Younger Boxer Goes for Old Boxer Dog at Times of Arousal.

Boris, Betsy and Buster

All three Boxers have a wonderful life, with lots of freedom and lots of love. They have old boy Buster, 11 and entire. There is Boris aged 2 and they have six-year-old Betsy – in the middle. they had Boris castrated a month ago. (I didn’t take the photo as Boris never sat still enough while I was there).

The problems between the two boys have been growing over the past two years. Boris goes for Buster. Nearly always this is in times of arousal or excitement.

The most recent attack seemed to come out of nowhere. Continue reading…

One-Year-Old Boxer Brothers. Challenge of Siblings

Rambo on the left is a lot more confident than Bronsons. They watch and bark from the windowThere they are, on the left, up on the sofa at the window watching me leave – Bronson and Rambo.

Their young owners have been working hard to train them, but it’s not always easy.  Their dream of happy walks with two lovely, friendly dogs and of polite behaviour with guests to their house just is not working out.

The challenge of siblings

It’s a mix of problems really. Nothing extreme. Rambo is a lot more confident than Bronson and likes to put him in his place – with Bronson only being pushed so far. They may then have a bust up but in no time at all they are the best of friends again. This can be the challenge of siblings.The two Boxers relaxing

Bronson is the nervous one, and this has now escalated into his being scared of approaching people when on walks and reacting to other dogs. They can’t work out how or why it started. One day he simply went for a smaller dog and it has gone downhill since.

Bronson and Rambo’s walks should be more under the control of their humans.  A hyped-up dog, straining on a tight lead with the discomfort of a Halti around his face, is going to be stressed. Meetings and greetings, too, should be under the control of the humans. When they have proved to Bronson by their own behaviour that he can trust them (and it will take time and effort which I know they are more than willing to give), Bronson should relax.

Over-excitable

When friends come to the house the couple has worked hard to train the dogs to stay away on their ‘place’ away from the front door. However, once released they are no less excitable – jumping all over people and maybe mouthing or nipping.

I feel this needs a ‘behavioural’ approach – dealing with the emotion that causes the behaviour – rather than ‘training’. Why do the dogs behave like this? Is it simply because they are so friendly? I think not. If a human were to greet a guest in such an overwhelming manner, it could be down to anxiety.

The dogs need to be removed from the situation until everything has calmed down. Welcoming people is another thing that needs to be under the control of the humans, and the guests need a firm lesson or two on how to behave when the dogs do join them!

When I arrived there was little jumping on me and no nipping. The dogs were relieved of pressure and responsibility. I turned away from the jumping up and asked the owners not to intervene;  I pointed out the lady’s tense and worried body language and she visibly relaxed. There were only calm and confident vibes for the dogs to pick up on.

They are superb dogs, living with a young couple who want to learn how to do the best they can for them; who have always only considered positive methods.

They simply need more strategies – more options, the sort of tricks and solutions I have picked up along the way by helping so many dogs.

Two Boxers with Too Much Freedom

The two Boxers have too much freedomHoney and Millie are both six years old. They were brought home on the same day, but they are not sisters. Millie came from a good breeder and nice home environment, whereas Honey missed out on some vital early input from siblings and mother, and had to be hand reared. What happens during the first twelve weeks or so of a dog’s life makes a huge difference and I don’t believe can ever entirely be reversed. A dog without proper early interaction with siblings and mother will be harder work.

The two dogs used to get on brilliantly. They had puppies at the same time  – even putting all their puppies together in one whelping box and sharing the maternal duties.

Unfortunately things have gone downhill.  Honey, predictably, is a much more stressed dog. A short while ago, due to complications in a pregnancy, Millie had to be spayed, and the imbalance of hormones between them may be adding to the growing tension between the two dogs.

Honey will suddenly just go for Millie. Sometimes she gives ‘that look’ first, sometimes it seems to happen out of the blue. There are a couple of common denominators – the lady is always present and it seems to involve comings and goings, either of people or one dog returning into the presence of the other.  On most occasions the house has been busy and Honey will have had a build up of stress.

To my mind the biggest contributor of all to Honey’s stress levels in particular is the enormous amount of freedom the two dogs have. They have quite a large area on the estate where they freely roam – controlled only by an electric barrier. They are left out all day with an open kennel for shelter. They are there at the gate whenever anyone arrives and it is a busy place. Honey barks, growls and hackles – scared and warning. It’s quite surprising that all her stress is taken out on poor Millie and that she’s not actually gone for a person by now. There is a public dog walking path through the estate that they can see but not reach, which also causes barking and stress.

These two dogs are in charge of the territory, no question about it. Without realising it, the people are often allowing the dogs to be in charge of them also. If it were just the much more stable Millie it may not really matter as she can handle it. Honey can’t.

I am hoping that they can find a way of enclosing the dogs during the day when they themselves are not about and that they feel happy with, and of keeping them well away from the gate area when people come and go so they are let ‘off duty’.  My own dogs are peacefully contained in quite a small area in the house when I am out and I wouldn’t have it any other way for their own sakes – and for the most part when they are anywhere further afield than my garden, I accompany them.

Ruling the roost really isn’t easy on a dog. With some indoor leadership work as well as limiting physical boundaries, Honey’s stress levels should then reduce and I am sure she will not feel the need to take it out on poor Millie. Possibly spaying her in a couple of months’ time when the time is right could help, but I don’t believe this alone is the answer as the dogs already had had a few differences earlier. It needs to be done in conjunction with the behaviour work.

Rearing littermates usually comes with problems, and even though these two weren’t actually from the same litter, because they were adopted together at the same age there will be little difference.

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