Poppy attacked a Whippet for ‘no reason’. Out of the blue.
It usually takes a crisis of some sort to make us face up to a gradually worsening problem.
Monty the Viszla is four, and Poppy on the right is two years old.
Over the past few months Poppy has become increasingly touchy with other dogs when out. The owners admit that this is a vicious circle as they themselves become more tense. It’s a hard cycle to break without outside objective help.
What has brought it to a head is that out on a walk a few days ago Poppy went for the Whippet, seemingly for no reason at all. The on-lead dog was approaching with a lady and gentleman. Poppy was called and put on lead and she took no notice of them as they passed. However, when let off lead of short while later, she simply doubled back and bit the poor dog on the back leg.
There was screaming from the dog and distress from the owners.
Poppy’s owners were gutted.
In Poppy’s case we could think of several factors, and we would be able to find more if we could get inside Poppy’s head. The lady owner who normally walks her was away, she’s scared of going through the back gate, she may have been excited by their children, possibly she had previously been barking at the gate at home, grandfather had arrived which may have excited her, one child was hanging back playing with Monty and a large stick when the Whippet passed which may have made her anxious.
She really is a dream at home as is Monty apart, that is, from when callers suddenly appear through the gate or let themselves in the house. She has become paranoid about the noise of the gate latch to the extent that she is reluctant to go through it at the start of a walk. She has nipped caller’s legs several times now. This too is getting worse.
The initial adjustments to be made are to do with non-family members being unable to simply walk in. No door or gate should be left unlocked and the dogs should be somewhere else for now when people first enter. She’s happy and friendly once they are in. She needs to be on a long line for now when out, so that she still has a certain amount of freedom.
The visitors also need some instructions – and that can be hard!
The lady has already done some clicker training with Poppy and she’s a bright little dog. The two children participate in feeding, play and training.
So I believe the whippet incident was really just the culmination of several things. There are several other issues that need addressing including walking on a loose lead. When added together, things will gradually fall into place.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Poppy and Monty, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good, most particularly where anything to do with aggression is concerned. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).