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)

Large Hand Over her Head. She Barks at People

Rusti is a tiny 13-month-old Miniature Daschund. She is wary of people. Too often an approaching person means a large hand over her head.

She looks so cute people feel compelled to touch her.

A looming person. A large hand.

Rusti barks at people who come into her house. She barks at people who approach the man’s car. On walks she may bark at an approaching person.

scared when a large hand goes over her headThe man has held her up to help a person touch her. She will try to escape over his shoulder. She may growl or even nip the hand.

Because, as people do, they feel that she should allow a person who is being friendly to touch her, her reaction can be embarrassing to them.

Understandably, being that small, Rusti can feel unsafe when someone looms with large hand outstretched, particularly when she’s trapped. She is a lot better when free and off lead.

The man takes Rusti to work with him and she stays in the car. He has an active job where he can keep an eye on her and regularly return to let her out.

Though fine to be left in the car, she spends much of the day looking out for approaching people. She gets very aroused and barks frantically at them to go away. Very often they come over. Sometimes a large hand may even come through the open window towards her.

Looking at the world through Rusti’s eyes.

They will now look at the world from Rusti’s perspective. They are learning to read her signals.

Her humans will do their best to help her out and avoid anything that scares her whenever they possible can. They will get her an igloo dog bed for the car and a couple of window blinds like one might use to shield a baby from the sun.

People won’t see her and she won’t see them.

If they help to avoid people getting too close to her, particularly preventing them from touching her, she should become a lot less wary and then she will have less need to bark at them, “Go Away”. This will build up trust in her humans.

Human beings must be puzzling and scary to a tiny dog. They touch her when they feel like it, they cuddle her, they move her about whenever they wish. She shares their food but they get angry when she helps herself.

Confusing!

Someone she doesn’t know puts a large hand out to touch her. We ourselves wouldn’t like that, would we. When she defends herself by growling or nipping she gets told off.

We expect our dogs to understand us and fit into our world without realising just how little we try to understand them and allow them their own feelings and preferences.

We should act as our dogs’ advocates. Rusti’s feelings are a lot more important than the feelings of a person, usually a stranger, who may want to touch her.  Can I pet your dog and why it’s okay to say no

 

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 Rusti and because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same.  Listening to ‘other people’, 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 fear is concerned. 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)

Where Should Dogs be Left?

Miniature Daschunds left in garden all day, on watchIt is largely due to the diligence and love of the young couple that Miniature Daschunds Levi and Lilly are so biddable and loving. From the start they have done their very best to get everything right.

Levi on the left is three years old. I read little signs of stress on and off through the afternoon and Lilly, 18 months, lacks confidence.

It is very likely that the many hours the little dogs spend out in the garden alone while their humans are at work is fuelling this anxiety. Lilly in particular barks at things she hears – neighbours talking, birds and especially a cat that walks along the fence. After their evening walk Levi seems exhausted, understandable if he’s spent all day ‘on watch’.

The couple seldom go out apart from work unless they take their dogs with them. They are extremely dedicated dog owners.

Miniature Daschund pretending to be a meerkat

Levi

Where should dogs be left when at home alone? Because it’s a long day the two little dogs are left outside with a nice kennel to go into should they wish to.  They are left with plenty to do, Kongs and so on. Many people believe their dogs are happiest left outside with the freedom of the garden. I see it differently. Dogs left outside can’t escape from storms, noises and invading birds. They are vulnerable. There was a time when a neighbour’s children would torment them over the fence. There was a complaint about barking. There are many terrible stories nowadays of dogs stolen from gardens and high fencing is no deterrent.

A day of intermittent alert and barking must contribute to their stress levels big time. If they are already stressed they will be unable to cope so well with other things life throws at them.

A while ago something shocked me badly. My heart was pumping like mad for days. In this condition I found it hard to cope with small everyday problems. Nobody would see how I felt from just looking at me – it was all going on inside. This experience gave me fresh insight into how dogs must feel when in a constant state of arousal.

The couple will now leave their little dogs indoors when they go to work, in the area of the house where they are occasionally already left in the evening. For the first week or so the lady will take time off work to come home at lunchtime to check on them and let them out. After that they will try to find someone else who can do that for them.

Amongst other things that can relieve stress is to cut back on ‘commands’. Training is essential to a point, but we humans give out these words like Sit and Wait long after we have already taught the dog. If we have taught him to sit before food goes down, for instance, must we always keep prompting? If we wait, he will do it for himself. Training games that can teach dogs to think for themselves and games that make use of their hunting instinct are great for de-stressing them.

Over time both dogs should become more settled and be better able to deal with other things in life – Levi with car travel and Lilly with meeting other dogs.

A month later I received this email: ‘Thank you so much for all you have done for us and our dogs. Every one of the exercises you gave us is showing improvement on our relationship with each other (all 4 of us). But most of all I want to thank you for the encouragement you gave us when our confidence was rock bottom, and helping us realise the things we already did that were good…as it helped us get our balance right between loving our dogs and allowing ourselves to have a social life:) They are now happy left indoors during the day with classic fm and never once messed in the house…sometimes you even see Levi coming out with puffy eyes from all the sleep he was getting! We are now seeing progress rather than frustration…and feel less anxiety of trying to listen to everyone trying to give us advice about what we should do about our dogs (most of whom didn’t ever own dogs themselves).’

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lily and Levi, which is why I don’t share all the exact details 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).

Miniature Daschunds Barking

Very excitable miniature daschunds are extreme barkers

Blaze and Rolo

Butter wouldn’t melt!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They came charging back into the room, barking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Blaze and Rolo, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Too Many People. Too Much Noise

Can't cope with too much noiseThis is Boris, a delightful five-year-old Miniature Daschund. He is a little shy, a sensitive soul. Delightful.

Boris has had a big upheavel in his life. A couple of weeks ago they moved into a large house with a swimming pool.

Too many people and too much noise

Boris has become very upset and barking when friends come to the house. The two sons naturally want to invite their friends round for a swim. They are young adult males, making too much noise for Boris, playing ball, shouting, splashing and maybe teasing him.

By the pool Boris goes wild, barking, panting and drooling. His lady owner is becoming increasingly stressed with the situation – which he will be picking up on.

Poor little dog.

Boris has always been excitable when people arrive, but was fine with me because nobody took much notice of him. I could read an underlying anxiety, however, and he needs to be treated gently and quietly.

One big problem is that guests, especially with a bit of social alcohol in them, ignore instructions! They will wind up the dog – maybe unintentionally – doing the very opposite of what they have been asked.

In the past, Christmases have been similar – with large numbers of people, too much noise, wrapping paper, excitement and alcohol. Boris would more or less panic – constantly barking. If he is shut away, he continues the constant barking. Stress builds up in a dog and he can be left, for several days, in a state – unwinding.

After a short bark when I walked in, Boris didn’t bark once when I was there, showing he would be fine if all the humans acted in a certain way.

The family will all work together

The whole family will work together to insist that guests comply. It seems that it’s people playing with a ball that fires him up the most (he is somewhat ball obsessed), so while he is about there should, for now, be no ball play. He needs to be desensitised gradually to swimming pool noises, with the lady taking him safely further away from too much noise, to the front of the house, and then working on gradually getting him nearer.

Boris also needs to learn to be left happily alone, somewhere quiet and safe. He could then sleep through it all, out of the way in the kitchen.

It’s natural for a dog to vocalise in play (after all, the humans are making a lot of noise!), but it affects him psychologically to get into quite such a state; because of his barking, the people, too, become stressed, frustrated and cross.

They now have a better understanding of Boris and will work together to help him.

Highly Stressed Dachshunds. Two Little Dachshund Firecrackers

Lying down at last

Alfie

Highly Stressed Dachshunds

Alfie

Here they are – lying down at last! Miniature Daschund Alfie on the left and Eddie on the right. Both around four years old.

Highly stressed Dachshunds

Barking, excitement, peeing indoors, nipping, jumping up, easily spooked, scared of people……it’s a long list all coming back to one thing – stress.

Alfie was very scared of me, barking and hanging back, but eventually I could walk about, give him treats and even tickle him under the chin.

Eddie constantly jumped at me and barked and tried to get attention – becoming increasingly nippy until we put a lead on him. It’s surprising how high he can leap on his little short legs! They see this behaviour with callers as happy friendliness, but I don’t agree. Looking at the body language and behaviour, I saw a brave and anxious little dog.

Both highly stressed Dachshunds live on the edge – ready to explode, like little firecrackers and only settle for quiet cuddles when all is calm in the evening.

Too much of everything

The teenage son, who adores them, misguidedly teases and winds them up. They go mental at barking on TV and computer games which makes people laugh. It’s not really funny though. It is distressing for the dogs.

Play is too exciting with too much chasing and tugging for a dog that already grabs and nips. Tug-of-war is only a good game when done properly because it teaches letting go rather than grabbing, and it also teaches very careful control of teeth.

The actual reason I was called is that the two little dogs both constantly pee in the house – all over the place. I see this as a symptom of stress as much as an issue in itself. The door to the garden is always open but it makes no difference. It’s an old building with nooks and crannies and the dogs simply have too much freedom.

The people need to go back and do as they should have done originally when the dogs were puppies, restricting them to a really small area unless with them in the room where they can be watched for prowling, sniffing and disappearing behind things. I have given various strategies and ideas which, with time and patience along with working on the general stress and over-excitement should do the trick. One symptom of stress is excessive drinking – which of course will lead to more peeing.

Self control

I believe these highly stressed Dachshunds should be taught a bit of self-control by way of learning to wait calmly for things. They should get fuss and fun when calm, not when hyper and demanding. This self-control will eventually extend to the toileting as well. After about four years it is an entrenched habit, so it won’t be quick.

Everything must be done to calm these two dear little dogs down as much as possible. The highly stressed Dachshunds will be a lot happier for it – and so will their family.

Bangers and Mash, Daschunds

Miniature daschund having his tummy tickled

Mash

Yesterday evening I went to visit Bangers and Mash (don’t you love it!), brother Miniature Dachshunds age 15 months.

Mash on the left having his tummy tickled (not by me – I never got that close) is the more nervous and noisy one of the pair and despite being considerably smaller than Bangers, he controls him. He prevents him walking where he wants to go with just a stare. He will walk the long way around to avoid a doorway Mash is occupying. Mash bullies Bangers and takes all toys off him to hoard for himself.They play beautifully but occasionally, when particularly stressed by something, they have a full blown fight, with a lot of noise, sounding and looking vicious but fortunately no damage has yet been done.

Bangers is the larger of the two miniature daschunds

Bangers

The other things that cause concern is how they behave when people come to the house, and when they go out on walks. Mash instigates. When people come to the door, the two barking dogs are blocking the doorway making it hard to open, Mash almost goes for ankles in his frenzy, and sometimes they redirect their frustrations and excitement onto one another. When they seem settled they may fire up again if the person walks about.

On walks they lunge and may go hysterical when approaching people and dogs, and again may redirect onto one another if walked together.

I suspect if these little dogs had their time again, and if from the start the humans had done things differently, things would not be like this. I am convinced that in the first crucial eleven weeks when they were still with the breeder, they will not have experienced sufficient handling, different people and environments, other dogs and so on. Their owners, not knowing the importance of early varied and positive experiences, sheltered them further during the next really important weeks, with a lovely large garden to play in. Then, to ‘socialisie’ them they went to puppy classes with Bangers going ballistic at other dogs and Mash shut down and shaking. They persisted in the common belief that it would break down their fears. In my experience it does the very opposite. So this is where we are at.

Reinforcing only calm behaviour with attention, rather than reacting to noisy or anxious behaviour, is the way to start. They have plenty of visitors to practise on, so if this is handled right, over time, the dogs should become more chilled. The same goes for encountering people or dogs on walks. Pressing ahead and forcing them into situations is the same sort of thing as the puppy classes. If this sort of thing worked, then it would have done so by now. So, things need to be done completely differently. In time the two little brothers will be walked together again, nicely, not particularly reacting to other dogs and, being in a calmer state, not needing to redirect anything onto one another.

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.
 

Barking Miniature Daschunds

Miniature Daschund

Mozart

Miniature Daschund

Milly

Mozart, on the left, and Milly are two adorable long-haired miniature daschunds. Mozart at nine months old is little more than a puppy, but already he is taking on the world – barking at people and sounds, and sometimes, it seems, at just nothing at all. Milly who is sixteen months old now was quiet and calm until they got Mozart. Now he is leading her astray!

Both dogs, led by Mozart, go ballistic before walks, barking and jumping all over the place, and once out of the door Mozart in particular is straining ahead on his lead. Barking starts before they leave the house and continues all down the road. Tiny Mozart even took on an off-lead Staffordshire Bull Terrier and bit it! Fortunately the Staffie was good-natured.

The people like to take the dogs with them to work at their shops, where they are put on the counter, safe from human feet and from running out of the door. Milly loves the attention and fuss she attracts, but it’s a different matter for Mozart. He is in a very vulnerable position for a dog that is more nervous. People, children in particular, can spook him. They come up to him and put their hands out over him to touch him.  Usually he is already barking as they come into the shop. He will also bark at people and dogs going past the window.

Mozart needs everything done to reduce his stress levels. I fear that by whilst he is being subjected to unwanted attention and the stress of being in the shop, this won’t happen. Accompanying them to work to be placed on the counter is probably much more stressful than being left at home, even if the day is long.  The dogs do have one another.  Understandably the owners are not happy about leaving their dogs alone for hours and nor would I be. They are going to consider various different options for them.

Meanwhile both dogs will be learning that walks don’t happen until they are calm and quiet, and that if they bark once outside the door they will come straight back in again. There is no hope of calm happy walks if there is bedlam before they even step out! The owners realise that this will need a lot of patience and there will be little in the way of ‘proper’ walks for a while which is OK – the dogs only have little legs! Loose lead garden work with calm dogs is the way to start, with lots of ‘ins and outs’ through the front door. If they can find a happy alternative to taking the dogs to work, then they should make very good progress.

Little Mozart should then start to calm down, and little Milly can go back to being her laid-back old self.

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

Little Dogs, Big Barkers

This has been a week for small dogs needing help, including two miniature daschunds.  Digby was an unusual brindled colour. I was called out because he barks at passers by, he barks at the letter box, he barks at cars and animals on TV. He goes into a panic. He also barked at me. He cries and barks when he is left alone. He also persistently toilets in the house.

It is five days later and I have just spoken to them. No toileting in the house since I saw them. They are following the plan and working consistently on the barking in a kind and fair way.

………………………………………………….

This picture is of Bailey, the dUnusually quiet for Miniature Daschund Baileyaschund I visited this evening. His problems are very similar to those of Digby, though his barking is more excessive. Like Digby, his barking is all through fear. He gets very excited and when he is stressed he compulsively licks himself. Initially he was barking continuously at me as I sat on the sofa, but soon we had a quiet evening  – unusually quiet for Bailey – after I showed Bailey’s lady owner how to relieve him of his fearful barking at me.  Bailey was then relaxed until I stood up to go.  He was rather suspicious about having my camera pointed at him for a photo before I left!

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