Multiple Dogs – they have ELEVEN!

A chaotic atmosphere is troubling to some dogs - just as it is with childrenOne needs to run a ‘tighter ship’ with multiple dogs if things are not to be chaotic. A chaotic atmosphere is troubling to some dogs – just as it is with children, and the behaviour of the 5-year-old Cocker named Jigs is evidence of this.

Considering they have eleven dogs – a mix of various Springer, Cockers, Poodles and Cockerpoos all age under the age of six, these dogs are a tribute to their owners. The lady is a groomer and the dogs are gorgeous. A full-time job.  It isn’t surprising, however, that with those numbers there are a few issues.

At present the dogs rule the lady in particular. As she sits on her chair they leap all over her uninvited. There is some growling between them. There is also some trouble between two of the female dogs, one of which, Jigs, constantly parades a ball, pacing about growling. There has only been one major fight between her and Millly, the 6-year old Springer – so far.The lady sits on her chair they leap all over her uninvited - but not today.

With so many dogs all together most of the time, the lady needs to behave a bit like an orchestral conductor! She should be calling the tune. She could be inviting which dog she wants on her and turning away those she doesn’t. She needs to watch out for and pre-empt trouble between dogs immediately.

All the dogs follow her everywhere – she is like the Pied Piper. It’s quite hilarious really. She is a very warm and lively person, and unsurprisingly the dogs are much more excitable with her than when they are left with her quieter husband. Jigs’ pacing, parading and growling doesn’t happen so much when she is out. She acknolwedges that she has some work to do.

Bo

She needs to take more control and Jigs needs helping out. It will be hard for her initially to get into new habits that are alien to her, but we have made a plan so that she is introduced to one thing at a time, starting by gaining control of her own lap! This will be followed by treating each dog individually, calling one at a time to her.

Most importantly the dogs need to learn that calmness gets the good stuff. At present they are wild with excitement at so many things – being let into the sitting room in the evening, going out into the garden with the lady (they won’t stay out without her), and when people come to the house. The excitement then stresses Jigs and Milly who may turn on each other.  When a visitor arrives the little white American CockerAmerican Cocker is scared of people and may pee (left) is scared and may pee, and Springer Milly runs and hides. The rest are very sociable. Absolutely delightful.

I have been to people with far more problems with just two or three dogs then they have with their eleven. A lot could be done by creating a calmer atmosphere and letting the dogs know that their humans – the lady in particular – aren’t their slaves!

They breed Cockerpoos. Last year they had two litters. This year the four unspayed females will hopefully have puppies (Jigs isn’t one of them). The dad will be handsome year-old Poodle Bo, on the right.

Doesn’t Like Being Cuddled by Little Girl

American CockerI have just been to see Max, a two-year-old American Cocker Spaniel.

I was expecting a whirlwind like my own ten month Cocker Spaniel, Pickle, but instead found a quiet and subdued dog. They have had him for a couple of months now. When they visited him initially in his old home, he was very excitable but calmed right down as soon as they picked him up and brought him home. This change in personality may be because he lived with another excitable dog or simply because his new home is a lot calmer. When a dog’s behaviour changes so dramatically the first port of call is the vet to make sure he’s not in ill or in pain. As Max has a persistant ear infection that is being treated, this may be something to do with it. He’s not carefree like you would expect, so maybe he is missing the other dog who may have beeen the more dominant and confident of the two.

Max is fearful of other dogs on walks and this is now going to be addressed over the next few weeks or however long it takes. More worryingly is that he has snapped at the little granddaughter who I will call Cara (not her real name).

Cara was so thrilled when they got him, to her he is a big cuddly toy. She simply would not leave him alone. She had to cuddle him all the time. She would touch him and lie on him. Poor Max gave her all the warning signals he could – from freezing, grumbling to a brief lip curl, but she either didn’t notice or ignored them. Her mother and grandparents had to watch and nag constantly, but in an unguarded moment last week he snapped.

Cuddling doesn’t come naturally to dogs. The nearest they do themselves is humping. The front paws grab the other dog and this is usually an act of dominance.  So poor Max would be reading something other than love into Cara’s actions. Unfortunately, if his warning signals are ignored, he can’t talk after all, he will learn that there is no point giving them at all and he may snap straight away another time.

This is a bit different from my usual cases because it involves child-training! Having explained that Max just didn’t like it and that he was scared (hoping she might listen to ‘The Dog Lady’ more than her family!), I then praised her every time she looked at Max and didn’t go to him. It is simpler initially to teach her not to touch him at all. What a good girl! Max was soon happily coming over to her because he wanted to. With lots of reminders and praise Cara was learning! When ‘no touching’ becomes second nature to her, she can then be taught where and how to touch him – and only when he comes over to her through choice. As an extra precaution they will be getting a crate to put Max’ bed in. The door will be open so he can come in and out freely and only shut if the adults are unable to watch. Cara will be taught that this is strictly a Cara Free Zone!

As I left I asked Cara, ‘What does The Dog Lady say?’

Cara said,  ‘Don’t Touch Max’!

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. Please just check the map and contact me.