Three months in to our relationship with Jake, and the education continues. More lessons have been learned, and I have no doubt that more will follow. To whit:
1. The patience required to train a dog who has not received the appropriate guidance about his manners as a puppy increases exponentially with age. The expression “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” may not be absolutely true, but it does have a basis in truth.
Jake’s propensity for pulling on the lead when out walking is quite impressive, but for the continued well-being of my shoulders, it’s got to stop. Having sought the guidance of a professional dog behaviourist, he’s showing some signs of improvement, bordering on co-operation, but there’s still some way to go.
2. His aggression towards other dogs is really to do with his assuming responsibility when a potential conflict – however slight – arises. Even if the other dog is hundreds of yards away and not acting aggressively, his full attention is focused on it, until the perceived danger is gone. I have learned that it’s up to me to intercede and impose myself as the one who is taking responsibility for managing the “threat”, not Jake.
These, and other, behavioural issues are signalled by Jake’s body language. I need to learn to interpret the signals and to take control in a way that Jake understands. Treating Jake simply as a child, rather than being the dominant member of a pack is not an easy thing to achieve, because it isn’t a normal relationship for humans (well, not all humans, anyway…)
3. The big lesson arising from 1. and 2. is – patience and consistency. Changing the behaviours will take time; it won’t happen overnight. Wish me luck!
4. Springer Spaniels can shed hair like no other living thing known to man! My vacuum cleaner is working overtime, and each time it gathers enough fur to knit a jumper with. It’s seemingly infinite. The really galling thing is that it doesn’t seem to have any effect on the coverage of his body – he’s still got total coverage. When I lost hair, it went for good and the evidence is there on my cranium for all to see. Or rather, it isn’t.
Next time I write about Jake’s progress, I hope to be able to report great progress with his manners. Watch this space.