Feeding Baby. Miniature Daschund Barks.

Lincoln is a beautiful nine-month-old miniature Daschund. He is friendly, gentle and affectionate. I had a lovely cuddle.

It’s obvious that he loves the baby too. What he doesn’t like is being left out. It’s very hard bottle feeding baby and at the same time continuously throwing a toy or fussing a dog to keep him quiet!

No longer their number-one baby.

I’m enjoying my cuddle

It’s understandable now Lincoln is no longer the only ‘baby’ that he wants attention when the lady is feeding baby.

Not much more than a puppy himself, he used to get all the attention after all. In the past barking has always worked, so he now persists until he succeeds. He gets thoroughly worked up, so much so that when having finished feeding baby the lady gets up and walks about, he goes for her feet.

It’s hard enough being a new mother alone with a young baby during the day; with Lincoln’s demands as well she is finding it hard to cope.

It was apparent almost immediately that the little dog is getting mixed messages. The lady never scolds him but the young man thinks the tiny dog needs more discipline and gives a mix of cuddles and scolding. Being suddenly shouted at for doing something he’s allowed to do at other times – things like jumping on people – must be so confusing for him.

Do people actually mind the tiny dog jumping on them and probably ending up having a cuddle? No. Then for now I would let him do it and if it’s a problem put him on lead until he has calmed down. He is adjusting to not being number one baby anymore so this isn’t the time for more pressure.

Jumping on and off people may of course not be good for his Daschund back so for that reason it may be best to have him on harness and lead until he has calmed down a bit. This will avoid any scolding which he doesn’t understand anyway.

Food for Lincoln’s brain.

Barks when feeding babyDespite what he looks like, Lincoln is a working dog bred to hunt small animals and he probably doesn’t get enough proper enrichment. They walk him on a short lead even in open fields as otherwise he runs off. Walks must be frustrating rather than fulfilling so I suggest a long line, about 30 foot long.

They need not worry about covering distance but can let him sniff, hunt and forage! They can take him on smell walks so he can use his nose.

Our starting point is to reduce stress levels in every way possible and to find ways to keep Lincoln happy while they are feeding baby before Lincoln starts to bark.

Feeding baby? Food for Lincoln to work for too.

They will prepare a frozen Kong and put some of his daily quota of dry food in a treat ball. Then, as mum starts feeding baby she can give Lincoln something to occupy him. He will then have work to do; while baby is eating, so is he. Baby feeding times will be fun for him, not frustration.

Keeping his stress levels as low as possible means changing their own behaviour by being consistent with him. They can share feeding baby times with him by giving him nice things to do at the same time. On a longer line walks will be more satisfying and they will give his brain a bit more to do.

They should then have a little dog that can happily cope with life which now includes a baby. Dogs, too, can feel jealousy and it’s not nice.

Second visit a couple of weeks later: Lincoln now quietly snuggles up beside mum whilst she’s feeding baby. He seems a much happier little dog.
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 Lincoln and because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same. 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 as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where fear or aggression is concerned, or anything to do with children and babies. 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)

Older Dog and New Puppy. Aggression to Puppy.

Older dog and new puppy don't get on

Pepe

Older dog and new puppy can’t be together.

Frenchie Pepe, now four years old, is not getting on with the new puppy. This isn’t so surprising seeing as he doesn’t like dogs in general. The only dog he’s okay with is their Shitzu, Daisy, who is now eleven years old and was already in the household before Pepe arrived as a puppy himself.

He was fine until he had a heart operation that has left him unable to go for walks. He’s become increasingly hostile to dogs on the few occasions he has been out, and spends hours each day chasing them away from his house from an upstairs window by barking.

Not a good lesson for a puppy.

Poor little Zeeva, a Boston Terrier now twelve weeks old, is getting some very negative behaviour from both older dogs. Older Daisy just wants to be left alone and shows her teeth whenever she is close. Pepe gets fierce with her, jumps on her and pins her down by the neck.

This sort of thing is likely to lead to Zeeva herself becoming a dog that doesn’t trust other dogs.

So the puppy is now mostly kept the other side of a closed door.

It’s an active household. People come and go all the time and three generations of family members live there including children. Pepe is very chilled with humans. They are a lovely family all working together for the best for their three dogs and the children have been taught to treat them with respect which is wonderful to see.

It’s just such a shame that the older dog and new puppy have to be kept apart.

Jealous.

Another problem for Pepe is that puppy Zeeva usurps his position on the lady’s lap in the evening! This is the only way they can have Zeeva in the same room as Pepe.

Zeeva

Jealousy is a horrible feeling and dogs I’m sure feel it too. It can’t help Pepe’s antagonism towards her at all. Now if Pepe comes to the lady and Zeeva is on her lap, she will try either feeding him to build up some good associations or passing Zeeva to someone else.

The first job is to make Pepe as ‘fit’ as possible for the job – lowering his stress levels, optimising his diet and giving his life more enrichment.

Unable to go for walks, his days lack interest despite having so many humans around him. He needs to sniff, do dog things and see the wider world. They will now be taking him out the front on a longish lead and allow him to watch the world go by. This will be an opportunity to sniff where other dogs have peed. They can begin to change his behaviour towards passing dogs near the bolthole of an open front door.

For a dog that does very little he undoubtedly eats too much and some of it is the wrong stuff for the best mental state. He can now start working for food by foraging for it around the garden or getting it from a Kong Wobbler.

So, work involves getting Pepe to feel better about dogs in general and most particularly to ‘like’ Zeeva. We have a plan that can be modified if necessary as we go along.

Playing safe and preventing further rehearsal.

The most important thing when you have an older dog showing aggression towards a puppy is to play safe. In every way to prevent further rehearsal. It’s harder to come back from things once they have happened as they are likely to happen again. The three dogs had been out together briefly when supervised in the garden, but now Zeeva will be on lead. Currently they are relying upon calling her to them but that’s risky. With no leash they have no reliable control.

Many people would have the older dog on lead, but I feel it should be the puppy. She is the one, after all, who needs to be prevented from annoying the older dogs and the one who may need to be scooped up quickly.

For a few days they will keep bars of the dog gate or puppy pen between the Zeeva and Pepe. They had been shutting the door but this removes any safe, supervised opportunity for them to get to know each other.

Older dog and new puppy with bars between them.

Sitting down on the floor with the older dog and new puppy in the puppy pen, they will do two things, using a clicker. They will reinforce Pepe for looking towards the puppy in a soft or interested way – with chicken. If he’s ‘eyeballing’ in a harder kind of way (they understand!) they will wait for Pepe to look away briefly and immediately reinforce. To begin with they may need to make a small distracting sound to achieve this.

Daisy

Zeeva should be fed also in order to feel Pepe isn’t so bad after all.

I feel that we humans need to keep ourselves out of the picture in these situations. It’s about the dogs, their emotions and the food. If we bombard them with words it confuses things.

The time should come when they don’t need bars between them. Keeva on lead and other dogs loose, they can be together in the sitting room. It would be best when puppy Keeva is tired! They need two people, one to hold the lead and the other to work on Pepe.

Who knows how long it will take before all three dogs to be freely together? I’m sure they will get there if they take it slowly enough and help Pepe in a positive way, never scolding.

A photo received about five weeks later:

 

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 Pepe, Zeeva and Daisy. 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).

 

Is the Dog Jealous?

Ovcharka mis Milly can be jealousOn the face of it, Milly’s connection with the emotions of her human is very different from the last pair of dogs I went to, who so closely picked up on the owner’s anxiety. Milly is laid-back, quiet and mellow where her lady is animated and chatty. But maybe there is some connection? The dog herself doesn’t have to make much effort. All she has to do is wait and food and attention are showered upon her. Maybe consequently both have lost some of their value.

This is observation not criticism; she has turned out really well.

Two-year-old Milly is an Ovcharka mix – an Ovcharka is a Caucasian Shepherd dog bred for protecting humans and hunting bears.  It’s hard to see the resemblance in Milly. I am promised that there is no Labrador in her and the mix includes Boxer and Staffie.

Milly is a wonderfully friendly and gentle dog and much of this is due to a dedicated owner who has trained and socialised her from the start.

She has just three issues really. She hates getting into the car and travelling, her recall depends upon whether she has something better to do, and just occasionally she puts other dogs she doesn’t know ‘in their place’, but only if the lady is fussing them. The lady feels obliged to make a fuss of the other dog because of the petting the very friendly Milly receives but it makes the dog jealous. This, and possible possessiveness over something edible, only happens when Milly is with the lady, not with her other walkers.

It’s clear this is largely to do with the relationship between them.

At home Milly is unintentionally encouraged to feel that she is in charge of food. Every day, instead of breakfast, a smorgasbord of goodies is left around the house for her. If any of her evening meal, laced with tasty chicken to tempt her, is uneaten, it will be left down until she is ready to finish it.  The downside is there is nothing left that is special enough to reward her with and on account of so many extras she is never hungry. The best way to get a balanced feeding routine around a single dog is to imagine you have four as I do.OvcharkaX2

The recall and reactivity issues really aren’t about training at all, more about Milly’s relationship with the lady who simply needs to be more relevant (again, this is nothing to do with love – love goes without saying) and sufficiently inspiring to race back to.

Milly has always hated the car, ever since she was driven many miles as a puppy to her new home, sick and toileting in terror. She tries to avoid getting in the car although the lady has made sure all journeys end somewhere nice. Lots of patience will be needed and constant repetition around the car, looking at it, touching it, opening the door, getting in and straight out of it, very short journeys round a car park repeated over and over along with constant feeding of something really special. At present the shortest journey is ten minutes – too long.

Many people would give their eye teeth for a dog like Milly. Friendly, polite, fun and good with all other dogs who she loves to play with – the only exception is the circumstances mentioned.

I have been reliably informed that Milly’s dad was actually a Central Asian Ovcharka/Shepherd and this makes a lot more sense. (ears and tail traditionally docked).

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

Old Dog Intolerant of Younger Dog

Elderly German Shepherd is finding life hard with new younger dog

Chloe

I felt quite inspired being with this couple and their two rescue dogs – one elderly German Shepherd who without their offer of a home would have been put to sleep and a younger Belgian Shepherd who was found in a canal.

Since the four-year-old Jack arrived from Wood Green a couple of weeks ago, Chloe’s barking has escalated. It is hard for an old dog like Chloe to accept an energetic younger dog in her home.

The couple badly want both dogs to be happy together. They already have a very ‘positive’ outlook on dog communication, but some things need an outsider’s perspective.

This is quite a challenge. Many of the options for the sort of behaviour exhibited by GSD Chloe are impossible due to her being in quite a lot of pain from arthritis despite being on the maximum dosage of Metacam. Even getting up is a labour, so they are working on getting eye contact and reinforcing quiet.

The constant discomfort together with lack of mobility I’m sure will be contributing to Chloe’s intolerance of active new boy Jack.

To help her properly, they need to change the emotions that are driving her barking behaviour.

Newly rehomed Belgian Shepherd feels uneasy around their elderly German Shepherd

Jack

Seeing Jack petted and fussed may be upsetting Chloe. She barked at him when he was excited around me. She barked at him when he was chewing a toy. She barked whenever he came back into the room from the garden. She sometimes barks when he just walks about. She barks constantly on walks with him.

As we could see from his body language, Jack at times feels a little uneasy when entering the room or walking past her.  He is treading carefully – for now.

Their way to make him feel at home has been a lot of touching and petting, he’s certainly irresistible – but they are fair.  Chloe gets her share also. However, something tells me that it would be best for now if the fussing of Jack was kept to a minimum, best for him and best for Chloe.

Despite the Metacam, Chloe was stressed and restless the whole evening. It ended with a spat between the two dogs over a toy she had been chewing and which Jack then took and started to destroy. (They dealt with it beautifully – immediately and calmly separating the dogs).

Chloe’s barking on walks when she sees other dogs has escalated these past two weeks. This is a shame because she used to be so well-socialised and friendly as for now, fortunately, is Jack.

The couple is afraid that he will learn the wrong things from her.

For now the two will be walked separately in order to work on Jack’s loose lead walking and give him the exercise he needs, and to properly work on Chloe’s barking and reactivity. You can teach an old dog new tricks – with patience and kindness.

Then, all being well, they will be able to walk both dogs together again.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Chloe and Jack, which is why I don’t go into the exact details of your plan here. 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

Misunderstood

Rottweiller, Labrador Collie mixBelle is just fifteen months old and has lived alone with her lady owner’s until a week or so ago. She is a mix of Rottweiler, Labrador and Collie, though looks mainly Rottie. Here she is with a tennis ball.

A week ago the lady’s new boyfriend moved in. Poor Belle is confused and unhappy.

I was called out because a few days ago she had nipped the man – we will call him John. John’s very understandable human reaction was to be confrontational. Already the bar has been raised. Where Belle may now be backing away, she will soon stand her ground I’m sure.

John and the lady like to cuddle on the sofa – the sofa Belle used to share with the lady. Belle jumps between them and gets agitated. She may grab an arm or clothes. The lady says she is jealous. She is certainly trying to split them up. Belle doesn’t understand humans cuddling. The nearest thing a dog would do, using body contact and paws, could be a sign of trouble brewing. In this case another dog would step in and split the pair by getting between them. So, for doing what any good dog in a dog group would do – splitting up potential conflict – poor Belle is in trouble.

To Belle John has become some sort of challenge. The final straw was when John and the lady were mucking about. He picked her up and threw her about and she screamed in play. Belle warned, snarled, growled and then jumped at John and gave him a big nip. Without doubt, because of the squeals, Belle thought the lady was being attacked and was left with no choice other than to protect her. They were left wondering whether they have a dangerous dog, not realising it could have been a lot worse.

I hope I have managed to open their eyes to understanding Belle, and that they will stop to think how what they do might impact on her, trying to see things from her point of view. I also hope she isn’t sidelined in their new life. She needs calm and consistent leadership and quality time spent with her. Being cuddled one moment and then disciplined the next for something she doesn’t understand using confrontation can only lead to bigger trouble.

At the end of the day Belle would be the one to pay the price, and she is a lovely natured dog who deserves to be understood.

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