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Question of the Week

This is the latest question of the week. Each week we answer one of the submitted questions and publish it here.

Tammin asks...

This question is about: Digging Separation Anxiety Other

Ollie escapes from our yard, he jumped and then we fix that by extending our fence but now he has ripped into another fence and broke it. We fix it up everyday but he still manages to get it down. Then he digs in all the gardens. We exercise him in the morning and afternoon we also leave toys and boredom breakers. He also has another dog with him during the day but still tries to escape. We dont know what to do. We think he may have separation anxiety and if so how would i fix that. We would really hate to have to get rid of him. He even tries to escape when we are home and he is just eating outside.

Hi Tammin, dogs escape for lots of varied reasons. Hopefully Ollie is desexed, as this could be a reason if a bitch nearby is on heat. Separation? maybe,  although he is doing it when you are home. He could be. looking for a stronger pack is another, he knows where to find food now by the sounds of things, so that could be another reason.  If a dog has strong pack leadership from the adult humans in the home then that is what makes them feel safe. Make sure he does not get through any gates or doors first, up any stairs ahead of you ( you can practice this one on lead if you have any stairs, take one step at a time, stop and make Ollie walk beside you . Never letting him get one step ahead of you.)  In the dog world it is very simple,  the leader always leads, so when you allow him get ahead of you in the home, in the yard, when walking you are allowing him          (unwittingly) to be the leader of  your pack.  On lead walk around your yard just holding the lead handle, and whenever Ollie walks ahead of you, immediately turn and walk in a different direction, taping your leg to let him know where you want him to be, keep doing this until he stops trying to be the leader and understands you want him walking beside or behind you, never in front of your legs.  Daily basic obedience on lead is essential programming so he knows you are the pack leader.   Things like sit, stay, doors, stairs as described above. Also coming when called, use a lead so he cannot ignore you. When he comes home do not take him through the house back into the yard, put him back through the side gate.  You need to educate him that you are the leaders so he feels safe, to a dog safety is leadership. Hope this help. 

Nina asks...

This question is about: Recall or not coming when called

My dog is awesome and has been a breeze to train picking up things easily and responding to my authority from day 1. However, his one area of weakness, in that the training is not so effective is the off leash recall when there is a distraction. His main distractions are children running or playing nearby especially if they are on bikes or scooters, joggers and swimmers even his much loved ball or a stick isn't enough of a temptation to get him to ignore these distractions. He wants to join in the kids fun or accompany the jogger or rescue the swimmers. Any other time calling his name in an excited voice works fine.rnrnHiring a training is not an option financially at this stage but I wondered if you have any suggestions that might be worth trying with him to stop him in his tracks and get him to come back to me under these circumstances.

Hi Nina, dog recall (coming when called) is one of utmost importance. We sell 10 meter recall leads and Keiko your local trainer could sell you one of these.  Do not let your dog off lead until he not only comes back to you, but stays until you give him a command that he may walk away.  Most dogs are not focused enough on their owners and get very excited when out and about off lead.  So many distractions!  Most issues we see on a daily basis is that humans do not have everything we know you need, in place around the home environment before letting their dogs off leash to run free. The dogs quickly learn from an early age to come back when they want not when you request.  Also many owners with this behavioural issue tend to grab the dogs collar so the dogs learn to keep at arm distance so that physical restraint cannot take place. Playing ball in your back yard is a very good start, you need to teach him to stop and come back to you (& stay there beside you until you release command is given) 'before he reaches the ball'. Then you know he is listening to you with distractions.  If you cannot get that control in your yard it will never happen at a park or beach where so many distractions are happening. Start by throwing the ball a short distance from yourself, say a meter, do not throw it all the way down to the back of your yard, start using small distances first to get that control, then throw further when you see progress.  Hope this helps.  there is also a great Bark Busters book which may help you, Keiko also has those.  

Nikisha asks...

This question is about: Aggression to a dog or other animal or where the dog is aggressive to the owner or a stranger Hyperactivity Puppy Management Other

I have a pit bull x american bulldog, been around 100+ dogs. sharpei x american bulldog been around 30 or less dogs. My two dogs have just fully changed. Sharpei x american bulldog, shes very dominant, but iv'e always been able to snap that out of her around other dogs. We went to the river 1 day with 6+ other dogs and puppies, and she was fine. Until a older dog came and snapped and bit her, she attacked the other dog ''not bad but my dog was on top of the other dog, she stopped and let go when i yelled at her to stop. My pit bull x american bulldog has been around at-least 100 different types of dogs and puppies. Our friend has moved out and we are pet sitting his puppy who id say is 5 months, our dogs have meet his 5 or so time. And they are just snapping at him, and my sharpei x attacked him for sniffing her parts, and stopped when i told her to. But my pit bull is just seriously trying to start a fight, Hes up in his face licking him, sniffing him and chase after him. Tries to play with him then tries to bite his mouth, this is not how he reacts to other dogs, this is the first time hes acted like this, but then this is the first time another dog has come onto our property could that be the reason for both of there behaviors? My partner tried to introduce them last night when they first turned up, but like iv'e told him many times, not to introduce them with out me, he doesn't listen and does it anyways. My dog the sharpei x tried to attack the puppy last night, but his dog the pitbull didnt. The puppy is a boy, neo x bullmastif i thinkrn. Now the puppy, shows, excitement, playful, not playful and scared all at once. It's sending mixed messages to my dogs. He will jump around, jump into a playful position, then jump back, put his tail in between his legs, back down, then jump back up into a playful position. The puppy tries this with my sharpei x american bulldog, she will stand in the same position, not changing her body movement, seriously looking confused and if the puppy does it to my pit bull the puppy will jump into a playful position, then when the puppy jumps back, he jumps towards the puppy to play, and the puppy puts his tail between his legs, and walks off, which starts my pitbull off and he starts to chase after him. Could this also be because of how the puppy owner treats him? Clapping your hands really scares him, he sits, with his head to the ground and tail between his legs. His body language is just full off, hes all over the place. Unsure of everything, could this be triggering my dogs to act this way?

Hi Nikisha, dogs meeting in a park on neutral territory is one thing, sometimes nothing will occur, however we know that many fights do start in this environment as people that do not have 100%  off lead control let their dogs off lead, and many dogs are bullied by a dominate dog, usually the female.  Bringing any new dog into a dog home territory can result in a fight and changes the whole pack dimension.  they should always be introduced in a neutral environment on lead first. Then you have some control should anything occur. Your female Sharpei is dominant and if another dominant dog approached her and snapped of course if you do ot have leadership control she will attack. She just put that other dog in its place, however no dog should feel they need to snap at any other dog (or human) in any circumstances. When you friend moved out, again the pack dynamics changed. Dogs 'play' is usually ascertain body language behaviour, and both your dog can read this.  Older dogs can have short patience and will snap/bite if pushed.  Your leadership over all dogs needs to be the same.  They all need to respect and focus on you with normal daily training, you need to train one dog at a time, your dogs see themselves at the pack leaders and that's not what they should be feeling.  Leadership is safety to a dog, so if the humans are not displaying the necessary consistent and strong leadership skills to the dogs, then its survival instinct that the dogs provide that for themselves and all other dogs within their pack.   There should be no favoritism with any dog, treat each dog exactly the same, same rules, same leadership. Not you train your dog and he trains his dogs all dogs need to listen to all humans adults within their territory.  Or fighting and over exuberant play may lead into something way more serious resulting in an expensive vet visit. We have trainers in Auckland, Wellington and the South Island that can help you with an in home visit. Dog do not analyse a situation as us humans do, and we see daily owners misinterpreting their dogs behaviour from their human point of view - this is where it all comes undone and becomes a serious behavioural issue that needs prompt addressing .  

Natasha asks...

This question is about: Hyperactivity Jumping up at visitors or the dog jumps up at people on walks

Vali has a tendency to be quite 'mouthy' with us and anyone visiting, putting her mouth on peoples hands but not biting. As her teeth are really sharp, sometimes this can cause pain but I think it is unintentional on her part. She also jumps up to lick faces. Please, what can I do to stop this from happening.rnAny advice is greatly appreciated!!rnMany thanks rnTash

Hi Natasha - there are many reason why dogs do what they do.  Try freezing your hand  ( they follow movement as play time) and using a mist spray in her face using the word you use when correcting her.  Never use her name to address unacepotable behaviour though.

Stephanie asks...

This question is about: Barking at people, dogs, animals, birds or where the dog barks for attention or at the slightest noise Separation Anxiety

My Husband and I are newly married and bought our first dog about 3 months ago. I have established myself as the 'alpha human' and have taken the time to teach Biscuit various commands. Generally he is a very well behaved puppy and we have no real issues with him. The issue arises when he is left alone. We have a crate in the lounge which is always open for him to go in and out as he pleases so he isn't scared of the crate. However we lock him in there when we are not around (he is very used to this and also was also crate trained for toilet training). Biscuit gets himself into such a state when he knows he is about to be put in there and his little heart races!! I arrive home after only a few hours to find a destroyed bed and a wet face and paws. I have tried giving him treats for when he gets put in there but he is not interested in these at all. I recently had a complaint from a neighbour stating he was barking non-stop while I away and they are getting very tired of this.rnI should also mention that he is literally my shadow and follows me everywhere, even when my husband is home. I fear I have caused this issue as I love this little guy to bits!rnI look forward to any advicernSteph

Hi Stephanie,  Biscuit is experiencing severe separation anxiety when left alone by the sounds of your email. Place his food in there at meal times leaving the door open and turn his crate into something positive again.  Also close the door when you are home and address all barking or anxiety with the word you would use (other than his name) when he is  showing stressful signs.   Don't condone that behaviour by reassuring him this give him the complete opposite message i.e. oh I got a treat so I must be doing ok... 

 Also suggest separation periods between him and you when you are home - place the crate with Biscuit inside other rooms so he gets used to you being home but not always him being in 'your' space. Do not make a fuss when you leave or return, ignore his excited behaviour - I know this can be hard - but this displays good leadership for dogs. Call him to you for a pat after a few minutes, never move towards him.  All good leadership in your dogs mind.  To a dog leadership is safety so you need to make him feel you are providing that leadership.  Please feel free to contact your local trainer on our free call 0800 167 710 for more information or assistance with your training . With over 1 million dogs trained over 27 years we can help you.

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