Belle is just fifteen months old and has lived alone with her lady owner’s until a week or so ago. She is a mix of Rottweiler, Labrador and Collie, though looks mainly Rottie. Here she is with a tennis ball.
A week ago the lady’s new boyfriend moved in. Poor Belle is confused and unhappy.
I was called out because a few days ago she had nipped the man – we will call him John. John’s very understandable human reaction was to be confrontational. Already the bar has been raised. Where Belle may now be backing away, she will soon stand her ground I’m sure.
John and the lady like to cuddle on the sofa – the sofa Belle used to share with the lady. Belle jumps between them and gets agitated. She may grab an arm or clothes. The lady says she is jealous. She is certainly trying to split them up. Belle doesn’t understand humans cuddling. The nearest thing a dog would do, using body contact and paws, could be a sign of trouble brewing. In this case another dog would step in and split the pair by getting between them. So, for doing what any good dog in a dog group would do – splitting up potential conflict – poor Belle is in trouble.
To Belle John has become some sort of challenge. The final straw was when John and the lady were mucking about. He picked her up and threw her about and she screamed in play. Belle warned, snarled, growled and then jumped at John and gave him a big nip. Without doubt, because of the squeals, Belle thought the lady was being attacked and was left with no choice other than to protect her. They were left wondering whether they have a dangerous dog, not realising it could have been a lot worse.
I hope I have managed to open their eyes to understanding Belle, and that they will stop to think how what they do might impact on her, trying to see things from her point of view. I also hope she isn’t sidelined in their new life. She needs calm and consistent leadership and quality time spent with her. Being cuddled one moment and then disciplined the next for something she doesn’t understand using confrontation can only lead to bigger trouble.
At the end of the day Belle would be the one to pay the price, and she is a lovely natured dog who deserves to be understood.