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My World Of Dogs (part 3)

It took time to overcome his fear of other dogs, of any collar (I never use slip chains) and of instructors, but within the year he was one of the best dogs in the class, and we could all stroke him and play with him, and he could play with other dogs. His owner now has two very young children and he is their protector.

As we are out of doors there is plenty of space, and we can keep a good area round each dog, without having them too close to one another at first, Each has its own tolerance limit and some need more space than others, or they feel threatened, In cases of fear, which stresses the dog ( and the owner) food is the only solution at first,. When I have classes, I do not allow barking, or owners talking while I am teaching, or dogs off lead other than when training an off lead exercise.

Owners are expected to keep their voices soft. Otherwise the dog hears a dozen or more commands given at varying times. Or a dog is about to perform an exercise correctly for the first time when another dog misbehaves.

The owner shouts NO, and the dog that was working thinks it applies to him and stops his action. Again if the dog is concentrating on a hand holding food, it is less likely to react adversely to a distraction. None of the newly rescued dogs ever comes to a group class.

Life is far too stressful and they need to be helped gradually, not thrown in at the deep end, which may result in them being returned to the rescue organisation a e few weeks later by an owner who simply cant cope.

When I ran a registered dog club I was unaware of the existence of these dogs. The standard training is wrong for them. When the club was closed down because of an anti dog petition and I began to train people privately I found a very different group of people asking for help.

For the past ten years I have had around twenty dogs a week, most staying about twelve weeks, though some of the worst of these, and some of the best of these, still come for more advanced training.

Any attempt at teaching them the basics in the first few weeks leads to disaster. The dog has to learnt to trust humans, a lesson which may take a considerable time. No dog will love a new owner the instant it is bought. That takes time. Even the new puppy has a past, and misses its mother and litter mates. It wont work for love...why should it?

But it needs to eat and will work for the substance that keeps it alive. Later a toy can be substituted and then, if the owner is minded for competition, and trains appropriately and fairly, the dog will work for the love of working. But many have no working ability of any kind. The retrievers have retrieving instincts.

The collies have herding instincts. A well bred spaniel is soon taught his job. But what do you do with the dogs that have no working past? That have no instinct whatever to even obey the breed characteristics? ` We have had retrievers that wont retrieve and have to be taught; many dogs seem to have no sense of smell, a d cant track or search well.

Some have too much of an instinct, as in the guarding breeds. The multiple cross breeds have little instinct of any kind except that needed for survival. With all these, titbit training works, once the dog begins to relax. If stressed, nothing works. Many dogs that appear to be nuisances in class are actually stressed.

Titbit training must be done properly. Many people hold the food in the wrong place, give it at the wrong time, or tease the dog with it, withholding it so that it has no effect, as the dog gives up trying, having no reward, yet able to smell that reward..

Mandy was a little collie who came to me with her owner, for teaching, about two years ago. She was the victim of a sadist, who was banned for life from having a dog. Pick up a pencil and she lay down and cried. Show her a lead, and she bolted.

It was ten weeks before her owner could coax her out from behind the settee. He had had her six months when they came to me. I train the owner, not the dog. Mandy was not even house trained, and since she only performed when her owner was out of sight, and the dog was behind furniture, we had a major problem.

She did have a lead, but she had a slip chain, which was invariably on wrong. I changed that to a half check collar, which was first put on at home, in my absence. Mandy had no desire to come to anyone but her new owner. She trusted no one.

my world of dogs part 4