Daisy Daisy – what gets into you? She bites without warning

Published by Theo Stewart on

An online consultation.

Daisy is the most adorable Cockerpoo, fourteen months of age. She looks soft and cuddly but looks can be deceiving.

Daisy bites without warning.

Suddenly and seemingly out of the blue, she snarls and flies at their legs. She may leap waist-high and bite their arms. It’s proper biting and painful.

Her victims are the lady and her two teenage daughters. She doesn’t fly without warning at the man.

This happens mostly outside in the garden. She also does it when the lady, who works from home, begins to move about and do household jobs.

The girls come down to the living room in the late afternoon, after a day’s lockdown schoolwork. Daisy is immediately very aroused and flies at their legs, biting.

Then mum, in order to rescue them, lifts Daisy to remove her. This makes the little dog cross.

Her unpredictable aggression scares them all.

Mum was hostage down the end of the garden a couple of days ago to a snarling, biting, aggressive little dog.

They think the attacks are unpredictable, but they aren’t really although people can’t see it coming. It happens when the build-up of arousal peaks and then the smallest thing will set her off. This could be something the family may not even have noticed.

No more than just one of them entering the room may be enough added excitement to trigger it.

I can’t go into detail here of our plan, but these are the broad areas we are working on:

Reducing over-arousal.

For instance, the day starts with a walk involving the kind of play with another dog that sounds over-the-top. Daisy comes home fired up.

My point was proved because the morning of our session she didn’t meet the dog. She spent the morning walk sniffing and exploring. There were no episodes during the day of aggression without warning.

They will use her food, chewing and other activities to help stabilise and calm her.

Preventing rehearsal.

For now, if the girls go into the garden and unless they want to play the training game I suggested, they should leave her in the house. It won’t be forever.

She may need to join them in living room in the evening with a light lead attached so she can be called out kindly and rewarded for coming. No confrontation and no lifting her.

Daisy going upstairs is causing problems with both her behaviour and stealing things. They will block the stairs.

Offering behaviours incompatible with sudden biting.

They will make much more use of chew toys and bones. At those times they know she may fly at them, they will pre-empt by giving her something for her mouth.

They will teach her a couple of games and use asking her to sit (for rewards).

They will divide her food into frozen Kongs for those trigger times.

A positive tool – the clicker

The clicker will give them a brilliant method of communicating to Daisy just how rewarding it is to do things that don’t involve aggression or over-excitement.

They will be looking for all the good things – even standing still for a moment or looking at their legs without approaching. It may be for simply sitting. Anything they like.

Using the clicker, they will teach her to come and touch their hand. They can back each other up and one call ‘Touch’ to call her away.  It should be like having her on remote control.

The clicker will give the girls in particular something positive they can do to improve their relationship with Daisy.

NB. There is nothing magic about a clicker alone. Picking up and clicking will be meaningless unless it’s done in a particular way.  (I can teach you how to use a clicker effectively in an online session)

Willing, willing, willing.

They will end up with a willing, calmer and motivated dog.

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
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