Since we have a couple of gundog obedience classes
every year we will at each start of a class have to regard one or two individual
equipage with a problem that is difficult to analyse immediately. My
self-confidence and skill is kind of not enough to do it. If I due to
performance anxiety dare to express some sweating opinion about a psychological
trauma the dog has contra the handler, it will later proof to be a terrible
It is much better not to take any particular
respect to the unlucky handler but only to calm him with a few comforting words
like "Let's have a few lessons and see how the dog reacts to them. Then we can
have a new, deeper look at it." This will give us a change to catch the breath
and ponder about the problem with the equipage.
It use to boil down to one of two possible stocks.
The odd thing is that the problem always seems to have only either one of two
answers, no matter how much psychology has in the beginning whirled around
my in head. Another odd things is that I never learn to neglect these
thoughts when they pop up.
One, and the most common, of these two causes to
problems is lacking leadership. The influence of leadership on the pack animals
(dogs) behaviour is so deeply rooted in the DNA of the dog so not even the
most skilful surgeons is unable to remove it. The most eloquent
Pentecostalism preacher can not speak it away and no dog shrink in the entire
world, or his customers, can neglect it in the prolongation without finally
stumbling over it.
The only thing that can suffocate the control the
leadership gene has over the dog, is another gene that controls the dogs
behaviour towards stimuli from the environment around it - namely the gene than
determines the dogs nerve stability and courage.
If a dog has a tendency to be nervous and anxious
and lack the courage to meet and handle the everyday situations it will develop
"private" problems. If the degree of nervousness is "moderate", as it most often
is, it will be enough to release it from the responsibility and decision anxiety
by taking over the leadership from it. It will recover it's breath, clam down
and become a pleasant and self confident individual knowing its rank and
that its new pack leader (the handler) will take care things that is not
meant to be the of concern to the low rank dog.
So far all, without any exception all ailments
the equipage can have with leadership training. The result of such training is
always depending of how well this training succeeds with the reference to the
handler, not the dog, and hence how well the handler will manage the
leadership over his dog.
Then we have the more rare cases when the dog is
unable to receive the training. Not because it is "hard" but because it might be
too nervous to even notice that someone is trying to break it. This is the case
when a gene has taken control over another gene and we humans can not do a damn
thing about it, at least nothing of permanency.
Hence: If a dog can make good deliveries at home on
the back yard but not on other, more exciting places, we have a case of
part-time leadership. The dog considers the handler to be the pack leader as
long as it feels that the handler can handle the present, often calm situation.
When things are winding up, from the dogs point of view, then it takes command
and challenges its handler.
To solve this problem, when it has been well
established in the dog, calls for some kind of choke treatment. Remember that
the dog is entirely convinced that as soon as the equipage leaves the security
of home it has to take command. I remember a visiting ES (of all nasty,
bloodthirsty fighting dog breeds) that bite its mistress when they came to us
and Maud gave some advice about how to handle the dog! It simply refused to obey
its owner since they were at a place where the owner, from the dogs point of
view, had no control.
Borta Med Vindens Kennel
"Ask not what your dog can do for you.
what you can do for your dog."www.rospigan.net