Karen and her husband Steve took on Monty in November 2015 they already had another dog by the name of Benson. Karen approached us in July 2017 because they were unable to correct Monty’s barking at other dogs when out on a lead which meant that many dogs were not happy to meet or play with him. This sort of behaviour is not uncommon, caused mostly by lack of interaction and socialisation in their younger life or in their previous home – not being taken out enough to socialise with other dogs. But it can also be caused by other factors as well – when you take on a rescue dog you rarely find out why this has occurred but there are ways of getting a dog over the problem. And Karen did what we suggested and contacted her vet for advice on who they would recommend to help Monty.
This is Karen’s and Monty’s story July 2017
I was good to speak with you a couple of weeks ago about Monty and his barking at other dogs on lead etc. I did get in touch with a chap called Ryan who has been recommended by my vet practice and the hydro therapist (who my other Dalmatian Benson sees). Ryan is a dog trainer and behaviourist. He came to see us on Wednesday and had a chat about the issues we have been having and is happy to help us. We went through basic behaviour within the household and then how to move this onto the pavement. Some of this we already knew but it is good to be able to go through it again. Though we focused on things that we could implement for both dogs it was aimed at helping Monty in particular.
We went through the types of praise that we can use for both negative and positive behaviours and ways we could correct bad behaviour. As the session went on it did become apparent that Monty was getting confused at times due to us not being as consistent as we should. I and my husband (Steve) both told Ryan that Monty had come a very long way from when we took him on. We went over all the things we have managed to correct and do ourselves which he complemented us on especially things we have got to work well for us and both dogs. Ryan said that Monty was a very intelligent and loving dog but quite rightly, he told us not to keep looking back on his past and look at how he is now. Ryan gave us some good knowledge on how to become ‘clearer and more precise owners’ with our instructions so that Monty would be able to listen and understand what we wanted much better. We also went through some classic behaviour of dogs that we needed to look out for.
We left it with another session booked in later in July to go through more behaviour issues and then to start correcting the ‘on lead’ issues we were having.
August 2017 After 3 Sessions
We have made some great progress. Ryan has said that observing us with Monty, we are praising him when he ‘self-praises’ by rubbing up to us or resting his head on our lap or licking our hand (I am more guilty of this as I do give him lots of hugs). We are now very mindful of praising when he has done something good and not when he hasn’t done anything at all! We are not alone, apparently, it seems that most dog owners are guilty of the same behaviour particularly if they are rescue dogs. In Monty’s case Ryan does see how affectionate he is and why we do make a fuss of him but we do need to curb it now that he has settled in and is not the new rescue dog any more. Monty had had a bad start in life and Karen says that she probably used to give him too much affection to compensate. As she have been told, Monty doesn’t understand the ‘past’ he only knows ‘now’ so I need to hold back a bit and not try and give him more praise than he is actually due.
We are not using a harness now and only collar and a 1.5 metre lead not the retractable one. He now sits and waits at the door before we go out and does walk to heel better if it is only with one of us. If we are all out (me, Monty, Steve and Benson) this is when we have a problem. Monty does like to ‘take charge’ on walks and be in front of everyone. We have been walking back and refocusing as soon as he pulls, he does get the message eventually. Ryan has said that Monty is so headstrong and very alert to his surroundings it might not be a quick fix to get him to walk to heel but he will get to do it eventually with consistent perseverance from us.
Ryan also introduced his German Shepherd Poppy into the training today. As predicted, Monty barked at her and pulled on the lead. Ryan confirmed that he is definitely not aggressive and he has mixed reactions – wanting to play, unsure how to react when he first meets a new dog and is still being a bit anxious. After about a minute he calmed down and was really ok. So this is work in progress and with some determination we will fix it.
On a really positive note, Ryan holds ‘ the big dog meet’ once or twice a month. We took both Monty and Benson last Sunday. There was about 35 different dogs all shapes and sizes. Once we all started walking (Monty on lead) and with dogs and owners all around, he started off a bit unsure, as we got into the walk he had settled so we got into the middle of the group and let him off lead. He was great, running about in all directions, going up to dogs and not barking at all. He went on lead when we had horses coming towards us, luckily we were in a forest and the paths were quite wide so we were able to hold him and let the horses pass. This was the closest he has been to horses and was really good – Lots of praise and a treat that time! So Karen is going to keep us posted on his progress.
British Dalmatian Welfare – From the Rehoming Co-ordinators
We are so pleased when people come back to us and ask for help with a dog they have got so far with but just need a bit of extra help with them. There are many qualified dog trainers and behaviourists that your vet can recommend so that you can sort out any issues your dog might have and you don’t seem to be able to get results with.
Our non-expert human interpretation of what a dog is doing or thinking or why it’s doing what it’s doing is often wrong and a combination of actions by a dog may be down to quite different reasons from what we think.
Getting expert help will ensure that your dog is helped in the right way and if you are willing to spend the time and effort to engage with an expert then British Dalmatian Welfare is willing to help financially if necessary to give these dogs as many chances as possible to become an enjoyable normal happy family dog.
Update from Karen November 2017
Thank you for your email, it is good to hear from you. I have just read Monty’s story on the BDW site. I hope that it will help others to see that problems can be solved with time and patience. I am pleased to say that we have only needed 3 half hour sessions since then. Monty will still bark sometimes while on lead but he is so much better than he was and we are all much more relaxed . We still go on the ‘social meets’ and we have had people comment on how well Monty is off lead and how excellent his recall is.
We have started to have training at a stables as he is a bit nervous of horses especially when they walk close by (which can be often where we live and walk) and he will bark and lunge towards them. Ryan walked Monty towards the horses which were in stables checking Monty out over the doors and made Monty sit. We gradually got closer being guided by Monty’s reactions, taking things slowly until he was sitting by the stable door. We were able to walk towards a horse that was being groomed. Again, taking things at his pace, Monty was able to sit quite close to the horse. We were really pleased with this progress and hopefully after a couple more sessions like this, Monty will be able to walk towards and pass a walking horse.
To be honest, I am really surprised and pleased that we haven’t had to have as many training sessions as I first thought. Sometimes it just needs someone to see things from the outside and give pointers on how to go forward. Having BDW as support has been great and I hope Monty’s story helps others that may have similar issues.