A big dog attacked him. Psychological fallout.

a big dog attacked him

coat to protect his wound

Poor little Marley.  The other day a big dog attacked him.

The young gentleman was walking him at the time.

Instead of enjoying his walks with the little dog, he’s now anxious and constantly on the lookout for larger dogs. He had been unable to save his little Chihuahua.

He had been walking with Marley in a field near home where the little dog regularly plays off-lead with his doggy friends.

The big dog attacked him

Without warning, an off-lead Weimaraner appeared from nowhere and had Marley in his mouth. Continue reading…

Jealous When Other Dog is Fussed. Dog Fights.

Nellie isn’t very happy.

This is despite being treasured, along with their other two tiny dogs, Luna and Sandy.

Nellie is a two-year-old Pomeranian, the last to join their little dog family of three. Luna is a Chihuahua Pomeranian mix and Sandy a Chihuahua.

Jealous.

Luna is Nellie’s problem. Tiny Sandy keeps well out of it. Every time the young couple sit down Luna is on them – the lady in particular. She is cuddled and fussed. Nellie herself isn’t a dog that likes so much fuss, but she doesn’t like Luna getting it either.

Luna

I’m pretty sure it’s not that she doesn’t like Luna herself (she’s absolutely fine with her when they are shut in the kitchen; they play together). She is jealous.

Jealousy is a horrible emotion that eats into you, isn’t it. It’s like Nellie is bearing a grudge. She seems to choose to act like she’s an outcast, lying away from Luna and the young couple.

Luna for her part may be tormenting her! She is obviously ‘revelling’ in her attention, rolling on her back, eyeballing Nellie, rubbing it in (that’s my interpretation). Nellie turns her back, shutting it out.

Daily fights.

Over the past few months this has degenerated into fights, sometimes several times in one day. Damage is only prevented because these fights only happen when the dogs are with the couple and they are sitting down. Someone is always there to grab them.

Reducing overall stress levels should help greatly. At present dog to dog play with Luna goes on for far too long unchecked. Human to dog play is far too vigorous also.

Giving Nellie individual attention with things she herself likes to do will help her, things like going for a walk or hunting for food. She’s not a dog that much wants cuddles.

They will cut down on the constant fussing of Luna too. The lady is having a baby soon so Luna will have to get used to this. We have a plan for preparing Nellie in particular for baby.

Common denominators leading up to a fight.

Nellie is jealous

Nellie

In analysing the fights there are certain common denominators. Fights only happen when the young lady is about, never the man alone or when the dogs are by themselves. Fights happen when the lady is sitting down (hence cuddling Luna).

I watched to see exactly what the dogs were doing – things that people hadn’t noticed. It began with some lip-licking from Luna and some displacement behaviour from Nellie – she licked herself. Someone passed the house and both dogs rushed to the window barking.

Nellie, now more unsettled walked about growling softly. She disappeared out of Luna’s view. The owners thought she was asking to go out, but no.

Nellie reappears, still growling on and off. Luna was stretching on her back. She looked at Nellie. Eyeballing and stillness. Then it exploded like the cork removed from a bottle of fizz.

The fight was immediately interrupted, not hard because Luna was already on a lap and could not leap onto the floor to get at Nellie.

After the interrupted fight.

It was about to erupt again a short while later – unfinished business. We put our plan into action.

As the fighting always involves eyeballing, I immediately put my clipboard between them, breaking eye contact. As the fighting never happens when either of them is walking about, the young man immediately got up and walked out of the room, calling Nellie who follows anyone moving about.

Where shouting may be necessary simply to interrupt them, I feel there are better ways which we discussed (not listed here because what works here may not be the best plan for other fighting dogs). Ideally they should nip it in the bud before it erupts. Better still, to help Nellie with her jealousy.

It’s like Nellie resents the ‘favourite child’ and like a jealous child this brings out the worst in her. One can see from her body language she’s not happy as she watches and licks her lips, or turns her back on them.

Practice makes perfect.

Unfortunately, the more this sort of thing is repeatedly practised, the more it becomes hardwired into the brain response, increasing the likelihood of the behaviour recurring. This is why things seldom get better by themselves but go on a downward spiral.

Our work will be like a jigsaw of bits to gradually put into place, concentrating mostly on Nellie. She will need positive associations with the baby from the beginning in order to avoid jealousy. They have two months before baby is due, so work starts now.

Some people dispute that dogs have feelings like jealousy which I find ridiculous. In The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin noted that ‘everyone has seen how jealous a dog is of his master’s affection, if lavished on any other creature.’ See the Daily Telegraph article written by Sarah Knapton. To read more about dogs and jealousy, see Stanley Coren in Psychology Today.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Nellie and Luna because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same. 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 much more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly, particularly where any forom of aggression is concerned. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page).

Seven Little Dogs and Lots of Barking

Barking and bedlam from seven very small dogsI sat down, the gate in the kitchen doorway was opened and the seven little dogs barking behind it flew out.

Some were jumping all over me and climbing behind me, there were a few potential spats between three of them (I had treats in my pocket) and two – Snowy, the little white one in the photo and Chihuahua Rudi on the right, stood back whilst continuing to bark at me fearfully.

There was so much barking and bedlam it was a while before we could chat. Temporarily settling somewhat, the dogs all started tearing about again at the slightest sound or if I stood up.  There were frequent near spats, all involving French Bulldog Boycie. The lady in particular was constantly on edge in order to pre-empt trouble.

I suggested they put Boycie on lead and the dynamics changed completely.

First they had Rolo, a Chihuahua Yorkie cross, now five. He was a happy dog and they got Honey, a Chihuahua Pug cross. Snowy soon arrived followed by Rudi. A relative bred Frenchies and they decided to add Boysie to the group, not realising that Honey was already pregnant with Rudi’s puppies (they kept two). They sent me this photo – an achievement with five of them including Boycie in one place, lying still and quiet!

Frenchie Boycie is the fly in the ointment. He is now ten months old and increasingly over the past three months has been challenging Rolo in particular, but also Rudi.

There are many other dynamics going on as you can imagine and a fair bit of conflict.  Rolo is constantly pacing and snaps when another dog comes near him, and others pick on Rudi.

At the slightest noise the whole lot immediately charge outside into the garden, barking, then back through house.

There are three family members – a couple and their teenage son. Their main concern is the increasing conflict between the dogs.

At the moment, before we can do anything else, ways have to be found to calm everything down. The spats mostly occur when the dogs are aroused which is much of the time. There is a crate in the sitting room and any of the three main male protagonists is happy to be in it – more relaxed crated than out in fact. I suggest ‘zones’ for the dogs and they rotate with two crates in the sitting room, one on top of the other and Rolo (the oldest) in the top crate where he won’t feel the need to growl at other dogs that get too close. Boycie can go in the bottom crate and the third male freely with the other dogs either in the sitting room or behind the kitchen gate. The boys can be regularly rotated. One boy can be released from the crate and another put in – so none are away for too long, and so no two boys are out together.

This simple strategy alone will calm things down enormously.  Food rewards have been impossible because food starts fights – even a crumb on the floor – but with the dogs in their zones some rewards can now be used. With food they can get much more control of their dogs and the barking. Crates can be ‘special places’, the only places with chews or bones.

There needs to be no shouting (difficult) and family members need to encourage calm and quiet by walking slowly when doing something like letting the dogs out or feeding them. The humans should simply wait for some semblance of calm before doing anything the dogs want.  The dogs need over time to learn some self-control. We have worked out strategies for when someone rings the doorbell, for when people come into the house and for when family members come home.

When I got up to leave we saw a good example of how organising things better – quietly and calmly – could work.  I stood up and the dogs, by then seemingly quiet and relaxed, immediately started flying around and barking, so I sat down again. I asked them to put Boycie in the crate, to pick up the most scared little barker Snowy as this helps her, and to put the others into the kitchen behind the gate.

I then stood up to go again – silence!

Three weeks after my visit: ‘We have been getting on REALLY well! Boycie is a changed dog….a joy to have around, no aggression in sight, such a relief as I was really contemplating rehoming him. He has stopped guarding things, chewing has calmed down, overall a completely different dog. He has a daily car ride and daily walks, such a different dog 🙂 Currently working on “come” and again, this is working really well, puppies responding nearly all the time. Rudi also changed, so much calmer and happier. Rolo calmer also, all three males have adapted to their crate routines, so no problems here.’
Six months later a lovley photo and message on Facebook: ‘Who would have thought these two boys would be lying together like this Theo !11083668_10152670294781175_8441389294347107715_n

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for these little dogs, 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 dogs can do more harm than good. 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

Recall Could Save his Life

RockyCh1If a dog won’t come to you from the other side of the room when called, he’s unlikely to do so when out and chasing off after another dog!

They call him and little Chihuahua Rocky may just stand and look. If he does come he will stop short by several feet and then they will go over to him. Mind you – his humans give him attention whenever he chooses so in a way they are teaching him that he doesn’t need to do things when they choose.

What a great little character Rocky is.

The other day he ran out the front, and ignoring their calls was nearly run over. This prompted them to get in touch with me.

His ‘not coming when called unless he feels like it’ is also a problem out on walks. He is very reactive to other dogs (scared but brave) and will chase after them barking.

WRockyChhat’s the secret? Food! There must be something ‘in it’ for him if they want him to come back.

The tone in which he’s called has to be clear and encouraging too but not repeated over and over. Being given several chances looked like he was being begged to come – and Rocky just turned and walked away!

Whilst he’s fine and friendly meeting new people when out, Rocky is barky and wary when they come into his house.  Although he quickly accepted me, he started barking again when I walked towards the lady. He alerted to every sound outside and does a lot of barking in general.

We worked on rewarding not barking with food – particularly when he alerted having heard something, catching it immediately before the barking started with an ‘okay’ and food.

Where reliable recall is concerned I introduced a little game. The process needs to be done over and over (I usually say a thousand times) before it becomes sufficiently engrained to be a conditioned response which can be relied upon to work when really needed.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Rocky, which is why I don’t share all the exact details of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

Little Chihuahua is Perfect!

Chihuahua lying on his back in his bedThis little dog is a dream. I’m in love.

The lady is wheelchair-bound and has had 20-month-old Chihuahua Pepe for ten weeks now. Apparently he came from a home where they also had two big dogs.

He doesn’t bark too much, he isn’t demanding in any way, he doesn’t pull on his lead, he’s confident and friendly with other dogs – he has a dog walker. He’s not nervous of anything. He is fine with the people who regularly need to come in and out of the lady’s house.

He even takes himself into the sitting room with a chew when she needs to go out.

The problem is that with limited mobility, the lady needs Pepe to be more responsive to her requests.

He may go out in the garden last thing at night and finds it much more interesting than coming in to her when she calls him, particularly as she is unable to use a bright tone of voice.

When someone comes to the door, for his safety she needs him to jump on her lap before she wheels herself over to open it. It can take many ‘UP UP UP’s before he does so and she worries about the person waiting outside.Pepe's lady lacks mobility so he needs to respond to commands

I asked her, “What do you think is in it for him to do as you ask?”

She replied, “I cuddle him!” I could see she thought that was a silly question!

Well, this independent little dog isn’t fussed about cuddles, possibly because she tries too hard.  (I did find he likes a little tickle on his chest and behind his ears best).

The lady never uses food.

I demonstrated the power of food rewards by teaching him to both sit and lie down in about five minutes.

To get his attention she is going to use a whistle. It will be a bright sound. First she will ‘charge’ it with repeated ‘peeps’ followed by cheese or chicken (something special), many times until Prince gets the connection.

Then, when she wants him to come to her, one little ‘peep’ should do. She can immediately drop him the food which she will have beside her on her wheelchair in a pot or bag.

If she wants him on her lap, she will ‘peep’ and then pat her lap with ‘Up’. Then he gets his reward.

What a lucky lady she is to have rehomed such a wonderful little dog – a dog with no issues at all.  He is obviously a very happy Pepe to be living with her too.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Pepe, which is why I don’t go into the exact details of your plan here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

A Meerkat? No, Scared Chihuahua

Just like the two German Shepherds I went to over the weekend, Buddy, a little scared Chihuahua this time, is very chihuahua Buddy doing his Meerkat actnoisy when someone comes to the house.

Because of this, like so many dogs I go to, they have few guests. Buddy may fly at one friend and bite his trousers. This then creates panic which only goes to confirm Buddy’s belief that this human is there to cause trouble.

Over the two years of his life Buddy has learnt that he always gets what he wants when he barks. So, here is another dog whose barking wavered between fearful ‘go away’ barking to demanding ‘do as I say’ barking.

I filmed the scared Chihuahua daring to take food from me

If a dog is taking food from me, I know that he isn’t totally terrified. Animals won’t eat if they feel their life is in peril. So, to associate myself with something nice I gave him tiny pieces of cheese.

He was a very brave little dog, and eventually took a piece from my hand before rushing off and barking at me again  – see this (back arrow to return here afterwards). When I took a break I could swear his barking changed to ‘give me cheese’ barking! Fifteen minutes later, after the odd spook, here he is (and my David Attenborough voice!).

The owners admscared Chihuahuait that this little dog knows how to get them to work for him! Barking always gets a result. One of his favourite tricks that always gets attention or food is to beg like a cute meerkat.

Being allowed to make most of the decisions and always being obeyed is actually a big burden for any dog to carry, as it would be for a child. Moreover, he is constantly in their company, virtually 24/7, and this can make a dog dependent and needy. Buddy needs some boundaries in order to increase his belief and trust in his owners to look after him.

Problem can be symptom of a bigger picture

This is a good example of how the particular problem I was called out for – reactivity to guests in this case – is actually part of a much larger issue that needs approaching from several angles.

Buddy soon learnt to touch my hand with his nose – we used clicker technique using gentle noise with the tongue lest the sudden clicker sound spooked him. As a dog that is fearful of people and especially approaching hands, this exercise is good in that it encourages him to associate hands with something nice and it also gives him a choice in the matter.

The scared Chihuaha was soon touching my hand held out over his head, doing his ‘meerkat’, and a bit higher still so he had to stretch or jump to touch it with his nose. Simples!

I also managed to stand up for a short while with Buddy being quiet. It’s a start. When I had to get up to walk about, I found if they picked him up he was silent. He felt protected. The deal here is that they don’t talk to him or fuss him – they merely lift him out of harm’s way.

The bottom line is that Buddy needs less stress, less exciting play, less attention, less reinforcement for barking, less being obeyed, less stressful walks – and more proper nurturing.

Gradually, he needs to be exposed to more people (and other dogs) but in a controlled way.

Second Home for the Three Little Dogs

Tina

This is the second home for all three little dogs. They have had the eldest, Jimmy, for several years – he is twelve. Tina on the left, age two, came to live with them about seven months ago, and Guy (below), a one-year-old Chihuahua Jack Russell X, joined them a few weeks ago.

They are lovely little dogs, all of them. They are friendly and affectionate, though Jimmy is now old and may keep himself to himself.

Guy may bite if picked up

Guy

What is worrying Guy’s owners is that when he is comfortably asleep on the sofa, he bites when he doesn’t want to be picked up, especially when they want him to go out before bedtime. They have worked out ways of tricking him like putting a soft igloo bed on the sofa for him to sleep in, and carrying it to the door and tipping him out, but this doesn’t solve the problem of his not wanting to go. He should not need to be carried – he should walk. It seems he is quite scared of going outside in the big garden at night. We have a plan that I am sure will work, and he needs to be accompanied until his confidence grows. It is early days.

Another thing that needs working on is Tina’s recall. She does come back – but not until she is ready!

The final point that I feel needs work – but doesn’t so much concern them – is the jumping up both at them and at visitors. Because the dogs are so small they find it acceptable – nice even – for welcomes to be like this. However, they might see it in a different light if they were German Shepherds or Labradors! It would be consider pushy and impolite rather than endearing. Would our children be allowed to jump all over people when they arrive and fly all over them when they sit down? I don’t think so. I am a believer in ‘four on the floor’ unless invited otherwise.

Do we want our dogs, quite literally, to be ‘walking all over us’? Guy is wanting respect for his personal space, hence the biting, but we should also expect him to respect ours.

About a month later: “Guy is just so much better in his obedience and behaviour. His growling and biting has improved tremendously and he is generally much better behaved. He is, in fact, becoming a very loving and friendly dog on the whole. We are both much happier that we understand Guy better and that both dogs seem much more settled”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.

Would Rather Toilet Indoors Than Out

Brother and sister are a mix of Jack Russell, Pomeranian and ChihuahuaMillie and Max are seven months old, and supposedly brother and sister.  They are a mix of Jack Russell, Pomeranian and Chihuahua. They were bought from a pet shop at ten weeks of age so nobody will ever know.They certainly look very different, and Max is a lot bigger. He’s like a little fox!

They are delightful and full of puppy exuberance – Max in particular. Millie is a little more anxious.

The main problem is constant toileting indoors – everywhere. There are puppy pads in all the rooms. I feel because the pads are impregnated these little dogs are in effect being taught to go indoors. It’s Catch 22 because without the pads they would be peeing even more on the carpets – and pooing as well.

From the start they were toileting several times in the night, even when shut in a crate. The crate was abandoned because of the mess they made. By the age of ten weeks old most puppies  will have been introduced to the difference between indoors and outdoors, and it’s clear these little dogs had not. The problems had already started. Once home from the pet shop, they were so tiny, Millie in particular, that rules and boundaries were not properly introduced. The dogs, sleeping on the lady’s bed, will get off wee and poo several times in the night – mostly on the pads but not always.

This is a huge problem as you may imagine. Max also now marks up the curtain as well. Millie peed four times while I was there, once under the table, and the other times on puppy pads. She does lots of small puddles. I did wonder whether this constant peeing from Millie could be due to a medical problem, but she been checked over by the vet.  She is usually carried outside, but this way she will never learn that part of the process is walking to the back door.

My view is that their terrotiry should be cut down from run of the house to just kitchen and utility room, unless they are being watched – and then they should not have freedom to wander. I would advise the same thing at night. Shut them in the utility and leave them to it – but this would probably be too big a leap for the young lady. Understandably;).

Puppy training needs to go back to square one. They are praised massively for going outside, but maybe they think they are praised for going, irrespective of where. Praise needs to be gentle, not distracting, and if a little reward is dropped on the grass in front of them as they finish they may start to get the connection with toileting and grass. Visits outside will need to be very frequent, after meals, after waking, after playing, when the dogs are restless, and at least every waking thirty minutes.

They may need to try different food, because four, five or even more poos a day is excessive. The more complete the nutrition, the less waste there will be to pass through!

The final element which needs to be put in places is reduction of excitement and stress. There is persistent jumping up and maybe nipping when the lady owners come home, and at visitors. Walks are pulling affairs with anxiety around other dogs. They fly all over the chairs and people.

Stress, excitement and anxiety lead to peeing and possibly pooing. Stress and excitement also lead to drinking. Drinking leads to peeing! A few calm rules and boundaries will help enormously, I’m sure.

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