Little Floyd Has Lost his ‘Joie de Vivre’.

Floyd is a worried dogFloyd used to have such enthusiasm for life, but this has slowly changed over the past few months.

He also started to toilet in the house and it’s gradually becoming more frequent, particular when his owners have come home from another trip. Something seems to have traumatised him and a bit of detective work may have unearthed what that is.

The couple have had the eight-year-old Jack Russell cross (there must be Daschund or Beagle in there somewhere!) since he was a puppy, and he has always gone everywhere with them. They have geared holidays around places where he can be taken. This year they have been away four times. They leave him at home with their son and daughter (aged 22 and 18) so you would think that would be no problem. A couple of months ago immediately before they left him behind, the gentleman took him for his usual walk. He rounded a corner ahead of the man (something I advise shouldn’t happen) and was attacked by another dog. Then, as soon as they got home, the couple left him. The suitcases were in the hallway and they were ready to go.

Each time they have returned from being away they have found him increasingly nervous and skittish, and the toileting has increased. When they come home from work he no longer greets them but stays in his bed. Even a pending walk is no longer anything special. He regularly displays signs that he is trying to keep calm – he lifts his paw a lot, he licks his lips and he yawns.

The dear little dog has always been the easiest dog you could wish for with a wonderful temperament, so they have got away with more than they might otherwise in terms of running around after his every wish and over-exciting him. The gentleman in particular jumps to his every wish. Floyd only has to bark and the man is on his hands and knees! The son winds him up with rough play until he can hardly cope. The lady is firmer. Floyd lacks the security that comes from consistent rules and boundaries.

We owe it to our dogs to provide them with ‘leadership’ in terms of guidance and decision-making.

All his family want is for him to be back to his old self, and they are willing to do whatever it takes. They have had him thoroughly checked over by the vet, because in cases where a dog’s behaviour changes a physical reason must be ruled out.

Border Terrier a Bundle of Worry

Border Mitzy is a highly stressed little dogLittle Mitzy is a seven-year-old Border Terrier. Mitzy is a bundle of worry.

I watched her shaking, regularly lifting her paw and licking her lips like she was taking a bite of air.

I was called because they no longer take her for walks due to her ‘aggression’ towards other dogs. This I’m sure is due to terror, and she nearly strangles herself lunging at them.

Mitzy is in a state before she even leaves the house. She shakes when her harness is put on. She pulls down the road, already highly stressed, and that’s before she even sees a dog. Even though she has never actually harmed a dog on a walk, they were so worried that they had been muzzling her which would have increased her feeling of helplessness.

We have listed all the things that stress poor Mitzy and these need working on. Reducing her anxiety at home must be a start, because if she is permanently aroused she’s in no a fit state to face the scary outside world.

The lady and her two daughters are going to go back to basics with the walking and break it down into tiny steps. Any walking at all – even five minutes two or three times a day – is a lot better than she’s getting now.

First she needs a comfortable harness. Nothing more should happen until she is happy having it put on and wearing it – no shaking. – so she may need it left on for a few days. Then they need to walk her in the garden where she feels relatively safe, teaching her how pleasant it is when the lead is loose, treats and encouragement are used and they themselves are relaxed. This could take weeks! Next step is to venture through the gate. Only when she can do that calmly should they try walking outside. She won’t be ready for ‘other dogs’ yet! I myself sometimes use a ‘stooge’ dog – a realistic stuffed boxer I call Daisy that I can place at a distance. This can be done with real distant dogs, but Daisy is predictable and stands still!  The people can then remain relaxed whilst rehearsing their procedure for meeting dogs. They need to manage the environment and choose quiet times. Having an unscheduled close encounter would set things back at this stage.

The lady and her two teenage daughters are very committed to helping Mitzy and I”m sure they will give it as long as it takes which could be many months. Mitzy will start to enjoy walks. There is no reason why, after she can negotiate going out as far as the car calmly and happily, they should not drive her to somewhere open and dog-free, put her on a long line, no muzzle, and give her some freedom.

Puzzling Jack Russell

My gentleman client has had Monty for just six days. Monty is a small and extremely cute Jack Russell. He has previously had two homes that probably had young children and Monty may have felt threatened and shown aggression to protect himself.  He then spent six weeks in Wood Green animal shelter.

Monty puzzled me. He barely moved from his bed. He  didn’t get up when I came in. He didn’t lift his head when either of us moved about or went out of the room. He may be exhausted from the trials of the past few weeks and noise of the kennels. Maybe he is recovering from some sort of trauma. It’s as though he has shut down. When he did get out of his bed it was to do multiple stretches and bows, accompanied by yawning and lifting his paw, calming signals and appeasement. When I tickled him gently with just one finger, he seemed to freeze. He has already bonded closely with his new owner and is very comfortable being touched by him, though he is not interested in any sort of play.

But, yes you can guess, Monty changes personaltiy completely out on walks! He is extremely reactive to other dogs, and taking his owner unawares he yesterday actually bit another small dog which badly shook the gentleman, as did the angry reaction of the other dog’s owner. When Monty sees another dog, even in the distance from the high window, he becomes very agitated. He shakes and salivates. I wonder what has happened in his past life.

Monty’s gentleman is very intuitive and Monty has fallen on his feet. The man is going to refrain from spoiling him or trying to compensate for what has happened in the past, and to behave as a calm, fair and strong leader would. Where other dogs are concerned he will work on building up Monty’s confidence in him, using advance/retreat techniques. A trustworthy leader or dad would not lead his pack or family into danger. Monty perceives other all dogs as a threat at the moment.

It’s certain his owner hasn’t yet seen the true Monty! He will gradually relax and come out of himself as his confidence grows. As he becomes more carefree he may even become playful.

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