Molly, a Staffie-German Shepherd mix age 6, came from Battersea as a puppy. She is a very good family dog, in an environment with a lot of noise and stimulation, sparring between the men, and comings and goings in general.
She is inclined to be nervous, with noise and conflict stressing her in particular. She can’t tell the difference between play sparring and the real thing and she goes frantic, trying to break them up, whilst it causes them amusement. This mustn’t continue. She is also scared of certain people who come into the house and will bark at them quite scarily sometimes.
The main problem is that from a dog that used be fine with other dogs, she is now unpredictable and reactive. Some dogs she will hackle, growl, lunge and bark at, others she will ignore. She gets good days and she gets bad days. The reaction of her humans is inconsistent, with the men inclined to use force in the presence of other dogs. Walking is no longer a pleasure. She wants to pull, but this is prevented with constant correction and commands. I did suggest that as these methods of getting her to walk nicely have been used for six years now so they obviously don’t work!
Chilled dogs seldom are reactive to other dogs. There is a lot in Molly’s life at home that can be changed to make her more relaxed, not least her diet and the way she is fed. It is known that diet affects behaviour and Molly’s is fairly random. Lots of snacks, unhealthy stuff and sharing human food, along with low quality dog food. Too much protein can cause aggression and certain additives can cause hyperactivity. She has already been checked over by the vet – an essential first step to be as sure as possible that it’s not something physical causing the changes in her behaviour.
Today the excited family are picking up a puppy from the local rescue centre. Teddy is nearly eight weeks old and tiny – a mix between a Bichon Frise and something else. For his sake some consistent rules and boundaries need to be put in place, especially around food and Molly’s reactivity to certain callers to the house. The atmosphere surrounding the dogs at home needs to be much calmer. Molly will need a refuge from Teddy when he gets over-excited as puppies do, and for a while he will need to be kept safe from her – just in case. They have met briefly and all seemed to be fine but they will get a puppy pen to be on the safe side; the dogs can then be in the same room together and get to know one another in safety.