Sunday, 22 January 2012

Benson makes great strides...

This email has been reprinted with kind permission from the owner Kathy. Let me start by saying that Kathy and Alan have done a superb job with Benson. They represent owners that took a dog with existing issues and worked hard, no, very hard at improving his behaviour with my guidance to start them off.He had reactivity issues towards other dogs in public, visitors to the home (he leapt on the sofa and very nearly bit my face on the initial visit - I'm still reasonably quick) and lack of recall to name a few.

They both had to make marked changes in their handling styles to bring Benson, a young and very strong Lab x Staff round to their way of thinking and behaving. A firm but fair approach was needed and used. No aversives were used. He has been directed into better behaviour with the help and motivation of his stomach...always a good approach when it works.

It may also serve as a gentle reminder that there are few quick fixes to such behaviours. As I often explain, I give the tools, you work with them with my support.

Hi Nick,

Hope you had a good Xmas and New Year,

Thought you would like to read update on Benson;

We had guests on Xmas Eve, and as it was still daylight when they arrived we all met outside and they threw Benson treats (he loves the liver cake) while giving him little attention and then all walked in together. He barked a little once inside, but the guests continued with a few treats then I gave him a rope toy smeared with peanut butter and this distracted him for some time. I did keep him tethered so we could all relax, as Alans sister isn't overly keen on dogs and I didn't want Benson to pick up on her anxiety if he got too excited, I think meeting them outside helped greatly.

We took Benson on the Forest Dog Rescue sponsored walk in late December in the Wyre Forest. There were about 50 people and their dogs, and Benson was fine with all the dogs he met. As it was in the woods he did pull rather a lot, but so did all the other dogs, but we felt it was a good chance for him to socialise with so many people and dogs.

On New Years Eve we took him on a late afternoon walk down a country lane, so he would not be out when fireworks went off. It seemed that lots of others had the same idea as we met about 14 dogs coming in the opposite direction and he met all in a friendly way, although I did notice that most were bitches.

We purchased the Baskerville Ultra Muzzle as you suggested and it is a much better fit. He is fine with me putting it on him, but after 10 mins or so he tries to rub it off on the ground and it distracts him when I am recalling. I suppose this will just take time, and I am working on that every day.

I am still dropping the line in the afternoons and his recall is very good now, and as there are few, if any other dogs he is really listening to me. If we do see a dog in the distance he will stop and look, but I find I can distract him by throwing treats one at a time and telling him to "find"as we move along until he loses interest. We still take him to Habberley Valley, but sometimes I find there are too many dogs and they surround him and me (Liver cake on me), and at times become a nuisance especially as their owners do not recall them. Twice I have had to ask another owner to call their dog when they have been trying to get in my pocket or are jumping up at me. I will carry on dropping the line locally where it is quieter until he accepts muzzle before dropping it at Habberley Valley.

At the moment he has about 40 min walk down a country lane in the mornings, and a 45 min runaround plus 15 min walk every afternoon, and I think he is calmer generally. He also waits well now when I have stopped to chat to people. Thats all for now, will keep you posted.



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