Inconsistency. Biting Leash. Grabbing Lead. Scratching for Attention

Miniature Schnauzer Pepper is now six months old. She lives in a family of five and gets a lot of input. This leads to inconsistency.

She has a lovely nature; a non-aggressive, friendly and confident little dog. Perfect really. The things she does that they would like to stop are all normal puppy things – but not perhaps by the time puppy is six months old.

They are first-time dog owners, enthusiastic to do their best.

Inconsistency is a problem.

inconsistency makes training hardThey all need to want the same things and decide just what they are. They then all need to stick to the protocols.

There is a little list of specifics they would like to change. Most are due to excitement and lack of direction in a way that she understands.

The list includes jumping up at them when they sit down and if ignored flying at them. If pushed away crossly, she may nip. It’s a battle to put her lead on and her teeth are used. She attacks and grabs the lead when they walk. One family member doesn’t want her upstairs.

She jumps at them when they are sitting down and if ignored, scratches and scrabbles with her feet. Her nails make this uncomfortable.

They are happy with the jumping on them if she is gentle. It’s okay while they sit at the kitchen table but not when they sit on the sofa. The inconsistency will be confusing. If they decide that her little soft paws gently on them is okay, I feel this has to go for wherever they are sitting.

They may decide no feet on them at all is what they want. But then, they like being jumped up on when they arrive home.

Picking their battles.

I suggested they pick their battles, come to an agreement as a family and then each one stick to the plan. (I myself would start by choosing to allow gentle paws wherever they are sitting or standing. Not rough scrabbling).

So far the emphasis has always been on stopping her doing things and it can in fact make her worse. Particularly when there is inconsistency. They may scold or physically prevent her from doing something in the moment, but that doesn’t teach her for another time. It can wind her up more, to the point where she nips.

The emphasis now will be in showing Pepper what they do want.

Teaching her the desired behaviour may not work in the moment so quickly. The result, however, if they all do the same thing and keep it up, should be permanent.

It complicates things if there is one rule for the kitchen and one for the sitting room. I would decide whether soft feet are allowed in both places when they are sitting, or whether no feet at all is what they want. Whether soft feet are allowed, but not nails.

When they have decided what they want they will stick to it.

How?

Using their body language to remove attention and by reinforcing the behaviour they want. We used a clicker and the word Yes. We also reinforced just sitting looking at us and especially lying down peacefully.

While scrabbling gets maximum attention she will continue doing it. What’s in it for Pepper to lie down peacefully or to sit calmly beside us when jumping and scrabbling gets a lot of reaction?

There is even inconsistency in this. Sometimes she is fussed and cuddled. Sometimes she is pushed down and told No.

Lead biting is infuriating! They will, rather than using a water spray or impatience to stop her, now reinforce the behaviour they do want. When the lead is in her mouth they resist what is, to Pepper, a tug game. They freeze. As soon as she drops the lead, they drop food and they start moving again.

Motivation

If they concentrate on getting Pepper to use her brain, her stress levels will come down and life will be easier. We saw how well that worked while I was there.

I gently asked her to do something only once – and waited. She did it. Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all and just wait for the behaviour they want. Then they can say ‘Yes’ or click and reward with food.

At present she simply isn’t motivated to do what they ask. If they say ‘Come’, she understands but mostly decides to ignore it. At this stage they should use food liberally.

There are a number of things in our plan that, individually, would make little difference. Some things are pure management like blocking off the stairs. However, when they add the individual things together, avoiding inconsistency, they will see some good progress after the first few days I’m sure.

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 it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

Jumping Up on People. Barking at Other Dogs.

Yesterday I visited a young couple with three dogs. All three were rescued from Bosnia and have come here from Italy where the couple used to live. One had been dumped from a car and the other two most likely had been strays on the streets.

Before I arrived and based on previous experience, I had anticipated meeting three dogs with a mixture of fear issues. Problems with living in a small house and feeling threatened by the proximity of someone they don’t know.

How wrong I was!

These young people must have the magic touch.

They rescued four-year-old Staffie Luna first. She is extremely friendly, too much so in a way. She did a lot of jumping up at me and jumping on me when I sat down.

Too much jumping up

Luna and Thor

The next dog they took in was Thor, a lovely fluffy dog who looks a bit like a Poodle mixed with a Schnauzer or Tibetan Terrier. He, too, is four. Like Luna he is friendly and well adjusted in the house, with some jumping up and rather too much pawing for attention.

Finally they adopted Zeus eighteen months ago. Zeus is a four-year-old Husky. He had been dropped from a moving car and is unsurprisingly now terrified of being in the car.

When he first arrived he was more or less shut down. He kept well away from his new owners. Now he’s one of the most chilled dogs I have met.

Zeus’ only has problems when they encounter other dogs when out. 

Jumping and pestering

The couple wants help on two fronts. They want to be able to have friends round without the dogs jumping all over them – to be able to talk and eat with them in peace. They also need all three dogs to be better when encountering other dogs on walks.

We started with the jumping up and general pestering. The couple themselves don’t mind it, but if they don’t want them jumping and pestering friends, then manners must start with themselves.

Zeus

So far it’s all been about STOPPING the dogs jumping up and pestering.

They even had someone from Barkbusters who advocated water bombs for their reactivity to dogs and for jumping up. Did it work? No.

It is unacceptable and unethical to punish dogs for being friendly or for being scared. It is particularly risky to consider frightening dogs from their background. Thankfully they don’t seem to have suffered and it’s not something their savvy owners were willing to do.

We are now concentrating on teaching the dogs what IS wanted. There must be nothing to be gained from unwanted behaviour and all to be gained from desired behaviour. We used clicker. We used food and we used the attention the dog was seeking but only with feet on the floor and not while pestering and pawing.

The couple should also compensate the dogs by initiating attention when they are calm thus further reinforcing what they want.

Hello face to face.

These lovely dogs are only jumping up because they are so friendly which is lovely really. They like to say hello face to face. They can still do so if people lower themselves.

Dog-encounters on walks are a bit more complicated. Each dog has different needs and problems which include pulling on lead and which we will take separately. I haven’t included this in my story, but Luna, Thor and Zeus would benefit from some freedom off lead from time to time.

I suggest they find a dog-safe field that is rented out by the hour so the dogs can sometimes run free. 

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 these lovely dogs 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. 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)

Wild Behaviour is Unwittingly Fuelled

Wild behaviour from a dog the size of the adolescent Newfoundland can be scary.

When Beau leaped at the kitchen table she knocked the coffee mugs flying!

Taking a break from wild behaviour

Seven-month-old Beau was chosen from the litter as the most bold and pushy puppy. She organised the others, I am told, by barging them and stirring up trouble – and then sitting back to enjoy the results!

She was a mouthy, nippy puppy. This wasn’t countered immediately or correctly. Hand games and chasing her for things she stole added fuel to her wild behaviour.

As she got bigger and things became more painful, they have had to use more physical force to push her off them, to remove her away from things and to extract things from her mouth. She will do nothing when simply asked.

They can’t have her in the lounge with them for more than a few minutes before she goes wild and has to be put in the kitchen. Her worst wild episodes as so often is the case happen where she has more space – out in the garden. There have been a couple of occasions when the little girl hasn’t been safe.

In the belief that the more exercise and interaction she has, the better behaved she will be, each day starts off with too much stimulation – a prolonged welcome fuss before breakfast followed by ball play in the garden, excitement before getting in the car to take the child to school and then a walk which is probably too long for a pup of seven months.

Anyway, as she got older puppy Beau became defiant when she didn’t get her own way.

The young dog may get angry when thwarted. Several times now she has snarled, showed her teeth and lunged. Her eyes ‘looked funny’.

This is the consequence of using methods of force on a determined and strong dog. How frustrating it is for a dog not to know what she should be doing. (Please take a look at my favourite video showing the power of Yes versus No).

I showed them how we would create a willing and happy dog exercising self-control by using the power of Yes, by keeping Beau as calm as possible, by giving her suitable mental stimulation and by removing opportunities for rehearsing the wild behaviour.

By motivating her.

Almost immediately Beau began to respond to reinforcement for the right behaviour. She was becoming a lot calmer than she had been for a long time, particularly with the little girl present.

This is a typical case of owners getting through the days by fielding everything the dog throws at them so it becomes No No NO Stop, push away, drag off, shut away … and so on, and ‘letting sleeping dogs lie’ when the dog is quiet.

Look at this wonderful face!

It’s just amazing just how quickly a dog responds to Yes Yes Yes and being ‘bigged up’ for each good thing she does so she knows what is required.

Each time the wild behaviour kicked off again we dealt with it by giving the big adolescent other, incompatible things to do instead, making it clear to her what we did want of her.

We soon had Beau coming to us, offering us certain behaviours with little prompting. We had her walking from one of the four of us to another when called gently. We had her responding to understandable instructions and she was loving it.

We used the clicker. The little girl also clicked Beau for sitting – with perfect timing.

Action should be immediate.

It’s no good allowing the dog to rehearse jumping and biting by letting it happen even twice before reacting. It needs to be wiped out completely.

Immediately she jumps she must lose all communication with that person. Immediately she jumps at the table someone must get up, call her off, reward what she should be doing instead and move her onto a different behaviour that is incompatible with jumping at the table.

It takes a huge amount of effort.

Pre-empting and dealing with things before they happen is best of all.

Boosting her for every desirable thing she does must also be immediate – when she sits voluntarily, when she lies down, when she sighs and relaxes. A couple of times she looked at the table which had my smelly treats on it and resisted jumping up. A first! That deserved a jackpot but it must be immediate.

It could help greatly if the little girl didn’t arouse the dog quite so much as the wild behaviour is always far worse when the child is about. She could touch her less, try not to run into the room waving arms, dance around her or do handstands in Beau’s presence. These things quickly send the dog wild.

But this is like asking the little girl not to be a little girl!

Even if the child can cut back a little on these things it will help and she will be clicker trained too! They will use the word ‘Good’ and she can collect stars. She will now ask her mum to call Beau inside before going out into the garden – and she will make a poster for the door to remind herself

The next morning I received a lovely message from the lady which is proof if any is needed of the powers of positive reinforcement and calmness:

“I am so excited to tell you that we have had the most relaxed morning since we have got Beau. Last night she came into the lounge and not once did she bite. She tried to get on the sofa once but with a little distraction she came away and lay down. 

This morning has been the shocker for me. She has been like a different dog. We have made an extra effort to be calm and relaxed and Beau has been the same. She hasn’t bitten, jumped up, barked…nothing! ……She is now laying peacefully….I know she may relapse and I’m prepared for it but she’s shown me this morning that she is more than capable of being the loving Newfoundland that she should be……I knew she had it in her but to see it is another thing. I am so happy!”

This comes with a little warning. This is probably a glimpse into the future as Beau won’t change overnight. Her wild behaviours will have become well-rehearsed habits, after all, and she will most likely default to them when aroused or wanting attention. They will need to be steadfast and consistent in applying the new strategies.

Message received about three weeks later: ‘I am so happy to tell you that we have a considerably well behaved dog. She has not had an “aggressive moment” since the clicker incident on the first week. There have been times where I have stopped stroking her and she goes to mouth my hand and then realises and stops before her mouth touches me, which I reward….. I can honestly say, I can’t remember the last time she jumped up! She’s learnt to play with her toys by herself and doesn’t ram them in my hand followed by a bite like before. Overall I am delighted with the way things are going. I am still prepared for her to slip back to her old ways but she is surprisingly proving me wrong. I actually think she listens to me now!’

 

We as a family have been very consistent which has been the key I think to the change in Beau. Absolutely.  We also decided to slowly swap the clicker with the word “good” which is much better as I now don’t have to carry the clicker with me everywhere. I agree. She responds just as well and knows there’s a chance she will get something yummy if she listens and does as I ask. There have been 2 times where she hasn’t listened when I’ve called her in at night time but other than that she has been excellent.

 

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 Beau 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 or fearfulness is concerned and most especially when it involves children. 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)

 

Dog grabbed a child by the arm

Rescue Cane Corso cross pup has grabbed a child by the arm

Dexter

The young Mastiff’s Future is In Their Hands

Six month old Mastiff/Cane Corso mix has grabbed a child by the arm, and now he’s in trouble. The police have called.

Dexter is enormous already. It’s possible that if he were a spaniel there would have been little fuss.

He has lived with the young couple and their Mastiff Labrador mix Marnie for a few weeks now, having had a very dubious start in life.  Apart from a lot of mouthing, all went well for a while.

Then they had a young lady visitor to the house. She was scared just at the sight of Dexter. She sat on the sofa and Dexter jumped up onto it as he usually does. The lady threw her arms about and Dexter, puppy that he is, grabbed her arm.

The reaction was panic and anger towards Dexter. The guest left.

The child episode happened a couple of weeks later in the vet waiting room. She walked too close. If a child is taken to the vet, surely it’s common sense to keep it away from dogs that may well be stressed and scared, so some of the blame is with the mother. Poor Dexter had patiently endured being pulled about and the removal of stitches and they were simply standing at the desk waiting to pay.

The man dragged the dog away and in doing so the his tooth caught on the child’s jumper leaving also a small mark on her arm. Again there will have been noise and panic.

Things are now stacking up against Dexter and he is on the route to actually biting someone. By now he will be thinking that people are not good to be around and they cause his own humans to be unpredictable.

When I arrived I had been primed and played very safe, and Dexter was brought in on lead. I sat alone on a chair to avoid being jumped over. I had to work hard to get the man to stop being on Dexter’s case and to relax. I explained that he would only be picking up on the man’s anxiety which could make me less safe.

The dog turned out to be the most mellow and friendly dog imaginable. See my picture of him watching me intently as I spoke gently to him. I later tried some Ttouch massage. He rested beside me, totally relaxed. I loved him.

Because he’s so big it is easy to forget Dexter’s only a puppy and bound to chew things. Both dogs need to be taken out for daily walks and Dexter given more healthy stimulation – plenty of chew toys and constructive interaction with his humans.

There must be no rough play as this only encourages arm grabbing and lack of self-control.

If they want people to come to their house, they will need to start teaching both big dogs not to jump all over the sofas – unless perhaps upon invitation and then only when they are calm.

The couple must now go out of their way to associate all the people Dexter encounters with nice stuff – food, fun and happiness. No more panic and anxiety; no more scolding. They will teach him to give them his full attention when asked.  It’s a measure of how much they care for their dog that they are investing time and money to give their dog the life he deserves.

This can be nipped in the bud, but only with a different approach.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Dexter, 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 do more harm than good – most particularly where any form of aggression is concerned. 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).

 

 

Boisterous Younger Staffie is Too Much for Older Dog

a gentle somewhat nervous dog

Stonker

Stonker on the left is a seven year old Staffie. Up until a couple of years ago before coming to his new home he was used as a stud dog. Bella, now six months, joined them as a puppy. Since then poor Stonker’s life has not been plagued by her.

He is a very gentle and somewhat nervous dog. He doesn’t like lots of people, noise or commotion. He can get very anxious and was panting for a lot of the time I was there.

Bella hasn’t a care in the world. She is a typical rather pushy pup. In the house she will not leave poor Stonker alone, jumping on him and trying to play fight. He is severely stressed with this, so he goes and hides. Much of the time now he’s in hiding.

Lying down at last

Bella

When I arrived Bella was flying all over the place and trying to jump all over me. It was impossible to stop her and I don’t believe in any shouting or pointless ignored commands, so I put a light lead on her collar. It is surprising how some dogs calm down immediately even if the lead isn’t being held. Bella stopped jumping about, she left Stonker alone and very soon she gave a long sigh and lay down – as you see in the picture – something that never happens when they have visitors.  I’m sure she was relieved to know where the boundaries lay.

Consequently Stonker joined us. His panting stopped and he relaxed – that is until the gentleman walked out of the room when he started panting and looking distressed again. You can see anxiety in those eyes. By their own actions and behaviour towards Stonker, his humans can help him.

Staffies have a reputation that in my mind is completely undeserved. I have been to thousands of dogs. In spite of being nervous, shy or scared, few have been aggressive – probably fewer than dogs of many other breeds. Because they are stocky, biddable and strong, and resembling fighting dogs to look at, they have been abused by idiots.

About a month later: Stonker is slowly becoming a new dog he is spending more time on the sofa and out the crate when we home bit by bit now and if he does go to hide he doesn’t stay in it like he normally would he will come in and out of it and he is panting less now. They are slowly starting to interact more the other night I was outside with them and Bella had the ball in her mouth…he got hold of the other end of the ball and they played tug of war with it both tail wagging and then after they had a little game of chase where they just ran round the garden both looked very happy. There was one night when Stonker was on the sofa Bella came up and Stonker did not run away and they both settled next to each other for about 10 mins before Bella went to pester…I see the progress they have both made. We are relaxing more ourselves now and coming home from work is more pleasurable as it not as hectic as it used to be.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Poor Sabre was Badly Provoked

A brief respite from Sable's attention seeking activitiesSabre is a rescue German Shepherd, probably around eight years old. He has a very friendly temperament. In the evenings poor Sabre can become almost obsessively attention seeking and stressed.

It took Sabre getting on for three hours to calm down completely. All evening he was whining for attention, jumping up on his owners (he is a large dog), pacing, squeaking, barking and persistently asking to go out – anything to get them to react to his demands. He has learnt that this behaviour does eventually get him what he wants because it is so hard not to give in, and now he just carries on and on, becoming more and more worked up. Even when he wins the attention he continues to want more. His stress was evident by the panting, licking of his lips and nose, and excessive drinking of water.

We worked on how to react appropriately – like another stable dog would do if pestered. It was lovely to see him eventually lie down, sigh and relax. Soon he will be able to get plenty of attention – when he is polite and calm, and not always on demand.

Sable himself is very good at giving other dogs messages that say he doesn’t want to be jumped on and pestered so I am sure he will get the message if it’s done in a way he understands. He’s not interested in other dogs and wants to be left alone, which is fair enough.

An unfortunate incident happened recently. He was out with his gentleman owner when two very boisterous smaller dogs ran up to him. The gentleman put Sable on lead and then tried to walk away. Sable would have been doing his best to ignore the dogs, turning away from them and looking away – giving all the doggy signals he could that he wanted to be left alone, but they simply followed and would not give up. He will have warned, shown his teeth and growled and still he was ignored. The owner of the other dogs never called them back. So Sabre, as a totally logical thing to do in his mind and after all his very reasonable and patient warnings had been ignored, bit one of the dogs on the tail. Sable was blamed.

If we have off-lead dogs, then it is our reponsibility to call them back if we see a dog put on lead. There must be a reason. It’s our duty to control our dogs and the poor dog on lead who is trapped is all too often blamed. If dogs don’t come back when called, then they should be kept on lead around other dogs until intensive recall work has been done. So far as Sable is concerned, his owners need to know how to react as his leader and protector – how to step in on his behalf and how to spot the signs when he has had too much. They also need to reduce his general stress level so that he will be more tolerant.

Email received about five days after my visits – and they have gone from strength to strength: “We have had some unsettled evenings for the first couple of hours. I don’t want to jinx it, but sabre has been fantastic today!. We’re amazed that in such a short amount of time he’s come so far. We’re looking forward to calm walks! We’re still feeling very confident and comfortable with all of the points, the hardest thing has been not getting him excited again once we have him calm…On the whole, early days though it is, we feel already that a huge amount of progress has been made!”
Nine months after we met, things still going well: “We are doing great! I was away (working abroad) for about five months and was amazed to see the difference in Sabre on my return home. Ben has been following all the new rules you gave us….Walks are relaxed now and Sabre seems pretty disinterested in other dogs on the whole…..Even when I walk him on my own I experience no problems with him. So on behalf of all three of us, thank you! Thank you very much for being able to point out our flaws and helping us to find a resolution for them and for Sabre!
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.

 

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.
 

Westie/Bichon Frise Puppy is over-excited

West Bichon Frise Sally stand by the back doorPuppy's coat looks like fluffy dandelion seedWhat a lovely time I had today! Sally is a five-month-old Bichon Frise/Westie mix, and as her lady owner says, her coat looks like a fluffy dandelion seed head. She is a well-adjusted, independent little dog, with puppy exuberance and sometimes, naturally, pushing her luck!

Sally tends to get over-excited when people come to the house, jumping all over them and perhaps making a puddle, but this isn’t her fault. Because she is so cute everyone makes so much fuss of her in such an exciting way, she is thorougly wound up. It’s hardly fair, because then her lady owner tells her to get down and gives commands and gets cross in an effort to make her behave, which stirs up even more.

In order for a dog to calm down and not jump all over people, the humans need to approach her differently. The more noisy and excitable people are, the more noisy and excitable the dog will be.  People need to give her a break and take no notice of her for a little while to give her time to calm down. Then when they do say hello, not to make it so exciting that it hypes her up again.

Without a single word from me, and with no more than my looking away, turning away, gently tipping her off and giving gentle hand gestures for a while, Sally very soon got the message that she wasn’t to jump all over me, and you could see she was a happy relaxed little dog for it. I could then give her some gentle quality attention.

Sally still sometimes messes and wees in the house. Some puppies simply take longer to get the message than others, and it’s possible that although she knows toileting outside is good, she doesn’t understand that this doesn’t apply to inside as well. She is never scolded, fortunately. I have often found that the more important the messing indoors is to the owner (often due to worry about damage to the flooring), the slower the puppy will be in become completely house trained.

With fewer commands and a casual and calm approach, Sally will be able to work out for herself what she should do and it will take the pressure off her. I am sure the toileting will soon become more reliable with a few new strategies in place.

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

Opened the Door and the Dog Ran Off

Tibetan-TerrierMonty, a Tibetan Terrier, is 9 months old and a typical teenager! If you want an easy life, you don’t choose the bravest, biggest and most bossy puppy in the litter. This was Monty. He stood out from the rest as a character. Now adolescent, they are facing defiance and lack of respect big time – especially the lady.

We didn’t start off too well! As soon as Monty’s owners opened the front door to let me in, Monty legged it! The houses are surrounded by wooodland and as they tried all the tricks to catch him, Monty stayed just out of reach, teasing them. What a game! Fortunately with treats and patience and because he was curious about this new person in his house, I got him back in the end. The moral is that he simply must never be near the open front door – certainly not until a lot of work has been done with him, because it’s a certainty that given the chance he will be out again and they may not be so lucky next time. Despite the immediate rural surroundings, roads are not far away.

Monty is in charge. He makes most of the decisions. He decides where he sleeps, he eats in his own good time, he dictates when he gets attention and in his mind he decides where he goes on a walk – always well ahead on a retractable lead. He even goes on strike if he decides he doesn’t want to walk any more.  He has taken to jumping on the lady whether she is sitting down, standing or on a walk, leaping at her arms which are badly bruised by his teeth and biting her back if she turns away. They love him dearly and the lady understandably finds this bullying very upsetting. If she says ‘No’ to him it’s is like a red rag to a bull! The man has a bit more control but only because Monty is a bit scared of him. Monty is like a naughty spoilt child.

It can take an outsider in an objective way to wake people up to just what is happening. They can now see that a dog that rules the roost just like a spoilt child, is not necessarily a happy dog. Throughout the meeting we worked on his pushy behaviour, and then it was time for the gentleman to take him for his evening toilet walk. Instead of playing chase games before allowing his harness to be put on, we achieved a calm and cooperative exit from the house. If the man needed proof that the behaviour of the humans around Monty was affecting his behaviour, the transformed walk did it.

They are going to work on being non-confrontational. I suggested they avoid the word ‘No’ as far as they possibly can. ‘No’ doesn’t tell the dog what he should be doing, only what we don’t want him to do. There are more effective and positive ways of gaining Monty’s cooperation. They will set rules and boundaries and maintain them consistentaly and fairly, in a way that Monty understands. Real love is about being bothered to be consistent and just as with children, teaching them self-discipline kindly and the sort of behaviour that means they fit happily into society.

Brushing up on dog-parenting skills is, again, the key.

A week has gone by and they are off to a very good start: “I would say there has been a massive change with Monty, since your visit the house seems so much calmer and so does he. He is sleeping far more, it is almost like he knows he can chill out now because someone else is the leader and he does not have to worry about it anymore.  He also seems to enjoy the gentle “loose lead” walks, he does not seem to mind they we are not going further a field at the moment. The stress and angst from all three of us has disappeared, the difference it is making already is brilliant, I cannot begin to tell you how lovely it is to have a peaceful home back, with no shouting or running around like a lunatic after Monty. The word “no” is banned. When I think back now to all the shouting we were doing, no wonder he was stressed! I know it sounds silly, but he actually looks more like a puppy again in his face”.
Three weeks have now gone by: Theo, had to email to tell you about today. Monty and I went for a walk today harness on and loose lead, we met a lady who’s dog went to puppy social classes with Monty, she is also a dog walker and had 7 dogs with her! All on tight leads stretched out in front like her arm was about to be pulled off. The dogs were going mad, and one by one let off the lead. Normally Monty would have pulled on his retractable lead to full length, bark and be over excited. Instead whilst talking to her, he stood by my side on loose lead, as if to say “what’s all the fuss about”. It was like  he was the new boy at first  day of school with all the other kids running around and him thinking I will just stay with my mum. Played with the other dogs nicely when they approached but that was it. So we quietly turned around and walked the other way, leaving the women in a manic state screaming at all the dogs. So, Thank you, without your involvement, I couldn’t have been the proud parent I was today”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

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‘Dog Walking’ Doesn’t Start at the Door

Rorttie Labrador mix sitting on her matA couple of months ago I visted Belle, Rottweiller Labrador cross, and the situation was particularly difficult for her because she had been sidelined due to the lady’s personal circumstances

Now the lady’s life is back to normal, and because she is having difficulty walking Belle without her pulling and lunging at men, bikes and so on, I called again to demonstrate the loose lead walking technique.

As the lady opened the door, Belle was jumping all over me – so I could immediately see that my instructions had not been followed in this particular respect anyway!  I suspected there would be other gaps. The lady was unable to ‘start’ the behaviour work for two or three weeks after I first called, so she had lost momentum and also forgotten quite a bit of the stuff despite the personal plan I sent to her.

So, I went out of her house again, waited a minute and knocked on the door once more. We started the way I needed to continue – I wanted the upper hand!

We waited about ten minutes before stepping out the front after having put on Belle’s harness and lead, so she was completely calm. Then I walked up and down and backwards and forwards in the street.  Belle was a dream. We passed a man whom she ignored. She had confidence in me. That is the secret. Then the lady took over.

This is a perfect example of how the dog’s confidence and respect needs to be earned in order for the dog to walk nicely and have faith in the handler. Too many owners spoil their dogs to extreme, pander to their wishes, worship them, and then expect to take charge once the front door is open.

Soon this lady will be walking down the road with her beautiful big dog, and people like me will drive past thinking ‘it’s so nice to see a dog walking like that’.

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.