I tried to reintroduce our Staffy to our (living elsewhere, now) Westie today.(6 Posts)
Since our Staffy puppy (11 months old) had the Westie by the neck twice, the Westie has been staying at my Mum and Dad's.
I took him to a behaviourist, who said that if he really wanted to hurt the Westie, the Westie would be dead, and there wouldn't have been much noise. She said that he's afraid of pretty much everything (I agree) and that we should work on 4 things:
- Push feeding to build confidence
- 'Look Dog' - click and treat when he looks at a dog on walks
- BAT if he's reactive - so click, turn and treat as walking away.
- Playing tug (we hadn't been) and letting him win always.
So, for the last month or so, we've been doing that. We also changed his food to Burns Potato and Pork, because his tummy seemed a bit sensitive (rancid wind, big fluffy poos).
We took him for a walk to drop DD1 off and Mum and Dad's yesterday. We didn't intend to go in, but DD2 wasn't feeling well, so we had to arrange for her to stay there until lunch as she wasn't up to walking any further.
There was much wagging on either side of the (closed) front door, from both dogs. There was much wagging and sniffing from both dogs, on either side of the stairgate at the lounge door. Then, I took the Staffy upstairs with me (still on harness and lead) but somehow, the Westie got out and upstairs.
The Westie came running up, tail wagging. The Staffy saw him, tail wagging. Lots of sniffing. I had just started to think that perhaps I could take the lead off, when suddenly the Staffy turned and snarled at the Westie, going for his neck, again.
Fortunately, the harness we got has 2 attachment points for the lead, so I was able to lift and turn the Staffy 180 degrees away from the Westie, giving the Westie time to run away.
Why is it that he seems so afraid of dogs he meets (ears back, body shrinking backwards and low, stiff hackles, tail tucked right under body), yet shows aggression towards the one dog he really knows and used to play with?
Whoo you are asking a lot of you dog. You know he is reactive and terrified yet let him met in a restricted area guaranteed trouble.
If you do want to reintroduce them (but it is going to be much harder now) meet in a large area eg football pitch and parallel walk them. Do not let them have head to head contact at all. Just walk them up and down the field beside each other wsith owners between each dog. I would personally start quite a distance away. - width of the football pitch. Then wave at your Mum and go home without any close interaction.
Do this regularly for a several walks. Gradually lessen the distance between the dog IF he can deal with it calmly. If not back to stage one again.
Then let the more reactive dog be slightly behind the other dog, so he can sniff familiarise himself with the other dog again go very slowly. Look for any calming signals and remove the dog immediately if you see them.
Tbh I would work on all meetings now with a qualified behaviourist as you have some work to do to undo previous associations.
Thank you, that's really useful. Quite honestly, I had no intention of them meeting again, it was simply that DD2 was poorly. I thought I had it under control by taking the puppy upstairs with me (on lead, with harness) knowing that the other dog was downstairs, behind a stairgate. Unfortunately, I think one of the children opened the gate.
I just tried googling "Push Feeding" but couldn't find anything - what is it?
Sorry, no help at all I know but am intrigued. But couldn't add anything to Cuebill's advice anyway!
Neil Sattin's Blog has an article on 'Pushing'.
It's a trust building method of feeding, where you offer small handfuls of food to your dog, but you provide yourself as an 'obstacle' to the food, by pushing slightly on the dog's chest as they approach, so that they have to build the confidence to push past your hand to get to the food. As their confidence grows, they're willing to push harder to get to the food. The idea, I think, is that they learn that you aren't a threat.
Oh, thanks Lougle, never heard of it!
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