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Please help - neighbours staffie

(28 Posts)
Piggyleroux Wed 07-Sep-11 08:37:52

i need advice urgently.

Our neighbours are a nice couple in their mid fifties with their two sons living with them. Two weeks ago, we were chatting outside and she said that they were taking on their nieces four yo staffie as she kept him cooped up in a flat all day and could not care for him. She said that they had never owned a dog before and were a bit nervous. I personally thought it was a bit silly to take on a staffie if you have no previous experience of caring for a bull terrier type but hey ho just my opinion.

Anyway, they brought him home and we saw him out on a walk with them. He was actually taking them for a walk.He is a large boy, unneutered and extremely boisterous. He is not socialised at all and they have to keep him on a lead when they are out because he dominates other dogs to the point where he pins them down by the scruff of their neck.

My issue is this. He can get into my garden. Last week he pinned down my 16 yo JRT bitch who was desperately trying to get away so I had to turn the hose on him to get him off. We have had to lock the dog flap so she can't go out in the garden unless we are with her. There are multiple holes along our hedge which has a preservation order on it so we can't replace it with fencing. My dh has blocked up the holes but the dog keeps barging his way in. He poos everywhere to mark his territory I presume.

We spoke to the neighbours and they are extremely apologetic but have not done anything to remedy the problem. I don't want to fall out with them but this is really becoming a problem.

Any ideas?

Kladdkaka Wed 07-Sep-11 10:01:05

I'd get a roll of that green wire fencing stuff, trim back the hedge as far as you can, roll out wire fence and fix to the hedge then wait for the hedge to grow back and cover it.

Scuttlebutter Wed 07-Sep-11 13:15:30

Firstly, please have another word with your neighbour, and make it very clear to them, politely but firmly, that unless matters improve quickly, you'll be taking further action, as detailed below. Make it clear what you expect - dog to remain securely in their garden and to be well mannered on walks where he encounters other dogs. Depending on response, I'd also go as far as to follow up with a written note, keeping a copy.

I'd advise contacting your local Dog Warden asap. Ask them to have a polite word with the owners as soon as possible, both about the straying into your garden and the behaviour when on walks. This dog will end up with a very short life expectancy if it continues to "pin down" other dogs by the scruff of the neck, that's potentially the sort of thing that ends up with police involvement. Dog should also be neutered asap.

As Kladd has said, this fence needs mending urgently - I'm not a fence expert but usually with hedges it's perfectly possible to have a secure wire fence in front of the hedge without disturbing the planting. Yes, it's a pain that you have to do this, but the security of your garden and your own dog is more important.

It may be that your neighbours are finding the dog a bit of a handful - if you know of any good dog training classes in your area, then let them know about them. Lots of courses are just starting, now that it's September.

If the neighbours are social housing tenants, or private tenants, then have a word with landlord - it's potentially ASB, and for private tenants, they may not have consent to keep pets.

If you feel it necessary to take the nuclear option, then consider legal advice, you may be covered for this as part of your pet insurance. The DogLaw website is probably a good first port of call for specialist legal advice on dog issues, but you may also find that your pet insurance has a legal advice helpline.

The situation sounds as though it needs to be resolved urgently as otherwise the dog is the one who will be paying the price for his owners lack of action.

SootySweepandSue Wed 07-Sep-11 13:23:16

We had a similar issue except we have a baby not a pet dog. Our neighbours did nothing and we witnessed the dog leaping through a thick hedge that did have wire in it. We ended up having to pay £1.5k for fencing. The alternative was to face a probably unproductive legal battle which we didn't want to do as they are horrible criminal people, plus we were mindful of the fact that we would have to declare such an issue when we sell the house (@2yrs time) and it would put off buyers. I really hope you can encourage them to act on it themselves. Any other neighbours affected??

Marne Wed 07-Sep-11 13:27:59

I'm not sure who should fork out to secure their garden but if i was you i would put up some fencing to keep the dog out and keep your dog safe, maybe you can come to sme agrement with your neighbour? W ehave a staffie and i do kind of agree that they need an expereanced home. ours is fine with other dogs (will happily talk to the neighbours dog by sticking her nose under the fence), she does tend to take me for a walk and i keep her on a very short lead, luckily she's a small staffies so easier for me to control, no dog should be off the lead (whatever bread it is) unless in a large open area where there are no people or other animals.

Staffies are usually very soft and easy going but are a bit stupid so need to be trained and put in their place, if you let them take over then they will. Your neighbour needs to get him castrated and do some training with him, also she needs to make sure the dog can not get out and attack other dogs. Have a word with them and explain that you are worried about the safety of your dog.

Tchootnika Wed 07-Sep-11 17:53:22

It's your neighbours' responsibility to sort very strong (and IMO quite high) fencing out ASAP.
You need to explain this to them very nicely, and without coming across as some kind of hysterical Staff-phobe (not that that's how you sound, just that there are quite a few of them about, IYSWIM).

You should also explain that however lovely their Staff, they do need to be careful around other dogs. It sounds as if he's still young, or maybe it's because he hasn't had the exercise/training that he needs and deserves... It's quite typical of young Staffs to want to bound up to other dogs demanding to play, and obviously this can lead to some nasty situations. Please try and get it across to your neighbours that they've got to control this, for the sake of their lovely dog.

I agree with Marne, but please also explain to them that they've got to manage this dog properly for his wellbeing as well as other dogs'.

ChristieF Wed 07-Sep-11 18:08:19

We had major problems with bees about 15 years ago. Our neighbour was an idiot who knew nothing about keeping them. They constantly swarmed in their hundreds of thousands into neighbours' gardens because he didn't know how to manage the new queens. It was a matter of time until someone was seriously hurt or died. I was often trapped at the bottom of my garden with my baby son with no way back to the house and safety. He wouldn't listen to any of the neighbours. The loacl council took on the case and forced him to move the hives to a farm he had a few miles away. They used the new Nuisance Act (1991 I think). He would have been prosecuted otherwise. Contact your local council. They will have a policy. We weren't charged at the time. I don't know if it's still free. We have 2 Jack Russells (both mini girls) and I would be mad as hell if this happened to them. This is trespass. Also our cross breed dog recently died. She was a staffie cross. We had her 14 years as a rescue dog. Several vets told us that hatred of other dogs is inbred in staffies. They are extremely hard to control as they are so powerful and extremely vicious with outsiders. Our dog was always muzzled when out

PersonalClown Wed 07-Sep-11 18:13:29

I don't think Staffies are naturally dog aggressive. Mine isn't, he loves to meet other dogs. He's just a bit too dominating so I keep him under control.

Maybe you could suggest a Halti or Gentle Leader for walking if they plan on keeping him?? Mine is such a puller and a Halti cuts that right out.

ChristieF Wed 07-Sep-11 18:13:48

In fact the local dog rescue centre is inundated with staffies, so that tells you something. They need serious control and training. We loved our staffie cross very much and she was the best dog in the world at home. I have had dogs all my life and six dogs together with my husband and I am very wary of staffies. I walk well away from them. It takes very little for them to kill a small dog. If your neighbour's family can't handle the dog what makes them think they can? They need experienced owners

ChristieF Wed 07-Sep-11 18:17:13

Yes our cross had a halti it didn't stop her dragging me down the streetand she was small Also she would stand up on her back legs and scream (and I mean scream) if another dog came close. We could never walk her near other people. She once ran over two hundred yards to attack another dog. Nightmare really. I love all dogs but if your own dog is small you can't let a bigger one attack it. And it was vets saying these dogs had issues not me

Tchootnika Wed 07-Sep-11 18:18:49

Christie F - I'm really sorry to hear about your bee-keeping nuisance neighbours, it sounds awful. Also sorry to hear about the death of your dog.

I have to say, though, the vets who told you hatred of other dogs is inbred in staffies were quite simply wrong, as is the idea that Staffies are extremely hard to control as they are so powerful and extremely vicious with outsiders

If these things were true of your dog, then that will have been specific to her, possibly because of her background. It's certainly not true of Staffs as a breed. They're in fact naturally quite sociable towards other dogs, though they can be overly boisterois, and (some) people's erroneous beliefs about Staffs are a quite dangerous thing to add to the mix.

As a breed, Staffs are also notorious very poor guard dogs. Why? Because they love people so much!

ChristieF Wed 07-Sep-11 18:19:41

I think the thing is that staffies are very protective of "their" family. The people they live with and they get over-protective. They give you a lot of love

PeelingmyselfofftheCeiling Wed 07-Sep-11 18:19:49

My understanding is it is the dog owners' responsiblity to make sure that the fencing adequately contains their dog, regardlesss of who owns the fence, if you see what i mean. So because we have GiantPuppy we have added extra trellis to discourage him from scrambling over our fences although I'm pretty sure only a 6ft wall would actually stop him.

What I'm a bit confused about is if these holes in the hedge have been there all along, doesn't your JRT go through into their garden? Never met a JRT who could resist a good hole! So in other words it would be up to both of you to make sure the hedge is secure on both sides of your garden - presumably by adding some kind of separate layer of fencing on either side? Or if your dog never has shown any inclination to go through, then it is just up to them, but they do have to do it.

PersonalClown Wed 07-Sep-11 18:29:21

The large number of Staffies in rescue are thanks to the chav arseholes who want a tough 'status' dog and then realise that they are as soft as shite and more likely to drown you with their slobber!

Or well meaning (or thick depending on how you look at it) owners get them as gorgeous little puppies and don't think of how they will be in 6 months time when they are piling on the muscle, then can't control them or walk them. So they dump them and move on to the next fad.

Vallhala Wed 07-Sep-11 18:29:26

"In fact the local dog rescue centre is inundated with staffies, so that tells you something"

Sure it does. It tells you that people are stupid and that many reject the idea of adopting this lovely breed because they think that what they read in the Daily Mail can tell them more about dogs, rescue, training, rehabilitation and rehoming than an experienced and reputable rescue.

Scuttlebutter Wed 07-Sep-11 18:47:40

Christie, I'm sorry to say your vet was talking complete bollocks. I've recently done my Kennel Club Gold Award with one of our greyhounds. The class was a lovely mix, with a Ph. D level Border Collie, and, you guessed it, a staffie. The staffie was absolutely gorgeous, with a lovely nature, who sailed through his test, and got on brilliantly with all the other dogs in the class. He also does agility with his owner.

He was a rescue, who had no training to start with, but fair play to his owner, she really put in some hard work with him, and it paid off in spades. He was a fabulous ambassador for the breed. Bear in mind that for the test as well, a complete stranger (the examiner) has to come in and give the dog a thorough physical examination, and the tests include things like observations on how they walk on the lead, cope with distractions, behaviour on the street and so on. The merest hint of any form of aggression, growling etc to either people or humans will result in the dog failing the test.

I've met some very poorly trained Staffies, but I've also met some really delinquent Labs - in fact, my heart sinks when I see yet another poorly trained, tank like young lab causing chaos and mayhem in the park. Maybe it's because they're mainly owned by nice middle class people in wellies, nobody minds?

The OP's neighbours need a serious "Come to Jesus" over this dog - but I really don't think it's a breed specific problem in this case, much more to do with poor socialisation, a fence with holes, not enough exercise and still having his nadgers.

Vallhala Wed 07-Sep-11 19:10:51

Beautifully put last sentence, ScuttleButter. grin

As for the boundary issue, Piggy, on top of all that ScuttleButter has advised (particularly that you lay it on the line to the neighbours that you WILL take further action if you have to) it's occurred to me that you should be doing something about the holes in the hedge regardless. You have a dog and no matter how good she is there's always a chance that she could be tempted to stray and of course she will be at risk of harm if she can escape. Besides, she's also at risk of theft if she's allowed out in the garden unattended... and yes, sadly, a 16 yo JRT is at risk of theft, it isn't solely the preserve of puppies and more expensive breeds.

MotherJack Wed 07-Sep-11 19:38:16

Lol at "nadgers". Is the technical term "Gonadgers"? grin

Wholeheartedly agree with the huge majority on this thread. It has nothing to do with the dog being a Stafford. And Staffords in particular, in my opinion and experience, do not get over-protective of their families. They make shocking guard dogs (useless, in fact). They do need someone who understands their boisterous nature though. Many people get them as they were the latest status dog and now they are hideously overbred they are free or cheap to any one who has no cash and no time and no interest.

It sounds very much like this dog has not been socialised, Piggy. Any dog who has not been properly socialised can be aggressive. I am sorry that you are experiencing this and I hope that you can work things out with your neighbours and that your neighbours can in turn work things out with the dog.

And as a random aside, I'm not a fan of the RSPCA, but I like this...

Piggyleroux Thu 08-Sep-11 08:25:00

Right. So dh went next door last night and told neighbours he would help erect some fencing their side. They went into the garden and looked at the hedge and it is basically impossible to effectively block up the holes without significantly cutting back the hedge which we can't do because of the preservation order.

Dh explained what had happened regarding our JRT and again they were very apologetic but a bit vague about what to do. Dh suggested that they stay outside with him and they agreed to do this.

He was in our garden again last night and this morning. My JRT now won't go outside at all unless we are with her. I have just seen them taking him for a walk and he is dragging them down the road.

I am now thinking of barbed wire balls in the hedge at least he can't barge through them.

Piggyleroux Thu 08-Sep-11 08:28:15

Thanks for the replies everyone.

Kladdkaka Thu 08-Sep-11 09:14:21

There are other ways of keeping the dog in his own garden without resorting to hurting him. Here in Sweden we don't really have fences between neighbours, even back gardens are open plan because they are so big, but we manage to keep them under control (most of the time). In my garden I have:

1. a 3ft picket style fence just around the patio area with a gate to the rest of the garden.

2. a removeable dog fence which attaches to the other side of the picket fence so the gate can be open and they have more space. Looks like this except it's opened up at one end and attached to the wooden fence. Also the panels fix together so we have 2 lots which makes it twice the size.

3. halway up the garden we have these attached to a tree. Doggies get to explore more without absconding.

There are other ways too:

4. our neighbours have a wire line about 8/10 ft up in the air from their back door to the end of their garden. This has a cable leash hanging down from it. They can open their backdoor, clip the dog on, he can run up and down the garden without getting tangled, neighbours don't get invaded.

5. if all else fails, they'll have to invest in one of these

tabulahrasa Thu 08-Sep-11 12:14:17

Take him back every time he comes in your garden, grab him, knock on their door and physically hand them the dog because you found him in your garden again basically make it really irritating for them too so they have to do something about it.

It's even more annoying if you're cheerful about it tool, because they can't even moan about it. lol

Vallhala Thu 08-Sep-11 12:55:32

Piggy, you're going to have to come down hard on the neighbours.

TELL THEM that without further ado you WILL be calling the Dog Warden out to issue them with a warning (he/she will advise too, but that's by the by) and if you have an anti-social behaviour officer in your district/city/borough council that you WILL be reporting them to him too.

This can't go on, it's bloody stupid!

That the SBT has pinned a little Jackie and not ripped her to shreds suggests that he's poorly trained but not a true danger to other dogs - or at least not to bitches - and of course even if he is dog-aggressive there is no correlation between that and aggression to humans but that's not an absolute of course and there is no ruddy way that you should be expected to take the chance with your Jackie just because the neighbours are lamely incompetent and unwilling to do as they have reasonably been asked.

Warn the feckers too that legally the SBT encroaching upon your land is a trespass and that THEY will be liable for any and all damage caused by him, together with any resultant court costs including, I would imagine, those for wider damages such as emotional distress.... and tell them that you won't hesitate to take legal action.

In fact, given that they've taken no flaming notice of your requests so far, you may be wise to put the above in writing, keep a copy and send a copy to the Dog Warden for his information and action. That's assuming that you have one... a lot of councils now only have someone allocated to pick up strays and no DW as such so thus no-one with legal knowledge or the capacity to advise/warn. Nonetheless a letter stating about the trespass and saying that you will take legal action to prevent it if it happens again might be the way to go, as draconian as it sounds.

Have you spoken with your insurers re a legal helpline yet?

HTH. smile

Vallhala Thu 08-Sep-11 13:15:54

Piggy have pm-ed you with some info which I hope will help.

Marne Thu 08-Sep-11 16:52:31

Agree with Vallhala, it doesn't sould like aggresion, he has not been trained, probably wants to play with your dog but doesn't know his own strength (very common with Staff's), my Staff was attacked by a jack r when she was a pup which is probably why she's a bit of a wimp now (really scared her) but she does get over playful with some dogs and will pin them down with her leg (this is why she stays on the lead unless playing with another Staff), Staffs are better with bigger dogs as they are then put in there place and not the top dog, maybe you could borrow a great dane to give the dog a shock next time he comes through into your garden? grin.

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