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A Great Story About A Hovawart Rescue Dog

Jun 26, 2008
The second Hovawart I was able to "rescue" came from a home where he had shown typical aggressive behavior and the owners didn't know how to cope. At 18 months the dog was termed fearful aggressive and either had to live in a fenced yard or be put down.

I heard of him through a friend, Beth, mentioned in a previous article. The owners made arrangements for me to rescue the dog. He did have horrible behavior, frightening to watch, leaping with teeth bared at the end of a leash. Hovawarts are large dogs similar in size to a Newfoundland. When I first met him, I was sitting on the grass, the dog lying next to me, and with my hand I was rubbing him and moved down his leg to his paw, he went to snap at me (not to make contact - more of a warning) and I immediately growled back becoming the alpha dog.

The dog needed more consistent boundaries, and he got them. It took time, but now at 3, a complete change of scene, jobs to do, property to look after, he is wonderful. He has made a wonderful watch dog, no longer ugly aggressive, but very watchful and friendly once you have allowed him to check you out. Bear does play herd dog a bit more aggressively with the horse I brought with me from the states that he had met there, but I think it is because Star ignores him totally.

If he gets a bit over the top she gives him a warning kick that isn't to hurt him but let him know she could do him damage if she wanted too, tells him to stop playing so rough. He's not stupid and backs off immediately. We have brought kittens into our family and the only time he has growled at them is if they go near his bowl when he is eating. That's fair. I can pick his bowl up, or take a bone away. I was a bit scared at first but then, having had dogs, I knew it was important for me to be allowed to do so. Again I did the growl thing right back if he "thought" about it.

When he was with his first owners, he played with the neighborhood kids and that is where the trouble started. One of them had to go home and he tried herding the child because he wasn't done playing. He went in for grip (like a herd dog) and broke the skin a bit on the back. Rightly so, the parents freaked out and that's when things got tough for poor Bear. (He used to be called Norman, which he didn't like and I re-named him when his new life was to start) Bear fits him perfectly for he is now a big cuddly and that is why I chose the name to put the thought "out there" about big, cuddly teddy bears. It worked. HE is fine with kids, ducks, chickens, cats, horses, dogs, people... all of it. He just needed a "mom" that understood what Hovawarts are about!

His first owners are wonderful people they just didn't have a full picture of what was required in a dog bred as the Hovawarts are. His obedience work (sit, down, stay, etc) are very well taught and I am blessed to be able to have my 2nd Hovi in my life as they went to great trouble to place him and not do the other....They loved him and they even paid for his trip to Australia where I was moving too 4 months after he was placed in my care.

I know this is long but it's a Hovawart story but it covers several areas that have been raised recently. So my thoughts are, you do need to have the upper hand but in a kind loving way and all will go well. One just has to be consistent but also understand these are big dogs, bred to look after estates and be allowed to.

I am adding to this story because it is 6 years later. Bear at 8 is still wonderful, protecting his property, which includes chickens, cats, another dog, and his people. He also has the horses which he treats kindly although he has developed a game with Star's first son, My Guy. Sometimes it looks a bit scary but I also believe it is their game and they keep within their boundaries. My Guy could stomp easily on Bear and Bear knows this.
About the Author
For more information on the hovawart or a complete list of dog breeds visit this Dog Behaviour website.
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