Agitated Dog. Excited, Alarmed, Relentless

agitated daschund

I could only catch a back view without him rushing to me!

The Miniature Wirehaired Daschund charged about barking, agitated whilst at the same time as ecstatic to see me. He flew all over me.

It was relentless. At my request we were all doing our best to ignore it.

I continually turned away and tipped him off.

I then asked the lady to show me what they usually did when someone came and he was barking like this. She pointed her finger at the agitated Monty and shouted NO a couple of times.

Monty stopped. Briefly. Then he focussed his barking on her.

Monty was also ready to bark at the smallest sound outside, but this time a different kind of bark. An alarmed bark.

The agitated Monty panted and scratched.

He scooted around the carpet – he has recurring anal gland problems that can only add to his stress (he has an appointment with the vet who will check him all over too). He chewed his feet.

Then he was flying around again. A stuffed Kong later on gave him and us a short respite.

It is so very hard for people to deal with this sort of thing and I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that, much as they love their adorable little dog, he is driving them nuts. They have spent money and they have taken advice. They are at their wits’ end.

The humans are agitated and the dog is agitated. A vicious circle.

Monty barks at people, he barks at planes or helicopters. He barks at church bells and things on TV. They can’t have friends round because from the moment he hears the doorbell he is jumping up, flying everywhere, agitated and barking frantically.

Some months ago an old-school dog trainer advised spraying him in the face with water. This did stop him – briefly.

There are two things particularly wrong with this.

Trying to terrorise an agitated dog does nothing for the underlying reasons for the barking. It undoubtedly makes them worse, whatever the cause of the barking.

The other very wrong thing is that the dog quickly gets immune to water spray, so then what?

They were advised to move on to an ‘anti-bark’ collar and other remote-controlled anti-bark devices. Here is my favourite video demonstrating how aversives can only add to stress and confusion.

Things have progressively got worse. They are people doing their very best with the information they can find. How do people know where to look? They are at their wits’ end.

They feel they have really tried everything.

Fortunately, they have not tried everything.

Not at all.

For a start, they haven’t tried doing everything they possibly can to cut down on Monty’s general arousal levels using only positive methods. Nobody has suggested that.

They’ve not tried helping him out with the alarm barking – basically thanking him instead of punishing him. Yes – thanking him – and using food!

The usual question then is, ‘am I not then rewarding my dog for barking?’.

Not if he’s alarm barking. They are addressing the fear that is causing the barking. Already with me being there they could see how that worked. A plane went over. He pricked up but didn’t bark. If they are sufficiently on the ball and can spot when he first hears something, they can catch it before he even starts – pre-empting barking.

Poor little friendly dog. What a state to be in.

People coming into his house cause a sort of total meltdown in Monty, to the extent that he may lose control of his bladder.

He did lie down a few times briefly. He lay in front of me on a stool and now that he wasn’t clamouring for attention anymore I slowly touched him. He lay still. I did it again and he charged off around the room once again.

Now when Monty is calm, instead of gratefully letting sleeping dogs lie, they will sometimes initiate activities. We looked at things that would both fulfill him and help to calm him down.

Getting to the underlying reason why he’s barking and dealing with that is the key. Any punishment is like putting a plaster on a festering wound. The wound continues to get worse underneath.

Now they have the tools for dealing with their beloved dog’s barking and agitated behaviour in a kind and positive way, they will be much happier.

And so will Monty.

Just one more thing – Monty is perfect out on walks. He doesn’t bark, he doesn’t pull and he loves other dogs!

Herding Behaviour When Indoors

Two Border Collies

Molly and Ben

Sometimes what our pet dogs were originally bred for can make some aspects of modern life within the confines of a house hard for them.

Border Collie, Ben, is one such dog. From the first time their baby granddaughter came into their house the very friendly, well-socialised dog became extremely agitated. Now that she’s a toddler he is even more distressed.

He whines and paces around her, he pants and sometimes barks and they feel might nip her if he got the chance. In addition to what seems like a version of herding behaviour when in her presence, he continues to whine and stress all the time she is in the house, even when he’s shut somewhere else. It’s like he is obsessed with her. Obviously they are never left alone. The little girl is unfazed and their other Collie, one-year-old Molly, loves her.

Sitting with the two very friendly and relaxed dogs who had calmed down after their wonderful welcome of me, it was hard to believe that six-year-old Ben could be any different, until they tuned into an animal programme on the TV.

At the sight or sound of an animal Ben whines and runs about. He paces and crouches. He will then get into more of a frenzy and lunge and bark at the TV.  I saw this for myself.

I started to work with him with the TV on and instead of the usual trying to stop the behaviour, I concentrated on showing him what he could be doing instead each time he looked at the animal. He reacted calmly for a couple of minutes or so before becoming aroused, not helped by Molly who was now joining in by barking at Ben.

It was obvious that they will need to put Molly behind a gate and work in very short sessions with Ben. They will start by making things as easy as possible, maybe the TV on mute or an animal image paused. They can slowly, over time, build up from there.

What is interesting is that the dog acts in such a similar way with the little girl. They can be using much the same sort of approach around the child as they do around the TV.

Border Collie lying on carpet

Ben

They will do repeated very short sessions.

I deliberately don’t describe exactly what we did because the specific strategies may not work in all cases and if wrongly interpreted may make matters worse.

Molly must be out-of-the-way and they can start when it’s easiest on Ben – when the child is sitting still in her high chair (they can’t sit her in front of the TV of course, because an animal may come on!). One grandparent can be with the child and the other bring Ben in on a long and loose lead, attached to a harness, so they have complete control over him all the time and so that he’s comfortable also.

Gradually, as Ben settles, they can have the child walking about, holding one grandparent’s hand while the other grandparent works with Ben.

Interestingly he’s only like this with the child when they are indoors. Out in the garden or off lead on a walk, he takes no notice of her.

There is one other big thing that I feel majorly affects Ben’s anxiety and stress around the TV and the baby, and this is both dogs’ lack of self-control. When they go for a walk, there is frantic and excited barking – to see who can rush out through the door first. Multiple commands go on deaf ears. Molly also is a big jumper at people. Again, commands do no good.

So, before they get to work on TV and baby, a calmer, more controlled environment needs to be created. With patience, the dogs will learn that the back door isn’t opened until both of them are quiet and hang back a bit – and this need not be done using commands at all. At present their noise and jumping is rewarded with the back door being opened. It now simply has to be the opposite!

All this arousal needs to be reduced in order that Ben’s stress levels are as low as possible before they embark on their work with him. Getting the background stuff in place can initially seem a lot for people to do, but these things have to be put established first so that they can make good progress with the lovely, friendly Ben.

They need also to work on doggy ‘remote control’! In addition to coming immediately away from something when asked, both dogs should also be trained to go to a bed or mat when asked so they can be sent away to settle down if necessary.

It would be great if, one day, the little girl could be watching the TV with both dogs lying peacefully on the floor nearby or in their settle places. Border Collies are so clever and trainable that with hard work and patience they should get there in the end.

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Ben and Molly. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good particularly in cases involving potential aggression. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Non-Stop Barking Down the Road

Cavalier King Charles stretching

Sunny

Little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Sunny’s barking is a big problem for his family. He barks in the night, he barks at TV, he barks at anything he hears, he goes mental when the post comes through the door, he barks at birds in the garden and he barks on walks from the moment they leave the house and all around the village.

His companion, a little girl Cav called Sky, is quieter (a ‘little angel’).

Barking can affect people’s lives big time. Night time barking means they get sleepless nights, barking on lead means walks are stressful and embarrassing and barking at the TV means their evenings are frustrating and punctuated by shouting at the dog.

Shouting at barking dogs just doesn’t work more than perhaps temporarily. Shouting does nothing long-term and merely adds stress to an already stressed situation.

People understandably concentrate on finding ways to STOP their dogs barking. Like many, Sunny’s people had resorted to using a Citronella collar but it stopped working as the dog got used to it (for dangers of Citronella collars please see here).

We concentrated less on the barking itself but on doing something about the hyped up emotions that drive the barking. In Sunny’s case I feel it’s a mixture of excitement tinged with a bit of fear, and some of it has been unwittingly reinforced. He is being taught to bark. He barks as they go down the road – and they keep going down the road. He barks in the night, and eventually someone comes down. He barks at the TV, and he gets their attention away from the TV and onto himself.

Sky

Sky

The gentleman, with me beside him, walked him out of the door and around the road a couple of times. After a number of false starts while we worked out the most suitable method to use, we were marking and rewarding quiet on the door step, he stepped out, said ‘Yes’ and rewarded, each couple of steps we stopped, said ‘Yes’ and rewarded quiet until we got to the difficult corner where other dogs lived before turning back for home. Sunny was still quiet.

The gentleman was quite chuffed at how well he had managed. In effect, he wasn’t teaching Sunny not to bark; he was showing him how to be quiet.

We worked in similar fashion with the barking at TV. The daughter had a clicker and food. Each time Sunny glanced at TV and before he could bark, she clicked and rewarded him by dropping food – he had to look away from the TV to pick up the food. Obviously programmes will need to be carefully selected to start with.

Sunny

Sunny

They are now putting the dogs in a different room at night-time. The rule simply has to be ‘no coming down’ – not even the once – unless they want the barking to continue. This is a behaviour that has only started recently.

The dogs should be kept away from the front of the house because passing people and post coming through the door only encourage barking, and they should only be let out into the garden when someone is about to help Sunny out immediately he starts to bark at something.

The less barking Sunny does the less stressed he will be. A calmer dog will be less reactive and quieter – sort of chicken and egg. He will for the time being be earning much of his daily food quota for being quiet. As you can see, he is a real little cutie!

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Sunny. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Westie Barks at the TV

Westies sleeping togetherIsla, now fifteen months old, started life having been left out in a garden for much of the time, barking. Consequently when the lady took her into her family six months ago the little dog had learnt to bark non-stop. The other Westie, Hamish, began to join in!

Although things are not nearly so bad now after the work the lady has already put in, the most disruptive part of Isla’s barking repertoire is barking at the TV.

She’s wary when the TV is on, but if she sees or hears and animal on TV she goes mental. Hamish backs her up by joining in. In a way, so do the family when they shout at the dogs to stop.

The barking in other aspects of the dogs’ lives should be addressed appropriately so they cease to get so much practice! If barking gets the gentleman to open the door in the morning, then barking is proved to work. If barking when something comes through the door drives the postman away (or so they think), then again, barking works. If barking at a neighbour when they are in the garden results in them being told BE QUIET and maybe chased around the garden, then barking is reinforced.

I take a psychological approach. If barking is an alarm call, should not we, as the ‘parents’, be taking responsiblity for the perceived danger rather than scolding or joining in?

Westies look upHamish is fine with the TV when Isla is out of the room, so it’s Isla who needs a great deal of desensitisation. This takes patience so would best be done during the day by the lady when the family isn’t wanting to watch TV.  Nothing is more infuriating when you want to watch something and a dog barks at the TV.

It’s surprising how many more dogs I go to that do bark at the TV now – the huge HD screens I believe are the problem.

To start with the lady can work on just the picture – no sound and no animals. Then introduce sound. Then silent animals. Then no picture but animal sounds. Then very soft sounds with pictures and animals…. and so on. It could be a long job.

At present the dear little dog deliberately looks away from the TV. This needs to be rewarded. She also may take herself off to her crate in the other room. I would like to try her crate in the sitting room but out of view of the TV, and to teach her to take herself into it when she feels anxious.

The two young dogs have plenty of exercise and sensible stimulation and they love to play together. They are fed the best nutrition available and everything else is in their favour, so I’m sure they will conquer little Isla’s fears of the ‘monsters in the box’ if takcochranen slowly.

Lovely message and photo on Facebook – seven months later:  ‘This is my two watching tv right now. Actually I’m watching and they’re snoozing. Theo, you’ll remember how reactive Isla was when you came to us a few months ago.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have planned for Hamish and Isla, which is why I don’t go into exact detail details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Human Control v. Self Control

Pug Jack Russell cross stressed and pantingBecause Pug-Jack Russell mix Freddie wasn’t being ‘controlled’, he was all over the place. He was waiting to be told what to do – or more what not to do. Like so many people, they do their best to control his behaviour by using NO and constant commands like ‘Get Down’, so Freddie is seldom left to work things out for himself and it’s not surprising that he lacks self control.

This isn’t to suggest for one minute that he’s not well treated – he is adored by the whole family who do the best they know how. The bottom line is, though, that if what they currently do worked they wouldn’t need help, so they need to be doing something different.

Freddie is more Pug than Jack Russell

Freddie is more Pug than Jack Russell

While I was there Freddie did all sorts of things ‘he never does anymore’, like jumping up behind me on the sofa and humping my arm, chewing my ear and grabbing and pulling at my sleeve.

I allowed this to happen to show them how to teach Freddie the behaviour that we do want, not because I feel these are in any way desirable behaviours. I needed him to do the unwanted behaviour so I could show him that it got no reaction or attention whatsoever and to show him how much more rewarding it is when he’s not doing it! I used clicker for marking every moment his behaviour was even momentarily what we wanted and both Freddie and the three family members caught on really fast. We can look at teaching him alternative acceptable behaviours when he’s in a calmer state.

He has an almost OCD ritual when he goes out into the garden – he is frequently asking to go out. He flies up at the door handle until it’s opened, then he spins, barking, just outside the door, followed by running a barking circuit of the garden. Then he may either toilet or want to come in again.

Teaching two-year-old Freddie self control and self calm is going to take time and stress reduction is the priority. All evening he was pacing, panting, drinking, asking to gWhat a long tongueo out, barking at TV when it was on briefly, humping me or grabbing my clothes and back to pacing, and so on. Not getting his usual responses was very hard on him so the behaviour intensified. He only settled briefly twice – and we made sure we marked and rewarded those moments whilst not setting him off again.

His high stress levels are at the root of all the things they want to eliminate, his barking at TV, his reactivity to people and dogs on walks, his fear of traffic, his jumping up and so on. Telling him off for barking or sending him to his bed doesn’t help him at all.

He needs to be allowed to work out for himself what works and what doesn’t. Already the 16-year-old lad who is very involved with the little dog has shown him that the door opens when he’s not jumping at the handle – simply by waiting until he’s sitting, saying ‘yes’ immediately and quickly opening the door. He then accompanied the dog out – walked Freddie well away from the door, thus breaking the sequence of his spinning ritual.

Freddie’s reactivity is inconsistent – the main variable being, I’m sure, his stress levels at the current time. In the mornings he is a lot calmer both at home and on his walk, having had the night for the stresses of the previous day to subside a bit. As the day wears on, things simply build up. Only when the whole family finally settles will he, too, settle – so long as there’s nothing to bark at on TV.

The ultimate goal is for FFreddiepug3reddie to live happily with the daughter’s dog when the two families move in together. Introducing the two dogs will need to be done very carefully and only after Freddie has made considerable headway.

Five days have gone by and the family is really pulling together. They have a long way to go, but today’s news is really encouraging and they have been doing their best to keep Freddie as calm as possible. They sent me this lovely photo and message: ‘Freddie chilled with me TV quite noisy, he’s had a lot of praise today’.
Two weeks later:  ‘I am curious that over the last few days Freddie has started to sniff and stop more when we are walking,walking along sniffing the floor not pulling.I am taking this to mean he is less agitated and therefore more curious about his surroundings.This morning I chose to walk along by the road away from the path on the grass about 10ft from road.He was sniffing and searching.This totally distracted him from the passing cars,I also praised him for this and gave him chicken. He alerted to one dog although I turned around and he was fine’.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Freddie, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

 

How Can We Stop Pug Barking at TV

I have just visited little Pug, Franklyn, for a second time because they have reached a plateau with his barking – both barking at TV and also barking in the car.

They ha11006481_10152725896872104_3455147435180808656_nve worked hard and had made some great progress, but now seem to be stuck.

Franklyn can now be called away from the TV if it is people talking, but he is much more reactive to the adverts and still goes mental when he sees an animal.

Thank goodness for clicker training!

Starting with a low-stress programme, it happened to be Friends, I showed them how to click/feed Franklyn every time he looked at the TV and, though vocal, didn’t actually bark. Then we upped it to clicking the briefest moment of silence whilst he looked at the TV.  Then we asked for slightly longer silence. We got as far as keeping him from barking – just grumbling now – during adverts. However, an elephant programme was too much for him and he regressed. We had pushed ahead too fast, so we went back to Friends again.

Using the same sort of gradual technique, we looked at the car behaviour. The existing plan had meant that they should have slowly weaned him into quiet car travel, but this wasn’t happening. We looked at how we can create an environment where he is more likely to be quiet and that is being held on a lap whilst not looking out of the window – a challenge! So, the plan is to teach him to ‘look’ at them, one of them to hold him and constantly feed him chicken whilst keeping his attention. Initially perhaps just with the engine running, then driving a few yards, then going further and stopping – and so on – until they reach their open space where Franklyn can, at last, again go for a run.

They can also introduce their barking at TV ‘Click for Quiet’ technique to barking in the car.

The problem with pushing a dog over threshold is that, just like in the TV example above, it sets you back and you need to recap. Driving a furiously barking Frankly to the field would do a lot more harm than good to their progress in the long run.

I am sure now that they will leap off that plateau and make some more real progress. Here is Franklyn’s story of a couple of months ago.

An email received a month after my second visit which proves what persistence and patience can do: Just wanted to let you know that we managed to walk Franklin all the way round the block with no real incidents! What an achievement. We’ve even managed to get him to the park and he’s played nicely with other dogs off lead and his recall is starting to improve again. Thank you very much for helping us with our little boy.
And three months after my visit: Sorry for all the emails but I feel you should know about Franklin’s wonderful progress. As it was a beautiful sunny day today we decided to go to the seaside with Franklin. We drove to near Southend to a pet friend beach. Franklin sat on J’s lap in his bed. Other than a few whines and being fidgety he was good as gold. We put him on his long lead and he was an angel to walk. We passed lots of dogs and he had little sniffs and played with a couple. There was no barking at all. I kept the lead really loose so he felt free but I could still control him if it go too much. We had a wonderful day out as family with no tears at all. We even shared some chips and watched the world go by.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Franklyn, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

 

 

Freddie is scared of bangs and TV

Can TV be Causing Dog’s Problems?

As I sat down they turned off their TV (as people do).

Freddie was friendly but restless whilst doing some quite determined nudging and nosing for attention before sitting and scratching and chewing himself. The vet wants to investigate further but for now he is on anti-histamine tablets.

After about twenty minutes he settled down, to stretch out peacefully on the floor.

The daughter, on her way out, popped her head round the door and remarked how calm Freddie was. This is quite unusual in the evening.

The five-year-old Border Collie was picked up as a stray in Ireland three years ago and thanks to the care of his loving owners he has fitted into their life really well. He is friendly and gentle, gets on really well with their two cats and is great with other dogs.

Freddie watching for animals on TV

TV has been turned on

Freddie’s two problems are that he is very reactive to animals on TV and he is scared of bangs. He hates the wind because it makes things clatter about. On walks he frequently bolts on hearing a gunshot or bird-scarer. He is a shaking mess with fireworks. Indoors he will suddenly begin to spook at something he has heard outside, inaudible to the humans.

In order that I could see how he was with animals on TV, I asked them to turn it on. Although there were no animals yet, within a couple of minutes he was no longer lying stretched out and relaxed. He was becoming increasingly agitated and beginning to chew himself. Then he looked at the TV, saw an animal, crouched, growled and then launched himself at it.

They turned the TV off again.

It took another twenty minutes before he was once more lying relaxed on the floor. The couple were amazed. It was such a graphic demonstration of the amount of stress TV was causing their dog, and like many people they have it on all the time they are sitting down in the evening.

We had tried turning the volume off, but by then he had seen the animal. I believe that the mere sound of the TV tells him that at any minute these beasts may be invading his room. It is possible that high background noise of the TV that we ourselves can’t hear may also trouble him. The TV makes him feel unsafe in his own home.

What can they do? They understandably didn’t feel that watching no more TV was an option, and besides, that would never address the problem. He needs to be desensitised carefully at a level he can handle, and counter-conditioned to accepting it. He already has a crate in the room, out of sight of the TV and where he happily goes at night, so to start with they can have the TV quiet and as soon as he shows any reactivity they can call him into his crate and give him something very special to chew – something like a favourite bone that he never has at any other time.

I strongly suspect that the raw skin condition due to his constant biting and scratching will also resolve itself as his stress levels reduce. With Freddie in a generally calmer state, they should more easily be able to work on the bang problem when they are out – starting by merely sitting on a bench somewhere he is reasonably comfortable, attached to a long line so he can’t bolt, and feeding him – ready to return to the car before things get too much for him.

Avoiding things altogether will get them nowhere, but he can make no progress, not even accept food, while he feels unsafe.

They will take their time and he will learn to trust them to keep him safe.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Freddie, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Understimulated Dog Barking at TV

Little dog chewing a plastic bottle Franklyn is alone all day, and when his humans come home he wants FUN.

They on the other hand, after a long day at work, want to RELAX in front of the TV.

Little Franklyn is a cross between a Pug and a King Charles Spaniel, and he is fifteen months old – and no, he’s not a wine-drinker! I gave him a tiny plastic wine bottle with food in it that I had saved especially to keep a dog like Franklyn occupied. On the left he is trying to break his way into the tub holding the tiny bits of food we were using!

He is given a short walk in the morning and another when they get home, but other interaction is mostly generated by Franklyn’s causing trouble! He flies all over them, he nicks things and he barks.

He is very reactive to any small sound he hears, but particularly wound up by the TV – rushing at it and barking constantly.  As the evening wears on he builds up a head of steam, digging into the sofa and getting more and more out of control – until, having lost all patience with him, they shut him away. His barking at TV is driving them particularly mad.

They have bought him lots of games and toys to play with, but doing things by himself isn’t what he needs. Franklyn needs human interaction. It is, after all, what he has been bred for.

The barking at the TV is getting worse as it will – he is getting so much practice. As they also watch TV in bed before going to sleep, the process continues even at bedtime as the little dog becomes more and more aroused. Consequently, while they are asleep he isn’t. He has some unwinding to do. In the morning all his chews and toys have ended up on their bed.

This little dog isn’t getting nearly enough healthy stimulation and one-to-one attention under the young couple’s own terms. They will now deal with the TV barking like the dog is fearful of what he sees – desensitising him, and so he doesn’t get too aroused they will regularly give him (and themselves) short breaks by popping him into the kitchen where he seems happy before bringing him out again and continuing the work. They have agreed not to watch TV in bed any more.

They will arrange for someone to pop in and give him some company in the middle of the day.

We have also drawn up a list of short activities with which they can punctuate Franklyn’s evenings.

The confrontational and controlling methods as used by a certain well know TV trainer are merely teaching Franklyn defiance and inciting aggression, so will be dropped.  These are methods that appeal to people when they feel they are losing control – but the results are short-lived and using force of any kind amounts to bullying. Totally unnecessary and counter-productive when, by understanding how to use positive methods you ultimately end up with a cooperative, happy and calmer dog.

As I write this just one day has passed and I have received this message: ‘It’s amazing how quickly he is responding now. My house feels calmer already’.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Franklyn, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Male Westies Started Falling Out

Milos is the more confident Westie

Milo

It took me a while to tell these two beautiful little dogs apart, but they are very different really. Milo is more nervous but more bossy, and Merlin is more confident but the bigger barker. Milo loves to be cuddled, but Merlin may grumble if touched or moved against his will.

Both are show dogs so they are entire. You can see how beautifully groomed Milo on the left is. The two used to play together and get on famously until, strangely, a few weeks ago their diet was changed. It was changed to raw meat, chicken wings, cooked rice and what should be an excellent diet. However, it brought out food aggression, especially over the chicken wings, and although they have been withdrawn things have never been the same since. With feeding ‘real food’, raw or cooked, it can be quite a responsibility getting the dietary balance right. It’s a known fact that too much protein can affect hyperactivity just as the additives and colourings in certain complete brands can.

All is not quite well in other respects though, so this was maybe just the catalyst. Both dogs have been obsessive lickers of carpets, sofas etc. As soon as there is any stress of any sort, they turn to licking in order to ease it – releasing the calming pheromones. It’s understandable to keep shouting at them each time they start, but we demonstrated while I was there that although they wouldn’t be distracted, by ignoring it they actually stopped a lot sooner.

The dogs are now growling at each other much of the time.  Milo eyeballs and controls Merlin. Merlin growls. Milo thenThe two Westies asleep together growls. They growl around the lady owner and around doorways. They are constantly ‘ready to go’ as soon as they hear something outside. Barking frantically they skid across the kitchen floor in a race to get to the back door first, resulting in a scrap when they get there. Again, shouting at dogs for barking makes it worse, they could even think you are joining in with more angry noise. It’s also unfair when the dogs are doing the job they have been given. Best is to relieve them of the job!

I suggest the dogs revert to their original diet seeing as it was working well. Having chosen the highest quality dry brand available, they should avoid all the extras which have no nutritional value and upset the careful nutritional balance. Everything should be done to keep the dogs as calm as possible.

When I ask people for a list of the things that stir their dogs up, it’s surprising just how many stressful, over-exciting or over-stimulating things can be cut right down or avoided altogether.

A month has passed by: “we have seen a vast improvement since we first saw you…… they played a little last week.  It was only for a minute or so but Milo was the one who instigated it, which made me really happy.  I haven’t seen them play together for so long, so it was really nice – made my day and showed that we are doing the right things.
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.