Q. Dr Jo,
I noted on your segment in 'Talk to the Animals' the advice to put a toy in the mouth of a biting puppy, but Gordie is such an obedient almost-six-month-old puppy until he gets over excited. I tried the toy approach but it didn't seem to slow him down. He jumps and bites hard, growls and sets ready to attack and really threatens me (his owner-feeder-trainer). If this happens, say, in the back yard I am unprepared without a toy, stick, or peg to distract him.
How come such a loveable and obedient, (often snoozing lap dog) get so viscous with me and hurts so much. I also yell to let him know he has hurt me, and while that often works inside, it doesn't seem to influence his back yard behaviour. He will be desexed later this month so will this reduce this behaviour? He is already marking every corner post when I walk him each day.
A. You need to look at your leadership skills. Many dogs begin to "push" us as they mature, sometimes becoming demanding, attention seeking, even aggressive.
I suggest you try:
Also give your dog enough appropriate activities to tire him out. Fun and games - on your terms - are necessary for dogs of this age. Leave some toys with your dog but have others that are only produced now and again. This will keep him interested. Dogs also love the interaction with us so ensure that you play with him at times.
Desexing may or may not change his behaviour but it is up to you to teach your dog how you would like him to behave. Enjoy your pup!
More about dog aggression in Dr Jo's ebook Dog Aggression Problems Solved.
Pup ruining the garden
Q. Dear Dr Joanne,
Please help me. My dog is ruining our garden and our family live. She is a 6 month old Border Collie with so much energy. She chews our spa cover. She rounds up the kids, jumps on them and now they don’t like going out into the garden. What can we do?
A. Young dogs have a lot of energy, especially working breeds like yours. Border Collies are bred to work on farms, spending the days rounding up livestock. So it’s not really surprising that your dog now rounds up your children.
You are going to need to give your dog some more appropriate activities to do. All young dogs need to chew so providing chew toys or snacks is the best way of deterring her from your more precious items. Get a treat ball, fill it with tasty treats and let your dog chase it around the yard. Get the kids to set up an agility course with tunnels and obstacles to weave around. Lots of walks will be great for all of you to burn off energy and tension.
You also need to teach your dog how to behave. This means giving her some training, which can be as simple as asking her to sit before meals, snacks, patting or any other activity you do together. She will learn that she needs to be quiet and well behaved to get attention. Under your supervision you can then invite your dog inside your home to take part in family life. This will satisfy her desire for attention and companionship.
If your garden is very precious, then I suggest blocking off this area to your dog or accompanying her into the garden. Pups do not destroy our property to annoy us, just to make themselves feel better:)
Pup dislikes being touched
My wife’s friend gave us a 6 weeks old puppy. She was 1 of 6 pups and (Moolly the pup) is now 18 months old. We are also fortunate enough to share our lives with 4 cats. I wouldn’'t say they love Molly but they co-exist with a begrudging respect for each other. OK that’s the background.
In the early days Molly was equally loving towards my wife and myself. She was a typical sweet cuddly baby. There was only 1 thing that we thought she would grow (as her confidence grew) out of. That was her growling and biting the hand if her face area was touched. Now 18 months on Molly still won’t tolerate her face being touched anywhere else but not her face. When she needs trimming for example (every couple of months) we have to take to the vets to be knocked out. We have spent a small fortune on psychologists etc but Molly is still the same snarling and growling and a nervous anxious biting.
There is one other issue that appears to have developed almost overnight. She has decided (a couple of months after she arrived) that she hates me. She won’t come anywhere near me, she has tremours if I go anywhere near her growls and snarls then runs away. The only time I can touch her is when she has her face in a food bowl. She sometimes hovers around her food bowl (it’s as though she wants stroking but has to have her face in her bowl) silly as it sounds, she can’t allow me to know she wants loving. In conclusion she is all over my wife loving playing snuggling etc but she won’t let her face be touched as much as she really, really loves my wife.
You may have gathered that despite Molly hating me she is extremely precious to me and I love her dearly along with our other companions. I just wish I could kiss and cuddle her particularly on her face. If you could possibly help us in any way it would be really appreciated.
A. It sounds like you have a handful with Molly. When there is a problem that may result in potential aggression, then I am reluctant to give too much advice, other than urging you to seek professional help p just in case someone gets bitten!
We can only speculate what has happened to Molly in the past to make her dislike her face being touched. Perhaps she was hurt or had some pain in the area. I would suggest a complete physical vet check. Therapy for this type of behaviour includes gradual desensitisation to being touched. It is important that you seek help in designing such as program as I would not like you to be bitten.
Her behaviour has gotten worse to the point that you are now excluded in her affection. If your wife is the one providing all the food, walks and general care, I would suggest that you now take over. You should also ensure that you are in no way threatening to Molly, perhaps avoid eye contact, looming too large and even put on some of your wife’s clothing to mask your smell!
If your dog’s problem is based on anxiety there are some very effective medications that can be obtained from your veterinary surgeon. You may also find that homeopathic remedies help.
Lastly, I do believe from your brief description that there is a lot going on here and perhaps Molly’s behaviour verges on the ‘abnormal’. Thus your main port of call must be your vet. Please let me know how you go.