Dealing With Our Dogs

The past few weeks have been a very busy period where I have been working with a wide variety of dogs, I think the two Huskies were very special. A two-year old male and a younger female were presenting problems, the male in particular was really scaring his owners with his aggression. His aggression had escalated to the point he had bitten members of the family as he now wore a muzzle as a preventative measure, but his aggression was getting worse and his family had to consider their options. When everything they can think of had been tried and nothing has worked and even the boarding kennels they use have refused to take him because they cannot get near him to remove his muzzle because he gets so aggressive. If they can’t take his muzzle off, they can’t walk or feed him and they are genuinely scared of him.

It was the boarding kennels owner who recommended me as I have another client whose dog is aggressive who could only stay at the kennels if I visited every day to feed and walk him, I did and when the dog was with me, he was fine.

When I spoke with the owner on the phone, it was clear this problem had got them at breaking point and of the behaviour could not be changed, and then the dog was not going to live very long. I made the appointment and I was told the dog would be muzzled when I arrived.

The appointment arrived and when I walked into the house, both the dogs were outside so I asked for them to be left out there so I could assess their reaction to the appearance of a stranger. I approached the patio doors and it was the female who was the most reactive and stressed. The male was more scared at this point but the tension in his body was tangible, even on the other side of the patio door. If they were let in to the house in this frame of mind, it was clear to see why he had bitten people.

The first change I made was with the door, I opened and closed it several times in quick succession which created uncertainty in the dogs and as they backed away from the door, I spoke to them to reward the change in behaviour. I kept this up until they were calmer and then I let them in and there was no barking or attempts to bite. The male came in had a good sniff, stood next to me as stiff as a board and then slowly walked away and as he did so, I spoke to him. This continued for only 30 minutes and by then he was relaxed enough to lie down with his back to me. He was responding very well to the changes.

The female on the other hand was where the problem stemmed from as she was constantly pestering the male, jumping on him and generally bothering him to the point he would have to be assertive with her. The whole environment was full of stress.

By interrupting the female from bothering the male and then speaking to her for calming down, by the end of the hour, they were both much more relaxed and the owners were very happy.

During a follow-up phone call, the owners told me the transformation in the male was amazing and it was the female who was persisting with the stressed and challenging behaviour, which came as a surprise, even though I had mentioned this to them at the start of the visit. I gave then more advice on how to deal with her behaviour and this advice is helping improve her behaviour. The advice involves a time out for barking and pestering visitors and increasing the duration of the time out until she has genuinely calmed down and then they can speak to her to reward the calmer behaviour.


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