Puppy classes or “parties” as they are sometimes called, are big business these days. There is a lot of money to be made easily out of new puppy owners. However, a lot are run by ill educated teachers who actually do a lot more harm than good. A class is not good just because the teacher says it is. Any classes where pups are running free and the atmosphere is one of chaos are dangerous and detrimental to the psychological well being of your pup. Pups come up in different sizes and crucially temperaments. A timid pup can be terrified by a confident one and this can be enough to ruin them for life. Trust me I know, I see these owners all the time with young dogs traumatised in puppy class. If pups are allowed to run free, do not attend that class. Mixing should be done two at a time, on lead with the skilled teacher choosing the pairs. Classes should be calm not chaotic and should be as much about you learning to be with your pup as anything else. In this part of Devon we have several of these puppy classes and they are doing your pups no good at all. I do however recommend the good ones so anyone in this part of the world in need of a good class get in touch
Honey is now ready to be rehomed. She is a 14 month old cross breed, full of energy, friendly and affectionate. She is good with dogs and children. She will need energetic owners but will make a wonderful family/companion dog. Training is ongoing and will need to be continued in her new home. If you feel you could offer Honey the right home please contact me via the website.
At Devon Dog Behaviour we are awaiting the completion of paperwork on our new division : Devon Dog Behaviour Rehab & Rehome. This a CIC, a Community Interest Company which is not for profit. Through this division we will continue taking in dogs at the centre who need our specialist training and behavioural skills to enable them to find a new home. To date we have worked with and rehomed 11 dogs from the centre since June 2012. Once the new company is set up we will be in a position to take donations, fundraise and accept discount on clinical care and food for our rehabilitation dogs.
I have been totally neglecting this blog in the last six months in favour of facebook but from now on intend to keep you posted on all news at DDB – there is quite a lot. We are about to launch a not for profit section of the company DDB Rehab and Rehome, which will provide a bespoke one to one rehabilitation and rehoming service for dogs that rescue centre cannot help. Our specialist training and skills can provide the bridge for dogs that through no fault of their own, without our help are not able to find new owners. We began this pro bono work last June and to date have successfully rehabilitated and rehomed eleven dogs. Some needed a last chance and came via vets, some just needed our rehoming skills to match them with owners and some, needed behavioural rehabilitation and training. We are working at capacity now and have decided to formalise the situation so that we can take donations, fundraise and accept help from those who wish to contribute. Our lastest dog goes home tomorrow – full story then. Here is a pic of Bruce The English Bull Terrier who after a lot of years of hardship has finally landed on his paws.
Six weeks ago we took in Cushdie, an English Bull Terrier without a future. He was five years old and without some help wasnt looking like getting much older. Cush had been through a difficult time with lots of worrying changes in his life. He was insecure and unsure of humans. I am really happy to say that Cushdie changed his view on humans, responded to the routine, exercise and reliable interaction we were able to give him at the centre and has just gone to his new home. He lives with another dog, several cats and two adoring owners who could not have been more delighted with him. Not every situation has a happy ending – but its fantastic when they do.
Increasingly recently I have been seeing clients who have previously been to so called dog professionals who took their money and failed to solve their problems with their dog. So, time to spell it out. A dog trainer is just that, they are skilled in training dogs, perhaps choosing the right puppy and if they are good, teaching you how to train your own dog. This is where their level of expertise ends.
A behaviourist is a professional who has a qualification (in my view to degree level) in the understanding of a dog’s mind and the resultant behaviour. For my money, these people should also be reasonable dog trainers, otherwise how can they teach you to rehabilitate your dog? Plus have a good history of hands on work with dogs, in rescue or boarding kennels, walking sevice , etc. Without a good knowledge of breeds and their traits and handling experience, the best degree in the world wont suffice. The behaviourist also, needs a working understanding of human psychology, after all, you the owner, have ultimately to be motivated to understand your dog.
It amazes me that an electrician cannot rewire your house unless fully qualified and licensed, but a so called behaviourist, can advise you on your dog and for example the welfare of your children with that dog, on simply their own say so. It is time that my profession was properly legislated, so that I no longer have to follow in others’ footsteps who have taken money for results they cannot provide. We are none of us perfect and cannot promise a 100% success rate, but at the very least we can learn our trade and qualify properly in it, before we are let loose on your family and your wallet.
Yesterday I was in a local town seeing clients willing to do anything at all to ensure the welfare of their dog, when I ran into one that clearly wasnt. The owner in question had two dalmation bitches plus a male dalmation cross puppy running free. One of the bitches was clearly in season ( the puppy being the result of a previous “accident” ) Both bitches had previously been breed bitches but apparently no thought had been given to their neutering before rehoming. It was clear to me – as my client put her entire male dog quickly on the lead that another “accident ” was only a matter of time. The owner in question will not entertain the idea of neutering or apparently, normal control of a bitch in season.
As a veteran of twenty five years in dog rescue, neutering every dog I save in order to prevent more unwanted canines, I despaired at the sight. What hope do those of us who work tirelessly to rescue the thousands of unwanted dogs in this country have, if others wont even be responsible for their own dogs. To the best of my knowledge, every single rescue centre in the country has a long list of dogs of most breeds waiting to come in and sadly, many are having to be destroyed because there simply are not enough homes.
Until legislation is introduced to prevent all but the most diligent of breeders from breeding out of carelessness or purely for financial gain, the plight of our family dog will, in my view only get worse. Here ends the rant!
I met a charming dog yesterday who needed a little help to stop rushing around her home shouting at anyone who passes. Poppy is a lovely girl and we made great progress in teaching her family how to help her calm down. The interesting thing about Poppy was her breeding. She was a first cross between a Lhasa Apso and an English Bull Terrier – not a mix I could have imagined or have ever seen before – the result of two neighbours not being vigilant enough! I took my camera and this is what I saw! Isnt she great. Whilst Poppy is adorable, I do not endorse intentionally crossing breeds simply to get pretty dogs. Most breeds have been carefully developed to fulfil specific jobs of work, mixing them for the “Ahhh!” factor is not a good idea. Both physical health and temperamental balance need to be carefully considered.
The Lhasa Apso was bred in Tibet, is a hardy little dog, quite independant of nature and wary of strangers. This is why Poppy guards her territory quite so enthusiastically and my help to quieten her down was required. Poppy is a well loved family pet, bred by accident, but it pays all would be owners to think first about what job a dog was originally bred to do, what traits that entails and will those traits suit your family life. Looks should absolutely be a secondary consideration.
I spoke to a concerned dog owner from Plymouth today who had rescued a 4 year old staffy bitch who was dog aggressive. This is common in certain breeds if the dogs are not socialised from an early age, but it is possible to work sensibly to desensitise the dog in a controlled way.The rescue centre had warned that she should be kept on the lead. Wanting to do his very best, this owner contacted a so called professional who proceeded to tell him to buy an E Collar ( a shock collar to the layman ) He then put his own dog in one tennis court and the rescue dog, wearing the collar in the one next door and proceeded to let them fight through the mesh – instructing the owner to turn the collar on his dog up to maximum shock levels – which unsurprisingly made her worse.
It is simple – she is getting punished by the presence of another dog. Everytime she sees a dog and reacts to it , she is shocked. It makes her more aggressive not less, because she is a terrier and they dont run away, they stand and fight. So this so called professional is increasing her aggression to other dogs. From a short conversation, it seems likely she is fear aggressive and copes until dogs come to close to her, then panics and would attack if not on lead and muzzle, which she is. So, her fear is heightened, she never gets to learn through patient, controlled on lead walks with other dogs that they are not a threat and could therefore be persuaded to ignore them as they go by – she just gets more scared and more aggressive. Nice days work!
Spent the afternoon itroducing Eric – the staffy cross, to Suki, the pushy collie /cross bitch – that went well, Eric was scared of her – once neutered, she will be a much nicer girl.
Next up was Breeze a flirty girly lab cross, to Alfie the Springer – He loved her but couldn t really keep up – he gave it his best shot though.
Then I moved Breeze on to Eric, happy flirting from both – Eric will need to build up his stamina to catch her. Both a bit love struck by the end of the socialisation session.
Mixing dogs whilst they are in a rescue kennel is absolutely essential to building their skills to cope with the real world once they are homed. Like chldren, dogs are not born with social skills, we need to give them the opportunity to learn from their peers. We would not expect our 5 yr old to go to school; and behave normally around other children if they had never met any. One of our previous prime ministers had the strap line : education, education, education – mine for dogs is socialise……..etc – here ends then lesson – thanks for reading!
Ruth and the team