Chatting with a customer recently we were discussing the anxiety her dog feels on walks. He is a recently rescued dog who was sadly returned a couple of times prior to his owners adopting him. He has a few quirks and is unsure of the world inside the home and outside the home. At the moment he pulls when anxious and generally unsure of things going on around him. This pulling and frenzied behaviour that he displays only causes him further stress.
His owners mentioned he can walk for hours but come home and not settle, in fact, it can seem to wind him up further. This wasn’t a surprise for me to hear, this can often occur in dogs who are chronically stressed. The pulling and lunging on lead and getting distressed by sudden noises is likely releasing adrenaline and cortisol into his system, this can take several days to flush from the system depending on the stress levels of the dog. As I continued to explain why these walks where he is over aroused might actually be counterproductive and that for some dogs walking everyday simply isn’t for them if its likely to be stressful, the dogs’ owner responded with a great wisdom. She said it’s as though we as people have a pre-written rulebook of what every dog wants and needs, but that actually that might not be true for every dog.
Every dog is an individual and all have different needs, sometimes it can be hard for us to move away from those ideas, but it’s important to remember that the “rules” we have in mind when we think about life with a dog, might not be the book of the dog in front of us. They might actually have one that states they would rather be at home and play games than go out and socialise with other dogs. They might actually prefer to go for a walk somewhere quiet once a day rather than have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the city. Or they might prefer a city walk rather than be harassed by offlead dogs constantly.
Looking at what your dog actually wants and needs rather than sticking to the way things have always been done will certainly fulfil your dog more.
Arthur is my 7 month old Whippet puppy. He has been living with us for 4 months now and he is maturing into a nice little puppy. It’s not been easy for him, he came into a home with one dog with a then undiagnosed pain issue, an older jrt who rules the roost and another older whippet who tolerates puppies at best! Puppies are like sponges. They love learning and catch on fast, there has been a video going round Facebook of a very young puppy shaped to do various exercises. I was so excited to crack on with Arthur’s training. Arthur however, well he had other ideas…no that’s not true. Ideas require a lot of brain power…Arthur didn’t have a clue!
Arthur was so unlike the rest of the gang here, they were all so eager to learn and get involved with us as owners. Arthur had no time for people, why would he? At 12 weeks old ,when i picked him up from the breeder, it was very apparent he had minimal attention placed on him and minimal work put in. He was happy and healthy, but he occupied himself with his litter mates, who were all hand shy. Arthur’s stronger level of resilience to handling is what caused me to pick him. I should have forseen that to fit in here he would have some form of quirkiness!
Arthur looked blankly at all the treats i used. Whether it was a fancy dog treat, cheap dog treat, piece of meat, peanut butter, anything you can think of.. it just wouldn’t float Arthur’s boat. Luring him with anything resulted in another blank expression as he casually wandered off. Patience, I kept telling myself. A few days in and he will get it. Which I found myself repeating at each interval, 1 week in and he will come good…2 weeks repeating the same mantra… On and on until, at around 6 weeks of being here something switched on AHA food is good! He began to learn the basics, and we got to crack on a bit more with recall (that’s another blog for another day!) He loves obedience, less so shaping or tricks. Now he can’t get enough of our training sessions. It has taken some patience, but he is shaping up to be a cracking little dog! Keep your eyes peeled on our future posts, discussing socialisation, recall and how he is getting on with other members of the gang, Marley, Ollie & Womble.