Our girl Kitty became increasingly growly over the years. We worked hard all the time, but a combination of her temperament, breed and my not really knowing what I was doing all those years ago when she was younger combined and over the years she would become worse over the winter and during the spring and summer, she never really got back to where she was the year before.
The darker nights here in Glasgow in the winter (it gets dark about 4pm in December and January) combined with the foul Scottish winters (cold and wet, I know, we’re very lucky) mean that our dogs generally get out less in the winter, and when they do, walks are shorter, darker and there are fewer people and dogs around.
Due to socialisation being an ongoing process throughout the dog’s life, dogs can become less familiar with people and dogs due to lack of exposure. This can especially be cause for concern in the guardian and livestock guardian breeds.
The solution to this is to get out as often as you can, whenever mother nature throws you a sunny winter afternoon and do a tonne of classical conditioning, which means, take your dog’s breakfast to the park, local cafe with outdoor seating, etc and point out all the things to your dogs.
“Look at that man with the beard” feed feed feed.
“Look at that wee dog” feed feed feed
“Look at that lady with a toddler in a pram” feed feed feed.
When spring comes around, do exactly the same things. It’s a bit easier in spring as the weather is warmer, the days are longer and there are more people and dogs around. Saturday and Sunday mornings can mean trips to your local dog friendly cafe of restaurant where you can sit outside and feed your dog as the world goes by.
If you don’t have a eatery near you, use a public park bench and do the same.
Encourage passers-by to feed your dog with her kibble or extra tasty treats such as sausages or cheese,
All this goes a long way to helping your dog remain friendly and easier to live with year round.
Until next time
Glasgow Dog Trainer and Behaviour Consultant