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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.

Being bullied by a dog and coping with a fearful dog

On Thursday 8th August I was in Tilton on the Hill working with an existing client, as opposed to a new client and their two Old English Bulldogs, one make and one female. My clients are members of the Old English Bulldog Lovers and are real fans of the breed and they know them very well.

I first met my clients in September 2013 and have visited them whenever their number of dogs has changed, usually when they bring in another rescue as this does change the dynamic of the incumbent dogs and this can upset the balance.

I don't know if you have known the breed but they are very strong willed, very stubborn and they like to get their own way, a lot!

They can be bullies in the way they will demand your attention, they don't mind if they claw you, nip you and they will certainly bark at you, a lot!

The two I met on Thursday were very unbalanced and their attention seeking behaviours were getting quite extreme so, once again I visited to help restore the balance and help the owners see through their dogs eyes.

On a side note, my client was talking to a lady just before I visited and explained what was going on and the lady suggested they call me, to which my client replied they already had and that lady was Bernie Icmg Clarke who is very good at recommending me so thank you Bernie. Bernie runs Leicester Dog Grooming at Billesdon.

Back in Tilton, the female dog had taken to hiding away when the make was around, even getting between the head board of the bed and the wall when she heard noises and the owner was becoming increasingly stressed and confused about this behaviour. When she contacted me, she thought because she had introduced new dog beds she had caused the anxiety and the change in behaviour.

When our dogs do strange things, we as owners do tend to look for events that have triggered the change because to us they are an obvious point of change we can recognise and relate to, it makes sense to us.

Unfortunately, this probably means it does not make any sense to your dog and the changes we make to our behaviour in response the the changes in their behaviour create even more confusion.

Making sense of it requires a different pair of eyes attached to a brain that thinks like a dog, my brain.

Dogs are expert manipulators and expert pattern spotters and in the patterns of our behaviour they look for the opportunity to take control of our attention.

This can be so subtle or appear so natural to us we don't even realise they are doing it, this is why you need an expert pair of eyes to see what is really going on.

You then need someone who can explain to you what your dog is doing, when and why and you will then start to understand why your dog is producing the behaviour you previously found very confusing.

You will also need to learn a new and challenging skill. You need to learn to share your attention.

I do not use food as a reward because that only causes further elevation and the belief your dog can have all of your attention, plus one of these dogs was food defensive so that would definitely not be rewarding good behaviour would it?

The balance is now restored, the sharing of attention is restored.

I first saw my clients in 2013 and I have seen them again in 2019 and I have seen them 6 times in between and I am seeing them again in September.

The reason is we forget, we lapse, we return control to our dogs, we stop thinking.

These are the real patterns our dogs understand, they know how hard it is for us to be consistent, they know just how to push our buttons and how to exploit our emotional connection. We need refreshers and reminders at regular intervals to help us maintain the balance that will keep us and our dogs happy and able to do the things we want to do with our dogs.

If your relationship is out of balance and your dog is causing you concerns with their behaviour and you would like me to help you, please comment on this post. Also please feel free to tag a friend who might also need help with their dog.

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