Adolescent Cocker Spaniel Brio was a bitey puppy.
Then for several months he had stopped using his teeth on people, only to begin again when he became a teenager.
He also became defiant when they made him do something that he didn’t want to do.
Brio is now 10 months of age.
Their original message to me immediately gave me clues as to what they can do differently in order to change things:
‘Jumping up to the table when we are eating and when pushed away will start biting. Jumping and biting when challenged if he’s doing something wrong. Barking at TV and at passers-by’.
Each thing requires a mix of management, training and behaviour work; he will behave differently if he feels differently about something.
‘Jumping up to the table when we are eating and when pushed away will start biting’.
Firstly, Brio has become increasingly fussy about eating and is on the best food possible – raw. So, they hand feed him. The gentleman will go on hands and knees to coax him. What fun it is to resist eating!
He will now eat several times a day and have to put in some effort – work for his food. Kongs, scatter feeding etc. They will drop all enticing and hand feeding.
While they eat their own food he can go into his pen with a Kong – or a nice raw bone. He can be taught over time to settle beside them.
‘Jumping and biting when challenged if he’s doing something wrong’.
When challenged? This will invite defiance in the adolescent dog. Instead of challenging when he does something ‘wrong’, they will now motivate and encourage him to do what they consider is ‘right’.
At present if they want the unwilling dog in his crate they carry him. If they want him to get off them they will push him off. Now they will lead or call him into his crate and reward him. They can stand up and call him off them instead of pushing. Using their hands invites the teeth!
‘Barking at TV and at passers-by’.
The two things go together. Barking at people walking past sends them on their way, so why shouldn’t it also send animals on TV on their way also?
The first thing they will do is management – to frost the lower part of the window which will cut down a lot of the barking. Then they will reassure Brio when he does bark and call him to them – again using food for reward so he continues to work for it.
It will help if they teach Brio to settle somewhere in the room where he can’t see the TV – management again.
A week later: ‘We have already put into practice most of the things you suggested….We have noticed a big difference with splitting his meals up and using a snuffle mat/Kong/game in his pen whilst we are eating…. We certainly feel we are on the right track now. There was a lot of information to take in and lots for us to keep working on. Thank you so much for your help,
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help