The troubled behaviour started about four months ago, in November. Vinnie was one year old.
Before then he had growled at them when they clipped up his harness but that’s all. This has escalated to growling and snapping at other times.
There is something increasingly bugging the troubled the Frenchie.
Everything changed last November
They have no idea what changed back in November. Could he be in pain? Had something they didn’t even notice have caught Vinnie in a second fear period?
When in heightened state he may retreat or they may send him to his crate; when they approach he growls and shakes.
Here is an example of Vinnie’s behaviour: Yesterday morning the man opened his crate. Vinnie came out towards him, little bum wagging in a friendly manner. The man put his hand out and tickled him under his ear. He went still and then growled.
Is the troubled Frenchie in pain?
“I feel uncomfortable” he’s saying.
It’s important never to scold but to ask why he’s not happy.
A human male in particular, when welcoming someone, steps directly towards them. He stands tall, looks into the other person’s eyes and then puts out a hand.
This can be threatening to a dog. It’s the very opposite of how a polite dog would approach another dog.
Vinnie’s growling gets louder as the man approaches his crate.
The crate, his sanctuary
For now the family will keep clear of the crate apart from opening it.
The man in particular should approach it in a less direct manner and avoid looming. He should now avoid eye contact. He can talk instead of touching.
Vinnie suckles on a toy like in a trance and growls if interrupted. If he’s on the couch and someone gets up, he goes into defence mode.
They will now get him used to their disturbing him. They will first gently warn him by saying his name and then placing food beside him.
Because of his behaviour they were trying to touch him more, to ‘get him used to it’. It should be the very opposite.
He seems to invite touching before snapping.
Vinnie has become increasingly grumpy and snappy since November. It’s hard to believe that pain isn’t involved.
So – the vet is the next port of call.
Troubled when getting in and out of the car
Vinnie also becomes hyper-aroused and troubled when getting into the car. It’s a strange ritual. He scratches the ground as they put their little boy in the back. He gets crazy, wild-eyed and panicking as he jumps into the foot well and until everyone is in.
He’s ok while the car is moving, but it starts again as the driver puts the hand brake on.
He bites the passenger’s feet.
Could getting in and out of the car be causing him pain?
They can avoid using the car for a couple of weeks while they put a plan in action.
The car plan
It will go like this: on the way past the car on her twice-daily walks, the lady will open the car. She will call Vinnie into the front, feed him and then get him out again.
After a couple of days she herself follow him into the passenger seat, feed, and get out again.
Bit by bit they can add putting the hand brake on and off and then the gentleman getting into the driving seat.
Soon starting off on a journey should be ok. It would help if they put the little boy into the car before Vinnie leaves the house.
When they stop at their destination, the lady can put on the hand brake from the passenger seat. She has rule out already practised that with Vinnie.
The behaviour helps troubled Vinnie to feel better
For some reason troubled Vinnie’s behaviour gives him relief – makes him feel better in some way. It’s useful for his humans to see it in this light. Whenever he does anything they don’t like, what can they do to help him?
So there are lots of little things which add up that will help to calm him down – but first they must rule out pain.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help