Bark Bark. Excitable Vocal Clever.

Winnie is so cute. She is soft and fluffy.

She is also NOISY!

The adorable Cockerpoo is now eighteen months old and she has something to say about everything. We get people like that don’t we, who just don’t know when to stop talking!

She will bark at everythingShe is on high alert much of the time and, being the vocal kind of dog she is, she reacts by barking. A good bark, whether because another dog may be walking past the house or a bark for some attention, always works in some way.

An alarm bark session drives the person or dog away (people passing the house don’t hang about, do they) and a good bout of barking for attention gets it – even if it’s to be told to stop.

A Poodle mixed with a Cocker Spaniel.

You wouldn’t mix these two breeds and guarantee an easy life. I have read that a Poodle was originally used as an aid for duck hunters and loves water. Winnie loves water. The Poodle comes second to only the Border Collie on the doggie IQ ranking. The Working Cocker Spaniel? An energetic hunting dog, a sniffer, a tracker; highly alert, vocal. (This describes my own Cocker Spaniel, Pickle, perfectly).

The working dog in Winnie doesn’t have enough work to do. A good walk each morning for about an hour, perfect for many dogs, isn’t alone sufficient stimulation or interest for a dog like Winnie.

She spends much of the rest of the day ‘making things happen’.

Repeatedly chasing a ball fires her up.

Ball play can become addictive when a dog is bored. It not only winds her up, getting her more and more excited which makes her bark more, it also makes the man her servant. He’s constantly on hand to throw the ball for her. If he doesn’t obey her, what does she do? Bark!

Activities like repetitive ball play are not natural – not things she would be doing if not with humans. If out by herself, any chasing would be spasmodic – only when she saw an animal or a bird or if playing with another dog.

Barking also probably makes Winnie feel better, even if only to vent some of the arousal, stress or frustration that has built up inside her. A lot of it now will simply be a habit.

Giving her more healthy stimulation and enrichment, stuff that activates her brain and her instinct to sniff and hunt, will cause her to bark less.

A bright and alert dog, she will bark at new or sudden things.

Because they live somewhere quiet, she reacts to things to which she’s not habituated. If they took her for more frequent but shorter walks, she would find going out less arousing. Encountering more dogs (at the right distance), she would become more accustomed to dogs. If dogs had constantly passed the house since she was a puppy, she would take no notice of dogs passing the house. If they had frequent visitors to the house or the house was always full of people, she would not bark at people coming to the house.

Some of these things can’t be changed, but some habituation can be done. They can take her on several extra very short walks for instance. People who live in flats whose dogs have to go out several times a day to toilet, are much less likely to get excited when the lead comes out.

Any scolding, ‘no’ or telling her to be quiet may work in the moment but, in the end, will make her bark more. They will add to the stress and pressure she is feeling and not address the cause.

You can’t ‘train’ the dog out of feeling alarmed.

The feeling itself has to be changed.

They will be working on doing all they can to calm Winnie down whilst enriching her life with suitable activities. The rough and tumble play will stop and hunting, sniffing and brain games introduced. A stirred up dog will bark more. A mentally satisfied dog will bark less.

When new people come to the house the barking normally continues for quite a while and she starts again if they stand up.

When I was there, Winnie didn’t actually bark much at all. That is often the way!

We had arranged things so that when I arrived it would be as easy on her as possible. Consequently she relaxed with me almost straight away. I also made things easy for her when I wanted to get up by warning her. I called her and dropped a bit of food and then moved about. No barking.

“What do you do when your dog barks?”

I usually ask people, when their dogs do something they don’t want them to do, what they themselves do in response. In the case of alarm barking, the answer is usually something that would ‘put a lid on it’. In the case of barking for attention, the dog would get attention even if it was to be told to stop.

The next question has to be, if they have always been responding in this way, has the dog improved? Usually the dog has, over time, got worse.

So, things need to be done differently. The barking itself is just a symptom and something that works for the dog. This may be for no better reason than to bark makes a stressed dog feel better. It gives a vent.

They will start working on the underlying emotions that are causing Winnie to bark.

The delightful dog will always be vocal, because that is Winnie. They can however help her to be calmer and more confident and therefore to bark less.

 

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 Winnie. 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. 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).

Puppy Parenting Goldendoodle Puppy

This is the start of my Puppy Parenting journey…

Puppy parenting

Being such a good boy. Loving the clicker

…with the delightful Richie, a Goldendoodle puppy now age 14 weeks.

I usually like to start as soon as the puppy arrives in his new home but often, as in the case of Richie, people put in fantastic work with the toilet training and other training themselves, but aren’t prepared for puppy’s teeth!

They contact me when their attempts to discipline their wayward puppy are making things worse and they are growing desperate.

This is from the message I received when they first contacted me:

‘We got him at 8 weeks. He is very excitable at home and when meeting new people and dogs. He is very aggressive with his mouth and we can’t seem to stop him using his mouth when we play with him. We have taken him to a puppy class but he just doesn’t concentrate. All he wants to do is jump all over the other puppies. He gets what we call the crazies and he zooms around the house, biting our pants, socks, shoes, shoe laces, clothes – anything he can get his mouth on. He loses interest in toys very quickly and doesn’t play happily by himself for very long.’

He’s a puppy – being a puppy.

The most immediate thing to address is Richie’s way of, when thoroughly stirred up, flying at the lady and ‘attacking’ her.

What we soon realised was that this only happens when Richie is so excited that he can’t control himself. They also soon saw that his high state of arousal was sometimes caused by themselves. It’s like he’s clockwork and they wind a key in his side until …… off he goes!

One trigger time is when the man arrives home from work. The lady will excite the puppy with ‘daddy’s home’ when she hears his car. The man walks in the gate to give the aroused puppy a huge welcome.

Richie will then fly, not at the man but at the lady, biting her arms and grabbing her clothes.

They have already taught their clever puppy to sit, to lie down and a few other things. This makes people feel, quite rightly, that they have really achieved something. At just fourteen weeks Richie is fully toilet trained.

Just as important as training tricks where his humans are directing him, is the puppy working certain things out for himself.

He does this by experimenting with what works and what doesn’t work.

If jumping up and nipping gives fun and feedback – it works. If barking while the lady prepares his food ends in his getting the meal – it works. If jumping up gets the fuss – it works. If calmly waiting, sitting down or standing gets the feedback – that will work too.

That is the beauty of clicker training. It shows the puppy just what does work. He then starts to find ways of ‘being good’. If the clicker isn’t to hand, the word ‘yes’ will do because all the clicker means, really, is ‘yes’. 

Good recall is like having puppy on remote control.

Making a game of it, using food and constant repetition, Richie can soon be taught to come running when called.

He’s chewing the table leg? Instead of a loud NO, they can call him. He will come. They can then reward him and give him something better to chew.

Too much ‘No’ merely causes confusion, frustration – and wildness. ‘No’ is hard to avoid when we are pulling our hair out!

Puppies notoriously have a wild half-hour in the evening, zooming from room to room and flying all over the furniture. Dealing with the wild behaviour involves avoiding deliberately getting him stirred up, shutting doors as space encourages wildness, and redirecting this pent-up energy onto something acceptable that he can wreck or attack!

A Puppy can soon learn that ‘being good’ isn’t rewarding. Fun or gentle attention can sometimes be initiated when he’s awake but calm.

There are brain games, hunting games and there is clicker training – which to puppy should be a game. Here are some great ideas.

Our main catch phrase for now is ‘Change No to Yes’.

We have only just started. Puppy parenting is largely about pre-empting, diverting problems before they start and laying the foundations for happy walks and self-control.

Puppies can hard work!

From an email about seven weeks later: ‘We are doing great and Richie is becoming a totally different dog to the puppy we struggled with. Your help teaching us to be calm with him has been invaluable….. I don’t have much to add to the plan to be honest, as we have moved on a lot.   The only thing I can think of is Richie is alarm barking, especially from our own garden when he hears noises etc. but we will work on this. I am very pleased with how we and Richie are progressing.  All our friends and family are being calm with him and he is such a good boy around them.  He is growing up fast!

 

 

Too excited, over-aroused

Too excited, arousal and raised stress levels.

Some dogs and certain breeds of dogs, as we all know, are a lot more prone to being too excited than others (with many exceptions of course).

Jack Russell gets too excited

Jill

I went to the sweetest pair of Jack Russells yesterday – I’ll call them Jack and Jill. Jill is four years old and Jack eighteen months. We love our perky, bright and quick little dogs but because they are so reactive to things their stress levels easily rocket and this high state of arousal spreads tentacles that can adversely affect many areas of the dogs’ (and their owners’) lives.

A bit like the swan analogy of serene above water but paddling frantically underneath, even when dogs like this that get too excited appear peaceful or asleep, the adrenaline and arousal chemicals are still circulating inside their bodies.

It can take several days for the increased cortisone levels raised by a sudden shock or high excitement to fully go away but this will seldom happen because the next lot will come flooding in. It doesn’t take much to increase the heart rate of an already innately excitable dog – ball play, mail landing on the doormat,  encountering another dog when out or even someone dropping a spoon can trigger a flood of adrenaline and cortisone.

We obviously don’t want our dogs to be comatose, but continually being ‘too excited’ isn’t healthy either.

With Jack and Jill’s arousal levels lowered a bit, it will affect most areas of their lives.

JR who can be too excited, calm on his bed

Jack

When they are prevented from looking out of the front window, Jill in particular will no longer get into a barking frenzy when the children pass by on their way to and from school.

When upon coming home their humans allow the dogs to calm down before giving them too much fuss, Jack’s arousal levels will no longer drive him to leap about and grab hands.

When the key goes to unlock the back door, the dogs currently yo-yo up and down, barking and scratching the door, winding themselves up massively and ready to burst out. They no doubt believe their excitable behaviour actually causes the door to open. It will no longer happen.

When, on letting the dogs out, they attach a long lead to Jack for the first couple of minutes until his excitement abates a little, he won’t in an overflow of arousal redirect onto poor Jill who may then, equally wound up, snap at him.

By doing all they can to avoid the dogs getting too excited needlessly, they will help Jill to become generally calmer and less jumpy. She will be less fearful. Being less fearful, she will be more relaxed with people entering her house. Being less jumpy and fearful she will be less reactive to sudden sounds. She will bark less. Jack will bark less.

The dogs will gradually learn to calm themselves; they will work it out that calm now works best.

A calmer backdrop will in itself, over time, transform the walks for both Jack and Jill, and their humans. No longer will young Jack be so excited that he pulls in a barking frenzy as soon as he see another dog, joined by a hyped-up Jill who may then snap at him.

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 Jack and Jill. 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. 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)

Miniature Daschunds Barking

Very excitable miniature daschunds are extreme barkers

Blaze and Rolo

Butter wouldn’t melt!

I didn’t take this beautiful photo – at no stage were the little dogs either still or quiet enough.

Blaze and Rolo, three-year-old Miniature Daschund brothers, are very excitable and extreme barkers. In order to get them to stop even briefly when people visit they have had water sprayed at them, they have been shouted at, they have had a bottle of stones shaken at them and noisy compressed-air ‘corrector’ spray to frighten them out of it. Incessant barking can really drive one crazy.

These ‘solutions’ may work in the moment but they do nothing at all to ease the real problem apart from making it worse.

The tiniest thing starts them off. Blaze (in front) is probably the instigator, but they charge about in manic barking tandem!

To deal with any behaviour we need to deal the emotion that is creating it. In cases where barking is such an automatic reflex it’s also become a habit. The more they have practised barking, the better they have got at it. Automatic barking can be a difficult habit to break.

The times that worry the family the most are when someone comes to the house (whether familiar or unfamiliar) – and when their grandchildren visit. Blaze may accompany the barking with little nips. He is also obsessed with nappies!

Normally when someone arrives the dogs are put into the garden – or if they do join them it will be hectic. There was the spray water bottle on the side at the ready. I asked for everyone to ignore them. As I usually do, I wanted to see what happened without human interference. We could hardly speak and I had hoped we would be able to sit it out, but after about ten minutes they were still standing close in front of me as I sat on the pouffe – barking, barking, barking at me.

The lady took them out of the room and put them into their crate.  They still barked. We got on with the consultation.

Eventually they were quiet so I asked the lady to let them in again. This time we had tiny bits of cheese prepared and fortunately both dogs are very food orientated.

They came charging back into the room, barking.

I held bits of cheese out to them. They couldn’t bark and eat at the same time – but they could still bark between bits of cheese!  They also snatched the food, so I taught them a bit of inhibition and manners which meant they had to be quiet and back off for a moment before I opened my hand with the cheese – a few moments of blessed silence.

Soon we were at the stage when as soon as they started to bark again the lady called them back out of the room. They were reasonably willing because of the food reward – something they don’t usually get. After they joined us for about the fifth time the barking was minimal and the lady herself was doing the feeding. Progress.

These little dogs will be associating people coming to the house with panic and scolding. Blaze was even driven to bite a friend who insisted on picking him up against instructions. The aim now is for the dogs to begin to associate people with good stuff – food.

When the grandchildren visit the dogs will either be the other side of a gate or brought in on leads and taught not to nip fingers and jump on them using positive methods. Currently they have never been taught what IS wanted of them – only punished for what is NOT wanted.

The underlying problem of extreme excitement and stress has to be dealt with. This won’t be easy.  No more rough play from the teenage members of the family which is encouraging the mouthing and nipping.

Being so hyped up is not good for the dogs any more than it would be good for us, and not only causes problems for the family but also for friends, the neighbours and on walks.

From now on the motto should be ‘good things come to quiet dogs’. Food won’t go down until they are quiet. They won’t step out of the front door until they are quiet. They won’t be let out of their crate until they are quiet, they won’t be greeted until they are quiet, and so on.

If the people themselves are quiet, calm and consistent these adorable little dogs should eventually get the message.

About four weeks later: ‘The boys are definitely showing signs of improvement in several ways, they are a lot quieter, calmer and are not trying to be top dog with each other as much as they used to. I’m so pleased with the help you have given us so far and have recommended you to other people. Its so nice to enjoy the boys again rather than telling them off for all the noise they make. ‘

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Blaze and Rolo, 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).

Cocker is Simply Too Excitable

Cocker Spaniel was pacing, rushing about, panting, drinking, wanting to go out, clamouring for attention, chewingOllie just kept on going! Pacing, rushing about, panting, drinking, wanting to go out, clamouring for attention, chewing…….

Being excitable may be an emotion and part of a dog’s personality – but it can be a learnt behaviour too when it’s constantly reinforced.

Dogs very often mirror their humans. Calm and quiet people very often have calmer dogs, and excitable people dogs that are more reactive themselves. This could of course be because people choose the breeds of dogs that suit their own characters.

Ollie is a two-and-a-half year old Cocker Spaniel, and as the owner of a Cocker myself I know how excitable they can be. In Ollie’s case, his excitement is unwittingly being reinforced. He will always eventually get the attention he wants while excited, demanding or barking. Like many excitable dogs, he can’t be given toys because he then directs his energy to wrecking them, though he was very busy with my unbreakable Stagbar.

When guests come ‘he calms down once they make a fuss of him’.  It might be more accurate to say that ‘he remains excited until they make a fuss of him’!

When I arrived he was very bouncy, tearing about, jumping up on me, going and having a drink, rushing about again and so on.

I said, ‘Let’s ignore what we don’t want – what is it we do want?’  I gave him a tiny bit of biscuit with a quiet ‘Yes’ each time he stopped still even briefly, then when he happened to sit or lie down. His brain was working!

Throughout the evening he was pushing one of the men to respond to him. This gentleman would I’m sure agree that he’s something of a pushover. The downside is that a dog can be less respectful and tries to control him in other ways too. The man can’t walk downstairs without Ollie trying to grab his feet and ankles.At last Ollie lay down briefly

Ollie is over-stimulated in one way and under-stimulated in another.  There is too much exciting stimulation and too little healthy stimulation by way of brain work and breed-specific stuff like nose work. He needs to be left quietly to work things out for himself like ‘good things come to calm dogs‘. He needs to actually be taught how to be calm.

I must say that it’s due to all the good things the men have done with him that Ollie is so friendly, confident and biddable. Absolutely gorgeous. Ollie’s good points far outweight any bad ones he may have. All his problems come down to over-excitement. Now that his owner realises that quietly restraining himself with Ollie will help him, that should help the dog to learn self-restraint.

When Ollie’s excited antics no longer get the attention he craves he will then start to learn. Meanwhile he won’t give up easily I fear. While he still believes excitement and demanding always works in the end, in the short-term he may simply increase his efforts.

They may be in for a rough few days during which they must occupy him with activities and calm attention but under their own terms – and when he’s not hyped up!

He will learn so long as his humans are consistent.

Six weeks later: ‘ Ollie is definitely a lot calmer and ongoing work will definitely give further rewards. The penny has finally dropped that if the ball is thrown and he brings it back and drops it then it gets thrown again …this is his current most favourite thing but we don’t overdo it!  Thanks for all your support over the last few months…Ollie is definitely a work in progress and I’m sure we’ll be in touch!’

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Ollie, 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 often 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).

Over-Stimulated. How Can Terrier Gain Self-Control?

Over-stimulated Parsons Terrier uncharacteristically calm Who could fail to love Riley! He can be rather too much though! He’s a one year old Parsons Russell Terrier; he flies all over people and is extremely excitable.

Stimulating an already over-stiimulated dog like this with even more exercise and play can backfire. It all depends upon the quality of the exercise and play.

Out running in fields, doing his own thing, sniffing, chasing and playing with other dogs until he’s really tired is perfect – or would be if his recall was good enough. Pulling down the road on lead, straining to jump up at all the people he passes and panting to go and play with other dogs while he chokes himself must be very frustrating for him. It will have the reverse effect to a healthy, tiring walk.

It’s the same with play. Rough house, rolling around, chasing and getting him wild is going to make an already over-stimulated dog far worse.

How to calm down an over-stimulated dog?

Thinking games, impulse-control games, ‘come when called’ games and hunting games are what he needs.

He is super-excited before going out, he’s excited before meals and he’s very excited when they come home or when anyone comes to the house. All this excitement is, unwittingly, encouraged and fed into by his humans because it always results in what he wants. It needs to be controlled behaviour that gets the results he wants.

The problem that bothers the young couple the most is his uncontrollable behaviour when friends and family come to the house. This is an issue not to be addressed head-on alone. He first needs to learn to control his urge to fly all over his own people when they sit down, and not to launch himself at them when they arrive home.

They can teach him this with lots of short comings and goings, welcoming him calmly only when his feet are on the floor. If ‘Get Down’ worked, he wouldn’t be doing it any more!

Not all doggy daycare is good.

They have just discovered that at the doggy daycare Riley has been tied to a post with a head halter. From the photo I assume it was to keep him under control. On the last day the minder also talked of sedating him and he came back with a cut on his face, from forcing his way out of a crate. If daycare couldn’t cope with him (and I wouldn’t blame them for that at all) they should have said. He won’t be going back there.

Firstly these ‘trigger’ occasions need to become less exciting, and only his humans can do anything about that. It’s unwittingly mostly due to them that he is so over-stimulated. He needs to find quiet behaviour and feet on the floor a lot more rewarding. Finally and most importantly, he needs to learn some alternative behaviour that is incompatible with what he currently does in order to redirect his inner eagerness. It will take a while.

He’s such a lovely, friendly and sociable little dog, and it will be good when at last they can freely have him in the room with them when their friends and their children, or family and baby neice, come to the house.

Very Excited Around People. Adolescent Labradoodle

very excited around peopleWhat a character Labradoodle Poppy is! Here she is chewing something in our attempt to keep her calm (it didn’t last for long).

A very excited adolescent

Poppy is a sixteen months old adolescent and she has a wonderful temperament. She is a very stable dog in the main with few of the usual problems I go to.

She can be happily left alone for several hours a day in her crate. She’s extremely friendly. She has never shown any signs of aggression. She’s good if over-boisterous with other dogs. She’s not much of a barker.

It’s her over-excitement that is causing problems. She is very excited and hyped up around people, especially unfamiliar ones.

Her excitement and restlessness her seemed out of sync with her other traits and it was a bit puzzling.

Poppy lives with a single lady but is not over-indulged or spoilt; the atmosphere is calm although the lady does a lot with her. As an intelligent young dog, she may need more mental stimulation than she’s getting.

She may need to see more people to make them less exciting. It’s Catch 22, because due to her very excited behaviour, they avoid people.

If a human were this manic and excitable when I first met them, I would imagine them to be anxious and not really very confident. I think, under the bluster, it’s thus with Poppy. She sent subtle body language signals that backed up this theory.

Self-control and de-stressing

Poppy continued to pace and demand attention for a long time – until she was put in her crate. She instantly settled down, like she was relieved. It seems she goes to pieces unless she is externally controlled with commands. She has no self-control.

So, self-control and de-stressing are the angles we are working on.

On walks, despite wearing a Gentle Leader which she keeps trying to remove, Poppy pulls. She is so very excited when she sees a person that she has pulled the lady over a couple of times, resulting in injury. When she sees someone, if they take any notice of her at all she lunges, spins around and jumps about. She seems overjoyed.

She can’t be let off-lead because she would overwhelm people and other dogs with her excitement and jumping about.

Walks need to be done entirely differently, ‘self-control’ starting before leaving the house. I suggest the forget heel work for now and concentrate on walking on a loose lead, focusing on the lady and not other people.

This will take time, but we have a plan!

Poppy has been to lots of training classes. ‘Heel’ to Poppy means come back, receive a treat and then start to pull again! She’s not silly!

There is a saying – to alter the behaviour we need to alter the emotion. I did also wonder whether a change in diet might make a difference so the lady will try that too.

Boisterous Golden Retriever Lacks

Alfie tolerates Fynn's exuberant behaviourGoldie Fynn is one year old. He is boisterous and confident. He lives with three-year-old black Labrador, Alfie.

His exuberance has been causing problems. A few weeks ago he bowled his lady owner over and she broke her ankle, so the gentleman has a lot to do just now.

Fynn feels it is his job to control both his humans and Alfie. He finds all sorts of ways to gain their attention and has learnt that if he persists with something annoying for long enough he will always get a reaction of some sort! When he is especially stirred up, like if someone comes to the house or they are released from their leads into an open space, Alfie will redirect his pent up stress and excitement onto poor Alfie, who gets ‘hounded’ and jumped upon. One day Alfie may begin to stand up for himself.

Fynn’s attitude has now spilled out onto walks where other dogs are concerned – when he’s on lead. He’s fine when he’s free, but on lead he reacts with barking and lunging and sounding rather aggressive. This is not helped because his anxious humans, the minute they see a dog and irrespective of whether Fynn reacts or not, they anxiously reel him in and maybe talk to him, believing it to be soothing. All they are doing is conveying their anxiety..’uh-oh, a dog…trouble!’. The previously sociable Alfie now joins in.

Between times Fynn is a wonderful pet. He is adolescent and will grow out of a lot of this so long as he’s given firm and consistent messages about who controls whom and who makes the decisions – whether at home or out on walks, and learns that nothing happens until he is in a calm state. This will take considerable patience and time – his humans just waiting quietly for him to be ready and calm before they walk him, let him in with visitors, feed him, and so on. Fynn will learn!

A month later: “Fynn is now a treat to walk on the lead. I am so pleased. Alfie is also much better”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Jack Russell Reactive With All Dogs

Jack Russell Rambo is not suited to his nameYesterday I visited Rambo, a dear little Jack Russell and not at all suited to his name. He is now three and came from the RSPCA a year ago. Like many Jack Russells he’s very active, but a little too restless I feel. He’s obedient and affectionate and the the family loves him dearly, and the couple are doing their best to give him fair boundaries, sufficient stimulation and exercise.

He is looked after the couple’s parents during the day when they are at work, at their own house, so Rambo has two different environments, and there needs to be continuity in how he is treated. His persistent jumping up on everyone is a bit too much, but it would be very hard to stop unless everyone deals with it the same way whether family or visitors (and this isn’t by commands or scolding), otherwise it would simply confuse him and make matters worse so may be impractical in the circumstances.

Against a background of being already excitable and fairly easily scared by things at home, walks can be very stressful due to his fear of other dogs. Who knows what his past life consisted off, but his extreme reactivity to all other dogs seems to indicate that he didn’t have good experiences in the past.  As soon as he sees any dog his hackles rise, he lunges and he barks. His defensive behaviour may attract the attention of off-lead dogs and if they approach him it is a nightmare. Poor Rambo, of course, is trapped on lead – it would be far too risky letting him off.

Rambo really isn’t a good name! It suggests tough and brave, but this poor little dog is plain scared. He first of all needs to learn to walk nicely (who ever sees a dog calmly walking on a loose lead, minding his own business, suddenly exploding when spotting another dog?). Avoidance of close encounters for now is key. Rambo needs lots of controlled exposure to other dogs at a sufficient distance not to worry him, whilst his owners behave in a way that convincing ‘leaders’ would. Opportunities can be engineered. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ as they say.

He most likely will never get to actually playing with other dogs, but being calm around them and ignoring them whilst relying on his humans to look after him would be a realistic, if long-term, goal. Things over time will slowly but surely improve if the humans stick to the plan.

 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.