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    Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

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    Carole.T

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    Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Carole.T on Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:24 pm

    Hi all,

    I have a friend who is a dog boarder, she is boarding a young black Cocker Spaniel (neutered) approx 1 year old. Has been in situ for 2 weeks, another 1 & half to go. First 'meet & greet' with her dogs on her property went well, no aggression just curiosity (I filmed the 'meet & greet'). The trial 'sleepover' went well. Problems that have shown themselves since boarding the dog are (some of my suggested causes in brackets);

    1) 1st couple nights: Howling/Barking/Diarrhoea/Scratching to get to other side of door where dog boarder is. (Stress/SA/New environment).

    2) 'Screaming/screeching' when being taken out for a walk/not settling in and barking in car (Exciteable dog, rather than fear, from description of behaviour)

    3) Frantic scratching and barking to get back in when left in garden, to where dog boarder is (Dog used to constant human company, other dogs are not a sufficient calming influence or substitute for missing human company - I have been told the owners do spoil the dog and accommodate the dog's demands for attention)

    4) After a brief period of about a week of calmer behaviour (honeymoon period?), incidents of aggression toward the dog boarder's own dogs are increasing - first toward one dog now two, the third dog and another dog being boarded take themselves out of the situations (The Cocker, now more aclimatised to the new environment is becoming increasingly confident &/or trying out where it stands in this 'new' group). As I pointed out to my friend, the dog doesn't know it is only there while the owners are on holiday and that it is going back home soon! - (It is the first time boarded).

    5) The dog is very affectionate towards my friend and will lay against her feet to sleep (The dog finds comfort in almost constant human company, as oppossed to additional canine company -The owners will need to help the dog learn to become more confident being away from them around the home etc.) I have no direct knowledge if the dog does have access to the owners 24/7 or its daily regime.

    My friend has become so stressed that she has discussed with the dog's vet the possibility of sedatives (for the dog, not her!) so that she can get some sleep from the nightime howling, try to calm the dog when getting over excited and try to prevent increasing aggression (sedatives have not been agreed by the vet and it was rightly pointed out that the dog's behaviour may in fact worsen on them). Apparently the dog is now 'doing her head in' and she is worried for her own dogs. She has tried to find alternative accommodation for the dog, including kennels but with no joy. Apart from managing the situation by trying to keep the dogs apart or try to walk the Spaniel separately, which is not practical for her, I think 'managing' is all she can do until the dog goes home (the owners are in Florida). The dog gets 2>3 fast & environmentally stimulating forest walks per day, so I think the dog doesn't get a chance to 'chill out' as when back in her home, there are about 4 other dogs constantly around (the dog is a sole dog in it's own home) so the adrenalin is being topped up on top of the anxiety of being away from it's 'people' and home?

    Some-one mentioned to my friend 'Cocker Rage' as the dog seems to just go balistic when gets over-excited, but I thought that was confined more to Red Cockers? The reason why I am sharing this particular story is that, the owners may contact me for help when they return. Now obviously there is a lot going on with this particular dog and I will probably refer them to their vet for a 'vet-check'/Behaviour consult (with the Vet's Behaviourist if the have one, or back to me?), so in case they refer back to me, I may pick your brains further if okay?

    Is there anything you think that the dog boarder can do in the interim, or basically just manage & do the best she can until they return in about a week? She doesn't have the time to carry out any de-sensitisation work on the dog. I suggested a soft muzzle, if tolerated by the dog, when putting the dog in the car to stop/minimise the 'screaming' and ability to bite if it gets aggressive, plus try to keep the dogs separate if the 'spats' recurr. The dog is being BARF fed as opposed to the JWB it was on when arrived (she thinks the JWB was also contributing to the runny stools - she took the dog to the vet at that point and tablets were prescribed which helped the situation). I advised her not to change too much of the dog's daily routine if she can help it and that sometimes too much exercise as oppossed to calm 'mind' games in the garden etc can keep the adrenalin levels topped up. She has the details of Val Strong's 'Behaviour' diet, but as that takes weeks to potentially show any changes apparently, trying it out now is not really practical. I loaned her a 'Canine' Music Therapy CD, nothing much has affected the dog/s - but she says it helps her!!

    Sorry a long one to start off this Topic List!!
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    wolfgsd

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  wolfgsd on Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:17 am

    management is really all that she can do. Doesn't sound anthing at all like rage, just a dog that hasn't really learned some self control. TTouch (a body wrap and a face wrap may help), some clicker training (free shaping) chew toys (in a crate near where the boarder is). I'd also probably take the dog to sleep in the bedroom with her as that is what it is probably used to. Her stress will only be adding fuel to the fire.

    I'd also put the dog back on JWB as I've fund that BARF often makes dogs more energetic. I'm also findign that cockers (particularly workers) get over the top with just being allowed to do their own thing and calm down and get tired when they are actually given a job to do. My youngster doesn't do 'walks' we do 'work' otherwise he loses the plot! Adrenalin gets too high and just seems to increase exponetially (and i htink this is what is happening in this instance with all that is going on). What about a DAP collar?

    Oh, and tell her not to have the dog back again lol!
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    olwen

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  olwen on Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:20 pm

    I was going to say much the same. The protein levels in BARF will be higher than it's used to so there will be a contributory factor there.

    It also sounds like there is some maladjusted learning in that he has become more socialised to people than to other dogs. Also as this is it's first time away from home it's going to be stressed and not knowing where it stands with the people or dogs. It would have been helpful for your friend to have known before taking the dog in if it had a routine, but that's to late now.

    I also think that DAP would be helpful and letting the dog sleep in the bedroom may help with the sleepless nights which will not be helping your friend's stress levels.
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    Carole.T

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Carole.T on Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:33 pm

    Thanks to you both for your ideas.

    Yes, I think all she can do is manage the situation really.
    She has vowed not to have the dog back again, for any price!!

    Hubby refuses to have any dogs in the bedroom (his only refuge from them all sometimes!). I did suggest a compromise and put the dog's bed outside the landing, bedroom door open with a baby gate in situ but hubby would not agree.

    She did try the dog in a crate but it became very distressed, so that lasted only a few minutes as it was distressing her dogs.
    She has thought about a DAP collar but I don't think she has purchased one due to time slipping by really til the owners come back, and the cost (though she can pass that on to the owners).
    She did think about a 't-shirt' on the dog (knowing about me using one on Jody for his car 'fear') but I don't think she has one. I suggested a calming band - but - to check if the dog accepts items around it's muzzle first, again time is not on her side to get the dog used to such items if she had one. I don't think she would feel confident of using a body wrap with so many other dogs milling around all day (unless the Cocker could be left separated from the other dogs somewhere).

    I did tell her to try to stick to the dog's usual routine, inc the food it is used to (she is a bit of an evangelical BARF feeder).

    I agree it does not sound like Rage Syndrome - too much behaviour is under the dog's control.

    Apparently the dog went to the same Trainer's classes as my friend, only the puppy one obviously and was the perfect little man. However, obviously things have gone downhill a bit since then - potentially owner over-indulgence and a very permissive style of ownership, owner tension and possibly they may behave in an 'over the top' way? I don't know. The owner was using a clicker during the meet & greets I filmed, bad timing though!

    Oh well, I will wait and see if I get a call from the owners and then prepare them for the long haul as oppossed to any 'quick fixes'!

    It has been frustrating as I have/will either be working full time or stuck at home supervising a carpenter (and not able to leave Jody alone with him really and due to Jody's car problems not take him with me at present!) otherwise I could have popped over to see it for myself and help her. I'll give her a call tomorrow to check the situation and pass on ideas mentioned.

    Some great ideas should they call me though- thanks again.

    Chris

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Chris on Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:27 pm

    I wouldn't jumpt to too many conclusions about permissiveness of owner or the dog's basic character based on what is being seen in the boarder's home.

    Massive changes for the dog, not helped by changes both in diet, routine, exercise etc.

    The dog may or may not need some help when the owner returns, but the boarder certainly could do with a few pointers on getting info about routine and trying to mimic that routine as much as possible when a dog comes in to her and also in respect of not changing diet over for a dog that is likely to be stressed at moving into a totally new environment - hopefully she had the owner's consent to make the diet change?
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    Carole.T

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Carole.T on Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:25 pm

    Thanks Chris for your thoughts on this.

    I am going by my friends own description of the owner's behaviour toward the dog and of course, her own interpretation of the home environment. My friend did have permission to change the diet.

    I have mentioned to her more than once that it is not her responsibility though to change dogs diets while in her care, but up to the owner what they prefer to feed their dogs. Give them information on alternative foods by all means.

    Apparently the owner did say to my friend that the dog could be 'unpredictable' towards other dogs and on the 'meet & greet' I filmed, the owner was surprised that the Cocker didn't agress toward the other dogs as, in her words, "Alfie can be aggressive to other dogs when on the lead".

    I actually observed Alfie on his own this morning with no other dogs. It was an interesting walk;

    Alfie wore a basket muzzle my friend had borrowed last night. The dog was not phazed by wearing it at all.

    The owner had supplied a Canny Collar they use on the dog. We removed this so the muzzle could be used. I supplied a harness and a double ended lead.
    Alfie hardly made a noise in the car on the way to the walk, was as good as gold and sat to be let out.
    No pulling at all on the harness. He did not attempt to get the muzzle off.
    He did 'freeze' momentarily when I had to lift his leg to adjust the harness, otherwise he was attentive and relaxed.

    On seeing other dogs (3 different dogs encountered by chance at increasingly close distances and one, particular'escape free' area of the walk) he actually made obvious efforts to avoid the first 2 oncoming dogs and carry out intentional alternative behaviours like investigating vegetation intently, or jumping down into a ditch. However, when they had reached too close a distance he would move toward the dogs and growl, or bark and growl the nearer they were, until they had passed. The final encounter was the most intense in his behaviour, after which he was desperate to get back into the car.

    Once in he immediately started screeching, nobody got in until he was quiet. After starting screeching again, the car wasn't started or moved off until he was quiet. From there on in he settled and was quiet. He screams/screeches in the owners car also apparently to & from walks.

    Back at the boarder's he was non-reactive towards the other dogs (while I was there) until one of hers came to me to greet me and Alfie pushed between her dog and me, growling at the other dog. Apparently he is beginning to 'hump' her female Lab (who is getting stressed and showing signs of pre-seizure behaviours, as she is an epileptic dog on medication). Alfie was more than content to lay against the boarder to rest, and would lay there to be fussed all the time given the chance.

    'Apparently' Alfie is fine with other dogs if he is off the lead. Though he is becoming more aggressive toward the other dogs when in the car with them.

    Unfortunately for my friend, the owners are stuck in America because of the Iceland volcano preventing flights back home. They may not be able to get back to the UK until 2nd May!! My friend is to contact the owners to see if they will agree to leaving Alfie alone in his own home for a few hours in the day while she gets on with walking her other dogs and will try to walk Alfie separately if she can.

    I know that it must be very strange for the dog, no owner - having to live with 4 other dogs - new environment etc. To be fair to my friend she does get the owners to fill in paperwork as to diet, routine, behaviour etc. But I suppose sticking to one dog's routine is difficult when she has 3 of her own dogs, plus another she is boarding (all of which are used to their own different routines), plus her daily dog walking clients to see to, so compromises have to be made in the hope that the dog/s adjust without too much stress.

    I think that this particular little dog has just phazed her, as most of the other dogs she has boarded over the years settle well and have not been dog aggressive. Lucky so far then?!

    Thanks again all, and will see what May 2nd brings!

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Admin on Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:40 am

    Sorry,I didn't see this post. I usually get an email when anyone has posted but haven't had anything all week and was just thinking the forum was very quiet!

    Good advice given already Carole. We have had a similar dogs here in kennels and to be honest they are much better if they are not mixed with other dogs, they just can't stand the close contact and become more and more stressed. Luckily we are able to keep them apart. This poor little dog must be in a real frenzy, new house, new diet, other dogs and no owners. At least he has formed a bond with your friend.

    Sounds as though he rules the roost at home, but we shouldn't make assumptions. If the owners contact you when they get home I think you should put the events at your friends to the back of your mind and listen to the owners and make your own opinions of how they treat the dog and how he behaves in a familiar environment.

    We get all sorts of dogs here. Quite often the ones the owners claim to be angels are in fact demons and vice versa!
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    Carole.T

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Carole.T on Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:24 pm

    Hi Chris,

    To the great relief of my friend, the owners actually got back from USA/Canada and picked up Alfie last Tuesday!

    It seems the owner is a bit in denial as to the dog's behaviour, blamed most of the problems on my friend (my friend didn't charge the owner mind you for the damage the dog had done to her doors re; Its SA problems!). The owner stated that the dog had 'puncture' wounds on his ears (He has a couple of scratches from thorns - saw them myself). Won't go in to details but the owner stated that they would not consider holidaying in this country with the dog in the future or getting a house sitter and if the dog 'now' had problem behaviour they would have to give it to a rehoming centre!! Now do I really want them to contact me ?!

    Doubt very much they will anyway.

    Thanks

    Carole

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Admin on Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:53 am

    Hi Carole

    I think I would stay well clear! Some you can help and some you just have to write off I'm afraid. The little dog might be better off with someone else anyway.

    Chris
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    Carole.T

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Carole.T on Tue May 18, 2010 6:16 pm

    Just an update - Well, guess who I had a phone call from last night?!

    After a lengthy conversation, it seems as Chris intimated, the little dog may be better off with a different owner. Basically the woman didn't want a dog in the first place - usual thing, gave in to the children! Mum is at home most of the day, so IF committed to the dog should be able to follow any training/rehab program suggested but at least she was honest in that she felt 'lumbered' and not really committed.

    I have suggested she have a long talk with hubby, report behaviour issues to the breeder out of courtesy (It seems the dam was "a bit snappy" when she saw her)and the breeder may have a network of people the dog may be able to be rehomed with, IF that is the final decision. She says the BIG problem is the heartache it would cause the kids. She has had a couple of Behaviourists visit already telling her what to do. I have agreed if she wants, to just come out on a walk with her and pop round to her home for a chat to ascertain what she wants to do - at no charge (so it does not commit me to taking on the case and I think she is getting frustrated and confused and just needs to understand the pros & cons of options she has. She is aware future visits will be charged for though!). I have also given her some 'management' techniques to help her in the meantime.

    She is a first time dog owner, plus in her words: "more of a cat person,and the house is never clean with this dog around".


    Let's hope the best decision for the dog is made if she can't mentally commit to dealing with the dog's behaviour issues.

    Regards


    Carole
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    olwen

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  olwen on Tue May 18, 2010 7:48 pm

    It does sound as if the dog would be happier in another home. Mum doesn't seem to want to put in the work (does anyone else find that with people who have had cats?) but she's the one who has to spend the day with the dog so he will be picking up on the tension and that will make things worse.


    I hate having to pick up the peices from other behaviourists. I've just had someone who's paid £300 to a behaviourist but is still having issues email me.

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Admin on Wed May 19, 2010 8:33 am

    What a shame for the poor little dog. Don't you just hate it when they tell you they have had behaviourists out and then you end up having to give free advice because you feel sorry for the dog! I have had it happen so many times.

    A couple of months ago I saw a dog that had been for residential training at a big place which advertises in all the glossies. The owner had paid out £2,500 for 2 1/2 weeks training and the dog was a nervous wreck when I saw it. So much so that I couldn't do anything with it, it had totally shut down. I asked the man if I could come and see the dog at home in case it was a bit better there but unfortunately he never got back to me. Damned annoying, I only charged £600 for three weeks, have put my prices up a bit!
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    Carole.T

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Carole.T on Wed May 19, 2010 4:20 pm

    These people put you in a very difficult and frustrating situation don't they?

    I didn't ask the whats & whys as to why the owner changed behaviourists or what was discussed. She volunteered info about one of them in that simply "He was some-one who trained GSDs all his life, I kept telling him that Alfie is not a GSD" (I reckon I can imagine the way the visit went!).

    The problem with the other Behaviourist (I know of her and she is genuinely a 'positive' Trainer/Behaviourist) is that she has moved literally hours away and only comes back to do Behaviour work when has the time and more than one client to make the journey worthwhile. She (the Behaviourist)actually told me this when she rang me to tell me off for visiting some-one she had an appointment with (in several weeksd time). Her clients couldn't wait for her appointment they needed some immediate person>person help and advice and consequently they rang me as I was local. Out of courtesy I let the Behaviourist know and got a ticking off for my efforts although I told her and the owners it may be better to keep the appointment as planned and go from there.

    SO, you see I am not keen to get involved with it as a 'case' just in case I get another phone call from this Beahviourist lady, who obviously wants to keep hold of her client base here. Personally I don't think it is much help for the customers or the dog some-times having to wait. Problem is, she is 'established' (COAPE / APDT) and I am not, having just moved here - so very wary of crossing her path again! Plus her vet has their own recommended Behaviourist who is local, so why did the vet not suggest a referral to them when the owner took the dog to the vet, whose diagnosis for the behaviours displayed was that it was a 'Behaviour' problem, not clinical.

    IF I get a call from the owner, I will ask her why she isn't contacting the lady that moved - but at the end of the day, that's her choice who she calls really and I just think that she is looking for some-one to tell her what to do, to make her conscience feel better! I hope that I don't get a call really, so I don't have to diplomatically try to back out of getting involved further!

    Fingers crossed,

    Carole

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Admin on Sun May 23, 2010 9:36 am

    What a difficult position! Very wrong I think of the behaviourist to tell you to back off. If she can't offer an appointment within a reasonable time frame then she should back off. As you say, sometimes these problems need immediate action otherwise we risk a nasty accident with the dogs biting someone for example.

    You are a member of the APDT Carole, you also have done a lot of behaviour courses and done well in them. You have experience, so don't sell yourself short. Just because someone has COAPE/APDT listing doesn't mean they are the best. We havea COAPE trainer near hear that sells prong collars and advocates the use of electric collars, in fact I think he might sell them too!

    I personally don't have a problem with people in this area if they are doing a good job. What makes me angry is when they don't, the people spend all their available money then come to me when the solutions haven't worked but they haven't any cash left! Or, they start berating all trainers and behaviourists as rubbish because of having a bad experience with on.

    This woman does sound like a bit of a lost cause in that she really doesn't want the dog in the first place. But then, look at the story I told on the APDT forum about the border collie pup. They are now so glad they didn't give her up!

    I'm sure you will do the right thing for all.

    Chris
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    Carole.T

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Carole.T on Sun May 23, 2010 1:34 pm

    Thanks for your support Chris,

    Not acutally an APDT member (I don't take or assist at classes anymore,so as to keep up to scratch on class practice. I failed on my practical in the assessment unfortunately!)just a subcrciber at present!

    I thought COAPE are running a campaign against such things as electric/prong collars? But then again, this sort of discrepency occurs in all of the various organisations I suppose.

    I did read the BC story and think it was a great outcome for all concerned, well done you. Sadly I am not sure my 'owner' may be as committed - but it is wrong to assume so maybe. We shall see how things pan out!

    Regards

    Carole

    Going to be brave in the next week or two and see if I can place my cards/brochures in local vets, pet shops, kennels etc. Never done that before, feels odd 'selling myself' to my own vet though!!

    Regards

    Carole

    Regards

    Carole

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    COAPE campaign Ask WHY/ Say NO!!

    Post  lance on Sun May 23, 2010 7:34 pm

    I am dismayed to read that this trainer/behaviourist is using pinch collars/ shock collars etc.
    You are quite right COAPE have been/are running a campaign against aversive/punitive techniques and equipment.
    see www.coape.co.uk/awsn
    and also www.dogwelfarecampaign.org
    I think this behaviourist should be challenged on this and that she should also be reported to COAPE for not conforming to their code of conduct while trading under their name.
    I'm not a member of COAPE, or any other similar organisation and I am not a professional trainer or behaviourist. So I am not a rival to her or anyone else.
    My interest in this is simply as a dog owner who, like other owners, need to protect their dogs against such training practices and need to have faith in the professional organisations. Unfortunately, in the past I experienced this sort of damaging training for my dog from a supposed trainer/behaviourist (of a different organisation). It cost a lot of money and I have had to spend a lot of time trying to help the dog recover. The only good outcome from this is that it has prompted me to research dogs, training etc. and so studying with Compass, being a subscriber to APDT and benefiting from this and other Forums. Derek
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    olwen

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  olwen on Mon May 24, 2010 3:27 pm

    Good luck with putting info into the vets. Make sure your's stand out as there are usually loads of posters etc up.

    I agree with Derek that anyone who is a member of COAPE or APDT and isn't adhering to the code of practice should be reported to their overseeing body. It brings the name of these organisations into disrepute. I know that APDT have rescinded membership in the past and that COAPE will do too. I don't know why people who use P+, especially to the extreme, want the kudos of being members of these organisations anyway.

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    Re: Behaviour problems - Cocker Spaniel: Excitability>aggression>'SA'

    Post  Admin on Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:40 pm

    hmm, these people are not particularly nice and I don't want come back - sorry if that sounds a bit lame! I will check out the COAPE site and see if their name is still linked and probably do something about it.

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