Too Many People. Too Much Noise

Can't cope with too much noiseThis is Boris, a delightful five-year-old Miniature Daschund. He is a little shy, a sensitive soul. Delightful.

Boris has had a big upheavel in his life. A couple of weeks ago they moved into a large house with a swimming pool.

Too many people and too much noise

Boris has become very upset and barking when friends come to the house. The two sons naturally want to invite their friends round for a swim. They are young adult males, making too much noise for Boris, playing ball, shouting, splashing and maybe teasing him.

By the pool Boris goes wild, barking, panting and drooling. His lady owner is becoming increasingly stressed with the situation – which he will be picking up on.

Poor little dog.

Boris has always been excitable when people arrive, but was fine with me because nobody took much notice of him. I could read an underlying anxiety, however, and he needs to be treated gently and quietly.

One big problem is that guests, especially with a bit of social alcohol in them, ignore instructions! They will wind up the dog – maybe unintentionally – doing the very opposite of what they have been asked.

In the past, Christmases have been similar – with large numbers of people, too much noise, wrapping paper, excitement and alcohol. Boris would more or less panic – constantly barking. If he is shut away, he continues the constant barking. Stress builds up in a dog and he can be left, for several days, in a state – unwinding.

After a short bark when I walked in, Boris didn’t bark once when I was there, showing he would be fine if all the humans acted in a certain way.

The family will all work together

The whole family will work together to insist that guests comply. It seems that it’s people playing with a ball that fires him up the most (he is somewhat ball obsessed), so while he is about there should, for now, be no ball play. He needs to be desensitised gradually to swimming pool noises, with the lady taking him safely further away from too much noise, to the front of the house, and then working on gradually getting him nearer.

Boris also needs to learn to be left happily alone, somewhere quiet and safe. He could then sleep through it all, out of the way in the kitchen.

It’s natural for a dog to vocalise in play (after all, the humans are making a lot of noise!), but it affects him psychologically to get into quite such a state; because of his barking, the people, too, become stressed, frustrated and cross.

They now have a better understanding of Boris and will work together to help him.

Troubled Jack Russell

Jack Russell Jack;s tummy is red and sore from compulsive licking himself

Jack

Jack Russell Jill is sitting in her bed

Jill

Little Jack is ten years old and lives with Jill who is also ten.

They are both very good little dogs as far as obedience is concerned, but both, Jack in particular, is troubled. Although both dogs have a very good life with a loving and sensible owner, it is possible that something in the past is overshadowing their present life, because their change in behaviour coincided with that particular time.

Jack is unsettled and this is manifesting itself in regularly marking and peeing indoors, in growling when he is made to do something and by compulsively licking himself. There are one or two people he is scared of to the point of aggression.

He looks relaxed on the right, as he was when I took the photo, but one can see his red and sore front due to the obsessive licking.

Jill also is stressed but to a lesser extent. They may be left alone for a long time and bark and cry intermittently throughout the day.

Jack and Jill at peace

Jack and Jill

We looked at all the possible causes of stress in the little dogs’ life at the moment – and this includes anything that stirs them up in any way, and the list can be surprisingly long. Here are some of them:  being left alone, post coming through the door, scolding, being told off and commands, humans being cross, Jill obsessively licking Jack, Jack persistently licking or humping Jill, Jack chewing and licking himself and being told off, behaviour of visitors and family, going to other houses, vacuum cleaner, excitement before walks or going in the car, discomfort and tension when being walked on lead, agility classes, obsessive ball play, barking itself increases stress, constant jingling of collar tags.

So we are finding ways of reducing stress in every way possible. Being consistent is essential. Using encouragement and reward rather than commands and scolding is also key.

There is the dear little Jack on the left, and lying in their bed with Jill below.

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

Nearly the End for the Border Collie

Border Collie Flossie didn't like metaking the photo, she was yawning, licking her lips and her nose, and her ears were back.Border Collie Flossy was not happy with my looking at her to take her photo. She was yawning, licking her lips and her nose, and her ears were back.

Flossy is in ‘Last Chance Saloon’. She has bitten her male owner about six times – once so seriously he had to go to A & E, and last week she suddenly attacked the lady for the first time. She has never bitten anyone else though.

She is a very nervy dog, and in the name of love and kindness the family are feeding into this by over-stimulating her. Her stress levels are permanently high – topped up by two walks a day where she is so scared before leaving that she shakes, by excessive excited ball, tuggy and chase games – mostly initiated by herself as she will pester till she gets her own way, and by adult family members who wind her up big time.

In this heightened state, she will much of the time be ‘ready to go’.  Nearly all the biting occasions are when a hand has suddenly gone down into her space. Humans don’t see it like that – they think they put their hand down to pick something up near her, or to tuck a cover in, or to wipe something from her nose – but to Flossy it is merely a hand coming quickly into her space. It may follow her having been denied something she wants, or told to do something like get off the sofa.

The very kind gentleman behaves like Flossy’s hand-maiden. While the relationship is like this she will have no respect (we are not talking about love here). A respectful dog would never growl or bare her teeth which have been regular occurrences from the start, let alone bite.  The lady has escaped being bitten till now because she is stronger. The gentleman is devastated at the thought that his beloved dog will need to be put to sleep if she bites again. Unintentionally, though, he is killing her with kindness. Despite all the hand-feeding, large tub of treats, enticing, playing, petting and obeying Flossy, she is not a happy dog. She is a stressed and scared dog in need of her humans to be her ‘rock’.

Such a big change in the humans’ behaviour is needed that I hope they can manage it. The only way a dog’s behaviour will change is if that of her humans changes. She is not a bad dog. She is misunderstood, she is highly strung. Her start in life was bought from a gypsy for cash as a puppy with nothing known about her past, and she may have inherited some instability. She needs different treatment from a normal stable dog. I shall be there to help them all the way.

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