The Gibson family adopted a 4 year old Boxer who settled into his new home easily and became the best of friends with the families existing Labrador. However, on walks Benson the Boxer was a different animal. His body language stiffened up, was on constant high alert, and the approach of another dog (even passing on the other side of the road), would result in Benson rearing up in an attempt to flatten the other dog. He was clearly showing all the signs of a dog suffering from fear aggression.
Benson, a healthy, fit, and exceptionally handsome 4 year old Boxer who was fortunate enough to be adopted by a loving new forever home in Chandlers Ford. His new owners, Karen and Nigel were very keen to take on a second dog as a family pet and a companion for their ageing 11 year old female Black Labrador, Fergie.
Benson settled in beautifully within the first few weeks, becoming best of friends with Fergie, as well as their 12 and 14 year old sons, it all seemed to be working out rather perfectly at home with Benson’s endearing and gorgeous character adding a new dimension of joy for the Gibson family.
Signs of Fear Aggression
However, their new dream dog indoors had a flip-side to his behaviour. It became rapidly apparent to Nigel and Karen that Benson had another side to him. When they ventured out on walks it was like something switched inside him. His body language stiffened up, he was on constant high alert, and whenever another dog approached or even passed on the other side of the road, Benson would eye ball them and rear up in an attempt to flatten the other dog. On 3 separate occasions Benson slipped his collar and completely mugged another dog, flattening them in the process which was hugely upsetting for everyone concerned. It became apparent that his beautiful nature indoors was a complete contrast to how he was outdoors in public where he became a absolute menace and a public liability towards other dogs.
The Gibson family were now faced with a huge dilemma about whether they could really keep Benson. Several uncomfortable options were considered amidst many tears and emotions. But Karen and Nigel thought long and hard about what to do. Thankfully they decided to give Benson a chance by seeking professional advice. They first tried a local dog training class, but Benson was way too distracted by the other dogs and would not respond to the food based reward system. They also enlisted the support of another 1-2-1 trainer, but failed to make any progress with the fear aggression.
Karen and Nigel were determined to find someone who could really understand Benson and get to the root cause of his problems. They had been hearing lots of great things from other dog owners about Phillip Gazzard the dog behaviourist at Angel Dog Training, so they promptly enrolled my services for a comprehensive behaviour modification and training programme to get Benson sorted out. Our initial home based assessment and foundation lesson commenced in April 2016 and within 3 hours Benson was like a changed dog. I worked with Karen and Nigel to identify the underlying root causes to his bad behaviour and then taught the family how to communicate clearly and sensitively with Benson teaching specific behavioural therapies both in the home and out on walks. These exercises and role play scenarios allowed Benson to begin to trust his owners for the first time on walks and to relax without engaging in his previous fear triggers towards other dogs.
Angel Dog Training use no treats, just a sensitive emulation of the natural body language and vocal communication system which dogs are born with. By teaching the Gibson’s this amazing technique Benson immediately understood that he no longer needed to react to his fear triggers. The transformation in his behaviour, like all fear aggression dogs I deal with, was remarkable. Long term success requires consistency, as does any behavioural intervention. I worked closely with the Gibson family for a period of 3 months, with regular follow up sessions and plenty of homework and daily practice exercises in between.
After 3 months, thanks to their belief in Benson, their commitment to his future and their careful choice of the right training system, Nigel and Karen have completely transformed Benson from the aggressive menace he was, into a loveable, sociable family member who now enjoys long walks with the family.
Well done Nigel & Karen, thanks to your brilliant work, and for following all of my advice, you have given Benson the wonderful, happy long life and future he deserves.
I have a 3 year old boy who does just this on a walk, with my daughter who is 51 so not a child I show him I can walk him in to a show no problem but he does not like small scruffy terrier type dogs as he has been attacked buy a few while he was on a lead, She taken to jogging with him between 9 and 10 at night to avoid other dogs it would be great to get him over this, I have had Boxers now for over 40 years ,where in the country are you we are in W/ Sussex.