Friday 27 February 2015

Where does that leave Ozzy?

The other day I was Ozzy’s third bite victim. 
In the summer, Ozzy had pinched a piece of wood and took it under the table.  When my husband went to retrieve it, Ozzy snapped.  He did not draw blood.  There were tooth marks and a bruise.  The friend who came to stay had put her handbag on the floor by the table leg.  When she went to get something out of it, Ozzy snapped.  He did not draw blood.  Tooth marks and bruising. His ball was close to the bag. After these two incidents we were advised to have Ozzy castrated.  We did and his behaviour changed.  He has become more placid, less agitated, less macho, less "doggy", less amorous towards male visitors. 

A few days ago, Ozzy went to pinch something unsavoury out of the rubbish bin.  I went up to him to take it out of his mouth.  He bit my hand.  

So where does that leave Ozzy? 

I know what my vet would say. He should be put down.  Some caring friends who have no experience with dogs, say the same and I understand their arguments.

When Ozzy steals something and takes it under the table, it’s his.  When he steals food or food related items such as oven gloves or tea towels, he is a liability when you want to take it out of his mouth.  This is the only time he shows aggressive behaviour.  And of course he is not a Chihuahua.  He is  big dog and can therefore potentially do more harm.

How can a family pet who is generally obedient behave like this?  He never growls, does not threaten.  I can take his food bowl away when he eats.  He obeys to the commands he has been thought.  Comes back in the forest when called.   He is not aggressive towards other dogs or towards humans although he has to check out strangers before befriending them.  He is not a dangerous dog.  He does not get upset if another dog takes his ball or his stick.  He does not attack other dogs or humans.  He is clever and smart.  Wants cuddles. 

It’s a known fact that Australian shepherds have a nervous disposition.   

My friend, Jules, who is 85 years old and knows all there is to know about dogs, says it’s our fault for not being strong pack leaders.  We are too soft and lenient with Ozzy. He thinks that we will succeed with boot camp type training and attitude change on our behalf.   

I want to give Ozzy another chance but will we succeed? 

I am reading all my books of wisdom for help. 

I feel we have to seek advice from people who know about dog behaviour.

How do you go about finding somebody who is not a charlatan?  Anybody can call himself a behaviourist in Belgium.  Better still “professional behaviourist”.   You can read a book, put a plaque on your door and cash in the Euros.  What do they know, I do not know myself?

As a qualified dog trainer, I feel this is a real challenge. 



Monday 16 February 2015

Eat your heart out!

Dogs smell other dogs faeces as a way of learning about them. From this, the dog can tell the sex of the dog who left it. If it’s a male’s it will tell it how masculine he was and if it’s a female’s whether she is coming into season or is on heat. So vital information is passed on this way. However some dogs eat other dogs’ stools which is not so pleasant. This is know as coprophagy from the Greek copros meaning faeces and from phagein meaning to eat.
There are many theories why dogs do this:
-To get attention from their owners.
-From anxiety, stress, or having been punished for bad behaviour.
-From boredom.
-Because puppies taste everything and discover that faeces are edible and, perhaps, tasty.
-Because dogs are, by nature, scavengers, and this is within the range of scavenger behaviour.
-Because the texture and temperature of fresh faeces approximates that of regurgitated food, which is how canine mothers in the wild would provide solid food.
-Because of the protein content of the faeces, or over-feeding, leading to large concentrations of undigested matter in the faeces.
-Due to assorted health problems
-Because they are hungry, such as when eating routines are changed, food is withheld, or nutrients are not properly absorbed.
-Carnivores may sometimes eat or roll in the faeces of their prey to ingest and exude scents which camouflage their own.
Dr Bruce Fogle, a Canadian vet and author of many books, writes that dogs as they grow up may suffer from a lack of digestive enzymes. He recommends feeding dogs enzyme-containing food such as pineapple, pumpkin or papaya fruit. Sounds exotic to me as dogs are basically carnivores.