Now the two female Pugs fight. Were best of friends

Now the two dogs fight.


Cherry has lived with Bo and the family for nearly a year and all was well until a few weeks ago. The two four-year-old Pugs played together and slept together.

They noticed little hints of unrest shortly before the day Cherry went for Bo.

Food was involved. A friend’s dog, Skye, was with them.

Soon after this it happened again only this time the fight didn’t involve food.

The family now had to watch the dogs closely to prevent further fights breaking out.

Then disaster struck.

Continue reading…

A Jumping up and Nipping Puppy

Puppy pug Frankie is now twelve weeks old.

AtkinsFrankieIt’s vital that the adorable Frankie stops jumping up and nipping because the lady is a childminder. As it’s so important, they have been trying extra hard to stop her jumping up and nipping for the sake of the little children. This has resulted in a lot of No and Get Down and pushing off.

Term starts this week and the four little children will be coming back. If Frankie jumps or nips they will scream and wave their arms about, making her worse.

The young son and daughter play games that may encourage Frankie to be over-excited, rough and to use her teeth. If we don’t want to be nipped by a puppy, we don’t play hand games. We don’t play contact sports but use an item like a tug toy or a ball. We avoid getting her too excited.

In a way, the very importance of Frankie not jumping up and nipping has actually made the problem worse. She’s learnt that it always gets attention of some sort as they try to stop her.

Frankie isn’t being taught what she should be doing instead of jumping up and nipping.

Jumping up and nipping now has to get no attention whatsoever. With myself she learnt really fast that feet on the floor was the way to get a fuss.

It’s a few hours later and the lady has just emailed to say that the jumping up and nipping is now worse since she has stopped saying NO and pushing Frankie off. This is typical of how things get worse before they get better. Because she has said No in the past and given the puppy a lot of attention for jumping up and nipping, it has temporarily made things worse now that she’s stopped.

Frankie wants her to say No just as she always has done because in a funny way it is rewarding to her.

Now Frankie is not getting the attention she usually gets so she is simply getting frustrated and trying harder.

To get all technical, this is called the ‘extinction burst’. Here is a nice explanation from An extinction burst is a concept from behavioral psychology. It involves the concept of elimination of a behavior by refusing to reinforce it. The best example of this is a child’s tantrum. Parents react to tantrums, which is why they often work, but the point of the tantrum is primarily attention.

The family need to stand firm and it’s not easy. For the first couple of days the lady should wear jeans rather than thin floaty trousers (tempting to grab in those little sharp teeth) in order to protect her legs. Having tried immediately to give her something else to put in her mouth or another member of the family calling her away, if neither of these things do the trick she should simply lift her up in silence, put her the other side of the gate with something to chew and walk
away. Actions speak a lot louder than words.

I imagine that this intensified behaviour was during Frankie’s ‘silly time’, the wild half hour so many puppies have in the evening.

They should have that a bit more under control in a day or two. As soon as they see her getting excited and wild they will react immediately by giving her something else to do, something to attack and wreck like a carton full of safe rubbish – before she gets to jumping up and nipping trousers and legs.

Pre-empting whenever possible is the best advice.

It’s understandable why Frankie wants to jump up, as dogs greet one another face to face. A lot of communication is done at face level. You can’t do much communicating with a human ankle! For this reason it’s helpful if people kneel down.

Feet on the floor is just one of those weird things humans like that Frankie has to learn.

In this first visit we covered all aspect of puppy life making sure everything is in place. The whole family did some lovely loose lead walking in the garden. She has been to a couple of vet’s puppy parties with, I feel, too many puppies off lead all at once in a small space, most a lot bigger than tiny Frankie and she may be intimidated. I hope they will stop going now. This is the kind of socialisation that a puppy doesn’t need. We don’t want her to fear other dogs as she gets older.

Frankie when not jumping up and nippingWe are off to a good start and will pick things up where we left off when I next visit. We discussed putting up a barrier between Frankie and the little children so that she can be kept separate from them whilst not being shut out, just until she grows out of her jumping up and nipping.

With consistency from all the family as regards ignoring jumping up whilst teaching her that feet on the floor or sitting gives her what she wants, helping each other out by calling her away if she’s getting rough or popping her straight away behind a gate with something to do or chew, things should improve fairly fast.

In order to get past this ‘extinction burst’ of frustration and not to prolong it, everyone must be doing the same thing. A tantrum must not work in terms of attention!

Their success also depends upon visitors cooperating (always a challenge) and with the children teaching their friends what to do. If they are unable to keep calm thus discouraging the jumping up and nipping, then Frankie will need to be on lead or behind a barrier.

Here is a useful little article from Victoria Stilwell about stopping puppy nipping.

Food Aggression and Parading Bones

We all know what Pugnacious means!

Frank is a delightful, friendly and playful ten-month-old Pug French Bulldog mix. He is a typical teenager in that he likes to play his family up – he is a clever boy!

What I was called for is Frank’s behaviour around dropped food, bones and other edible resources. 

Food aggression can start with the breeder

From the moment they first got him Frank wolfed his food down as though in total panic – even faster if someone was nearby, like he was afraid they may steal it from him. Consequently they were advised to put the food on a plate which, because it slides around the floor, slows him down.

The breeder fed the litter all together from one bowl which we know can lead to competition Frank has some food aggressionover the food. It does not encourage eating confidently in the knowledge that the puppy can take his time with no fear of losing the food. This is where food aggression can start.

Food aggression is then unintentionally encouraged by owners who, thinking they are doing the right thing, force things off the puppy, either because it may be dangerous or maybe to make a point about who is boss. They don’t realise that even some of the games they play are nurturing guarding behaviour in certain dogs that may be that way inclined anyway due to either genetics or early life with litter-mates.

From the start, savvy dog owners actively encourage give and swap.

Frank has now snapped about five times at a hand that has got too near to dropped food or his bone. Once the little girl dropped something on the floor and when mum went to remove it Frank, who had his eye on it also, went for mum’s hand.

Like many people they felt they should be able just to take a bone off the dog. The young lady was snapped at so she withdrew. Because, to quote her, she ‘was not having that’, the next time she wore an oven glove and forcibly removed the bone from him, resulting in what would have been a much more severe bite had it not been for the glove.

An interesting display of minor guarding behaviour

I gave Frank a Stagbar (piece of reindeer antler) to chew and it was so interesting to watch him. For several minutes he paraded it, flaunting it around all the people there (there were seven of us including a little girl). “Look what I’ve got and you can’t have it” sort of thing! He then would drop it, as though tempting someone to try and pick it up.

Next he started rolling around the floor on top of the Stagbar. Sarah Whitehead would say that this is to spread his scent over it – to mark it as his possession.

Then he got down to some serious chewing.

They asked can they touch him or stroke him while he’s chewing?  NO! They must leave him strictly alone. He must be ignored. When he parades something they should look the other way. He can’t flaunt something if nobody is looking, can he.

From now onwards he will have a very different relationship with his family around food. They will no longer be seen as ‘takers’ but as ‘givers’.

They will get him a heavier slow bowl feeder so it won’t slide around the kitchen floor like the plate; it has bumps in it to sow him down whilst making eating less of a chase and race, less frustrating.

A thing I personally feel that dogs must find so frustrating is the common practice of being made to sit, wait and maybe do tricks before they can eat start to eat. It’s not natural. In the wild an animal wouldn’t sit back, wait and do tricks, giving other animals opportunity to get there first.

I prefer to hold the bowl and wait before putting it down, getting the dog’s attention in order to emphasise my role as ‘giver’. Then I put the food down. It’s his. I walk away and leave the dog to eat in peace.

Although Frank so far shows no food aggression when someone walks past while he’s eating his meals (if they bent down and put their hands near it would be a different matter), they can still help by silently chucking a bit of something better than his food – cooked chicken perhaps – in the direction of his bowl.

When I was there the little girl had an ice cream and dropped a bit on the floor – almost the same situation as one of the ‘incidents’. This time Frank was more interested in my Stagbar fortunately. Recently the lady was eating crisps on the sofa with Frank beside her, watching. She pushed him onto the floor and he snapped at her.

This needs to be taken very seriously, particularly when little children are about. They should not tempt fate by giving him any further opportunity to rehearse the behaviour again. A dog that has any hint of food aggression should be in another room when anyone is eating anything at all, even ice cream or crisps (due to the food aggression they do put him in his crate when they eat their meals).

Frank rolling on the Stagbar

Frank rolling on the Stagbar

Now there is some hard work to do so that should a situation accidentally arise Frank can be trusted not to attack a hand.

If he’s chewing a bone they must ignore him. He needs to build up trust that it won’t be taken from him and then he will have nothing to be protective about.

Preferably they should wait until he loses interest before taking the bone away. Alternatively they can swap it for a Kong stuffed with something tasty which they can remove when it’s empty and he’s lost interest. I wanted my Stagbar back before I left and dropped food on and beside it a couple of times, watching his body language carefully, and he let me pick it up – I rewarded him again with a little jackpot.

Teaching Frank to ‘Give’ can start with Tug of War. Tuggy done properly teaches a dog to ‘give’ as well as to avoid teeth on human flesh.

Frank’s humans will be Givers, not Takers.

Teaching him that his humans aren’t interested in stealing from him is one thing, teaching him to actively and happily give things up is another and needs working on.

I suggest they lift his toys. They can issue them one at a time, using the ‘exchange game’: offer it, don’t let go, say ‘Give’ and exchange for food. Do this a couple of times, then without food, ending in letting him keep it. The rule is that they never take anything off him unless he gets it back or its exchanged for something better than what he already has (better to him that is).

Another good teaching game is to have a range of objects and food in ascending order of value to Frank, and teach exchange starting with the lowest in value. They can leave him to keep the final most valuable item.

Food should also be used as payment – rewards for doing as asked. This will make him a lot more cooperative in general and again emphasise that his people are ‘givers’ and that he has to give something in return.

Our human instinct when met with food aggression or aggression of any sort from our dog is to respond in kind – we are aggressive back. We’re ‘not having that’. He mustn’t get away with it.  Its hard, but the very opposite approach is needed. Any growling or air snapping should not be met with punishment or anger. We need to look at the cause of the aggression and deal with that, not the snapping itself.

The snapping is, still, fortunately only a warning. Teach him not to give a warning and it can only escalate into real biting.

The very achievable goal is that when the adorable Frank has a bone or is near food, he should be relaxed and happy. He won’t need to immediately going onto the defensive lest someone should nick his bone or get to dropped food first.

An email two months later: Our main worry and concern was the food aggression. We have seen NO aggressions since our meeting and not even a slight indication of it. Frank happily bring bones to us all, will Give things he shouldn’t have if we have a treat in our hand to reward him handing it over etc. He seems all round a happier 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 Frank and I’ve not gone into exact precise 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 issues of any kind are concerned. 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)

Introducing a New Puppy

Introducing a New Puppy. They were shocked when the older dog growled.

They are very concerned because Fen growled at the new puppy.

introducing a new puppy - Pug


I look at this very differently. Hooray for the older dog growling!

The thirteen-week-old pug puppy is let free in the room, in Labrador Fen’s room, and gets a bit too familiar too soon. If Fen didn’t growl they would never know that she was feeling uneasy or threatened and then what might happen?

Bailey is delightful. He is brave and playful as a puppy ought to be. Fen is now eight years old and doesn’t want to be jumped all over and that is fair enough. So she gives a warning growl. The puppy understands what that means but the the humans get alarmed.

Fen has been less patient of late with other dogs when out and they are afraid she may hurt the puppy.

I have seldom met a more patient and tolerant dog than Fen. Even when out she very rarely has reacted to another dog and then only when provoked. Their older dog had died and Fen probably feels a bit more anxious now without her.

The lady and the young daughter in particular are anxious. Very wisely they now have puppy Bailey in a crate when the two dogs are in the same room.

Introducing new puppy to black labrador


Fen is absolutely fine with sniffing Bailey through the bars. She is perfectly relaxed in the same room as her but she doesn’t want to be jumped on or interfered with. She needs to get used to him first.


People often do things the wrong way round.

One thing I find is that people usually restrain the older dog on a lead and let the puppy bound all over the place. This is wrong.

It should be the puppy that is restrained on lead. Fen can then sniff and interact with him if and when she wishes, knowing that she can escape out of his reach at any time.

They also need the kitchen door gated so that puppy can have freedom from the crate and people can relax. If they are constantly worrying and can’t leave both dogs alone, Fen is sure to pick up on it. Introducing a new puppy through a gate works best. Both dogs are free – and safe.

Good associations should be actively built up and with Fen food will work best. At the gate, or when Bailey is in the same room and on lead, she can be fed tiny and specially tasty bits of food – and so can Bailey

The garden is a great place to introduce a new puppy. The puppy on lead with older dog free (perhaps trailing a lead if the people are anxious).

It’s important that little Bailey doesn’t experience provoked aggression or anger from Fen at this crucial stage in her life. She needs to know that other dogs are nice and she should grow up to be a gentle and sociable adult dog herself. A little later when the two are freely together, any play that becomes too rough should be interrupted immediately for the same reason.

I shall go back soon when puppy has settled in. We are already working on toilet training and will look at some clicker training and introducing a new puppy to walking on lead.

We will also do some basic work with Fen on walks, to make sure she’s not put into a position where she is forced to react to other dogs by being too close and unable to escape.

I love jobs where it a case of introducing a new puppy.

Here is a cute video of Bailey. I had given him my puppy toy to keep him busy. Is it alive?


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 Bailey and Fen. 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 introducing dogs to one another is concerned. 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)

Human Control v. Self Control

Pug Jack Russell cross stressed and pantingBecause Pug-Jack Russell mix Freddie wasn’t being ‘controlled’, he was all over the place. He was waiting to be told what to do – or more what not to do. Like so many people, they do their best to control his behaviour by using NO and constant commands like ‘Get Down’, so Freddie is seldom left to work things out for himself and it’s not surprising that he lacks self control.

This isn’t to suggest for one minute that he’s not well treated – he is adored by the whole family who do the best they know how. The bottom line is, though, that if what they currently do worked they wouldn’t need help, so they need to be doing something different.

Freddie is more Pug than Jack Russell

Freddie is more Pug than Jack Russell

While I was there Freddie did all sorts of things ‘he never does anymore’, like jumping up behind me on the sofa and humping my arm, chewing my ear and grabbing and pulling at my sleeve.

I allowed this to happen to show them how to teach Freddie the behaviour that we do want, not because I feel these are in any way desirable behaviours. I needed him to do the unwanted behaviour so I could show him that it got no reaction or attention whatsoever and to show him how much more rewarding it is when he’s not doing it! I used clicker for marking every moment his behaviour was even momentarily what we wanted and both Freddie and the three family members caught on really fast. We can look at teaching him alternative acceptable behaviours when he’s in a calmer state.

He has an almost OCD ritual when he goes out into the garden – he is frequently asking to go out. He flies up at the door handle until it’s opened, then he spins, barking, just outside the door, followed by running a barking circuit of the garden. Then he may either toilet or want to come in again.

Teaching two-year-old Freddie self control and self calm is going to take time and stress reduction is the priority. All evening he was pacing, panting, drinking, asking to gWhat a long tongueo out, barking at TV when it was on briefly, humping me or grabbing my clothes and back to pacing, and so on. Not getting his usual responses was very hard on him so the behaviour intensified. He only settled briefly twice – and we made sure we marked and rewarded those moments whilst not setting him off again.

His high stress levels are at the root of all the things they want to eliminate, his barking at TV, his reactivity to people and dogs on walks, his fear of traffic, his jumping up and so on. Telling him off for barking or sending him to his bed doesn’t help him at all.

He needs to be allowed to work out for himself what works and what doesn’t. Already the 16-year-old lad who is very involved with the little dog has shown him that the door opens when he’s not jumping at the handle – simply by waiting until he’s sitting, saying ‘yes’ immediately and quickly opening the door. He then accompanied the dog out – walked Freddie well away from the door, thus breaking the sequence of his spinning ritual.

Freddie’s reactivity is inconsistent – the main variable being, I’m sure, his stress levels at the current time. In the mornings he is a lot calmer both at home and on his walk, having had the night for the stresses of the previous day to subside a bit. As the day wears on, things simply build up. Only when the whole family finally settles will he, too, settle – so long as there’s nothing to bark at on TV.

The ultimate goal is for FFreddiepug3reddie to live happily with the daughter’s dog when the two families move in together. Introducing the two dogs will need to be done very carefully and only after Freddie has made considerable headway.

Five days have gone by and the family is really pulling together. They have a long way to go, but today’s news is really encouraging and they have been doing their best to keep Freddie as calm as possible. They sent me this lovely photo and message: ‘Freddie chilled with me TV quite noisy, he’s had a lot of praise today’.
Two weeks later:  ‘I am curious that over the last few days Freddie has started to sniff and stop more when we are walking,walking along sniffing the floor not pulling.I am taking this to mean he is less agitated and therefore more curious about his surroundings.This morning I chose to walk along by the road away from the path on the grass about 10ft from road.He was sniffing and searching.This totally distracted him from the passing cars,I also praised him for this and gave him chicken. He alerted to one dog although I turned around and he was fine’.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Freddie, which is why I don’t go into 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 dog (see my Get Help page).


How Can We Stop Pug Barking at TV

I have just visited little Pug, Franklyn, for a second time because they have reached a plateau with his barking – both barking at TV and also barking in the car.

They ha11006481_10152725896872104_3455147435180808656_nve worked hard and had made some great progress, but now seem to be stuck.

Franklyn can now be called away from the TV if it is people talking, but he is much more reactive to the adverts and still goes mental when he sees an animal.

Thank goodness for clicker training!

Starting with a low-stress programme, it happened to be Friends, I showed them how to click/feed Franklyn every time he looked at the TV and, though vocal, didn’t actually bark. Then we upped it to clicking the briefest moment of silence whilst he looked at the TV.  Then we asked for slightly longer silence. We got as far as keeping him from barking – just grumbling now – during adverts. However, an elephant programme was too much for him and he regressed. We had pushed ahead too fast, so we went back to Friends again.

Using the same sort of gradual technique, we looked at the car behaviour. The existing plan had meant that they should have slowly weaned him into quiet car travel, but this wasn’t happening. We looked at how we can create an environment where he is more likely to be quiet and that is being held on a lap whilst not looking out of the window – a challenge! So, the plan is to teach him to ‘look’ at them, one of them to hold him and constantly feed him chicken whilst keeping his attention. Initially perhaps just with the engine running, then driving a few yards, then going further and stopping – and so on – until they reach their open space where Franklyn can, at last, again go for a run.

They can also introduce their barking at TV ‘Click for Quiet’ technique to barking in the car.

The problem with pushing a dog over threshold is that, just like in the TV example above, it sets you back and you need to recap. Driving a furiously barking Frankly to the field would do a lot more harm than good to their progress in the long run.

I am sure now that they will leap off that plateau and make some more real progress. Here is Franklyn’s story of a couple of months ago.

An email received a month after my second visit which proves what persistence and patience can do: Just wanted to let you know that we managed to walk Franklin all the way round the block with no real incidents! What an achievement. We’ve even managed to get him to the park and he’s played nicely with other dogs off lead and his recall is starting to improve again. Thank you very much for helping us with our little boy.
And three months after my visit: Sorry for all the emails but I feel you should know about Franklin’s wonderful progress. As it was a beautiful sunny day today we decided to go to the seaside with Franklin. We drove to near Southend to a pet friend beach. Franklin sat on J’s lap in his bed. Other than a few whines and being fidgety he was good as gold. We put him on his long lead and he was an angel to walk. We passed lots of dogs and he had little sniffs and played with a couple. There was no barking at all. I kept the lead really loose so he felt free but I could still control him if it go too much. We had a wonderful day out as family with no tears at all. We even shared some chips and watched the world go by.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Franklyn, which is why I don’t go into 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. 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).



Understimulated Dog Barking at TV

Little dog chewing a plastic bottle Franklyn is alone all day, and when his humans come home he wants FUN.

They on the other hand, after a long day at work, want to RELAX in front of the TV.

Little Franklyn is a cross between a Pug and a King Charles Spaniel, and he is fifteen months old – and no, he’s not a wine-drinker! I gave him a tiny plastic wine bottle with food in it that I had saved especially to keep a dog like Franklyn occupied. On the left he is trying to break his way into the tub holding the tiny bits of food we were using!

He is given a short walk in the morning and another when they get home, but other interaction is mostly generated by Franklyn’s causing trouble! He flies all over them, he nicks things and he barks.

He is very reactive to any small sound he hears, but particularly wound up by the TV – rushing at it and barking constantly.  As the evening wears on he builds up a head of steam, digging into the sofa and getting more and more out of control – until, having lost all patience with him, they shut him away. His barking at TV is driving them particularly mad.

They have bought him lots of games and toys to play with, but doing things by himself isn’t what he needs. Franklyn needs human interaction. It is, after all, what he has been bred for.

The barking at the TV is getting worse as it will – he is getting so much practice. As they also watch TV in bed before going to sleep, the process continues even at bedtime as the little dog becomes more and more aroused. Consequently, while they are asleep he isn’t. He has some unwinding to do. In the morning all his chews and toys have ended up on their bed.

This little dog isn’t getting nearly enough healthy stimulation and one-to-one attention under the young couple’s own terms. They will now deal with the TV barking like the dog is fearful of what he sees – desensitising him, and so he doesn’t get too aroused they will regularly give him (and themselves) short breaks by popping him into the kitchen where he seems happy before bringing him out again and continuing the work. They have agreed not to watch TV in bed any more.

They will arrange for someone to pop in and give him some company in the middle of the day.

We have also drawn up a list of short activities with which they can punctuate Franklyn’s evenings.

The confrontational and controlling methods as used by a certain well know TV trainer are merely teaching Franklyn defiance and inciting aggression, so will be dropped.  These are methods that appeal to people when they feel they are losing control – but the results are short-lived and using force of any kind amounts to bullying. Totally unnecessary and counter-productive when, by understanding how to use positive methods you ultimately end up with a cooperative, happy and calmer dog.

As I write this just one day has passed and I have received this message: ‘It’s amazing how quickly he is responding now. My house feels calmer already’.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Franklyn, 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

Pug Barks at Everything

Stressed pug plays too roughly with puppy


Stanley is being taught to be rough and over-excited


 Lola barks at planes and birds and bees. She barks at the door bell, at animals on TV and at the young sons’ Nintendo game sounds. She barks at other dogs if she can’t get to them. She barks at everything.

Lola, left, is a two-year-old Pug and the new addition is Stanley, just nine weeks of age.

The new problem since a week ago when Stanley arrived is that the two dogs constantly chase and play rather roughly  – something Lola also does with other dogs given the chance.

A nine-week-old puppy needs a lot of rest. It is a period of learning – so the lessons need to be the right things. He needs to learn how to fit in with family life and to be gentle. He needs to learn impulse control.

Duration of playtime should be limited. Just as with children, too much pushing and shoving can ‘end in tears’. It would be different if they were both puppies of a similar age and size when they would be learning bite inhibition and give and take, and would both have matching stamina.

This scenario simply means the puppy is learning to become very excitable like Lola – and rough.

A while ago I went to a puppy that had started to show aggression to the family due to the relentless rough play with the older dog, so I am glad they have nipped this in the bud.

The more excitement and stress Lola is under generally, the more she barks! Telling a dog to ‘shut up’ when a dog is barking may temporarily quieten it (perhaps!) but does nothing to address the dog’s emotions which are causing it all.

A great deal of time and patience will be needed.

At a quiet time when the puppy is asleep and the young boys at school, the lady can sit in the garden with Lola and start teaching her to cope with all the sounds, birds, bees and so on. She will teach Lola to be quiet using food. As soon as she alerts and before she barks, the lady will ‘mark’ the quiet behaviour with a special sound and food.

When barking does break out, they won’t scold. They will deal with it in a similar way as they would if one of their little boys started to shout in panic – by helping her out – by showing her that alarm is not necessary because they are there to protect her, and by helping her learn self-control.

All the stressful things in Lola’s days stack up to make her so extremely reactive, so the calmer they can keep her in general the better. This is not easy with two young boys, visiting children – and puppy Stanley!

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lola, 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).

Lovely natured little Pug, but used to getting his own way.

Two-year-old Pug Bungle is just the kind of dog many of my clients with little dogs would like and don’t get – aused to getting his own way dog that loves being cuddled and touched. The perfect lap dog.

Getting his own way

From the start the young lady has taken him everywhere with her and he is confident and well-socialised, fine with both people and other dogs. Delightful.

But there is a downside. Bungle is used to getting his own way. He has always got just what he wants and this has led to the three problems I was called out for. Basically, if he barks or fusses, it always works.

No more sharing their bed

Most pressing is that they don’t get a good night’s sleep. Bungle has been accustomed to sharing the bed, but now that the young lady is in a relationship they don’t want Bungle moving about the bed during the night and burrowing.

They have tried putting his bed on the floor, but he will be whining and snuffling and padding about on the wood floor with his nails tap-tapping, agitating to get back up on the bed – hence the bootees!

They have tried leaving him in the kitchen, but this is next to the neighbours so when he has barked he has been invited back into the bed. No wonder he makes a fuss – getting his own way WORKS!

We have a plan which I’m sure will solve this – and a back-up plan if not.

Non-stop barking in the car

Pug Bungle wearing his booteesThe second problem is non-stop barking in the car. This could be due to anxiety as things whizz past or it could be because anticipation of what may happen at the end of the journey which can be very exciting to him. It could be a mix of both.

Bungle has been taught that barking brings results. It always does – eventually.

The third problem is that they can’t eat out in a pub garden without constant barking for their food.

At home they will give him something else to be doing while they eat (a specially prepared Kong). There will never be any of their food for him either during or after their meal, should solve this – though it could take a while. Used to getting his own way in the end, he is bound to try all he can before giving up.

Nothing works quickly because habits need to be broken and replaced with new habits. It is all dependant upon Bungle’s humans keeping their heads and not giving in to his demands whether it’s for play, for food or to get into their bed.

Pug Aggressive When Approached

Somebody said “The dog is your mirror. The behaviour you get is usually, in some way, a reflection of your own.” This was particularly apparent in the case I went to yesterday with fifteen-month old Pug, Parker.Pug Parker is protective of the lady He has stolen a slipper and is waiting for the chase

He has problems that only manifest themselves around his lady owner, not with the gentleman. For instance, when the man takes him out, he is unfazed when someone approaches them and is okay for them to lean over and touch him. The man is relaxed about it. When the lady takes him out, he becomes very anxious when a person approaches; the lady is anxious. Parker barks aggressively and if someone tries to touch him he may snap.

The biggest problem for the family is that Parker feels threatened when someone comes to the house (or feels the lady and young son might be threatened – not the man). He is becoming increasingly protective. He will bark quite aggressively at them. He gets very agitated if either the lady or the son leaves the room.

It seems Parker picks up on the man’s confidence and the lady’s anxiety. Because of how she treats him in general, he has the idea that he must protect her – almost as though she is a resource belonging to him.  It is one of the consequences of allowing a dog to call all the shots – in a way the son would never be allowed to.

Parker mostly gets attention under his own terms, and one of the best attention-getters is to steal a shoe! There is then a lot of chasing with three humans trying to corner him. A great game. See him on the right with a slipper? We ignored him so he lay down with it!

A dog full of his own importance may be more precious about his own personal space. A dog used to being in control may feel fear when forced into a position where he lacks control. The recent visit to the vet was a fiasco and in the end he had to be sedated in order for the vet to give him the kennel cough dose up his nose (when the gentleman alone has taken him to the vet he has been a lot calmer).

Parker is a teenager and like human teenagers he needs rules and boundaries presented to him in a kind and positive way. He needs to be rewarded for good behaviour and not reinforced with attention for bad behaviour. His people need to be consistent – to stick to their guns. In the past plump little Parker has been lavished with food, treats and even fed from their own plates. If we were showered with money, would we bother to work for it? It’s the same with attention. If attention is always freely on tap, why should the dog take notice when we need him to do something for us. By rationing attention somewhat, giving it more under our own terms, we become more valued and relevant.

Nearly three months have now gone by, and I have received this email: “Just thought I should give you an update on Parker! We have been working hard with him over the last few months & he is a changed little doggie. It was a real tester over Christmas with people coming & going & although he still barks at the doorbell on occasion, he settles down very quickly. When out for walks he now automaticaly sits when strangers or other dogs approach & we then give him a small treat after they have passed & we don’t ever have any pulling of the lead . He still begs for food (he’s a greedy pug) but realises he is wasting his time. Oh & he is in love with his stagbars”