Introducing Flacco, my latest rescue dog! In the coming months I will be posting about how I am training and rehabilitating him. Keep an eye out for useful tips and funny stories!
Last year, my wife Jennifer and I sadly lost our dog Naiche, who I'd had from from a 6 week old pup. It hit me harder than I expected - he lived a fairly long and as far as I know, happy life, and having owned and lost several dogs now I tend to think I'm quite philosophical about the whole affair, but we loved the little tyke and it took a while to get over it and think about replacing him.
Anyway, when we were ready, we decided to adopt another rescue (we also have Bhanti, a Rottie/Shepherd cross?) We needed to find a sociable, friendly dog as we run a dog boarding/daycare business from home (Durham Dog Care). We visited all the local rescue centres and eventually found a jolly little fellow, (a 2 year old Rottie/Staffie cross?) and both immediately fell for him. There was maybe some subconscious influence going on as he is very like Naiche in some respects! We renamed him Flacco, after the Quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens American football team - but that's another story!
We soon realised we'd let our hearts rule our heads when choosing him. For one the previous owners declined on providing any information on him, which should have rung alarm bells - we had no idea what we were dealing with, except that we were told by the staff at the rescue centre that he was a bit over eager with other dogs. It turned out this was a huge understatement: he was friendly enough but had no social sense, and often pestered dogs roughly to play with him, and was oblivious to their cut-off signals. This meant that we were constantly monitoring him, waiting to intervene before other dogs lost patience with him, which was a challenge for our patience too! This lack of social grace spilled over into his meetings with people, he would leap at them and sometimes mouth them, and if they said anything too him he would often pee all over the room.
There were also signs of abuse: if you picked up long objects he would cower and sometimes urinate, and he often weed submissively when you reached for him.
Apart from this he has a very high prey drive, which is annoying at times (especially when cats or farm animals are around) but is a double edged sword - a very drivey dog is often a highly trainable one, which he has certainly proven to be! Sadly, the previous owners had obviously either not done much training at all, or made a lot of mistakes, as he had very little obedience - Oh well, I like a challenge! Aside from these and some other issues, including some separation anxiety, he is the most loving, cuddly dog I've owned, and is well worth all the hard work we've had to do with him.
So no major issues - like aggression etc. but enough to make life a bit uncomfortable, since we are also responsible for other people's dogs on a daily basis.
Anyway, he's now a much improved little chap, is interacting politely with his daycare pals, we're still working on his meetings with new dogs/people, and he's is getting better everyday. He loves training and has turned out to be a trick extraordinaire!
I'd love to share with you some of the techniques I used to rehabilitate and retrain him, and will keep you up to date regularly with his progress. I'll also tell you about some of the fine messes he got me into!
The next installment in the Adventures of Flacco: Flacco meets a pig herd!