My dog is a 2.5 year old Labrador-cross dog. I am not sure about his breed but he has webbed paws and looks like a black Labrador/Kelpie. He was adopted when he was a couple of months old.
He goes nuts whenever he sees stray cats and other wild animals. He will try to shake off the harness and make a run for the animal. Today, we came across a dead possum and he went crazy. Although today's incident was still quite manageable, I have encountered situations where my dog actually stripped himself from the collar and harness to chase after the animal he set his eyes on.
Another issue is my dog is aggressive towards my cats and I have to keep him in his crate or in my room at all times. They used to be OK but he started being aggressive to them since last November.
I have hired 2 dog trainers in Sydney to help me and both of them were not around to witness events like this and offered solutions that didn't work.
One of trainers (DogTech) believed that it was a dominance issue because I am not the "pack leader". His solution was to follow his ideas:
- Hand sits: pushing down my dog's ass to make him sit to prove that I'm stronger than him and to reduce dominance.
- Keep my dog outside if possible.
- Chain him for a 1 hour per day.
- I eat before he does. Make him see his food while I am eating my food.
- I walk out the door before he does.
- Walk like a grandmother's pace to make my dog walk slowly because he thinks it is harder for my dog. He does not believe in running with dogs. He said walking slowly is like crawling on the ground and the dog gets better exercise.
- Keep the leash short and walk him on the left.
- Keep dog off beds and sofas.
- Stop petting my dog temporarily.
- No rough play.
- Keep toys after play session.
- No smacking or raising of voice.
- Reprimand dog with "ah ah" instead of saying "No" because dogs don't understand English and "ah ah" is a sound they can learn to associate with no.
If I do it long enough and consistently enough, my dog will obey my every word, no matter what. He said my dog is aggressive towards my cats because he sees it as his job to discipline the cats and I need to be the leader to show him that he does not have to do that.
Of all his ideas, I have been doing all of the above except for keeping my dog outside because there are possums that visit our garden and he could escape from the backyard. Not to mention it is cold at night and there could be fleas and other pests. I did not like the idea of walking slowly. Didn't make sense to me and my dog. I don't care whether my dog eats first or I eat first. I prefer saying no because I have been doing it for years. I no longer do the hand sits but my dog responds to light taps on his butt as a signal to sit.
The other trainer (dog logic) was not into the dog dominance theory and suggested that my dog be fed before my cats. They think my dog is food aggressive and not cat aggressive. The plan was to:
- Seal the kitchen window to prevent my dog from attacking my cats when they are sitting there. Done.
- Feed my dog 2 times per day instead of once per day to reduce his hunger and stress. Done.
- Practice exchanging food with him to reduce food aggression.
- My dog should eat before my cats to reduce food aggression. Done.
The plan is to maintain this new schedule of feeding and regular "food exchange exercises" over a period of 1 year before my dog will stop this behaviour.
I have installed 2 pet gates at home in front of my bedroom door and the kitchen door. The gates are 1m high but my dog can jump over it without any problems. Alternatively, he can push it down if he really wants to. Therefore, it is not safe to keep him confined within the living room or my bedroom with the doors open. The pet gates are merely deterrents.
As mentioned earlier, I have sealed the kitchen window. Sometimes my cats like to sit there and my dog has managed to jump up and slam one of my cats down to the floor.
Leerburg Dog Training DVDs
I purchased the following DVDs.
- Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner
- Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet
- Basic Dog Obedience
I have not watched the dog obedience training DVD because the trainer recommends establishing pack structure before starting obedience training. The main thing in the trainer's pack structure training is crate training. I kept my dog in his crate for about 2 months, letting him out only for toilet breaks and our daily walks. Nowadays, my dog gets to run free in my bedroom at night.
I would say the best training I have done so far was crate training. I see a lot of improvements in my dog's behaviour. My cats know he is in the crate and they are more relaxed. My dog seems to be okay spending most of the time in his crate and he sleeps in it even when the crate door is left open.
The remote collar training DVD is also very good. I bought a PetSafe citronella spray collar but it didn't work well with my dog. According to the trainer, my dog is a "hard dog" and requires stronger corrections. My dog got used to the highest spray setting within days and totally ignores the sprays within a week. E-collars are illegal in NSW unless a vet endorses it. I am thinking of getting one to use privately but have not done so. I would like to consult a vet about it first.
The Way Forward
I am thinking of getting a good e-collar but I am concerned about breaking the NSW laws. I asked an Australian online store about this and they said it would be hard to find a NSW vet who would write a letter to endorse the use of an e-collar for my dog.
I wouldn't mind paying a dog trainer money if he/she can show me how to stop my dog from going crazy whenever we walk past a stray cat or wild animal and stop attacking my cats WHEN my dog is doing it. Talk is cheap, I want to see how it is done when it is happening. I would be very impressed if they can reward my dog for stopping that behaviour as he is doing it.
I have done everything in my power to prevent my dog from chasing and attacking my cats at home. However, it only takes my dog 3 seconds to jump over the pet gate and attack my cats if they are sleeping on the sofa. We just had an "accident" when I was camping over a weekend and my housemate was careless with the dog by not closing the doors.
Do you guys know of any good dog trainers for my situation or ways to get a vet to endorse the use of an e-collar?