Too Much Excitement. Too Much Lots of Things

‘Too much’ results in stress.

Ollie’s stress levels are at the root of the problems. This said, not all stress is bad and a lot is associated with fun – but it’s too much of everythiToo much excitementng that’s the trouble.

So many things add up during the day. The eighteen-month-old Cockerpoo has to have the lady in sight all the time and panics when left alone. He barks at every sound outside. He can’t control himself when other dogs are about.

Their young children are often excited around him. Too much arousal, too much petting (and too vigorous), too much prolonged, rough or repetitive play, too much physical contact. They believe it makes him happy and it does, in a way. But it’s too much.

It was evening, the children had gone to bed and Ollie gradually settled. I watched him go and snuggle on the sofa beside the man who immediately began touching him. Ollie licked his lips, then licked his nose, then yawned. A little uncomfortable? To me it suggested the dog wanted the closeness but wasn’t asking to be touched. He soon jumped down.

When they walk past him, he will roll onto his back. They assume it’s because he wants a tummy rub. Really? It will depend upon context, but often it will be appeasement. “Please leave me alone.”

Why should Ollie be so stressed?

I saw for myself how easily he becomes anxious. Sadly, as a twelve-week-old puppy, right in the middle of his first fear period, he had a painful medical problem that resulted in his being confined for six weeks.

Ollie is a lovely friendly dog. He should be having a lovely life. He has love, attention, play, walks and the best food, so why should he be stressed? It’s about everything in moderation. There is, simply, too much.

There may however be ‘too little’ of the things he really needs – down time, sniffing time, closeness without necessarily being touched, peace and quiet without being alone, brain work, healthy stimulation.

So, I would say that cutting down on the intensity of everything will make a big difference. This has to be the starting point. At the same time, we will introduce activities that help him to reduce stress and to use his brain, instead of working him up into a frenzy of excitement.

One very interesting thing they told me is that Ollie loves a tight-fitting garment they dressed him up in for an occasion last year. Recently, sniffing a box, he dug down and dragged it out. He then he took it off and lay on it. Apparently, when he was wearing it Ollie seemed calm and happy which is why they felt he liked it. This started me thinking. How does he react when his harness goes on, I asked? He’s calmer then also.

From this I just guess that there’s a good chance of him being one of those dogs a Thundershirt or Ttouch wrap could help.

Other dogs send him onto a high

Here is another strange thing. Ollie is only aggressive to other dogs when his humans are eating! If there is dog food or bones about he’s okay.

He has only ever shown aggression to humans when other dogs are around.

Ollie’s arousal levels shoot through the roof when he’s near dogs. He is so desperate to play that he overwhelms them. In his uncontrolled way, he charges about, jumping over them and has nearly bowled over a couple of owners who were not pleased. The presence of other dogs gives Ollie such a high that he’s uncontrollable. The lady is now anxious about walking him.

First things first

Number one priority, then, is to calm him down a bit. Then after two or three weeks I will go again and see what we then have and what we need to do next.

 

I went back to see Ollie yesterday, a couple of months after my first visit. He’s a changed dog. I introduced his lady owner to clicker training and the lady and clever Ollie mastered a hand touch on cue in about fifteen minutes. Here they are.
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 Ollie and the because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same.  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, particularly where fear or 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)

Things Get Too Much For New Puppy.

Dolly is an adorable, playful one-year-old Shi Tzu

Dolly

Things get too much

Bella

Dolly is an adorable, playful one-year-old Shi Tzu with no problems at all – a really stable little dog.

A week ago nine-week-old Bella joined the family. She is a Malshi (never heard of that before, but a cross between a Shi Tzu and a Maltese). As you can see on the right – absolutely adorable.

The family has been used to Dolly who has always loved being handled. She lies on her back like a rag doll on their laps!

It was all too much for the new puppy

When Bella arrived they understandably treated her the same way. They have two little boys and many friends, and in the first few days she was cuddled by children, passed about and held high by a man. It was all too much for her.

In these first few days she was also scared of little Dolly, squealing when Dolly went near to her.

Then her behaviour started to change. Now, when someone approached and tried to lift her out of her bed, she growled. Initially they thought it was funny, that is until a child was holding her and she started growling, and when nobody took any notice Bella nipped the little girl.

Bella also was becoming very brave with Dolly and the play was growing rough. People were now getting concerned.

I watched the two little dogs playing and indeed it’s tricky. It was the sort of play you’d find OK between two dogs of the same age, but too rough for a puppy, although Bella herself now instigated a lot of it. It was simply too much for her.

When enough is enough

They will now step in sooner. It’s like you might say to your children, ‘that’s enough, it will all end in tears’, or you would say to your older child, ‘don’t get her too excited, be gentle’. We all felt it was good that the two dogs were getting on so well and sometimes they would be lying down together – but at what stage in play is enough, enough.

At what stage is it too much? The gentleman is inclined to panic where the lady tends to let them get on with it. I stand somewhere between the two.

They have a large wooden floored house. I noticed that with all the doors open and there was a lot of space – too much. Dolly would charge at little Bella from a distance, bowl her over and pin her down with her mouth. She did the same thing to her in the garden. Bella was learning to be rough.

Play would be much more equal in a smaller area. So, for a start I suggested shutting doors when they Malshi2play or putting both together in the puppy pen they have bought. They should not to have them playing freely out in the garden either for now.

When to step in

As I watched, everything would be okay for a couple minutes then, each time, there came a moment when the play tipped over into something more. It needs to be stopped before this point is reached.

They need to limit play to no more than five minutes at a time, possibly only a couple of minutes to start with. This is so puppy isn’t over-tired, over-stressed, over-excited or scared. If possible they will redirect play onto an item they can tug between them rather than play fighting.

Nine weeks old is such a baby and Bella needs to be taught to play nicely with dogs. Dolly has a couple of doggy friends of her own age and size whose play is very noisy and boisterous. She is doing the same with Bella but it’s too much for the tiny puppy. She is learning bad habits.

How to approach and handle Bella

I explained that not only was the approach of large humans very likely to be intimidating to Bella, but not all dogs like to be handled all the time in the way that Dolly does.

Growling is the puppy’s way of saying ‘I’m not comfortable. Please don’t do this’. To laugh or to ignore it is leading to trouble. If growling is ignored or discouraged, what is the puppy forced to do next?

They will now avoid picking her up altogether unless really necessary. They will give her the opportunity to come over to them for a cuddle while they sit on the floor – if she wishes. Guests will be asked to do the same. They will leave her in peace when she’s asleep.

When they lift her in and out of her pen, they will now give her a tiniest bit of chicken as they do so, to associate hands and lifting with something nice. I also showed them how to start teaching Bella to become comfortable with an approaching hand.

This is a crucial time in her life, and her experiences need to be nice ones. At present everything is simply too much