May issue

May issue
May issue

Friday, 29 October 2010

Rescue plan needed!

We rescued Bobby a Cocker Spaniel, aged two years old, from a well-known rescue organisation approx 10 days ago. We were told that he had been handed over by his single owner because he was being left for 10 hours at a time and had become destructive! The only other issue we were told about was that he pulled on the lead. Our two previous rescue dogs are no longer alive, but one had had no training and the other was a severe cruelty case. Now we have a young family, Bobby seemed right for our present situation, and we believed that we would have no problems training him.
Bobby is very bright, has responded well to training and with the use of a Kong and other activities has shown no signs of destructiveness. However, whilst on the lead, Bobby becomes extremely vocal and excited when he sees another dog, which appears to be from frustration. However, I took a risk and let Bobby off the extendable to see what he would do when approaching a group of dogs off lead and unfortunately, he attacked an elderly German Shepherd. We think Bobby has been exercised on an extendable lead, and for the time being are having to use one ourselves until we are sure of his behaviour, not least his recall. (He is learning to focus on us whilst out, but this will obviously take time).
I spoke to the person who runs the local dog training class and attended for the first time tonight. Unfortunately I ended up walking out! Bobby was extremely agitated and vocal and was upsetting the other three dogs. I moved further away from them, and then out of their sight, to help Bobby calm down and focus on me, but the trainer was not happy with that. I was also not happy with the suggestion that we use a Citronella spray collar on him.
I have come home and decided to initially get some help from Dogs Today! I will also try and find a COAPE trainer because I realise that a training class is not the place to help Bobby.
We are using a Gentle Leader to help with lead control and, as I said, are using an extendable to allow Bobby some space for running.
Until we find a trainer who can help us, can anyone give us any ideas as to how to deal with his frustration/aggression on his twice daily walks?
Donna Ely, by email


  1. Using a gentle leader with an extending lead is a bit counter productive because he is learning (or continuing) to pull on the lead with the extender, while you are trying to use the gentle leader to help prevent pulling on the lead. I hope you are not using them together as I would imagine this wouldn't be very good for his neck.

    You were doing right to add distance, I had to do this with my dog at training classes after a year or so of him becoming frantic when other dogs were running for a recall or in the agility arena next door. I moved away until he was a distance he didn't react, did some figure of 8 groundwork from Tellington Touch and then moved back in as he was calm.

    When I'm not sure of a dog's reaction I prefer to keep him on a short lead. If another dog comes into your dog's space while he is at the furthest extent of an extending lead and he reacts badly you will be able to do nothing about it as there is very little control on a lead like that.

  2. Poor Bobby, it sounds as though he has not been socialised. He sounds alarmed when he barks at other dogs, not frustrated, and he probably attacked the German Shepherd because he felt he had to make a pre-emptive strike. He sounds unconfident because he's been indoors too much.
    You can get over this but it needs a bit of practice and patience. Forget the classes - too artificial a situation.
    First of all, get the recall really good, practising at home and using treats to reward him when he comes back well.
    And take him out when he's a bit hungry, if you are worried he might not come back so well!
    Take him to a park where there are some nice people and dogs. It would help to start with if you had a friend, or a fellow dog walker with a female dog, or a very calm male, then you could walk along with them.
    If the dogs got on, you could let Bobby off the lead to run around as this is so good for them.
    If you see some other dogs approaching, I would put the extending lead on and continue past them, but keep the lead loose enough to stop him going on the defensive, and short enough so that, if he lunged at another dog, you could pull him back.
    If he does that, just say "no", and let the lead go slack again, and continue walking.
    It's good to hang around, just strolling among people and dogs, correcting him if necessary, so that gradually he will see that there is nothing to fear.
    You will find he will start to wag his tail at dogs he likes, then you can stop so he can say hello.
    You have to act in a very calm way yourself, so he sees everything as normal.
    After a bit, you will find you will be able to let him off when you want and whatever dogs are around.
    But getting a good recall is vital! Recall him now and again then give him a treat and send him off to play again.
    I personally use a gun-dog whistle - much better than my voice!
    Dogs need to be out and about every day, meeting new dogs and people, and being off-lead is so good for them. My dog keeps really fit running around with other dogs.
    Linda above mentioned the Tellington Touch method. I haven't done it but from what I've read about it, it sounds worth trying too.
    Julia Lewis