Those of you who have been to one of my seminars will have seen video of our last dog Fox stooging for me (that’s her on the front of the Bite & Fight book). She was a fantastic communicator and helped many dogs. When she died we knew we couldn’t replace her, and we won’t – ever. And many of you will have heard me say that we have no intention of adopting another dog.
I help the Dumfries and Galloway Canine Rescue with some of the dogs that come in to them – the ones that might be more difficult to re-home due to the issues they have. The D&GCR do a great job – support them if you can.
Last week I was called upon to see, amongst others, a young Lhasa Apso – his owner had sadly decided that they could not cope with him biting them any longer and had asked the D&GCR to see if they could rehome him.
Of course there’s a problem there. How can you rehome a dog that has a history of aggression towards its owner? If it bites again, you are liable – negligent, even. So good rescues try to work out why the dog was aggressive and if it can be changed (that’s the bit I help with).
There is an additional problem with Lhasas in that they are cute. Go on, what was your first reaction to Ted’s photo? If you didn’t think, “Awwwww…” you are lacking an empathy gene or two (or if you thought “Ewok!” you need to get out more). So they attract people who want to cuddle them and maybe just baby them a bit – which might be exactly what a feisty little blighter doesn’t need in order to control his behaviour.
And we did manage to work out why Ted (we changed his name) was being aggressive – and I knew I could arrange his life so that he didn’t need to do it any more, but I equally wasn’t confident that someone else would. And realistically, if he was rehomed and bit again…
So after the appropriate checks were made by the good people at the D&GCR we were considered suitable to adopt Ted. Since then he’s been as good as gold. He comes to you when he feels like it, likes to play with a toy by running off with it, and is pretty much what you might call a work in progress… but he hasn’t bitten anybody.
Now the fun and games start – recall training, fetch training, and most of all, Guide & Control. Stanley Coren ranks the Lhasa Apso as being 68th from 79 breeds in terms of intelligence. Ranking dogs for “intelligence” is a bit like ranking snowflakes for prettiness – they are all individual and it’s what you’re looking for that counts – but clearly training Ted is not going to be a walk in the park (although we will do some walking in the park as part of it!).
But what he can do is help us make some videos of how to train what appears to be the world’s 11th dimmest breed. Just simple stuff to start with – how to make eye contact to look for guidance, and maybe the fetch – but who knows where it might lead?
Watch this space…