Dealing with a dog’s behaviour issues is an unpredictable process.

A problem you thought had vanished may reappear with a vengeance and it’s precisely at this time you need to stay positive.

Do not dwell on setbacks, concentrate on progress. Count your successes and move on.

Do whatever needs to be done but move forward.

Rehabilitating a troubled or disruptive dog is not a science – there are no guaranteed methods. You do need a basic understanding of canine psychology but after that it’s trial and error.

One of the most severe cases I ever handled was Spike, a bull terrier rescued from a dog fighting syndicate. Spike had been stabbed, burned and whipped to boost his aggression and could not tolerate another dog in his vicinity.

I tried all the usual exercises to overcome his fear-fuelled aggression but made little progress.

Determined to find a solution I walked him with a loaded back pack and he calmed considerably.

I discovered Spike liked using his strength so I tied an old car tyre to a harness and called him to me from a distance, inviting him to drag the tyre behind him.

It took a little while for him to settle then he loved it.

I fitted out a couple of my senior dogs with harnesses and tyres and had two handlers call them while I called Spike to me.

It was a race Spike was determined to win. Ignoring the other dogs he hurtled towards me beating the others by 20 yards.

I had my answer.

From thereon, we raced every day with different dogs until Spike’s fears disappeared.

The whole process took six months and I still get emails saying what great a companion Spike has become.

With knowledge and determination you can rehabilitate any dog.

By Vic Barlow