HUGHIE – MIXED BREED
PROBLEM – EXTREME AGGRESSION TO OTHER DOGS.
Carmen rang me in a quite a distressed state early one morning, in a total quandry what to do about Hughie, a cross-breed which she and her husband had only had for a few days.
As with every dog she had ever owned, Carmen had gone to a reputable rescue society to give an unfortunate dog a good home. He had seemed a suitable dog when they had met him, and the agency staff gave them no warning as to what was to come.
The warning signs were there when they popped into a major pet-store on the way home and Hughie was barking and snarling at other dogs there. Carmen and her husband Chris thought it was just a bit of
insecurity which would sort itself out, but they were wrong.
In the next three days, Hughie attacked three different dogs. One whilst out on a walk and two others which were being walked past their home whilst he was in the garden. One of these poor dogs was a small Yorkshire Terrier, which Chris described as being thrown in the air by Hughie. Fortunately there was no more damage than minor puncture wounds, but Carmen and Chris were now in a real dilemma as to whether they could keep this dog. They live in a small, close-knit community and word was already going around about this new canine hazard!
Carmen could barely face the thought of returning Hughie to rescue. He had been in rescue before and she
feared the worst should he be returned again, hence the emotional phone call to myself.
On attending their home to assess Hughie, it was clear that Carmen and Chris had made some common mistakes. In thinking that this poor rescue dog needed lots of love and affection, they had over-nurtured him in a few short days. He was sleeping in their bedroom and was very much an attention seeker. Although he clearly did need love and affection, what Hughie really needed was strong leadership from his new owners, so that he didn’t feel that he had to protect them from potential threats.
They were shown techniques to reduce his clingy behaviour and his bed was moved into the kitchen. This dog had been sleeping in a kennel for quite some time so there was certainly no need for him to sleep in
his owners bedroom. Having shown them how to exercise strong leadership indoors, we moved to the road outside. Using Robynne, one of my Rottweilers as a stooge we walked both dogs towards each other on opposite sides of the road and as expected, Hughie went into his full repertoire of aggression when he came within 15 yards of her. I showed Chris and Carmen how to interrupt this and within minutes both of them were able to walk Hughie alongside Robynne without further problems. Hughie even permitted Robynne to go through her getting to know you, sniffing routine without any aggression. A very lively Staffie also walked by, with very little interest from Hughie.
Chris and Carmen were quietly confident after our first session and the next 24 hours went well. Rescue dogs can come with serious baggage and Hughie, Carmen and Chris are not out of the woods yet. If they continue to follow their detailed action plan and demonstrate calm assertive leadership, there is every chance that Hughie can be rehabilitated in their home, just like the rescue dogs before him.
“Thankyou for your visit and the action plan. I must say I am very impressed. Already, Hughie’s whole demeanour has changed. He appears to be much more respectful and less insecure. We will continue following your good advice and look forward to your next visit. ”
A second session saw Hughie running around off-lead with two of my Rottweilers, Callum and Tara. Callum is a fairly dominant male but there were no problems at all, with all three dogs getting on well together. During our walk, it was one of those days when lots of dogs were out walking which was good for us.
Hughie ran along with a pack of about eight dogs, with no problems whatsoever and didnt react at all on two occasions when dogs acted aggressively towards him. He also behaved in a balanced way when one particular dog was extremely submissive.
On previous occasions he would have taken advantage of this. He encountered dogs on-lead,
off-lead, groups of dogs, single dogs – you name it he did it!
This showed the benefits of calm assertive leadership. Carmen and Chris now have the confidence that Hughie can socialize effectively with other dogs of all shapes and sizes without resorting to aggression. They now have to continue to socialize him effectively and in the space of less than a week, they are much more confident and their rescue dog has made major steps towards rehabilitation. The rest is down to them.
“The change in Hughie in just a few days is unbelievable. You have shown us that with positive behaviour from us, Hughie will respect us. To see him with that large group of dogs and your Rottweilers was wonderful and no signs of bad behaviour from him at all.
We will now practice everything you have taught us and will let you know how we get on. Overnight there was a tremendous change in him following your first visit and today has been really great. Only a few days ago, it looked like he would have to go back to the (rescue home).
We now feel confident that this won’t be neccessary.
Many thanks for all you excellent instruction and advice. It certainly has had a profound effect on
Hughie and I am confident it will on me too! Carmen has got to grips with the training very well – she definitely seems to be the pack leader.
We will certainly be passing on your details to others with problem dogs.” Chris
After a further two weeks, a delighted Carmen rang me to update me on Hughie’s progress which could not have been better. It is this sort of story which makes this job so rewarding, making a difference to people’s lives (and their dogs).
“Since you did your work with Hughie, he is a completely changed dog. He is a
wonderful dog and he has completely lost that awful aggression towards other dogs. He meets and plays with other dogs every day, morning and evening in a normal way, without any problems. We are so pleased and I told the (rescue society) that you are brilliant!" Carmen.