The word “rehabilitate” means “restore to normal” and that means that this term is used in dog behaviour very frequently, and sometimes inaccurately.
When I work with dogs to rehabilitate them, there are many areas I cover, such as: –
- Dog or human aggression
- Phobias and fear driven behaviours
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
- Anxiety and depression in dogs
- and many other disorders…
I often though see people talking about “rehabilitating their dog from pulling on the leash” and this to me is inaccurate use of the terminology. The dog has not strayed from normal leash walking to leash pulling, but more than likely he has never been taught how to actually walk on a leash so what he is doing now is his “normal”.
The majority of behaviour problems are simply created by inadequate education in the first 18 months of the dogs life.
Dogs pulling on leash as adults stems from: –
- The dog is motivated to access something or somewhere
- The dog trying to escape something or somewhere
- Opposition reflex has never been counter conditioned and the dog pulls by instinct
- The correct walking position has never been rewarded effectively
So simply start training your puppy at 8 weeks to walk properly and like my dogs, they never pull on the leash their whole lives. This sounds simple because it is, if your puppy school is not teaching these lessons to you effectively, you should find a new school.
When an undesirable behaviour is deep seeded in your dog, you will need to go through a Behaviour Modification Program specifically designed to address the problem behaviour. Just going to Obedience Training every week will not remove this behaviour and in many cases attending Obedience Classes may be making the behaviour worse.
What is involved in a Behaviour Modification Program
Well when I write these programs I include some work in all areas I think will need to improve, most programs include: –
- Developing motivational techniques between you and your dog
- Management strategies that can be used in the short to mid term to prevent behaviour rehearsal
- Teaching steps of any behaviours that need to be taught
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy techniques that will allow the dog think through the problems
- Desensitsation and Counter Conditioning steps
- Impulse control techniques that will help your dog make better choices
- and much more…
The biggest problem will always be in getting you, the dogs owner, the person who suffers most and are at the mercy of these undesirable behaviours to make the necessary changes and stick with the program.
In many cases, not all but many, the dogs owners have contributed to many of the behaviour problems I see, that’s not to say people are hell bent on causing their dog problems, most times these problems arise through simple lack of understanding, and you know, that happens with everything; but once we have established what the problems are and I have designed and implemented the program, a large part of the responsibility now lays with the dogs owner, and I can tell you, any time that I am not successful and rehabilitating the dog, the program was not up taken by the owner.
Why? many reasons are often given but in reality probably the biggest reason is that people find it hard to change their routine. There is an old saying that goes
“Do what you have always done and you will get what you have always got”.
Not always but in many cases, the lifestyle you were living with your dog has either created or at least contributed to the problem your having now, it is not all your dogs fault. Knowing this means that you should expect to have to alter your lifestyle in some way to effectively mnodify the behaviour.
I have been so lucky over the past 30 plus years of working with dogs in that I get a lot of highly committed clients. I have a Team of very special clients that are known as Team K9Pro, (Team K9Pro) these people dedicate a large part of their lives to training and competing (usually very successfully) with their dogs using my Training in Drive System.
I have had hundreds of people come to me over the years that have invested their time and effort into their dogs and have successfully rehabilitated their dogs. Dogs that were highly dog aggressive now competing in dog sports and playing with other dogs off leash, dogs that could not be walked down the street without bouncing off the end of the leash trying to attack a person or another dog now is off leash around people and dogs, dogs that would self harm through severe separation anxiety now independent and being left at home alone through the work day, dogs that were scheduled for euthanasia in just a few days still alive and well minus the behaviour problems.
But for every case of success there are cases in which it was all too hard and although the people promised me at the consult that they would work with their dog, life got in the way, they had a holiday planned and this took away their momentum, their child started a sport and so on…
There are circumstances in which we will take your dog and get started on the program for you, but in the end you will need to put in some work; and if your not prepared to do that then it just will not get better.
If you come to see me, be ready to make some changes, learn some new techniques, open your mind to effective strategies and do some work with your dog. My aim is to get you as far as I can in the initial consult, but you may need a follow up, you may need multiple follow ups, but know I can get you to where you want to be, but you will be the driver, I will be the navigator, there are no passengers in this vehicle.
If your ready to take your dogs behaviour problem by the horns I am ready to make sure that you get results, email us to make an enquiry.
If you have been to see me before and something went wrong and you want to start again with a refresher, that’s ok too!
If you have been to other Behaviourists and no one can help, come and see me, if I cannot help there will be no charge!