BRUNO – GSD
PROBLEM – DOG AGGRESSION
In this case, my dog behaviour and training role took me to Gerrards Cross in the London area, where my client Sir Frank Barlow CBE lives with his GSD
Bruno, aged 7 years.
Sir Frank, no stranger to leadership issues himself, having been the former Chairman of Sky and CEO of the Financial Times and now in his 80’s, described how Bruno had developed quite serious dog
aggression issues over the years and I was delighted to be consulted in his rehabilitation.
On attending, the scale of his aggression quickly became apparent. Sir Frank told me of incidents where he literally had to tie Bruno to a tree or lamp-post in order to avoid being dragged towards other dogs.
Bruno had bitten a Dobermann belonging to Sir Frank’s daughter and had also escaped from Sir Frank’s garden to attack another dog. Sir Frank had learned to live with these issues, but a change in circumstances brought about a need for drastic action.
Sir Frank was about to move in with his daughter Kim, the owner of the aforementioned Dobermann Amber. Kim also owned two other dogs and five cats and it has to be said, the planned coming
together of Bruno and Kim’s dogs all under the same roof was causing some trepidation! During the assessment, Bruno demonstrated his aggression towards my stooge dogs which I was able to interrupt, but this very large GSD was definitely a handful. Indeed, the option of rehoming or euthanasia had been strongly considered, but Sir Frank asked me to undertake some intensive work with Bruno and he came back to Devon with me for two weeks.
This was a tremendous challenge, to change the very aggressive behaviour of a mature, dominant male GSD but we rose to that challenge with a varied programme of socialisation, leadership and rehabilitation. Bruno responded remarkably well and improved rapidly after the first couple of days. For such a mature dog, his obedience standards were really good and by the end of his stay he could quite happily be placed in a down-stay in a public area with dogs around him, for up to 20 minutes with handler at least 50 metres
He socialised with packs of dog-walked dogs, puppies and mature dogs of all types and went back to Gerrards Cross with me, confident that we had significantly improved his problems. The question now was, would he integrate with Kim’s dogs and cats and could Sir Frank walk him in public
without any of the lunging and aggression issues of two weeks before?
The hand-over session went remarkably well. Bruno was reintroduced to Kim’s dog Amber on a walk to the local common, where there were lots of other dogs on and off-lead. During the on-lead phase of this session, Bruno walked beautifully to heel throughout and behaved really well off-lead. The next
stage was for him to return to Kim’s home, which was now also Bruno’s and Sir Frank’s new home. Bruno was introduced to Kim’s dogs one by one in her garden in a controlled manner and within half an hour all four dogs were sharing this common space without any problem at all. The next, potentially critical stage was to have all four dogs indoors together and this was achieved with no problems whatsoever. Sir Frank and his family know that they now have to remain vigilant and consistent in order to ensure that
resources and status issues do not trigger any problems between the dogs. They were given a detailed action plan to assist them and of course, just like all of my clients they have the benefit of a lifetime’s free telephone contact for advice.
“Peter, what you have achieved in two weeks with Bruno is brilliant. Absolutely amazing really. Thank you for all your hard work”.
Sir Frank Barlow CBE.
“Hi Peter, two weeks after Bruno came home and things are still going so well with him to the extent that we have now stopped watching the dogs closely at home. We can now feed them together and just separate them at night, when Bruno sleeps in the hall. When we go out, we do keep him on the lead, but he is so much better with other dogs, even when Dad is in charge! My friends can’t believe the change in Bruno and neither can I”.
Very best wishes, Kim