Chihuahua Bit Man on the Mouth

Chihuahua Ant on the left is quite a confident little dog while Dec is restless, on constant alert

Ant and Dec

Here we have Ant and Dec – adorable eighteen-month-old Chihuahua brothers. They have had exactly the same upbringing but their personalities are very different. Ant on the left is quite a confident little dog while Dec is restless, on constant alert, wary of being approached, barks at people he doesn’t know well or dislikes – and has snapped and bitten.

Both little dogs are overweight despite the couple who own them sticking rigidly to the diet regime. This is because they need the help of another couple to look after them so they are not left alone too long, and unfortunately these people, who absolutely adore the dogs, can’t be persuaded not to over-indulge them. The alternative would be leaving the dogs all alone for hours.

Little Dec may bite if removed by the gentleman owner from his lap when asleep and he has bitten a child. He is actually fairly tolerant of them, but when he’s had enough his signals simply are ignored. We need to be looking out for ‘look-aways’, lip-licking and yawning which all show the dog is becoming increasingly uneasy.  Growling will follow. He may then be scolded for giving what is really quite a reasonable warning. By now he is between a rock and a hard place; he has no options left – he snaps.

The poor dog can’t talk ‘human’ and the humans aren’t understanding ‘dog’.

Dec is scared of vehicals and bicycles; air-brakes send his tail between his legs and he would run if he could. He hates the vacuum and the strimmer – and fireworks. Visitors may pick them up which makes Ant pee.

He bit a man on the mouth

The final straw came the other day when the friend bent over Dec as he slept on the sofa (in order to kiss him I believe), and he bit the man’s lip badly.

These little dogs are carried about too much (as chihuahuas often are); they are subjected to big hands reaching out on top of them to touch them and large human faces getting uncomfortably close. They are also allowed to dictate when they get attention and when they are played with. Food for rewards has little value.

Over-feeding, pandering to fussy eating, giving too many un-earned treats and sharing one’s own food, carrying little dogs about, forcing kisses on them and getting them too excited when greeting to the extent that a dog pees may be done in the name of love, but isn’t kind really. The owners themselves are more restrained whilst having some tightening up to do, but they need to be much firmer with the other people who share the care of their dogs.

It is always best if I can have my first meeting with everyone willing to be involved in changing their own behaviour in order to change the dogs’ behaviour. The couple are very keen to understand Ant and Dec’s needs, but fear the other people may be unwilling to listen to my advice or change their over-indulgent ways. Consistency from everyone is so important.

Just see in the photo how eager and attentive they can be if motivated!

It is just after Christmas and I received this email: Hope you had a good Christmas! Just wanted to let you know of some fantastic success we have had with Dec. It’s funny that we only saw small changes until we visited Craig’s parents over the last couple of days…
Normally Dec has been petrified of Craig’s brother…..When we visited we had been using the pen lots when things got too busy and hectic to keep them calm and calmly brought Pluto into the room Craig’s brother was in- seriously was like a miracle moment- no barking, no signs of him being anxious he even went onto his lap and let him stroke him!!!! I think knowing the signs of when they are anxious has really helped us to keep him calm- we can’t always remove him from a situation but just knowing what to look out for really helps!
Normally visiting Craig’s family with the dogs is something I find really stressful but they have been 100% better behaved which just makes everything so much more enjoyable!

Blue Merle Sheltie Only Feels Safe Indoors

Blue Merle Sheltie is a gentle but easily scared dogEight-year-old Robbie spent the first seven and a half years of his life never outside a utility room and garden, with virtually no human company. Six months ago his previous owner went into a home and Robbie then came to his new owners.

Just imagine how scared he must have been encountering everyday things, people and other dogs. They have come a very long way with him in six months, but have met a plateau, hence my visit.

Since all his life after leaving his litter Robbie has been within the same four walls, just with open door to a garden, it’s not surprising that the only place he is really comfortable is indoors, in the house. He is just OK in the garden if the door is open and he can beat a retreat if something scares him – like next door’s dog barking. He would prefer to be alone indoors than out in the garden with his owners. Out on walks, if panicked, it’s like he doesn’t even know them any more. He just wants to get home.

They have work to do – because he needs to look to them for protection and guidance. They need to win his trust. At present all he really trusts is the safe environment of home.

He really is the most gorgeous, gentle little dog. Sadly, he is very arthritic at a relatively young age and is on a mixture of medication so he has discomfort to contend with also.

Out on walks Robbie is permanently uneasy and looking about and behind. As they approach the main road he is near panic, but like many people they have believed that it is necessary to keep going. If he sees another dog or a vehicle spooks him, he is twisting around on his lead and wanting to bolt. Naturally, the lead will be causing pain to his neck and this negative association with other dogs can’t be good.

I believe it’s now a case of backing off and starting again. First and foremost, he needs to be able to walk around near the house with no traffic or dogs or people in a calm and happy way, sniffing and exploring doggy fashion, before they can go any further. This could take a while. Then things need to be introduced very slowly indeed, all the while not stepping over his threshold of tolerance. How the owners behave is key. Robbie’s instinct is to bolt, and failing that, to freeze. Would a wise parent force his family into trouble if it could be avoided? No! They need to earn Robbie’s trust before they will make any real progress.

They will get there, I’m sure, but it will take time. Although they have already come a long way, you can’t undo eight years in a few weeks.

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