Never Goes Out Beyond the Garden

Benji is just seven months old and never goes out beyond their garden.

The dog never goes out beyond the gardenThe German Shepherd, Standard Poodle mix lived in a barn on the farm where he was born until he was four months old when he went to the young couple.

He had never encountered the real world of cars, noises, lots of people or other dogs beside the farm dogs and so on. He’d not been walked on lead.

As might be expected from a pup that had not being in a house until four months of age, he still has toilet accidents indoors.

He is scolded for this. They have a cat which he may want to chase but generally he is good with, and again he is scolded for going near it. He may steal socks or other clothes and chew them, which makes the young man angry with him.

A lot is expected of him.

His lifestyle isn’t ideal for a large, clever and active young dog but he is surprisingly good-natured. He greeted me with friendly interest.

At seven months he should be seeing sights and sounds outside and, most of all, he needs the exercise. He would love to play with another dog I am sure.

I suggested to the young man that Benji was probably going out of his mind with boredom and it’s surprising that the worst he does is to occasionally chew up clothes. Can he imagine being shut in all day with no TV or mobile phone and with nobody to talk to who understands him?

Even while Benji never goes out they can do a bit more about fulfilling his needs with appropriate activities and things to chew and do. The house is small and the garden isn’t big either, but they can feed him in a treat ball and sprinkle it all over the grass so that even meals can be used to give him some release.

It’s probably the lack of stimulation for Benji and the resulting stress that leads to some slightly worrying behaviours.

Besides drinking a lot he gets very excited around his water bowl, which is odd. If after a couple of weeks when his general stress levels should be lower this doesn’t change, then they will need to somehow get him to the vet. This is hard while he never goes out.

He pants, he scratches and nibbles himself and he sometimes chases his tail. He has some Punter3patches of skin showing.

The only way the man has managed to get him out at all has been to drag him by collar and lead, but he doesn’t want to do that again. He did once take him out with no lead at all – very risky.

Like all people who call me, they do it for love of their dog and wanting to do their best, and it’s a question of pointing them in the right direction.

.

Benji simply refuses to go outside the front door or garden gate.

They will now use comfortable equipment – a harness and a longer lead. The first step is to acclimatise him to the equipment around the house, associating with good things and food.

We have a plan of tiny increments involving, over the days and maybe weeks, holding the lead inside the door and then dropping it, touching the door handle, opening the door and standing in the doorway, letting him listen and look – and eat. Then stepping out. Then at the garden gate and so on – always leaving the front door open so he can bolt back if necessary.

From now onwards he must be allowed to make his own choice about going out – no more force. This is the only way to change a dog who never goes out into a dog who loves his walks.

When he’s no longer a pup that never goes out but a dog that can happily walk down the road and run around the fields, his life and general health should be transformed, but it could well take time. How will he be with other dogs after all this time? How will he be with traffic?

Most importantly, they can now see the benefits of reinforcing Benji with food for doing what they want instead of scolding The young man saw for himself how he himself can cause the dog’s behaviour. He stared at Benji in a ‘warning’ sort of way and the dog immediately ran to find the cat!

I could sum it up my advice in a few words: kindness works best.

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 Benji and I’ve not gone into exact 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. 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)

Continual Barking

Daschund that barks a lotIt was quite hard to take a photo of six-year-old Daschund Chippy due to his continual barking. He was seldom still enough!

This little dog is on high alert all the time and extremely vocal.

He barks at every sound he hears and at anything passing the window. One of their other two dogs, both Labradors, may give one woof and this results in another long barking session from Chippy.

He barks for attention too – just stands looking at someone and barks until they react.

When he anticipates anything is about to happen, he will bark with excitement.

When visitors come to the house, move about or get up to go, it will be continual barking. There is nothing aggressive about it nor does he seem fearful – just excited. When he calms down sufficiently he enjoys a little bit of fuss.

General stress levels of all three dogs needs reducing by any means possible. The whole atmosphere is so highly charged that Chippy in particular is like a little volcano permanently on the point of erupting.

He needs more in the way of healthy stimulation which is hard because he is already permanently over-stimulated and the smallest thing sets him off. One thing that could do him good would be more walks, but he seems reluctant to leave the house. Once he is out of the vicinity of his home territory, however, he quietens down and relaxes, enjoying a wander and a sniff – perfect for him.

We need to deal with each thing separately – dealing with the reason for the barking rather than the noise itself. Shouting certainly never works in the long term.

Territorial or alarm barking needs to be dealt with by removing as much opportunity as possible, blocking the dogs’ view out of the window for example. Then he needs helping out. Whose responsibility is it to protect the house?

The dogs can learn that they don’t get any of the things they want while they are barking, whether it’s their food, being let out of the crate, attention, going out for their walk and so on. His family can practise the art of ‘patiently waiting’ body language so the dogs can work out for themselves what works!

Routine is a good thing in many ways, but it can end with ‘the tail wagging the dog’. The dog ‘knows what comes next’ and gets excited and starts to bark – no doubt then believing that his barking has caused what he wants to happen. Some things may need to be done in a different order and at different times.

Most important however is to focus on increasing quiet rather than decreasing barking. What they DO want rather than want they DON’T want. This is hard. Quiet needs to be rewarding.

Almost as soon as I arrived I was clicking and dropping food for Chippy as soon as the barking paused. Soon he had learnt that if he barked and then stopped he got food. Clever little dog! He was so focused that at least now he was ignoring people walking past the window. I gradually waited for longer until we had quiet for a minute.

Each day they will have fifty bits of his kibble in a cup on the table. He can earn them for being quiet or settling down.

His family must also make sure he gets plenty of good attention with various calming activities, initiated by themselves, when he’s quiet. It’s too easy to let quiet sleeping dogs lie in thankfulness when they are not being demanding.

Things are sure to get worse before they get better. Up until now barking has always worked. It has got Chippy out of the crate, it’s got him his food, it’s got him attention. It has driven away people walking past his house. What happens when it no longer works? Will he just stop and give up without a fight? I think not! In frustration he will doubtless redouble his efforts for a while.

They need to hold their heads. If one person gives in it will tell Chippy that, if he tries hard enough, his barking still works.

 

Dog grabbed a child by the arm

Rescue Cane Corso cross pup has grabbed a child by the arm

Dexter

The young Mastiff’s Future is In Their Hands

Six month old Mastiff/Cane Corso mix has grabbed a child by the arm, and now he’s in trouble. The police have called.

Dexter is enormous already. It’s possible that if he were a spaniel there would have been little fuss.

He has lived with the young couple and their Mastiff Labrador mix Marnie for a few weeks now, having had a very dubious start in life.  Apart from a lot of mouthing, all went well for a while.

Then they had a young lady visitor to the house. She was scared just at the sight of Dexter. She sat on the sofa and Dexter jumped up onto it as he usually does. The lady threw her arms about and Dexter, puppy that he is, grabbed her arm.

The reaction was panic and anger towards Dexter. The guest left.

The child episode happened a couple of weeks later in the vet waiting room. She walked too close. If a child is taken to the vet, surely it’s common sense to keep it away from dogs that may well be stressed and scared, so some of the blame is with the mother. Poor Dexter had patiently endured being pulled about and the removal of stitches and they were simply standing at the desk waiting to pay.

The man dragged the dog away and in doing so the his tooth caught on the child’s jumper leaving also a small mark on her arm. Again there will have been noise and panic.

Things are now stacking up against Dexter and he is on the route to actually biting someone. By now he will be thinking that people are not good to be around and they cause his own humans to be unpredictable.

When I arrived I had been primed and played very safe, and Dexter was brought in on lead. I sat alone on a chair to avoid being jumped over. I had to work hard to get the man to stop being on Dexter’s case and to relax. I explained that he would only be picking up on the man’s anxiety which could make me less safe.

The dog turned out to be the most mellow and friendly dog imaginable. See my picture of him watching me intently as I spoke gently to him. I later tried some Ttouch massage. He rested beside me, totally relaxed. I loved him.

Because he’s so big it is easy to forget Dexter’s only a puppy and bound to chew things. Both dogs need to be taken out for daily walks and Dexter given more healthy stimulation – plenty of chew toys and constructive interaction with his humans.

There must be no rough play as this only encourages arm grabbing and lack of self-control.

If they want people to come to their house, they will need to start teaching both big dogs not to jump all over the sofas – unless perhaps upon invitation and then only when they are calm.

The couple must now go out of their way to associate all the people Dexter encounters with nice stuff – food, fun and happiness. No more panic and anxiety; no more scolding. They will teach him to give them his full attention when asked.  It’s a measure of how much they care for their dog that they are investing time and money to give their dog the life he deserves.

This can be nipped in the bud, but only with a different approach.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Dexter, 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 any form of aggression is concerned. 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).

 

 

Opening Window, Panic Attack

Border Collie Jasper panics and obsesses over windows opening, flies and shadows

Jasper

Suddenly a large fly was buzzing around the room and Jasper lost it! He barked, flew all over the place and jumped at us all.

When the lady goes to open the window to let a fly out he has a panic attack – after barking and leaping about, he jumps up onto the sofa, eyes darting, drooling.

It is the opening of windows that seems to be causing Jasper’s distress. It may be the noise, it may be reflections – perhaps both.

He is somewhat obsessive with shadows and flies, but knowing that a buzzing fly is usually followed by the window being opened to let it out is what really sets him off.

I demonstrated how to begin to desensitise him to the window opening, expecting it to be a slow and gradual process. However, this evening, a few hours later and to my great surprise, I received this: ‘We have already been able to open and close the windows in the living room and kitchen without a peep from Jasper!’

Border Collie Jasper is 18-months old and lives with a young lady and her mother. The young girl has worked really hard and done a wonderful job with him. He was well socialised right from the start and she has spent time, love and effort training him.

Jasper and Pixie

Recently they got 8-month-old Pixie, the most tiny Chihuahua Yorkie cross you have ever seen and who is quite a barker. This will be influencing Jasper. The two are kept apart much of the time for fear of the little one getting hurt, but for the few minutes I saw them together Jasper was wonderful. He lay down so Pixie could get to him – it’s Pixie who is the rough one!

Jasper just needs a bit more mental stimulation and a bit less stressful stimulation – it is a fine line. Too much ball throwing on walks is seldom a good thing – he needs to sniff, wander and explore.

I demonstrated how relaxed and settled he became after about fifteen minutes of using his wonderful brain and clicker. We worked on a strategy to divert him from obsessing on shadows.

Where Jasper is fine with other dogs when he is off lead, he’s not so good on lead – and he is a big puller.

The young lady will now be using wholly positive techniques to get her lovely dog to walk near her because he wants to and not because he has to. She also now knows how to work on his fears when, trapped on lead, he sees another dog.

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