Percy didn’t like me!
At least, he didn’t like me in his house with the young man and woman present. It seems, had they been out somewhere, he would have been friendly and welcoming.
Instead, he barked at me fiercely.
The man took Percy behind a gate where, despite still being able to see me, he seemed quite calm. The man led him back in again and Percy once more barked at me in a protective, angry tone from his position beside the man.
The man removed him several times until Percy gave up barking. Instead, he hid himself by the sofa like he was shutting me out. ‘Out of sight out of mind’, occasionally peering out at me. Who needs words!
The three faces of Percy
It’s like French Bulldog Percy has three different personalities and three different ways of behaving. Percy the territorial and protective barker, Percy the dog worried by other dogs when on lead and Percy the friendly pet.
The protective territorial Percy
When with his young owners he behaves in a protective and territorial manner towards other people, particularly people who come to his house. He has bitten a couple of times. When with his owners, he’s only really okay with people he knew before he was castrated at one year old, nine months ago. Then he changed. This may have been a coincidence of course and he could have changed anyway.
He goes mental when mail comes through the door, tearing it up; he barks at anybody he sees approaching or passing the house through a glass door. (The window can be covered and the letterbox taped up).
‘Percy number two’ is a happy and affectionate dog when alone with his own people or when they are not with him but other people are.
Dog walkers come to the house to pick Percy up most days and he’s fine with them. It must be he feels no responsibility for being protective of the house with his owners absent. He’s friendly.
Percy around other dogs
Other dogs are a different matter. It seems that, irrespective of who he is with, when he’s on lead and a dog is too close ‘Percy number three’ is fearful of them.
Off lead and free he happily plays with most other dogs.
Relieving Percy of responsibility
The territorial/protective behaviour can be approached by relieving him of this duty and by taking it upon themselves. How they react to his behaviour when people come near or into their house is key.
They will take him gently and kindly behind the gate each time he starts to bark. Each dog is different, but this seems to work best with Percy because he eventually gives up. He then started to chew the pig’s ear I suggested they had ready for him.
Behaviours incompatible with barking
Over the next few weeks they can teach him a couple of behaviours that are incompatible with barking at people in a protective manner. He will learn to settle calmly on a mat.
He will also learn to look at them the moment they say his name. In this way, should they worry about his reaction to a person or a dog they can instantly get his attention.
In addition to a probable genetic component to the protective barking, there will be a learned element to it also. The more he does it the more of a habit it becomes. To help break this habit I suggest they ask people round very frequently – for short visits – starting with the neighbours.
There are also certain daily decisions they should be making for Percy in order to transfer to themselves some of the perceived responsibility. They will work on showing him that they look after him and not visa-versa. They will get him to do more for them and make doing so rewarding for him.
This should slowly begin to let him off the hook so to speak.