That dog is untrainable…

I have touched upon training issues in the past. A meeting with a dog owner today prompted me to revisit this.

The level of really bad advice dispensed by ‘experts’ is a source of concern for me. The following example illustrates this all too well.

Currently, we have a foster in our home, one from a particularly troubled background – a Lurcher. While out walking this morning with the Lurcher on a long lead and muzzled (this for his protection, mainly. Until I have evaluated the level of his prey drive a muzzle will be the order of the day. Indeed, off lead, he will always be muzzled), we met a lady with an older border terrier. He was on an extending lead (one of my pet hates). We were in the forest, a beautiful place for dogs to enjoy life off the lead. In fact, the Lurcher, was spending a lot of time off lead, practicing his recall and walking calmly; his progress (only one month with us) is excellent, he is social, relaxed and very good with all types of dog. A work in progress, but he is doing well.

Back to the terrier. His owner said he could not be let off lead; he was 9 years old. This was because his recall was bad and he could be a bit aggressive, on occasion, with other dogs and, he jumped up a lot.  So, of course, this dog was always on an extending lead. The owner told me she had sought advise on quite a few occasions over the years but, no-one had been able to help. In fact, the last ‘professional’ had advised her, over the phone, that because the dog was over 2 years old, there was nothing that could be done! Shocking advice.

Now, I have been rescuing dogs since the late 80s. Pretty much every dog has been over three years of age, some have been 8 or 9 years old. Every one of these dogs had various issues, common in rescue dogs. All of these dogs learnt new behaviours and responded well to training. So, I can testify, that the advice from the ‘professional’ in the previous paragraph was utter rubbish. In fact, it had condemned this dog to a life on the lead. Of course, over the years, this meant that this dog had not been socialised properly and his ‘challenging’ behaviours had become the norm. In my view, he was far from beyond hope.

I dealt with the ‘jumping’ issue in under a minute. This dog, that couldn’t be helped, was soon sitting at my feet looking at me, expectantly. His owner was amazed. She left us now, with the understanding that her pup was, indeed, able to learn knew things.

This type of sorry tale is all too common. I meet many people with similar stories. I would urge owners to be very careful when seeking help with their dogs. It’s a difficult thing when owners are presented with so many people, claiming to be ‘renowned experts.’ Many are far from it. There are many excellent professionals out there. With some careful diligence most dogs can be helped.