If like me you own a dog (or dogs), or perhaps you’re thinking about rescuing a dog then I wanted to share a little more about why it’s not always the right thing to do.

The whole concept of the Tour De Rescue is to shine a light on the amazing work the smaller rescue centres are doing, but also to help more dogs get into their forever homes and we should, most definitely be helping these dogs. But not every dog is suited to every person.

When dogs are placed in rescue centres, they’re usually very stressed which can make them quite vocal (barky) or unusually quiet. So when a potential owner is looking for a quiet dog they can easily integrate into the home, they tend to be drawn towards the quieter dogs. Makes sense, right? 

Once they are taken to their new home, which is less stressful than the rescue environment, then over time the dog can start to come into their own again.

I often hear of people rescuing dogs, but then finding out a week or two later they’ve transformed into the devil dog. Displaying barking, lunging, snapping behaviours, to name but a few.

As a new dog owner it can be really disheartening to when your rescue starts showing difficult behaviours that you don’t know how to manage or fix.

Personally, I have always been a puppy person, and there is no right or wrong decision on what you choose to do. Along the way I have rescued, fostered and helped many a dog in need. Some fantastic dogs who almost very nearly stayed with me.

But today, I wanted to talk to you about how puppies can go wrong too and the topic of my blog is focused on Digger. He’s somewhat of a rescue, but he did come in the form of a 16/17 week old puppy and wasn’t from a rescue centre. We were his first home.

He’s small, fluffy and super cute! So cute, it’s almost hard to believe he has a dark side. A very dark side which has prompted me to want to ring his neck myself and send him away. Far, far away where he couldn’t hurt us any more.

Digger is a Border Terrier, a working line one to be precise and at this time in my life, I had only ever owned German Shepherds. When Digger arrived, freshly plucked out of the stable and wriggled right down between the driving seats of the pick up truck we took him home in, the first few days were amazing. He entered a home with five other dogs, and the group setting was idyllic. Daily hikes over the fields, watching him interact and play with the other dogs was magical. And he never once put a foot wrong.

But soon, this ever so cute and cuddly little puppy turned into a demon. A demented demon who was out for blood, guts and anything that moved or breathed.

I wanted to share Digger’s story because every year the rescue centres see an influx of dogs needing assistance. Normally around Christmas time or the school holidays. Some dogs become so much for family life, that they soon get out of control.

Digger wasn’t any different.

There were several factors leading to Digger’s increased aggression and this was directed towards other dogs in the household, anything that came over to say ‘Hi’ to him. Not to mention the hunting and killing he participated in whenever he got half a chance to sod off and do so.

Digger was the definition of a difficult dog. So much so that after his last performance towards a dog he had lived with for several years, my other half at the time threatened to ‘shoot the fucking thing’. His words not mine.

The truth is that not every dog in the rescue centre will be the right fit for you, and Digger certainly wasn’t for us. It’s not to say every dog is like Digger, because they aren’t but where I’m going with this is when you make that decision and you take on a more difficult dog, you have one of two options.

How much longer could I defend and save Digger from destruction?
What if I didn’t re-home him but the next time he did kill another household dog?
When would he stop this fighting behaviour and just be a good fucking dog?

I learned a long time ago with Digger exactly what sets him off. When he’s preparing for being a pest and precisely when and how to stop him before things get out of control, but could I really be there all of the time to intercept this demon dogs decisions?

I will openly admit, I have thought about re-homing Digger for the other dogs safety but also my own sanity. But then the thought struck me…

Who, in their right mind would take a dog like Digger?

If he went to a rescue centre, how would he cope? Would he escape the novice handler and attack another dog or run off? How long would it be before he got put to sleep?

Alongside learning about Digger’s behaviour and things that would set him off, I also learned a lot about my own behaviour and how fighting fire with fire, only ever created more bloody fire.

The shouting at him, having to physically kick him when he was jumping up to attack a dog I was holding above my head, the anger and daily frustrations of my own emotions had an impact that made things ten times worse. Though I’ve also found that by controlling my own behaviour around Digger, other people’s still have an impact.

I was left with a decision and it was presented to me plain as day after he’d attacked and almost killed a dog he had lived with for several years. It’s me or that dog.

Needless to say, Digger is still with me and the difference in his behaviour again has been amazing. I knew this from years gone by but getting through to some people how to behave in a calm and considerate manner proved more difficult to me than training a difficult dog.

My C.H.A.R.M training technique really got us to the point of him listening to me, being calmer, recalling when off the lead, when he felt aroused to get a toy and shred that instead. And to this day he lives happily with three other dogs and hasn’t caused me any problems.

Human and Canine behaviour collide regularly, which is why on September 11th I will be sharing my Calm. Handling. Activates. Real. Magic Training with you all because this is by far the easiest, most actionable and beneficial type of training you can do with any difficult, easy, young, old black or white kind of dog.

This type of handling can see result in seconds, but there are rules you must follow to ensure you get this right.

Don’t automatically presume a quiet dog in the rescue is going to be a good dog. Don’t blame a difficult dog for their behaviour. Because in order for the dogs behaviour to change, we must first change our own.

Claire Lawrence a.k.a ‘The Dog Charmer’ is super passionate about helping barking dogs. After several years of battling through the barking issues with her own dog, she went on the journey into becoming a dog trainer.

After qualifying as an instructor and teaching obedience training and puppy classes, Claire started to discover more of an interest in those dogs that couldn’t attend classes or group dog walks due to their behaviour. She discovered a better way into helping barking dog owners understand why the barking was happening and what they could do about it.

You can find out more about Claire by visiting her website here http://highpeakdogservices.co.uk/

Or getting a copy her books, Three Steps to Silence and You’d be barking mad not to

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