English Bull Terrier has manic bouts of frenzyPoor Leo, a four-year-old English Bull Terrier, is in a bad way. They were so worried that he might bite me that he was muzzled throughout our meeting  – with it just taken off for this photo.

Here was yet another dog who as a puppy that was the strongest, greediest and bossiest in his litter. Leo belongs to a young gentleman who lives with his father and has serious problems with pent-up stress, leading to aggression – around food in particular.

He gets manic bouts of frenzy, flying around and going for the two men. The young man then physically pins him down to prevent someone getting hurt. This is all getting increasingly out of hand. Castration made no difference at all.

Leo’s aggression around food is puzzling. He is reasonably calm while his food is prepared, and OK when it goes down. It’s afterwards that the problem starts. It’s like he is hyped up with high octane aggression fuel. He starts to spin around like he’s winding himself up before attacking. They have to catch him and muzzle him quickly. He is fed quite smelly cheap tinned food. Food can influence behaviour in a big way. While they prepare their own food they have to keep feeding Leo bits to stop the spinning and biting.

Putting him out of the way is also a problem. The house isn’t big so it means the garden, and then Leo simply barks and barks.  They will need to enlist the understanding of their neighbours for a while.

They really love Leo and want to do the best for him, but simply don’t know how. The confrontational dominance methods seen on TV are making him worse. These techniques create a battle which they are unlikely to win and who wants that sort of relationship with their dog anyway?  Leo is alone for about ten hours a day, and not given daily walks. Interaction is either rough and tumble exciting play, or getting cross with him for persistently barking until they do what he wants. He is allowed to lie on top of the young man, effectively pinning him down, but then may bite if removed from the sofa.

This is a dog with huge stress issues and simply no rules and boundaries in terms that he understands. De-stressing Leo is where it all starts. I suggested a technique for feeding him, after which I feel he should be left alone for a while to give him time to calm right down.  The energy rush of his food is all in one meal – understandable because they don’t want this ordeal in the morning before work as well as in the evening – but it should be spread.

I so hope that they can manage to give Leo the calm kind of leadership he so needs. It will be hard work requiring a lot of patience.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.