Biting Labrador and Timid Border Collie

Border Collie lacks confidence

Maisie

People say their dogs are ‘members of the family’ which is why they treat them as they do. But do they really treat their family members the way they treat their dogs?

Black Labrador mix sometimes bites

Barney

When you come home, do you welcome your teenagers with ecstasy, kissing them and fussing them while they jump all over you so that the whole thing becomes almost unbearable with excitement? When you eat your meals, do you have your children jumping on yohttp://www.dogidog.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Barney-300×190.jpgu, letting them help themselves from your plate? Do you expect your children to keep a look out for danger approaching, and then when they alert you, tell them to shut up? Do you let your children jump about and scream at you until you take them out for a walk? Would you have your children dragging you down the road, kicking and screaming at people you pass? Do you share your bed with your teenagers and do they have a tantrum if told to go? If you want to watch TV in peace, are your kids jumping all over you and demanding attention, and while they sit beside you are you touching and cuddling them all the time? With humans this would probably be considered abuse!  Would your teenagers follow you all over the place and make a fuss if you disappear out of sight? I could go on and on!

I guess there may be families where the kids are like this, but certainly not the lovely family I went to today!  I exaggerate to make my point, but they admit that over the couple of years or so since they have rescued their two dogs, after a sensible start, they have slowly relaxed the rules and boundaries, hardly realising they were doing so.  It’s easy to do. This can be unsettling and confusing for dogs. Dogs without boundaries and given the responsibility of decision-making can develop problems that are inexplicable to the owners who believe they are simply being loving. Two common results are nervousness and aggression – both of which are fear-based.

Barney, a Labrador mix, is always on the alert and he may bite. He has drawn blood several times. Things certainly can’t carry on as they are.  Maisie the Border Collie is nervous. Lack of leadership and too much fussing on demand can be scary for a dog like Maisie, especially if mixed with being scolded. She is hyper-sensitive.  There is lots of appeasingly lying on her back to have her tummy tickled ‘love me love me I’ve done nothing wrong have I’.

Both dogs need a dose of old-fashioned calm, quiet and kind leadership and being treated in the way that people really treat their well-behaved and happy kids. The dogs need to be treated with respect, not touched too much and to learn respect. Then Barney won’t need to bite and Maisie will be more confident.

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

Two Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Two Staffies sitting on the doormatStaffies have a very bad press – mostly to do with (dare I say it) stupid humans. I try not to generalise too much about any breed because there are so may exceptions, but I would say that Staffies by and large are friendly and gentle – with humans. To other dogs may be another matter. The problem of dogs bred for the wrong reasons from unreliable stock, parents who are chosen for their aggression towards other dogs for instance, has resulted in the rescue centres being inundated with Staffordshire Bull Terriers. I love them. Just look at the photo of these two. They are so wanting to please!

Candy is laid back and would be very happy were it not for severe allergy problems. Alfie is friendly, gentle, biddable, a bit pushy with his persistent jumping up and also quite easily scared.

However, unlike Candy, he has the so-called Staffie trait of being ‘aggressive’ to other dogs. In Alfie’s case I am sure this is fear. As a three-month old puppy he came already with scars, and he is fearful of quite a lot of things.

The owners would like to be able to walk Alfie as nicely as they do Candy – on a loose lead and ignoring other dogs, especially as in some months’ time they are expecting a new baby and want to be able to walk both dogs together beside the buggy. Alfie’s jumping up needs to stop along with jumping on the furniture. Loose lead walking needs to be established and his reactivity to other dogs sorted; ignoring them altogether may be the best we will achieve.

This all needs to be well in place before the baby arrives. Both dogs are good with young children so I don’t foresee any problems, particularly if they make sure people associate being around the baby with pleasant things, no scolding or anxiety whilst of course playing safe (see my previous post about Benjie the Westie and their cat). Naturally, dogs and young children and babies should never be left alone together.

From a lovely email five years later! “I just wanted to say a massive thank you. We still pull your guidelines put from time to time and make sure we are doing things correctly. Thanks to your help, Alf is a different dog. Nothing like the little puppy called Tyson we picked up.”
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.