Dog-Training4u Blog

Testimonial – Dog Aggression Modifications through Patterdale Terrier Training

I have two rescue dogs – a patterdale called Tilly and a Bedlington whippet called Alfie.  Tilly was the main reason I called Damian for help…she was the sweetest of dogs indoors – cute, cuddly and sweet natured with anyone that came to the house. However, as soon as we went for a walk, she would pull, lunge and bark aggressively at anything (dog/cat/pigeons/cars etc) and become highly stressed, even squealing in an embarrassingly high pitched tone! (We were the talk of the neighbourhood!). Tilly was totally out of control, and as I thought, beyond control. This had been going on for about 3 yrs, with no improvement. I had settled with avoiding other dogs by walking her less often and only at times when less dog-walkers around etc. The other problem was doors….she would bolt through them when open. I felt I had to educate any visitors to a complex door system to stop the dog escaping!

Having told Damian about the problems I was having with Tilly, he had three key questions for me….Are your dogs allowed on the furniture? Do the dogs sleep with you on the bed? Do you feed them human food as treats? …the answer to all three questions was yes! Hence, in the week prior to my first session with Damian the first changes instigated….No more human food, couch replaced with floor, no more dogs in bedroom (or bed!).  The first few days I felt awful…I had a clear case of withdrawal symptoms from my dogs!

On meeting Tilly, Damian changed to a slip-lead, and within literally seconds he had her walking to heel! Not only that, with his spaniel then sat just meters away, Tilly was sat calmly looking at this dog with no barking, no pulling, no squealing – nothing! I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Obviously, it’s one thing for Damian to evoke this behaviour in my dog, but the key is for me to learn the tools. So far, one week on, it’s working! We managed to walk past a cat with no reaction today! I can’t speak highly enough of Damian and his Skills. I am absolutely amazed. If you have a dog with behavioural issues, I would thoroughly recommend Damian to you.

Well impressed!

dog aggression modification patterdale terrier

What Did You Do This Morning?

I often say that in my job as a dog trainer, no two days are the same. One of my mornings last week demonstrates this perfectly. It started with a very defiant, very dominant Labrador; of course I’ve seen lots of Labradors but no two dogs are the same and this one was certainly a challenge. Next came the biggest Doberman Pinscher I have ever seen and still a way off being fully grown. Then, you couldn’t make this up, I trained a Chihuahua, the smallest breed of dog in the world. So what’s next? A Flatcoat Retreiver…and so it goes on. The variety of breeds and personalities (this applies to the owners too…) means a day in the life of this dog trainer never has a dull moment.

No Such Thing as Velcro Dogs

Bob is an eight month old Hungarian Vizsla with no basic commands, recall or focus. He pulls his owner, Lucy, when he is on the lead and is dominant towards her. The first thing I did in this dog behavioural lesson was to swap to a lead that corrects not restrains. Bob was not happy with the slip lead, spinning, barking and biting. Remaining calm, I waited for him to settle and then  walked him on the lead to heel.

Breeds such as the Hungarian Vizsla and the Pointer are often described as velcro dogs because of their attachment to their owners. This reputation can lead owners to be over-loving towards their dogs, believing they cannot leave them alone as the dog will have separation anxiety. Quite the opposite is true: there is no such thing as velcro dogs. Just treat your dog as a dog, put expectations on behaviour and manners. Treating them according to stereotypes only causes behavioural problems, leading to the dog being confused as to where they stand in the household. Never let a dog’s perceived needs run your life; train them appropriately and they will become a great companion.

dog behavioural problems hungarian vizsla

Correcting Behaviour In Dominant Dogs

The response I get from clients when I point out during their initial assessment lesson that they have headstrong and dominant dogs never surprises me. Most of the time as humans we cover up our dogs behaviour with excuses. If that was our children we’d never allow the kind of behaviour we allow our dogs to display.

Tyson the Hungarian Vizsla is only 16 weeks and displaying dominant behaviour. When I mentioned he’d just bitten one of his owners hands, they hadn’t even noticed it. On reflection Christopher agreed and has been allowing this behaviour, thinking it was acceptable as he’s only a puppy. While they are first time dog owners, Felicity and Christopher are teachers and also own horses so they are used to instilling structure and discipline; this needs to be passed on to Tyson.

I tried a slip lead on Tyson and he reacted immediately as he did not want to do as he was told. While he became calm for me, he was defiant and argumentative with his owners. With regular lessons this behaviour will be corrected and it’s important to ask for help but basic puppy training would have prevented this defiance occurring. Owners have to acknowledge and be realistic about their dominant dogs and address it quickly: it’s easier to train a dog than correct a dog.

puppy dog training behavioural problems

Doberman Pinscher – 10 months and already a big boy!

dog training doberman pinscher

Travelling with Maro the 10 month old Doberman Pinscher means you need a very big van. Owning Dobermans when I was younger I’m used to the size of the breed but wow, what a big boy Maro is. With this in mind it important to ensure he listens to commands and is well mannered.

Maro’s owners are fortunate to live in a rural setting with land but this seemingly perfect environment has led to many problems. He has been given too much freedom too soon, which has resulted in selective recall. Walkers have access across their land and Maro is running and barking at them. Being a Doberman Pinscher and a large one too, he is very intimidating and frightening for members of the public.

Today’s dog training assessment lesson allowed me to discuss behavioural problems in the home together with lead walking, focus and recall exercises.

Maro has a loving family but in order to establish boundaries, it’s important that he is not over-loved. He needs a very clear structure and to understand his place in the pack, with love shown as reward for obedience. This will help Maro to focus on his owners and bring the changes in behaviour they are looking for.

One very boisterous young Labrador

dog training labrador

Isla made quite an impression when she got out of the car, dragging her owner behind her. This 14 month old Labrador displayed extremely defiant and dominant behaviour. Her owner was scared to let her off the lead as she would run off and also jumped up at people. She was not to be trusted around other dogs, making any time out of the house with her unpleasant and the owner very nervous. Comparing this young Labrador to her previous dog was not helping the situation.

I recommended a change of lead for Isla and within 30 seconds she was walking on a loose lead by my side. Our training covered focus and connection, with less verbal communication and more lead work. Isla is booked in for another lesson; there’s a lot of work to be done to bring out the calm, well-mannered dog in her.

Testimonial – Dog Whisperer or Owner Whisperer!

Hi Damian,

Just wanted to update you on how Chip is doing.

Fantastic! That’s how he’s doing.

The three sessions we had with you have been the backbone of all the subsequent work Chip and me have done.

I’ve followed your advice and do training with him every day. In fact, almost all the daily out and abouting Chip and me do has the training you showed me in it.

I’m still not sure what you did, but in three sessions you trained me to train a dog. You aren’t a dog whisperer, you’re an owner whisperer.

I still need to do more work with Chip so I’ll be booking some more sessions with you later in the year but for the time being he returns on whistle, he stays on whistle until I tell him to move on and he walks along with me (almost always! and more work on my part will sort that). I’m just going to continue on these basics for the next six months.

Thank you.

Rob and Chip (little bugger that he is!)

Your Dog, Your Rules: Tackling Perceptions of Aggressive Dog Breeds

I’ve posted before about the progress I’ve seen with Harley the German Shepherd. He has transformed from being extremely reactive to other dogs to being a pleasure to walk both on and off lead. I frequently meet owners who, because they have a breed that may be seen as an aggressive dog, expect this behaviour from their dogs. The question that needs asking is, who’s creating this behaviour, the dog or the owner?

One year old German Shepherds Stephi and Yoshi were rescued from abroad. Walking them is very difficult for their owners. Their heel work is poor, they chase livestock when off lead and Stephi in particular is very reactive to other dogs. At home things are not much better, with the dogs fighting between themselves for dominance. As with many rescue dogs, they have been over-loved and their behaviour has been over-compensated for.

Of course it’s important to get the training right with a large breed but the same rules apply to every dog. Structure and discipline have to come first, the dog has to work to earn love. If you have a breed with a reputation as an aggressive dog and you are not confident as pack leader, you are likely to react when you see another dog. That tightening of the lead and change in pace through fear and anxiety of what your dog might do is teaching them to react to what’s ahead. If you remain calm, so will your dog. It’s not what everyone else thinks of your dog you should be focused on. If your dog is well trained, there is nothing to fear.

By the end of the first lesson, Stephi and Yoshi were walking past my dogs on a loose lead with no reaction. Taking control had allowed them to relax with their owners. It’s important not to misunderstand these breeds with a negative reputation as aggressive dogs and project behaviour onto them; with training they are great dogs and make excellent companions.


dog training german shepherd aggression behaviour problems dog training german shepherd aggression behaviour problems

Well done to Murphy the Border Collie

Today’s lesson with Murphy the Border Collie and Sue his owner was to be their last. Over the past few months I’ve helped to train and build a structure that’s created a fun and loving bond. While Murphy is not a working Border Collie, training him as you would a working dog has helped create a really strong bond with his owner. He has responded well to the stimulation the training has given him and is now able to work with multiple dummies, retrieving to command.

Sue had committed to monthly lessons and has worked hard in between them. The effort she has put into Murphy is clear and the results are very rewarding for her. I’ve told Sue there is no need for more lessons as she has achieved her aim of a strong bond with her dog, which is a pleasure to see.

dog training a border collie

Oscar the Old English Sheepdog Returns!

It’s good to know that my blog posts not only help owners find exactly the right trainer but also help dogs with consistency of training too. So here’s the story of Oscar the Old English Sheepdog.

February 2016

When I first met Oscar he was difficult to walk on the lead and needed some behavioural training. After just one lesson, the owners were delighted…

Testimonial – Dog Training an Old English Sheepdog

March 2016

Oscar’s owners had a large family and were struggling to put in the training time needed. He came for a short residential stay with me…

Residential Dog Training with Oscar the Old English Sheepdog

Unfortunately, the owners did not keep in contact with me after the residential stay and I lost touch with Oscar.

September 2017

I received this email…

Hi we have recently rehomed a 2.5 year Old English Sheepdog called Oscar as his family found him a handful with young kids. Oscar is a delight. A really loving fun dog and great with people and settled in very well with us ( 2 adults, both at home and we have previously owned same breed). Problem is he is not good on a lead, lunges at some other dogs (aggressively) and  is anxious around public places. We were actively looking for training when came across your website and we are convinced you may have trained him before as you mention an Oscar on your blog and the photo looks like him. We are interested in some 121 training sessions.

I met up with Moira, the new owner and it was good to be reunited with Oscar. He remembered me and his lead work improved instantly. Now two years old, there is a lot of behavioural work to get Oscar to where he should be but with regular lessons, the focus he needs can be achieved.