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Confessions of a 'dog therapist' - and why you can never expect a Border Collie to behave

Louise Glazebrook, a  dog therapist, has seen dogs tied to radiators and climbing up walls to escape their owners
Louise Glazebrook, a dog therapist, has seen dogs tied to radiators and climbing up walls to escape their owners

Having to advise a family with young children that their appallingly bred puppy should be put to sleep was one of the worst moments of my life. By the age of three months, the puppy – a Terrier cross – had bitten nearly 20 times; one bite resulted in the owner being hospitalised.

When my clients spoke to the breeder about what they should do, they were told to hit it around the face with something hard. 

During 11 years working as a dog behavioural therapist, I’ve been in homes where the dog is tied to a radiator, and pulled to the ground by a dog who leapt up and grabbed me with his mouth; I’ve witnessed a dog crying and trying to crawl up a wall to escape its owner and dogs who ‘have it all’, but are incredibly sad and lonely because the all doesn’t include being taken out very much.

John Lewis this week released research revealing the breeds most likely to need behavioural therapy, of which Border Collies topped the list.

As a working, herding breed that is designed for a very specific job (to herd sheep) it’s not surprising that they may struggle to fit in to a suburban environment when their only proper walk is on the school run.

Border Collies are the most likely to need behavioural therapy, research carried out by John Lewis has revealed Credit: Purple Collar Pet Photography

When a dog lives a life where they are not given the opportunity to run and play they will end up channelling their energy into undesirable directions.

There are many reasons why a dog is ‘badly behaved’, but, thankfully, I have rarely witnessed wilful neglect. Most of my clients simply need a helping hand getting their dog on the right path, or want to make sure that they aren’t getting it wrong.

Currently, the dogs at the top of my books for behavioural consults are: Miniature Dachshund; French Bulldogs  and Cockapoos (number 4 in the John Lewis survey).

Their issues range from separation anxiety to fear-related behaviours, excessive barking and aggression - all of which comes from somewhere. For some, it may be breeding, but for others it may be what they have been taught, experienced or even genetically pre-disposed to.

It then becomes a fine balance in looking at what a carer would like to achieve with their dog, to what is actually possible.

I tell my clients we cannot change a dog’s personality or what they have been bred to do – sometimes those very behaviours they are performing are the traits that they have been bred for thousands of years to achieve – but it is possible to show them other ways to behave. 

While our dogs are increasingly becoming emotional support animals as well as family pets, as a society there is still a massive disconnect between what we want from them – and their limits.

It’s important to remember that we are sharing our homes with these incredible, life changing creatures with their own likes, dislikes and desires. I haven’t yet met a human who is perfect so why on earth do we expect our dogs to be?

 

https://www.thedarlingdogcompany.co.uk/