Jack Russell With Just a Few Common Issues

To look at his expression you wouldn't think he had been flying all over me when I first sat downWhat a dear little dog! Finn is about one year old and was found as a stray on the streets of Dublin. Over the past six months the couple have come along way in building up his confidence.

To look at his expression you wouldn’t think he had been flying all over me when I first sat down, and then lay down on my own knee. He’s a very friendly little dog, whilst from time to time also showing little signs of anxiety when he looked at me – lip licking and yawning in particular.

The front door of their cottage sitting room opens straight onto the road and Finn is very alert to sounds outside the front. He is worried and he growls and barks. He is also fearful of some dogs when out along with things that are unexpected or different. No more so than many dogs though.

There are various little issues to be worked on. He was very wary of being touched on the back of his neck and they wonder whether he had at some stage been ‘scruffed’ or harshly disciplined. He is a lot better now although he still doesn’t like things put over his head, so he needs help with that. We have strategies for the barking at things outside and the flying all over people and chairs (which has been encouraged by a game they play).

Use of mouthing and teeth has also been actively encouraged by the gentleman playing hand games. Finn has unintentionally nipped a child’s hand when jumping to get something she was holding, so he needs to learn to be very careful.Finn is quite restrained for an adolescent Jack Russell with an uncertain past

No more games involving chasing and grabbing hands. ‘Non contact sports’ are a lot better. They do some very inventive hide and search games already and I have given them a few more ideas.

The lady feels all the dogs they meet on walks are calm and sociable, and feels Finn is in some way unusual. He is in fact very usual.  With gradual work to continue building up his confidence he will be fine I’m sure. Every dog will have his own little individual quirks and it’s good to relax a little and appreciate what we do have.

Finn so wants to please, and I would say he is actually quite restrained for an adolescent Jack Russell with an uncertain past. With Finn they have a little gem.

Staffie’s Anxiety Around Children

Staffie Doris can be nervous and scaredDoris is an eight-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Because of her sweet nature, the fact she has been given few rules and boundaries hasn’t really caused them problems until reecently.

Doris can be a nervous and scared dog around certain everyday things, and I have found this is often the case where dogs make most of their own decisions, where they can come in and out of the garden whenever they want through a dog flap, jump up and all over visitors who hype them up whilst the owners are telling them to stop (how confusing this must be), and where the humans fall in line with whatever the dog demands. It’s like it is all too much responsibility and she needs to be gently taken in hand for her own sense of security.

Things have become worrying because her lady owner is due to have a baby in one week’s time. Doris has increasingly been showning fear of little nephews and neices who visit and last week nipped a toddler. Doris was on lead and the humans were very anxious which obviously transferred to Doris. Instead of encouraging her with positive associations when she went near the child, they will have been telling her off. She is frantically excited when people come to the house, so she would already have been in a highly stressed state of mind. When young children visit she has no hiding place where they can’t follow her.

Doris needs – you’ve guessed it – leadership. From a practical point of view she needs a ‘safe haven’ where children are simply forbidden to go. It’s the children that need watching. She has a hidey hole under the stairs which could perhaps be gated, or there could be a gate in the doorless kitchen doorway. It’s a small house with no other downstairs rooms.

It should not be too difficult to turn things around for Doris. Preparation for the baby needs to being immediately. They have made a start with Doris no longer sleeping on their bed. She needs positive associations with the smell of the baby, with the Moses basket and the buggy. There will be plenty of visitors when the baby is born, so Doris will need help to calm down quickly which means the visitors will need to be shown what to do. When children come to the house, Doris needs to be left strictly alone, somewhere safe. Seeing that this happens is the responsibility of good leaders.

With more leadership in all aspects of her life Doris should gain more confidence in her owners to understand her and to look out for her.

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




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.