Troubled Jack Russell

Jack Russell Jack;s tummy is red and sore from compulsive licking himself

Jack

Jack Russell Jill is sitting in her bed

Jill

Little Jack is ten years old and lives with Jill who is also ten.

They are both very good little dogs as far as obedience is concerned, but both, Jack in particular, is troubled. Although both dogs have a very good life with a loving and sensible owner, it is possible that something in the past is overshadowing their present life, because their change in behaviour coincided with that particular time.

Jack is unsettled and this is manifesting itself in regularly marking and peeing indoors, in growling when he is made to do something and by compulsively licking himself. There are one or two people he is scared of to the point of aggression.

He looks relaxed on the right, as he was when I took the photo, but one can see his red and sore front due to the obsessive licking.

Jill also is stressed but to a lesser extent. They may be left alone for a long time and bark and cry intermittently throughout the day.

Jack and Jill at peace

Jack and Jill

We looked at all the possible causes of stress in the little dogs’ life at the moment – and this includes anything that stirs them up in any way, and the list can be surprisingly long. Here are some of them:  being left alone, post coming through the door, scolding, being told off and commands, humans being cross, Jill obsessively licking Jack, Jack persistently licking or humping Jill, Jack chewing and licking himself and being told off, behaviour of visitors and family, going to other houses, vacuum cleaner, excitement before walks or going in the car, discomfort and tension when being walked on lead, agility classes, obsessive ball play, barking itself increases stress, constant jingling of collar tags.

So we are finding ways of reducing stress in every way possible. Being consistent is essential. Using encouragement and reward rather than commands and scolding is also key.

There is the dear little Jack on the left, and lying in their bed with Jill below.

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

What is ‘Kind and Loving’ to a Dog?

malteseRiley (on the left) and Maddie are two absolutely beautiful little Maltese Terriers. They are both about seven years old.

They are adored by their lady owner – her ‘babies’.

Riley started marking all over the house a short while ago.

I believe that it’s no coincidence that Riley’s marking started and one or two other behaviours deteriorated since the lady was at home for the month. There can be a lot of pressure put upon the dogs in a way, with humans on their case with touching and attention and mixed messages.  Maddie is a more laid back individual and not so affected.

Many people who adore their dogs do things in the name of love that I would myself see as quite unkind, and some of the things I advocate may seem unkind to them.

To scold or shout at a dog, even put his nose in it, for toileting or marking in the house seems to me not kind at all. To constantly touch and cuddle a dog also seems to me to be unkind, but owners usually see it otherwise. Leaving a dog to decide when and what he eats, even sharing their own food, I believe is not fair to a dog. People usually see it otherwise and the lady says she would feel dreadful if she didn’t leave food around all the time for them to graze on, and herself eat without letting the dogs have some.

People who dote on their dogs also feel it is OK to shout at their dogs when they bark at sounds outside, where I think it’s a lot kinder to help them out.  They feel their dog should be at the door jumping and barking at people when they come in. I feel this is not kind. The dog should be somewhere else and saved from the stress.

People usually feel it’s kind to comfort and fuss a dog when it’s fearful of something like fireworks. I believe it reinforces the fear and actually makes things worse – so isn’t kind at all.

Adorable little lap dogs are, inside, dogs after all. A little bit of being treated like dogs can lift huge burdens from them. I am sure when Riley no longer feels that the decision making is his responsibility, when he has a few boundaries and rules,  that he will stop marking.

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