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I sought the help of Vicky Lawes because our rescue Labrador, Simba, was not good with other dogs and in worst cases was aggressive towards them. Obviously this caused major issues with walks limiting the places we could visit and also at what times. Though I had been attending training regularly and had really tried to tackle the issues I felt that I really wasn’t making any significant progress.
I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend a Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour & Training (Dog on Dog) Practical Workshop CIDBT 5002 or CIDBT 5002W and be one of the case studies for the students to gain practical experience with actual clients. In a practical sense this meant attending the venue in Buckinghamshire with Simba and answering questions from the students and then demonstrating Simba’s problematic behaviour using other dogs.
Anyone that has any experience of having a dog with issues will understand my apprehension at having to do this. I shouldn’t have been concerned. Both Vicky and her co-tutor Ross McCarthy who were running the course, were extremely good at putting me at my ease, from meeting us in the car park so that I wasn’t wandering around with the dog not knowing where I needed to be, to settling me in the meeting room and ensuring we had everything we needed. It was very well organised and ran extremely smoothly. In the practical element with the other dogs I was never asked to do anything I was uncomfortable to do, and what could have been an extremely stressful experience for both me and the dog, was handled efficiently and quickly so that Simba and I were not left waiting or put under undue pressure.
The second element
of Vicky and Ross’ help involved them visiting our home and seeing
Simba in that environment and sitting down and talking to my wife and
I about our whole experience with Simba, the issues that we had and
what our experiences were. It was very relaxed and informal and I
immediately felt that we were in experienced hands. I had, up until
that point, felt that I really didn’t quite know where to turn. It
has always felt like it should be a secret that your dog could be
aggressive, that it is somehow something to be ashamed of or
embarrassed about. It was actually a great relief to sit down and
have a frank conversation with people who clearly understood and who
had real answers. Vicky and Ross then walked Simba with their dogs to
gauge his reaction. They are so relaxed that it inspires confidence;
again what could have been an extremely stressful situation was
handled quietly, efficiently with the minimum of fuss. We then sat
down again and Vicky and Ross diagnosed the problem, that Simba has
fear based aggression and then ways that practically tackle this.
To try to get him
over his fear we have, instead of avoiding dogs as we had been, we
actively sought dogs out for him to meet and interact with. He needed
to have some good experiences with dogs so that he could get over his
The results have
been fantastic. As with most things in life; if you understand the
problem then you are halfway to solving it. I realise now that so
many of Simba’s issues boiled down to the fact that he was scared
of other dogs. If you tackle those nerves then it is no exaggeration
to say that everything else is starting to fall into place. Because
he is no longer constantly looking around nervously for other dogs he
is able to look at me and take on board the instructions, that for
months I have been trying to get across to no avail. He is so much
more relaxed in everything he does, both in the house and out, and
that in turn means he is better behaved and a pleasure to have
Having watched the
DVD provided by Vicky and Ross I also realise how so much of the work
goes on in the house, rather than simply trying to control the dog on
Simba is a long way
from the finished article and we continue to work hard at it, but,
and it’s a huge but, I have in a matter of weeks seen a vastly
different dog appearing from the one that I first made the phone call
That credit should be placed firmly at the door of Vicky and Ross and I am extremely grateful.
New article on Dog Behaviour In The Park by Ross McCarthy. This article looks at the behaviour of people and their dogs when going for a walk in the park. He also looks at your responsibilities and some golden rules to follow.
This is an essential, pro-active course for not only canine practitioners and those passionate about breeds and breed behaviour, but those inspired to address the increasing concerns and threats to our breed’s well-being and future. Challenges include how breeding practices can be improved through requirements, penalties, incentives and/or motivations, and how behavioural tendencies with strong genetic potential (such as aggression) can be altered through experience and early learning … Problem-solving critical questions in a critical time … Click the image below to find out more.