Bites a Friend. The Result of High Arousal

One of their little dogs bites a friend entering the house. Everything changes.

He is now muzzled when people come and when he’s out.

The whole situation is very stressful for everyone in the family. The first goal, before doing anything else, is to see how much we can calm things down.

He bites a lady


‘Operation calm’

With calmer little dogs should come a less stressed lady. She and her husband have a lot on their plate with a teenage daughter who needs round the clock care.

The dogs help the girl to feel happy. Some alarm barking makes her feel safe. Unfortunately the barking is uncontrollable.

We sat at the kitchen table and the two dogs rushed into the room, barking. Luka, a 21-month-old Jack Russell Chihuahua mix, was muzzled. Jack Russell Sasha, 5, was friendly and soon stopped her barking.

Luka’s muzzle was removed. He seemed okay with me for a while and then began to bark again. The muzzle was put back on – they are understandably nervous.

The muzzle actually seemed to calm him right down as I have found can sometimes be the case with a certain kind of muzzle. It may work like a calming band. When it came off he was friendly and chilled for a while.

I took my photos when the dogs were being held – the only time they were sufficiently still!

The dogs barked at the slightest sound. They leapt all over us, springing up from the floor, even onto the table itself.

Because the lovely daughter is unable to pick them up, it’s necessary that they jump. They jump onto her lap when she’s in her wheelchair and they leap onto her bed where she spends quite a lot of time. They sleep on her bed with her.

When highly aroused, Luka may also redirect onto Sasha.

This is a case of picking our battles. We will forget about the jumping up as working on that could cause even more stress for all concerned.

My first goal is to calm everything down. A stressed owner creates stressed dogs and visa versa.

Life changes when our dog bites.

One can imagine how distressing it is when our much-loved dog bites someone. A lady friend was walking into the house. The dogs somehow got out of the kitchen.

It is absolutely certain that this would not have happened were it not for stress. Stress builds up to the point where all self control goes out of the window and one final, sometimes minor, trigger is the last straw.

They have had building work for the past few weeks which has led to constant barking. The highly aroused dogs somehow got out of the kitchen. The person was carrying food. They were jumping all over her – Luka barking. She fussed them. The lady owner will have been extremely anxious. The jumping up may have aggravated Luka’s knee problem.

The lady takes a step forward.

Luka goes for her.

He bites the lady – twice.

They will now gate the kitchen doorway so they have a bit more control over where the dogs go.

The dogs can be helped to calm down with something to chew or do, marrow bones or a stuffed Kong each, for instance. To avoid trouble between them they will be one each side of the gate.

The family has so much on their plate just now that simply calming things down has to be the place to start. After all, arousal and stress is at the bottom of both the barking and bites.

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 approaches I have worked out for Luka and Sasha. 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 any form of aggressive behaviour is concerned. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page).

Chaotic. 6 Dogs, 3 Fighting Males and a Parrot!

Doesn't react well in chaotic environment


Life for the six dogs and the parrot is chaotic.

Two months ago there was a big change in their lives. This coincided with the start of their unrest.

Jack Russell X Alfie, on the right, attacks Yorkshire Terriers Benjie and Archie. Benjie (on the left) has sustained injuries.

In the chaotic heat of the moment, the two Yorkies may also redirect onto one another and fight.

Then there will be a lot of barking and shouting.

There are also two females, a very old German Shepherd and another Jack Russell, and an old Yorkie who is at the end of his days – in the bed behind Archie (below). They keep out of it.

The parrot shouts Shut Up!

Benjie has sustained injuries


The dogs live with a middle-aged brother and sister. What makes this situation especially difficult is that the gentleman, being at home all day, is the main carer. He had an accident as a child which has left him with certain cognitive problems.

In addition, the lady is extremely stressed and this will be picked up by the dogs.

Even the parrot shouts ‘WILL YOU ******* SHUT UP’ at the dogs – a clue to the level of stress in this chaotic household!

The lady loves her dogs and doesn’t want to have to part with any of them.

Jack Russell mix Alfie is the instigator.

Alfie is very close to the man and now spends most of his time in his room upstairs where he’s made to feel very special. He growls if the lady approaches when he’s on the man’s lap.He growls particularly if one of the male dogs comes near.

All the fights occur only in the presence of the man.

He has to walk them in relays to avoid walking two boys together. The first two to be taken are those who happen to squeeze through the door first!

At the end of each walk, when dogs reunite in the kitchen doorway. Fights kick off at the man’s feet. This is unsurprising really when there is such, chaotic, manic excitement and jostling to get through the door first.

Fights also occur around food. The man simply puts three or four bowls down around the kitchen and it’s a free-for-all.


Archie and Bobby

Archie and Bobby

Simply with safety in mind, the situation has to be managed before we can go any further.

It’s a logistical nightmare. There are just two downstairs rooms and the only entrance to the house leads directly into the sitting room. This leads through to the kitchen.

We need a gate in the kitchen doorway so that Alfie can be near the other dogs but safely. It will make comings and goings easier.

They will get a puppy pen for the kitchen as there is currently no way to separate dogs when necessary.

Role play

Now the chaotic environment needs sorting out.

The man is unable to read so a written plan doesn’t help him. I role-played with the him the quite complicated routine for taking the dogs in and out for walks.

He takes Alfie first, then leaves him upstairs before entering the kitchen where the other dogs are.

Now he sits down and has a cuppa, waiting for all the downstairs dogs to calm down.

Then he chooses the next two, leaving a couple in the pen. On returning he sits down and waits for calm again …. and so on.

We also role-played a routine whereby the dogs were fed separately from their own bowls in their own areas. No food was left down.

I so hope the pen idea works and that the gentleman can remember the routines. With all the swapping about and dogs left in different places it will be a bit like a doggy Whitehall farce!

Once peace is established we can do more work on the behaviour side of things.

Three days later: I’m over the moon! I called, almost dreading what I might hear, and the man has taken all our role-play completely to heart. The first words the lady said were ‘Absolutely fantastic’! No fights. Much calmer. In a couple of weeks we will work at gradually integrating the dogs again.
Nearly three weeks have now gone by, and things are going from strength to strength. The gentleman is sticking to the plan to the letter, and is now enjoying the dogs. Alfie is much happier and waggy-tailed, and is gradually being integrated with the other dogs. He plays with Archie and Maggie and has short periods when he is together with all the other dogs including Benjie – with no fighting.

Two Yorkie Puppies Off to a Good Start

Two Yorkie puppies toilet indoorsLouie and Kasper are five-month-old Yorkshire Terrier puppies – the cutest you can imagine. Their owners’ previous Yorkie had been quite a handful which they readily admit was due to overspoiling, and they are determined to get it right this time with their two little puppy brothers.  They have made a very good start in quite difficult circumstances.

The lady owner is bed-ridden and although immobile she has her wits about her where the dogs are concerned! The gentleman has a lot to do without worrying about puppies as well, and I could tell from the the puppies’ behaviour that he has really been trying hard.

The current situation is that the puppies tend to fly all over the lady in her bed and she’s not strong enough to stop them. The puppies have the door to the garden open all the time and don’t seem to know the difference between toileting indoors and outdoors. They have not actually been taught. I have just been strongly reminded with my own three-month-old Labrador puppy Zara that it is hard work! But put in enough effort for a couple of weeks and the job is usually done.

Because she was toileting all over the place, I made a chart, entering every time Zara ‘went’ and where. It soon became apparent it was far more frequently than I had thought – about fifteen times a day for pees alone. The more free space a puppy has, the slower it seems to learn, so during this time while I was working at my computer I had a puppy pen around us so she couldn’t creep off quietly to toilet. Any time Zara had a mishap, it was my fault – not hers. As soon as she awoke she needed to be taken out. As soon as she broke off from playing or chewing and started to prowl around or sniff, I took her out.  In the space of ten days she has stopped toileting indoors altogether. The breakthrough came the day she connected my command which is ‘Go Pee’ with actually peeing, leading to a reward.

When I am out Zara is always contained in her crate, and she has never toileted in there. She is also contained at night time. If caught young enough, dogs prefer to toilet away from their beds.

There are other minor issues that could develop as the Yorkie puppies get older, like potential trouble between them over food. Kasper is more nervous but more possessive and dominant – that’s him peering out from under the lady’s bed. Louie is more confident but is the barker. Already the owners have the situation well under control when the carers and nurse come, and they need to do the same when family and friends visit. It’s about leadership/dog ‘parenting’.

That will do for now. The gentleman has more than enough on his plate at the moment.

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

Rehoming May be Best for the Dog

a border collie with no lifeI have been in touch with two different people recently who have taken on a young dog in their old age.

Border Collie Zac is one such dog. The situation is incredibly sad. His elderly owner, Barry, was sold him as a puppy three years ago when his wife died. Then, unable to look after himself, Barry has had to move in with his son and daughter-in-law.

Zac now lives in Barry’s bedroom which happens to be the conservatory. You can imagine how hot that is at this time of year. He can’t go into other parts of the house nor freely out into the garden on account of his son’s two cocker spaniels – because the dogs fight.

So here we have a three-year-old Border Colle who lives in one hot room with an old man and three cats, and who is taken out on lead once a day for ten minutes if he is lucky, resulting in indoor toiletting at times, and he has become fat. He has become territorial which isn’t surprising – although I didn’t experience this myself.

Barry loves Zac and says that he is ‘family’. Zac is a link to happier times when he had his own life and he doesn’t want to give him up.  However, his son and daughter-in-law can’t cope. I really hope that, having talked to Barry, he will be able to see Zac’s life from a dog’s point of view, and that he will be prepared to make the ultimate loving sacrifice for him by allowing him to go to a more suitable home. He is a gorgeous boy – amazingly good given the circumstances – which is tribute to Barry’s ‘parenting’ in the early days before having to move out of his own home.

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