George Barrett of Dalesman Dog Psychology writes about dog training
The kind of people who rescue dogs are generally very kind and want do some good in this world.
The feeling of turning around a ‘no hoper’ and making it into a nice family dog cannot be beaten.
The job that I do inevitably brings me into contact with many rescue dogs that have been taken on by perfectly lovely kind people but for me to see a dog and owner who have just not been matched up is heartbreaking.
My whole being wants to help them but my head knows they just can’t cope. They have just been allowed to rescue the wrong dog (for them). Sometimes the home environment is just simply not right.
Despite the best of intentions the reality is many of these dogs are actually made worse not better.
A better way is to volunteer to walk dogs at a rescue centre and see what you can actually manage to handle.
Many of these centres need foster homes whereby you only commit short term. Both these ways give you a chance help a dog but under supervision and guidance.
However I also witness many cases where the owner has done their homework and is under no illusions about the work ahead. They may not have the skills initially but I can definitely help these people understand how to bring the dog back to being a normal dog.
For me no amount of money can buy this feeling. This case is one of those.
I had spoken to Ravinder a couple of years ago who had two dogs. One was an elderly German Shepherd that was very dog reactive, and she was talking about rescuing another. I advised her to wait until her old one had gone otherwise she would struggle to rehabilitate a new one. The old one would just interfere with the training.
She took the advice and got Bella when her old one had passed away. She also had experience of the breed; any rehab would take time and realised it would be a one step forward two steps back scenario.
Her children were grown up so she had the time and was physically fit enough to do the leg work. Crucially she also could spot a dog that had a good temperament. When she first consulted me for help I knew she would follow through to the letter any advice. The hardest thing was convincing her that just love and kindness would not do the job. Kind leadership would.
Bella was a typical un-socialised German Shepherd who had quickly learnt that to appear aggressive would make that scary dog or person go away, but under that gruff exterior was a gentle dog desperate for some canine friends to mix with.
She actually was frightened of her own shadow and trusted no one. She was an ex-breeder and had been kept in isolation so preferred her own company. Many things she had never seen. She was again petrified.
The initial one-to-one went well and despite her ordeal it was obvious Bella had a good temperament and with a lot of hard work she would blossom.
When she walked with my dog Ruby, no amount of barking would make her react or go away over time she realised dogs were not about to attack her and if she just ignored the dog everything would be fine.
Ravinder was improving her handling skills, which brought confidence to herself and Bella. It really is surprising what strong confident handling can do for a dog.
As the photos show she has changed beyond recognition has become a fantastic family dog and is being constantly socialised and educated to enable her to fulfil her potential.
She has fulfilled the criteria needed to rehabilitate a troubled dog:
- Genetic: She had a basic good temperament despite her ordeal.
- Environment: She is in a home where she is exercised, fed and allowed to fulfil her instinctive behaviour.
- Socialisation: This is ongoing and done carefully.
- Training: On-going and constant.
A fantastic result job. Well done Ravinder and Bella.