Another of our clients stories, this one written in 2002, a very popular case that inspired a lot of other owners to seek help. Rosie was difficult from the start and she ended up doing amazing obedience and once in an out of sight down stay even ignored two dogs who started a fight nearby. My thanks to her owners for sending this story.
Rosie born 24th January 2000. English Bull Terrier – German Shepherd Cross.
Rosie was brought into the RSPCA with her mother and other puppies. She was separated from them as she bullied them! We were told that she was “a bit bolshie with other dogs”. This was an understatement. Even as a puppy she jumped on top of a Great Dane and bit his ears. We still adopted her.
Rosie started training classes well, often pulling hard to reach other dogs. Increasingly she became stronger and more uncontrollable.
Aged 7 months she jumped on a huge German Shepherd’s head. It retaliated – ripping her stomach badly. From that moment, Rosie was theWolf from Hell! Growling, pulling, barking. I couldn’t cope with training classes any longer. Rosie only had to see or hear another dog and she went wild. And, the English Bull Terrier fighting instinct showed, persistent, never giving in, often picking on the toughest looking dogs. Even muzzled she tried to fight, using her bodyweight and claws. I often ended up sitting on her just to keep her off another dog.
Rosie does have one saving grace, she has always been a children and people loving dog. Gentle with (non-canine) small animals, Guinea pigs, rabbits. She always behaved well in the home and is extremely affectionate.
After many recommendations to have her put down I contacted Debbie. She couldn’t promise anything, and I honestly though it would be a waste of time and money.
After assessing Rosie, Debbie sent us away with advice and exercises. I was horrified. I was hoping we could leave her there and that Debbie would wave a magic wand and fix her! We struggled through, working constantly with Rosie.
The improvement in her behaviour was dramatic. We didn’t actually get her out of the driveway for ages, every time she pulled or played up we marched her back into the house, we could see we were succeeding. Three steps forward, one or two back!
A couple of weeks later we took her back and left her for a couple of weeks with Debbie. And yes, she waved THE MAGIC WAND – I think the break from Rosie also gave us time to focus on what we were trying to achieve and how.
On returning home we quickly replaced the noise and commands with commands only and started different training classes. Rosie couldn’t cope with 25-30 dogs inside a hall or building, so we found an outside class. I really don’t think it is a suitable environment for many dogs.
Rosie now works off lead at obedience classes behaving well, even when those around her are not. I have learnt to read her body language and she can socialise with most other dogs. I can tell when she is getting bossy and recall her. I can then distract her with a toy and she will focus so intently on her toy that other dogs can take real liberties with her. I often step in the way if another dog runs at her and she knows to step behind me. Rosie has the trust that I will deal with the situation. I have even halted another dog, before it causes trouble. When other dogs are misbehaving she tends to lie down and look at me as if to say, “See… I would never do that! I’ve got butter in my mouth, and it wont even melt.”
Everyone comments on her personality transplant! But I never stop anticipating the difficult situations that may arise if I don’t watch and listen to her. She can communicate so much, with the drop of her head or a nose twitch. A timely “Leave” or “No” reminds her how she must behave.
Rosie is the dream dog, happy, fun and so giving. I can’t thank Debbie enough.