Fights. Two Staffs, Young Male Fighting the Female

I go to few fights between a male and a female.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Minnie is now seven. Since they got her as a puppy she’s always been anxious, easily scared and a bit needy.

Staffie Tom then joined them. Another puppy. He is a year old and about twice her size now.

All started off very well. I suspect the two dogs have been allowed to play too roughly, particularly in Tom’s formative earlier months. He will have learnt bad habits. He’s not gentle with his mouth even with humans.

Then, five months ago and (seemingly) for no reason, there was a big fight. The lady was asking both dogs to sit for a treat as she often did. Tom suddenly went for Minnie. She retaliated. This resulted in the predictable screaming. The son in his late teens rushed in and separated them.

Then all was well until a couple of weeks ago when things have gone rapidly downhill.

Three fights in the last two weeks.

There have now been four serious fights with the young man having been bitten when separating the dogs. Two of the fights have been at the door when one dog was coming in from a walk. It’s Tom who goes for Minnie. She is a lot smaller than he is and last time he shook her like a rag doll.

The final fight, since when the dogs have been kept strictly apart, was just a few days ago.

When I arrived I had the lady bring Minnie in on lead first. If Tom is already in the room she, the timid one, wouldn’t want to enter. She sat the other end of the room and we talked until she relaxed.

Then the son brought Tom in, sitting by the door, the other end of the room – I was in the middle.

I watched.

Minnie was obviously extremely uneasy with lip-licking, fidgeting, staring away from Tom.

Tom himself wasn’t happy either. He was mostly angled away from Minnie and the lady. He panted. Then he looked at Minnie and for one moment their eyes met and I quickly and causally walked between them. It’s important to break any eyeballing.

Tom was then taken back out. They now have a series of gates and keep the dogs strictly apart. We swapped dogs a bit later.

It was hard to see just what was going, but one thing stood out, so that is the place we can start. It’s Minnie’s mental state.

A downward spiral.

Already a bit unstable, the more uneasy, anxious, aroused or scared she is, the more it seems to affect Tom. With each of the fights she gets even more nervous and defensive. She is now off her food. It’s a vicious circle because therefore Tom gets worse too. I’m pretty sure if she were chilled, Tom wouldn’t be going for her. When attacked, though, there is no backing down. She immediately fights back.

I am pretty sure that Minnie’s instability is largely genetic.That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot they can do to help her cope better and fill her life and brain with some stuff that helps her. Being cuddled, fed and walked isn’t enough for many dogs.

Helping Minnie will help Tom.

The other aspect to this is Tom’s own excitability and lack of self-control. The key word here is self control. Not being controlled by the son. He needs mental stimulation and something to work for.

While I was there the young man already started working Tom’s jumping up using clicker to show him the desired behaviour; cutting out scolding and commands. The boy was a natural and really got the hang of it and in no time Tom was calm and focussed.

The kind of walks Tom is given need to change. At the moment he pulls like mad which results in constant correction. How frustrating that must be. He will have more freedom on a loose leash so he can do his own thing. It’s no problem if he is ahead so long as he doesn’t pull. More relaxed walks should be a lot better for his state of mind also.

With both dogs in a more fulfilled state of mind, making progress with the fights is more likely. They should have better things to focus on. Why do dogs need enrichment?

While work is being done on these two aspects, the actual reintroducing the dogs together must be done very slowly and gradually. It’s really important they get no further opportunity for fights. Each time it makes the next fight more likely and worse in intensity. 

Frequent short sessions.

Keeping the dogs from seeing each other entirely could make any eventual reintroduction more tricky. I believe the way forward is frequent very short sessions where they are in the same room on leads but can’t actually get to each other. It should only be when everything is calm and carefully stage-managed.

These sessions will be carefully monitored and both dogs’ body language carefully watched while the humans work on being relaxed. They can use standing between the dogs or even a cushion to block view if there is any staring. They can call one of them to get attention away from the other, but no scolding.

Each session will be terminated at the first sign of any unease, before any growling or eyeballing if possible, with the dog nearest to the door being removed.

They will need to do the rigmarole of one dog upstairs and the other in sitting room and taking them outside separately for the foreseeable future. Tom will also be checked over by the vet – Minnie was recently when she was injured.

I will go again in two or three weeks and take a fresh look at things from what should then be a slightly different situation. Things may be a bit clearer. Hopefully Minnie will be a little more confident again. We can then see what to do next.

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 Tom and Minnie. Neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do much more harm than good. The case needs to be assessed correctly, particularly where any form of aggression 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 Help page).

Impulse Control Lacking, at Home and on Walks

Much of Blue’s early life was spent in a crate after he and his brother began to fight. He was rehomed. Next he was in another bad situation before being taken in by a rescue and fostered by someone with fifteen dogs.

Now introduced to a steady home life, it’s little wonder Blue is lacking impulse control. It must be a lot to get used to.

He is amazingly friendly and adaptable considering his life over the past three years.

I would sum Blue up as eager to please and biddable…

…and lacking in impulse control.

Lacking impulse controlThere is a good reason the photos are blurred! He was seldom still.

His new humans are incredibly tolerant, but when he becomes too much, Blue is put in the bathroom so they can have a break. He doesn’t make a fuss. He’s very accepting.

We had to put him away for a while because his jumping all over us meant he was such hard work that it was impossible to talk.

They want him to stop jumping all over friends and family who come to their house.

They are doing their best to ‘train’ him out of it, but commands may arouse him even more and also give him the attention he is craving. Also consistency is key – not sometimes with some people, but always with everyone – themselves included. It’s only fair for him to know what is expected of him.

Each time the dog did this to me I turned my head away and gently stood to tip him off. I then was nice to him when his feet were on the floor. He got the message. As he started to understand what was required of him, he began to show just a little impulse control.

They have now had Blue for four weeks and already he’s improved in some areas while maybe getting worse in others.

Blue is scared of the dark, particularly cars in the dark.

They can work on this fear in the safety of just outside their own front door, getting him used to being out at night time and the passing cars from a safe distance.

During the day he’s not too confident either. He will bark at other dogs when he’s on lead. This could well be made worse because when he barks, the lady holds him tightly on a chain lead, her own anxiety rippling down it.

Bit by bit they will help Blue to gain confidence and impulse control. Already he has been taught several cues. Now he needs to learn how to stop, listen and wait.

They will give him a good selection of things to work on and to wreck! Instead of chasing his tail, squirming noisily on his back on the floor, charging up the stairs, raiding surfaces, nibbling people and so on, they can give him alternatives to relieve his stress and frustrations.

A box of rubbish can give him something to attack!

Why throw the recycling rubbish away? Why not give it to the dog first! Milk or water bottles, toilet roll tubes and screwed up paper make a great free toy.

A marrow bone can give him something to literally get his teeth into and will calm him. He can hunt for his tea – see SprinklesTM. They will have tiny food rewards to hand to keep him motivated and to reinforce calm.

One of the first things I look at when a dog is so hyperactive is his diet. In this case the wonderful couple had beaten me to it – they have already put him on the best food they can find. His skin and coat have changed dramatically. When they first took him in four weeks ago his tummy was red and raw and his tail worn hairless. Now his coat is growing shiny and healthy.

Blue is at the start of a very good new life.

A message five weeks later from a couple who have worked very hard with their new dog – and this is just the beginning: He is getting so good he puts himself in the bathroom when the door knocks and on walks if we see or hear another dog he looks to me for a treat and calms down a lot quicker than at first.

Elderly Dog Can Unlearn Old Tricks

An elderly dog, he still has plenty of life in him

An elderly dog, twelve year old StaffI went to a delightful elderly Staffie yesterday, twelve-year-old Barney. I was told that his jumping up was a big problem, particularly for the little grandchildren, and that his pulling on lead was so bad he’d not been walked for nearly two years and that he had now started to destroy the house when they were out.

Prepared, I left my equipment bag in the hallway, safely away from being raided, just bringing with me my notes, treats, pen and mobile. I need not have worried.

Barney was in the living room, sitting at the man’s feet. He hadn’t heard me! So – obviously he’s a bit deaf.

When he did notice me he came over, very friendly, but no jumping up. The elderly dog was more interested in sniffing a day in the life of my own dogs on my clothes.

As so often happens, he had been particularly good in the days since they had booked their appointment. It’s like he knew! I believe that owners, perhaps subconsciously, examine their own behaviour a bit more carefully in preparation for a visit and without having received any advice, the behaviour work is already beginning to take effect!

 

Jumping up and scaring the grandchildren will be easily addressed.

The two little children and the elderly dog get on beautifully once he has calmed down.

There is a history of family members coming in and making a huge fuss of Barney. One young man particularly fires him up with fuss and play. To quote the lady, ‘Barney doesn’t know when to stop’.

Of course he doesn’t. If this were a child he would be in tears by now or else in hysterics or having a tantrum. It will probably take him hours to properly calm down. I know I am a spoilsport but this has to stop if they want to achieve their goals.

If Barney jumps up on adults, family and visitors, then he will jump around the little children too.

Telling him to get down and pushing him whilst at other times playing or fussing him when his feet are on them, teaches him exactly what they don’t want. He will now learning that that feet on the floor works best.

This is the first ‘old trick’ that elderly dog Barney can unlearn. He has, in effect, been taught to jump up.

 

He’s not been out beyond the small garden for eighteen months.

an elderly dog, 12 year old Staff

Camera shy

Everything became harder for Barney when their other elderly dog, another Staff, died a couple of years ago.

He used to get uncontrollably excited even when the drawer containing lead and harness was opened. By the time he was launching himself out of the front door he was so aroused that he was beside himself. His pulling was so severe that the lady said it simply hurt her and with his lunging at any dog he saw, walks became a nightmare. They gave up.

They had taught him the ‘old trick’ of getting excited when going to the drawer by letting him know that a walk would follow. He may even have believed that his manic behaviour was causing the walk. Now they will open and shut the drawer countless times until it’s no big deal. The same process will be used for lifting the lead and harness and then putting them on.

Having not been out on a walk for eighteen months they can have a fresh start.

Barney walked beautifully on a loose lead around the house with me and then with the lady. He needs the right equipment so that he has nothing to pull against and he needs encouragement and praise.

In the past pulling has still resulted in forward-progress, so this is another old trick that can be learnt even by an elderly dog.

When Barney does eventually get to go out, in his new state of mind he will be able to cope a lot better with the appearance of another dog. No longer will the man force him forward, holding him tight – maybe even picking him up. They will increase distance and start to get him feeling good about dogs so long as they are not too close for comfort. Each dog is an individual and Barney has his own things that will help with this which I shan’t share here.

With help he can ‘unlearn’ reactivity to other dogs also. Knowing that he’s not expected to make friends or get too close to them if he doesn’t want to even if they have to go another route, the elderly dog can relax and they can all start to enjoy walks together.

They will change his diet away from Bakers Complete – known to have an adverse effect on the behaviour of dogs.

At home they will train him to the whistle in order to compensate for his reduced hearing. Eventually the elderly dog may even be able to go off lead – or at least on a very long line – and enjoy some freedom to sniff, relax and do doggy things.

The lovely family’s elderly dog will have a new lease of life!

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 Barney. 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. 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)

 

 

Young Staffie’s Wild Behaviour

Eight month old StaffieThere is just something about a young Staffie! Butter may not melt at the moment but you can almost see him working out what mischief he can get up to next.

Bolt, well-named, is an eight month old bundle of energy who is fearless and ready for anything. (It’s a nice change just now for me to go to a really confident dog).

The couple have a great seven-year-old son who is really on board. He was very quick to pick up the idea of looking for Bolt doing good things and rewarding with Yes or click and food for the briefest of moments when the dog was either calm or not jumping at the table where we sat which he did relentlessly, using our chairs to get onto it if we stood up.

When excited, Bolt will chase the boy, grabbing his clothes and biting his feet. The child understands that for now it would be best if he didn’t run around the garden while Bolt is out there or on walks, where Bolt is at his worst. For now he should walk beside his mum and dad. It’s a shame and it’s hard because he is only seven after all, but more space in conjunction with fast movement brings out Bolt’s wild behaviour. It’s not forever. Bolt, being just a teenager, will grow up and meanwhile he should get no more opportunity to rehearse his boy-targeted wildness.

What a great kid! He will be a big part of Bolt’s training and he was taking written notes throughout in immaculate writing. He will do brain games with Bolt like hunting for things with Bolt and he has a good grasp of using clicker for marking good behaviour. Next time I shall teach him how to clicker train Bolt to do other things – very good exercise for the brain of an active dog who will then get attention for achieving success rather than causing trouble.

He has a lovely home but, unlike the child, has been given few rules and boundaries. They now have to leave him outside in the garden with the shelter of a kennel when they go out because he wrecks the kitchen and raids the table. His jumping up when they get in is relentless and it’s a big problem when they have friends to the house. There’s not one bit of malice in Bolt, but it’s like being hit by a whirlwind.

He’s another dog where the people unintentionally stir him up thinking enthusiastic welcomes are necessary. This of course makes the jumping up all the worse. To change this they have no choice but to ignore him when his feet are off the floor and make sure to reinforce with attention feet on the floor – but gently! Anything enthusiastic will start Bolt leaping about again as would commands like Sit just yet which is success for Bolt in terms of attention after all.

We know that diet can effect hyperactivity, and at present he’s fed raw which is excellent but it’s mixed with a certain well advertised brand of complete food, full of colourings, e-numbers and bulked out with unsuitable grains. This will be changed.

There are difficulties on walks and he chases their two cats, but this first visit is all about getting a calmer baseline to work from. It’s sometimes hard to know just where to start.

Some boundaries are being set such as a gate on the kitchen door. This will prevent Bolt from getting to the front door and mugging people coming in and from chasing the boy up the stairs in rough and playful excitement, grabbing him as he does so. The lady is expecting a baby in the spring and a Staffie flying all over people and sofas isn’t a good idea.

With the help of this very insightful child, I’m sure Bolt will gradually find that being well-mannered and calmer is a lot more rewarding than his current wild behaviour and the boy will have a great pal as he grows up.

Jumps Up, Bites, Barks and Digs

EBT Staff mix‘Jumps up, bites, barks and digs’ – this is how the lady described their 8-month-old English Bull Terrier/Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix in their first message to me.

If he doesn’t get the attention he wants he may either bark, or go on the rampage, tearing about from room to room and all over the forbidden furniture. If he is thwarted or disciplined, he may leap up and nip quite roughly in a way one could almost call biting.

His digging in the garden is driving them mad also.

It’s hard not to treat life with an adolescent dog such as Sam like some sort of battle. He is non-stop throwing things at them that they have to ‘stop’ him doing. Our own emotions get in the way as we become increasingly exasperated. We believe that we should be ‘disciplining and controlling’ the dog. This makes him defiant. Confrontational or dominant behaviour from the humans is a slippery slope that too often ends badly.

After about ten minutes of countering his jumping up until he had stopped (as with most dogs that jump up, if the usual pushing them and telling them to get down actually worked they wouldn’t be jumping up anymore), I tried to sit down, but he was on the go all the time and we couldn’t get on. I had a deer antler chew in my bag and gave it to him. He chewed frantically on this for the next two and a half hours with barely a break. EBT mix Chewing Stagbar

If any dog needs a way to unwind, it’s Sam.

I suspect that some of his highly strung nature is genetic, but they are unwittingly responding in such a way that makes him worse.

When he is quiet they are understandably so thankful that they leave him be, so he only gets attention when he is ‘naughty’ so the undesirable behaviour is constantly reinforced.

LIke most responsible dog owners, they feel they must ‘control’ him, but what Sam totally lacks is self control. In order to control him they have become angry. They do this not because they don’t love him – they do, but because they are at their wits’ end with his behaviour.

The first thing they need to do is to completely change things about so that they are watching out for Sam being good, not bad. When you look for good you find there is a lot more of it than you had realised! Each even short moment of calm or self-control should be rewarded – he can earn some of his daily food this way.

Not much can be done until he’s less hyper and frustrated, so he needs proper stimulation of a healthy kind. The days and evenings should be punctuated with the sort of activities that don’t hype him up or make him frustrated, like short sniff walks, hunting games, foraging for food, gentle training games, brief ball play or tuggy and so on. They should only be initiated when Sam is calm and quiet – never as a result of his demanding behaviours.

The gentleman walks him daily on a short lead – and this is ‘power walking’ to keep himself fit. When he comes home Sam is still in an aroused state, not as satisfied as a dog should be after a nice walk and still needing to unwind. On a couple of occasions during the walk he has suddenly leapt at the man and bitten him quite hard. A little clue that this kind of walk not being quite what Sam needs is that he is less keen on the outward journey and he only pulls on the way back home which is unusual.

For the walk to be beneficial to Sam, I suggest the man stops for several five-minute breaks when he can lengthen the lead so that Sam can sniff and do his own thing for a while.

It’s hard, but with some imagination they need to treat every thing Sam does ‘wrong’ as having in it the seed of an idea for something good.

For instance, if he jumps on the sofa (which is out of bounds), the man currently pushes him off and is cross, so there is a stand-off where Sam then may stand and bark at him or may even fly at him. Then it is battle stations. But this can be done differently. The man can stand up, go to Sam’s bed and call him off the sofa and to his own bed, and when he gets there ask him to lie down and reward him. He can them give him a bit of quality time teaching him to stay. When the man goes and sits down again Sam will undoubtedly go back and jump on the sofa again, so patience is needed. The third time Sam can be put in the kitchen for a few minutes – but with something to chew or do – it’s not punishment. It’s to allow him to calm down.

Another example of an unwanted behaviour having in it the seed of a better idea is the digging in the garden (no pun intended). They can get a child’s covered sandpit and bury toys in it. If he starts to dig the earth, they can direct him to the sandpit, perhaps burying something new in there for him to find. If he keeps going back and they repeatedly have to say ‘don’t dig there – dig here instead’, instead of getting cross they can either bring him in or have a tie-out cable to fix him to for a short while so he simply can’t do it.

Being positive doesn’t mean being permissive. Boundaries can be introduced and maintained kindly.

Based on how frantically he chewed that bone, Sam needs chewables at the ready for times when he’s particularly stressed – something for him to redirect all that boredom and frustration onto.

With imagination, patience and foresight, frantic sessions can mostly be preempted. Doors can be shut, routines can be changed, the dog can be given a rummage box full of rubbish to ‘attack’ and so on.

If everything is done calmly and kindly, if he is recognised and rewarded for all the good things he does, and if a sense of humour can be mustered, Sam will become a lot more cooperative.

It takes time, patience and imagination but the eventual rewards in terms of their relationship with their lovely dog will be immeasurable.

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 Sam. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good particularly in cases involving potential aggression. 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).

Moving In Together

StaffieSasha

Sasha

She has four children, he has two dogs and they are moving in together.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Suzie is on the left and Ben below  They are beautiful, friendly dogs but too excitable and not a little unruly!

Both dogs jump all over the sofas and all over people. Ben jumps up at the children and can knock the younger ones over.

The 3-year-old child has to be watched because she wants to hug the dogs and they don’t like it.

What worries their mother most is Suzie’s way of snatching food. She is rightly concerned that if a child is walking around with a biscuit for example, that it could unintentionally be bitten.

When I held a tiny treat in my fist, Suzie was absolutely frantic to get it.  It’s like she’s starving hungry. I have seldom seen anything quite like it.

Ben

I’m sure there is more to this although a vet has previously said she’s okay.

Although Suzie eats just the same amount as solid Buster, she is extremely thin. They have much more to pick up after her in the garden than from Ben, so food must be passing through her. She is given very little exercise so she shouldn’t really be so skinny. If a change in diet doesn’t work quickly, then another visit to the vet is called for.

Dog walks have become more and more infrequent for various reasons. These two dogs will be a lot more settled with regular exercise and healthy stimulation to compensate for the hours they spend alone during the day.

I showed the couple how to start a walk without the dog charging out of the door and pulling frantically down the passage. Suzie caught on really fast. This is not easy when a walk has become an exciting rarity. The couple will make themselves a do-able schedule of ‘little and often’ for the dogs involving walks and basic training.

The children also have their own things to learn. The youngest needs to be taught not to hug dogs. Safety first, a gate should be between kitchen and sitting room so that dogs and children can be separated either when any food is about or when an adult hasn’t their eye on them.

With work, I’m sure that these lovely dogs will then calm down and learn some self-control. It’s all up to their humans. It’s great that they love the children.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Sasha and Ben, 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 dog can do more harm than good, most particularly where children are involved also. 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).

I Walked in and a Fight Kicked Off!

Highly excitable Staffie Cooper is taking a break

Cooper

Staffie cross angel is easily aroused

Angel

I walked in – and immediately a fight kicked off.

The two dogs wore no collars and there was nothing to grab hold of. Their young lady owner relies on shouting at them to break them up – and that may work so long as she catches things soon enough. The fight kicked off off very quickly. They have had quite a few full-blown fights, causing injury to Cooper (left).

While she tackled Angel, I called Cooper into the kitchen. Fortunately, due to our stepping in before it went into the red zone and also due to my novelty value, he came with me. I threw a treat that I had in my pocket across the floor and quickly shut the door on him! WHEW.

Excitable dog

Young Cooper, a ten-month-old Staffie Cross, is highly excitable, which causes Staffie Angel, 8, to react and and go for him. He was persistently jumping up at me, and there is no other word for it, biting me. It was biting without aggression – more grabbing because he’d not been taught a more rewarding behaviour in a way that he understood. Because of the hot weather unfortunately I wasn’t wearing my usual thick sleeves!

Cooper’s manic behaviour stirs Angel up and she will then go for him. There are many potential kick-off points both at home and out on walks, all caused by over-arousal.

Their lovely young lady owner is quite an animated person and I showed her just how much more settled the dogs can become if we ourselves are calm, slow and quiet.

The first thing I did was to have her put on both dogs’ harnesses and leads. We needed something to get hold of to avoid commands and panic.

Positive reinforcement

For quite a while Cooper leapt all over us both. He eventually gave up with me because, simply, he got nothing out of it.

Soon the time came for me to show him how best to get my attention – by having his feet on the floor and his mouth shut. We got a handful of his dry food and began to feed him all the time he was restraining himself from leaping up at us, from nipping or grabbing.

Very soon he was lying peacefully either on the floor or beside the lady. When we got up and walked about this temporarily fired him up again, but he was learning quickly. He was becoming focused on being calm! It was wonderful.  As a consequence Angel also was happy and relaxed.

I have already received a message, ‘Thank you so much for today, I loved it’.

So did I.

Hand Shy. 8 Months Old and Left With the Vet to be Put to Sleep.

hand shy The young Staffie/Dogue de Bordeaux had been dropped off at the surgery anonymously with a story of his owners splitting up and no rescue centre willing to take him. Fortunately the veterinary nurse, a past client of mine, took him home with her. She found him a new home with friends.

Frankie is hand shy

His new family of three days, a lovely couple with their two daughters, have called him Frankie.

Frankie is in good shape physically but he is hand-shy. He has air-snapped at a couple of people who have put their hand out to him. This has been preceded by growling but because this was ignored the ‘go away’ warning was naturally stepped up a little. Then he was scolded. A mistake. Warnings shouldn’t be discouraged. We should listen to what the dog is saying and deal with the underlying reason – usually fear.

Frankie has quickly got used to his new family but he is becoming increasingly growly and fearful with other people who come to the house. He is much better out in the garden where possibly he feels more free – so long as he’s not approached with an outstretched hand.

Very wisely the new family have called for help early on, so hopefully we can nip in the bud behaviours including being hand shy which may have caused him to have been abandoned in the first place.

I myself demonstrated how to teach Frankie first of all to relax with me, and then to come to my hand instead of avoiding it; within a while he had changed from growling at me to happily touching my hand when I held it out in front of him and even above his head.

They will need to work on this with family members to start with. It needs to be taken slowly and gradually. He needs to associate people with nice stuff. He also seems to have some problems with being left alone and he pulls on lead. These things can be addressed with patience and understanding, two qualities his new family have.

Frankie is a clean slate at the moment and they are slowly getting to know him as he settles in and displays his real self.

Staffie Scared of Bangs

If Staffie Dudley were a human he would probably be on Valium! A person like Dudley would be on the go non-stop, nevDudley has to be held to keep him still for the photographer stop talking, chewing their nails, demanding attention all the time, unable to listen properly because so preoccupied, jumping into the air and screeching at sudden sounds and being inappropriately demonstrative to strangers! Dudley is extremely reactive to things. The only time he is still seems to be when he is chewing something – chewing releases pheromones that help to calm him; the things he chooses to chew aren’t always suitable and then getting them off him may be difficult. Dudley never stopped moving all the time I was there. He took a newspaper, a dish cloth, tried to stand up at the side, but his nose in a tea cup, bit my pad, jumped on people, jumped on the sofa – all things he knew he shouldn’t do and all things that usually would win him attention in the form of scolding.

He seems to be calmest of all when the young lady and her mother, who he has lived with since he was a year old, are out or at night when he’s asleep, which seems to indicate that humans cause the problem. During the day when he’s alone with just the mother he’s not too bad, but if she has friends around he goes manic which makes her stressed and anxious too. That will only add to the problem.

Dudley is very reactive to bangs, made far worse a while ago by a bird scarer and now he will frequently freeze on walks if he hears something. He refuses to go anywhere near the field where the bang had occurred.

Soon it will be November 5th and fireworks. He is terrifid and usually runs upstairs and hides in the bath. There are certain strategies here on the ‘Fireworks’ page. In Dudley’s case a DVD of bangs and noises could be very helpful. It could take weeks, starting off very soft and gradually increasing the volume, always ready immediately to take it back a notch if he gets worried. The behaviour of his humans during the firework sounds is key.

When people come to visit they can help him out. Nobody should excite him and if he’s given something special to engage his mouth on, like a bone or antler bar, it should help him keep himself calm. He really does his best. People sometimes think their dogs are naughty and see them in a whole new light when they understand why they are doing the chewing. The lady and her mother need to keep him as calm as possible, and this means they themselves need to be calm around him. His fears of walks need to be dealt with very slowly. Walking him happily out of the door would be a start, and they can build on that in tiny increments.

Dudley is three years old, a young dog. He is gentle and loving and has great potential. He is much loved and I know they will put in the work necessary to give him a calmer, quality life, not frantically stressing when people come or terrified of sounds out on walks and enabling him to relax. Helping him out with special things to chew at stressful times will help, and rewarding good calm behaviour with attention.

Three days later:Amazing response already. Much calmer. Not taking things nearly so much.”. Twelve days later: “I feel that our own behaviour has had a positive impact on Dudley, the way we deal with things now.  Dudley is responding really well to us being calmer”.

Boisterous Younger Staffie is Too Much for Older Dog

a gentle somewhat nervous dog

Stonker

Stonker on the left is a seven year old Staffie. Up until a couple of years ago before coming to his new home he was used as a stud dog. Bella, now six months, joined them as a puppy. Since then poor Stonker’s life has not been plagued by her.

He is a very gentle and somewhat nervous dog. He doesn’t like lots of people, noise or commotion. He can get very anxious and was panting for a lot of the time I was there.

Bella hasn’t a care in the world. She is a typical rather pushy pup. In the house she will not leave poor Stonker alone, jumping on him and trying to play fight. He is severely stressed with this, so he goes and hides. Much of the time now he’s in hiding.

Lying down at last

Bella

When I arrived Bella was flying all over the place and trying to jump all over me. It was impossible to stop her and I don’t believe in any shouting or pointless ignored commands, so I put a light lead on her collar. It is surprising how some dogs calm down immediately even if the lead isn’t being held. Bella stopped jumping about, she left Stonker alone and very soon she gave a long sigh and lay down – as you see in the picture – something that never happens when they have visitors.  I’m sure she was relieved to know where the boundaries lay.

Consequently Stonker joined us. His panting stopped and he relaxed – that is until the gentleman walked out of the room when he started panting and looking distressed again. You can see anxiety in those eyes. By their own actions and behaviour towards Stonker, his humans can help him.

Staffies have a reputation that in my mind is completely undeserved. I have been to thousands of dogs. In spite of being nervous, shy or scared, few have been aggressive – probably fewer than dogs of many other breeds. Because they are stocky, biddable and strong, and resembling fighting dogs to look at, they have been abused by idiots.

About a month later: Stonker is slowly becoming a new dog he is spending more time on the sofa and out the crate when we home bit by bit now and if he does go to hide he doesn’t stay in it like he normally would he will come in and out of it and he is panting less now. They are slowly starting to interact more the other night I was outside with them and Bella had the ball in her mouth…he got hold of the other end of the ball and they played tug of war with it both tail wagging and then after they had a little game of chase where they just ran round the garden both looked very happy. There was one night when Stonker was on the sofa Bella came up and Stonker did not run away and they both settled next to each other for about 10 mins before Bella went to pester…I see the progress they have both made. We are relaxing more ourselves now and coming home from work is more pleasurable as it not as hectic as it used to be.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.