Very Protective Dog

Daschund Max is on guard dutyUnfortunately Max has recently bitten several people including two young children and two postmen.

Max, age two, was found as a stray and they understandably absolutely adore their little dog.

A few months ago they moved house to a busier street, and now Max is doing a lot more barking. He is getting a lot more worked up. He has taken it upon himself to be on guard duty big time. Any noise sends him flying around the house barking. He barks at passers by when out in the garden. Two different postmen were bitten when they entered ‘Max’s’ garden and put out a hand towards him – but outside his own territory one of these same men is like his best friend. At home he is an extremely protective dog. Outside his own house and garden he is a different dog, and very friendly with other dogs too.

Not only is Max becoming increasingly protective of the house, he is very protective of the lady and most of his growling and biting has happened in her presence. When I sat down Max stood facing me on the lady’s lap, barking while she ‘comforted’ him. I asked her to put him straight on the floor. She should be nice to him when he’s quiet and pop him on the floor when he barks.

Max also growls at the gentleman when he’s on the lady’s lap. He growls at them in their own bed at night – pMax is the centre of the lady's universearticularly at the man. I have nothing against dogs sleeping with people if that is what the people really like, but certainly not if the dog is taking posession of the bed and growling if they dare move!

The lady in particular behaves like Max is the centre of her universe.  She touches him and attends to him constantly. The moment she gets home from work, after a rapturous welcome, although he has had the company of the gentleman for most of the day, she is cuddling and playing with him for an hour before doing anything else. They are doing his bidding all evening until he settles.  All this adoration can, in my mind, be quite hard for a dog. As time goes by Max is increasingly taking on the role of protector and decision-maker.  This is a big burden for a dog and one that should be shouldered by his humans.

Gradually Max’s stress levels should reduce as the barking gets less because the people will now deal with it appropriately. They are dedicated to helping him. As a more relaxed dog he should be more tolerant  – though all people should respect his dislike of outstretched hands and his people must take responsibility for this, even using a soft muzzle when children visit so that everyone can relax. The rule must always be Safety First.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Max, 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 dog can do more harm than good – particularly where issues involved aggression of any kind. 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).

 

Jumping Up and Nicking His Master’s Tools!

Basset Merlin has a great personality, and look at that face!Sometimes there has to be a trade-off between what people want of their dog and what they are prepared to do to get it!

6-month-old Bassett/Welsh Foxhound Merlin is hilarious. What a face! He has a wonderful personality – he’s affectionate, friendly, playful…….and deliberately ‘naughty’!

His ‘crimes’ are stealing things, especially his owners tools including even an electric drill, and hoarding them in the garden. He jumps up at the sides to take anything he can find. He jumps up at people.

He would do none of these things if they weren’t rewarding in some way. I noticed that whenever he jumped up at the sides, people were slow in calling him down and not on the look-out, so from Merlin’s point of view there’s no consistent rule. When he is caught, loud DOWN and crossness is quite high-value attention for a tough dog!

He jumps up at people because it always gets a big result. He needs attention only when his feet are on the floor, but everyone has to do this. Unfortunately, the dogs are out in the garden much of the time and people who call are jumped on as they get out of their cars. The owners have a choice. They keep the dogs in unless supervised (which they don’t want to do) or they put up with the jumping up at callers. Something has to give. They want their dogs to run free on their land, so it’s their choice.

Stealing things is such fun! Being chased by an irate man who actually loves him dearly is a great game. He shows no aggression or possessiveness, and the tools can always be found in the usual place outside. The price to pay for now and until Merlin gets beyond his teenage stage is to keep things out of his reach and restrict free access to the garden – as one would with a toddler. Again, the people have a choice. Merlin is always ready for the main chance and misses little!

Their current ways of trying to teach him involve punishment, sometimes physical, or scolding. He must see little point in not jumping up because feet on the ground isn’t rewarding, and coming away from the sides in the kitchen isn’t rewarding. Resisting the temptation to nick something isn’t rewarding – but to Merlin running off with it is! It enfuriates them.

Seeing him lying on his back on the sofa is a picture. He really is the softest and silliest dog. I loved him. To the extent that his owners are prepared to change what they do, they will be able to change what Merlin does.