The Royvon Three Day Training Holiday package involves working closely with the owners and their dogs to resolve any issues they are having over a 3 day period. Over the past month I have had two of these workshops booked in; the first session involved a couple from London with a German Shepard and a 70 kilogram Newfoundland. The couple was having problems with their Newfoundland being aggression towards people and other dogs, making it difficult to take the dog out and have guests over. It wasn’t obvious if there was anything specific triggering this aggressive behaviour. When I met their dog his first reaction was to bark and lunge at me, almost dragging the owner to the floor as she tried to hold the lead. We walked around the field and after a short discussion with the owner I started to handle the dog (muzzled at this stage). He responded well to me so I handed him back to the owner and we continued discussing the dog’s behavior.
Suddenly the dog jumped up aggressively towards me, I stood my ground and pushed the dog back. After this he was fine with me but was very aware and defensive whenever I was close to his owner. As we progressed through the day I asked other members of staff to approach the owner when the dog was present and even to handle the dog, he began to respond more positively each time. We continued working on his behaviour and general control building up the owner’s confidence to handle the dog. We agreed it was best to try leaving both the owners dog in our accommodation overnight to see how the Newfoundland’s behaviour would differ when the owner wasn’t present, if the dog would still be aggressive towards me and other dogs. The next morning both the German Shepard and Newfoundland were fine which shocked the owner.
On the second day we trained both the owners’ dogs around other dog breeds in various sizes (males in particular). The Newfoundland didn’t seem bothered until another dog approached the owners bitch German Shepard, the Newfoundland would charge over to the dog and dominating them, this brought me to the conclusion that their dog was a bully, and once he could see you were weak or showed any weakness he would continue to bully you first by leaning up against the weaker party and nudging, which would lead to growling and even biting.
That afternoon we discussed both dogs sleeping arrangements and access that the dogs would have to the house. Both dogs need their own place in the house where they are away from guests but can see them entering, people entering should be made aware of the dogs, although both dogs should be left alone until they are brought out by the owner, with a muzzle on, so that they can meet people under control and are put back in their place. Over time this will correct their behaviour towards people and other dogs.
Another workshop I had later that month was with two German Shepard’s, their owner Pat from Newcastle was a retired police dog handler. I met Pat the day before we were due to start training and discussed the problems she was having. There was nothing major; Pat just wanted to have more control over her dogs, specifically in different environments with distractions.
When we started training I suggested the she handled her dogs separately and with no distractions so I could see how they responded to her. I was shocked to see just how well they worked and you could see that Pat had put a lot of work into training them. I started bringing different dogs in to the field as a distraction as I did some heel work exercises and stay exercises, mainly reinforcing the commands Pat was giving her dogs. After a good day of working with Pat’s dogs, I suggested we go to different places to work with her dogs so that they could learn to concentrate and adapt to listening to commands in different environments.
The second day we went off site with another dog, I was able to do some heel work off the lead, the other dog acting as a distraction. We asked members of the public if we could use their dogs as a distraction to make it more realistic. Pat also mentioned that her eldest dog would run off if there were any ponds or lakes around, this was because his previous owner had allowed it. To resolve this specific problem we walked by ponds and worked on his recall and heel work.
On the final day we went to Cyfartha park, with large amounts of land, woods and wildlife, in addition to being a popular place for owners to walk their dogs, it proved a good distraction test for the dogs to follow commands. After lunch we did the same type of stay and heelwork in our field, also discussing different reward types and using hand signals to send her dogs on, as opposed voice commands which could become quite confusing for both her dogs when given different commands.
At the end of the three day holiday training Pat left a very happy and confident owner. Pat was confident with the skills she had learned, she could now enjoy spending time with her dogs successfully training and working with them, as opposed to it being a chore to take them out.
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