Hormones? Two Entire Females That Fight

Are hormones to blame?

fighting females and hormones

Dylis

For nearly a year the two dogs had been the best of friends. They had their first spat around the first time when both had come into season but everything settled down again.

The family adopted Tibetan Terrier Dylis about a year ago to join Sybil, a Goldendoodle, age 4. Over the past six weeks the two dogs have become increasingly aggressive towards one another with the younger Dylis the instigator. Around the same time Sybil had another season but it’s unclear whether Dylis did also. Very possibly her hormones are troubling her. Continue reading…

Poo Indoors. Emotions-Bowels Connection?

To poo indoors once seemed the natural thing for the twelve-year-old Tibetan Terrier.

Tipsy was a breeding bitch who had lived in kennels for the first five years of her life. It took them a year to house-train her, but that was now six years ago. 

Why poo indoors now?

Over the past four months things have taken a downward turn with Tipsy defecating indoors regularly.  Possibly a couple of times a week.

There are questions to be asked. What was it about four months ago that could have triggered this? They have had her thoroughly checked by the vet and it doesn’t seem to be a health issue.she has begun to poo indoors

Around four months ago the gentleman had a fall. This would have been very alarming to Tipsy. In August they had a scary car journey in a storm with high winds and when they arrived in the house, Tipsy emptied her bowels everywhere. In November, the first November in their new house, Tipsy was so terrified by fireworks that she messed all over the floor.

There may well have been other things over the past three or four months that have also unsettled the now more highly-sensitised dog.

Other questions include where does she usually do it, and when does she usually do it?

Apart from those couple of occasions when she has panicked and she had no control at all, it’s alone and out of sight, usually in one of the bedrooms.

They believe it happens during the evening.

The lady has scolded her. Scolding is such a natural thing for a person to do – how is the dog to know she shouldn’t toilet in the house after all? However, scolding is likely to make the dog even more anxious. It may even make her furtive and go somewhere she may not be discovered.

The poo itself isn’t really the problem.

It probably seems like the problem to them, of course! It will be a symptom.

We need to determine the underlying cause and deal with that instead. Tipsy is feeling unsettled and unsafe, in my opinion. So – we need to work on her confidence.

Because both her humans have mobility problems, Tipsy is seldom taken out or walked now. She lives in the ‘bubble’ of her own house and garden, a very sheltered life, largely isolated from the outside world.

She is never left alone and she gets agitated when they aren’t both together with her.

I suggest they enrich her life a bit by exposing her to more of the outside world in a gradual fashion. Taken slowly it should acclimatise her a bit. The lady can sit on a chair by her garden gate with Tipsy on a longish lead and let her take in the sights and sounds – and sniff. Fortunately she just loves other dogs and would greet passing dogs with polite enthusiasm.

They themselves suggested a dog walker a couple of times a week. If she can handle being taken away, it could be a great idea.

What goes in comes out.

They also need to work on the toileting itself. The impact of what she eats is very important. What goes in – comes out! What she actually eats can affect her mood.

Not only is this relevant to her pooing, but so is the time of day that she eats. Currently Tipsy has one big meal early evening. She tends to poo indoors late evening. This routine should change if some of the digestion is going on a lot earlier.

When and what she eats is unlikely to cure the problem alone, but, together with dealing with Tipsy’s emotions,  it could be part of the solution.

Is it she now for some reason is more reluctant to go out when it’s dark? Maybe she needs to be accompanied. We are covering all angles I can think of.

Finally – management of the environment – the easy bit!

The couple sit in the living room all evening, so why not keep the door to the rest of the house closed, shutting off the area where she might poo indoors? If there is an element of habit to it, that should break it.

Nick Coffer who hosts the 3 Counties Radio phone-in programme I do monthly would smile. He says the topics always get around to either poo or humping!

 

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 Tipsy and because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same.  Listening to ‘other people’, 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, particularly where fear is concerned. 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)

Separation Anxiety – or is it?

I was welcomed by two beautiful, friendly dogs, Border Collie Jack who is seven years old and Izzy, an eight-month-old Tibetan Terrier.Without Izzy, Jack has separation anxiety

Jack has become increasingly anxious since last March when the lady’s other Border Collie, Charlie died. She is worried about his separation anxiety. He cries and leaves a puddle of drool by the door when she goes out and leaves him. Because losing his companion was a major change in his life everyone has understandably assumed this to be the reason for his subsequent separation anxiety.

But is it?

Are we jumping to conclusions?

At around the time when the old dog died Jack had a frightening encounter with a Rottweiler a few houses down. There are, in all, eight dogs in this property that bark ferociously and jump at the gate whenever anyone passes their house. Sometimes the gate isn’t properly shut as was the case when the Rottweiler got out.

Where he used to be okay, Jack is now constantly intimidated by these dogs. He is walked past them nearly every morning. He is constantly reminded of them, hearing them from his garden and even from inside his house. I watched his reaction each time we heard barking.

How will this be for him when he’s all alone? I strongly suspect that Jack feels constantly a little unsafe and possibly it’s worse for him now without the backup of the older dog, Charlie. This anxiety isn’t simply separation anxiety. It’s as though these neighbouring dogs are increasingly ‘contaminating’ his area and to a certain extent the rest of Jack’s life as well. Every walker wanting to go on the nice walk has to run the gauntlet of these dogs and this is affecting other dogs as well.

Jack

Jack

I have found a similar thing here at home. There are a couple of Boxers lunging at a gate an then fighting one another that walkers have to pass. My own dog Pip ignored them the first few times and gradually became more reactive while I had to work harder, until he was anticipating them well before reaching the gate, whether they were out or not. Many passing dogs, having become aroused or scared by them, are already more aroused and reactive when it comes to meeting other dogs on walks which is spoiling things for a lot of people. (Before this could spill over into his attitude to other dogs he might meet I have stopped taking Pip that way altogether).

There were no problems when Charlie was alive and with questioning, it seems it may actually be Izzy he misses and not the lady – but why, we can’t say.

When the lady goes out alone leaving Izzy behind, Jack seems to have been fine. She shows Izzy and goes to classes with her so has to leave Jack behind. Whether or not it’s Izzy in particular she misses or just the company of another dog in general can only be guessed at, but when the lady goes out and leaves her at home with Jack, he has no separation anxiety. When she takes Izzy with her he stresses.

It’s therefore safe to assume there is a connection with Jack’s separation anxiety, being without Izzy and his feeling unsafe.

I am certain having watched Jack in the house that the separation anxiety, which he’d never previously, could well be influenced by the frequent sound of those dogs barking and his not feeling safe when alone – and Izzy’s company seems to to help him.

I am hoping the lady will be able to video him when she is out, both with Izzy and without her, just to make sure. 

So if separation anxiety isn’t the real problem, what is?

Maybe it’s those dogs down the road that are the real problem.

Izzy

Izzy

As it’s not missing the lady alone that makes Jack drool and cry when left alone but when she removes Izzy, it makes working on the problem a lot easier because we can be more specific.

We will work directly on desensitising and counter-conditioning him to those other dogs. We start by getting him to associate the sound of their barking from the house and garden with food that is so nice that he evntually gets to look for the food when he hears them instead of being scared.

Slowly slowly the lady will work outside her house, always keeping at a distance from those dogs where Jack feels safe, slowly slowly getting him to relax when he hears the dogs. Inch by inch getting nearer over a period of weeks or maybe months. This involves a loose lead, reading his body language and allowing him full choice as to whether he carries on or not. Each afternoon the lady always pops both dogs in the car and takes them for a run somewhere nice, so missing exercise won’t be a problem.

As she walks the dogs separately each morning, he is parted from Izzy daily for about fifteen minutes and will get plenty of practice. We will work on getting him to actually enjoy Izzy’s short departures whilst also working on his not feeling intimidate by those other dogs. Even if my theory happens to be wrong, our plan of action should transform Jack’s life anyway.

The lady really ‘got it’ and could see how the methods of desensitising and counter-conditioning can be transferred to other things that Jack is uneasy about. The principal is well explained in this video.

Izzy, fortunately, is incredibly laid back and just takes life as it comes.

 

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 Jack and I’ve not gone into exact precise details for that reason. This is a perfect example of how 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. An experienced and objective analysis is needed. 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)

Desensitising or Flooding?

Is it desensitising or is it over-exposure?

Tibetan needs desensitising

Ellie

Ellie, her siblings and other Tibetan Terriers were picked up from a breeder in a dreadful state of neglect, with matted fur and no socialisation. They had no exposure to life outside the shed where they were kept.

Lucky Ellie was re-homed to my clients three months ago. She is now nine months old. She lives with a calmer and slightly older Tibetan called Bailie.

Her family took her on holiday a couple of months later and it was a nightmare.

Ellie became increasingly terrified of traffic and people – particularly children. From the beginning of each day one scary new thing after another would have added to her accumulating stress as, with the best of loving intentions, they included the previously unsocialised small dog in their holiday activities.

They have actually come a long way in three months in some respects and are already doing many of the things I usually suggest. However they admit that her reactivity to people, traffic and any new environment is getting worse.

I feel there are a couple of things being done by Ellie’s humans, in the mistaken belief that they are helping her and being kind, that they can now do differently.

For hours Ellie occupies what the lady calls her ‘sentry point’ on the back of the sofa, watching the ‘scary’ things go past their house. It won’t have taken long for her to get the idea that it was her barking which was chasing those enemies, who kept on moving past, away.

Instead of this regular exposure acclimatising and desensitising her to new things as they thought, it is doing the opposite.

Ellie with Bailie

Ellie with Bailie

Each barking bout will be adding to her already rapidly rising stress levels. Daily she is repatedly rehearsing the very behaviour towards people and traffic that they are trying to change.

The other thing that is actually making her worse is a common belief that desensitising a dog to the things she fears – cars, bicycles, children, plastic bags, anywhere new – involves active exposure by way of as many encounters as possible all at once in order to ‘get her used’ to them.

Over-exposure has the reverse effect to desensitising.

 

Over-exposure is flooding and the very opposite to desensitising.

Controlling Ellie’s environment is the way to go here. They have already removed Ellie’s access to her ‘sentinel’ point and will be helping both dogs as soon as they start to bark at anything (the neighbours will be thankful).

Then, very slowly, they will begin the desensitising and counter-conditioning she needs in order to see those things she fears in a different light whilst getting used to them gradually.

Before they can take her on any more outings beyond their gate and past traffic, past people and into shops, they must surely first get her to feel better about the world immediately outside their gate. On a long, loose lead she should be given a choice whilst they work on proper desensitisation.

She will herself let them know what she’s ready to do. Only when she feels safe enough to herself choose to venture out should they make their way further afield, very gradually.

‘Proper’ outings for now will need to be by car to transport her and Bailie directly to somewhere ‘safe’ and open.

This will take multiples sessions. The greater the number of very short desensitisation outings they do, the more progress they should make.

It’s best if they can work on things one at a time. Take fear of plastic bags – something easy to control unlike a child running up from nowhere. First a bag can be at a distance that Ellie finds okay and she can be given food each time she looks at it. She can also be rewarded with food or by increasing distance each time she deliberately looks away from it (making a ‘good’ decision).

They can put Ellie indoors, remove the plastic bag, lace with food the ground where the bag had been so the area is associated with good stuff. Then let Ellie back out to forage where the bag had been. Next, with Ellie back out of the way, they can replace the bag – and so on.

One thing at a time, we can work out appropriate procedures. Desensitising to children can be worked on in the same sort of way at a comfortable distance from a school playground at playtime.

Considering her deprived beginnings, Ellie could be a lot worse and in many respects they have come a long way. It’s the fearfulness of things and people new to her that has increased.

With the best of intentions, they are doing things back to front. Here is a very good article with a couple of great short videos about the sort of time and patience needed for desensitising and counter-conditioning a dog to something that really scares it.

With slow and gradual exposure whilst avoiding pushing Ellie over her comfort threshold they will build up her trust. She should eventually be able to go on holiday with them again and enjoy it this time.

Message received a couple of days later: ‘I learned something interesting about Ellie today. I opened the front door and stood just inside our covered porch with her on a long training lead and with the front door open so that she could retreat if she wanted to. Rather than flying out of the door and being desperate to go on a walk (which has been my previous impression of her), given the option, she stayed close to me or even backed up back into the house. This makes me realise she was flying out of the door to bark/be protective/banish passers by.
We’ve sat outside three times today now, with me feeding her little titbits whenever a car or person passes by. I’ll carry on little and often until she’s confident to go beyond the front garden without reacting (here’s hoping!!!)…..
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 Ellie. 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)

Family Dog, Consistency is Key

The importance of consistency.

I sat with the family – parents with late-teens son and daughter – and their dear little Tibetan Terrier, Archie.

Tibetan Terrier in need of consistency

My first question was, as always, ‘What would you like to achieve from my help?’  The answer was for Archie to be more relaxed around other dogs and to be trusted to come back when called.

Exactly the same aim as so many people I go to.

This sounds simple and straightforward but it isn’t. It’s unlikely to be just a question of going out on a few walks with someone. For a dog to be relaxed around other dogs he must feel safe and this has a lot to do with his relationship with his humans.

Poor Archie was attacked by two dogs a couple of months which has not only upset Archie but it’s really shaken the lady who had him at the time.

In order to feel safe the dog should not feel trapped and helpless on the end of a tight lead, particularly one attached uncomfortably to a collar, held by someone he may not completely trust to keep him safe (in his mind). In order not to feel trapped he should learn to walk in a more relaxed fashion on a loose lead. In order to walk on a loose lead he should no longer expect to make progress when the lead is tight; in order to walk on a loose lead he shouldn’t be too excited before starting out. In order to trust his humans when out, they themselves need to be confident; they need to show him who protects him and motivates him back at home.

In order for him to come when called when off lead, he must take notice of them at home and reliably come when called around the house and in from the garden etc. etc. Each family member must be consistent.

It’s anything but simple.

It’s great to go to a family where all four members pull together with a walking rota. Archie gets two walks a day.

For a plan to work, each walker must have the same walking system. Each needs to wait for calm before leaving. Each needs to use the same technique for teaching loose lead walking. Each needs to react in exactly the same way when Archie sees a dog – he alerts, he may pull and then he drops down flat. It’s vital none of them use force.

Each should carry food on walks.

Each should give Archie their full attention for that twenty minutes and not be occupied with something else like a phone.

 

A ‘walk’ now mean something different.

Walks will occupy the same amount of time as before but no longer go from A to B. It will be about the journey, not the destination. So what if the dog wants to sniff for five minutes? Whose walk is it? A dog that is pulling with a walker who is in a rush is bound to be reactive to things. A dog having a relaxed sniff walk on a loose lead with someone who is relaxed is much more likely to walk past other dogs without a reaction.

It was fun to see the family begin to see why Archie actually does things – what functions his actions have for him. Why does he jump up? It gets him the attention he wants. Why does he run off with a sock? It starts a game. Why does he pull on lead? It gets him somewhere. Why does he bark at people who walk past? It chases them away. Why does he keep scratching at the door? It makes someone get up.

He can learn that something they prefer will give him the same result. Sitting and not jumping will get attention. Stealing a sock gets ignored but a toy may start a game. Pulling on lead will get him nowhere, but a loose lead will. Scratching the door doesn’t get him let out, but sitting politely may and so on.

Why does Archie sometimes get cross when made to go out at night? Because gentle force is used and there is nothing in it for him. He will happily do as asked when they work on his ‘coming when called’ routine at home, using food.

Getting him to earn some of some of his food (and that doesn’t mean commercial rubbish treats or anything large that fills him up, but tiny bits of real food) is a recipe for a motivated and happy dog.

This brings us back to his mild reactivity to some dogs when out on walks. Whatever he is doing, whether it is dropping down, pulling to the dog or barking at it, he does it because it has a function for him, probably that of keeping the dog at a greater distance – or giving himself some control at the very least, particularly if he’s being held close on a tight lead.

What if he was given something more acceptable to do that provided the same function? Turning to look at the handler for instance? Or perhaps standing still and not lying down? Or looking away from the other dog and down at the ground to forage for food? The handler should be sufficiently on the ball to sense the distance t which Archie has clocked the dog but isn’t yet reacting.

Archie would learn that the alternative behaviour would be grant him his wish, that of increasing distance, whilst associating the other dog with something positive and nice.

Another reason they should be alert is that sometimes Archie, depending upon his mood and upon the dog, may ignore it and walk past. Other times he may want to play. The response has to be appropriate to the occasion and well-timed, and this takes practice.

I would err on the safe side in favour of too much distance rather than too little.

Sadly, when your dog has been attacked and injured by another dog that has just appeared, off-lead, out of the blue, walks may never be quite so enjoyable again.

Fight When the Man is at Home

When the man comes home Rufus becomes demanding and insecure

Rufus

If Tibetan Stoker is to have some time in the sitting room with the lady, the man has to go upstairs with Rufus.

Stoker

When they are alone – or just with the lady, these two dogs get on famously, but when the man is at home which due to work is only three days a week, the dogs fight ferociously and Rufus becomes demanding and insecure – not letting the man out of his sight, whilst poor Stoker has to be shut away.

They only fight when the man is at home.

This is one of my ‘distance help’ Skype cases. The case of 8-year-old Tibetan, Stoker and Staffie Rufus (age 3) is about the clearest illustration I have ever come across of dogs’ behaviour being the consequence of their humans’ behaviour.

It wasn’t hard for the man to see that because all this only happens around him, he needs to be doing some things differently.

He agrees that from the moment he arrives home with a wild greeting for Rufus, he is the dog’s slave. Rufus follows him everywhere and cries outside any door that shuts him out of the man’s presence.  Because the dogs have to be kept apart, if Stoker is to have some time in the sitting room with the lady, the man has to go upstairs with Rufus.

Letting the dogs outside is a management challenge of moving dogs up and downstairs so that they don’t meet.

Both humans and the two dogs can never spend a nice evening together. But, when the man goes away again for four days a week, both dogs are back in the sitting room. They both then sleep in the same room. They then go outside together. They play together nicely.

One other puzzling thing is that the dogs are okay going for walks together with both their humans. They all get into one car (one dog and human in the front when the other dog is brought out) and there is no trouble between the dogs when walking in the fields.

For four days a week the lady is unable to walk Rufus so this needs working on. But when the man comes home, Rufus has three days of two-hour-walks. He is played with constantly, and pesters and barks to keep the man’s attention on him. He is fed from his plate. They play wrestling games. If Rufus spots Stoker he gets angry – keep away from ‘my’ man! Stoker promptly retaliates. There have been some quite scary fights.

The poor gentleman is going to forego some of his fun for the greater good. Calm is going to be rewarded with attention – and with food taken from the dog’s daily quota. All attention isn’t going to be Rufus-generated from now on! Overdoing the walks just makes him even more hyped-up when they get home; he needs his exercise spread throughout the week somehow. Most importantly, the man needs to work on going out of sight briefly – and on getting Rufus to Sit and Stay while gradually, over time, he can disappear without Rufus following him or barking.

When the man has done his groundwork, getting the dogs back together again could start after a walk. Instead of bringing them back indoors one at a time as they have to now, they could walk them back into the house together before separating them – and gradually advance from there, using lots of praise and reinforcement whilst also watching carefully for any signs of tension between the dogs.

As these two dogs aren’t really enemies – they are fine together for half the time – the outcome should be good, provided that the humans can be consistent with the new rules and boundaries (rules and boundaries that are as much for the gentleman as for the dogs!).

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

When Can I Go Home?

Tibetan1 Tibetan2This was quite heartbreaking in a way.

Tibetan Terrier Toby’s previous owner got him as a puppy seven years ago when she divorced. Since then they have been inseperable with Toby sleeping on her pillow beside her every night.

Now the lady has met a new man. He gave her an ultimatum – it’s me or the dog. She parted with the wrong one in my opinion!

They picked Toby up yesterday and I was there today. This little dog has been scratching the door, crying, pacing and constantly asking to go outside; he is simply waiting to be reunited with his past owner.

TibetanTobyThey brought a jumper of hers home with her scent on it. It was in his bed. In this situation I suggested they got rid of it because there was absolutely no point in reminding Toby of her now. The faster he realises that this is his lovely new home the better – because he has really landed on his feet. I am having to persuade the people not to fuss him and to give him time and space.

He is withdrawn and preoccupied. You can see from the pictures just how he is feeling.Tibetan3

They have taken the next week off work and I have given them several tasks to work on involving chicken – although he is refusing to eat he will take pieces of chicken! They need to prepare him for being left alone for two or three hours. They have a strategy for night times because the first night was very difficult. They will give him much better quality food than he has been getting previously and they will introduce him to the concept of working for reward rather than getting everything for nothing. He has never been off lead, so they will work on his recall so he eventually will be able to run free.

Toby’s life will be even better than before although he doesn’t know that at the moment.

He will come around.

Today Toby is simply waiting. His obvious unhappiness could make your heart bleed and had the lady in tears today.

A quick update. It’s now day three and already Toby is settling in. He is a lot happier.

Lots of Barking

Tibetan Terrier Evie feeding her puppies

Evie feeding her puppies

Evie has just had her second litter (it is hard to see which end is which but her head is on the left). On the right she is teaching three-month-old Lara some manners. Evie is the mother of Milo who is the main barker and most excitable of the dogs, and they also have six-year-old Ruby.

It takes very little to set Milo and Evie off barking. Ruby will join in. They bark whenever they hear any sound outside. Milo stands and barks in the garden whenever he goes out, joined by Evie who runs around barking. They bark frantically when someone comes in the house.

There is bedlam before taking them out for a walk – with all three adult dogs jumping and barking and it’s a fight to attach collars and leads onto Milo in particular. Milo keeps barking all the way down the road.

Tebetan Terrier puppy Lara

Lara

Evie and her puppies are kept separate from the other dogs in the dining room and hall. Three month old Lara is kept behind a gate in the kitchen, and the other two are behind yet another gate in the utility room. It is a logistical challenge! Milo who is only eleven months old pester Ruby, and to give her some peace she spends time in a crate which she then guards.

The situation is a melting pot of noise and excitement and it has been getting too much!

We broke things down and looked at each element, combining different behaviour from the humans with some ways of managing things better.  It will take time and work which the lady understands. She loves her dogs and not only breeds but also shows them.

Garden barking needs to be controlled so they can be brought in as soon as they start. Shouting ‘be quiet’ has to stop as it doesn’t help at all and a different approach used. Before walks the dogs need to be separated and shown that nothing at all is going to happen until they are quiet. Once through the gate, Milo needs to understand that as soon as he starts barking he will be going back in.

With time and patience a much calmer household should result – quieter too, although not a silent one!

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

Starting Off Right With a New Puppy

Nine week old Tibetan TerrierYesterday I visited nine-week-old Tibetan Terrier Molly’s new home just a couple of hours after she arrived. The couple want to do all they can to start off the right way with their gorgeous little ball of black fluff.

We were able to work out the best place in the house for her to spend most of her time – somewhere she can easily get to the door leading to the garden and somewhere that her inevitable toileting mishaps won’t spoil the carpet.

We worked out where she would sleep at night-time. They are using a crate. Molly has never been all alone before and we want her to feel secure. It is a lot better to give a puppy company to start with and gradually wean her into independence, rather than to force her into hours of solitude, howling for company. This can easily then lead to panic whenever she is left alone.

From the start she needs to be shown that use of teeth and mouthing isn’t welcome, but in a fair and kind way that a puppy understands and without scolding. She needs to be gently discouraged from jumping up. She is already grabbing trousers and feet, so playing chase games will only encourage this. It’s important she’s not taught through play the very things they don’t want her to do.

I gave them tips I have gathered for successful toilet training including some that people don’t think of, like if the dog is always carried outside she will find it harder to learn to walk to the right place herself; like when praise is lavished on her for ‘going’, she might think this is for the act itself rather than for going outside.

It’s important to give her quiet times in their company without too much fussing and to take no notice of her sometimes so she learns independence and self-confidence; to teach her what behaviours are NOT wanted by showing her instead what IS wanted – ‘come away – good girl – do this instead’.

We discussed the best food for Molly. Cheap food is false economy. Her little body and bones will thrive best on good nutrition, and it can affect her behaviour as well.

Finally, the next few weeks are crucial for introducing her to people, children, cars, bikes, vacuum cleaners and so on in a careful way so that she grows up to be a confident dog. Her early experiences need to be positive ones. They should not let friends and family overwhelm her with lots of excited noise, too much picking up and especially teasing. They should keep calm, allow her to sniff them and explore them, and if they have to pick her up to do so gently. Don’t allow children to get too excited or noisy.

In a couple of weeks I shall be going again.

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

Stress like a pressure cooker waiting to blow

The two terriers wearing doubled up leads should anything kick off between them I have just visited two more dogs living together that on occasion fight. Harry and Star, both terrier mixes, have always had a volatile relationship. They are both in their third year, and were adopted as puppies. Star must have some Border Terrier in her, and Harry is mostly Tibetan Terrier (sorry about the photo – the leads and harnesses were so we could relax should anything kick off, which it didn’t).

Harry seems quite laid back, but Star is an anxious and hyper little dog, and their owner has just moved house three weeks ago. The general stress of the situation has rubbed off on the dogs and their fights have increased. Every fighting incident has been where Star’s stress has erupted and she redirects it onto Harry. She is wound up by excitement. Harry has now begun to retaliate.

These dogs simply don’t have sufficient calm, authoritative guidance. They are loved dearly, but ‘love’ isn’t the issue. Various ‘training’ techniques have been tried, including punishment, and some I believe have actually made things worse. The dogs get mixed messages. The notion that ‘give her enough exercise and it will calm Star down’ clearly has not worked and is totally wrong in my view. A dog living naturally isn’t stressed and certainly would not waste energy running around for no reason at all. Too much stimulation merely adds stress to our simmering pressure cooker.

The owner is now going to learn how to be to be a proper dog parent! If she changes the dogs will surely change. Much of the time the two dogs are perfectly happy together and play nicely.

The name of the game is stress-reduction. All sorts of things can be translated into stress – chase games, excitement before walks, meeting other dogs, attacking the hoover or post, excited greetings, visitors and the owner’s own mood.  Keeping calm, avoiding all the little things that add stress into Star’s ‘pressure cooker’ and giving both dogs some calm and quiet rules and boundaries will I know make life very different for both Star and Harry – and their humans, and my job is to show them exactly how to achieve this.

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