As a qualified dog behaviourist, most of my work is dealing with issues that the owner may have tried to resolve over a period of time. Despite their best efforts and with well meant advice from friends and family the changes have failed to come.
It's not unusual for people to take the 'We hoped he would grow out of it' approach. Invariably the dog will grow into the habit rather than out of it, unless the correct approach is taken to prevent and redirect such dog behaviour problems.
I believe it takes courage to stop, stand back and accept that you require help and then of course go to the expense and investment of time to make these changes. I am frequently told on the initial phone call how nice the dog is, but when we go for a walk things can take such a dramatic change. The point is that this 5% of the time type behaviour is so worrying that it can't be ignored any longer. It may be endangering the dog, the owner and maybe other innocent dogs and their owners also. This is just one example of the type of call I receive.
On the other hand an existing customer called me a couple of weeks ago explaining that their senior dog had died a few months ago, and the nearly two year old Weimaraner had developed separation anxiety towards the owners since the event. There were a number of delicate issues to cover of course, but this behaviour was being shown mainly at night when the lights go out and they go to bed. For three months without fail the owners were coming down to the dog in the middle of the night and doing their level best to console the dog and stop the noise. This is another good example of how dedicated owners are at trying to resolve these issues alone. Again, I think it took courage to ask for help.
Two nights after my visit the dog had stopped its frustrating efforts, and I spoke to the owner this week who sounded as though a weight had been lifted and sleep had returned. I feel that it's a privilege to be able to help in such circumstances, and I get a great personal reward from my work.
The great thing about my work is the sheer variety of issues I deal with. As a result of this variety, I have learned to remain flexible in my approach in terms of the methods needed to resolve the issues that are presented to me. There are three main elements I need to take into account on every visit:
1) The Dog.
Even within a breed they vary so much, and the individual temperament needs to be taken into account for me to advise an effective programme..
2) The Owner.
We are all different of course, and unless I can listen to you and offer the right feed back in a way that resonates with you, we may not be as effective as possible.
One of my biggest concerns that I need to deal with on the visit is to ensure that you understand what it is I am wishing to put over, as it will be you that is left with the dog once I leave. It is you that will need to bring about these changes in my absence.
I will give you the tools and show you how to use them. You will have full support from me throughout, and I will stay with you until I see that you are feeling confident and getting the behaviour you desire. Your confidence is often a major element in finding the right solution that works long term. A confident, calm owner can lead an insecure dog into good behaviour...I see this all the time.
3) The Environment.
This is simply referring to the home, its layout and the amount of space and liberty the dog has within it. The environment outside can and often does play a major part in the way we approach various issues, as many behavioural problems are specific to being out of the home, just as many are specific to within the home.
I am clear in my mind that many outside behavioural issues have their roots in the home, and so I always start here and then move on to the outside. This simple approach alone can make a profound difference to the dog and owner's mind set as we move into a less secure place. We are of course looking for calm behaviour at each stage before we progress to the outside.
So there you have it, a few thoughts on dog behaviour problems, and how it can vary from job to job. I love talking dogs, so feel free to contact me to discuss any problems you may be having with yours.