Southampton Dog Training Testimonial

Sue Hiscock, Vet at Chris Carter Vets, Shirley with Nick Hiscock and Hunter

Hunter is a yellow Labrador who came as a 9 month old “rescue”, reputedly a failed Irish Gundog.  Hunter was a lovely dog at home, but had many problems; he was even ejected from “dog-school” as the most difficult dog that the trainer had ever seen.  My husband and I set to work, using all the help we could muster, and after a year we had achieved a reasonable recall and he would walk sensibly on lead.  However, we still had problems with dog-to-dog contact: when he came to us he would rush up to every dog he saw and totally overwhelm them. He never bit, but his “over-the-top” approach was very threatening to any but the most confident dog and resulted in several incidents of the other dog cowering beneath its owner’s feet and crying in fear. He gradually learnt to moderate this off the lead, when he became very good with other dogs. However, on the lead remained a very different scenario; he would lunge forward to the extent of his lead, squealing and barking with excitement although this made him look totally threatening. Not surprisingly, we came to dread seeing another dog approach and started to avoid walking him where he was likely to meet other dogs.

Enter Maria. She had been recommended to me by a friend as being someone who would listen to your problems and work through them with you but expect you to do the leg-work! Within minutes of meeting her, she had us walking Hunter on lead across a local Sports Centre in search of other dogs on leads. She observed my reactions as well as Hunter’s as we approached and immediately detected my tenseness and attempts to forcibly control Hunter to stop him from reacting to the other dog. Maria explained that this approach just caused Hunter extreme frustration and worsened each meeting because he then reached fever pitch by the time the dog was within reach.

We were given homework to do, employing a completely different way to deal with the problem i.e. to allow Hunter forward to greet the other dog, only checking him if behaviour was inappropriate.  It was such an obvious and simple solution but it needed fresh eyes to analyse the problem and someone to give us the confidence to let the greetings happen. Maria also suggested helpful training aids and, within 4 weeks, we were making huge strides.

Maria does not have a magic formula but uses acute observation of the dog and owner behaviour to analyse the problem. She showed excellent understanding of dog behaviour (and owner attitude!) and gave her appraisals sensitively but with complete honesty. She treats the partnership not just the dog and her input has enabled us to move forward to a position I never thought possible. We recently walked Hunter around a busy showground where there were many other dogs on leads. Before Maria, I would not have dreamt of attempting this but he behaved impeccably – far better than many of the other dogs that we met.

Thank you, Maria!


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