‘No Touching’. Breaking the Behaviour Pattern of Biting.

‘No touching’ for a period of time is the way to go now.

no touching the dog is the way to goIn all respects apart from the biting, Cocker Spaniel Lupo is wonderful. The young couple have worked really hard and most of the time he’s soft and affectionate. They have had help before and have conscientiously done their best. This hasn’t stopped both of them being bitten many times. Continue reading…

Bites When Touched in his Bed. Warning Growl.

He bites when touched in his bed.

It’s hard to believe!

Will is the most adorable, soft, fluffy, friendly and gentle Pug Poodle mix – a Pugapoo I believe. While I was there it was impossible to see any hint of what I had been called for – growling and biting his two lady owners.

He has a lot of attention and is seldom left alone. He has been to several puppy training sessions and he’s fed on the best food.

This escalated about five weeks ago though he had growled when in his bed and approached before that. 

They didn’t heed his growling

Now one lady has two bite wounds on her hands.

I likened it to my standing in a queue with someone uncomfortably close to me. I would move away. The person then moves near again. I might give them a dirty look (the dog may freeze). If that doesn’t work I might tell the person ‘Back Off’ (the dog would growl). Then, if the person moves right close and touches me despite all this, would I not be justified in slapping the hand away? (The dog snaps).

Then, what if I was accused of assault? Would that be fair?

Will is then scolded ‘No No Naughty!’.

Will only bites when touched in his sleeping place, and mostly when it’s for something he doesn’t want, getting him outside at bedtime or taking off his collar.

We worked on “Will, Come!” back and forth all over the room. This is the key. When sufficiently motivated with food he will do whatever they want. Nobody needs to invade his space.

The other issue is food. He’s a fussy eater and this worries the ladies greatly. Food is left down all the time and he is enticed with chicken. This leaves them nothing for ‘payment’ and motivation. He has a running buffet and his favourite is used for regular meals. Rewards need to be of especially high value whilst also being nutritious. We looked into what to do about this.

One other problem – Will is car sick.

He bites when touched in his bedHe drools as soon as he is put in which to me suggests fear – maybe in anticipation of the motion. We have a plan. First the car will be parked about 50 yards down the road and on the way back from their regular walks he can be popped in the car and driven home – taking about half a minute. After several days he should know exactly what to expect and feel chilled with this. No drooling.

Next I suggest that at the start of the walk they pop him into the car and drive this fifty yards, park the car and, again, pick it up on the way home.  When he’s happy they can increase distances and go further.

It’s so hard to believe that the adorable Will bites when touched in his bed. He clearly, in dog language, says what he’s feeling. His body language is misread. Growls aren’t taken seriously. Just because he has rolled onto his back  it doesn’t mean he’s asking for a tummy tickle. He’s much more likely thinking ‘uh-oh, I don’t want to be fussed just now, please, I give in, no…..!’.

As ignoring his signals continues, the dog can become increasingly defensive. I’m sure if Will’s lady humans now no longer approach him to touch him but wait till he comes to them instead, he will become more relaxed about it.

Who can resist touching a little dog who looks and feels like this, after all!


Obsessing Jack Russell is to go Cold Turkey

Jack Russell Digger has a very soft coat and a beautiful faceAbout six weeks ago Digger went for someone who bent down to touch him. It has happened a couple of times since, and the gentleman has noticed ‘that look’ about him several times – especially when he wants to touch him – to wipe his feet or brush him perhaps.

Sixteen-month-old Jack Russel Digger is very little – the picture doesn’t do his beautiful soft coat and lovely little face justice. It was hard catching him still. He was on the go the whole time I was there.

Usually his male owner is throwing him a ball or toy to fetch all the time he’s in – almost on automatic whilst he watches TV. Digger drops it to be thrown over and over again.

Yesterday evening when I was there I asked the man to remove the toys. It was like Digger was going cold turkey. He was climbing the back of the chair, he peed on the floor several times and then he’d settle for a frantic chew to try to calm himself down before starting again with jumping behind me, licking my ear and biting my hair and whining to go out, only to come straight back in again.

If and when this ball game is introduced again it should be instigated by the gentleman only, and limited to five minutes in an evening. It is like Digger has a key in him and he’s being over-wound to breaking point. Meanwhile he needs plenty of things to chew, because chewing produces pheromones that help to calm him down.

I touched him gently and watched. After a while he subtly changed. He went still and his pupils dilated. I removed my hand.

Because the onset of this behaviour seemed so sudden and because there was no change in the dog’s life at the time so far as the man can see, I have suggested he takes Digger to the vet – just to make sure he’s well. If we have a headache we may well be less tolerant – just as if we are highly stressed we may be bad tempered. Digger looks fine but there may be something going on we can’t see.

Whatever the cause if it’s ever discovered, the treatment is much the same. Digger needs to be allowed to calm down. Family members make a huge fuss of him. He is adored. One minute he rules the roost – everything he wants he gets if he pesters for long enough – and the next minute he may be shouted at for jumping up and using his teeth.

I detect a rather confused, anxious little dog.

Email a few weeks later: ‘Thank you so much for your emails and words of encouragement. Digger is like a different dog within, i believe about 6 weeks ! I have taken an approach to the way i am with him thanks to yourself. We are now enjoying each others company so much more and you wont believe the tricks he has learnt already now he’s calmed. He also seems to really enjoy the tricks and is great at working out what i want him to do for me. He still has a bit of attitude but in a much nicer and different way than before and im happy with that as i feel he’s smart little fella and does have his own mind! Thanks again…’

Westie – A Very Important Dog

Westie Hamish is the KingLook at him! This is Hamish, a Very Important Dog, and he knows it.

He is no trouble at all most of the time but he has his family jumping to his bidding.  He has them up and down opening the garden door, and then may decide he doesn’t want to go out anyway. He takes them his food bowl when he wants food, and obediently they fill it. Whenever he brings them a toy, they will always play. When he wants to be fussed or touched, they always oblige.

However, things are a bit different if they want to do something with him, if his own space is invaded.  He has bitten several times, mostly when they take his collar to either inspect his feet or groom him. When they go into his space he may back into a corner and bite. He has been chewing his back feet, but they can’t inspect them.

He went absolutely frantic at the vets recently, biting his male owner in the car park and having to be restrained with a catch pole in the surgery. This sort of experience will guarantee future vet visits will be even worse, if that’s possible.

If his owners give him better leadership and make him work a little for some of their attention, Hamish should then start to value them when they want to attend to him. They need to learn not to corner him – we wouldn’t like that either. He needs to want to come over to them – to please them. He needs to learn that to get attention he sometimes has to work for it.

For dogs that have problems with people invading their personal space, you need to work slowly and imagine how it feels to the dog. First, I would say that putting him somewhere high to groom him, maybe a garden table, would be less challenging for him. It all has to be done in tiny increments, starting with him being happy simply being lifted on and off the table. Then he can be massaged and touched in areas where he’s less touchy – no brush or scissors in sight. All the time he needs to be watched for signs of stress, as that is the time to stop that particular session.

He needs to change vets to give him a fresh start. There is a vet nearby at the back of a pet shop. This would mean he first would smell toys and treats, he could be called through at the last moment. He could be taken there beforehand a few times to buy his dog food. He also needs to be weaned into wearing a muzzle, and this also need to be done in tiny increments, until he’s happy wearing it around the house. It’s essential that the muzzle is not associated with going to the vet.

In other respects Hamish is a chilled and confident little dog and no trouble at all (apart from being another Westie like I met a couple of weeks ago that barks at animals on telly!). A beautiful boy.

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