Won’t walk on shiny floor. Slippery floor phobia.

What a joy to meet these three dogs.

Ten-week-old Jack Russell Ozzy was asleep in his crate. Milo, 7 – a Patterdale Border Terrier mix – greeted me politely at the door.

Labrador Scooby was in the open kitchen doorway, tail wagging in a friendly fashion.

An invisible barrier?

won't walk on shiny floorWhy wouldn’t he come out to greet me? One might think there was an invisible gate or electric fence, but no.

Outside the kitchen was the shiny floor leading to the front door and the sitting room. He won’t step on it.

Scooby is scared of shiny floors of all kinds.

To get him down the passage with its shiny floor to the sitting room,  he sits on a sheet and pull him!

They don’t know all Scooby’s past history, but he has been like this for the while they have had him. Now six, he had two previous homes. Possibly in the past he has injured himself on a shiny floor.  Apparently when younger he had hip problems – the vet says he’s okay now.

It’s not just the shiny floor in their own hallway. Scooby’s phobia of a shiny floor restricts what they can do. They have to carry the big dog through the vet waiting room and put him on the table. They like to take their well-behaved dogs out with them, but cafes and pubs may have a shiny floors.

So, the friendly dog is by himself in the kitchen much of the time.

How are we going to get him over his shiny floor phobia?

Like most Labradors, Scooby is very food-motivated.

They will begin with getting a new, rubber-backed runner (it’s strange how when one is living in a situation we don’t see obvious solutions). They will put this down in the passage for a few days so that he becomes accustomed to being able to walk freely from kitchen to sitting room with the other dogs.

Then then will make a small gap between the kitchen and the new mat and work with him. When they stop working, they will close the gap again.

At a distance where he has to reach forward but not so great he has to move his feet, they will wipe peanut butter on the floor. He will have to stretch his neck a bit to lick it up.

Bit by bit, over several days, they will slowly increase the gap between kitchen and new mat. The peanut butter will be just a bit too far to reach without one of his front feet going on the shiny floor.

They should go no further for a while until he looks very comfortable with this.

Bit by bit, an inch at a time

Bit by bit, they will put the peanut butter on the shiny floor, inching a bit further away from the kitchen doorway, increasing the gap between rug and kitchen.

All the time they will close the gap when not working on it. They must at all costs avoid going too far so Scooby gives up and goes back into the kitchen.

While they are working on his phobia and even when he has got over it, they should leave the new rug in place. Just in case. If Scooby slips or slides and suffers any hip pain, that could be disastrous.

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 dogs it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

A big dog attacked him. Psychological fallout.

a big dog attacked him

coat to protect his wound

Poor little Marley.  The other day a dog attacked him.

The young gentleman was walking him at the time.

Instead of enjoying his walks with the little dog, he’s now anxious and constantly on the lookout for larger dogs. He had been unable to save his little Chihuahua.

He had been walking with Marley in a field near home where the little dog regularly plays off-lead with his doggy friends.

The big dog attacked him

Without warning, an off-lead Weimaraner appeared from nowhere and had Marley in his mouth. Continue reading…

Good home. Only on a sheep farm could be better.

As I left, they asked me whether I felt they were a good home for their young Welsh Sheepdog, Taffy.

Taffy has found a good homeI can’t think of a better place for the recently adopted dog – apart from living with a sheep farmer maybe. She is very lucky to be re-homed by the conscientious and caring young couple who are doing their best to understand her needs.

Taffy has landed on her feet in a very good home.

From the couple’s own point of view, however, there is a downside. The reality of what they had done soon kicked in. Instead of having a dog they can take everywhere with them, they have lost their freedom. Taffy’s restrictions have overtaken their lives. Continue reading…

Barks at People, Distant or Near

I love happy endings so I have brought this story of three years ago to the front.

Robbie’s hackles rise and he barks at people.

He barks at people

People often don’t see things from their dog’s point of view until it’s pointed out. There seems no alternative but to keep walking towards the thing the dog is scared of, perhaps crossing the road. They buy equipment that enables them to physically manage their scared and pulling or lunging dog.

Although they may do their best to avoid people, turning right around and going somewhere else or even going back home isn’t an option. Walkers like their walks to go from A to B.

Sometimes the people, seeing he’s a Labrador, put their hand out to him. He doesn’t like that and he’s snapped a few times.

Robbie has a new harness that says ‘Nervous’. I’m not sure this is direct enough for the person who ‘loves dogs’ and may try to comfort him.

The Yellow Dog Company makes dayglo dog coats that say ‘I Need Space’. Plain florescent yellow coats are easy to obtain. We could make our own with a marker pen to say ‘Please don’t touch me’, making it quite clear to people.

It is very likely that Robbie had inadequate socialisation with new and different people as a young puppy. Possibly some of his problem is genetic. He had one terrifying experience involving a man when he was a young dog from which time things got a lot worse. He’s now five years old and is particularly scared of men which isn’t uncommon.

When I arrived at the house Robbie ran to me, hackles up, barking.

I had a soft dog toy – a squeaky duck in the top of my bag I knew a Labrador would like – and held it out to him.

Robbie took it and he became a different dog!

He paraded the duck, wagging his tail, showing me and the couple his prize. He squeaked it. “What have you got, Robbie?” I said to him. All was well.

The people said this was a very different first encounter than usual with their dog that barks at people who enter the house.

It seems that Robbie, influenced by fear, only barks at people when he can actually see a person. Hearing alone doesn’t seem to worry him.

I noticed that his way of showing he was worried about anything was to go still and look away. Out of sight, out of mind?joneslisa

At home they will work on getting him to look into their eyes the instant they gently say his name. Then, when they are out and he sees someone, they will have the power to get him to look away from the person and to them instead. That will be the first step.

They will make the whole walking experience less stressful. They will teach him to walk comfortably on a loose lead – we practised this in the house – and get rid of the head halter.

He will start to enjoy a lead walk rather than it being the frustration and discomfort of constantly fighting against the restraint. It’s unsurprising that a scared dog, already feeling this tension and stress, barks at people.

I suggest avoiding people altogether on walks for a couple of weeks.

It will allow him to let him settle. They can work on their loose leash technique and learn how to change the emotions inside him that make him a dog that barks at people.

Later and after some work, when he sees anyone, if not too close “Robbie!” should immediately get his attention. They then move onto the next step. This is either feeding him, giving him a toy or throwing something; they will turn around, increase as much distance as they have to and have a party.

Robbie’s humans should keep totally relaxed when they see a person. Calm confidence needs to run down that lead. When Robbie tenses up – as soon as and not before – they then set the wheels in motion to associate the people he barks at – or used to bark at – with only great things.

They may eventually even point the person out to him before going straight into their happy routine, ‘Look- a person!’.

If everyone coming into his house greets him with a special toy that can be given to them in advance, he should begin to associate callers with good stuff too, just as he did me when I gave him my soft squeaky duck.

Robbie is a lovely dog with owners who really care. In time, if his need for distance is respected, he will be comfortable closer to people and may even ignore them. He’s not a particularly tactile dog and this must be respected. He will learn to trust the people holding the lead not to push him over his threshold and then he should no longer be a dog that barks at people.

Feedback five weeks later: The harness came (I had recommended Perfect Fit) and you’re right it’s really good, he barely pulls with it on so walks have been much better and fairly loose on the lead. We continue to practice the calling his name and rewarding with kibble when he looks at us and off the lead he’s been much better at recall. We’ve had a few occasions walking him having seen people, being ready to turn round and go in the other direction but he hasn’t reacted. I was even able to talk to a neighbour as we walked past and he didn’t react at all, all good progress I think!
Three months later: Robbie is still doing great and we are managing his anxiety as you showed us to which makes life so much easier particularly when visitors come to see us.
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 approach I have worked out for Robbie and I’ve not gone into exact precise 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, particularly where fear is concerned. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)

He panics when the lady moves out of sight

Six months ago they had to go away. They left their easy-going young Samoyed, Rex, in the care of a dog trainer.

They came home to a terrified dog.

Panics when the lady disappearsThe don’t know what happened. Now the previously friendly dog is very reactive to people coming to the house. He panics if dogs get too close to him when out.

Most of all, he panics if his lady owner is out of sight. Continue reading…

Frantic Barking. Littermates. Not Prepared For Real Life.

I walked in the door to be met with frantic barking.

Brave Luna, with frantic barking, came right up to me. Her sister backed her up but with less enthusiasm.

Frantic barking at people and sounds

Luna

Luna and Bear are same-sex siblings. They are two-year-old Cavapoo Collies. What a mix! They were a bit smaller than I expected.

Walks are a nightmare due to the dogs’ reactivity to everything, their frantic barking and pulling. Consequently, the family don’t walk them regularly.

Their frantic barking at every sound when at home is annoying the neighbours. The lady has tried all sorts of things to stop the barking, some not pleasant for the dogs. None worked. Continue reading…

Miniature Dachshund flies at feet. Attacks and bites shoes.

bites feetThe eighteen-month-old Miniature Dachshund flies at people’s feet and bites their shoes.

Little Sugar is extremely jumpy.

He seems also to be on constant protection duty – seemingly guarding both himself and the lady and gentleman too.

This is scary for the tiny dog, so it’s a mixture of emotions.

Imagine being so small and being approached by a tall, looming human with feet almost as big as yourself!

It’s little wonder he attacks and bites shoes.

Continue reading…