Why Does My Dog: Get So Boisterous?

Q            My puppy Jack Russell is very boisterous and goes mad when I put a collar and lead on her. She’s ten weeks old and bites me when I pick her up. Perhaps I got the wrong breed? Will she always be so aggressive?

 

A            Our approach to puppies of any breed is generally the cause of them biting us. They’re cute and cuddly, so we want to show our affection and give them everything we think they need to make them happy and love us. It’s a sad situation when puppies bite their adoring owners, but all is not lost. I would suggest that you take a step back and let her see that biting you won’t work. It’s her way of trying to control you, just as she would have done with her siblings in the litter. Handling/touching a dog is reward in itself; it is in fact our primary means of giving acknowledgement, praise and affection. It’s really high value to a dog and if we give attention that is not earned we are falling into the trap of reducing our status in the dog’s mind. Expect your puppy to earn everything: her meals, cuddles, playtime etc. Ask her to “sit”, “come” or give you her immediate attention. That will put a higher value on you and what you give her.

Essex Dog Academy offers a puppy home visit that will help you solve any problems you may be experiencing with your puppy, so call Sue today to book – it will make a world of difference to you and your puppy! 

Why Does My Dog: Pull on the Lead?

Q            My dog pulls on the lead; it’s always tight when we’re out on the walk. It’s as if I’m not there, because he takes no notice of whatever I tell him. Even if I stop I’m hindering his progress to wherever we’re going and sometimes it’s such an awful experience I wonder why I bother to take him out at all. Is there something I can do to make him realise that going for a walk with me is a nice experience?

A            A tight lead and a tense dog can produce unintended consequences, such as over-excitement and boisterous behaviour or aggression to other dogs or people. Walking a dog on a loose lead is a pleasure, so the lead should be a reasonable length – 3 to 5 feet (1m-1.5m) – and should be sturdy enough to give you the feeling that you have control. Longer leads or flexi-leads should not be used on the walk; it sends out the message that it’s a restraint and doesn’t allow much if any communication between you and the dog.

Think of the lead as a means of communication, not just as a means of preventing the dog running away. Dogs pull on the lead, because they haven’t been told not to in a manner that they understand especially if you’re tense and anxious. This type of energy betrays your emotion and sends the completely wrong message down the lead. When you decide it’s time for your dog’s walk, from that moment you must take control. A dog that is rushing around, bouncing up and down getting over excited will take that behaviour out with him and immediately you leave your home he takes control.

So, be determined to be the decision maker from the outset. Be calm and send the signal to your dog that until he calms too, you are going nowhere. Of course, this may take some time initially and may even result in you not going out at that time; if that’s the case, put the lead away and wait a while before you indicate that it’s time for the walk. It can be very frustrating, but dogs pick up signals – both verbal and body language – very quickly. Just remember that pulling you around on the lead is a learned behaviour, it’s been normal for your dog to do so, but now with a calmer, more confident attitude you, as the leader, will be giving your dog a clear indication that unless he listens and watches you, he’ll not be going out until he realises that you’re the boss, not him.

Why does a 6 year old GSD Bitch often mount 5 year old GSD Male?

Q            My six-year-old spayed German Shepherd bitch often mounts my entire male Shepherd, who is a year younger. She shows no aggression, but why does she do this?

 

A            Quite simply she is asserting herself over the dog. By placing her paws on the dog, she is sending a message that she is dominant and intends to keep him as the lower ranking pack member. Mounting is commonly seen between same sex dogs in order to establish procreation rights – the stronger dogs and bitches are those that mate within packs. Young dogs often mount each other during the onset of puberty, when their systems experience a hormonal surge and they try to establish seniority. Dogs may also attempt to mount their human owners in a bid to elevate their status if the owner appears weak to the dog. It is generally thought that spaying or neutering will stop such dominant behaviour, however, this is obviously not always the case. In my experience, a sharp word to the dominant dog is all that is required to stop the behaviour; obedience training to a reasonable standard when dogs are young (particularly) will enable a competent owner to do this. As an alternative, distract them by making a sharp sound and giving a firm command “no” or “off”.  However, if you are distressed by it, I suggest that you contact Sue Gilmore, a highly experienced and qualified professional dog behaviourist, to help you overcome these episodes, which would appear to be harmless and dogs being dogs in this case.