Nips Small Children. Scared of Men.

Callie nips little children.

She’s okay with women but isn’t happy too near small children – or some men.

Nips small childrenShe welcomed me in a friendly fashion with lots of sniffs and a couple of little jumps but I took little notice of her until I had sat down. Then I gently said hello. She immediately and subtly shrank away a little.

The little Jack Russell Chihuahua mix is probably more nervous generally than they realise. People often find it hard to read the more subtle signs in their dog’s body language.

She had had four homes before she was even four months old. A man was giving away Callie and her tiny siblings in a car park. The crucial formative weeks of her life won’t have been the best.

However, fortune shone on her when she came to live with the couple, my clients. 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…

Touch Him. Growls. Guards Personal Space. Attacks Other Dog

No touch when sleeping


If he’s lying down, Chester may growl when they touch him. He attacked their other greyhound when he suddenly disturbed him. This makes their owners very worried and unhappy.

Yesterday they arrived home from work to find three open wounds on Conor’s neck and back.

Chester is a stunning 6-year-old greyhound. They rescued him from the world of racing a couple of years ago when he broke his leg. What a reprieve! He lives in a lovely house with a couple who adore him and another dog he gets on with most of the time.

From the start he was scared by certain things about the real world, particularly out on walks. So they got him a pal – Conor, 5.

Dignified and somewhat aloof

A dignified and somewhat aloof dog, there is a lot more going on inside Chester than appears on the outside.

He is precious about his personal space. If woken suddenly he man growl and snap.

When he’s asleep or dozing and someone comes near, his automatic instinctive reaction on waking suddenly is to ‘protect himself’.

Sadly poor Conor has been his main victim. He has come too near Chester when he’s been asleep or relaxed and Chester has flown at him. Conor has received injuries three times over the past year. Twice while they were out and once during the night.

This doesn’t make Chester a bad dog. It’s an instinctive reaction with some dogs, particularly those who may not have been bred carefully or not had the best puppyhood – used to touch, handling and cuddles. The first few months of a puppy’s life are so important. Very possibly one of his parents had the same tendencies. 

Do Not Touch!

Because Chester is defensive when approached and most particularly to touch in certain situations, the first and most important thing is for everyone to stop touching him for now. A dog will only guard something, whether his own self or a resource, if he feels there is a threat of it being challenged. It seems to be human nature to keep trying.

‘No touch’ and he should relax.

To prevent proximity or any unwanted touch from Conor when Chester is lying down, they now have installed a gate. They will keep the dogs apart while they are at work. Chester, like all racing greyhounds, is used to wearing a muzzle which can give safety at other times if necessary.

Changing how Chester feels

The next step after physical control and management  is, over time, to begin getting Chester to associate a person approaching him while he’s resting or in his bed with good things. He should learn to welcome their nearness and, confident they won’t touch him, relax.

Conor with coat to stop him licking wounds

They will use clicker and food. Clicker to alert him. Food to make him feel good. (Here is a nice little article about teaching your dog to wake up gently).

Hopefully this will spill over onto Chester’s reaction to Conor unwittingly touching him too.

Neither dog is very responsive to his humans. They take little notice of requests to either come or to go out. They don’t respond readily to their names and may ignore their owners who then put in a lot of effort and cajoling. In a way this attention reinforces ignoring them.

Diffusing trouble

If the dogs were much more alert to their names and motivated to coming when called, the couple would have them on remote control. They would no longer need to physically manhandle or move them. If they could see Conor climbing into bed with Chester, all they need do is to call him to them, or call Chester to get him to look at them. Trouble diffused.

Both dogs will dogs learn to do as asked, well motivated by food rewards. Chester, in particular, will respect and pay more notice of them. With this kind of relationship, Chester may be more inclined to welcome their proximity. This is about working on a slightly different relationship between owners and dogs.

They will book a thorough vet check of Chester to eliminate any discomfort that could be making him more reactive to touch.

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


Grumpy When Stressed. Big Changes. Adjustment.

Trigger has become increasingly grumpy over the past three months. He growls more readily than he used to and has now bitten a couple of times.Grumpy when stressed

They took him to the vet for a thorough check to make sure his change in behaviour wasn’t due to anything physical, and he has a clear bill of health.

Trigger and Biscuit are beautiful Dachshunds, lovely friendly little dogs, Biscuit age three and Trigger six months older. The young couple, conscientious owners, give them the best they can in terms of food, love and care.

Life has changed dramatically

The problems they are having now where Trigger and the resource guarding in particular is concerned will have their seeds in his genetics. Although previously lurking, the behaviour surfaces when he’s under stress. Continue reading…

Feels Unsafe on Walks. Has he been Punished?

I found Dexter friendly, but careful. He tries to please – almost like he’s scared not to.

He is a three-year-old mix of mostly Labrador and Lurcher or Greyhound. They have had him for just three months.

When out of the house fear takes over and then he’s unable to take notice of them.

Unsafe on lead

Feels unsafe on leadWalking by the roads Dexter simply feels too unsafe so he’s on high alert, panting and pulling. Twice a day he pulls desperately to the nearby field where they can let him off lead. Once free, he’s a different dog. He charges about, happy, and will once more listen to them.

Dexter feels so unsafe only when he’s on lead. If he sees another dog, even at some distance, he starts to bark. The frantic barking then changes into a high-pitched cry. He then will jump up on them, almost hugging them, scared and appeasing at the same time, like expecting something very bad to happen. Continue reading…

Shy Dog. Scared of Men. GSD Mix Looks Like Tamascan

Tala is shy with people she doesn’t know. She is particularly scared of men.

shy dogA year ago she was rescued from an abusive situation. Where shy dogs are very often more frightened of men than of women, it may be that Tala has particular reason to be shy of men.

She now lives in a lovely family. It took her time to relax with the two men when she came to them from the RSPCA a year ago, but now she’s soft, funny and loving. Continue reading…

Enrichment. Brain Work. Self-Control

Yesterday I met Max, a twenty-one-month-old German Shepherd who was very pleased to see me. It’s a treat for me to go to a friendly GSD that shows neither aggression nor fear.

Enrichment for a working dogWith the family having a couple of teenage sons, he has no doubt been used to plenty of comings and goings, probably why he’s so well socialised.

Recent problems however are arising when he encounters other dogs on walks. Continue reading…

Excitement or fear? Barking at Dogs. Wants Play? Scared?

Other dogs - excitement or fear?Excitement or fear – it can begin as one and change to the other.

Reuben barks at other dogs – but not always.

Sometimes he gets excited and wants to play – but it’s not always that.  Sometimes he’s afraid. Then he barks at the other dog to go away.

Mostly he runs freely with other dogs, playing happily. Just occasionally on these occasions things get too much for him or another dog upsets him. Then he may show aggression. He has punctured a dog’s ear.  Excitement or fear – it can begin as one and change to the other.

Even dogs who are mostly fine with other dogs have their moments. Then the owner can be affected out of all proportion, making walks a worry instead of a joy. Continue reading…

Aggression Towards Other Dogs Began Six Months Ago

Aggression towards other dogs when out on walks might be the problem but the causes probably have tentacles in other areas of her life.

Reactivity is always as a result of some sort of stress – fear being the most likely. Stress isn’t a thing that is there one minute and gone the next. The surprise or shock may be sudden, but the effects linger. We know with ourselves that once things start to go wrong nothing seems to go right. We get into a progressively touchy mood. Stress builds up. Continue reading…

Attacks the Man. Resource Guarding. Bites.

Pomeranian attacks the manSadie attacks the man. It sometimes looks like she attacks out of the blue. At other times I swear the little dog, a 10-month-old Pomeranian, sets him up!

She mainly targets him, though sometimes the lady too.

The little dog shares their bed and attacks them when they try to get in. She will do the same if one of them has to get up during the night.

She attacks them when they get ready to go out. Sadie will go for the man’s feet and hands even if he’s putting his shoes on to take her out for a walk.

Worst of all is her behaviour around resources.

They leave her food down all the time. She will take a piece of her dry food and jump with it onto the sofa, next to the man. Then, there is only one way of describing it, she taunts him with it! If he moves, she attacks him.

She also treats the lady as a resource and attacks him if he so much as leans towards her.

The poor man has bite marks over his hands and arms. It’s fortunate she not a bigger dog. They’ve had several dogs before, but never one like this. Continue reading…