Manic Evenings. Jumps and Bites. Grabs Cushions. Pants

build up of arousal and manic eveningsThey do all they can for Winston but his behaviour is a challenge for the young couple – as it would be for most people. They simply can’t cope with his manic evenings.

They have had the one-year-old English Bulldog for under two months and they are at their wits’ end with him. It’s ruining their life to the extent that the gentleman admits to not wanting to come home in the evening. Continue reading…

Replace Bad Habit With Good Habit

Anything repeated often enough can become a habit.

I totally fell in love with scruffy ten-month-old Jack Russell mix Max yesterday. I had the perfect evening with him and his humans.

It began with just me and the daughter who is in her late teens. Then mum arrived followed by twSitting still is a better habit than jumping abouto male school friends of the girl’s and later a man – all people closely involved in the dog’s life. Lucky little dog!

As each person joined us I was working with Max. He had jumped up at me in a madly friendly fashion as I walked in the door and I immediately showed him that this didn’t work with me if it was my attention he wanted. More importantly, I concentrated on showing him what did work.

As more people arrived and as I worked with him, instead of jumping up at them, becoming increasingly excited and silly as would normally be the case, he was becoming more and more settled.

When finally the man joined us, he said Max must be another dog.

It won’t take much of this to build up a new habit when people arrive, so long as everyone is consistent. They have a lot of people coming and going so training the humans is the main problem here!

All I did was to consistently reinforce the behaviour I wanted. As you can see from the photo, Max became FOCUSED! He was sitting looking up at me as we all chatted. From time to time I reinforced the continued calm behaviour with Yes or a click and the tiniest bit of food.

Now he can develop a new habit, that of sitting at someone’s feet looking adorable in order to get his attention fix!

BanceMax1I then tried him on an antler chew. Chewing is such a great and natural way for a dog to relieve stress and to occupy himself. Max worked away at it for maybe an hour after which he simply lay down and settled.

Just like so many dogs I go to, Max generates nearly all his own attention with tactics like constantly asking to be let out and then back in again, jumping up behind people, mouthing, digging the sofa – anything he can think of.

If instead his humans initiate frequent short activities that he finds rewarding and that exercise his brain, he will no longer be driven into goading them for the attention and action he craves.

 

They can convert any unwanted habit into a good habit.

The small dog has fantastic humans in his life who have put time and effort into teaching him training tricks. Now they need to incorporate work on keeping him a bit calmer and making the desirable habits the rewarding ones.

At last he settles

At last he settles

Here are a few examples where his bad habit can be changed into a good habit.

Before bed and before they go to work, like so many dogs Max will refuse to come in from the garden. With a bit of management by way of a long lead so he can no longer rehearse the behaviour and food so that he’s motivated, this habit can soon be changed to him running in as soon as they call him.

While they eat their dinner, he has a habit of sitting on the back of the sofa behind them and trying to get their food! This habit can be changed with a mix of management and training. So he can no longer rehearse this behaviour he can be put somewhere else while they eat. He can then be taught a much better habit instead.

Whenever he sees a person out on a walk he will jump up at them. This habit can be changed through a mix of management and teaching him something better that earns him fuss.

Even pulling on lead is a habit. He is forced to walk beside them and the short lead is tight so that pulling against it is constantly rehearsed on every daily walk. A new habit can be established using management – better equipment – and a loose leash that is repeatedly reinforced by earning him forward progress along with plenty of encouragement, attention and reward.

Near the end of our session yesterday I put one of my Perfect Fit harnesses on Max and attached a training lead. Within a few minutes the now calm Max was walking beautifully for me and then for the daughter outside the front of the house.

Already a new and much better walking habit has been born.

It was quite touching how he was with me by the time I was ready to leave and we had removed the harness. He lay beside me, his head on my foot. What had I done to him?

We had a mutual understanding. Max felt quietly understood.

 

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 Max. 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)

 

Bored, Over-excitable and Looking for Trouble

German Shepherd Kerry is bored.

Bored German Shepherd

Kerry

Although it’s natural for adult dogs to sleep for up to eighteen hours a day, this is only so if the rest of the time is filled with stuff natural to the dog – and its breed. Sleep probably won’t be in long blocks of enforced inaction during the day, but dozing between doing other things.

Young dogs in particular need action and fulfilment (just like young humans) or they get bored.

Kerry is a beautiful eighteen-month-old German Shepherd living with another GSD, Lemmy, aged four. They are both gorgeous dogs with lovely, friendly basic temperaments.

Young Kerry, unfortunately, probably isn’t getting enough action in her life and she’s very easily aroused. I saw this by how the smallest thing results in her leaping at someone, me in this case – grabbing my clothes and even hair with her teeth. 

Continue reading…

Won’t Walk. Doesn’t Feel Safe. Not Naughty.

Fox Terrier won't walkThis is a puzzling situation. Often Harvey simply won’t walk.

The Fox Terrier is now eight years old and this began several years ago. He became even more reluctant to go out after their other dog died about nine months ago.

The lady and gentleman feel walks are very important, so much so that in addition to a morning walk and an evening walk, they have one of two dog walkers coming in during the day as well. Both were at our meeting which is wonderful. He certainly has plenty of humans caring for and about him!

Naughty?

They may have to drag or carry him out of the door. If he walks a little way to start with, he will then simply sit down. He won’t walk and refuses to go any further without some force.

The man referred to this as ‘being naughty’.

Harvey always pulls on the way back, very eager to get home. Continue reading…

People Too Close to Each Other. Connor Story Part One.

Connor’s will be a story in two parts. This first story is about Connor and his frantic agitation when two people get too close to each other.

He came to them a year ago, probably only weeks away from death. The dog, scarred with broken teeth, scared and skinny, had stopped eating. He had been in the kennels for two years and seemed to have lost the will to live.

From the moment the couple took him in, the Staffie Greyhound mix, now five, surrounded by patient love began to blossom.

Too close to each other or hugging.

Frantic when people too close to each otherFrom the start Connor became agitated when either the man moved too close to the lady, or when the lady approached the man. Continue reading…

Goes Deaf When Called. Takes No Notice.

The young couple adopted mix breed Buddy at five months old. He is now nearly two. They were told he had Beagle in him, though it’s hard to tell.

There really is nothing wrong with the young dog that a bit of motivation and consistency won’t solve – along with some systematic training exercises to get him to pay attention to them.

Buddy goes deaf when they call him.

Continue reading…

Ignores Them. Won’t Come When Called. Unmotivated.

Not only does 9-month-old German Shepherd Max look beautiful, he has a wonderful personality. Like many teenagers he’s full of himself and this is a lot better than being the opposite –fearful. He’s confident and friendly.

Max ignores them!

Max also is a law unto himself! Continue reading…

Adjusting to New Environment. Different Routines. Time Alone.

It seems Kirie is finding adjusting to her new life a bit hard. They moved house two months ago.

Adjusting to her new environmentThe seven-year-old Springer Labrador is the sweetest, most gentle dog. It distresses them to see her worried.

One change she finds it hard adjusting to is no longer being able to follow the young couple and their toddler freely around the house. Previously they had lived on one floor. Now they don’t want her upstairs and have gated the stairs.

At the same time as they moved house a couple of months ago, the young lady went back to work. Now they leave Kirie alone for a few hours a couple of days a week.

Things not always what they seem

Continue reading…

Persistent Barking. Barks at Man While he Talks. Barks in the Car.

If it weren’t for her persistent barking, Elsa would be the perfect pet.

The young Parson Terrier is friendly, enthusiastic and non-aggressive. She is great company for the disabled gentleman who spends all day with her while his wife is at work.

Some barking is welcome. Some simply too much.

Persistent barking Elsa has different barks for different things. Some of her barking is very welcome. With no teaching or prompting, the little dog alerts the man with a special short bark when his insulin levels are wrong.

Because the man feels unwell and is in pain a lot of the time, Elsa’s barking is a real issue. Continue reading…

Too Much Barking at the Window by their Miniature Poodles

Miniature Poodles do lots of barking

Jack is on the left, Ozzy on the right

There is only one problem with the two adorable miniature poodles – too much barking.

Jack in particular goes into a barking frenzy when he hears or sees anything outside the house.

Rarely in the course of my job with owners who have problems with their dogs do I visit dogs that are quite so well-trained and good. They are friendly, bright and happy little dogs. They are wonderfully trained with all sorts of tricks and antics, they are super obedient before their food goes down. When asked, they will go to their mat and stay there (see below) and much more.

They walk nicely and they are quite good around other dogs despite over-boisterous bigger dogs having hurt them and dogs having snapped at them a couple of times.

Barking is the problem

On the barking front, the days don’t start well. The dogs come up to the bedroom first thing in the morning and straight away Jack, on the left, is on watch out of the window from the bed, waiting for things to bark at.

Then, when the lady gets up, he is running around downstairs, from window to window, barking at things as she tries to get washed and dressed. Already she is becoming anxious and exasperated.

Then, when Ozzy is let out into the garden he rushes out barking and running the boundary. He just stops barking briefly to do his business.

Naturally the two dogs hate anything coming through the letterbox and will bark madly if there is a ring on the doorbell.

To ‘try’ or to ‘do’?

I’m sure this sounds familiar to a lot of dog owners! They believe they have tried everything but nothing works. One common mistake is to ‘try’ things and not carry on for long enough. Another is to deal with the barking as though barking itself is the problem, rather than the symptom of over-excitement, fear, protection duty. Arousal causes the barking.

The humans need to take control of protection duty. This doesn’t mean that the dogs are expected to stop barking altogether. It means that they can alert the humans and then leave thOzzyJacksone worrying up to them.

How people react is the key. Any form of scolding is merely joining in. Any form punishment can only make them more fearful and reactive. The whole family needs to be consistent in reacting in the right way every time the dogs bark – and immediately. The ‘right’ may not be the same in every case, so we work out the best strategy for helping these dogs out.

Not a part-time job

For best success it’s vital to be on the case constantly. We can’t only deal with it just when we have time and inclination and at other times leave them to sort it out themselves. Therefore, when the people are unavailable or tied up doing something else, they should shut the dogs in a ‘bark-free’ environment or a room with no view (in this case in their crates), with something to do.

How can they respond every time their dogs bark when it is so frequent, without going mad? The more the little dogs bark, the better they get at it.

Key to success and sanity is cutting down as much barking opportunity as possible. They can do this by blocking the view out of windows with static plastic window film or moving furniture, drawing curtains and so on. An outside mail box solves the problem of post invading their home through the front door.

Taking Ozzy out into the garden on lead for a few days will break the ritual of rushing out barking.

Two vicious circles

There are two vicious circles going on here. The more the dogs bark the more aroused they get – so the more they will bark. The more the dogs bark, the more anxious and stressed the humans become and the dogs, picking up on this, will bark even more.

This the latest feedback: “I am very pleased with the progress Jacks has been making. The mornings are much calmer now but if he gets a bit excited I pop both him and Ozzie in their crates with a treat and their music on. They are both quite happy with this arrangement. When people come to the door Jack knows the routine now and comes happily trotting back to me for a treat when I use the “OK”. I now feel in charge (in a nice way), and that I can bring peace and calm when needed to the home I share with my dogs.
Thank you for your help and advice, we would not have the improvements we have now without it. I am very well aware that the boys need consistent handling and don’t intend to go backwards.”
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help