Saturday, 20 June 2009

Anti-social Dogs

My brother owns a Staffordshire/English Bull Terrier mix, and she has had some aggressive run ins with other dogs. She was taken to a dog trainer with experience in this dog aggression, and he said most of her noise was attention seeking, but there's no doubt that she can't be trusted around other dogs. Sadly, my brother did not follow up on training, but I am of the opinion that it wouldn't take much for Gemma to be much more comfortable around other dogs.

So this morning I took her on a two hour walk with Fred. Fred has become quite an expert at dealing with his own kind, so I thought if any dog could help keep her calm, he could.

Things went really well, they walked together nicely,

when I stopped they split up so they had a comfortable space between them,

and when we saw another dog coming we moved to the side enough so that Gemma could watch the other dog without lunging and making those very perculiar staffy noises. She did trump every time another dog passed, so she is obviously feeling some stress!

I was very pleased with Gemma, she's not a bad dog, just lack of socialisation with other dogs, and the dogs who live in the house near her (she is in temp accomodation in a caravan) are all very noisy and bark a lot. So most of her dog contact is being barked and growled at from inside a house. I am not surprised she sometimes had problems.

Here she's found a stick, and is having a good chew. Fred has approached because I've stopped walking and he's trained to return to me unless told otherwise. He's stopped, and is throwing out calming signals, as he has done all of the walk when near Gemma - he's not looking at something else, he's turning his face away from Gemma, and in fact as I took the photo he turned completely sideways to her.

It just doesn't always work...

She lunged sideways out of shot, so he legged it. I think the reason she didn't accept his peace-making this time (the only time on the walk she didn't) was because she had something to protect - her stick.

My experiences with Gemma, and indeed, Fred himself when he first came to live with me, are why I am confident I can handle dogs with anti-social tendancies. Extreme aggression is a different matter, but I can refer owners on to trainers and behaviourists who are experts.