A while ago I went to see two entire male Westies that had previously played and slept together, and now had started to growl and go for each other. They were doing really well until a month or so ago when things went downhill again. There had been problems at home with worry and tension and these little dogs will probably have picked up on it. The people have been inconsistent. I went to see them again last night.
Both dogs were back to their compulsive carpet-licking. Westie Milo was barking at any animal on the huge TV. Both are back to charging out into the garden, trying to get ahead of each other, often sparking off trouble. Every little thing gets them going and it snowballs; the more aroused they become, the more reactive they are so the more aorused the become, and so on.
We have put some new management suggestions into place. Both dogs are shown (one is entered for Crufts this year) and accustomed to being in a crate. I suggested one soft crate in the sitting room. Then the instigator of the growling can quietly be put in in the crate and both given something to chew – an alternative to carpet-licking that helps them to calm themselves (they can’t usually be given bones or chews because it could start a fight). With Milo’s barking at TV, again he can go in the crate and it can be covered. He is on ‘animal watch’ and his keen eyes spot the smallest animal on the screen! Something to do with dog’s eyesight and HD TV makes this possible. We let them into the garden, but before doing so the lady slipped a lead on each dog, waited at the door for calm, stepped out and only let the dogs off lead one at a time – the calmer one first. This worked perfectly. The people must remember to do it each time now for a while.
They had a Thundershirt for Milo and the fireworks (Merlin isn’t bothered by them). It made little difference apparently. While I was there we experimented with the Thundershirt and the carpet-licking. The Thundershirt went on Merlin and he stopped the licking and relaxed, completely calm. We put it on Milo and it made no difference at all. It was a graphic illustration played out before my eyes with two dogs of the same breed with the same habit, and of how a Thundershirt works very well with some dogs and not with others.
Here is the link to the story of my original visit: http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=9323