This is a classic case of over-arousal.

Taz

The lady arrived. As the bell rang Taz leapt on Misty. The lady was let in, Misty jumped up on her and Taz then bit her on the hand.

There are a few things in these dogs’ life that simply make them much too excited. The bite was clearly a symptom of the build up of excitement.

Taz simply couldn’t control himself.

Over the dogs’ day things build up. Taz bit due to high arousal.

They have Taz, a three-year-old Frenchie and American Bulldog Misty, four. Usually Taz redirects her arousal onto Misty. She may nip her or grab her legs.

This time she redirected onto the lady caller and bit her, very much as she does to Misty.

The front door

It’s mostly things around the front door that amp Taz up. Anything to do with going out for a walk, people coming in or going out, and people they can see walking past.

There are two children who come and go and just seeing them put their shoes on is enough to get the dogs going. Taz and Misty can see and bark at people walking past the house.

Management first

Before things go any further they need to put management in place. They will put a gate in the kitchen doorway which will keep the dogs away from the front door.

They are walked each morning and getting ready for the walk is when the arousal starts. While the humans put outdoor clothes and shoes on the dogs go mental, Taz in particular. This all happens around the front door.

Now they will keep their shoes etc. in the porch and the dogs behind the gate in the large kitchen. The dogs will get used to living there, only going into the sitting room when accompanied and calm.

Comings and goings

Misty

When anyone wants to go out, which drives Taz into a frenzy of excitement which she redirects onto Misty, the person leaving will make sure the dogs are in the kitchen before getting ready.

With lots of practice and ‘In the Kitchen’ with food sprinkled on the kitchen floor, the dogs will soon learn the drill. (A pot of food will be left strategically by the gate).

When anyone comes to the door, if the dogs happen to be out of the kitchen they will be called back before the door is opened.

Taz will no doubt be very excited. If they want to let him out to join the person, it will now be on lead until he’s calmed down. They will have something like a Yak chew for his mouth – this will help him.

We also looked at how to increase enrichment by how they feed them and what they give them to chew and to do.

At the moment the have a Dentastix for breakfast (a bar of total rubbish) and their meal in the afternoon. This surely gives the dogs energy when they least need it.

Nightmare walks

Walks, too, are a nightmare unless the dogs go to an enclosed field and can run off lead. This again is mostly due to the build-up of excitement before they leave.

We will meet again to work on walks themselves, when they have made some headway with reducing arousal.

Taz bit a caller. She won’t do it again.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help