Episode 43 – Well it finally happened! Dom got a new dog. In fact he got a new Dogue! Derek the Dogue de Bordeaux who was recently adopted from the Dogue de Bordeaux Rehoming and Rescue. So why get a big rescue dog instead of a puppy? How did we actually get him and how are we helping Derek get settled into his new home? Find out in today episode of the Superhero Dog Owners Show!
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We’re going to see what we can see in this bag. Oh, now then. Now then. Do you remember another Dogue de Bordeaux who used to like playing with this toy? Derek. There’s a good lad. Yes, good lad. Oh, yeah. Wow. Good lad. Hello everybody and welcome to the Superhero Dog Owners Show. This is episode 43. I’m Dom Hodgson, your host, author of “How to Be a Dog Superhero” and general dog train and helper guy.
Dom : Dude, yeah. I’m joined by my very good friend, Alex, the video guy.
Alex: Hello everyone. Peeking behind the camera here.
Dom : Yeah. You’re having trouble getting used to this new van.
Alex: Yeah. It’s a slightly different ship and set up and stuff.
Dom : It’s just a van. We did this for ease. We didn’t do this-
Alex: I know.
Dom : It’s supposed to be not getting more difficult.
Alex: It’s my van as well, you said last time. [inaudible 00:01:07].
Dom : I was only kidding about that. Today, Alex.
Dom : We have got something very important to talk about.
Alex: We do indeed.
Dom : Because we recently adopted a Dogue de Bordeaux, called Derek. You were actually … You actually came to do some filming, didn’t you, the day after, that we got Derek?
Dom : Remember that?
Alex: That’s right. Yes. Just after.
Dom : I thought it would be a bit of a good idea to talk about Derek. Talk about the
process of us getting Derek, why we adopted him, and why we chose to get an old dog instead of a puppy, and how it’s gone since we got him in.
Alex: Yeah. Sounds good to me.
Dom : Okay. Where should we start?
Alex: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about how you came across Derek? Did you just look and the one place for a new dog?
Dom : Right. What happened was, we decided about five weeks … Five, six weeks ago that we were going to rescue a dog. Our next dog was going to be a rescue. We wanted a big dog. Obviously we’ve had a big Barry-shaped hole in our hearts ever since poor Barry passed away last year. We kind of missed having a big dog. We hummed and hard for a long time about whether to get a puppy or whether to rescue again, and we finally decided we were going to rescue. We’ve enjoyed rescue. We’ve had a lot of nice rescue dogs. Mrs. Hitch, Beth, leapt into action as soon as we agreed that, we decided that.
She sent application forms off to the Dogue de Bordeaux rescue and rehoming and the Dogue de Bordeaux Welfare, which was the Dogue de Bordeaux Welfare was where we adopted Barry from about seven years ago.
Dom : There was quite a quick turnaround. They both … Went they got the applications, they got in touch with us fairly quickly, and they both had dogs that were … Because obviously, unfortunately, the way of the world, there are always dogs that need rescuing. If they can, these rescues, ideally they want to get them from the home that they’re needing to be rescued from to their new home without going via a kennel or something like that. You know?
Alex: Yeah, that makes sense.
Dom : Which is what we ended up doing with Derek. We had a couple of choices of a older dog or this younger dog, this Derek. Was an eight month old, male Dogue de Bordeaux. Kind of getting the best of both worlds, wasn’t it? I was getting a bit of a puppy and getting a-
Alex: Yeah. Still a young dog.
Dom : Still a dog. It was kind of sold to us as being like … She said he’s like a sponge. Simone, from the rescue said he’s like a sponge. He needs some direction and some things to do. That was it. It all happened really quickly after that. We had the home check and … Because they got to check you out to make sure that you’re going to be suitable. Even though I’m a superstar dog trainer, everyone needs to be checked out.
Alex: Of course, yeah. They don’t know that.
Dom : So that went okay. Then it all happened really quite quickly. I travelled up to get Derek from his home. I met the owners who were lovely and they were having some personal issues, which meant that they weren’t able to look after Derek. No judging anybody for that because as much as we don’t want people to have to give up their dogs, it’s inevitable sometimes and the responsible thing to do, if that is the case-
Dom : Is obviously to-
Alex: That’s the right thing to do.
Dom : Go to a rescue, isn’t it? And trying and show that your dog’s going to have an enjoyable rest of his life, kind of thing.
Dom : That was really interesting, meeting the owners and Derek was cool. He was all right. We got the gear off them and the information and stuff and then popped him in the car and drove home. He handled the journey reasonably well. Tried to climb through the dog gate a couple of times in Beth’s car. Stopped for a couple of toilet breaks. He was good. He was pretty good. We got him home, and then it’s just a matter … I want him to feel settled. I want him to feel settled. I want him to feel safe and I want him to obviously be happy. I want him to also know that this is the new routine as quickly as we can, really, be trying to teach the dog, the new dog. Whether it will be a puppy or a rescue dog, I want to be teaching him “This is your new routine. This is where you’re going to sleep, this is where you’re allowed to go, this is where you can toilet, this is where your water and your food’s going to be.” This is what you have to do if you want to get cuddles and affection and stuff like that as well.
I don’t think that’s too much to ask of a new dog. Obviously, depending on the dog, if you had a dog who was incredibly fearful, then you’re going to have to progress to a lot more with a lighter touch with him and give him a lot more time to settle in. When we got a dog like Derek, who he’s quite boisterous, he’s quite puppy-ish, he’s quite playful, and he needs some direction. He needs a lot of love as well. He’s getting that too. He needs to know what the rules are. We all need rules, Alex.
Alex: Yeah, we do.
Dom : Dogs, children, husbands. We all need rules. We all need to know what’s expected of us and then it’s … Life’s a lot easier when we do that. I disagree with the view that you just have to love the dog. Love is important and you must love a dog and we all love dogs anyway, but the dog needs some structure.
The dog’s going to react … I find dogs react a lot better if they have a bit of structure, they know what’s expected of them. You can teach them how to do these things in a kind and positive way, the things that you want them to do. It’s not about being a dick to the dog and being “I’m the leader. I’m the alpha male.” All this, carry on, we’re not talking about that. What we are talking about is making sure that we give the dog some direction, make it easy for the dog to know what’s expected of them.
Alex: I think in the few times that I’ve been at your place in the few weeks since you’ve got Derek, he’s obviously still set in his ways in a few different things. He still is definitely a bit of a puppy, he’s a bit excitable. He’s getting better really quickly.
Dom : Yeah, yeah.
Alex: He’s hardly jumped up at all
Dom : Yeah. Exactly.
Alex: He was a bit cry-y at first, wasn’t he?
Dom : Yeah, he did.
Alex: Not so much of that now.
Dom : Yeah. Definitely. Every dog’s going to be different. Every dog that you get is going to be different, but from my experience of the pet [inaudible 00:08:09] side of things, when we take a dog in who … We’ve usually walked a few times anyway, so we know the dog quite well. It may be the first time that the dog stayed in our house.
I want the same thing for that dog. I want the dog to know that he has a place, where he can sleep and rest and no one’s going to bother him. At the same time, that is the place that he has to sleep and rest. He’s not going to be allowed … If a dog comes to stay with us, he’s not going to be able to have free run of the house or free run of the garden, because that’s what we do with the business. The business is all about us being out and enjoying themselves and getting rid of their energy and doing training and exercising and all these kind of things.
When they come home, it’s chill time. Really, doing that within the business sets you up nicely for a … How you should approach getting … Settling in your rescue dog, I think. Because one of the earliest things that I wanted to do with Derek was make sure that he was going to be happy on his own, because ultimately, he is have to going to be left on his own. We’re not getting a dog just to leave him on his own, but we have to go to work, we’ve got to take Toby to dancing, we’ve got to do all of these different things that we have to do. We’ve got podcasts to record. I’m travelling a way a lot more now, speaking at events and things, and Beth works full-time. Alex works in the business. It’s like a need that we have. I talk about this in the book. I talk about the needs of the owner and the needs of the dog. You have to be realistic and think about what you need your dog to do.
Yes, in an ideal world I wouldn’t do any work at all. I would sit and lie in the garden all day with Derek. Why wouldn’t I want to do that? But I have to [inaudible 00:09:56], don’t I? I have to do other things as well. Part of that means part of my life and my things that I have to do and everybody in our family’s responsibilities and things that they have to do, demands that we have dogs that are okay on their own.
Dom : One of the first things when we got Derek back was after he stayed a little bit at the house and met everybody and settled in a little bit, we leave him on his own. We leave him in his kitchen on his own. We gave him a bed, we gave him so food, we gave him some things to chew, and he cried a little bit. Like you said, he was a bit whiny, wasn’t he? The first couple of days.
That got less and less and less. Within two or three nights, he’s not crying at all. Every night he’s sleeping all night. We’re a month down the line now. He’s just had his first couple of nights in the sitting room, just because we’re just mixing it up a little bit. You know what I mean?
Alex: Yeah. Funny enough actually, just thinking. It’s exactly the same thing with kids, isn’t it? I don’t have kids, but I was at a wedding this weekend and a friend who I was there with had quite a young child and pushed her and stuff. They’re crying and everything. It was her and there was another mother there.
They were both saying, “You cannot go and just attend to your baby every time it cries, because otherwise it’s just going to cry for the rest of its life, isn’t it?” It’s going to learn that doing that is going to get the thing that it wants, the attention and stuff. Providing that it is okay and everything. It is the same thing. I’m not a horrible person.
Dom : He really isn’t, folks.
Alex: No. Yeah, but it’s the same thing, isn’t it? Humans have to get used to it like all animals do. You have to be alone at some point.
Dom : That’s fine. It’s just part of the routine.
Alex: Yeah, yeah.
Dom : That’s the routine that we … We dictate that. We’re the humans. We’re the ones in charge. We’re the ones who’ve got to think a little bit smarter and think, “Well, we’ve got this dog. We need him to do these things. We know that the dog needs things as well.” As long as we give the dog everything he needs, not everything he wants, everything he needs, and then we start to demand of him everything that we need, that we fit those two things together. Then you’ve got a match made in heaven, haven’t you? You hopefully have a dog that is happy with you until the end of his days.
That’s what it’s been about, really, over the last couple of weeks. Another reason for that was because I was going on a … Because of the seminars and our recent trip to Ireland, I was going to be away quite a bit.
Dom : Timing wasn’t perfect. Beth still hadn’t finished work for half-term. I was actually going to be away not long after we get him. Like four days after we got him, I was away for maybe ten days. I’m never away that long. It was just the way that it worked. That was another reason why I was very keen to get him into this routine. It would be easy for other people to look after him as well. For Alex, for my dad, for Beth. He’s a lovely dog. He’s very affectionate, he’s very gentle, he’s very silly, and very boisterous and very puppy-ish. That’s just being a puppy, isn’t it? It would’ve been easy for me to spend more time with him, because he is so affectionate, and to have cuddles on the couch and all that kind of thing. I have to think a bit smarter and think about … I don’t want this dog to be howling the place down or chewing the furniture to pieces whilst we’re out. Because I know we have to be out.
Alex: It’s funny how those kind of … The sort of small decisions aren’t the … Can actually have quite a big effect, especially in the long-term. Like you say, if you were to be super affectionate all the time. Like “Oh, go on. He’s all right then.” It’s not going to necessarily give you a dog that’s well-behaved and quiet and stuff, is it? And can be looked after by the people.
Dom : Definitely, yeah. I think that’s what we’re after. That’s … We’re just trying to make life as easy as possible. We want him to be happy, but … We got the routine and he’s got to learn to do things in this house, maybe that he didn’t do in the other house. He’s not allowed on the furniture, he’s not allowed upstairs. But even just within a couple of weeks, the improvements are massive, because he was climbing on the furniture quite a bit, or trying to climb on top of us and we’d be pulling him off and redirecting him to his bed. Or if he was getting too … A bit too excited, a bit too humpy, we would be putting him out. He would have to go into the kitchen and stuff. Even just within this short space of time, three weeks, maybe three and a half weeks, something like that.
Alex: I think so, yeah.
Dom : The improvements are massive. He’s settling much more. He tries to climb on the settee maybe once or twice on a night, and then we redirect him down. He hadn’t been very humpy the last few nights, the last week or so, really. He’s settling more.
He might not like it. He might much prefer to be on the settee, but he’s settling on the floor or in the big old Barry bed as well. He seems to be … He’s happy enough.
Alex: Cool. I’m just going to take the opportunity now as well to say if anyone has noticed the continuity issue in the visual portion of this podcast, send us a message and you’ll win a prize of some description.
Dom : We’ll give you a free book.
Dom : Just one of you.
Alex: How has Derek been … Obviously you’ve got little Sydney as well. How has been with Sydney the other dogs as well, that you’ve had in and out?
Dom : He’s been okay with them actually. He’s been all right. I haven’t worried too much about integrating them, to be honest with you. They’ve been for walks and stuff and he’s been for walks with the other dogs and that as well, but they’re merely on lead walks. We look in some ways because he’s not aggressive at all or anything. He’s not … He is very puppy-ish and very boisterous and very playful. I think he’s been allowed to play with dogs and to run up to dogs. When he sees another dog, especially when he’s off lead … This has never happened, but I know it would happen. He’s too much. He’s too hoppy, jumpy around and sniffing them and may get a little bit humpy in that as well.
Alex: I even remember when we did take him out that day after you got him, and a dog in the distance barked, and he was like-
Dom : Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s very much … He’s quite like that. Part of the process that we’ll be going through is not really letting him practise any of those behaviours. Not really letting him practise playing with other dogs or wanting to be with other dogs. We’re just playing with him. We’re trying to build up a bond with him, everybody in the family and training him and playing with him with toys and stuff like that. Just … Then we’ll gradually start to introduce him to more dogs and … Because at the minute he’s just a bit of an idiot. He’s a bit … He’s so big and powerful, that you can’t … You physically … You couldn’t really stop him from hopping around and jumping on top of another dog.
He’s just not been given that opportunity to do that at all. He came to us with a harness and a Flexi-Lead on, which both got binned. Now he’s on a collar. Which he walks really well on actually, but we’re also using … We were using a Gencon, now Beth’s got a Dogmatic Collar, and it’s like a gentle head collar that goes right around his face. This gives us much more control, because if we know that we have a dog who is … I say reactive. He’s quite easily distracted by people, dogs, birds, leaves, little dandelions seeds that are floating around, feathers, all this kind of thing. He’s like … He’s on them like a shot.
You have to have control of him. He’s eight, nine stone dog. He’s going to get bigger. I need this dog to know that he cannot jump around like a dipstick whenever he feels like it when he’s out and about. We’re going to give him plenty of opportunities to practise those behaviours and to be stupid and to be playful and to get rid of his energy and stuff by playing games with him indoors, outdoors, and in the garden, all that kind of thing as well. We’re not going to let him play, but he’s going to have to learn that the play is something that he does with us and only us and it’ll be bloody good fun as well. He’ll still enjoy himself. Those are the times when he can practise that kind of behaviour.
The plan, really … My plan is to … He’ll be exercised with the dogs. He’ll walk with the dogs. But he won’t be playing with the dogs. Same thing as what we do with the dogs who we take out. It’s like … He’ll learn over time that he can be with the dogs without us and around the dogs. It’ll take a while. It’ll take a while for him to get used to that, especially if, for the first eight months of his life, he’s just practised running to the end of a Flexi-Lead and jumping around with another dog or running off to play with another dog. It’s going to take a while for that behaviour to fade, but we’re in it for the long haul. We’re not expecting overnight miracles and stuff. We can live with this. We planned for it. We do it every day in the business anyway, so it’s not a problem. We know it’s the right thing to do. We know it’s the responsible thing to do.
That’s the plan as far as that goes. He’s really smart. He’s quite a smart dog. He’s sort of doing sits and downs and stuff, like already doing downs without luring him as well. We’re quickly being able to fade in the lure, where we just say down or pointing to the floor and he’s lying down. I think … We just started to do a roll over and stuff with him. I think he’s going to go right over, unlike Barry who was only a halfway roller. Remember?
Alex: I do.
Dom : I think … Because he rolls around on his back quite a bit anyway, Derek. We’ll be able to do an over and a dead and all these kind of things. We just slowly building up some little tricks to try and work his brain as well as his body. He gets tired quite quickly. Walks and stuff. With big-boned dogs, large breeds, they need to have gentle exercise really, so they don’t get over-exercised, because their growth plates and everything, they have to have time to grow and mature. It’s … You have to be smart about how you exercise the dog. It’s not just about taking them out for an hour and 15, an hour and a half tromp.
It’s about taking them out for a walk, letting him do his stuff, but getting him to do stuff on the walk as well. Even just stuff like sitting by the side of the road before you walk across. It all emphasises to the dog that he should pay attention to you because if he listens to you and does what you want, then good things will happen. He’ll get strokes, he’ll get treats, and stuff. He’ll gradually, the more we do that, he’ll start to realise that all of the fun stuff comes from us. At the same time, is that we’re also practising control over the dog, getting him to do what we want him to do.
Alex: Definitely. I was going to say it’s important anyway, but with him being a young dog, he’s at that crucial time where the kind of things he’s exposed to and the kind of behaviours that he’s asked and allowed to do, is going to share power years for the rest of his life, really. Obviously, you’re in a … Getting a rescue, even though he is you, and getting a rescue you’re in a more difficult position potentially, aren’t you? Because if he’s … Like you say, if he’s come from a home where they’re letting him jump on the furniture and stuff like that, then you have to take steps to be like, “Actually, things are changing now.”
Dom : Yeah. Definitely.
Alex: You’ve still got that responsibility, really, to change that for him if-
Dom : Yeah. If people like the dogs on the furniture or like their dogs in their beds, that’s totally fine as well. It’s not a problem. We don’t do it. You make a really good point there about the age of the dog. Because he is young, he’s still got a lot to learn. He’s eight months. Puppies generally go through a second phase stage. Eight, nine, ten, 11 months. We need to make sure that we are socialising him a lot, getting him out there, exposing him to lots of different things so that we work through this second phase stage if it happens. The point you make about the age of him, pretty much the dog that you get when he’s three to six months old, he’s going to have a lot of those qualities for the rest of his life anyway.
There’s going to be a lot of things about Derek that we are going to have to manage forever. He’s never going to be as … He’s never going to be not as interested in playing with other dogs as probably Sidney is. Doesn’t matter what we do with him. Just because he’s been allowed to practise doing stuff like that for eight months. You can’t wipe the slate clean, can you?
Alex: Of course, yeah.
Dom : That’s not a problem. We can manage that as well. Like I said, we made improvements already, he’s doing loads of stuff. He’s a lovely dog as well.
Alex: He is.
Dom : He’s a lovely boy. He’s really affectionate. We just want him to be the best boy we can make him into, really. I find the more that we give the dog to do, the more we ask of the dog, the more we involve ourselves in how he eats, how he gets his fun, what we ask him to do throughout the day and stuff. It just helps to cement a better bond with him and it makes him look to you more. That’s what we want, because we want to catch up. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do with Derek, where things that we haven’t been able to do with him when he was a very small puppy, we’re kind of playing catch up with now. We’re getting there. It’s a nice, slow process, and we’re having a lot of fun so far.
We’re getting a lot of love from Derek as well. Derek’s getting a lot of love on social media too.
Dom : Probably going to have a Facebook page.
Alex: Yeah, that’s a good idea. What would you say … Because there’s lots of lessons in this, I think. What do you think is one of the more important bits of advice you would give someone if they’re getting a rescue or if they’ve just got a rescue. Maybe a bit older than Derek or something, necessarily … What do you think is really important.
Dom : I think you need to treat the dog in front of you like that dog. Obviously, if you’ve … You may have experience of having puppies in the past or other dogs in the past, but you have to take that dog on face value and give that dog what he needs. Somebody else’s dog might need more love than what Derek needs. Might not need as much guidance and teaching, if you’re liking training and stuff. They might be an older, more settled dog. Or alternatively, you might have a dog who’s … It could be aggressive or he could be more reactive, and he’s going to need certain, different things as well.
There’s no one silver bullet answer for every single dog out there. You need to train the dog in front of you. You need to judge the dog that’s in front of you, the dog that you have been given. The dog that you’ve got. You just, hopefully, use all your experiences and get help from everybody else who’s around who’s able to help you to help you to settle him in as well.
I do think it’s important that you still get a dog who is going to fit in with your lifestyle, obviously. Who is … Whether it’s a rescue or a puppy, needs to be something that’s going to fit in with your lifestyle, because you … Ultimately, you want that … You don’t want to be just another stop off point in that dog’s journey until he finds another home to go to. As unfortunate as that is when it happens, you really don’t want that to be the case. You want to be their forever home. Doing the stuff that I talked about with the start, getting the dog into a routine and teaching him what’s expected of him in the house and give him everything he needs, but don’t give him the stuff that he wants necessarily, that he thinks he needs, is probably the best way to go, I think. If you want an easy life, obviously. Not everybody wants an easily life.
Some people want everything. They want their dog to be everybody’s friend and there’s consequences to that as well. Obviously I’m a very lazy dog trainer, I’m a very selfish dog trainer, and I like to keep my dogs to myself. That’s the route that we’ll be going down with Derek. What I think you should go down with your own rescue dog as well. Getting them into some kind of routine. The dogs respond so well to a routine. As long as they’re getting everything ticked off that they need. Their warm bed, their food, which you can feed them in cones or by hand, by doing training. They need to feel safe. That isn’t too difficult. Just give them a nice warm bed and a nice safe room. They need a certain amount of exercise, depending on the breed.
Then they need some kind of challenge in their life. That challenge comes from you, many different ways. Games, training, affection, grooming, you can involve challenge in all those things. Give the dog an outlet for his doggy sort of ways, for the doggy things that he likes doing, like exploring and finding things and sniffing and chewing and all this kind of thing. You can provide that for your dog. You don’t need to … It doesn’t need to be provided by a pheasant or some fox poo or another dog. Again, this is just easy peasy dog training. This is how I like to do things to have an easy life with my dog and hopefully, we’ll see in the future whether this … Whether my strategy is going to be proved correct with Derek.
Alex: We will indeed. I’m sure it will. I think you pretty much just outlined a recipe for success, really, didn’t you? Obviously every dog is going to be different and stuff, but making sure those different things are present in your dog’s life and part of a routine. I think it’s powerful and I think it’s something that a lot of dogs probably aren’t getting as well.
Dom : No, definitely not. Are they getting it from the wrong place [inaudible 00:28:03]? Are they getting a challenge and stuff from the wrong place. Those five things that I talked about, they’re what I run through in my book as well when I talk about what the dog wants. Then we talk about what the human needs. Then we try and mesh those two things together. If you want to learn more about that, you should pick up a copy of “How to Be Your Dog’s Superhero,” which is available at www.mydogssuperhero.com. You can get the audio book from Audible too. Or you can buy it on Kindle.
Alex: All minor options. We cater for everyone.
Dom : Yeah, we do. We do. That’s it. I think we’ve wrapped that up nicely, haven’t we there?
Alex: Yeah, I think that was good. Good little chat, that.
Dom : That’s it for the Derek issue. Next week on the show we’re going to be talking to a dog trainer called Grisha Stewart. Grisha just recently been over the UK, doing a little tour seminar, tour. She’s coming back in September. We’re delighted to get her on the show. She was a bit jetlagged, wasn’t she, when we spoke to her on Skype. Next week on the show we’re going to be talking to Grisha Stewart who is doing a lot of great stuff with the BAT programme and helping with reactive dogs and stuff.
Really, really popular dog trainer. Awesome interview with Grisha coming up next week.
Alex: Look forward to it.
Dom : Very good. Very good. Thank you, Alex, for your time.
Alex: No problem. Thank you, Dom.
Dom : We’ll see you guys next week. And if we don’t see you through the week, we’ll see you through the window.