There has recently been a TV series that I have thoroughly enjoyed, It is a UK show starring Graeme Hill the self titled “dog father” & the real stars of the show are the naughty dogs with their clueless owners. It is a channel 5 production and is shown on Tuesday nights at 8pm, although the last episode goes out this coming Tuesday there is still a chance to watch them all on demand, which I highly recommend.
The shows premise is about owners who simply can’t control their dogs behaviour and the dog father goes in to help reverse the issues at hand.
One episode comes to mind where an older couple have a Bassett hound that totally rules the house, even to the point of getting on the work tops of the kitchen and refusing to move to the owners pleads. The dog had bitten the owners and knew it had the power in the house and had become the “alpha”, I know people don’t like to use that terminology nowadays but the truth is, because we have ignored the basics of dog behaviours our beloved pets have become out of control and feel they have to lead in many circumstances.
The Basset hound, a short legged breed from the hound family. It was originally bred to be a scent dog and used for hunting hare. They have an ability to ground scent very much like the blood hound.
The Basset hounds temperament is usually a sweet tempered, tenacious, gentle, friendly & devoted dog so why did Graeme have to go in to deal with a bad tempered, dominant and angry one?
As in most cases of dog behaviour, the blame lies at the feet of the owners. It’s actually not really their fault, the same as when we bring children into this world we have to learn as we go and adapt our techniques to suit the situation and some win but many of us falter, literally because there are no set rules or anyone to teach us otherwise. The family unit isn’t the same as the old days so we don’t have the input of people around us in the same intense way and we have to find out for ourselves if something works or not in the case of nurturing our children and indeed our pets.
In the Basset hounds case Graeme had to go into the house and assess the situation, soon realising that the owners had become fearful of this small dog ruling them with growls and teeth and a strong body language. All that was needed was a small amount of discipline and training for the humans for their dog to relax into its role of being the pet without having to be the boss.
The problem with him being on the counter top of the kitchen was dealt with by simply putting a lead on him and leading him off the area, with a strong command of “down” or “off”, it didn’t take very long for this pampered pooch to realise it didn’t call the shots anymore and let the owners take back control.
When it comes to our pet dogs we bring them into our homes either as a fluffy unbelievably cute puppy or a rescue dog with a sad backstory, either way they steal our hearts and minds and the compassion us humans hold for animals(especially in the UK) overrides our brains and we just want to cuddle and play with our new friends. The danger in this comes by not adding discipline or training into the mix. If we look at wild dogs or wolves in their natural habitat, they know when to play, when to listen to the alpha and when to relax. Our pets don’t have that luxury if there are no “pack leaders” in the house. The phrase “pack leader” has been treated as a negative connotation recently and certain people have made it to be a cruel way of leading, when in fact it is the very opposite, it’s about asserting strength, confidence, love and a balance to the dogs that follow, allowing them to enjoy their role.
It has been a breath of fresh air watching Graeme and his simple but effective techniques of training the owners!!
We can adapt this into our lifestyle balance with our own dogs. Firstly set out realistic rules you will stick to, don’t confuse your dog by being it’s leader one minute then letting it do whatever it wants the next, for example, if you don’t want him in the the bed anymore, you have to consistently imply that rule by having a dog bed next to yours and not ever letting him up onto yours again(another episode of dogs behaving badly).
Our mindset and strength will enhance our dogs life if we give him rules, good disciplines and a sense of purpose.
Don’t worry about your size or stature either, A dog doesn’t judge on size or age, it listens to a confident, even tempered and consistent leader. One of my dear friends, who is in her later years of life has this ability to command respect and uses her authority when dealing with dogs too, she uses her voice and body language to gain the dogs(and people’s) attention and consistently delivers this attitude into all situations leaving the dogs in her care very balanced and confident knowing they can relax under her guardianship, she is a true pack leader without even knowing it.
I have also seen a small 4 year old child walk a mastiff and a staffordshire bull terrier around a show ring, using her basic leadership to command respect and they followed her beautifully.
So if you have a wayward dog, watch Graeme’s entertaining show and learn that you can take back control of your home and have a fantastic relationship with your dog, just by showing a love he or she understands.
Until next time… Happy pets happy home