Yorkie twins Daisy and Cody are now five years of age.
There are well-documented disadvantages of taking on sibling puppies – see here for more information. One common problem is that one of the puppies becomes shy, even when both puppies started off as bold and outgoing. This means that the shy puppy never reaches his or her potential. Another problem is that same-sex siblings in particular can end up arch enemies.
It’s a tribute to their family that these two little dogs have turned out so well.
I would say that although Daisy, on the right (look at that little face), is a lot more nervous than Cody, they are no different many other two unrelated dogs.
Their problem is too much barking at people and dogs from Daisy, particularly when they are out or when people come in the house. Cody is self-assured and has ‘attitude’ on walks but Daisy is scared.
Because she can sometimes sound quite ferocious when a person or another dog approaches, the lady has been so worried that her little dog is aggressive. She is on lead with a tense and anxious handler and she feels vulnerable.
But it varies. It’s not consistent. Because some days she is fine where other days she is very nervous, it’s useful to look at what is happening in all other aspects of Daisy’s life. There are many things that stir her up daily which don’t affect Cody at all, including the post coming through the door, the vacuum cleaner or lawn mower, and even enthusiastic greetings. Without too much effort the family can save her the build-up from all these stresses and it will make a huge difference to her.
The lady in particular is very concerned her little dog could be ‘dangerous’ by all the barking at people and dogs. When they are out or when someone comes to the house she is both nervous and apologetic.
The people holding the leads will need to keep a close eye on the dogs for their reaction – to nip it in the bud. They must move Daisy away to a distance where she feels ‘safe’ and then work on building up her confidence. When over-threshold she barks and lunges and snarls – and then may redirect onto poor Cody with a nip.
Work can only be done with the dogs walked separately for a while.
It’s the stress and fear that needs to be addressed – both dog and human! Already the lady has said, “I feel more at ease with the barking knowing it isn’t aggression”.
When Daisy calms down and everyone gains confidence, they should have no problems on walks – as has already been proved on ‘good’ days.
To change the behaviour we must change the emotion that drives it.
Already, after one day of implementing a few changes, the lady says: “We can’t believe how quiet they have been – less stressful today all round for the dogs and me!
Seven weeks later: ‘Things are improving – I walked Cody the other day and came across a lady with 3 dogs I turned and walked away then turned back and stayed on my side of the road (lady was on the opposite pavement talking) we continued walking with no reaction from Cody at all – I was very pleased with him as previously he has barked at the dogs – I have been going out when it suits me rather than when its quiet – most days we don’t see anyone but if we do I know how to handle them. We have seen such an improvement in the dogs and agree with you it is as much about us changing as well as the dogs.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Daisy and Cody, which is why I don’t go into all the exact details 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 dog (see my Get Help page).