Opened the Door and the Dog Ran Off

Tibetan-TerrierMonty, a Tibetan Terrier, is 9 months old and a typical teenager! If you want an easy life, you don’t choose the bravest, biggest and most bossy puppy in the litter. This was Monty. He stood out from the rest as a character. Now adolescent, they are facing defiance and lack of respect big time – especially the lady.

We didn’t start off too well! As soon as Monty’s owners opened the front door to let me in, Monty legged it! The houses are surrounded by wooodland and as they tried all the tricks to catch him, Monty stayed just out of reach, teasing them. What a game! Fortunately with treats and patience and because he was curious about this new person in his house, I got him back in the end. The moral is that he simply must never be near the open front door – certainly not until a lot of work has been done with him, because it’s a certainty that given the chance he will be out again and they may not be so lucky next time. Despite the immediate rural surroundings, roads are not far away.

Monty is in charge. He makes most of the decisions. He decides where he sleeps, he eats in his own good time, he dictates when he gets attention and in his mind he decides where he goes on a walk – always well ahead on a retractable lead. He even goes on strike if he decides he doesn’t want to walk any more.  He has taken to jumping on the lady whether she is sitting down, standing or on a walk, leaping at her arms which are badly bruised by his teeth and biting her back if she turns away. They love him dearly and the lady understandably finds this bullying very upsetting. If she says ‘No’ to him it’s is like a red rag to a bull! The man has a bit more control but only because Monty is a bit scared of him. Monty is like a naughty spoilt child.

It can take an outsider in an objective way to wake people up to just what is happening. They can now see that a dog that rules the roost just like a spoilt child, is not necessarily a happy dog. Throughout the meeting we worked on his pushy behaviour, and then it was time for the gentleman to take him for his evening toilet walk. Instead of playing chase games before allowing his harness to be put on, we achieved a calm and cooperative exit from the house. If the man needed proof that the behaviour of the humans around Monty was affecting his behaviour, the transformed walk did it.

They are going to work on being non-confrontational. I suggested they avoid the word ‘No’ as far as they possibly can. ‘No’ doesn’t tell the dog what he should be doing, only what we don’t want him to do. There are more effective and positive ways of gaining Monty’s cooperation. They will set rules and boundaries and maintain them consistentaly and fairly, in a way that Monty understands. Real love is about being bothered to be consistent and just as with children, teaching them self-discipline kindly and the sort of behaviour that means they fit happily into society.

Brushing up on dog-parenting skills is, again, the key.

A week has gone by and they are off to a very good start: “I would say there has been a massive change with Monty, since your visit the house seems so much calmer and so does he. He is sleeping far more, it is almost like he knows he can chill out now because someone else is the leader and he does not have to worry about it anymore.  He also seems to enjoy the gentle “loose lead” walks, he does not seem to mind they we are not going further a field at the moment. The stress and angst from all three of us has disappeared, the difference it is making already is brilliant, I cannot begin to tell you how lovely it is to have a peaceful home back, with no shouting or running around like a lunatic after Monty. The word “no” is banned. When I think back now to all the shouting we were doing, no wonder he was stressed! I know it sounds silly, but he actually looks more like a puppy again in his face”.
Three weeks have now gone by: Theo, had to email to tell you about today. Monty and I went for a walk today harness on and loose lead, we met a lady who’s dog went to puppy social classes with Monty, she is also a dog walker and had 7 dogs with her! All on tight leads stretched out in front like her arm was about to be pulled off. The dogs were going mad, and one by one let off the lead. Normally Monty would have pulled on his retractable lead to full length, bark and be over excited. Instead whilst talking to her, he stood by my side on loose lead, as if to say “what’s all the fuss about”. It was like  he was the new boy at first  day of school with all the other kids running around and him thinking I will just stay with my mum. Played with the other dogs nicely when they approached but that was it. So we quietly turned around and walked the other way, leaving the women in a manic state screaming at all the dogs. So, Thank you, without your involvement, I couldn’t have been the proud parent I was today”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.

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Stressed, Excitable Little Papillon

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.

Being King Isn’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be

Giant Schnauzer is ver larger and very regalYesterday it was a Miniature Schnauzer and today a Giant Schnauzer!

Benson is very Big and very regal. He is magnificent – a really lovely boy, and a teenager! He runs the show. After being let outside in the morning he runs upstairs and leaps all over people in bed, may even hump them and may growl if removed. He jumps up and barks while his meals are being prepared (ignoring repeated commands to sit and wait). He jumps up and barks while they try to put his lead on to go out and then pulls like a train down the road until he reaches the park. When let off lead, he may jump up and grab his owners. There is nowhere indoors he is not allowed to go. Benson and the other dog can’t have toys or chews because Benson commandeers them and becomes possessive. He is becoming increasingly protective and wary both when meeting people outside and at home. His owners are getting worried because signs of aggression are increasing.

He has some major plus points. He is aloof and ignores other dogs, so no trouble there.  He can be very affectionate. He likes to keep an eye on his human family, so apart from one time when he was spooked by a bicycle and took it upon himself to run home, he stays near them when out. When called, he comes – but only to within a few feet. Then they have to go over to him! He is still an adolescent and is pushing his luck. The power takeover can creep up on people as they give way bit by bit until they suddenly realise they are being controlled by their dog!

For Benson there is a downside to being King in that without leadership he feels exposed and unprotected so easily scared of things like bikes, pushchairs, umbrellas and so on.  He also is scared when certain people, men mainly, look at him or lean over, approach directly or enter his personal space. A dog with convincing human leadership is much more relaxed and less touchy about his own personal space, less likely to worry about collecting and possessing trophies, jumping up, humping and dominating.

I read somewhere that a leader has a much greater need to lead than a follower has to follow. It can be a long job gently and fairly convincing a dog like this relinquish his responsibilites – to be more relaxed. Trying to do it through domination and force would make things a hundred times worse.

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

Schnauzer fearful of dogs and children.

Look at this for a face! Hector is an eight month old Miniature Schnauzer who looks like a teddy bear. He is a remarkably calm pup most of the time. He is intelligent and biddable. He has been given sensible boundaries from the start, but is now quietly testing them as teenagers do! It is amusing to see how much he can get his unsuspecting humans to do for him, on his own terms, and how he chooses just what he does for them on their terms. He knows exactly hminiature schnautzer Hector looks like a teddy bearow far to push it!

This is typical puppy stuff which makes owners wonder whether it will ever end, and even causes some to give up.

The problem with Hector is his fearfulness. He is a very confident little dog when at home with his family, but when someone new comes into his house he barks at them and backs away.  Out on walks when on lead he is likely to bark at people and dogs. The worst is that he barks at children. When young children come to the house from time to time he is very scared, and if they are toddling or walking about he barks incessantly at them and this sounds aggressive and scary. He is very reactive to children playing outside or riding past on bikes.

It is natural for a dog to be wary of small children. They move suddenly and upredictably, they can be noisy, and they often approach in what the dog perceives a threatening manner, directly and staring, and most likely with arms outstretched. The owners then get anxious or cross when the dog is barking or growling, which compounds the problem. If there isn’t opportunity to acclimatise the dog to young children every day or so over a period of time, then he needs to be protected and to have a ‘safe haven’ where the children can’t go. In Hector’s case I suggested putting a gate on the kitchen doorway to keep the dog in and the children out. Maybe the child can throw little bits of the dogs dry food through the bars – but only if Hector is sufficienlty relaxed and not barking – so that he associates children with something nice.

Whether the dog is frightened of children, people, other dogs, traffic or anything else, it needs to be worked on gradually in a controlled way. Complete avoidance to start with and then introducing the trigger slowly and gradually whilst dealing with it the right way – never forcing the dog out of his comfort zone and being ready to retreat. Complete avoidance gives no opportunity to rehabilitate, but pushing ahead too fast can even result in shut down or aggression.

Hector is only eight months old, and with the right guidance and responses from his owners, over time he should gain his confidence.

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

Young Staffie

StaffieThis is Lola. It is a shame I forgot my flash! Lola is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier aged seven months, slim and long in the leg for the breed.

She has a lovely nature. She is loving and confident, she is not a barker and she’s a quick learner. I feel she wants to please.

Like most seven-month-old puppies, she gets very excited when people arrive and when they play with her, and this is when she uses her mouth and teeth to grab clothes and hands so this is where tug games are inappropriate unless done as a training game. We don’t want to reinforce in play the very things we don’t want her to be doing. It may be she left her litter mates a week or two too soon, because this is the time when, through rough and tumble with siblings, puppies learn to be gentle.

The mouthing, together with her always pulling on lead, jumping up on people and still having occasional accidents in the house are all usual things I help people to deal with when they have young dogs. In Lola’s case they may have already solved the toilet indoors problem by shutting her in her crate when they are out and at night. Fortunately she is very happy in there. They can’t open their door directly into the garden, so it’s up to them to remember to take her out on lead more regularly.

Lola is going to grow up to be a wonderful adult dog.

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