Attacks the Man. Resource Guarding. Bites.

Pomeranian attacks the manSadie attacks the man. It sometimes looks like she attacks out of the blue. At other times I swear the little dog, a 10-month-old Pomeranian, sets him up!

She mainly targets him, though sometimes the lady too.

The little dog shares their bed and attacks them when they try to get in. She will do the same if one of them has to get up during the night.

She attacks them when they get ready to go out. Sadie will go for the man’s feet and hands even if he’s putting his shoes on to take her out for a walk.

Worst of all is her behaviour around resources.

They leave her food down all the time. She will take a piece of her dry food and jump with it onto the sofa, next to the man. Then, there is only one way of describing it, she taunts him with it! If he moves, she attacks him.

She also treats the lady as a resource and attacks him if he so much as leans towards her.

The poor man has bite marks over his hands and arms. It’s fortunate she not a bigger dog. They’ve had several dogs before, but never one like this. Continue reading…

Springer Spaniel Attacks Them. Frenzy of Rage

in the evening their Springer Spaniel attacks themThis is beautiful ten-year-old Springer Bracken when we first sat down and before the lady wanted to move from her chair.

It is hard to believe that this dog, about half an hour later, had exploded into a blind rage. There was no hint to look at her just how she would transform when either the lady or gentleman wanted to move.

Their Springer Spaniel attacks them

If I had moved it would have been okay – it’s only the lady or gentleman.

To quote the lady, Bracken is ‘sweetness and light’ in the morning, but as the day wears on her anxiety, stress and resulting aggressive behaviour increases.

By the evening they have to leave her in the kitchen after tea and dare not go back in there again until the morning because their Springer Spaniel attacks them.

Naturally this isn’t the full story of Bracken and her medical history. They have been in contact with their vet. I feel that had the vet actually witnessed an episode like I did she would agree that there may be more going on.

A neurological problem?

I wonder whether Bracken has some sort of chemical imbalance or neurological problem.

This is what happened. So that I could meet Bracken and maybe see how she reacts, she was allowed to join us yesterday evening. I suggested she trailed a lead – just in case – never dreaming how fortunate that was to be.

When the lady wanted to move it began, as usual apparently, with signs of acute anxiety followed by snarling and growling. I asked the man to lead Bracken away from our end of the room in order to remove her from the situation that was making her so anxious and so the lady could get up to make us a cup of tea.

The dog lost it.

Bracken didn’t want this at all. The dog lost it. She went wild.

I have never seen anything like it my life. She was in a total frenzy. Fortunately she attacked the lead while the man held it away from him – sort of climbing up it. He let go and the snarling dog immediately cornered the lady by the front door. The man managed to get her into the kitchen – where she instantly went quiet.

Fortunately no blood was drawn this time.

How truly terrible for people to have a dog that loves them during the day but in the evening morphs into this frenzied, angry animal.

Because it gets worse as the day wears on, we listed all the things that arouse Bracken. They will be doing all they can to de-stress her. During the calm mornings they will teach her a couple of strategies for when someone is walking about.

Along with a few other things, her diet needs to be changed and controlled; food may be the one route to gaining her willing cooperation because confrontation and commands only make her worse.

It could be an extremely slow process but there should be some evidence quite soon whether a behaviour approach is likely to be the answer. We will most likely need to get some backup form the vet by way of medication.

This is a distressing nightmare for the owners who have loved and cared for Bracken since she was a puppy – and it must be hell for Bracken. This isn’t the true dog.

She is being driven by something she can’t control.

A couple of weeks later. “Thanks Theo for all your help. We are having a calmer week – due to the most part to your helpful advice”.
Three weeks later. “We are keeping up the training methods suggested by you and she seems a calmer happier dog”.


Cocker Spaniel Monty Has Regressed

cockerMontyI visited Monty 18 months ago and he was something of a puppy nightmare – see here for his story back then: http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=2778.

Following instructions, Monty and his family were doing so well that bit by bit they departed from our plan, thinking it no longer necessary. Gradually his old problems returned, and instead of going back to the plan which had worked so well before, they have been ‘listening to people’ and ‘looking on the internet’ (one suggestion given to the young adult daughter was to stare him out which is an extremely aggressive and confrontational thing for one dog to do to another and which I would never, ever do with a dog).

Monty has been receiving a lot of confusing mixed messages.

Things have now have reached crisis point. Monty attacked the daughter twice last week; he is highly stressed. He growls constantly which is ignored as ‘not serious’. Unwittingly it’s being reinforced with lots of attention and the poor dog is now totally confused. He’s a mix of wilful and anxious – he jumped at me, nipped and humped me when I arrived, apparently because I was taking no notice of him; he is very persistent in getting his own way. We put him on harness and lead. He settled down. Later, he growled and lunged at the daughter; he was really scared afterwards and all I did was to silently lead him away.

We looked in detail at events that led up to each of the attacks and exactly what happened afterwards; these two areas need carefully working on against a backdrop of respecting his efforts to communicate, and taking as much general pressure off him as possible.

Monty never has liked invasion of his space; his growls are always ignored. One of the attacks happened on a day when he was already probably over-stimulated by other things and after he had been approached and touched in his bed – despite his warnings. He can’t talk, after all. Soon afterwards the daughter bent over to touch him. Explosion. What more can a dog do when he’s never listened to?

Because of how he was when I first met him aged 5 months, I just wonder whether there may be a touch of ‘Cocker rage’ – just enough for him to ‘unpredictably’ fly off the handle if his stress levels are sufficiently high.  Should this be the case it’s even more important that his humans are consistent and whilst giving consistent rules and boundaries they are also respectful of his needs.

When things go pear shaped it’s usually because owners have been treating behaviour modification a bit like giving antibiotic for an infection and once clear the medication stops. They need to regard it more like insulin – something that has to be administered for the rest of his life for a permanent condition.

So, it’s back to square one with Monty, and always harder the second time around.