Dog grabbed a child by the arm

Rescue Cane Corso cross pup has grabbed a child by the arm


The young Mastiff’s Future is In Their Hands

Six month old Mastiff/Cane Corso mix has grabbed a child by the arm, and now he’s in trouble. The police have called.

Dexter is enormous already. It’s possible that if he were a spaniel there would have been little fuss.

He has lived with the young couple and their Mastiff Labrador mix Marnie for a few weeks now, having had a very dubious start in life.  Apart from a lot of mouthing, all went well for a while.

Then they had a young lady visitor to the house. She was scared just at the sight of Dexter. She sat on the sofa and Dexter jumped up onto it as he usually does. The lady threw her arms about and Dexter, puppy that he is, grabbed her arm.

The reaction was panic and anger towards Dexter. The guest left.

The child episode happened a couple of weeks later in the vet waiting room. She walked too close. If a child is taken to the vet, surely it’s common sense to keep it away from dogs that may well be stressed and scared, so some of the blame is with the mother. Poor Dexter had patiently endured being pulled about and the removal of stitches and they were simply standing at the desk waiting to pay.

The man dragged the dog away and in doing so the his tooth caught on the child’s jumper leaving also a small mark on her arm. Again there will have been noise and panic.

Things are now stacking up against Dexter and he is on the route to actually biting someone. By now he will be thinking that people are not good to be around and they cause his own humans to be unpredictable.

When I arrived I had been primed and played very safe, and Dexter was brought in on lead. I sat alone on a chair to avoid being jumped over. I had to work hard to get the man to stop being on Dexter’s case and to relax. I explained that he would only be picking up on the man’s anxiety which could make me less safe.

The dog turned out to be the most mellow and friendly dog imaginable. See my picture of him watching me intently as I spoke gently to him. I later tried some Ttouch massage. He rested beside me, totally relaxed. I loved him.

Because he’s so big it is easy to forget Dexter’s only a puppy and bound to chew things. Both dogs need to be taken out for daily walks and Dexter given more healthy stimulation – plenty of chew toys and constructive interaction with his humans.

There must be no rough play as this only encourages arm grabbing and lack of self-control.

If they want people to come to their house, they will need to start teaching both big dogs not to jump all over the sofas – unless perhaps upon invitation and then only when they are calm.

The couple must now go out of their way to associate all the people Dexter encounters with nice stuff – food, fun and happiness. No more panic and anxiety; no more scolding. They will teach him to give them his full attention when asked.  It’s a measure of how much they care for their dog that they are investing time and money to give their dog the life he deserves.

This can be nipped in the bud, but only with a different approach.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Dexter, 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 – most particularly where any form of aggression is concerned. 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).



No More Worries on Walks

Just over two months ago I visited  two gorgeous Shiba Inus, Shoko and Azuki (

Amongst other problems Azuki was very fearful when out on walks – of loud traffic, anything unusual and most particularly of approaching people. He would lunge and bark. His humans were not enjoying ShibaInuswalks.

We developed a plan that combined management, training and behaviour work – most particularly with Azuki out on walks, working with him by himself.

Life now is a lot easier. I received this email today: “I actually enjoy walking the dogs now! The baby gate has made a big difference, it’s so much calmer in our house. Energy and excitement levels stay much more steady! Much less jumping up happening too – which is great. Because I’m not concerned about them knocking over my nephew like I was before they can interact a bit more which helps them learn more about kids too”.

Dear Little Wirehaired Daschund, Wary of Young Child

Wirehaired Daschund isn't happy when the child is nearNot a good photo as he merged with the background and the flash gave him eyes like flashlights!

Matty is a lovely friendly little dog, six years of age. He was with the breeder for the first three years of his life and came to my clients not well socialised at all.

They have worked very hard and with great success at habituating him to  real life, people, traffic and other dogs, and he is now a pleasure to walk – with the odd lapse when he sees a dog that for some reason he doesn’t like.

Recently a new child joined the family – a three year old boy, Sammy. However, Matty isn’t happy with him. There have been two mishaps. One when Matty suddenly leaped across the room, barking fiercely at the child and was fortunately intercepted by the lady, and another occasion where he grabbed his shorts. The lady, already nervous, is now on tenterhooks. In addition, there is a new baby due in a few months’ time.

The main ongoing problem has been that Matty is very reactive to all noises, on guard duty at the front door and charging around barking. He can wind himself up into a frenzy. The gentleman who works from home is finding it very hard, especially when he is talking on the phone to a customer and Matty is barking frantically in the background. Understandably Matty is shouted at which may stop him temporarily but doesn’t help him at all long term. All this barking will be raising his general stress levels, leaving him less tolerant of little boys and other dogs.

If the child is always kept away from Matty he will never learn that he’s harmless. In the same way that they have patiently socialised Matty by habituating him to real life, traffic, the town and so on, they need to do the same thing with the child – but making sure the environment is completely safe for both of them – in the same room but unable to actually make contact. Everyone must be relaxed and not fussing or on edge else Matty will pick up on it, and calm behaviour from Matty can be rewarded with food. It can be a slow process.

Matty’s humans need to take charge of the ‘perceived danger’ and barking, and help him out. A calmer dog will be much better able to cope with an active little boy.

A Christmas email, nearly three months later: “Just to let you know that we had the family here on Christmas day, my son, his partner, Sammy and the baby! All your advice has come to fruition and the pen definitely helped Matty and Sunny adjust and adapt to each other.  Matty was so good with Sammy and they more or less ignored each other all day!!!We cant thank you enough for your help and advice, it definitely would never have happened without it. Your help is priceless…and so very much appreciated! We cant thank you enough….”
 I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. Please just check the map and contact me.

Big Changes in Miniature Schnauzer’s Life

Miniatures Schnauzer Max isn't the happy dog he once wasMax is four years old and for the first two years of his life he was the most important thing in his owners’ lives. He had three long walks a day and they took him everywhere with them.

Then they had their little girl and now a four-month-old baby. They have also moved house.

Max now is not the happy little dog as he used to be and this is demonstrated by his change in behaviour. Because of his behaviour, his owners are not enjoying him any more, to the point where he’s almost too much trouble. Consequently their own behavour towards Max has changed. It’s Catch 22.

Max barks excessively. He has become touchy. He snaps at the little girl and he snaps when he’s disturbed. His walks are no longer so enjoyable and he is unpredictable with other dogs.

In response and in order to try to do something about the situation, they have watched Cesar Millan. Cesar makes things look so quick and easy on TV. Copying some of the dominance techniques on our own dogs can cause much more harm than good. Humans trying to act like ‘Alphas’ have caused defiance and an escalation in aggression. I would ask people – is this the way you would treat your child if he was frightened, misunderstood and unhappy?

In no time at all, this little dog quickly became eager to cooperate with me. He came alive. He looked joyful and attentive. And all because I showed him just what I wanted of him – in ways that he understood; I encouraged him and I rewarded him.

I hope Max’ people can now see that if they treat him with understanding, patience and encouragement they will see a huge difference.  At the same time they must play safe. I suggested a small dog pen for their big sitting room with his bed in it, a child-free area where he can come and go freely but shut in when necessary, so that children are always safe but at the same time he can remain part of the family.

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

Adored Miniature Schnauzer

pepper is small Miniature SchnauzerI have been to quite a few Miniature Schnauzers of late. This won’t be because they are more troublesome than other breeds but because they are very popular at the moment.

Pepper is very small example of the breed and one year old. She is worshipped by a mainly female household. She is carried about, picked up, cuddled, kissed, greeted with high voiced excitement and obeyed. They all dote on her. Considering all this, Pepper is surprisingly well-adjusted!  She must basically have an easy going by nature, given the chance.

Her main problem is excessive barking at people walking past, and at people coming to her house. Protecting the family group should be the job of the head of the family – or the leader. By being constantly ‘told’ that she is the most important member, this protection role falls upon Pepper. A dog already aroused with excited squeeky greetings and so on, will be much more ready to go into a frenzy of barking on hearing a noise outside.

Calm needs to be encouraged. The family needs to show Pepper that they are there to look after her – not the other way around. Leaving her to ‘get on with it’ when she barks as they often do simply isn’t leadership – neither is scolding her.

Pepper ‘belongs’ to the eight year old daughter (though she won’t know this!) and the child has quietly and calmly taught her a very neat routine of actions. It was wonderful to see Pepper wait one end of the large garden while the little girl walked away, and then run joyfully to her when she was called. It was a perfect example or how good a relationship between a child and a dog can be. Pepper is getting the best leadership from an eight year old! The rest of the family need to tone down the homage and put a few boundaries in place. Pepper has legs! Pepper can then learn to trust them to take on protection duty.

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

Beautiful Border Collie Puppy

Five month old Border CollieOh joy! I met Benjie a five-month-old Border Collie puppy yesterday evening.

It’s just too easy to forget what puppies are like, when you have been living with a mature dog for years. Whilst wanting to train him properly so that he grows into a reliable and obedient adult dog, it’s easy to expect far too much of a puppy and actually ending up with the opposite result.

At five months old one would expect a puppy to tear about, to get easily excited and especially to chew things. Just think how he would be if still with one of his brothers or sisters! Dealing with jumping all over chairs and people in a confrontational way, with lots of ‘No’ and Down’, pushing and getting cross, achieves the opposite. The puppy is hyped up and the behaviour accelerates to nipping and barking back – or worse, he gets scared. He is confused because he has no clue why people are angry. After all, a well-balanced older dog that doesn’t want to be jumped on won’t shout! What would he do? He would tip the exuberant youngster off and with his body language make it quite clear he didn’t want it. He would probably turn away or walk away.

As puppies become adolescent a confrontational approach usually makes the young dog defiant. He is now a teenager after all. He will answer back with either barking or teeth.

The rule is to keep calm, to repeatedly and consistently call the puppy away from what you don’t want him to do – he may even need to trail a short light lead for a while so you can help him to make the right decision (he may chew it!). Then let him know what it is you do want him to do.  Give him an alternative whether it is coming to you for a short fuss or a treat, or giving him a toy or bone to chew. If he is very persistent, a few seconds behind a closed door may help the message to get through.

They have a four-year old son who plays too rough and excited with him and this is hyping Benjie up and teaching him the wrong things. They have tried this and that but not been consistent, and called me because they were not happy with having to be cross with him, nor the ‘forcing’ techniques they had been introduced to at a puppy class they attended just the once. While I was there I could myself demonstrate how to show Benjie not to jump all over me in a way that he understands. He is delightfully biddable whilst full of natural puppy fun.

Sometimes owners just need to be pointed in the right direction and know what puppy behaviour to expect. Benjie is a wonderful puppy and will grow up to be a cracking dog.

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

Stressed Red Setter

Red SetterIt was quite exhausting being with poor Archie, a three year old Red Setter. It took an hour for him to settle down – briefly – before he was on the go again, catching imaginary flies and lick lick licking the sofa. Toileting indoors is also part of the picture, and energy rushes where he tears all over the place, over the sofas and dangerously near to knocking over their toddler.

It was like being in the presence of someone struggling with a nervous breakdown. One can understand that living with this can be frustrating for people who don’t know what to do about it.  They love their beautiful, gentle dog – very small for a male of the breed – but their way of coping is the very opposite to what I would myself do.

I work on the theory that whatever people are doing, it isn’t working, else the dog wouldn’t be doing it any more. So, try the opposite or at least something very different. They had resorted to an electric shock collar, mostly used on ‘beep’, and compressed air spray, to shock the dog into stopping, and when he charges past the little girl they may resort to shouting and pinning him down. He is punished after the event if he has chewed a door frame when left outside alone, or if they find poo in the house.

I don’t want you to get the idea that these people want to be cruel, but they don’t know different and they are at their wit’s end.  Methods advocated for correction in a certain popular TV programme and taken out of context are largely to blame.

I explained how you can look at stress levels rising in a dog like water rising in a bucket. Each time something happens – the postman comes, the dog gets left alone, he gets chastised and so on – a little more water drips into the stress bucket. A dog’s stress levels can take days to go back down again, so it’s not hard to see that the bucket will eventually overflow.  In poor Archie’s case, it’s at the brim constantly, and each time the owners respond as they do it merely tops it up.

So, de-stressing big time is the order of the day. He does no repetitive stuff when out of the way in his crate. They will gently and quietly put him in there for calming ‘time out’ when he gets out of control with himself. They will have alternatives to hand for him to chew, to distract him from sofa licking but so he can still release the calming pheromones licking and chewing give him. They will ditch gadgets and punishment. They will look at positive ways to reward him and encourage him instead of negative methods.

They have a much better understanding of Archie now. By nature he is highly strung, but I am sure before long they will see a different dog.

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

English Bull Terrier and Toddler

EBT Stanley sitting in a chair holding his ballStanley is an English Bull Terrier of under a year old, and his new owners have had him for two weeks. They are worried because he ‘squares up’ to their 16 month old toddler. He is fine so long as the little boy isn’t on the floor at his own level. Children stare and this may be part of the problem. Dogs can find direct eye contact either intimidating or confrontational.

Stanley is a slightly strange case. He is aloof. It’s like he grants people the privilage of being allowed to touch him. He gets attention whenever he asks for it, then walks off – ‘I’ve had enough’.  I noticed when I walked about that he stood sideways in front of me blocking me, and made no effort to move as I approached him.

In the two weeks that they have had him Stanley has been allowed to consider the house his own personal kingdom. There is nowhere he’s not allowed to go including all the family’s beds.  I fear that if he carries on like this it will only be a matter of time before he begins to object when someone wants to remove him. He’s still testing the waters. It’s quite a small house with eight family members spanning three generations, so there is a lot going on. He goes where he wants and does what he wants – including wrecking the garden.

If Stanley is allowed to believe that he rules the family, he may believe it’s his job to put the little boy in his place. He may not welcome an uninvited intrusion into his important personal space. So, the family owes it to Stanley to put some rules and boundaries into place for him pretty quickly. There should be certain no go zones in the house. Most importantly of all, they need to work on the relationship between the little boy and the dog. First and foremost they need to play safe, and get a gate so that the two can be kept apart unless closely supervised. Because everybody is on tenterhooks when the two are together, this will be picked up by Stanley and not be helping the situation. So, for security and so that they all relax, Stanley must be on lead and maybe even the toddler attached to reins. Then that the people can gradually work on the situation, with Stanley associating the little boy with good things like treats, learning to come away when asked or when he feels stressed by the toddler, and also encouraging the child not to stare if that’s possible!

Stanley is a case of a rehomed dog where you don’t quite no what you have got for the first few weeks. As dogs settle in and establish their boundaires (or lack of!) their real personalities and possible former problems will surface. It’s good to start with firm rules in place. Better too strict than too lax, and fairer on the dog, but without too many demands or commands. It’s human nature to do the opposite – we want to over-compensate for the past in the mistaken belief that in order to make him feel at home he needs no boundaries and lots of fuss!

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

Gentle Giant

Great Dane Troy lying down amongst the baby toysToday I met Troy! What a treat. Look at that face! When I sat down he towered over me.

The Great Dane lives with a couple who have an eighteen week old baby and a toddler – people with their hands full at the moment. Troy at only fifteen months old himself may not have quite enough to keep his clever mind occupied, so he is finding things for himself to do. Things like wrecking beds when he is left alone and chewing the kitchen table and chairs.  Chewing the children’s toys hasn’t occured to him fortunately, and he’s very gentle around the baby and the little boy.

It’s great fun pretending to want to come in from the garden and then giving the run-around when they open the door – especially when after several circuits of the garden it means causing chaos by running in over the carpet with huge muddy feet! It’s great fun running off to play with other dogs and giving the run-around when they want to get him back. It’s great fun to cause chaos in the kitchen with little polystyrene beads from a destroyed bed all over the floor like snow. His owners’ response when they get home isn’t quite so much fun though – but at least it’s attention.

Giving Troy commands merely gives him the opportunity to refuse, so we are finding ways to outwit him. When your dog exasperates you, you perhaps don’t realise just how many times you are saying No, or Down, or Bed! As with a child, it’s good to think of ways to show him what you would like him to do instead. Rather than being cross when Troy doesn’t come in from the garden, they are going to teach him that it’s rewarding to come in straight away when called, and no fun at all if he doesn’t.

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


Jack Who Can Open Doors

Handsome Black Labrador, JackI have just been to see another Jack, a two-year-old labrador was a rescue dog from Ireland. His owner told me before we met. He is a lovely dog. Just one big problem – he is uncontrollable when we meet other dogs – I try to walk him where ever I can to avoid other dogs, and it takes the enjoyment out of walking him.  He has pulled me so much that he has hurt my back. I would love to be able to walk with Jack and enjoy it

Jack pulls, lunges and barks at other dogs. Walk is uncomfortable, scary and stressful for both Jack and his lady owner. He is yanked back. He rushes at cats, dogs and squirrels.  When he sees other dogs he bites and grabs the lead.

So now I have shown Jack’s owner how to start the walk with a calm dog, and what to do to get Jack to trust her to look after him, how to get him to walk beside her just like there was no lead on at all, and to take no notice of other dogs.  It will take a while, but she will get there I know.

It is hard to give Jack boundaries, because Jack can open doors! He is a  kind and gentle dog with the six-year-old granddaughter, and enjoys her company.

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