Connie is a 2-3 year old female Podenco cross Labrador. Once comfortable and in familiar surroundings Connie is a warm, relaxed and playful companion and with some time and patience has the potential to be a great new family member. A two an a half year old podenco/ Labrador cross, Connie is very happy and settled with all current family members (including children) but is very nervous when she first meets people and is especially afraid of meeting new children and elderly people. For this reason, she would suit a reasonably quiet house without two many people coming in and out and ideally in the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of town life and with space to run around as she can be very nervous on walks and is therefore best kept on a lead. This is what her owners said: She needs lots of time and patience to build her confidence and will then be a loyal a loving life long companion for the right person.
Connie is a lovely natured dog and has brought so much affection and warmth to our household over the last year. She was initially extremely nervous but her demeanour has changed significantly and she has really come out of herself over the last year. After a few months she has started to show interest in toys and her hugely playful nature has come out – she now loves to bound around the house throwing her toys all over the place. She will tell us when she wants something by gently pawing us and cocking her head to one side. She will often stand on her back legs and put her front paws around our waists to show affection.
Connie is very food orientated which helps massively with training but note that she will happily pull apart bags and jump up impressively high in order to get at food. This all part of her lovely, energetic nature. We tend to use cheese for training. Following recommendation from the training school, we regularly plant cheese around the house for Connie to find, encouraging her to enjoy sniffing. Our household is predominantly vegan and we have researched vegan diets for dogs in some detail and find it to be a healthy diet in our opinion (the oldest recorded dog in the UK was apparently vegan). Connie tends to have oats in the morning with water and hemp and sunflower seeds, followed by a little bit of processed dry vegan (Benovo) food to clean her teeth. She has the dry food in a treat ball for added mental stimulation. In the evening Connie has a mixture of dog diet appropriate vegetables (I tend to google what vegetables are healthy for dogs but usually sweet potato/ green beans/ green lentils/ chickpeas/ black beans/ coconut oil/ olive oil/ brown rice/ corgettes/ broccoli/ peas/ kidney beans/ tahini) and some Benovo tray bake food. I give her processed food every day to ensure she has taurine, which I’ve been told is an essential food for dogs.
However, both our children are currently rebelling against veganism and consuming fish or meat maybe a couple of times a month. As a rule of thumb I’ve been giving Connie meat or fish that is healthy for her (e.g. fresh sardines from the fish counter) each time my children have fish or meat i.e. a couple of times a month. I also give her non-vegan standard dog chews to help clean her teeth but not rawhide as I understand that this is not healthy for dogs. Most days she will have a raw carrot to chew. I sometimes give her goats milk to drink and she very often has whole eggs (her main vegan exception). I try to make sure that her food is organic as much as possible as I feel that chemicals are bit of an unknown entity! But this isn’t always possible for the entire family including Connie! She has attended standard dog training sessions for a number of months. She has picked up the basic commands very quickly (recall; sit; down; stay; walk around for a finish; heel) and seems to really enjoy the challenge of learning new skills. Because of Connie running away on walks and her defensive/ aggressive behaviour (see below on both points) we decided to seek the advice of a behaviourist, the report is available.
Walking Connie has been challenging because for much of the period we have had her she has been reluctant to go on walks, preferring instead to stay at home or in the car. She has formed a bit of a habit of running for her bed when we go to pick up the lead. When out on a walk Connie pulls heavily and we subsequently have a front and back attaching harness and lead. We feel that Connie tends to pull so that she gets around her walk as quickly as possible and then returns home where she feels safest. Connie really doesn’t like main roads and will buck a lot when waiting to cross the road so that, if not careful, she will wriggle out of her harness and run home/ to the car.
After a while we got Connie to a point where we could let her off the lead and found her enthusiasm for walks increased hugely. Connie loves to bound across big open spaces and practice re-call with food treats at the same time. But after a while Connie started running home/ to the car ahead of us as soon as we turned to go back. We tried putting her on the lead earlier and earlier but find that she can predict when we are going to put her on the lead before we even move to do it and will run home/ to the car at speed. This created a dangerous situation so we stopped letting Connie off the lead unless we are in a very remote location far away from main roads. Connie went back to disliking walks after this, which is sad. She will however walk significant distances very easily; she has been up and down Snowdon a good few times with us and Pen Y Fan and she is fine with these distances. She can happily walk all day and although she seems less happy when she doesn’t get a good walk, she does not become tense. She is generally quite a relaxed dog and happy playing in the house as long as she can bound about a bit.
Connie likes contained spaces and after a month or so of having her we bought a crate for her bed to go in and she enjoys having this as a safe space. We keep it in our bedroom – generally with the door open (unless we want to contain her) and she will spend part of the night in her bed and part in our bed. She understands and (reluctantly) responds to the command on your bed, Connie. She currently tends to snuggle up to us when we are doing bedtime reading with the kids and likes to lick the kids before bed.
Connie has always seemed much more nervous of people than she is of other dogs. She feels most confident around people who have dogs with them and least confident around elderly people, children, and people with bikes or scooters. Connie will cross the road to avoid these high stress situations. She won’t go out for walks or be looked after by people she doesn’t know. Connie is very affectionate with my two children (aged 7 and 13) – she bounds around the house playing with them and will roll around on the bed play fighting. She will only growl quietly or softly ‘mouth’ to warn them off and both children are taught to recognise this as a signal to desist. I am very confident with Connie around my two children – she is a very affectionate dog and is most distressed when the children are in a situation she perceives as dangerous e.g. swimming or when she separated from them.
Connie is very protective over her house and will tend to bark at the window and try to chase people away who come into the house. With adults, she will chase but then retreat however, with children, she will case them out of the house in quite an aggressive fashion. She has never bitten a child but she has pushed children to the floor and scratched them and this can feel quite aggressive. While it is clear that this is fuelled by fear, this chasing behaviour has increased as Connie’s confidence has increased. This is the main reason we are re-homing Connie – we live opposite a school and her behaviour is sufficiently reactive around children to cause us some concern. Her usually very good recall fails at times of adrenalin like this. We have found her to be very sociable with other dogs and happy to accept hierarchy quickly so that she then just gets on with playing. She regularly has companions over to play. She is not sheep safe. Connie enjoys travelling in the car and is happy with a seatbelt. In fact sometimes it is difficult to get her out of the car! She sees it as a safe place. She’s fine in tents, caravans and new houses.
Connie clearly understands that she should go to the toilet outside but isn’t always willing to do so; especially if it is raining! As long as we keep up focus and keep giving her treats we are able to encourage her to go outside regularly but if we are distracted/ busy, she can easily get into bad habits in this area. Connie will happily chew up shoes and toys so these need to be put out of her way. She is a determined dog – for example, once we closed her in the kitchen for an hour while we went out and she ripped up the flooring and clawed the door to quite an impressive extent. This has never happened since but then we have never attempted to close her in the kitchen since as this clearly caused her some distress!
In summary, Connie is a beautiful, affectionate and intelligent companion who we will miss so much. We wish we could keep her but she has a fearful nature (informed I feel by her past) which can at times overcome her and be expressed through aggression; I would not describe Connie as an aggressive dog – all who meet her comment how loving and playful she is and these are by far her overriding characteristics. Her hunting instinct and tendency to chase when she is excited or frightened is a risk which her new owner must be mindful of as in these situations Connie can be unpredictable and this could present a danger to Connie and to others.
This behaviour is too challenging for us to manage in a busy terraced town house with lots of children coming in and out and insufficient time, however, knowing Connie as we do it is so clear to us that with the right amount of time and attention her lovely affectionate nature will override this more demanding behaviour completely. It is a cause of genuine frustration for us that we cannot take her any further in her development. For someone with time and space on their hands, she would make the perfect companion.