They leave her alone. She howls, paces, scratches the door.

Context is everything.

Beagle mix Maggie howls, paces and scratches the door when they leave her alone.  They had been advised that Maggie was probably bored.

howls when they leave herExperience really does count in something like this. We need to ask the right questions and do detective work.

Research is really only possible in the person’s home where you can see the layout, the interactions between people and dog and so on.

Five-year-old Maggie was okay initially when they first adopted her eight months ago. The separation problems developed until they could no longer leave her without coming home to a wrecked carpet and damaged door. Continue reading…

Wound Up English Bull Terrier

Reggie2Reggie is seven months old, but to look at him you would never think he was little more than a puppy.

He has been hard work from when he arrived at eight weeks old. He is one of the most frantically hyped-up and restless dogs I have seen for a while.

Adolescent Reggie is on the go non-stop. Jumping up, roughly grabbing clothes and barking, digging the carpet, panting, drinking excessively, barking in their faces and constantly looking for mischief. His gentleman owner has some control because he is confident and gets angry, but the lady who is less assertive is being bullied by him. They have a little girl who needs protecting from the charging about and leaping all over people and furniture, so he is in his crate a lot of the time, because there simply is nothing else they feel they can do with him.

Reggie’s personality and genetics must be contributing to this, because the family have neither overly indulged him nor over-disciplined him. He has been carefully checked over by the vet. They have done everything they can. They have read books and taken him to classes, but as he gets older he gets worse.

Having someone with experience to actually come and see what is happening and to offer solutions geared specifically to their dog in his own environment is sometimes the only way. It is often impossible to apply what your read – and besides no two sources say the same thing.

We spent the evening working on his behaviour whilst looking into ways of calming him down in general. Training classes failed big time because he was so hyped up that he spent the time barking, jumping up and grabbing the lady – he even bit her leg, grabbing the lead, and chasing and nipping other dogs.  He is already a very strong and large dog for the breed.

Using a psychological behavioural approach throughout the evening I showed him that jumping and grabbing me was not rewarding in any way. Bit by bit you could see him actually choosing the desired behaviour for himself. At the end of a tiring evening, instead of being shut away in his crate to bark and cry as usual, or jumping at me whenever I moved, he was lying spark out in the middle of the floor – even ignoring us walking around him – see the picture. .

It’s like he was completely exhausted and finally relaxed because patiently and kindly we had been giving him boundaries in a way that he understood and he actually wanted to please.

A big burden had been lifted from him yesterday evening. Bit by bit over the next few weeks he should become a different dog if they are consistent and patient.

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

Agitated Akita

The Akita is a restless dogKyra is a two year old Akita who a year ago was picked up as a very skinny stray.

Her conscientious owners started with a problem not created by themselves, and Kyra has come a long way. She is extremely restless and in all the time I was there she only lay down and relaxed properly for a couple of minutes . Because of her behaviour on lead and with other dogs, Kyra is now seldom walked. Because she chews her bed and wrecks her toys, she has no bed and little to occupy herself. She lives with a caring young couple and their three beautiful very small children that are a testament to their parenting skills.

Although she pulls badly on lead and is unpredicatable with other dogs, Kyra is very good with people, if over-excited and jumping up. She is fine with the children too. She seems most excited around the male owner and also a little scared of him. She goads him until he gets cross; she is obedient for him if he is sufficiently forceful. He indulges in hands on, exciting play believing that this is the kind of stimulation she needs to compensate for lack of walks, but to a dog like Kyra I liken this sort of thing to going on the Big Dipper – exciting and terrifying at the same time. When he walks towards her, if he gives her eye contact her she may wee.  If she wees she may be scolded. The lady is less forceful and so Kyra takes less notice of what she asks her to do. Kyra is very confused – and so are they, because they have been doing their very best as they see it.

Their ‘dog parenting’ would work a lot better if they used the same sort of approach as they do with their children! This is a good example of humans giving what they believe to be leadership and it being lost on the confused dog.

They need to do everything they possibly can to reduce Kyra’s stress levels, and in order for this to happen she needs to have more happening in her life. She certainly does need stimulation, but not the kind that gets her hyped up. She needs short controlled sessions of things that encourage her to use her brain and only when she is calm. Because she is no longer walked at all, this actually will help my plan, because I want them to take it back to basics and start again, just as they would a puppy. Where someone who walks their dog for two hours a day might be horrified if I suggesed a few days of just several five-minute jaunts and no ‘proper walk’, to Kyra even one five minute session would be a bonus.

The bottom line here is that the methods they are using to give Kyra leadership so she can relax, respect and trust them, to get her to walk nicely and to calm down in general, are not working – so we need to do something completely different!

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