This was a dog one to one held in Corby, Northamptonshire. I was really looking forward to this dog behaviour consultation because the dog I was going out to see exhibited serious aggressiveness towards visitors when they arrive at the property and is a Lhasa Apso, called Harvey. And the reason for my excitement was that I grew up with this breed of dog and his name was Pippy! Memories!
Now as I have often pointed out, the breed of the dog drives its instincts, if we let the dog know what it was bred for. Lhasa Apso originated in Tibet and surrounding areas and were trusted by monks to guard their temples. Believe me this very small compact dog can certainly step up to the mark when it wants to. I might add I do not have a single memory of my dear Pippy living up to this breed standard!
On arrival I had already prepped the client to meet outside to talk about the techniques we were going to use and this was because when you as a owner take control of unwanted behaviours it is more powerful, in a case like this especially. I wanted to enter the house as a visitor and let Harvey’s owner take charge. This unfortunately wasn’t going to happen as I could tell she had become really nervous and anxious. Harvey’s behaviour problem must be worse than I had anticipated; not a problem I took the lead.
I asked the owner to put Harvey in the room which is used to help Harvey calm down before introducing to visitors in the house. This happened to be the kitchen with a child’s stair gate was in place to prevent Harvey from accessing visitors until he was calm. I then entered the house and approached Harvey from a distance from the stair gate. What I witnessed was a red zone case and knowing Harvey had already bitten a friend, swift techniques had to be put in place quickly to get on top of this behaviour.
One of the contributing factors to the intensity of Harvey’s manifested aggression behaviour was the layout of the house and positioning of the kitchen area in relation to when visitors attended. Harvey had been so rewarded for his behaviour unwittingly and backed up by his breed, meant he was on full guarding duty. “Harvey we are not in a temple now mate” I thought.
So it was time to change the whole conversation around visitors from the point of Harvey, from a guarding behaviour to a calm and inquisitive friendly behaviour towards them. We worked through a couple of strategies and techniques to see which Harvey responded to best. I played visitor a few times with intervals in between and with each time Harvey relaxed more and more. But we weren’t out of the woods yet..! However the more that Harvey responded to my ways and techniques the more his owner relaxed and so in turn reflected upon Harvey’s behaviour. The true test would come when another visitor would attend the property.
The 121 consultation ended and after leaving, I pulled on my childhood memories of Pippy and my thoughts are still that I may own one of these breeds in the future. They are adorable! But can be highly aggressive so strong consistent leadership is needed.