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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19590
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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We have a 'rescue' dog who has been with us years.

Resolved Question:

We have a 'rescue' dog who has been with us for three years. She is beautifully behaved now within the home but outside still has issues. She scavenges when off the lead (because she was starved during her first two and a half years); has relapses when she has been caught scavenging and jumps around six feet away and won't come near us (because she was kicked and beaten when a puppy and perhaps beyond that, we don't know); and lacks confidence, going into submission mode whenever she meets other dogs even if they are puppies. We have succeeded to some extent in socialising her but the scavenging is never-ending despite the fact that she gets really good, healthy food and at regular times now and so most of the time we cannot let her off the lead to enjoy a good run as she will eat anything, wild creatures' faeces, other dogs' faeces - anything. We are at our wits' end, having tried to give her love, stability and security and believing that would be the answer - it hasn't worked. Would a behaviourist be able to help us and if so, how do I find a reputable one within reach? We live in Devon.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
What zip code do you live in?
Do you free feed or have set food times?
What type of muzzle do you use, basket or other type?
What have you tired to stop her eating feces?
Has a urinalysis been done?
How about bloodwork?
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Lori,
I was hoping you were still online, but let me give you some information in the meantime. First thing I would do is be sure she has been tested for diabetes since that can cause a dog to constantly want to eat and search for food.
The other thing would be to start free feeding. I don't usually recommend this, but if she knows there is always food down for her, she may stop searching when outside. It will help her learn that she can always eat the minute she gets home.
Many dogs eat fecal matter unfortunately and it is a hard habit to break. YOu can put hot pepper or other nasty tasting substance on fecal matter to discourage the behavior. The other way is to train her not to touch it. You can use a leave it command which I'll give you a site that discusses teaching that command or you can train her to not go near it. Here is the leave it command site:
http://www.volhard.com/pages/leave-it-command.php
For training, you would take her where there is fecal matter and have a good supply of vienna sausage (hot dog) slivers. Keep her on a leash and when she even goes to sniff the fecal matter, give a short tug to break her concentration and a firm low toned NO. After a few corrections, she should pointedly NOT go toward it. When that happens, reward her with a hot dog sliver. If you reward her not trying to eat the fecal matter with tasty hot dog slivers she learns that she gets better treats by not sniffing and eating feces and should stop. You will need to carry the treats for a while and I would recommend continuing for quite some time since they are very helpful for training purposes and reinforcing desired behavior.
If you are using a muzzle, I recommend that you use a basket style since it allows a dog to eat, drink and pant relatively normal if it is the wire style.
As for behaviorists, there are several in your area.
Carol Valvona MSc(CABC)
Tel: 01566 782366
Website:
http://www.bonafido.co.uk
Species seen:
Dogs Cats Rabbits
Clinic Details
Launceston and Callington
Home visit details
North, Mid, East and South East Cornwall as well as West and North West Devon
Catherine Tomlinson MSc, BSc, PGCE
Email:***@******.***
Tel: 07900 576 999
Species seen:
Dogs Cats
Home visit details
Somerset, North Devon, South Bristol
***** ***** BSc (Hons) PG Dip CABC
Email:***@******.***
Tel: 07738 817775
Website:
http://www.dogbehaviourconsultant.co.uk
Species seen:
Dogs Cats
Rachel Casey BVMS PhD DipECAWBVM MRCVS, RCVS Recognised Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine
Email:***@******.***
Tel: 0117(###) ###-####
Website:
http://www.bris.ac.uk/vetscience/services/behavclinic/
Address:
Dept of Clinical Veterinary Science
University of Bristol
Langford
Bristol
BS40 5DU
Species seen:
Dogs Cats Horses Rabbits
Clinic Details
Behaviour referral clinical at Bristol Vet School
Jeri Omlo BS MEd
Email:***@******.***
Tel: (01726) 852124 / (07795) 162231
Website:
http://www.animalbehaviouristcornwall.co.uk
Address:
Daandi
Bilberry
Bugle
St. Austell
PL26 8QT
Species seen:
Dogs Cats
Clinic Details
Serving all of Cornwall and South Devon
Home visit details
A home visiting service
Caroline Bower BVM&S MRCVS
Tel: 01752 344188
Species seen:
Dogs Cats Rabbits
Clinic Details
Plympton, Devon and Plymouth, Devon
Home visit details
20 mile radius of Plymouth
Sally Jones BA Hons Dip AS (CABC)
Email:***@******.***
Tel: +44 (01404) 841340
Website:
http://www.dogsrdogs.co.uk
Species seen:
Dogs
Clinic Details
Honiton, Exeter, Cullompton
Home visit details
40 mile radius of Honiton
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Jane - Thank you - we have been using a basket muzzle but are not sure whether it is better to keep it on her for the entire walk (because she meets other dogs and is then at a disadvantage and she already lacks confidence in that direction which is the other issue I submitted at the same time as the scavenging issue) or put it on and take it off at intervals during the walk. She is never short of food and is, in fact, inclined to overweight if she gets too much which makes me reluctant to free feed her. We have also tried the firm low-toned 'no' when she approaches faeces and rewarded her with liver bits or chopped frankfurters when she leaves it but the problem, though less, continues to be a problem. Must we reconcile ourselves to living with it for the rest of her life?

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Lori,
Many dogs are very submissive toward other dogs. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Now dog parks can be bad for dogs especially if you end up running into an aggressive dog. It can turn a submissive dog into a fear biter if she is attacked. I tend not to recommend "dog parks" but suggest finding a like sized dog that gets along with yours to have play dates with. You can have several playmates and that lets her get very comfortable with a couple of dogs which will help her gain more self confidence around dogs. It is going to take a lot of time to convince her that submitting to other dogs immediately isn't the best way to avoid altercations since it has seemed to work for her.
You can keep the muzzle off until you actually get to the park, but you really need to break her of the habit of eating fecal matter and if she can sometimes and can't at others, it tends to be confusing to them. Be sure you are consistent in the reprimands and rewards. You also need to be sure not to reward her after she has done it but only if she doesn't do it. If she attempts to eat it and you have to say leave it then don't reward her. If you say leave it before she actually touches it and she does, then reward her. If she doesn't even go to it, reward her double and give her a lot of praise as that is the behavior you really want.
Try putting hot sauce on the fecal matter. It may require you to leave her for a little bit while you go and coat fecal matter with the foul tasting (to the dog) sauce, pepper might also work. If it is not pleasant for her, it will help teach her not to do it.
If all else fails, you might need the behaviorist to help guide you in person on how to stop the behavior.
Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Jane, thank you - this has been very helpful even though I'm thinking that I may very well end up seeing a behaviorist to help with this in person. The trouble is that, sadly, Jessie was often starved during her first years before she came to us and she often had to scavent in order to survive. I guess that experience will always stay in her memory.

I am grateful for your patience with this answer and wish you lived near us! Thank you.

Lori

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Lori,
You are very welcome.

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