Their aims: for both their Cockerpoos to be calmer.
I pushed in past the two barking dogs.
Both young Cockerpoos were so worked up I felt one or both weren’t far short of biting me but instead, black Harry redirected his anger, fear or frustration onto young golden Eddie and a minor fight ensued.
The house was full of people. Family members were moving about. Kids were on their mobiles. I sat at the dining table and we made a start.
It soon became obvious from my first questions that over-arousal and lack of boundaries was at the root of all sorts of problems.
Where do we start?
Management in this case means gating off the front door and stairs so the dogs are contained in the sitting room and kitchen area. They will then have a physical boundary.
Management of this area will make it impossible for them to near-attack people at the front door and prevent Harry from chasing delivery men to the gate where a bite is only a matter of time.
Management means keeping them away from the stairs so that Harry will now no longer regularly pee on the upstairs landing.
Management of the environment means that first thing in the morning when they are let out of the utility room, they can’t start off the day in a manic manner, charging upstairs like battering rams at the bedroom doors, waking people.
Another gate can be put in the space between kitchen and dining/sitting room.
Management then means the dogs can’t jump at people when they are eating their food. They can’t jump at the surfaces when cooking is going on. Management means they can be put the other side of the barrier with something to do.
Management means moving the box that gives them lookout duty from the front windows, the lower part of which can also be frosted. They won’t then spend much of the day winding themselves up by barking.
There is so much going on it’s hard to know where to start with the behaviour work, but the priority has to be all things that will lower their arousal levels.
Then we can see what we have got left.
When they are no longer little volcanoes ready to erupt, it will be easier to deal with things like Harry’s nervousness. Instead of constantly being at each other in play which can deteriorate, something stress seems to trigger, they can be given more constructive activities.
We might then work on impulse control, training them to settle, loose lead walking, coming back when called before they can go off barking at and intimidating another dog – and much more.
However, management and boundaries must be in place first. The dogs’ levels of stress must be lowered.