Monday, June 28, 2010


Well Ponto was just as dog aggressive when on lead at the show last Sunday.   Found a good article on Lowering Arousal: How to Train Impulse Control by Dee Ganley ( which I shall put into practise with all three dogs, most especially Ponto.  Her hide and seek is still very much improved.  This morning she caught a rabbit unfortunately, although as the countryside here is riddled with rabbits I guess it is not too distressing.  Her reaction was to let me take the rabbit.  She then thought perhaps this is a tuggy toy like the one she uses in her agility training, we had a short tug, I asked her to drop it then disposed of the rabbit.   After that she came along with me just as she would had it really been her tuggy toy and I put it away.  Not sure what to extrapolate from this behaviour.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Continuing the regime

Ponto is very good at hide and seek now and comes back quickly.  At home, they no longer jump and bark when I come in.  They still get overexcited at visitors, but when ignored, no eye contact, no touch, no speak to the dogs, they settle pretty quickly now, so hopefully the irritating behaviour of them trying to get attention when anyone calls at the house will die out completely in the end.  Ponto has been a lot better on lead passing other dogs, but Dylan and Percy went nuts when a cat ran quickly across the road in front of us this morning and yelled how they do if a fox does the same.  I've decided that if they do that again we will turn and go in the other direction.  Will ask the behaviourist about this when she comes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Improvements in hide and seek

Hide and seek on the morning walk worked a lot more quickly this morning.  She came back more speedily although not instantly like Ponto and Dylan.  Only once did she try coming and going off again before coming right to me, but there was also another dog on the beach by then and she didn't pay attention to it but then returned to me, so that is a good improvement.  The evening walk went well, a lead walk down to Christchurch Quay.  We passed several dogs on lead.   When there was not much space to give her I put her in a sit and waited until the other dogs passed by and although she did look at one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that was rather excitable and pulling on its lead, she remained seated and didn't growl, so that was good too.  So far the regime of becoming truly the leader of the pack for me is having a good calming effect on all three dogs.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Agility Training Today

Well I have continued with the program and it is already showing benefits.  Ponto was much calmer at training and only at the beginning outside of the training field did she bark at a dog, not agility dog.  I quickly tutted her and put her into a down.  She calmed down.  But the best thing was when I had put Percy and Dylan in the crate as the first hour of training was Ponto's, Dylan whimpered a couple of times and then was quiet.  Usually he yells if I take one of the other dogs away from him, although if all three are crated next to each other he is fine.  Today he waited happily and patiently in his crate for his turn.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Regime

Since speaking to a holistic behaviourist yesterday, I have decided to implement a new regime for my dogs, including Ponto in an effort to improve all three but mostly Ponto's dog to dog aggression.  The four main facets on which I shall be concentrating are food - gesture eating before feeding them; walk - taking control on the walks; perceived danger - for example when the doorbell rings and they all bark; and finally, status within the pack, i.e. that I am leader, dealing with my separation from them and my return home.  It is imperative to implement every single part of this regime.  I am going to have a full consultation with the behaviourist in July.

As I have partially implemented the above for years, it was all to clear where I had let things slip, so back to basics we go.  The walk this morning being the first part of implementation.   Leaving the house, fine, the dogs all waited while I stepped out of first the door then the gate.  We had a lovely walk down to the beach, it was sunny at 5.15 a.m. today.  When we came to the grassy part where the rabbits live, I let the dogs off their leads, walked a little way, turned back and hid from them in a shelter.   Percy was back, as typically she is, within seconds.  Dylan was on the lead anyway as he is lead walking since he hurt his back leg jumping earlier in the week.  Ponto came back pretty rapidly this time.   We continued on our way and a few minutes later Dylan and I hid again in some bushes.   Again Percy came back straight away and waited with us, Ponto, however was on a rabbit hunt.   We waited about five minutes this time, she came back but dodged coming too close, and ran off to continue her rabbit hunt.  As she now knew where we were, we went back through the gate and stood there. This time she came back more speedily but again dodged coming close enough to be caught and went off to look for rabbits.  I think, as she hasn't exhibited such dreadful behaviour for a while, and she is very bright, that this is a test of wills, mine and hers.   Not to give up, I didn't panic, did not call her once in all this process but we continued on our way down to the beach.  We walked up at the top level, Ponto went down onto the beach.  We stopped up at the top level until she eventually came back, sat down in front of me as if to say, "Okay, I'm here now, happy?"  At this point I did catch her rather than just praise her for returning and letting her off again.  Ponto had pooed on the beach so Dylan and Ponto had a lead walk back along the shingle by the shore so we could pick up her poo, Percy remained off lead until we were at the part of the beach where we need to go up by the beach huts and dogs are to be on leads there.  Ponto walked nicely, not pulling the whole way home.  My mother thought Ponto looked sheepish, but I think she imagines this.  Ponto was very calm once home.  I did the gesture feeding routine and made them wait by their bowls until I said they could eat - no problems there.

I went to work and on my return, practised the status within pack part by ignoring them when I entered the house until they settled quietly.  This took all of a minute I should think - better than normal.  A little later we played in the garden, one at a time with balls and practised flatwork exercises which they just think is the greatest fun on earth. I then fetched my son from the station and gave him strict orders that when we get in he was not to immediately say hello to the dogs.  He wanted to but I explained that he mustn't.  They were very excited to see him, but he ignored them and it only took a couple of minutes before they were all settled quietly as he sat and talked to his Grandma in the living room.  So far things are going all right I think.

Back to work in the afternoon, and on my return I knew they would be silly because they always are as they know this is feeding time.  When I came home they were excited, waiting for me, but not as boisterous as usual, maybe they had taken in the earlier entrances in the day.  I came in, hung up my bag, and went and sat with my mother in the living room.  There were a couple of yodels from Ponto, who then suddenly lay down near my feet quietly.  Percy went on her chair, Dylan took a little longer to settle.   I got up when they had been quiet for a few minutes and they followed me quietly to the kitchen to prepare their meal.  Again I gesture fed as in the morning and all went really calmly.   I then had my own meal and Percy didn't come near me.  The others don't anyway,  Percy just went and lay down - what a surprise.   After watching Eastenders I took them for a half hour lead walk.  Percy was the only one I had to correct for pulling occasionally.

Dylan seemed pretty tired at the end of the walk, so possibly his leg is still bothering him.

We are all upstairs in the bedroom now, all three are lying quietly as I type this.   I'll wait to see what the morning brings, but tomorrow and for a couple more days, Ponto will stay on lead, then we will play hide and seek again and see who wins this time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ponto's history

I have had Ponto since she was a seven week old puppy. I was to have had the pick of her mother's litter, but unfortunately all the other puppies died after a couple of days and she was, therefore, a singleton. Her mother was fed up with her by the time she was a few weeks old and couldn't be fed in the same area as her. She fitted in fine with my other two dogs and played with Dylan especially. However she was very frightened of other puppies and of other dogs who wanted to play with her once she was old enough to go for walks. However, this remained behaviourwise as ignoring or running away from other dogs. I took her to puppy classes. At one class, unfortunately, a bull mastiff puppy was overly playful and "mugged" her. I found a different puppy class where she was very good but not inclined to be social and would hide behind me or under the chair. She was moved up to Good Manners early as she was way ahead of the other puppies in ordinary training, and did well in that, not minding the older dogs.

She continued doing well and passed both her bronze and silver KC Good Citizens awards by the time she was six months old. She was fearful at that time of people she didn't know so although she was perfect at everything else for the Gold award, I didn't enter her as the Judge needs to handle the dogs in that test. Nowadays she is friendly with all people and has overcome this timidity nicely.

At one year old she began agility training and at her first show at eighteen months she got a clear round in Steeplechase and came fourth in Gamblers. However, she didn't like the trainers at agility helping me with things such as the seesaw very much, although now, she is fine with trainers help etc. So people are no problem at all. She has never so much as growled at a person, it is only dogs she doesn't like. She also is fine with her own two companions, my other dogs.

I did everything I was supposed to to socialise her. We went on Social Dog walks. We went to the beach where there are plenty of other dogs and things were fine with no aggression, although she was still timid of other dogs, until she was about nine months old. At this point I went to visit my son and his family in Madrid. As I live with my elderly mother, I decided not to put the dogs in kennels but instead to have a reputable dog walker for the five days I was away. It was when I got back that I discovered that flight had turned to fight. The dog walker says that no incidents happened but the timing of her turn makes me think that I did not hear what really happened. I have therefore been left with a problem of a dog aggressive dog.

We continued with the social dog walks where, once she had met the other dogs a couple of times (and there were sometimes up to 20 or more dogs there), she would ignore them and so this was fine, but if another dog walker in the Forest came along with a dog she didn't know, then the problem would arise, and I would have to catch her to avoid conflict.

At this time she was fine at training, heelwork to music and agility.

My agility trainer thinks the problem has reoccurred as her confidence in agility and working away from me has improved so she is more daring as she comes to the end of a course.

I have taken her to behaviourists and followed advice, seen small improvements. Ready everything I can about the problem. All the standard methods, such as making her sit and look at me when other dogs pass work but if a dog is loose and races past then she becomes aggressive. This happens whether she is on or off lead, with or without me, say if she is tied to the car with the others while I put their crates up. If I am off my guard, chatting while she lies beside me at a show and a dog walks past and looks at her in what, I assume, she thinks is the wrong way, she'll lunge. So it is not necessarily anything going down the lead at that point. Also, she could be relaxed like this and totally ignore loads of other dogs going past. She doesn't seem to fit the standard patterns that most articles and behaviourists set down.

Well, I have now contacted another behaviourist. One called a holistic behaviourist and hopefully we will be able to have a consultation soon. I am determined to rehabilitate her so our walks can be peaceful again, without always having to be on the lookout for other dogs and what they are doing. But most of all I want to be confident to take her back into the agility ring at competition.

My goal is that by this time next year she will be competing again without the problem of the last jump. That she will know that as long as she is with me and stays in the ring she is secure so there will be no need to run out to chase off the dogs in the queue at shows.

Monday, June 14, 2010