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.

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Teenage Ridgeback with Mind of his Own

a dog with a mind of his ownOne has to smile. This photo says it all!  He is sitting in the seat just vacated by the lady – ‘my seat’!

Samba is very big even for a Ridgeback. He is just one year old. They have had two Ridgebacks before but neither had prepared them for Samba. They were gentle and biddable.

A mind of his own

Samba is one of those dogs that when asked to sit will either do nothing at all or lie down. He exercises his clever brain by finding ways to control his environment. It is even a battle for the man to get his lead on before a walk.

The final straw that resulted in my visit was a nasty gash down the lady’s arm. When she’s alone with him during the week, Samba bullies her. He has to be ‘herding’ her wherever she goes, pushing and perhaps mouthing. He won’t let her out of his sight. When she sits on the sofa, he will run the length of the house and launch himself on top of her; she shouts, gets angry and scared and flails arms about – hence the unintentional wound from his nails. He grabs her arm with his front legs like he’s going to hump her.  Samba is a lot stronger than she is and is on top of her.

Things have got so bad that she goes out of the house to escape from him which results in even more time in his crate, which adds to his bad need for stimulation. His daily run isn’t sufficient.

They call NO the ‘magic’ word. This must change to ‘YES’ as they look for and mark all the small bits of good behaviour that they can. Cut out commands and scolding. Every command is setting up an opportunity for him to be defiant.

People hold the trump cards but don’t use them. They give them away for free when they can be earned. Food. Attention. Play. Walks.

Samba is sure to hold out for a while. Being a Good Boy isn’t nearly as much fun as the current reaction he gets for causing mayhem!

Adolescent Great Dane and Red Setter

A powerful adolescent Great Dane

Merlin

Merlin, the Great Dane, is  a powerful thirteen-month-old adolescent. He is a bit of a canine hoodie, ambushing and going for poor Red Setter Blue and wanting to control everything around him.

More worryingly, he has started to bully other dogs on walks. He will body slam into them, knock them over, stand over them and even pin them down, but he chooses his victims wisely. They are usually older or more timid dogs. A typical teenage bully!

Don’t get me wrong – he is a gorgeous, intelligent dog with great potential, but he has an attitude problem – some of the time. He is supremely confident and fearless. ‘Brought up’ right by consistent and firm humans, he will be a wonderful adult dog.

Red Setter can be restless and stressed

Blue

Another area that is creating difficulties is that, like many people, Merlin and Blue’s owners believe the best life for dogs is to have lots of freedom and uncontrolled access to a large garden. Whilst they have their own area indoors, the door is open most of the time, all the year round. As Merlin has got older, guarding tendencies have kicked in. Visitors sometimes have to run the gauntlet of the dogs when they open the gate; Merlin has pinned someone to the fence. I have found in many cases that dogs can become a bit wild, uncontrolled and territorial when given open space and lack of boundaries.

Setter Blue can be an agitated and restless dog, and this stirs Merlin up. When Blue is able to relax and settle down it should help the whole situation.

‘Training’ as such is lost on Merlin, because although he understand the commands perfectly well, if he doesn’t feel like cooperating there is little anyone can do! He’s huge. He ignores his owners because he believes what he wants is more important, especially when he is engaged in putting another dog in its place. So, they need to work on becoming MORE IMPORTANT in the eyes of Merlin – through leadership and using more of a psychological approach. There are, after all, ways of getting a teenager to tidy his room – but commanding him to go and do it straight away probably invites refusal! Then what? So it is with wilful dogs. There are ways!

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

English Bull Terrier on High Octane Fuel

English Bull Terrier has manic bouts of frenzyPoor Leo, a four-year-old English Bull Terrier, is in a bad way. They were so worried that he might bite me that he was muzzled throughout our meeting  – with it just taken off for this photo.

Here was yet another dog who as a puppy that was the strongest, greediest and bossiest in his litter. Leo belongs to a young gentleman who lives with his father and has serious problems with pent-up stress, leading to aggression – around food in particular.

He gets manic bouts of frenzy, flying around and going for the two men. The young man then physically pins him down to prevent someone getting hurt. This is all getting increasingly out of hand. Castration made no difference at all.

Leo’s aggression around food is puzzling. He is reasonably calm while his food is prepared, and OK when it goes down. It’s afterwards that the problem starts. It’s like he is hyped up with high octane aggression fuel. He starts to spin around like he’s winding himself up before attacking. They have to catch him and muzzle him quickly. He is fed quite smelly cheap tinned food. Food can influence behaviour in a big way. While they prepare their own food they have to keep feeding Leo bits to stop the spinning and biting.

Putting him out of the way is also a problem. The house isn’t big so it means the garden, and then Leo simply barks and barks.  They will need to enlist the understanding of their neighbours for a while.

They really love Leo and want to do the best for him, but simply don’t know how. The confrontational dominance methods seen on TV are making him worse. These techniques create a battle which they are unlikely to win and who wants that sort of relationship with their dog anyway?  Leo is alone for about ten hours a day, and not given daily walks. Interaction is either rough and tumble exciting play, or getting cross with him for persistently barking until they do what he wants. He is allowed to lie on top of the young man, effectively pinning him down, but then may bite if removed from the sofa.

This is a dog with huge stress issues and simply no rules and boundaries in terms that he understands. De-stressing Leo is where it all starts. I suggested a technique for feeding him, after which I feel he should be left alone for a while to give him time to calm right down.  The energy rush of his food is all in one meal – understandable because they don’t want this ordeal in the morning before work as well as in the evening – but it should be spread.

I so hope that they can manage to give Leo the calm kind of leadership he so needs. It will be hard work requiring a lot of patience.

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

Rottie taught Dominance and Aggression

16 month old Rottweiler in his third home alreadyBaxter is a 16 months old Rottie and onto his third home already. His new owners have had him for just five days, and are determined to turn his life around.

It is evident that Baxter has been abused in the past by humans using force and dominance to control him. Because of this, aggressive human control is the only ‘language’ he really understands. It has to be increasingly forceful for him to even take notice.

Unfortunately, if you continue down that route (domination, force, pinning down and so on) where does it end?  Shock collars? Beatings? The situation escalates and will almost certainly get out of hand – to the point where Baxter wins through sheer strength and determination, eventually doing someone serious damage.

That would be the end of Baxter.

Baxter’s new lady owner is covered in bruises from nips and grabs. He’s not aggressive as such. He is a big teenage bully –  like a human adolescent who has grown up in a violent family. Like most bullies, he is also a coward and is easily spooked.

The lady is up for it, and I shall be working closely with her while she starts to show Baxter by her own behaviour that she is to be respected. Leadership has to be earned, and requires calm confidence. Baxter needs to learn straight away the behaviours that are unacceptable. At present he starts to lick, then mouth, then grab, then nip and there is a sequence. It is allowed to continue until it hurts and becomes a battle of wills and strength. They must react immediately, but calmly. Zero tolerance.  Otherwise how can Baxter learn?

He loses control of himself very quickly, so they must watch for signs of stress and immediately stop what they are doing, whether it’s going straight back home having been out for just a couple of minutes, coming in from the garden even if in the middle of doing something, or walking out of the room even if they are in the middle of a good TV programme.

Punishment, shouting ‘NO’, pushing him away, pinning him down are all ways of giving him attention under his own terms, in a ‘language’ he is already good at and gets better at all the time, and simply reinforces his bad behaviour.

But what can they do instead? That is what we are working on together.

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