogs just bad owners? Well, I would like to say that I don’t agree with this. I don’t mean that dog are ‘bad’ it’s just that puts so much pressure on pet parents that if their dog is ‘misbehaving’ then it must be their fault!
I meet so many wonderful dog owners who tell me how much time and effort they have spent training and caring for their dog, but it’s just not going to plan. Their dog is running off or barking at people or growling at them when they try to take something off them to name a few. They tell me how they love their dog, but they just find it so overwhelming and there is so much conflicting advice online they don’t know where to start.
These owners who are struggling with their dog’s behaviour are not ‘bad’ people, they are often struggling themselves.
When you have a dog that isn’t behaving as you wish, then your whole life can be impacted. Where you can walk your dog, can you take them with you or is it easier to leave them at home, or is leaving them actually an issue. The fear of meeting another dog owner when their dog isn’t under control totally ruin your day. All the emotions come to the surface: fear, anger, frustration, embarrassment and guilt and this is all caused by your beloved best friend.
How can this dog that you love and be committed to giving him the best life be causing you so much stress?
I totally understand people wanting a quick fix. They turn to TV programmes or the internet and come across people using methods that looks like they work within hours. Why would that not be tempting; if professionals are doing it, it must be ok?
To change your dog’s behaviour without causing fear, intimidation and damaging your relationship you must step away from punishment-based training – those quick fixes. Lead jerks, verbal corrections, poking, using choke chains or prong collars (look them up if you don’t know what they are, and yes they are legal!!!) shock collars, aerosols cans, citronella collars etc etc.
I know you love your dog and want the best for them, so please take the time and patience to work with them to get to the end goal behaviour that you want.
To put it in context, have you ever tried to change your behaviour? To cut out chocolate? Stop smoking? Go to the gym every day? If you have, then you know how hard it can be to change any behaviour. Would you prefer to have a support team to help and guide you along the way or have someone ‘correcting’ you when you get it wrong? Find a trainer that is going to help and support you all the way and you will be so happy with your results.
For a list of recommended trainers see website https://abtc.org.uk/
PS I have a blog on my website if you want more Paws4thoughts!