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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Men cause the problem

My name is Jennifer and I am a qualified veterinary nurse, I am a dog owner and have been brought up with dogs since birth. I currently own four dogs and require some help with behaviour for one of them.
Bungle has started to bark at people walking towards us when out on a walk, sometimes chasing towards them.  I am unsure of the best response I can give to this.
The first time he did it a man stepped out on a footpath in front of us with his hood up and I was grateful for B barking.
He has done it occasionally since then if men are walking swiftly towards me but this has been manageable by calling him to heel with a treat.
His canine pack has changed dramatically and I am not sure whether he is showing off, is trying to protect us all or is lacking in confidence in this situation. When he came home as  a puppy he had four adult dogs to influence him, in the last 18 months we have lost three of our dogs and acquired two puppies through rescue. The pups are both entire males who are now 10 months old. B is a four year old neutered male and I have  a seven year old small crossbreed neutered bitch. I want to be sure I give the right and consistent response to this behaviour which has escalated.
He has a command to bark and I tell him to speak at times on his walk when nobody is around and treat him. His behaviour is heightened when the pups are with him and I don't want them to learn this is an acceptable way to behave so they are being separated for walks currently. He doesn't do it if he is on his lead and I am aware that I don't want to grab at his collar everytime I see someone approaching as this may heighten his response.
Any advice would be gratefully received.
Jennifer, by email

As you're a vet nurse, you already know you need to make sure there's no underlying health problem to account for the change in behaviour - but just mentioning it here for others reading who may not know! 
Beverley Cuddy, Editor


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