Yesterday evening I went to visit Bangers and Mash (don’t you love it!), brother Miniature Dachshunds age 15 months.
Mash on the left having his tummy tickled (not by me – I never got that close) is the more nervous and noisy one of the pair and despite being considerably smaller than Bangers, he controls him. He prevents him walking where he wants to go with just a stare. He will walk the long way around to avoid a doorway Mash is occupying. Mash bullies Bangers and takes all toys off him to hoard for himself.They play beautifully but occasionally, when particularly stressed by something, they have a full blown fight, with a lot of noise, sounding and looking vicious but fortunately no damage has yet been done.
The other things that cause concern is how they behave when people come to the house, and when they go out on walks. Mash instigates. When people come to the door, the two barking dogs are blocking the doorway making it hard to open, Mash almost goes for ankles in his frenzy, and sometimes they redirect their frustrations and excitement onto one another. When they seem settled they may fire up again if the person walks about.
On walks they lunge and may go hysterical when approaching people and dogs, and again may redirect onto one another if walked together.
I suspect if these little dogs had their time again, and if from the start the humans had done things differently, things would not be like this. I am convinced that in the first crucial eleven weeks when they were still with the breeder, they will not have experienced sufficient handling, different people and environments, other dogs and so on. Their owners, not knowing the importance of early varied and positive experiences, sheltered them further during the next really important weeks, with a lovely large garden to play in. Then, to ‘socialisie’ them they went to puppy classes with Bangers going ballistic at other dogs and Mash shut down and shaking. They persisted in the common belief that it would break down their fears. In my experience it does the very opposite. So this is where we are at.
Reinforcing only calm behaviour with attention, rather than reacting to noisy or anxious behaviour, is the way to start. They have plenty of visitors to practise on, so if this is handled right, over time, the dogs should become more chilled. The same goes for encountering people or dogs on walks. Pressing ahead and forcing them into situations is the same sort of thing as the puppy classes. If this sort of thing worked, then it would have done so by now. So, things need to be done completely differently. In time the two little brothers will be walked together again, nicely, not particularly reacting to other dogs and, being in a calmer state, not needing to redirect anything onto one another.