I rarely see Basset Hounds either at my classes or at Home visits so it was a pleasant surprise to be asked to help a nine month old that was testing her owner’s patience and self belief. I only met one owner today, our original conversation had scheduled a meeting for next week but following that telephone call I received a call requesting an interim session because the dog’s separation issues were escalating and causing additional stress.
I arrived to find a young dog, an owner and a young child. This is usually a recipe for stress and change when a young dog and a young child are in the same house as demands for attention are increased. When one of the parents is back at work, the remaining parent effectively has two children to look after and when the human baby is their first, they have enough on their plate. To then add another baby into the house only places more demands on the stay at home parent. To make matters worse, only one of the babies will learn to speak our language, the other will remain confused and mystified by our attempts to communicate.
The Basset was protesting when she was left at home alone and this had spread to demanding attention when the parent was at home. Bassets are just like any other dog and they need attention and company, like all animals that live in a family group so to isolate them will create stress and confusion and this young Basset was suffering from isolation. To add to the issue, her stress and vocalisation of her stress was attracting the interaction of her owner so she had quickly learned to demand attention with stressed behaviour and this became normal.
Normal that is except the dog does not know it is not normal behaviour nor is it a behaviour your dog would choose yet we force it upon them by ignoring them when they are relaxed and quiet. Add to the mix a human child also occupying a great deal of the owner’s time, it is not surprising stress becomes a normal behaviour. Starting to retrain the owner, and next week I will have both owners to work with, I can teach them to reward the dog for being calmer and stop the separation anxiety forever and leave them a happy and contented family who can enjoy each other.
I then went on to the next Home Visit and arrived to find another Basset and a male this time. I don’t see Basset Hounds for years and then I see two in one day.
The issue here, I was told, was explosive aggression when seeing another dog. As usual, I was told he was the perfect dog in the house and the owners were perplexed by his behaviour outside the house when he saw other dogs.
The picture in the house however, was far from perfect once the behaviour was observed and described for what it really is, not what the owners think it is. We as humans will mistake a dog demanding attention for affection and reward it from that view point. This just perpetuates this behaviour and this actually makes it impossible for your dog to relax as it has to be on the go all of the time to get any communication from us at all.
Reward your dog when they are relaxed and not demanding attention, reward them when they are calm, relaxed and next to you and that is where they will prefer to be. Then you will be your dogs best friend.
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