Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone!

I have decided to join you guys for interesting discussions, learning purposes and practicing my english skills. Also, I would like to find out how countries differ in their handling of dogs.

About myself: I have never had an own dog, but always had dogs around me. It started with the two dogs of my grandmothers friend who lived in a rural area. An eurasian and a wolfspitz. Since then I've lost my heart to dogs and have started learning about them from a very young age.
I've liked sitting the neighbours dogs in my teenage years and have fostered 3 different dogs since adulthood.
Also, I have volunteered at a small local shelter in my city.
Maybe I should mention that volunteering in this german shelter is different from volunteering in a shelter in the US, as far as I know. It was like a mini job at the weekends. I was cleaning the kennels, feeding the dogs and had a particular dog that stole my heart and that I walked for 1-2 hours in one session. Also, I was visiting a dog trainer with this dog (Tom). The trainer was working together with the shelter, so the shelter only had to pay a tiny fee. They are mostly dependent on volunteers like me who take care of the animals, on a dog trainer like her who helps making the dogs adoptable and on donations. Which come in forms of money, animal food and materials like bowls, toys and beds, partly from the local pet shops.
We were organizing the pet care through a whatsapp group and an online calendar in which everyone could sign time and day for animal care, solely dependend on when the volunteer has time.
Anyways, the system has worked flawlessly and due to that me and Tom learned a lot in the next few months.
Tom is an Amstaff mix which means that he had very slim chances to find a new home. Luckily we do not kill shelter animals in Germany if they are healthy, but there are some regulations in lower saxony, even though having 'fighting dogs' is not forbidden. But the general rule is that you have to make a test to get a license (no matter the breed) and have to pay 600€ of taxes per year for this particular breed in my home town.
So, this was why Tom had slim chances of being adopted. The other problem was his leash agression and his age (9). On the other hand, this has lead to me understanding dog training on a whole new level, even with difficult cases like him (and with positive reinforcement only and harness only).
So, after a few months of all of us working hard to help Tom, he had found his forever home and could finally leave the tiny kennel.
I really hope that I can help others with what I have learned in order to contribute to your community.
Happy to meet you all! :wave:
(and sorry for language errors lol)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
Hi :wave:. I live in the UK (French citizen waiting for the Brexit crash! :doh:). The system for rescue dogs in your country sounds very good and it is wonderful that Tom has found a new home. I have two leash aggressive dogs, both rescue dogs, and would be interested in learning how you trained Tom out of this? Did you find that a particular method worked best for you and him? I have been working on keeping the dogs' attention on me and trying to make them associate strange dogs with good things and it has worked up to point but I do not seem to be able to progress any further at the moment. I would be grateful for any tips you may have
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi there! Nice to read that you are taking care of those two! :D

Actually, I think the way to handle a shelter is no general thing here and everyone does it different. This is just how 'our' shelter was run :)

Well, I think the method depends on the dog. In Toms case it was frustration, paired with his genetics to be not too friendly to other dogs.
What we did took some time. He was a dog that needed a lot of consequence and calm but straight forward commands and he was strongly responsive to human body language. So in order to help him, we had to work on ourselves first. The way I stood, my emotional state and my body language mattered a lot with Tom. He was a dog who made big differences between people and knew exactly how misbehaved he could be with whom.

The more insecure or stressed out his handler was, the more impossible it was to train him. He was reaching points of not responding very fast which was due to him hyper focusing other dogs and blending out everything else.
So what we had to do was to approach the situation in a level in which he was still realizing that we are working with him. The farther away the other dog, the better. We used high value treats and held it right under his nose to lick on them while the other dog was passing by. He had to sit while doing so.
Or course, at first he was out of it very fast again. Sometimes it was still possible to bring his attention back by making a sudden sound with keys. I was demanding very strictly to keep sitting, rewarding it with the high value treat. I never touched the dog by doing so or pulled the leash, only leading by body language and a calm, but strict voice and a soft and relaxed voice while rewarding.
It was important to always stay calm with Tom because he had such a high level of energy and was stressing out really fast. Also, his exercise was always something calm like searching treats in the grass or bringing something to me. We were not allowed to let him run after a ball for example because he would have become hyper.
He had to be exercised to work with him though, because he hardly responded if he didnt have his mental and physical work done before.
Also, if kept at home, I would have had some really unbreakable rules and would have done NILIF because he was a dog that was kind of insecure and needed a lot of structure and security so he didnt have to think that he had a job (like guarding the owner).

Edit: I forgot to mention that we also did NILIF in the kennel. He always had to do something before getting his food or passing through the door to go for a walk. Also, we never let him walk out first. Always let him sit and wait and come after the handler. Actually, I do think it is a good thing for a dog like him to learn to walk behind the handler because this takes away a lot of possible responsibilities he may thinks he has to do, like looking for threats. If I walk first, I take away that job from him and he can chill in the backline because he trusts me and knows that I will protect him instead of the other way around.


Well, I hope that there was something in here that can help you :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
Foreigners unite! haha ;) I am from Netherlands and one of the reasons I also joined here is to better my English. I figured being able to talk about a subject I am passionate about would be more interesting for me.

Your shelter's system sounds awesome! I am not sure how the shelters around here work as we do not have a lot of shelter dogs in the first place. I have heard some of them make it extremely hard to just adopt a cat though. Many people I know have gotten their dogs from shelters from Spain or France because the choices here are so limited. I suppose it is a good "problem" to have but sure does make finding a new dog a bit difficult for people who do not want to go through a breeder!

Love Germany by the way! By far one of my favourite places to visit
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
Thank you GSK, I really appreciate you taking time to try and help me. I have been watching my body language too, using treats to reward watching but not reacting, and trying to keep at a distance from other dogs. What I have not done is asked the dog to sit, done NILIF or made them walk behind me consistently. I have a very relaxed attitude to life at home providing the dogs do not do anything unpleasant as my instinct is to let them relax as much as possible when home. I think I will start introducing a few easy rules to start with and see how we go, also practice getting behind me when a dog appears on the horizon after teaching it in a familiar environment. NILIF I am not sure would suit me or the dogs, it seems rather extreme for dogs who have been with me for some time and who are basically cooperative in most other circumstances, but I will keep it in mind.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top