Vardis in the video is my Aunty’s dog that I’ve been training with Mikes help for the last two months. Vardis had behaviour issues that were causing my Aunty a lot of stress. He frequently barked at her demanding her attention, being pushy with her other old collie dog, preventing him from receiving any affection from Aunty. Vardis also resorted to barking/jumping with excitement in greeting the regular visitors Aunty as, to being the one who was pulling her when she took both dogs out for their walks together. Aunty felt like Vardis had taken over her life and was convinced he was a rogue, so unlike all her other collies she had owned/bred over her lifetime with their gentle, sensitive temperament. Aunty never had any trouble with them – she just had to raise her voice and that was enough to put them in their place.
From the first vid Mike saw (where I had taken control of Vardis from my Aunty) he instantly picked up the dog had separation anxiety. Leadership and mental/physical stimulation seemed to be lacking. Through our discussion I started to realise my first step should have been the pyramid to troubleshoot Vardis behaviours to see if I could identity the why to the problems. Vardis had many layers missing from his foundation that were evident in the pyramid and became more apparent the longer I trained with him.
The biggest challenge was trying to get Aunty to realise the problems she was having with Vardis couldn’t be fixed overnight or in one lesson by myself or any previous dog trainers she had called upon. Patience, persistence and perseverance would be needed on her behalf before any success could be achieved. Aunty did try but it seemed she was convinced nothing was going to change him and suffering with arthritis it was painful to be pull along by him in their walks where he also had the strength of pulling her over. The only way Aunty was going to believe it was when she saw it with her own eyes and was getting results.
I decided to take over Vardis training and Aunty was more than happy for me to do so. I started to develop a bond with him. Not the easiest thing to do when a dog suffers with separation anxiety for his owner and loves her to no end. Vardis had never received any socialisation and had a flighty temperament when it came to noise … easily startled in an environment consisting of loud noisy buses/cars, strange people, dogs and children. Luckily though his alertness wasn’t from fear – it was more than likely cautiousness of what is that. I spent many weeks developing our bond through structured walks, doing some phase 1 commands with him before I decided to take him to my decoy/trainer classes for socialisation in a controlled environment with others and their dogs. (Leash greetings/manners class). Some of the members of the class also had children and this was a benefit for Vardis socialisation. We also overcame Vardis attention barking, finding a motivation that worked for him to stop the behaviour. Things are looking up for Vardis now as Aunty is feeling she has more control over the situation and her life with her dogs.
The final exercise I want to work on with Vardis is stopping him from pulling on the leash and him wanting to hold the front position on walks instead of following behind your heel.
The vid above is my first attempt at doing the “Pause, halt and go” with him using a more motivational collar, the prong, in teaching him the exercise. You may notice in the vid Vardis lack of focus with me and how distracted and alert he is when it comes to loud noises and other distracting things in the environment around us. I move to a more distractive area away from Vardis home as he was doing commands perfectly there. This also help further to keep his focused more on me instead of worrying about getting back to be by my Aunty’s side. The dog’s focusing on his owner is so much better as my bond doesn’t compare to what he has with her. The transferring of him over to her once he has learned the exercise will be the easy part… Aunty has already attempted taking him out for a walk and was pleased to tell me he no longer barks or acts up when he sees other dogs and people. Vardis still goes into flight (instinct) mode if strange people/children try to approach him in the wrong manner to pat him but at least he is not concerned with them being around him now and is happy and loves being patted when he is the one doing the approaching of them.
To achieve having Vardis heeling in the correct position behind the heel for walks.