Case Studies

LurcherJupiter the fearful lurcher

Jupiter was a lurcher owned from a puppy by his loving owners.  He is now 18 months old. They noticed that Jupiter was very sensitive to sound and ran away to hide when strangers came to the door.  Initially he enjoyed walks and outdoor activities.  Unfortunately, he got spooked by a group of skate boarders in the park and bolted home.  He was unhurt, but the next time his owners tried to take him out, he kept pulling back on the lead.  He seemed distressed so they didn't force him to go for a proper walk.  This scenario kept on happening.  One of his owners tried to carry him to the park to get past the noisy traffic part of the walk.  Unfortunately he got scared by something and slipped his collar and ran home again.  The owners then called Lydia in to help

Jupiter was relaxed and willing to engage with his owners in training in the house.  He was a bit suspicious of the trainer who sat still and ignored him.  When his owners picked up his harness and lead, Jupiter ran to his bed.  The owners were instructed to forget trying to drag him outside for the time being.  They were to give Jupiter daily training exercises and play sessions in the flat and in the front garden for the next two weeks.  They were also asked to randomly get the lead and harness out and click and treat if Jupiter went near it.  

By the end of the two weeks, Jupiter was running to have his harness put on, and was comfortable in the front entrance and front garden of the flats.  During the 2nd session, Jupiter was taught to "Go Find" - hiding treats on the ground for him to sniff out.  Once he understood the game, his owners started asking him to go find outside the front and let him hang out without putting pressure on him to go for a walk.  They continued to do indoor physical and mental exercises on a daily basis to make up for the lack of "proper" walks.  Each day they had to go outside with the mindset of just hanging out, letting Jupiter sniff about and wander if he chose to.  They noticed each day he showed more confidence and started to venture along the pavements to sniff the trees.  They always ended the outing before Jupiter got anxious, to leave the session on a pleasant note.  During the last follow up session, Jupiter was enjoying walking to the park again.  He was allowed to keep his distance from skate boarders and any noisy things that he didn't like.  His owers are working on creating a positive association to noisy things, by deliberately heading towards them (within his threshold of tolerance) and then giving lots of little food treats.  

We expect a much braver Jupiter as the months go by!   February 2016

Herbie the two year old male rescue dog.

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Before he came to the resuce centre, Herbie lived with a busy family.  He was only walked round the block because the owners were scared he might run away if they let him off in the park.Since coming to live with his new owners one month ago, Herbie has been quick to learn, athletic and friendly in the house.  He knows his name, and can do sit and wait and “look at me” very proficiently. 

Herbie sleeps mostly downstairs in the living room at night.  He is learning to accept being restrained to rooms behind a stair gate whilst his owners spend time out of sight in other rooms. Ms X works from home and has made space to give him a settling-in period. 

At the first assessment Lydia notes behaviours that could do with modifying:

  • Fearful barking/growly reaction to other dogs whilst on the lead
  • Anxious barking whilst owners leave the house for short periods
  • Watch dog barking when someone comes to the door
  • Lydia trains owners to ask Herbie to “Check in”:

To counter her rescue-dog separation anxiety the owners were told to introduce mini scenarios of “being left” on a daily basis  (putting their coats on and shutting her behind the gate, the internal doors or front door for very short periods and then calmly returning).. The owners were given homework to progress this exercise over several weeks so that she could gradually tolerate longer durations of being on her own.  

Follow-up sessions – out in the park: Whilst out on the long line, we worked with Herbie when he is a comfortable distance from unfamiliar dogs – giving him food treats whenever he looks at the other dog.  So long as he is relaxed (looking about, sniffing the ground, tail and head quite low) we decrease the distance between the unfamiliar dog and Herbie.  When he lifts his head and stares we feed and the retreat, only progressing if he is not barking and not reacting.