Bully behaviour. New Dog is Finding her Feet

A week ago, their new rescue dog began to bully their other dog.

Cookie

Six-year-old Cookie is a cute and somewhat nervous, anxious little terrier. Rudi, a Wirehaired Terrier, joined them six weeks ago.

It began with the calmer and more confident Rudi eyeballing Cookie.

Next, one of the young daughters was fussing both dogs and suddenly Rudi went for Cookie.

The next occasion was triggered by someone dropping and smashing a food bowl. Things then came to a head with a fight over a bone.

Continue reading…

Practise a different way of reacting. (Practice makes better, if not perfect).

They have had two-year-old Springer Spaniel Ben for one week now.  He is a beauty; polite and friendly.

I sensed that some of his quietness is due to being a bit careful and still finding his feet. Ben may well be a bit different when he has properly settled in.

He could become more confident which may well work in their favour where his explosion into barking and lunging when getting too close to another dog is concerned. Continue reading…

Frantic Barking. Littermates. Not Prepared For Real Life.

I walked in the door to be met with frantic barking.

Brave Luna, with frantic barking, came right up to me. Her sister backed her up but with less enthusiasm.

Frantic barking at people and sounds

Luna

Luna and Bear are same-sex siblings. They are two-year-old Cavapoo Collies. What a mix! They were a bit smaller than I expected.

Walks are a nightmare due to the dogs’ reactivity to everything, their frantic barking and pulling. Consequently, the family don’t walk them regularly.

Their frantic barking at every sound when at home is annoying the neighbours. The lady has tried all sorts of things to stop the barking, some not pleasant for the dogs. None worked. Continue reading…

Barks with Excitement. Barks for Attention.

Bobby barks with excitement.

Gorgeous little Bobby barks with excitement and he barks for attention.

Cockerpoo barks with excitementI didn’t witness this at all – that often happens! It may have been because we were sitting down peacefully much of the time and people moving about can arouse a dog.

It also will have been because I frequently broke off to do things with him – little training games and a bit of clicker work. He had no need to bark to get attention.

The eleven-month-old Cockerpoo was adopted by my clients five days ago. I am helping to make sure he settles in well and they start as they mean to go on. Mostly it has been general tips but they have one main problem.

Barking. Continue reading…

Born to Guard. Big Burden for a Family Pet.

guard dogBaloo is born to guard. His entire life centres around guarding his family. He’s ‘on duty’ all the time.

I sat down at the kitchen table and they opened the door. The most enormous dog charged towards me giving a giant rumbling WOOF.

He stopped short of me (fortunately!). He’s a lot bigger than he looks here – they say he weighs about 11 stone. Continue reading…

Aggressive When People Leave

Polly is aggressive when people leave. I had been sitting on their sofa for a couple of hours and had slowly made friends with Polly.
Then I stood up.

The dog thought I was leaving. She changed in a flash into a snarling, barking, biting dervish.

There is a lot more to it, however

The lady met me at the door with Polly on lead — this being the only way she could open it without her dog running out. As I walked in, Polly bounced off the floor, barking at me, leaping up at me and biting my clothes.

This frenzy didn’t last too long once the lady gave me the tiny bits of chicken I’d asked her to prepare for me. Polly soon got the idea that staying on the floor was a lot more fulfilling than jumping up and barking at me.

Her extreme arousal levels result in poor Polly being super-reactive and constantly on high alert. Stress levels have fallout in other areas. They are a large part of the reason she goes mental when people leave.

Polly scratches herself raw

The vet has prescribed all sorts of things to no avail. I guess most dogs are stressed at the vet so it would be harder to tell, but watching her in her home environment, it was obvious stress was involved to large degree.

As soon as she had got over a bout of barking or there was any pressure on her, Polly scratched.

The lady tries to stop her with a command or a distraction — or by holding her foot to restrain her. As Polly only scratches to try to relieve her stress. stopping her without providing an alternative only adds to it.

I suggested a dog T-shirt with sleeves. She could then scratch without harming himself and the lady could relax about it while working to help relieve Polly’s stress.

Bearing in mind that the lady is so upset by the situation, anything that helps her will help Polly, and visa versa. Our own emotions can have a big effect on our dog.

I was sure that as she worked on everything else, the scratching would reduce or even stop altogether. I was right.

Constant barking

The next problem is constant barking at every sound. How can someone stop a dog like this from barking?

A previous trainer had suggested spraying water at her. She’s already in a panic. How can scaring an already aroused and panicking dog not make her even more frantic?

There are predictable triggers. They live by a school. For half an hour each morning and half an hour each evening Polly goes mental in the garden.

She goes mental with barking when letters drop through the front door.

There is a public car park out the front and she reacts to every car door she hears shutting. She runs back and forth from kitchen to front door and then into the garden, barking.

While I was there she barely barked at all — and that is because I worked on it.

At every sound, even before she could bark if possible, I reassured her with ‘Okay’, called her and dropped her a bit of chicken.

Car doors slammed outside and the lady couldn’t believe — Polly wasn’t reacting. On the occasions when she rushed out into the garden I called her in immediately. I called her before she had time to get stuck in — and rewarded her. We shut the door.

Simple management

If the lady keeps her eye on the ball and cuts down on all barking opportunities, she will find things very different. It will be hard work and every little bit helps.

She will immediately install an outside letterbox. She will keep Polly shut away from the front of the house at school-run times.

I also advised her not to give Polly free access to the garden unless she is at hand to help her out.

When she goes out and leaves Polly alone, it should in the quietest place — the sitting room — well away from the front of the house, passing people and slamming doors.

Aggressive when people leave

The third big issue I discovered towards the end of my visit. Having been sitting down for a while, I stood up.

Polly thought I was leaving. She changed in a flash from this little dog who was doing so well with me, into a dervish.

She barked ferociously — even worse than at the start when I arrived. The little dog flew at me, grabbing my clothes. She was in total panic.

Standing still and using my original technique, I eventually calmed her down again. All was well for a while until, still seated, I slowly picked up my keys to see what she would do. That was enough. She went frantic once more.

The lady understandably wanted to know why her dog does this whenever someone gets up to go. Why is she so aggressive when people leave? What memory might it trigger?

Who knows what the rescued dog’s previous life had been like.

It’s complicated.

In her panic, Polly has bitten the lady several times at the gate or at the front door. She had gone to move Polly during one of her ‘mad sessions’.

(Many years ago I inherited an old Labrador when we had bought a house from an elderly lady who went into a home. Her dog stayed. I used to say that Angus would rather kill someone than let them leave).

Back then I didn’t know what I know now.

Cutting down on Polly’s stress levels is the key

So, all in all, just by reducing the barking alone the lady will cut down a lot of Polly’s stress.

Cutting down on her stress will contribute to her not being aggressive when people leave.

Polly needs more exercise and freedom to be a terrier — away from the confines of a small bungalow. Her walks aren’t daily. They are currently along the roads on a short, tight lead attached to her collar.

She will feel a lot better when the lady gets her a comfortable harness and a long training line and takes her somewhere more open. She will have thirty or more feet of freedom to sniff and to explore. This way she won’t escape whilst having some enrichment in her life.

I visited this dog two months before writing this article. Polly now is a lot less excitable when someone comes to the house. She still barks but it lacks the panic and the lady, who has worked very hard, can reassure her so she stops. She seldom scratches.

Best of all, when she has a caller and they get up to go, Polly is chilled. She has learnt to associate people leaving with two good things — play and food.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help

Vocal. Very Excitable. Easily Aroused. Permanently Stressed

I rang the doorbell bell. Betty barked – as most dogs do. I sat down, she barked at me. She continued to be vocal on and off for most of the time I was there.

At first I thought she wanted to chase me away, but it soon became apparent that she was excited by my presence in a friendly sort of away.  They seldom have callers and to Betty I was therefore a major event.  If I touched her she went quiet but then would bark at me for more when I stopped.

Betty is an extremely vocal little dog.

Very vocal little dogI couldn’t however get on with my job and pet her all the time. By doing so I was merely reinforcing here for being loudly vocal. If we had put her in another room she would have continued to bark and I didn’t want her even more stressed. Continue reading…

Alarm Barking. How ‘Stopping’ the Barking Can Make Barking Worse.

It was hard to imagine as I sat with Cocker Spaniels George and Rupert that the problem is alarm barking. Having had a sniff of me they simply settled down for the evening.

These two dogs have a very good life! They want for nothing. They go to a very good daycare while the couple are at work. They are taken on holiday with them and are very much loved.

Neighbours have complained.

Continue reading…

Emotional Barking. Window Barking. Barking on Walks

I have just been to two lovely little dogs, a Westie and a Miniature Pinscher.

Both bark in a frenzy when someone knocks on the door. Westie Jock barks non-stop when out on a walk.

I group barking roughly into four types – one when the dog simply wants something, another when the dog has been trained to ‘speak’.  Then there is barking in play. The fourth and most common type of barking that I go to help reduce is what you could call ’emotional barking’.

Barking – a symptom not the problem

Continue reading…

Too Much Barking at the Window by their Miniature Poodles

Miniature Poodles do lots of barking

Jack is on the left, Ozzy on the right

There is only one problem with the two adorable miniature poodles – too much barking.

Jack in particular goes into a barking frenzy when he hears or sees anything outside the house.

Rarely in the course of my job with owners who have problems with their dogs do I visit dogs that are quite so well-trained and good. They are friendly, bright and happy little dogs. They are wonderfully trained with all sorts of tricks and antics, they are super obedient before their food goes down. When asked, they will go to their mat and stay there (see below) and much more.

They walk nicely and they are quite good around other dogs despite over-boisterous bigger dogs having hurt them and dogs having snapped at them a couple of times.

Barking is the problem

On the barking front, the days don’t start well. The dogs come up to the bedroom first thing in the morning and straight away Jack, on the left, is on watch out of the window from the bed, waiting for things to bark at.

Then, when the lady gets up, he is running around downstairs, from window to window, barking at things as she tries to get washed and dressed. Already she is becoming anxious and exasperated.

Then, when Ozzy is let out into the garden he rushes out barking and running the boundary. He just stops barking briefly to do his business.

Naturally the two dogs hate anything coming through the letterbox and will bark madly if there is a ring on the doorbell.

To ‘try’ or to ‘do’?

I’m sure this sounds familiar to a lot of dog owners! They believe they have tried everything but nothing works. One common mistake is to ‘try’ things and not carry on for long enough. Another is to deal with the barking as though barking itself is the problem, rather than the symptom of over-excitement, fear, protection duty. Arousal causes the barking.

The humans need to take control of protection duty. This doesn’t mean that the dogs are expected to stop barking altogether. It means that they can alert the humans and then leave thOzzyJacksone worrying up to them.

How people react is the key. Any form of scolding is merely joining in. Any form punishment can only make them more fearful and reactive. The whole family needs to be consistent in reacting in the right way every time the dogs bark – and immediately. The ‘right’ may not be the same in every case, so we work out the best strategy for helping these dogs out.

Not a part-time job

For best success it’s vital to be on the case constantly. We can’t only deal with it just when we have time and inclination and at other times leave them to sort it out themselves. Therefore, when the people are unavailable or tied up doing something else, they should shut the dogs in a ‘bark-free’ environment or a room with no view (in this case in their crates), with something to do.

How can they respond every time their dogs bark when it is so frequent, without going mad? The more the little dogs bark, the better they get at it.

Key to success and sanity is cutting down as much barking opportunity as possible. They can do this by blocking the view out of windows with static plastic window film or moving furniture, drawing curtains and so on. An outside mail box solves the problem of post invading their home through the front door.

Taking Ozzy out into the garden on lead for a few days will break the ritual of rushing out barking.

Two vicious circles

There are two vicious circles going on here. The more the dogs bark the more aroused they get – so the more they will bark. The more the dogs bark, the more anxious and stressed the humans become and the dogs, picking up on this, will bark even more.

This the latest feedback: “I am very pleased with the progress Jacks has been making. The mornings are much calmer now but if he gets a bit excited I pop both him and Ozzie in their crates with a treat and their music on. They are both quite happy with this arrangement. When people come to the door Jack knows the routine now and comes happily trotting back to me for a treat when I use the “OK”. I now feel in charge (in a nice way), and that I can bring peace and calm when needed to the home I share with my dogs.
Thank you for your help and advice, we would not have the improvements we have now without it. I am very well aware that the boys need consistent handling and don’t intend to go backwards.”
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help