Buddy’s owner got in touch with us to see if we could help with his greetings with other dogs after he was attacked and left with puncture wounds on his abdomen by another ‘don’t worry he’s friendly’ dog.
Because of the pretty traumatic experience it’s left Buddy with a lot of apprehensions when greeting other dogs nose-to-nose. His typical reaction is to snap at them to create space, without any real malice behind it. He’s learned to reduce his own anxiety by snapping and being rewarded with additional space between him and the other dog.
Buddy had a bit of a pulling problem and it’s always something we’re keen to work on as a priority. A dog that’s at the end of the leash pulling from place to place is not ideal physically, but it’s also a less than desirable mental state for the dog. His owners were using a slip leash in a figure-8, similar to a ‘gentle leader’ so we got this off and used the leash as intended and he quickly picked up what was needed.
Next we moved onto working on his greetings with other dogs. Buddy is 8-years-old now (wouldn’t think would you) and his body language made it very apparent that he’s only really interested in his owners and isn’t wanting to make ‘dog friends’. It’s important to acknowledge this because the assumption is dogs should have playful relationships with other dogs, when in reality some dogs really just want their own space.
We worked on Buddy being in the presence of another dog as being a neutral event and that it didn’t mean he’d be forced into a position where he was required to interact against his will. By the end of the session, Buddy was happy to lie down and let one of our stooge dogs have a sniff and for him to do the same in return without any drama.
In a case like this it’s important to remember that a fairly traumatic event is going to remain present in the dogs memory and those emotions may bubble over in the form of behaviour. We need to be firm but fair to the dog and work on building as many positive and neutral events as we can to supplement the training. It’s often hard to do this in ‘real life’ which is why we’re able to make large progress in more controlled environments with the right stooge dogs.
Good work guys, it was a pleasure! Who said old(er) dogs can’t learn new tricks.