Papillon Tommy lying in the sunTommy is so cute. He is an 18-month old Papillon who has lived with his new owners for a couple of months now. He seems to have had rather a strange start in life and was very thin and very stressed when they picked him up. He has put on a kilogram and has calmed down considerably though there is still way to go.

They are concerned because Tommy has started to snap, bark and growl at certain people. He also did this to me (my fault) and it gave me a clue as to the reason. If someone walks in his direction he can feel threatened and he is warning them away. He is wary of men in particular and this may be because, being taller, they loom over him more. I guess the only way to get an idea how huge humans must look to something so tiny would be to lie on the floor looking up at people approaching, leaning over and walking about.

Tommy is a clever little dog and doing all he can to get the humans around him dancing to his tune, without their really realising it! He knows exactly how to get attention by winding them up – and it works. He jumps up and over people. He jumps on dining chairs and onto the table given a chance. He quite enjoys being scolded for eating plants on the window sill or being chased to retrieve something. What fun!

He can be intimidated by certain people coming to the house, particularly if he is approached, including the gentleman owner when he comes home. If he is told not to do something in a confrontational way, he may be defiant whilst at the same time being scared. He is very easily excited. He may grab ankles of people walking or running in the garden, and he grabs the lead when going for a walk; he gets frantically excited when he sees another dog.

Jack has a great number of good points, but a few small issues are escalating – especially the warning snaps. It is so easy with a small and seriously cute dog to forget he is actually a dog. Just because he is small doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have certain boundaries and treat people with respect. How vulnerable he must feel on walks, trapped on the end of a lead, and forced into situations he would probably run away from if he were by himself.

Tommy’s issues can be resolved over time by seeing things from his point of view and giving him calm, decisive, consistent leadership. Doing everything possibly to reduce his stress levels will alone make a huge difference. This may seem a bit boring, but he doesn’t need stimulation – he can get excited all by himself!

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.