We almost broke the record...
What record? How can there be records in dog behaviour? Can you have a record breaking dog behaviourist?
The record to which I refer is the oldest dog I have ever worked with which to date is the grand old age of 16 years old.
This is Murphy a rescue whippet cross who is either 16 or 17 years old but his owner can’t be sure as they don’t know when he was born so we will err on the side of caution and call him a record equaling dog!
So why did Murphy and his owners reach out, that’s the phrase of the moment isn’t it so we are bang on trend, for help with this grand old man?
Until a few weeks ago Murphy had a house mate, a Saluki who had been his companion for most of his life and very sadly she died recently. Rosie was a strong character by all accounts and it sounds like Murphy knew his place and was reasonably well behaved.
Since Rosie has gone, there is a huge void and it has left Murphy unsure of how to behave. He has become more needy, more demanding and is not coping with being left alone as he is becoming increasingly noisy with his barking, which is being noticed by the neighbours.
So there are many things to deal with, the most powerful is grief. From talking to his owners, Murphy seems to have accepted Rosie has gone and has settled into the types of behaviours he demonstrated before Rosie came to live with him. For the humans however, grief is still raw and powerful which means Murphy has been getting more attention but this does seem to be settling down.
Losing a dog is a very painful, I lost one of mine last September and the grief stays with you and it does change how you interact with your other dog or dogs.
Murphy is also sound reactive, whilst we were sitting I heard a door shut in the next door house and Murphy got up and went to investigate. Normally this would have generated a reaction and an interaction from his owners which had taught Murphy to be noise reactive. This really affects a dogs ability to stay calm and relaxed as they can end up listening for every sound to react to because it generates interaction.
We simply ignored Murphy until he returned to his bean bag and relaxed and then we praised him. A few minutes later, I heard a door shut again in the neighbours house and this time Murphy didn’t even look up.
Our dogs like to be relaxed and content but they can only really achieve this if we give them a reeason to do it. If we are always interacting with the behaviours wwe don’t want, that is what our dog will do, if our dog barks at every noise because it generates interaction, even being told off counts as interaction, then your dog will bark at every noise.
Most people want their dog to be calm and relaxed and spend all their time trying t make their dog stop yet never rewarding their dog for stopping and doing nothing. If doing nothing is not a viable option, your dog will not choose it.
Even at the grand old age 0f 16, Murphy is able to adapt and change his behaviour and is willing to be relaxed. The more this change is consistently implemented, the more relaxed and more content Murphy will become.