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Behaviouralist in the Staffs area anyone? (very long, sorry!)

(6 Posts)
SistersOfPercy Wed 09-Jul-14 16:06:54

I'm at my wits end with my Mum and her dog and she has finally agreed to hire a behaviouralist.

Mum is 78, the dog is a Shih Tzu who's 14 months old. Mum is active and the dog is walked 3 or 4 times a day. When out on a lead he started to pick up bits from the pavement and eat them. When he did this Mum would flap, screech, yell "DROP IT!" and inevitably the dog would eat whatever he had whilst bouncing away from her. After he swallowed some unknown item and became ill the vet and I suggested she muzzle him on walks until he'd broken the habit. She refused.
Fortunately he now seems past the picking up from outdoors stage but anything on the floor at home is fair game, and this is where the issues lie.

If anything is dropped, he's on it and he will not drop it. Offers of cheese are ignored and he bounces off with his 'prize'. A few weeks ago I dropped a sweet wrapper out of my pocket. He had it in seconds and Mum chose to ignore him rather that confront him. After a few minutes he dropped the paper near my foot so I casually moved my foot over the paper to stop him picking it up again....he bit my foot. I stood firm and he walked off, at which point I bent down to pick up the paper. The speed at which he spun around was frightening actually and as I picked up the paper he bit me badly on the hand leaving me with several deep puncture wounds, bloody and incredibly shocked.

Since then he's gotten worse. Nothing dropped or on the floor can be gotten off him and any attempts to try result in being badly bitten (yet you can take bones and food away with no trouble). Now Mum tells me she can no longer put his harness on because he goes for her when she does it and she's had to revert to a collar. I asked why she didn't see this as a big issue, her reply? "Well, he uses a collar anyway"

What scares me is there is no warning from him. I've had my own dogs for years and I appreciate they get pissed off from time to time and offer a growl as a 'leave me alone' but this dog gives no warning and just snaps. I've upset Mum today by admitting that actually I don't trust this dog at all, his behaviour is worsening and all my Mum can do is try and justify it by saying "well, he's dry in the house, he's obedient etc". He's also bloody vicious, he might well sit on command but then he'll have your bloody hand off!

I don't know what she's doing to make the dog like this, but she's had 2 small dogs in the past (another shih Tzu and a Yorkie) and both were nasty, snappy little dogs so I think it's fair to conclude it's something in her training methods. Sadly she doesn't see how it can possibly be her fault and has even gone so far as to blame the dogs bloody pedigree.

I'm hoping a behaviouralist can point her in the right direction and break the problems she's having with the dog because otherwise I can see a very bleak future for him. I've spoken to the vet today who hasn't really got any recommendations so I wondered if anyone had used a behaviouralist in the staffs area who you could recommend?

For info as I said, 14 month old male shih tzu, castrated at 8 months, fed Canagan.

moosemama Wed 09-Jul-14 16:14:50

You are doing the right thing getting a behaviourist involved.

Have a look here for an APBC registered behaviourist. I can recommend Sarah Heath, who covers your area, but is actually Cheshire based. Her details are on the list I linked to.

SistersOfPercy Wed 09-Jul-14 16:39:04

Thanks Moose. What worries me, and this will sound incredibly selfish, is that when Mum had this dog I agreed to look after him should anything happen to her. At present I wouldn't want him in my home at all because of his nature, it's not fair on my family or my own dog.

I really am at my wits end because any attempt to discuss his behaviour seems to be brushed off and justified by her.

moosemama Wed 09-Jul-14 17:32:29

It sounds like a very difficult situation, we have had similar issues with my PILs over the years and their refusal to take my advice resulted in them eventually having the dog pts, despite the fact I'd offered to take her and find her a new, more suitable home. sad So I know how frustrating these situations can be.

Your Mum's dog is young though and should be perfectly trainable, with the help of a professional.

Hopefully your Mum will be more likely to listen to a professional behaviourist.

SpicyPear Wed 09-Jul-14 17:49:33

It is absolutely the right thing to do but your Mum does need to understand that a behaviourist will not turn up and "fix it". Your mum will need to be willing to listen to the advice and consistently follow the steps given. This is likely to require significant changes to how she handles him. If she isn't on board with that it will be a complete waste of time and money.

SistersOfPercy Wed 09-Jul-14 18:00:32

I've told her that essentially she's got two choices here, put the time and effort into correction the issues and listen to the trainer or, face the inevitable that sooner or later the dog will be PTS because nobody will rehome and unpredictable, aggressive dog.

I think it's finally sinking in that she needs to stop making excuses for him and deal with him. I can't tell you how sick of hearing "but he's so obedient! He sits!" I snapped last week and told her it was like saying a murderer wasn't all bad because he kept his room tidy. Weird analogy I realise but it seemed to sink in.

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