Chewing and Destruction. Finding his Own Employment

Chewing everything, jumping up and toileting in the house.

Chewing everything

Marley

Chewing and toileting indoors are enough to drive a patient dog owner mad! These are the negatives. Marley is beautiful. He is affectionate, gentle, brainy and funny.

They have been very fortunate with their older dog, an unusually placid German Shepherd. When getting a second dog, they hadn’t bargained for a ball of energy like Marley.

The nine-month-old Cocker Spaniel is so much like my own Pickle at that age in temperament. I have first-hand experience of a working dog without sufficient employment. He too would have been finding his own things to do by way of chewing and destruction had I not done things differently. Despite having had many dogs, Pickle was a big learning curve for me. I had never lived with a dog that required so much mental stimulation.

I wasn’t prepared for having to spend quite so much time doing things with my dog in order to keep him ‘good’. This meant providing some of the fulfillment his working breed requires.

He’s an ongoing project. It never stops and he’s now six years old.

The first thing I learnt very quickly with Pickle was that ‘No’ made him worse (see here how ‘No’ doesn’t work). Even though I knew from both experience and learning, that ‘No’ only makes things worse in the long term, I’m only human and sometimes couldn’t help myself! It made me feel better.

I also learnt the importance to my sanity of adapting his environment.

I particularly understand the frustration for busy people who have a dog like Marley or Pickle.

Adapt the dog or adapt the environment?

Pickle – a pen didn’t work

Marley’s most infuriating trait is his constant need for chewing.

To my mind he has access to too much of the house and there are too many things for chewing about the place. He will chew just about anything and has demolished a couple of DVDs in the past two days. I saw the chewed leg of a nice piece of furniture.

People often try to adapt their dog to fit into their environment.

I recommend they do the opposite – adapt their environment around the dog by making significant but mostly temporary changes. This by lifting and removing everything tempting or chewable and providing a constant supply of chew items. By shutting doors and blocking areas.

Adapting the dog means constant vigilance. Adapting the environment means teaching the dog what is acceptable one thing at a time.

Although the goal of my visit is to stop Marley chewing everything (as well as toileting in the house and jumping up), these things are just symptoms. They are symptoms of a dog that needs more one-to-one time, providing even more enrichment than his good off-lead walk a day.

Some activities are mentally stimulating whilst also stress-reducing – like hunting, foraging ….and chewing. A long walk, particularly if spent chasing a ball, may have the opposite effect.

Chewing helps a dog to calm himself – as it does ourselves. We chew chewing gum for instance.

The destruction is about keeping himself busy and maybe also helping himself to calm if he’s over- stressed (aroused/excited/bored). Digging, chewing, wrecking things, humping and so on are all symptoms – of ‘stress’.

Dogs do what works.

If jumping up works in terms of getting anyone’s attention, then Marley will jump up.

The price we pay, if ‘not jumping up’ is important to us, is for everyone, both ourselves and visitors, to react in the same way. Take away the ‘reward’ – attention. Then and just importantly they show him what does work. It will need time and patience.

Maybe as his jumping up is light and doesn’t hurt, they should decide how important this is to them and to pick their battles?

My Pickle never jumps up and it’s not because he is highly ‘trained’ (he’s not). Right from the time he arrived as a four-month-old puppy jumping up simply didn’t work. No notice of him was taken if his feet were off the floor. Plenty off attention was given when his feet were on the floor.

If chewing things satisfies a need to relieve frustration, boredom or other stress, then Marley will chew anything he can find. He needs regular activities and enrichment provided by his humans, and not only when he’s doing something they don’t want him to do. Initiating activities when he’s relaxed and restful is making ‘calmness’ rewarding.

Sometimes the time and hard work needs to be shared a bit more equally between family members and then it doesn’t seem quite so bad.

Effort put in on Marley now will pay off big time later on. I would guarantee that if he was taken out daily with a ‘positive force-free’ gun dog trainer who worked him, he would have more self-control at home. He would no longer be chewing things, jumping on people and toileting indoors.

Unrealistic and impossible, I know. But we can do other things that fulfill our brainy, working dogs.

My attempts to catch a photo of Marley!

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approaches I have worked out for Marley. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page).

Never Goes Out Beyond the Garden

Benji is just seven months old and never goes out beyond their garden.

The dog never goes out beyond the gardenThe German Shepherd, Standard Poodle mix lived in a barn on the farm where he was born until he was four months old when he went to the young couple.

He had never encountered the real world of cars, noises, lots of people or other dogs beside the farm dogs and so on. He’d not been walked on lead.

As might be expected from a pup that had not being in a house until four months of age, he still has toilet accidents indoors.

He is scolded for this. They have a cat which he may want to chase but generally he is good with, and again he is scolded for going near it. He may steal socks or other clothes and chew them, which makes the young man angry with him.

A lot is expected of him.

His lifestyle isn’t ideal for a large, clever and active young dog but he is surprisingly good-natured. He greeted me with friendly interest.

At seven months he should be seeing sights and sounds outside and, most of all, he needs the exercise. He would love to play with another dog I am sure.

I suggested to the young man that Benji was probably going out of his mind with boredom and it’s surprising that the worst he does is to occasionally chew up clothes. Can he imagine being shut in all day with no TV or mobile phone and with nobody to talk to who understands him?

Even while Benji never goes out they can do a bit more about fulfilling his needs with appropriate activities and things to chew and do. The house is small and the garden isn’t big either, but they can feed him in a treat ball and sprinkle it all over the grass so that even meals can be used to give him some release.

It’s probably the lack of stimulation for Benji and the resulting stress that leads to some slightly worrying behaviours.

Besides drinking a lot he gets very excited around his water bowl, which is odd. If after a couple of weeks when his general stress levels should be lower this doesn’t change, then they will need to somehow get him to the vet. This is hard while he never goes out.

He pants, he scratches and nibbles himself and he sometimes chases his tail. He has some Punter3patches of skin showing.

The only way the man has managed to get him out at all has been to drag him by collar and lead, but he doesn’t want to do that again. He did once take him out with no lead at all – very risky.

Like all people who call me, they do it for love of their dog and wanting to do their best, and it’s a question of pointing them in the right direction.

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Benji simply refuses to go outside the front door or garden gate.

They will now use comfortable equipment – a harness and a longer lead. The first step is to acclimatise him to the equipment around the house, associating with good things and food.

We have a plan of tiny increments involving, over the days and maybe weeks, holding the lead inside the door and then dropping it, touching the door handle, opening the door and standing in the doorway, letting him listen and look – and eat. Then stepping out. Then at the garden gate and so on – always leaving the front door open so he can bolt back if necessary.

From now onwards he must be allowed to make his own choice about going out – no more force. This is the only way to change a dog who never goes out into a dog who loves his walks.

When he’s no longer a pup that never goes out but a dog that can happily walk down the road and run around the fields, his life and general health should be transformed, but it could well take time. How will he be with other dogs after all this time? How will he be with traffic?

Most importantly, they can now see the benefits of reinforcing Benji with food for doing what they want instead of scolding The young man saw for himself how he himself can cause the dog’s behaviour. He stared at Benji in a ‘warning’ sort of way and the dog immediately ran to find the cat!

I could sum it up my advice in a few words: kindness works best.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Benji and I’ve not gone into exact details for that reason. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page)

Adult Dog and Toilet Training

MaltipooGorgeous Maltipoo Teddy – a Maltese Poodle mix – is now twenty-one months old, but he still regularly toilets indoors.

My belief is that he has never learnt to hold on and wait. At the slightest excitement or anxiety he may simply release it – whether pee or poo. If there is not ready access to the outside he will do the same. At nearly two years old this will be a habit now.

The house is unusual in that there is no door to the garden from the kitchen but just french windows from the sitting room, and Teddy’s access to this room is necessarily limited unless he’s accompanied – because they don’t want him messing in there.

It has never been easy for him to get to the garden door and they haven’t been consistent which door they take him out of either. Sometimes the man takes Teddy out of the front door instead.

Teddy could sometimes be sent or taken out and then as soon as he comes in toilet on the kitchen floor. The lady wants to take him to places with her, but hasn’t done so after he peed on the floor of the hairdressers!

Maltipoo lying down with toyIt is possible that a change of diet to something top quality may help a little, along with keeping Teddy’s stress levels as low as possible.

They need to go back to basics with puppy toilet training and build up a reliable routine. Teddy has to learn that outings will be regular. Taking him out every hour or so to start with, gradually lengthening the gaps between trips, should do the trick. It’s not enough to open the door and send him out – he should be accompanied.

When he does go they need to show him that outside is indeed what they want. As soon as he finishes food should be dropped on the grass in front of him – showing him the grass is where he should go.

They shouldn’t bring him straight back in again when the job is done either. He likes being outside with them – so why punish him by coming straight back in after he’s performed?

Toilet training doesn’t happen by itself, unless we are very lucky and there is easy access to the outside. The older the dog the harder it gets because indoor toileting becomes learned behaviour.

They need a consistent routine whereby Teddy is very regularly taken out of the garden door, accompanied so he can be rewarded on the grass. Sometimes he actually does ask to go out at the door but they shouldn’t to rely upon it.

This is a case of what they get by way of success will depend upon just how much time and effort they put in, rain or shine. They just need to really work at it for a while.

NB. The exact protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have planned for Teddy, which is why I don’t go into exact detail here of the strategies we will be using. Finding instructions on the internet that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. With this kind of issue, I suggest you find an experienced professional. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help (see my Get Help page).

Puppy Parenting. Avoiding Future Problems

When I go to a family who simply want to bring their puppies up right with my Puppy Parenting programme, I feel truly blessed in my job.Benfield

Four month old brothers Ronnie and Teddy are a delightful mix of Bichon Frise and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Cavachon).

The only problem that impacts on their family at the moment is that the puppies haven’t learnt that outside is the place to toilet. Their chosen place to wee is inside the back door and their chosen place to poo is by the front door. The gentleman made the mistake of telling them off for doing it by the front door so they now do it on the carpet at the bottom of the stairs – perhaps, if they understood anything about it at all, thinking the scolding was about the location, not the act.

What is lacking is sufficient teaching of where they should be going. They aren’t using rewards. If the back door is open it is assumed the dogs will take themselves out. There are things to consider like why, after being accompanied out into the garden, they come straight back in and toilet indoors. When examined there are three very likely reasons. One is that they simply have learnt to go indoors. Another is that they are not rewarded going outside. If the grass is where they should go, then immediately they have been a food reward should be given on the grass. Another possibility is that the puppies will love being outside with their humans so if the job, once completed, results in their humans immediately going straight back indoors, fun finished, then isn’t this another reason for not toileting outside?

I’m sure a couple of weeks of hard work from the whole family will conquer the house training problem, as they take them out very regularly and cut down the puppies’ territory to the kitchen only unless carefully watched.

There are the seeds of a couple of future problems which should be addressed straight away. The puppies are starting to play a little too roughly resulting in recent minor injuries. As the siblings grow older we don’t want them to fight, so rough play needs to be discouraged right now. Little Teddy is already reactive and barking at other dogs on walks, so this needs working on so that he is happy to see another dog and not fearful.

Next time I go, as part of the ‘Puppy Parenting’ programme, we will be looking at more puppy training and teaching them to do a few more useful things, using either luring or clicker training or a mix of both – and rewards of course.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have worked out for Ronnie and Teddy, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet that are not tailored to your own puppies can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with parenting strategies specific to your own puppy (see my Get Help page).

British Bulldog Toilets Indoors

British Bulldog with a mind of her own

Lola

One-year-old Lola doesn’t put herself out at all. She often seems to be lazy and almost depressed, though can have quite a turn of speed if she wants to! She does what she wants, when she wants and can get cross if physically forced to go somewhere she doesn’t want to go – like out into the garden to toilet or into the ‘dog room’ when people are eating. She lacks any motivation to do what her humans want but that may be in part because they usually do what she wants anyway.

Shitzu

Bella

Lola lives with a lovely family and two adorable Shitzus, ten-month-old brother and sister Frankie and Bella who seem to have defied all the negatives concerning taking on sibling puppies and are a tribute to their owners – no trouble at all. It is characterful Lola who is causing them the grief.

She has learnt that barking gets people coming to her and giving her attention – even if it’s in the form of scolding. She starts at 5am which gets someone coming downstairs and, after letting them all out, feeding her.

She also messes in the house and will bark afterwards which also always gets a result by someone going to her and giving her attention of some sort. Interestingly, she never toilets indoors when everyone is out.

Shitzu

Frankie

It’s easy to jump to conclusions that problems are behavioural, but although the toileting indoors has always happened, it’s just possible that there is something else going on with Lola that needs to be eliminated first. She has become very thin over the past few weeks – impossible to see from the photo. The vet has checked her over and put her on hypoallergenic food and, far be it for me to question a vet, I do wonder whether she’s absorbing her food properly and whether the chosen food is sufficiently nutritious. She is always hungry.

Is it possible the early morning barking which always brings her food may be due to hunger?

I suggested as an experiment that they both try feeding her a small amount at bedtime along with changing the central heating timer to come on a bit later just in case that is what starts her off. Whatever the reason, the barking works. People come to her. She gets fed. She is being taught to bark.

The fact that Lola still toilets indoors is getting them down. They take her outside regularly, or try to – she may refuse, but she still prefers to go in the house. A regular routine in terms of daily walks may help. The other issue is that she has very little interest in doing as they ask or wanting to please and possibly the two things are related.

But…..they don’t use chicken or cheese – yet!

Lola is very food orientated and I am sure once she realises that she gets an edible ‘thank-you’ for complying she will be a lot more focussed. Instead of ignoring them she will come when she is called, she will go outside when asked to and, in time, she will find toileting outside is more rewarding inside.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lola, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Puppy Training: Chews Nips Toilets

Havanese King Charles mix puppyThe couple have had adorable thirteen-week-old Luna for a week now and they don’t know what’s hit them! She is a divine cross between a Havanese and a King Charles Spaniel.

Luna is a totally normal puppy, doing what puppies do – but they’ve not had a puppy before and are finding Luna hard work. When not asleep, she is either ‘on the go’, rushing from chewing skirting or chair legs, to digging the floor, to charging around after a ball, to nipping hands and biting clothes – and toileting.

They are finding the indoor accidents a bit exasperating. She obviously hadn’t had much training where she came from, so they are catching up.  She has messed in her crate each night they have had her.

People have the idea that a puppy must be shown toileting in the house is ‘wrong’. How is it wrong? Would a baby toileting be wrong? When a puppy wees or poos indoors the only possible reasons are insufficient vigilance and trips outside (our  fault), lack of positive reinforcement for going outside (our fault), anxiety (our responsibility), simply too young, unsuitable diet – or perhaps a medical problem.

Luna came to them on Bakers Complete dog food – cheap and tasty – with too many additives and colourings and not enough high quality nutrition. The cheaper the food, the more ‘bulking’ ingredients there are that simply pass through the dog, hence more or larger poos. They have now changed her diet but she still does poo very frequently. She probably went about five in the three hours that I was there.

She consumes too many commercial treats and chews in the evening which the couple give her in order to manage her. This may result in the messing in her crate during the night. What looks like a small treat to us will be the size of a doughnut to little Luna. I personally feel commercial treats are simply money-spinners. What’s wrong with real, nutritious food kept back from her meals, or real chicken or turkey – or tiny bits of cheese so long as the dog isn’t lactose intolerant?

Feeding the last food if the day earlier, making her sleeping space in her crate no bigger than the size of her bed so that she is reluctant to soil her sleeping place and getting up once in the night for just a week or two should cure the night toileting problem.

We covered lots of puppy stuff making sure things are on the right track, preempting any future problems like separation issues, and we made a start with walking her around the house and garden beside them – off lead for now.  Unfortunately she still hasn’t had her second injection which means vital socialisation is limited while they carry her about. We also looked at ways to avoid ‘correcting’ her by teaching her what we do want instead.

People still can be resistant to using food rewards as positive reinforcement. It is scientifically proven beyond all doubt that learning is more efficient when reinforced positively than it ever can be if to avoid punishment or scolding, and food is usually the most potent reinforcer for a puppy in particular.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have worked out for Luna, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own puppies can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with puppy parenting strategies specific to your own puppy (see my Get Help page).

Needing Rules and Boundaries

Kyai has chewed most of the door frames in the house and the sofas are ruined. He may toilet at night or when left.

Kya

Tyson has shown aggression with the man when he tries to force an item off him or physically tries to move him

Tyson and Kya

Respect is something that needs to be earned. Respectful dogs have good manners – but it also goes both ways. We need to treat them with respect also.

Tyson, 5, and Kyai (on the left) who is 13 months old, have potential to be such wonderful dogs if given proper ‘dog parenting’, but from when I arrived they were leaping on me, flying all over the sofa and over their owners, the younger Kyai in particular. Both dogs stand on the lady or stand over her.

Tyson paraded and flaunted chews and toys practically all the time – ‘Look what I’ve got – you can’t have it!’, turning his head away if they tried to take it, and to goad Kyai – which sometimes ends in a spat.

Tyson has shown aggression with the man when he tries to force an item off him or physically tries to move him.  Kyai will growl and air snap if touched when lying on the sofa between them.

Kyai has also chewed most of the door frames in the house and the sofas are ruined. He may toilet at night or when left.

All this because there are few rules and boundaries; they really are lovely natured dogs, and much-loved. The young man plays hands-on rough stuff but gets angry also. Kyai is a bit fearful of him sometimes. The lady is a pushover and encourages the impolite behaviour towards her. The dogs are worst in the evening, just when the humans want to relax after a days’ work.

There are a lot of things that need tweaking. The dogs simply aren’t being taught what they should do – both know plenty of commands but that has little to do with it.

The daily routine isn’t helpful. The dogs are walked separately first thing in the morning before work – probably not enough to tire them out. Then they are alone during the day with a visit at lunch time – and their only meal is in the evening which concentrates all the energy into the wrong part of the day. It seems that at the time when the dogs will have the most energy, no constructive stimulation, brain-work or exercise is provided. Cuddling doesn’t count – nor do rough games.

I really hope that they will follow my suggestions consistently and drink from the same water bowl, so to speak. Often changing their ways can be harder for one person than the other. They can change the daily routine and show their dogs that the best attention is given to them when they are polite, rather than when jumping, chewing people’s feet and so on.

These dogs will be a lot better mannered and more biddable if their humans back-off a little and encourage them to work for attention and food. Some consistent boundaries will help Tyson to become less agitated and both to calm down.

Anything in too much abundance loses value, whether it’s food or fuss.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Tyson and Kyai, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Two Little Daschund Firecrackers

Lying down at last

Alfie

Alfie only settles down when it is quiet in the evening

Alfie

Here they are – lying down at last! Miniature Daschund Alfie on the left and Eddie on the right. Both around four years old.

Barking, excitement, peeing indoors, nipping, jumping up, easily spooked, scared of people……it’s a long list all coming back to one thing – stress.

Alfie was very scared of me, barking and hanging back, but eventually I could walk about, give him treats and even tickle him under the chin. Eddie constantly jumped at me and barked and tried to get attention – becoming increasingly nippy until we put a lead on him. It surprising how high he can leap on his little short legs! They see this behaviour with callers as happy friendliness, but I don’t agree. Looking at the body language and behaviour, I saw a brave and anxious little dog.

Both dogs live on the edge – ready to explode, like little firecrackers and only settle for quiet cuddles when all is calm in the evening.

The teenage son, who adores them, misguidedly teases and winds them up. They go mental at barking on TV and computer games which makes people laugh. It’s not really funny though. It is distressing for the dogs. Play is too exciting with too much chasing and tugging for a dog that already grabs and nips. Tug-of-war is only a good game when done properly because it teaches letting go rather than grabbing, and it also teaches very careful control of teeth.

The actual reason I was called is that the two little dogs both constantly pee in the house – all over the place. I see this as a symptom of stress as much as an issue in itself. The door to the garden is always open but it makes no difference. It’s an old building with nooks and crannies and the dogs simply have too much freedom. The people need to go back and do as they should have done originally when the dogs were puppies, restricting them to a really small area unless with them in the room where they can be watched for prowling, sniffing and disappearing behind things.  The dogs are rewarded for peeing outside but it’s being done after they come indoors – too late. I have given various strategies and ideas which, with time and patience along with working on the general stress and over-excitement should do the trick. One symptom of stress is excessive drinking – which of course will lead to more peeing.

I believe if the dogs are taught a bit of self-control by way of learning to wait calmly for things and getting fuss and fun when calm and not when hyper and demanding, this self-control will eventually extend to the toileting as well. After about four years it is an entrenched habit, so it won’t be quick.

Everything must be done to calm these two dear little dogs down as much as possible. They will be a lot happier for it – and so will their family.

Overwhelming Two Sprockers Pups

Benjie spends most of the day in the crate with his brother

Benjie

5-month-old Sprocker brothers Ollie and Benjie live in the kitchen, along with 10-year-old Springer Flossie. The room was full with a large table, a small sofa and two crates, three young children, the couple and their adult son. Because of the family’s work schedules, the young dogs spend hours each day in their crates, having already been shut in there for about nine hours at night. The poor people hadn’t intended this to happen, but a family member who had joint responsibility had left without warning.

Sometimes a problem can be so overwhelming it’s hard to know where to start. Things were understandably a bit more chaotic than usual because of my arrival and because it was nearly bedtime for the three young children, so I saw the young dogs at their worst which is probably a good thing.

Sprocker Ollie spends most of the day in his crate with his brother

Ollie

When the dogs were let out of their crates they were completely out of control, jumping all over people, up at the table and sides, nicking anything they could reach and toileting due both to excitement and the fact nobody thinks to put them outside regularly enough. For this reason, a lot of the time even when the family is in the kitchen, the young dogs have to be crated or outside.

They don’t let them out of their crates separately, feeling it’s unfair. However, I found that impossible so we shut one away at a time – and I lent the crated one my Stagbar to chew which he loved. Then, while we talked and after the children had gone to bed, I worked on the other dog. I showed the people how their own reactions to the jumping up is giving the dogs the only real attention they get, and how we could give them even better attention when they were behaving well. We worked on their jumping at the table and sides. This will be a big challenge, taking time, patience and consistency from the three adults.

In the time I was there I had taught both dogs to sit, and one of them to lie down upon request. I used rewards, something they are not used to. Ollie was doing all he could to be good. He was like a sponge. Sitting deliberately instead of jumping up. Bless him. He managed to sit still for long enough for me to take a photo of him (above). From now on the dogs should be earning some of their food – being rewarded all the time they behave well. This will be very difficult in the bustle and noise when young children are about, but they don’t need even more time crated, do they.

Because of the unruly situation, unsurprisingly the two dogs sometimes fight and unchecked this will probably get worse as they get older. Poor Flossie is terrorised. The pups may fly all over children on the sofa and I am concerned a child may get hurt.

The dogs have just one short outing each day – you can’t really call it a walk. The front door is opened and they fly out to the adjacent park, off lead, doing their own thing. They are puppies but already barking at people and other dogs.

There was one surprisingly good thing – showing what these dogs are capable of when given time and trouble.  I watched the adult son preparing their food. They sat calmly and waited!

This is not a situation the family had envisaged when they got the puppies. I feel that if they can’t find a lot more quality time for their dogs then they would be better with just one pup – or maybe even re-homing them both. This would both give the dogs the lives they deserve, and it would give the family their lives back.

Thank Goodness Chihuahua Twinkle Isn’t a Great Dane!

Chihuahua Twinkle is a clever little dogThey are expecting a baby in six weeks’ time, and have left it a little late to do something about little 8-month-old Chihuahua Twinkle. He flies all over the place and it is impossible to check him. He may grab hair and nip. They see him as exuberant and happy; I saw him as highly stressed and anxious, with too much stimulation of the wrong sort – exciting him and winding him up – and not enough constructive stimulation and doggy stuff. He has quickly learned to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ for the lady. He is a clever little dog and she will enjoy teaching him new things – the right way.

Twinkle never goes for a walk. He is carried everywhere, so no doggy sniffs and no socialising of any sort. He is house trained in a way, but to do all his toileting indoors on newspaper (not something that would be happening if her were a Great Dane I’m sure) and this won’t be good when Baby is crawling about. When he is taken out, it’s in a carry bag.

I noticed how he merely tolerated being cuddled. The lady says he’s ‘had to learn to let me love him’. She felt it was important to make him accept it even though he doesn’t like it (which I’m not sure is my definition on love). As she held him up like a baby under his arms to kiss him, his little head was turning away from side to side and he was licking his lips – both strong signals that he was not happy with it.

Recently he nipped a child which isn’t a good omen. Unfortunately he was smacked – a very common human response when people don’t know what they should do and guaranteed to make things worse. It is very clear that he barked and warned them ‘I’m scared, I’m scared’ and he was ignored. The child approached him with a treat and he nipped.

So, my ‘preparation for baby’ plan is first for Twinkle to be treated a bit more like a dog and not only given a few rules and less over-exciting play from the man, but also for his dog-language signals to be respected. Secondly, his world needs slowly opening up a bit.  I suggested starting by standing in the garden for five minutes with him on lead to let him get used to it, and gradually increase the size of his world as he relaxes. Thirdly, Twinkle needs to get accustomed to the lady cuddling a baby and talking baby talk to it, so amongst other things I suggest a doll and screaming babies on YouTube!  Finally, When Baby does come home Twinkle needs some sort of restraining and I feel a puppy pen would work best. There is no way realistically they will ever be able to teach him to stay on the floor and nor would they want to.  Baby could even sometimes go in the pen instead! Twinkle needs to get used to being in it well in advance so it becomes his ‘safe den’.

All in all they have some hard work to do and it’s fortunate the lady is on maternity leave. As soon as Baby arrives I shall call again, because we can only guess at how Twinkle will actually react when it happens.