Max, age two, was found as a stray and they understandably absolutely adore their little dog.
A few months ago they moved house to a busier street, and now Max is doing a lot more barking. He is getting a lot more worked up. He has taken it upon himself to be on guard duty big time. Any noise sends him flying around the house barking. He barks at passers by when out in the garden. Two different postmen were bitten when they entered ‘Max’s’ garden and put out a hand towards him – but outside his own territory one of these same men is like his best friend. At home he is an extremely protective dog. Outside his own house and garden he is a different dog, and very friendly with other dogs too.
Not only is Max becoming increasingly protective of the house, he is very protective of the lady and most of his growling and biting has happened in her presence. When I sat down Max stood facing me on the lady’s lap, barking while she ‘comforted’ him. I asked her to put him straight on the floor. She should be nice to him when he’s quiet and pop him on the floor when he barks.
Max also growls at the gentleman when he’s on the lady’s lap. He growls at them in their own bed at night – particularly at the man. I have nothing against dogs sleeping with people if that is what the people really like, but certainly not if the dog is taking posession of the bed and growling if they dare move!
The lady in particular behaves like Max is the centre of her universe. She touches him and attends to him constantly. The moment she gets home from work, after a rapturous welcome, although he has had the company of the gentleman for most of the day, she is cuddling and playing with him for an hour before doing anything else. They are doing his bidding all evening until he settles. All this adoration can, in my mind, be quite hard for a dog. As time goes by Max is increasingly taking on the role of protector and decision-maker. This is a big burden for a dog and one that should be shouldered by his humans.
Gradually Max’s stress levels should reduce as the barking gets less because the people will now deal with it appropriately. They are dedicated to helping him. As a more relaxed dog he should be more tolerant – though all people should respect his dislike of outstretched hands and his people must take responsibility for this, even using a soft muzzle when children visit so that everyone can relax. The rule must always be Safety First.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Max, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good – particularly where issues involved aggression of any kind. 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 dogs (see my Get Help page).