Rovers Return Training Academy

bert n flowers

Welcome to Bert’s Behaviour Blues blog.

I decided to write this to engage with you about the struggles that we face when having a reactive dog. 

It can be isolating, stressful, hurtful and confusing when you can’t seem to help your dog, no matter how hard you try, I want you to know that you are not alone and that even a trained professional struggles.

Every behaviour struggle is individual to you and your dog, therefore this blog is not a training aid or diagnosis of behaviour. But a look into Bert’s journey and his own struggles. And there will also be anecdotes of his sidekick, his forever faithful brother Ernie. 

I have 2 dogs, Bert and Ernie, we chose their names because we wanted a duo, we contemplated Eric and Ernie, Del and Rodney, and Ben and Jerry but Bert and Ernie stuck. 

They were 12 weeks old when we got them and were fab from day one. Ernie was the shy one of the two, to begin with. But this soon changed and Bert was a more timid dog,

Almost straight away I noticed Bert showing subtle signs of what I thought then were dominance tye behaviours, he would attack my older dog when he came near him. This was a 12-week-old puppy doing this!

He would also attack his brother around their food bowls and sometimes toys.

The first incident with another dog came much later, I’m not sure how old but he was jumping at agility so he was older than 12 months. 

I was out on a walk and we came across a spaniel, suddenly Bert lunged and nipped at the dog. He had never done this before. 

From there it grew to him appearing to charge toward other dogs barking. He never went anywhere near the dogs, and certainly didn’t intend to attack them. 

At this stage, I was very early into my journey of becoming behaviour trained. So I was able to implement strategies that worked well to reduce this type of behaviour and it worked very well. 

Going back to my description of perceived dominant behaviour my training gave me an insight that what I was seeing was not dominance, but fear-based reactions to other dogs and fear that his brother was going to take his food, something that is common amongst groups of dogs. but still, something that needed to be trained.

Then we moved. 

Suddenly, particularly in the vicinity of the new home, his behaviour escalated. And I have struggles on a day-to-day basis in the vicinity of home when he sees and meets dogs he does not know. And at times in other areas he can be bad, but on the whole, he can greet dogs well. 

Part of my issue as a trainer is Ernie.

I never split them up, they have done everything together and have barely been apart. This is an issue as when I try to separate them to do any training Ernie barks, he also suffers from FOMO, and training them together is difficult as Ernie gets excited when I have food, this hinders his training, but Bert loves training. Ernie will push Bert out of the way. 

I decided that enough was enough and that I have not been practising what I preach so as of today I have started implementing ditch-the-bowl feeding, an extra walk and training.

Check back for progress.