Dog Bites. Why? Touchy. Guards Resources

They worry that it’s their fault that their dog bites them.

I’m sure it’s largely genetic. Some dogs resort to biting a lot more readily than others. Some dogs will put up with anything and not bite.

The family has had eighteen-month-old Rough Haired Dachshund Toto since she was eight weeks old. Like many people, they have had dogs before, treated them in the same loving way, but never had this problem. I myself can look back at past dogs of mine and wish I had known then what I know now.

Toto stole a shoe

She showed no signs of aggression as a young puppy. If they had predicted how dog bites were going to develop, they would have reacted differently from the very first time it happened, when at about a year old Toto stole a shoe – had they realised there was another way.

Like so many people would do, they chased and cornered her in order to retrieve the item. She will have felt both aroused and scared. She growled and then snapped. The behaviour then escalated quickly. Continue reading…

Poo, Pee Indoors. Dachshund Alone. More Questions than Answers.

Poo and peeing indoors.

Invariably during the night, alone downstairs in the kitchen, Meg has diarrhoea. When she is left alone during the day she is likely to do the same.pee and poo when left

The challenge here is in separating facts from assumptions.

Meg is a twelve-year-old Dachshund – the longest sausage I have seen! She and her sibling Mini came to live with the couple at eight weeks old and had never been apart.

Continue reading…

Antisocial With Dogs. Insufficient Early Habituation and Socialisation.

His young lady owner refers to him as antisocial – towards other dogs in particular.

Gunther is yet another young dog that has lacked the right kind of early socialisation or sufficient habituation. He should have encountered a variety of people, other dogs and been exposed to life in general during the second, third and fourth months of his life – before he came. It’s little wonder he’s antisocial at times.

The 8-month-old Dachshund I met wanted to be friendly but he’s torn between friendliness and fearfulness.  He barked at me for a while before, quite suddenly, becoming my best friend. Continue reading…

Dog Bite. No Warning. Re-homed Dachshund

dog bite with no warning

Millie

I wonder who would ever say that a dog bite could have been a good thing! This time it may have been so.

The elderly couple have had two-year-old Millie for just a couple of weeks. They wanted company for Wirehaired Pip, age four; the two dogs get on famously.

Very rarely would a dog bite with no warning at all. Usually there will be a subtle signal at least – if you know what you are looking for. Not so with Dachshund Millie.

This is what happened.

They had her in another room with Pip until I had settled at the kitchen table.

The dogs were let out

Pip

Millie made no noise. She rushed into the kitchen. Without even stopping to look or sniff who I was, she flew up at my arm and bit me.  Because the elderly couple couldn’t catch her quickly enough, she attempted another couple of quick bites to my legs.

I always wear tough clothes just in case, so my legs were protected. It’s too hot however to wear a thick top. Just a bruise and a nick on my upper arm. Entirely my own fault because I was there on account of Millie having bitten the daughter who had walked in the door. The lady had been standing, looking down at the new rescue dog.

That won’t have been a dog bite without any warning – there would have been signs if you knew what to look for.

Usually if a person is sitting and already in the room and ignoring the dog, it’s a lot easier on the dog. I took what I thought was a calculated but very low risk.

A dog bite a good thing?

In a way it’s a good thing it happened! Someone else would undoubtedly very soon have been bitten who probably wouldn’t know how to react. It could have been the grandson. Now at least we know exactly what were are dealing with.

She now sat on the lady’s lap, lead on and her harness held tightly. She reacted aggressively when I moved and would certainly have bitten me again if she could. Meanwhile the lady was trying to pacify her which I feel could be perceived by Millie as anxious rather than calming. She would be transmitting her own feelings to the dog.

I’m pretty sure Millie is being increasingly protective and territorial. Possibly this is partly genetic – maybe her mother or father had been the same. Apparently she had previously lived in the middle of a confrontational relationship that had broken down and there may have been some violence.

I took refuge on the kitchen table

That was a first! They had shut Millie out of the room for a while with something to chew and wanted to let her back in. They had removed the lead.

Not quite sure that she wouldn’t wriggle through the gap in the door before they could catch her and fly at me again, I took refuge on the table!

Insecurity

Becoming increasingly protective suggests fear of losing something. Unsurprising, as in her short life she’s had four living situations already. She has lived with the original couple before they split, then with the lady alone, then in rescue and now with my clients.

She’s a lot more protective of the lady than the man as a little experiment demonstrated. He took the dog and I moved about and she didn’t react at all.

It looks very likely that with each day she’s with them this guarding and protecting will intensify, unwittingly encouraged by the lady. Instead of encouraging dependence, they should consciously break some of the ties that are growing. She won’t let the lady out of her sight, for instance. Everything possible needs to be done now, before any more time goes by, to stop her increasingly feeling she must guard her new humans. The same applies for her new territory.

A muzzle and a gate

There is little they can do about the actual biting itself, apart from management. They will physically prevent anyone receiving a dog bite by muzzling her. This they will introduce gradually. They will also put a gate in the kitchen doorway. This way anyone coming into their house will be safe.

Any biting, particularly a dog bite without time to see any warning, needs to be dealt with at source. We need to deal with the state of mind that causes her to do it. She was certainly not scared of me. She had very confident body language.

The outcome

They still don’t really know what they have got with Millie. Things tend to surface over a period of weeks as the new dog settles in.

The very worst scenario is that she will continue to be affectionate with the couple in her lovely new home and a great playmate for Pip. When people including family and grandchild are about she is either muzzled or behind a gate. She would be muzzled when out also.

The best scenario is that, with work on their part, she can let people into their house. That they could walk past people when out – though they may not be able to invade her space.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’. Listening to ‘other people’ or finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. it’s obvious professional help is needed in a case like this of a dog bite with no warning. Click here for help.

Barking at People at Home and on Walks

Hector, the little wire haired miniature dachshund, is absolutely adorable.

His young lady has made every effort to do the very best for him from the start, but at about seven months old he began the barking at people.

Once he starts his barking at people he’s unstoppable.

Barking at people who come to the house. Barking at people on walks.  Even barking at people in the distance.

Believing from their advBarking at peopleertising that they were the best people to help her, Hector’s young owner called in Barkbusters. As soon as he started to bark, the person, who said he was scared, made a loud BAH noise. Why would you want to make a noise like that at a scared dog? Wouldn’t that make him even more scared?

To quote Hector’s lady, he was so petrified of of the Barkbusters person that he was quiet. However, when she herself tried to implement the techniques Hector, predictably, didn’t take any notice of her.

Now this is the trouble with punishment. When something stops working because the dog gets used to it, the punisher has to be increased to be effective. She went on to try a citronella collar that squirts stuff the dog hates up his nose – stuff that lingers long after the barking stops – and then collars that vibrate or make a noise.

She realised that this was just making his barking worse. Why associate people he’s barking at with something so unpleasant. Surely this will increase his fear?

In trying to punish the barking, often don’t see it as it really is. Barking is the symptom of what’s making the dog bark. Usually fear has a lot to do with it. In punishment they merely make the fear worse. A collar squirting citronella up his nose when he barks is merely putting a temporary lid on the noise, it’s making how he feels a lot worse.

Hector’s barking at people means she can’t have anyone to her house.

Because of his barking at people when out also, she doesn’t enjoy walking him either.

The poor girl simply doesn’t know what to do.

I find the situation quite heartbreaking really because she has tried so hard to do her very best for Hector right from the beginning. She received some very bad advice that started her down the punishment route.

I call it punishment, but people who advocate these methods would probably call it ‘correction’. It’s ‘positive punishment’.

Hector’s barking at me was relentless to start with. I worked with him. We had enough breaks in the noise to cover all my questions and to teach the little genius dog something incompatible with barking. We taught him to touch both the lady’s hand and my own using clicker – and he’d never been clicker trained!

One minute he was enjoying a clicker game, running between us to touch our hands, and the next he was barking at me again.

Puzzling.cundallhector2

His initial response was fearful undoubtedly, but not for long. It’s like he simply keeps barking at people until something happens – this ‘something’ will more recently have been punishment of some sort.

He is really a curious and friendly little dog. He wanted my attention and barked for that also! If he doesn’t get what he wants he may then bark because he’s frustrated.

When I got back home I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I wasn’t satisfied that I had fully covered the problem. I had been treating it as mainly fear driven.

Suddenly it dawned on me.

I arranged to go straight back the next evening. This time I was there for just fifteen minutes with a different strategy that worked a lot better.

Basically, barking at people had given him something that made barking at people rewarding to him. It’s impossible to know just what, but he seems to enjoy it. It dawned on me that we should now respond with something completely different, something that has never happened before in response to his barking at people.

She will walk him out of the room straight away when he barks. He has a nice comfortable harness so there will be no discomfort involved.

I went back and found that worked. He really didn’t want to miss all that food on the floor and and he really wanted to be with me. His barking being a learnt response meant Hector and his young lady walked in and out of the room quite a few times before he got the message.

This isn’t the protocol I would use if the barking was simply fear. Because I suggest removing him from something he actually wants – me – this would be termed ‘negative punishment’. I would handle it a bit differently if he was really fearful.

This is a good example of why it’s not wise for me to go into too much detail in my stories. Even I hadn’t got it quite right the first time round. The protocols have to be tailored to the individual dog. Like other stuff people find on the internet, it could do more harm than good otherwise.

The basic principles we are using is to address both the barking at people in the home and people out on walks.

The young lady will now use willing friends as human Guinea pigs, dropping in for about twenty minutes at a time initially.

Over time, as Hector relaxes and learns to enjoy their company quietly, the young lady should be able to enjoy having her friends round again.

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 with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Hector and I’ve not gone into exact precise details for that reason. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where aggression of any kind is concerned. 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)

Mini Dachshund. Important Dog

BentleyDachshund growls when touched unless he has chosen to be touched, particularly when he’s asleep or resting beside them.

This picture sums up three-year-old Bentley perfectly. He is extremely agile for a Dachshund and he sits high on a shelf looking as if to say “who said you could take a photo of me!”

Bentley is a real little character with a mind of his own. His humans have worked hard with him, having taken him to training classes, using positive methods and reward.  Positive methods however don’t mean that boundaries aren’t important, and there are areas where Bentley needs to learn a bit more self-control.

He can become obsessive about having toys thrown for him, especially persistent when someone comes to the house. It would actually be rather sweet in small doses, but he uses it not so much for the pleasure of chasing as for getting the person to do what he wants. As I discovered, if one doesn’t obey him he then barks!

Like people, some dogs are simply less tactile than other. Some grow to object when showered with touching and attention. It’s quite difficult for people who adore their dogs to play a little hard to get, but the truth is that if they do the dog will probably stop the growling and even learn to welcome being approached and touched in small doses.

Imagine people in your house, unprompted, touch or cuddle you whenever you sit down for a bit of peace.  Wouldn’t you eventually get cross?  Soon, when people approached you, would you not say ‘go away, leave me alone’.  You may even shout at them when someone touches you accidentally. Let’s face it, when we cuddle another person or a dog, it can be more about making us feel good than the object of our affection. We somehow just can’t stop ourselves.

Bentley’s owners are very perceptive and all they needed was an objective point of view.

Sometimes we can be blind to the obvious when we are actually living in the middle of things.

From email received about 7 weeks later: “Bentley really is so much calmer these days but don’t get me wrong, he’s still the extremely energetic and entertaining character he was before! Certain things still get him a bit worked up, such as noises from neighbours, but it’s much, much easier to control it now.  The hardest part is certainly on our part, being persistent and consistent – but the efforts are so worth it. Overall we can see such an improvement.
Yesterday was a great example of all the improvements. A quick visit to the park yesterday and a tiny, tiny chihuahua came over to try and play with him, running with him for quite some time and Bentley didn’t care even though he had his brand new toy, no heckles went up. He didn’t interact with the dog but he just wasn’t bothered – it was fantastic! Then as we were leaving, there was a jack russell and a larger dog leaving so I thought it would be a good test to see how Bentley would be as we were behind them and again, he really didn’t seem bothered. We walked right behind them as we crossed the road and he was absolutely fine! It was such a nice relief!
I generally feel much more confident that Bentley won’t react like he used to. Then last night we were all on the sofa and one of the cats came over and gave a miaow and Bentley went over and gave him a sniff and then later proceeded to sleeping right next to him. That doesn’t happen every day but he’s much less possessive over the sofa these days 🙂
Thank you so much for everything – we couldn’t be happier with all the advice you have given. He’s still an absolute nutter, but we are really proud of him and we’re so happy knowing that for the most part, he’s a much calmer sausage!

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Bentley, 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 dogs (see my Get Help page).