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Havers Dog Behaviour Blog

My dog behaviour blog is all about dogs and owners I have helped and dog related items in the news.


Another strange title for a blog about dog behaviour and you are probably thinking this will be about a dog that was bullied and their story about their journey but not this time!

This blog is about a dog that is a bully. Now you are probably thinking the dog bullies another dog and again, not this time.

That only leaves one alternative doesn’t it? The dog is bullying the family with whom he lives!

Yes, those that give him everything, love, attention, food, walks etc, apparently everything he needs and he repays them by bullying them. He even bites them if they get in his way!

How can a dog get to this point and how can a family let it, I hear you ask?

Easier than you might think actually. The dog is a rehome and he is a confident French Bulldog who came from a home who couldn’t cope with him as a young dog. He is now just over a year old and is proving very difficult to live with because he has instilled a very powerful emotion into his family, he has instilled fear.

Fear is a very powerful emotion and a very destructive one as it can dictate our behaviour and our responses.

So we have to establish a root cause to the behaviour. There is one member of the family he does not bully to the same extent and she is the primary responsible. She is also the main attention giver and the dog has learned how to control that attention very well indeed. If he has a go at the daughters feet or jumps to grab their clothing or nip their hands, who intervenes?

You guessed it, the primary responsible so the dog gets attention for bullying the daughters. The daughters also react when he is biting their feet which adds further stimulation to an already stressed dog.

These behaviours are worse when the primary responsible is not at home and his separation anxiety really kicks in. No one can leave the room as the dog will attack the feet of anyone who tries to leave.

His desire for control is very strong because overall no one is actually in control. When a dog is in a position where he thinks he has to be in control, they do not cope and they often demonstrate behaviour we just do not know how to deal with so we tend to shout and get very stressed which only adds to the dogs stress and confusion.

You can’t ignore a dog who is biting the feet of your daughter but because the family are in fear, their response is to shut and try and grab the dog which he has become very adept at avoiding which generates further stress and shouting. One daughter picks him up and cuddles him when he bites her.

You may be reading this thinking how on earth did they let it get this bad? When you want to do the best for the dog you have taken on, people tend to give a great deal of attention to the dog and this initial burst can actually overload the dog and overwhelm it to the point it has to ask people to stop, to give him some space. Of course people don’t always spot these attempts at communication so they persist with fulfilling there needs and ignoring those of their dogs.

It is only when the dogs behaviour gets really out of control that people decide to do something about it and of course at this time it is much more difficult because the dog has learned to associate high stress with people.

So how do you deal with a dog who is so stressed?

Eye contact, your eye contact gives your dog your complete attention and some dogs will then try to get as much of your undivided attention as possible and this dog is one of those. The primary responsible has fallen into this trap and this has given the dog a perception of control.

It is very difficult not to look at something if you are afraid of it so I had to put my own feet in the firing line to prove the dog will not elevate too far if you can remain calm. I went to eat the room and blocked the dog from rushing out with my feet. This is a flash point for the family yet I kept my feet moving slowly and calmly making a gentle contact with the dog to hold him slightly away from the door. Certainly he made lots of noise but only once did he put my foot in his mouth but didn’t apply any pressure.

This I found very interesting as he was not looking to bite, he was looking to prevent the person leaving and by doing so maintain his need for close proximity to people and their attention.

He let me leave the room and come back in and whilst he was still confused and stressed, he did calm down much quicker because I wasn’t adding to his stress and confusion. We repeated this several times and each time there was less stress, less noise and a rapid return to calm which was very pleasing as it showed that, despite his high stress he was still thinking and learning.

It is very difficult to be calm in that kind of situation and to move slowly but that is the way the family will be able to make the transition from stress to calm.

But they all have to do the same thing and this is proving difficult when the primary responsible is not there.

We will see how they get on and continue to help and support every step of the way.

Call 01530 242209 now so I can help you with your dog. Please don’t put up with an issue because you can’t see a way our or a way around it. There usually is and I can help you find the route to a calm and balanced dog.

Steven HaversComment