Safe Place. Safe Haven. Cocker Spaniel Scared of Toddler

She seldom feels completely safe. Lucy’s fearfulness affects everything, most importantly her reactions to their baby daughter.

So many things she fears

With fear being at the root of all the issues that are a problem for the seven-year-old Cocker Spaniel’s owners, general fearfulness is what we must address. Continue reading…

How Can Molly Protect Herself From the Unwated Attentions of a Toddler?

Molly, a five-year old Goldendoodle – cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle, is a tolerant, gentle, friendly and stable dog, and seems to have fitted in remarkably well with being effectively sidelined by the arrival of baby Thomas a year ago. Recently, however, wi Goldendoodle Molly is a tolerant, gentle, friendly and stable dogth his increased mobility, Thomas has been falling on her, lying on her and banging her with toys.

The problem came to a head yesterday. She had started to growl when she had had enough. I’m sure there were other signs that another dog would have recognised immediately that were ignored before she resorted to growling. When she did growl, as had happened one or two times previously, Thomas was immediately whisked away and Molly was told NO. What had she learnt from growling? That it was the only way to get rid of the ‘problem’ (so growling achieved its aim). Yesterday the ‘problem’ – Thomas – came straight back to her and Molly had no choice but to take it one step further; she opened her mouth and slightly caught the baby’s head.

Watching them today, I was surprised at just how much she will tolerate, though she is obviously uneasy. When I first arrived the baby was in bed, and Molly lay relaxing on the floor. As soon as Thomas was brought down she started to show signs of stress which her owner hadn’t noticed before. Sometimes they need pointing out to people.Goldendoodle Molly is a tolerant, gentle, friendly and stable dog

The sitting room is only small, with a gate in the doorway. I watched Molly carefully as she started to pace about, she then licked me which she hadn’t done previously. Then she found herself a bone to chew (chewing releases calming pheromones). She was working so hard at calming herself. Thomas went to touch the bone, but Molly didn’t flinch. What a good girl. She was doing all she possibly could and this was only about fifteen minutes so far of Thomas being in the room. She probably had been enduring this for a long time, doing all she could to both tell him to give her space whilst calming herself, before being driven to snapping. She was probably pushed beyond endurance.

Molly needs to be given sanctuary out of reach of Thomas, the other side of the gate where she still can see them, immediately she shows signs of unease or when Thomas goes to lie on her or to bang her. It’s essential Molly has a means of escape. This isn’t banishment. It has to be done kindly and she can be given something nice to do – like a bone to chew. Children with animals must learn to treat them with respect – as I’m sure Thomas will as he gets a little older. The young lady needs to act appropriately now. The wrong responses in this sort of situation can only make things go downhill, and where does that leave the poor dog?.

 

 

Big Changes in Miniature Schnauzer’s Life

Miniatures Schnauzer Max isn't the happy dog he once wasMax is four years old and for the first two years of his life he was the most important thing in his owners’ lives. He had three long walks a day and they took him everywhere with them.

Then they had their little girl and now a four-month-old baby. They have also moved house.

Max now is not the happy little dog as he used to be and this is demonstrated by his change in behaviour. Because of his behaviour, his owners are not enjoying him any more, to the point where he’s almost too much trouble. Consequently their own behavour towards Max has changed. It’s Catch 22.

Max barks excessively. He has become touchy. He snaps at the little girl and he snaps when he’s disturbed. His walks are no longer so enjoyable and he is unpredictable with other dogs.

In response and in order to try to do something about the situation, they have watched Cesar Millan. Cesar makes things look so quick and easy on TV. Copying some of the dominance techniques on our own dogs can cause much more harm than good. Humans trying to act like ‘Alphas’ have caused defiance and an escalation in aggression. I would ask people – is this the way you would treat your child if he was frightened, misunderstood and unhappy?

In no time at all, this little dog quickly became eager to cooperate with me. He came alive. He looked joyful and attentive. And all because I showed him just what I wanted of him – in ways that he understood; I encouraged him and I rewarded him.

I hope Max’ people can now see that if they treat him with understanding, patience and encouragement they will see a huge difference.  At the same time they must play safe. I suggested a small dog pen for their big sitting room with his bed in it, a child-free area where he can come and go freely but shut in when necessary, so that children are always safe but at the same time he can remain part of the family.

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

English Bull Terrier and Toddler

EBT Stanley sitting in a chair holding his ballStanley is an English Bull Terrier of under a year old, and his new owners have had him for two weeks. They are worried because he ‘squares up’ to their 16 month old toddler. He is fine so long as the little boy isn’t on the floor at his own level. Children stare and this may be part of the problem. Dogs can find direct eye contact either intimidating or confrontational.

Stanley is a slightly strange case. He is aloof. It’s like he grants people the privilage of being allowed to touch him. He gets attention whenever he asks for it, then walks off – ‘I’ve had enough’.  I noticed when I walked about that he stood sideways in front of me blocking me, and made no effort to move as I approached him.

In the two weeks that they have had him Stanley has been allowed to consider the house his own personal kingdom. There is nowhere he’s not allowed to go including all the family’s beds.  I fear that if he carries on like this it will only be a matter of time before he begins to object when someone wants to remove him. He’s still testing the waters. It’s quite a small house with eight family members spanning three generations, so there is a lot going on. He goes where he wants and does what he wants – including wrecking the garden.

If Stanley is allowed to believe that he rules the family, he may believe it’s his job to put the little boy in his place. He may not welcome an uninvited intrusion into his important personal space. So, the family owes it to Stanley to put some rules and boundaries into place for him pretty quickly. There should be certain no go zones in the house. Most importantly of all, they need to work on the relationship between the little boy and the dog. First and foremost they need to play safe, and get a gate so that the two can be kept apart unless closely supervised. Because everybody is on tenterhooks when the two are together, this will be picked up by Stanley and not be helping the situation. So, for security and so that they all relax, Stanley must be on lead and maybe even the toddler attached to reins. Then that the people can gradually work on the situation, with Stanley associating the little boy with good things like treats, learning to come away when asked or when he feels stressed by the toddler, and also encouraging the child not to stare if that’s possible!

Stanley is a case of a rehomed dog where you don’t quite no what you have got for the first few weeks. As dogs settle in and establish their boundaires (or lack of!) their real personalities and possible former problems will surface. It’s good to start with firm rules in place. Better too strict than too lax, and fairer on the dog, but without too many demands or commands. It’s human nature to do the opposite – we want to over-compensate for the past in the mistaken belief that in order to make him feel at home he needs no boundaries and lots of fuss!

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