Younger Boxer Goes for Old Boxer Dog at Times of Arousal.

Boris, Betsy and Buster

All three Boxers have a wonderful life, with lots of freedom and lots of love. They have old boy Buster, 11 and entire. There is Boris aged 2 and they have six-year-old Betsy – in the middle. they had Boris castrated a month ago. (I didn’t take the photo as Boris never sat still enough while I was there).

The problems between the two boys have been growing over the past two years. Boris goes for Buster. Nearly always this is in times of arousal or excitement.

The most recent attack seemed to come out of nowhere. Continue reading…

Fighting Saint Bernard and Boxer

Harry is a St.Bernard mix

Harry

Great Dane Blue and Boxer Sebastian lived happily together with their owners. Both dogs have their own traits – Blue is a bit needy probably due to health issues when he was a puppy, and Sebastian is very exuberant.

Then, about a year ago, they added Harry, a St.Bernard, to the mix. Things seemed to go very well until about four weeks ago when the St.Bernard and the Boxer had their first big fight. Since then,  as soon as they have come into each other’s presence there has been a big fight and damage, especially to Sebastian. The situation seemed to come out of the blue, but in hindsight the unchecked play between the two dogs was becoming extreme and should have been a warning sign. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I personally nip in the bud boisterous play between my own dogs the minute it looks like getting out of hand with any body-slamming or ‘hunting down’. The problem now with Harry and Sebastian is that their entry level is hackles, snarling and FIGHT.Great Dane and Boxer at the window. They now need to be kept apart

The ingredients seem to a mix of Blue, who keeps out of the way, but generally hypes up the atmosphere with excessive barking and anxiety especially if the lady of the house is out of sight, and Sebastian who tends to be over-excitable. One-year-old Great Dane Harry is a calmer dog, but is now an adolescent challenging Sebastian, and there is a lot of testosterone flying about.

In order to keep the two dogs separate means constantly moving dogs about the house like chess pieces, two in the garden while the third comes downstairs, one in the utility room while two are fed elsewhere, two upstairs while the third is let out into the garden – and so on. Very difficult. The people are incredibly patient and doing everything they can possibly find to remedy the situation between their beloved dogs, but are naturally extremely worried and wonder whether it will ever end.

Not having witnessed the fighting, I have to guess what triggers it. I suspect a cocktail of doggy personalities, over-excitement, stress and teenage testosterone. Most have kicked off in doorways.

We are working on the humans creating as calm an atmosphere as possible. Meanwhile, so that the humans will be able to relax when the rehabilitation process begins, both dogs will be introduced to muzzles in such a way that over the next two or three weeks they will learn to welcome them and happily be able to spend some time muzzled. Sebastian will probably get his off and eat it! However, Harry is the main aggressor and does the most damage.

Now, with a calmer environment, some rules in place and muzzles accepted, they need to work at re-introducing the dogs bit by bit, initially just walking one past the other a few times on lead at home, interrupting any eye-balling, along with parallel walking techniques out in the open. I sincerely hope that this works and that the two dogs, like some humans, do not now hate each other to the extent they simply can’t live together. Splitting up a St.Bernard fighting a large Boxer is no joke.

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 Blue and Sebastian. 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 involved. 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).
 

Eyeballing and Hostility Between Dogs

Eyeballing from one dog; looking away, whale-eye, lip curling and growling from the other.

Poppy's eyeballing may be a trigger

Poppy

The hostility between the two Springer Spaniel bitches seems to have suddenly started about three weeks ago.

It’s hard to see where the tension, eyeballing and snarling between the two dogs has come from. It seemed to be out of the blue – but was it? Both dogs had been happily living and playing together since they took on Poppy, now three years old, as a puppy. Tilly is ten years old.

Both Springers have a lovely life. They are trained and worked kindly as gun dogs, fulfilling what they were bred for. They only spend the mornings out in their kennels and for the rest of the time they are well-loved family pets living and sleeping in the house.

There is another dog, a female Jack Russell called Fern who may be escalating the tension. Fern tends to be reactive to sounds. Her barking upsets Poppy and sends her running for cover.

Three weeks ago, immediately after they had returned from a few days’ holiday with the two Springers, the man caught them eyeballing each other, then growling.

Could the sudden hostility have been triggered by the reuniting with a hyper and noisy Fern who had stayed behind with a friend, at a time when they will already have been aroused? Things with Fern have changed recently. She has been recovering from mammary cancer. Could this be relevant?

Anyway, the man had immediately grabbed both dogs and parted them, putting them briefly in different rooms. This was followed by ever more frequent episodes.

Fern

Fern

Things escalated until about five days ago there were three bouts within the space of one hour.

Things only haven’t developed into a full blown fight due to vigilance and the man separating them immediately. It’s now happened so many times that it could be becoming a learnt response – a habit, something the two dogs may automatically do as soon as they are anywhere close together other than out in the open on walks.

Since these final three episodes the two dogs have been kept apart.

The Springers take it in turns to be in the sitting room with the couple. They are in separate kennels in the mornings and instead of all being together in the kitchen at night, two have been in the kitchen and the other Springer in the back lobby. She cries. Nobody is happy.

Surprisingly however, all three dogs still all go out happily for their morning walk together just as they always used to. It seems away from the house and out in the open they are fine.

When I arrived just Fern was with us first and she did a lot of barking at me. This barking is unusual apparently which made me wonder if something more was going on with her. Maybe she has been more stressed since her recent treatment for cancer?

Poppy then joined us. She was very wary of me as she is with all people she doesn’t know, pacing about, tail between her legs, interested but backing away.

We set things up so I could see both dogs together for myself. To take Jack Russell Fern out of the equation, we put her out in the garden. The man put Poppy on lead and the lady went to fetch Tilly from the outside kennel, also on lead.

They sat well apart and I placed myself where I could see both dogs.

Tilly

Tilly

There was an immediate and surprising change in Poppy. She became a different dog. Bold. She was unconcerned by me now. She stared at Tilly.

Tilly, in turn, looked at Poppy out the corner of her eyes with her head turned away. A lip curl. then a growl. I sensed that Tilly was by far the more uncomfortable of the two dogs.

From my observations, instead of the aggression being a problem solely instigated Tilly as they had thought, it looked like it may be six of one and half a dozen of the other.

With strategies in place to keep the two dogs’ attention away from one another, I then let Fern in to join us. She was barking as she entered the room.

Immediately there was an altercation between her and Tilly in the doorway.

Could the reactive Fern be part of the problem? Possibly also something has changed with her since her cancer treatment.

Where do we start?

They will continue to manage the environment by keeping them separate. It’s possible that during the morning outside in their adjacent kennels things could be brewing with eyeballing and so on, so I suggested putting a board between them.

On leads in the house, in short sessions they will work on relieving the tension between them, teaching each dog things to do that are incompatible with eyeballing or challenging the other. It’s vital they get no more opportunities to further rehearse the behaviour.

Because the dogs are fine on walks, instead of afterwards immediately putting them away again in their separate areas, they will take the walked and satisfied dogs indoors still on lead, give them a drink (separate bowls just in case) and sit down for a few minutes. They can thus hopefully build upon the rapport the two dogs still have out on walks.

Finally, they will be helping Fern with her stress levels which could well be compounding the whole over-aroused situation.

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 Tilly, Poppy and Fern 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, particularly where aggression issues of any kind are concerned. 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 Help page)

Punish her and she will Learn

“If we punish her she should learn not to do it again”.

A few weeks ago nine-month-old Dandie Dinmont for the first time went for the older, gentle Cocker Spaniel, Mimi (12). She grabbed her ear and wouldn’t let go. Mimi was screaming. Pandemonium followed. The lady yelled at the dogs. She tried to pull the two bitches apart. She cried ‘Get a bucket of water’. Water didn’t make Dandie, Suzie, let go, in fact it probably fired her up further. Panic.

Flo

Flo

Eventually a handful of food broke it up.

Suzie was punished.

Now, to me, this first attack wasn’t really too serious. No blood was drawn. Suzie could have damaged Mimi’s ear badly but no blood was drawn. If she was really in the red zone, would she have stopped for food?

Human reaction, noise and panic will, over a few more similar incidents, have escalated the whole thing into another sphere, resulting in Mimi finally turning on Suzie. The man, caught in the action, was badly bitten, ending up in hospital with a bad bite that went septic.

Suzie wants to control not to kill. The man has now experienced what happens when the dog really means it.

With hindsight the first attack should have been taken as a big warning that something was going wrong with the relationship between the two dogs.

I shan’t here go into the various techniques of breaking up a fight once it has begun as there is no universal solution – one size fit all. It’s so easy to say ‘keep calm’ but experienced dog people who deal with this sort of thing on a regular basis wouldn’t panic. The aim now is to make absolutely sure it can’t happen again.

I wonder where it all started? The seeds will have been sown well before that first attack on Mimi. It will have been brewing. The little Dandie Dinmont was becoming increasingly growly when Mimi was fussed and would react badly if not given treats first. Mimi’s own weakness may well have brought out the worst in Suzie. Hindsight, again, is a wonderful thing, but this is the point at which teenage Suzie’s bullying of Mimi should have been addressed.

Its a nightmare for the whole family as they adore their dogs. They so badly want to keep Suzie (the breeder will have her back) that they accept they will need to do things differently now.

They were disbelieving when I suggested that punishing Suzie would only make things worse and I knew I had a challenge explaining why. 

To punish a dog opens a can of worms.

It damages our relationship with the dog.  Countering violence with violence can only make aggression worse and this is very well documented. If positive punishment, physical or otherwise, did work, instead of escalating there would have been no further incidents.

The (very understandable) human anger has had fallout. I doubt whether punishment will, to the dog, be directly related to the attack itself for several reasons. One is that punishment continues after the fight has stopped (the dog will have been hit after she had let go).

Another big factor is that both dogs will now associate the other dog with something terrifying – her humans losing it and becoming, to them, unpredictable monsters. Each time one dog looks at the other her emotions will be poisoned with this association.

I suspect this human contribution will have had far more impact than any pain or fear either dog has inflicted upon the other.

Scared

Scared Mimi

Both dogs are wary in their own way. It’s sad to see Mimi so scared, not only of Suzie but of her humans, after twelve years of happiness. Even Suzie is very appeasing. In the context she offered it, I don’t feel her constantly dropping to the floor and lying on her back is solely to invite a tummy rub.

The situation must now be reversed and it will take time and patience. Relationship-building between humans and dogs is now a priority. It should involve one-to-one time – walks, training, play – with each dog individually, earning her trust by motivating her, being consistent and predictable.

At present the two dogs tend to focus mainly on one another. The focus of each dog should now be more upon their humans.

Now each dog also needs to be helped to associate the other with pleasant stuff only.

We discussed the common denominators around the incidents. Doorways was one of them. Each time Suzie grabbed Mimi it was her ear – not a killer grab.  Each time it unleashed a tsunami of human panic and reaction.  The final time Mimi turned.

Punish leading to appeasement

Tummy rub or appeasing?

Everyone must play safe for now. Belt and braces. They will put up two gates. Both dogs will be introduced to muzzles as a standby.

Instead of having them mostly together (with Mimi now hiding) and separating them when they feel it’s necessary (if they remember), they should make the default being ‘dogs apart’. They will only have them together in a controlled and planned way when everything is calm, away from any doors to the outside.

We are looking at management and controlling the environment for the foreseeable future.

We are looking to build a stronger relationship between each dog individually with her humans.

We are looking at changing how each dog feels towards the other dog.

* Used here in the sense of ‘positive punishment’ not ‘negative punishment’.
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 Flo and Lly and I’ve not gone into exact 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, particularly where aggression issues of any kind are concerned. 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 Help page)

Management Comes First

Their aims: for both their Cockerpoos to be calmer.

Cockerpoo's environment needs better management

Eddie

I pushed in past the two barking dogs.

Both young Cockerpoos were so worked up I felt one or both weren’t far short of biting me but instead, black Harry redirected his anger, fear or frustration onto young golden Eddie and a minor fight ensued.

The house was full of people. Family members were moving about. Kids were on their mobiles. I sat at the dining table and we made a start.

It soon became obvious from my first questions that over-arousal and lack of boundaries was at the root of all sorts of problems.

Where do we start?

.

Management.

Management in this case means gating off the front door and stairs so the dogs are contained in the sitting room and kitchen area. They will then have a physical boundary.

Management of this area will make it impossible for them to near-attack people at the front door and prevent Harry from chasing delivery men to the gate where a bite is only a matter of time.

Management means keeping them away from the stairs so that Harry will now no longer regularly pee on the upstairs landing.

Harry

Harry

Management of the environment means that first thing in the morning when they are let out of the utility room, they can’t start off the day in a manic manner, charging upstairs like battering rams at the bedroom doors, waking people.

Another gate can be put in the space between kitchen and dining/sitting room.

Management then means the dogs can’t jump at people when they are eating their food. They can’t jump at the surfaces when cooking is going on. Management means they can be put the other side of the barrier with something to do.

Management means moving the box that gives them lookout duty from the front windows, the lower part of which can also be frosted. They won’t then spend much of the day winding themselves up by barking.

There is so much going on it’s hard to know where to start with the behaviour work, but the priority has to be all things that will lower their arousal levels.

Then we can see what we have got left.

When they are no longer little volcanoes ready to erupt, it will be easier to deal with things like Harry’s nervousness. Instead of constantly being at each other in play which can deteriorate, something stress seems to trigger, they can be given more constructive activities.

We might then work on impulse control, training them to settle, loose lead walking, coming back when called before they can go off barking at and intimidating another dog – and much more.

However, management and boundaries must be in place first. The dogs’ levels of stress must be lowered.

Then we should get somewhere!

Eventually they will get more of this!

Eventually they will get more of this!

She Was Attacked by Another Dog

Attacked by another dog Staffie back viewNothing is more important on a walk than for a dog than to feel safe.

A few months ago the young Staffie Boxer mix was attacked by another dog. She was sitting beside the gentleman minding her own business, and off-lead dogs ran up to them. It ended in a fight, followed by angry shouting from the owner of the off lead dogs – which is so often the case!

Attacked by another dog

Shortly afterwards, Roxy was attacked by another dog and she was ready this time – she fought back.

People with uncontrolled, off-lead dogs have so much to answer for. What can conscientious dog owners do to protect their dogs? They have to avoid certain places and times, which is unfair.

The couple have only had Roxy for nine months. She had been picked up as a stray. To start with she mixed well with dogs and there were no problems on walks apart from the pulling on lead.

No longer feels safe

Roxy no longer feels safe, though it may not be as bad as her owners think because they now keep their distance. Although she has several doggie friends that she plays with, they very understandably feel wary themselves now. As soon as they see a dog, even if Roxy isn’t reacting at all, the lead tightens on the Halti as they make their escape. What message is this giving her? That all dogs she doesn’t know are potential trouble.

Along with her humans, Roxy needs to learn that just because two dogs have been bad news, both with a reputation locally, most dogs are fine.

They had been advised to food reward Roxy when she’s stopped barking. Fair enough, but I prefer to feed before she gets to the barking stage, when she is aware of the other dog but at a ‘safe’ distance. This then eases the emotion of anxiety and associates other dogs with good stuff. If food-motivated Roxy won’t take chicken, then they are too close. She is ‘over threshold’.

Whilst avoiding other dogs altogether gets them nowhere, pushing her too close too soon will only make things worse. By ‘reading’ Roxy’s signals and reacting in response to how she is feeling and not preempting, they may even now possibly pass near many dogs with no reaction at all.

Accumulated stress

The tricky thing is that Roxy may react differently at different times. One day she could get quite near to a dog before reacting and the next day she may bark when she sees the same dog at a distance. The main variable will be the level of her accumulated stress levels at the time and all sorts of things can contribute to this.

So – the groundwork is to reduce stress in all areas of Roxy’s life, to make sure the equipment they use causes her no discomfort and the lead should be loose – change the Halti for a comfortable harness with two contact points. This can take time.

The end aim is for Roxy to clock in with her human when she sees another dog and then trust him/her to make the best decision. Even if sometimes ‘life happens’ and things go wrong, both dog and humans should have sufficient bounce-back to dust themselves off so to speak and carry on. Being attacked by another dog can have a devastating effect, but even in times of war a good leader keeps going, is trusted and keeps calm.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help

Bad Start with New Rescue Dog

Malamute Alaska injured new rescue Shar-pei's faceShar-pei Yoko had been in her new home for one day when she received a bad injury to her face from Malamute Alaska, requiring many stitches. But it wasn’t a fight as such.

What a sad situation. It had started so well. Both dogs had been walked together several times before bringing Yoko home and they had got on well.

What the lady hadn’t been told was that not only did Yoko have a bad ear infection, but in addition to a skin problem she was also in season. So, here was a very stressed dog trying to adapt to home life after nine months in rescue with physical problems as well.

Alaska, the most polite and confident dog with people who you can imagine, was only castrated recently. Yoko presented herself to him and he started to do what male dogs do. Unfortunately he has a bad hip problem and he will have been in pain also. Things were stacked up against them.

Anyway, the outcome was a sudden angry response from Yoko as she tried to escape, followed by the same from Alaska and at the same time he must have grabbed her face. There is a big discrepancy in the two dogs’ size and possibly because of her baggy skin, what may otherwise have been a puncture wound was a tear, probably caused when they were pulled apart. She has a good number of stitches.

The lady has a £400 vet bill and got off to a very bad start with her new rescue dog.

The final really sad thing about this is that the lady, a very conscientious and caring person who chose the two dogs specifically for their seemingly calm temperament in the kennels and not their breed, worries that she may never be able to trust them together again. She is now so anxious that she keeps the dogs apart unless Alaska is muzzled.

So this is the situation I arrived to. Should she or should she not keep Yoko?Alaska  is accepting of the muzz.e

Alaska himself had been in rescue for over a year before she adopted him last year. He has a few problems which we will work on, including marking in certain parts of the house and being a bit of a bully with off-lead dogs.

There are some very positive things also.

Because she has two children, the young lady has always played very safe. She gradually taught Alaska to welcome wearing a muzzle just in case it was ever needed  – it’s a bit too big and he looked so comical I had to take the photo.

She is a gentle person and the household is calm. Alaska is a quietly confident dog. When I arrived he was lying in the hall and I simply walked past him.

Both dogs showed no animosity to one another and although they are now let outside separately, they walk past each other with no reaction.

New rescue Sharpei,unknown when they fetched, is pregnant

Yoko

At the moment Yoko is very uptight.  Understandably.  When she joined us and a muzzled Alaska in the sitting room, she l ay with her back to us for much of the time.  I then suggested we put Alaska on lead and removed the muzzle. When Yoko was walking about, the only sign of any trouble between the two was when Alaska sniffed her bum and she growled softly.

When the three guinea pigs that are kept in a large cage in the kitchen got active, Yoko became extremely agitated. She began to pace, cry and stress. It takes her a long time to calm down again.

The eleven-year-old daughter did some great calming work with Yoko that I showed her, reinforcing her whenever she sat, lay down or settled.

Whether or not Yoko stays will depend upon how she turns out when she settles in and what behaviours come to the fore. She has so many new things to adjust to.

Whether or not she stays will depend upon how the two dogs get on once her season is over and her body healed.

Whether or not she stays will also depend upon whether the young lady, who lives alone with the two children, ever feels she can relax again and leave the two dogs together – her house is quite small.  She got another dog to be company for Alaska.

If Yoko can’t stay, she won’t be abandoned back to the rescue. The young lady, bless her, has already decided she will get their permission to find the dog she already loves a good home – but not until she is fully healed and is in much better physical condition.

A week later it became apparent that Yoko was already pregnant. She had two puppies and the story goes on. The lady has managed the situation with Yoko and Alaska beautifully and they get on fine. However, she couldn’t find homes with people she felt she could trust for the two puppies so she still has them. Life is hard but she is doing her very best in difficult circumstances.

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

Once Friends, Now the Dogs Fight

Whenever tiny Yorkie is out in her garden, she runs up and down by the fence, in a frenzy of barking

Mia

Both little dogs got on beautifully until Coco matured and then the conflict started – with a fight over a chew. Things escalated until tiny Mia was badly injured. They are now enemies.

Now the dogs have to be kept apart.

Tiny miniature Yorkie Mia, left, is now 6. When she was three years old they got a puppy – Wire Haired Daschund Coco. They are much loved little dogs.

Coco lives with the couple and their young children, and Mia lives next door with her parents. They dogs used to have a special hole in the fence so that they could go freely from one house to the other, but no more.  Their hole is now blocked.

A lot of problems can be averted if we learn to read our dogs

Coco

Whenever Mia is out in her garden, she runs up and down by the fence, in a frenzy of barking and trying to dig under it to get to Coco. It’s very similar to behaviour she does when the air blower is on. I videoed it. http://youtu.be/jUr_x1Lj79U. They thought Mia  enjoyed the action because her tail is wagging and she looks up at them. I feel, to this tiny dog, it’s like a puffing monster at nose level behind the wall, and she is frantic to make it go away; she is looking at them for help.

People often think that tail wagging means happy but it’s not necessarily so. It means aroused in some way. Another misreading is when Coco lies on her back with the little 2-year-old boy. They think she is asking for him to tickle her tummy. She may be saying ‘I give in, I’ve had enough’.

A lot of problems can be averted if we learn to read our dogs.

We have a plan to get the two dogs back together. Everyone knows that it could take a long time and they are up for the effort and self-sacrifice. Both little dogs are extremely excitable and think it’s their job to protect their homes and gardens. This needs to be addressed. They need to value food more so that it can be used for working with them (not left down all the time). Over time they will learn to come whenever they are called and to be each side of the fence calmly.

The plan is that eventually two much calmer dogs who no longer feel that guard duty is their responsibility will meet out on neutral territory, starting with walking parallel at a comfortable distance. We will take it from there.

Over-exciting and hands-on play with a dog would equate to tickling and ruffling a young child who would doubtless end up in tears. Egging a child on in the way people wind up their dogs, wrongly believing they find it fun, would probably end in a temper tantrum with a child.  Just as good parents create a reasonably calm, safe and controlled atmosphere for their kids, we need to do the same for our dogs.

I am sure the eventual outcome will be the two dogs back together. But their humans must never go back to their old ways or so will the dogs.

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

Male Westies Started Falling Out

Milos is the more confident Westie

Milo

It took me a while to tell these two beautiful little dogs apart, but they are very different really. Milo is more nervous but more bossy, and Merlin is more confident but the bigger barker. Milo loves to be cuddled, but Merlin may grumble if touched or moved against his will.

Both are show dogs so they are entire. You can see how beautifully groomed Milo on the left is. The two used to play together and get on famously until, strangely, a few weeks ago their diet was changed. It was changed to raw meat, chicken wings, cooked rice and what should be an excellent diet. However, it brought out food aggression, especially over the chicken wings, and although they have been withdrawn things have never been the same since. With feeding ‘real food’, raw or cooked, it can be quite a responsibility getting the dietary balance right. It’s a known fact that too much protein can affect hyperactivity just as the additives and colourings in certain complete brands can.

All is not quite well in other respects though, so this was maybe just the catalyst. Both dogs have been obsessive lickers of carpets, sofas etc. As soon as there is any stress of any sort, they turn to licking in order to ease it – releasing the calming pheromones. It’s understandable to keep shouting at them each time they start, but we demonstrated while I was there that although they wouldn’t be distracted, by ignoring it they actually stopped a lot sooner.

The dogs are now growling at each other much of the time.  Milo eyeballs and controls Merlin. Merlin growls. Milo thenThe two Westies asleep together growls. They growl around the lady owner and around doorways. They are constantly ‘ready to go’ as soon as they hear something outside. Barking frantically they skid across the kitchen floor in a race to get to the back door first, resulting in a scrap when they get there. Again, shouting at dogs for barking makes it worse, they could even think you are joining in with more angry noise. It’s also unfair when the dogs are doing the job they have been given. Best is to relieve them of the job!

I suggest the dogs revert to their original diet seeing as it was working well. Having chosen the highest quality dry brand available, they should avoid all the extras which have no nutritional value and upset the careful nutritional balance. Everything should be done to keep the dogs as calm as possible.

When I ask people for a list of the things that stir their dogs up, it’s surprising just how many stressful, over-exciting or over-stimulating things can be cut right down or avoided altogether.

A month has passed by: “we have seen a vast improvement since we first saw you…… they played a little last week.  It was only for a minute or so but Milo was the one who instigated it, which made me really happy.  I haven’t seen them play together for so long, so it was really nice – made my day and showed that we are doing the right things.
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.
 

Blind Black German Shepherd

Black GSD is yawning, uneasy

Jet

Here is Jet – yawning. He’s feeling a bit uneasy in the presence of their other black German Shepherd Max who is just out of the picture. Max is blind, just a year old, and they have had him for just a few days.

After a promising start, things have deteriorated between the two dogs who have now had four fights – each one worse than the one before ending with a visit to the vet for Max. For the past two days they have been kept completely apart, their first reuniting when I was there.. They were both soon lying down, seemingly relaxed, so I feel things haven’t yet gone too far.

The big problem is that the two dogs don’t understand one another. Jet will be giving all the right signals and body language that he wants to be left alone, but of course Max can’t read them. Jet can’t know this. Max, on the other hand, tries to use Jet as his eyes, following right behind him which Jet doesn’t like. Max started nipping him or maybe he was just grabbing onto him – perhaps because Jet wasn’t doing what he wanted – and eventually, having warned him with signals and growling, Jet turned. Other fights followed.

Outside the house Max is terrified of every sound, resulting in hackling, barking and even grabbing quite aggressively. He has no idea where he is. For this reason the first thing they must do is to allow Max to gain his bearings and a sort of mental map of first his garden, and then very gradually, outside the front of the house. This responsibility is with the humans not with Jet, so he needs a lot of walking alone on lead around the place. He sometimes loses the door in from the garden, so I suggest they put something scented near or on it.

Max' eyes look normal

Max’ eye

For now the dogs will only be together when their baby is in bed and they both are on hand. Both should be trailing a short lead and everything should be calm.  At the first sign of tension, someone needs to walk or stand between the dogs, splitting them up – just as another dog would do.  Poor Max has been passed between about five different people in the past few weeks, which would be bad enough for a dog with eyes, let alone a blind dog.

I hope, taking it slowly, that they can help these two dogs to understand one another, help Jet to be tolerant, and help Max to be more independent, so that they can all get along happily. It is a small house and keeping the dogs apart and taking them separately to the garden is complicated. It goes without saying that their dear little girl is their number one priority.

This photo of one of Max’ eyes is interesting. You wouldn’t know he was blind to look at him. I took it close up using flash. Most dogs’ eyes would glow white because to give good twilight vision they possess a light-reflecting surface known as the tapetum lucidum which operates like a mirror.

The next day I received a phone call. For the safety of their little girl they have decided to return Max to the the rescue. I agree that this is wise and must admit the situation worried me. Good rescue organisations do home checks before placing a dog. Whilst this couple would be ideal if they didn’t have a toddler, it’s not the right environment. He will now go back into foster. I do so hope a forever home is found for Max with someone experienced andwith  no children, where he is the only dog. In his short life this blind dog has had to adjust to seven or more different homes, and it’s testament to his basic sound temperament that he is so friendly.