Margaret, George & Ash

Where do you start when asked to write your account of AB? At the beginning you all say but the beginning can be so difficult to start but here goes. For nearly thirty years I had a dream to own a Great Dane and the more I saw of them the bigger the passion, I would always head straight for the Dane section at Crufts it became the standing joke with my friends off to the Danes is it? Well in January that dream came true, I had lost my dear lab Mac suddenly and although my partner had a little black lab he was a trained gun dog and I wanted another dog so yes guess what, Georgie arrived. He was a 3/4 year old rescue handsome dark brindle, I picked him up from his foster home and brought him home, I had The Dog Listener Book and the Practical Dog Listener so implemented the reuniting rule but none of the other rules which I now know to be crucial to the method.

Georgie had been in 3 homes to my knowledge but his history was very vague, he seemed to settle once in the house and was left to sniff around and get to know his new home, he was good with other dogs they told me so I didnít see any problems with Ash who is a very gentle dog all went well until my sister came down to see the new arrival she ignored him as I had asked her too and after a while he settled and we made a fuss of him, then when she went to leave he jumped on her back and nearly pushed her through the french windows it took me by surprise but Sue bless her stood still and ignored him as I as I had asked very difficult when the dog weighs at least 75 kilos. I took him by the collar and he turned his amorous attentions to me and gripped me very firmly by the arm I was not frightened by him but could see that this behaviour could hurt someone.

Things then spiraled out of control over the next weeks and he would jump up and mouth me daily anything would start it if you walked too quick if you walked too slow the garden freaked him out and he would run at you, and then there was poor little Ash who was always on the end of his amorous attentions I felt so sorry for him he always looked so beaten up. I had been in touch with the foster home and found out that his last home had been with young men who liked nothing more than play fighting with him so I knew that this was a learnt behaviour, they also had drink and drug problems so George had not come from a very stable background. I go to a dog club every week but advice was as varied and as confusing as poor Georgie felt. I rang the rescue who only deal with Danes their advice was use the lead, to correct him. I did not want to use force it went against my nature and I knew this lovely dog could be wonderful with the right method, but it was finding it.

The crunch came when I was out with George and he grabbed my arm and held on to it harder and harder I just carried on walking and hoped that the motion of walking would snap him out of it thankfully we were only a few minutes from home it was at the moment I knew I needed help.

I had been on Jan Fennellís web site and knew that there were local dog listeners and I rang Julie Abbott, oh what a relief to speak to someone who didnít say" oh he needs to know whose boss"! Julie was so kind and understanding let me ramble on and gave me some immediate helpful advice. I then arranged for Julie to come and give me a consultation, I say me because I was the one to make a difference.

Julie turned up on a Saturday morning she was so friendly and listened with so much patience it was great to know that someone else was fighting in your corner, and as she went through AB everything started to make sense, but interestingly Ash who we thought fairly well grounded if a little excitable was as much in need of our help as George. Julie pointed out that Ash was lying down but never totally relaxed, his attention firmly fixed on Chris. Julie worked with us through all our questions and doubts because to be honest when she said you will be able to play ball with Georgie in the garden I found that rather hard to believe, all I wanted at that stage was for him to stop the mouthing and be more settled. Julie gave us a plan of action it was so hard at times to know if I was doing it all right but Julie was always at the end of the phone and gave me so much support and confidence that I began to believe yes I will be able to play ball with Georgie in the garden and Ash will begin to relax.

I worked with the plan that Julie gave me and George has taken to it like a duck to water, Ash still has a little way to go but I can see he will take a bit more convincing, it hasnít been easy and at times both dogs have asked lots and lots of questions but if things have gone wrong when I have looked back I can see that I didnít follow the method and could see where I had made the mistake. Julie came back to see us and said how nice it was to see the boys far more relaxed and happy just chilling.

George is now playing in the garden with a ball and Ash is no longer the butt of his unwanted attention, and I have two wonderful dogs and if we do get into situations that may worry the dogs I now know how to handle it.

This is a huge thank you to Julie who has been an absolute wonder in helping us to have these two great dogs, I have to say when I see Georgie come towards me with those lovely soft eyes it always brings a lump to my throat to see him so happy!

Your dog is a dog, not a human, so why use human language? Whatever the age or breed of your dog, I can teach you to communicate with them using their own language.
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