is a new feature, and currently one has one entry - Zander's story.
If you would like to tell your dog's story, or would like your case
to be used as a case study to help train other behaviourists (no
direct involvement is needed), please contact us.
and Zanders' story
Zander was born
in a foster home, within a litter of 12 puppies. That litter was
his mum's second litter within a short period of time. She was originally
found in a ditch, with a damaged leg and already pregnant with her
first litter. She was taken to a pound, where I think she had the
first litter, and then due to a Pound 'reshuffle' she was accidentally
put in with an entire dog. A presumed collie of some sort. This
led to her second pregnancy and she was moved into the rescue, and
the foster home, that we adopted Zander from. Zander was raised
in the foster home by a lovely lady until we took him on at 11 weeks.
I was 18 when
I adopted Zander, and 20 when we had the first meeting with Helen.
Zander was around 18 months there about at that first meeting, and
he is now 2. We both live at home with my Mum and I work part time
in the shop down the road.
When you first
visited it was due to Zander developing a fear or a starting of
one, around people (particularly men) who tried to approach him.
He would hunch down, tuck his tail up and back away from the person.
We had noticed that he had become a bit 'wary' of some people he
didn't know but it came into its full light when we tried to take
him to the vet due to a suspected UTI, we had never seen him so
distressed, howling, tucked up tail, trying to hide from the vet.
We overcame this
very slowly by letting him approach selected 'stooge' people, who
had been told to completely ignore him so he could approach at his
own pace and sniff them without fear of them trying to touch him.
Whenever he remained calm around them he would be told 'Good' (mark
word) and treated. We did have some difficulty at first due to people
seeming to think (with good intentions) that they'd be the 'one'
that wouldn't frighten Zander and it did teach me to be more assertive
with people around my dog. Now we have gotten to the point when
Zander will almost mug them for attention now.
We also did random
visiting of the vets and sitting in the waiting room without being
seen and marking and treating for calm while in there. At first
we would just stand in the car park and treat while calm, then slowly
moving towards the door. Then we'd get to the stage where we'd stand
in the doorway and maybe greet the receptionist.
Another fear of
Zander's was getting in and out of the car. Again we had to take
very small steps with it as he wouldn't even walk near it. We'd
stand by it and I'd treat him for looking at calmly and maybe take
a step towards it. When he was happily going towards it we'd open
the door and practice going towards it and then onto maybe feeding
him a meal in there or a spoonful of peanut butter while in the
With other dogs
Zander had always found other dogs very very interesting, to the
point of jumping around at the end of the lead because he HAD to
go over to them. We used the same sort of technique as with the
fear of people, marking and treating when calm (and starting from
a distance) and he didn't go and meet them in an attempt to hopefully
make them uninteresting to him. We used 'stooges' in the form of
calm dogs we knew and used your dogs too. As time went on he started
to bark occasionally and lunge at dogs he didn't know, so we went
back to the beginning and treated for calm at a distance. I started
to find that using 'find it' was useful when he saw other dogs or
ones that needed to go past us useful as I could make him hunt for
treats while they went by. I am also finding that if he does start
reacting to them I can distract him away and for him to keep moving.
We are still working on his reactions to other dogs. One's he knows
and has been slowly introduced too he is fine with, even a bit overexcited
when he see's them.
His recall was
difficult to train, especially as the only secure field in ort town
now has cattle in and the local 'park' is on-lead only.
We combated this
by hiring out a local indoor riding school for an hour every now
and then as a completely secure area that Zander can sprint around
in and we can safely practice recalls in.
When you first
arrived Zander was 'ok' with the cats but he was obnoxious with
them and would try and give chase. After lots of keeping him on
lead and doing tricks around the cats he slowly became less interested
in them. If particularly over-stimulated he will still try to chase
them and he will also try to in the garden which we are still working
This issue became much more important when in the Summer, my mum
found an abandoned 7 week old kitten at the side of the road in
a box. When we first had Zander, the cats were already adults, so
a tiny vulnerable kitten around meant it was especially important
he was desensitised to her. We did this by having him look at her
calmly lead while she was in her crate and then slowly built it
up. Now out of all the cats, Zander and Harry get on the best!
Things we are
still working on:
negatively to other dogs.
Went through a stage where Zander would glance ahead before watching,
meaning seeing whatever we were using as 'distraction'. So we have
started from scratch with that by changing the word and building
it up slowly.
things to remember:
Reading up on
dog body language can be really helpful in seeing how your dog 'feels'
Reading up on
dog behaviour in general is interesting too such as books like "The
culture clash" "Clever dog" and "In defence
Keeping an eye
on stress. If a walk has been particularly stressful for either
me or Zander, we may skip the next one and just do some tricks or
mental stimulation toys, stress on top of stress will not help at
(explains the stress bathtub thing better then I can!)
threshold is really important. I'd rather keep Zander calm at a
distance and then walk away then push it more and risk him reacting
Never run out
of treats. (Most coat pockets are filled up with various kibbles,
cheese, ham bits here)
And lastly a picture:
Harry with Zander