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Why can’t I take my dog to the fair?

Here are some thoughts on how to enjoy an outing with your dog, just as you planned when you got your dog! | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #anxiousdog, #overfriendlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Well … maybe you can. Maybe you have a bombproof dog who loves everyone and likes nothing more than all the busyness, noise, and goings-on at your local summer fete.

Then again, maybe your dog is like most dogs, and finds traipsing round a hot and busy fairground, on a short lead, with children screaming, people laughing, smells of burgers, spilt chips in the grass you won’t let him eat, loudspeakers blaring - a complete nightmare.

You can’t put him back in the car as it’s way too hot. So your unhappy dog is stuck with this for as long as you choose to stay at the event. Hot, bothered, fed up.

Now this is where you’ll send me a photo of your dog on your last outing, quietly standing beside you. All the more surprising to you because your dog is usually wary of strangers and other dogs, and seemed to be “absolutely fine” in the midst of thousands of them.

“He’s fine!” you’ll assure me.

But it’s very likely that this change in behaviour was not down to him “being fine”, rather that he’s “shut down”. This is a coping mechanism we all employ when overwhelmed.

We become subdued, we stay quiet, make ourselves small. We hope not to be noticed, spoken to, or challenged.

It’s a form of learned helplessness.

We know that nothing we do will change the situation, so we give up. Surrender to our fate. But it doesn’t mean we’re enjoying it!

Your dog, as I so often say, is the exact same. He finds himself in a situation he can’t handle. With hundreds of people, children, dogs, in close proximity, he knows he can’t employ his usual methods of requesting space - barking, lunging, screaming, snarling - which work like a charm at removing the approaching thing from their path, or getting themselves removed by an embarrassed owner.

Watch and wait

Put some planning into place when you are visiting an exciting event with your dog, so that it goes as smoothly as you planned when you first got him! | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #anxiousdog, #overfriendlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Some dogs will be much happier out of the thick of things, on the sidelines where they can safely observe what’s in front of them without having to scan the full 360° (see there’s nothing behind this puppy in the picture - she only needs to check in front of her).

He will also appreciate you watching how he is (soft mouth, soft ears and shoulders, no gasping panting, head not dropped, no twitchiness or slinking about) and removing him from the situation after maybe as little as three minutes. And yes, you can’t plonk him in the hot car or you’ll have a worse problem! Take him home.

You may be surprised that even your very friendly dog finds a busy outing a bit too much. Continually being restrained from jumping all over a thousand new friends who must want to meet him, will wear him out!

If you’re planning on visiting a big event, put your dog in training for the occasion. You can start with a walk past the local shops, sitting at the other end of a school road at school-out time, a shopping centre car park on a quiet day, a busier day, a Saturday …

Don’t plunge him into a new and strange environment, which could cause him distress, without finding out beforehand how he’s going to manage.

Then you can amend your plans accordingly. We can enjoy our family outings, but we don’t necessarily need to take our dog.

Here are some more articles which will help you understand just what’s going on with your dog when you’re out and about:

How to get calmer dogwalks

How heat can affect your dog’s coping skills

How to plan a successful day out with your dog

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My dog knows he's done wrong

Dogs don’t do things for no reason - learn their language! | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppytraining, #dogbodylanguage | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

No he doesn’t!

He has no idea!

All he knows is that you are cross and he has not got a clue why!

So he runs through a series of appeasing behaviours to show that he’s no threat. This may include lowered head, looking away, lowered body posture, creeping, slinking away, screwing up his eyes and grinning, licking his lips, yawning, walking in slow motion silently, licking you, jumping on you, nudging you, burying his head in you. A young puppy can even lose bladder or bowel control in his distress.

All the while you are wagging your finger, shouting or yelling - or worse (as anyone who had a vicious headmistress like I did will know!) going very, very, still and quiet and saying “What. Do. You. Think. You’re. Doing?”

He doesn’t know. Really. He’s a dog.

Dog Body Language

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Dogs express themselves largely through their body language. While most people see nothing - just a dog - it’s in fact a sophisticated language which is very clear, once you learn it.

As a dog-owner it’s your duty to learn Dog Body Language!

You wouldn’t adopt a child from another country and refuse to listen to anything she said until she could express herself fluently in your language. It’s such nonsense when you look at it like that!

So know that you have to observe your dog, look out for every ear-twitch, every sideways glance - what’s his head doing? what’s his movement telling me?

There are some good resources online for learning these movements. Here’s a good one from the amazing artist Lili Chin, of the Body Language of Fear in Dogs

Dogs don’t “look guilty” - learn their language and communicate better with your pet!  | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppytraining, #dogbodylanguage | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Do you recognise some of these from your own dog? Start looking! You’ll see them all, in time …

So why does he look so “guilty”?

All this is telling you that telling your dog off and assuming that because he slinks or cowers or looks away, he understands what you’re on about, is mistaken! (That’s polite-speak for WRONG!)

Dogs don’t “look guilty”, or “know they’ve done wrong”. Something a few correspondents have been trying to tell me this week.

Those awful videos that get circulated online - of dogs “looking guilty” - are horrible. Anyone who actually understands dogs knows that the dog is deeply unhappy and distressed by the hostility her owner is demonstrating. Having no idea of the cause, all she can do is grovel. Setting these situations up and videoing them is cruelty, no less.

What can you do instead when something you don’t like has happened?

The first thing to do is to look at why the thing happened. And very often you’ll find the finger is pointing at … yourself!

Dogs don’t “look guilty” - learn their language and communicate better with your pet!  | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppytraining, #dogbodylanguage | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

◆   Who left the dog alone with the kitchen waste bin?

◆   Who left the door open so that your curious dog went out through it?

◆   Who failed to follow a force-free housetraining program and now has a confused dog who doesn’t know where to relieve herself?

◆   Who left valuable yet chewable items within reach of a puppy who has as yet no boundaries?

So if you come home to find a mess, just clear it up quietly, while resolving to change your own habits so that it can’t happen again.

Our dogs have it hard enough living in our strange world without being told off for breaking rules they didn’t know existed! If you follow this path, you’ll have a hard time ever gaining her trust.

My dog knows when he's done wrong

 

My dog doesn’t need a muzzle

Should my sighthound wear a muzzle? I’m worried that people will think my dog is aggressive and I’m a bad dog-owner! Find out the truth here | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #greyhound, #exracinggreyhound, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Oh yes. He does!

All dogs need to be familiar with a muzzle and accept it without demur. There are lots of reasons for this - safety round other dogs, keeping other dog-owners away, scavenging and picking up stones and slugs, for treatment at the vets - the list goes on.

I think a lot of the antipathy to muzzles is because of some wrong thinking. People think that if a dog is muzzled it is dangerous. In fact, it’s the safest dog around! His armoury is all behind closed doors.

But people seldom think this through. That doesn’t matter when we’re talking about other people. But when we’re talking about you, the owner, it does matter!

Why do owners resist teaching their dog to wear a muzzle, and why should they anyway?

I go into detail on this subject in my post at https://www.brilliantfamilydog.com/blog/should-my-dog-wear-a-muzzle

So here I want to focus on the most depressing thing I see.

Greyhounds

I know personally of two gruesome cases where unmuzzled greyhounds attacked a small pet dog. In one case a beloved puppy was ripped to pieces in front of his family. In the other case a small dog was almost pulled apart by two unmuzzled greyhounds but rescued by brave passers-by. It took many months of care from her vet and her distraught owner for her physical wounds to heal, and her PTSD-type memories are still needing work, years later.

It’s fashionable for people to adopt ex-racing greyhounds. These dogs are usually spent by about 3-5 years of age (if successful) and earlier if they were not winning.

Sighthounds are naturally quiet and biddable most of the time. They can make great pets in the home. They like to sleep 23 hours a day,  wake up for a bit of food then go back to sleep.

But you have to remember:

 

These dogs are killing machines

Now before you throw up your hands in horror and stuff my inbox with complaints, think about what they have experienced all their lives. They have been trained to chase down anything small, fluffy, or fast-moving, and kill it. That’s what they’re bred for, and that’s what they are encouraged to do.

They are muzzled from an early age, usually with comfortable, light, racing muzzles that allow them to pant freely and drink.

In some countries, greyhounds must be kept on lead at all times in public, and the number of greyhounds led at a time is limited. In some countries also, greyhounds need to be muzzled at all times.

To be fair, some of the greyhound adoption agencies recommend that at least to start with your ex-racer should be muzzled in public, though it’s not the law in most of the UK (Northern Ireland excepted - where all sighthounds must be muzzled in public). It’s so easy, because it’s what they’re used to!

Your newly-adopted ex-racing greyhound is an unknown quantity to you. You need to take precautions for many months before you know whether you have one of the lazy ones who couldn’t be bothered to chase anything, or one whose switch can be flipped in a second, triggering a chase that no dog or cat can escape.

The owner of the greyhounds in one of the instances I mentioned above had only had her two dogs for a couple of weeks. She had NO idea how dangerous they were, singly, and together. The adoption agency had not told her anything about the dangers, only that these were gentle pets. This nonsensical approach caused the horrible incident where the new elderly owner watched - screaming helplessly -  while her two new dogs attempted to pull the small dog apart.

She was traumatised by the event, paid the victim dog owner’s vet bills, and returned the dogs immediately to the adoption agency.

Unnecessary suffering

These horrors were totally unnecessary!

 

  • If the adoption people had faced the truth and told it to the new owners;

  •   If the new owners had had the sense they were born with and took steps to take the firing pin out of their dangerous weapons;

  • If an inexperienced elderly lady had not taken on two large dogs trained to kill;

  • And if owners of small dogs were aware of the danger;

 

all this may not have happened.

 

Small-dog owners need to take care

Should my sighthound wear a muzzle? I’m worried that people will think my dog is aggressive and I’m a bad dog-owner! Find out the truth here | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #greyhound, #exracinggreyhound, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

My smallest dog is fluffy and fast. So whenever I see ex-racing greyhounds on my travels, Coco Poodle is either close to my feet on lead, or I pick him up, to remove the instinctive visual chase response from the hounds.

And before you all sharpen your quills and dip them into poison ink, I declare that I have a sighthound too. She was never raced, but her chasing instincts are strong. See the power in her leap! But yes, she does sleep most of the time!

More commonsense tips to be found in this free 8-lesson email course to get you started with your dog

     

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Fluffy Puppy turned into a snarking monster? 5 steps to enjoying walking your dog again

This article was first published on 4knines.com and is reprinted here with permission.

Pins Maxx Payne.pngCan you enjoy walks with your reactive dog again? Change some of the things you’re doing and see the change in your dog! | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #anxiousdog, #fearfuldog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

That sweet pup who at a couple of months old was so adorable that you wanted to show her off to everyone, has gained half a year and grown horns!

She barks and lunges at every dog or person she sees – and you wouldn’t want anyone to see your dog now … So you only walk her at The Hour of the Difficult Dog. You’re embarrassed. Confused. What have you done wrong?

What she’s showing is a fear reaction which can appear in adolescence.

It may have resulted from not meeting enough dogs and people in her first few weeks with you; it may be that some time another dog or person gave your pup a fright; it could just be that she’s cautious and fearful by nature.

It’s not wrong or bad – it’s just the way she is. And you still love her to bits!

So how can you improve this and get your fluffpup back again?

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

     

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1. Understand

Your dog is not aggressive or nasty - she’s afraid. The reason she’s barking and lepping about on the lead when she sees another dog or person or bike is that she’s trying to keep them away! Quite often this apparently aggressive display will do the trick, and either the other walker heads off, or you drag your dog away in embarrassment and confusion. Once she’s upset and the hormones are flying around her body, she’ll be quicker to react to the next frightening thing she sees.

2. Make Distance

If your child had a fear of spiders you wouldn’t keep confronting him with the wiggly beasties. So, for the time being, avoid confrontations with other dogs. Walk where you won’t have dogs “in your face”. Turn and go the other direction when a dog is walking towards you along the street. Just knowing that she never has to meet another dog or person will take a lot of the pressure off your dog and allow her to keep calm.

 

3. Get rid of any gadgets or collars that hurt her

It stands to reason that if, every time you saw a red van someone choked you with a prong or chain collar or – worse still – gave you an electric shock, you would soon get very anxious about red vans. You would try to get away from them, and if you saw one coming you’d probably start to scream in fear of the anticipated pain. So ditch all those things that people tell you are the answer, and just have your dog on a comfortable, soft, flat collar and a good length lead so she can move freely.

 

It’s not the dog that has to change! Change your own mindset and change your dog!  | FREE EMAIL COURSE |  #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #anxiousdog, #fearfuldog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

4. Change her Perception of Dogs and People

Before you set out on your walk, load your pockets with tasty treats that you know your dog will sell her soul for. Tiny cubes of cheese or hot dog will do the trick, or high-quality grain-free treats may work. Every time you see something coming, pause - and post treats into your dog’s mouth as she watches them. Treat, treat, treat … very fast. Be sure you keep beyond the distance at which she usually gets worried. Stop feeding once the hazard has gone away. If you are consistent with this, she’ll soon see a strange dog or person, turn to you and say, “Where’s my treat?” Result!

 

5. Still afraid your dog may bite?

You need to find a certified force-free trainer who understands how to help fearful dogs. Be aware that using any sort of force or punishment in this situation will make things worse. If your dog has already bitten or you’re really afraid she will, you can acclimatise your dog gently to a basket muzzle. Use the system at no.4 above so that she is delighted at the sight of her muzzle. The muzzle has the added benefit of keeping people and their dogs at a distance – just what you want for now!

Follow Steps 1 – 4 above and you’ll start to build your dog’s confidence and be able to enjoy your walks again.

 

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

     

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Shouldn’t my dog come when I call him?

Teach your dog to come back on one call - every time - by changing the way you call her! | FREE GUIDE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Many people believe that dogs arrive with us with a perfect recall - fully operational.

How wrong can we be?!

People think that as their dog SHOULD listen to them and come when called, then he WILL.

So they sit astride their high horse of SHOULDs and OUGHT-TOs and watch their dog disappearing into the distance without even a flick of his ear.

We expect to spend years - many years - teaching our children what we want them to learn.

So why on earth do people think that they don’t need to TEACH their dog to come when called?

What actually happens is that your tiny new puppy arrives with what you THINK is a recall. But in fact it’s just his infant clinginess and need to stay “close to Mum”. He has an instinctive need to stay close to the mother-ship and be protected.

As time goes by, your pup gets BOLDER and more venturesome. As he moves into adolescence, he gets further and further away from you (and further and further into possible trouble) and you find that your previously-dependable recall is no longer there.

lab pup racing away.pngTeach your dog to come back on one call - every time - by changing the way you call her! | FREE GUIDE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Suddenly you have a “bad dog”, a “stubborn dog”, a dog who “never listens”, a dog who winds you up “on purpose”.

And this is the most common age when dogs are surrendered to a shelter for someone else to deal with. How tragic is that?

And if you’ve started with one of those dogs handed in to a shelter - who you’ve fallen in love with and have given a home to - then YOU have the task of undoing an awful lot of early learning from his puppyhood!

But it’s quite possible!

Even famously “deaf” breeds - who get on a scent and become totally immersed in it, or who spot a tiny movement in the undergrowth in the distance and barrel after it at high speed (that would be my Cricket the Whippet!) can learn to pay attention to you and demonstrate a stunning, instant, fast, spin-on-a-sixpence, recall.

Imagine how life with your dog will change when you’re able to say his name quietly and he’s right there beside you?

Imagine how it will be when you see your dog disappearing after a rabbit and you can call, just the once, and have him hurtle back to you?

Teach your dog to come fast when you call - every time - by teaching her what you want! | FREE GUIDE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

You’ll be glad to know you never have to treat your dog any differently than you’d treat your small child! There’s never any need for nasty gadgets, tellings-off, yanking the collar, and so on

And I can show you lots of kind methods that really work.

Mark your calendar for June 10th!

I know it seems miles away, but it will come round in no time. I’ll have something for you that will transform your recalls FOR EVER!

AND it will transform your relationship with your dog, and your enjoyment of him. After all, that’s why you got your dog in the first place, isn’t it?

I look forward to seeing YOU on June 10th, ready to learn the mysteries of making your dog a brilliant family dog.

Meanwhile, check out my book with loads of games and ways to get on the road to getting that recall re-installed and fully functional.

 

Yet more answers for you in this free 8-lesson email course for changing your life with your dog!

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Shouldn’t my dog come when I call him?

 

Hooray for change for your dog! Discard the old labels

Reactive dog, aggressive dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | It’s not the dog that has to change! Change your own mindset and change your dog!  | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I just had the amazing experience of working with over a thousand people in my 5 Day online Workshop for Growly Dogs

And as ever, I learnt as much as my students did! Only perhaps in different ways. 

These were people who had got a dog in the hope of having a companion they could take anywhere - on country walks, visits to friends and cafes, perhaps as an agility star - and what they got was something very different.

They found themselves dealing with a dog who was naturally shy and fearful, or who had had bad learning experiences which coloured his reactions to anything new or different. These dogs continually perplexed their devoted owners, who were doing their best in trying circumstances.
So I was happy to be able to give them some practical advice, along with some thoughts on changing their mindset to help them.

What I learnt was that these people were selfless in their dedication to helping the dog that they got. Not perhaps the dog they had anticipated. But they set themselves to the task of helping this new person in their life with admirable tenacity, continually searching for better answers. And these better answers were what I aimed to give them!

 

Want to make a start on this change?

Join our free 5 Day Video Mini-Course and change your dog by changing your mindset!

 

How will changing my mindset change my reactive dog?

For many, just changing how they thought of their dog made a huge difference in their dog’s behaviour! 

Crazy, eh? But true. 

If you continually refer to your dog as a rescue dog, a problem dog, a difficult dog, trouble, a nuisance, stubborn, you are giving yourself an excuse to fail.

Once you accept that this dog’s history is just that - history, and that he is now your dog, you have to take responsibility for the situation and make some change happen!

The renowned Veterinary Behaviourist Karen Overall says: 

“What we call something matters
because it shapes how we think of it.”

That is SO true! And it’s what many of the Workshoppers found! Changing how they described their dog changed their own perception - and produced some surprising results. 

I’d add to this my own saw:

What you expect is what you get

If you call your dog difficult, annoying, troublesome, a rescue .. You are expecting her to behave in that way. And guess what? She will. Once these students changed their way of seeing their dog, the dog miraculously improved!

Of course this goes for children, spouses and work colleagues too. We are very quick to attribute thoughts and motives to other people. Slow down and question that! And get rid of those labels!

How many of us grew up thinking we were “no good at maths” - or art, or music - because of the careless remark of a teacher in infant school? Perhaps we’ve spent our whole life believing an opinion made in a moment when we were 5 years old! Once we get a label we find it hard to see past it, whether it's on ourselves or someone or thing that we’ve labelled. 

And this applies to your dog just as much as to you. If you think you’re no good at maths because someone once said this, then saying “We can’t walk past another dog without an outburst” is going to result in … yes! an outburst, every time!

It’s not about the dog

Reactive dog, aggressive dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | It’s not the dog that has to change! Change your own mindset and change your dog!  | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So many of the students in the Workshop had positive results, and were proudly posting of their successes, that I realised that this is a big hole in the approach that many people take to dog training. 

They think it’s about making the dog change.

Whereas, in fact, it’s you that has to change!

The added bonus here is that as you remove the labels from your dog, you begin to see her in a new light. You start with a clean slate - just you and your dog. Now you can build that bond so that you know just where you are together - no doubts, no misgivings, no apologies, no blame.

Try it. 

Spend today blitzing your mind for those labels and removing them. Speak and think of your dog as … your dog. Think of the good things that she does, the moments of joy she gives you, and describe her as those instead. 

Expect only the best from her, and you’ll start to get it.

 

 

 

 

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for making change with your shy, fearful, anxious, reactive, aggressive - Growly - dog