Dog behaviour with Gwen Bailey - homepage
 


 

 
Dog Behaviour with Gwen Bailey - homepage
Home
Gwen Bailey
Your Feedback
Shop - buy online
Dog Behaviour Problems
& Cat Behaviour Problems

Dog Behaviour Problems: People & other animals

Thinking about getting a new dog:

Question: We would like to get a border terrier puppy as a companion for our 3-year old collie cross (and ourselves!). She is a neutered bitch should we go for another bitch or should we get a dog this time?

Answer: It is probably best to get a dog this time as dog/bitch combinations tend to get on better together than two bitches.

Two bitches can find it difficult to get on when the puppy reaches puberty and comes into season for the first time – not always, but sometimes – and it is worth considering a dog just to avoid this.

Male puppies can be a bit more boisterous and competitive than female puppies, but border terriers are not known for their behaviour problems so you should be okay. Good luck and I hope you enjoy him.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & choosing your puppy.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy

Question: We recently lost our cat in a road accident and our dog, Tim, has been upset and not himself for over a week. Would it wise to introduce another dog for company for him? We had been thinking about getting another dog before our cat was run over. Also, how would we go about introducing the new dog and would it be a good idea to get the same breed again (Tim is a collie cross)?

Answer: I think it may be better if you let him, and you, get over the loss of your cat first. Dogs do grieve when another pet they were close to dies, and it is important to give him the time he needs to finish the process. Getting another cat or dog too soon wouldn’t help and may cause even more anxiety.

Once he is back to his old self, introducing another dog would probably be a good idea. It may be better to choose a female and to pick one which has a similar activity level and personality to Tim.

If you get one from a rescue centre, you should be able to take him there and let them get to know each other first. Then you will be able to make a judgement as to whether or not they will be happy together when you take them home.

You may like to read The Rescue Dog which has more information on understanding & adopting a dog.

Question: Our golden retriever, Gemma, is 5 months old and very obedient. She loves attention and playing with other dogs. We are considering getting another dog ñ is Gemma likely to resent another dog in the household so early on in her life? If you think it would be a good idea, could you also give me your views on whether we should get a puppy or an older dog, rescue or not and whether there are any particular breeds we should consider? Thank you!

Answer: Gemma is will not resent another dog in the household, and will probably enjoy having another dog for company since she was obviously allowed to play with other dogs when a puppy.

The type of dog you get depends largely on what you want since, with an obedient, well adjusted golden retriever, you could take on just about any dog and be successful providing you get something that you can cope with.

So the breed and age is really up to you. Another puppy retriever may be nice, but there are many rescue dogs waiting for a home that make wonderful pets. If you get an older dog while Gemma is still a puppy, make sure it has no bad habits that may rub off on her.

If you get another puppy, I would advise you to wait until after Gemma has gone through the difficult adolescent stage (6-12 months). All owners experience difficulties at this time, no matter how good the puppy is at 5 months, and you will then only have one dog to cope with while this stage runs its course. In addition, the puppy will not learn bad habits from her during this time.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & choosing a puppy.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy

Question: I was wondering if I should get another dog as a companion for my Border terrier, Belle. In previous years we have always had two dogs at a time, but we lost our last one in November. She would love to play with the dog next-door, but aged 10 he is too old and growls at her.

Answer: I would suggest that you only do so if you, as a family, want another dog. It is not necessary to get one for the sake of Belle since, although she enjoys playing with other dogs, she will be getting enough social contact with yourselves to feel content if you are giving her enough attention. Since she is used to living with other dogs, I’m sure she would be happy to welcome another into the household – so it’s up to you!

Perhaps you would consider a rescue dog as there are always plenty of them needing good homes.

If you get a puppy, I would suggest that you try to bring it up so that it sees you as the most interesting animal in the family rather than Belle. Do this by playing with the new pup at least three times as much as it plays with Belle, and by taking it out and about on its own as much as possible during its first year. In this way, you will end up with a well-adjusted dog that does not miss Belle too much when, eventually, she gets old and doesn’t want to play any more or passes on.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy

Question: I would like to know if it would be practical for me to get a puppy. I have wide experience with dogs from cross breeds, especially English bulldogs. However I now live on my own and am out of the house for 8 hours (including travelling time) for four days per week. Would it be too unfair to leave a puppy alone for that length of time?

Answer: Yes. A puppy needs regular meals and toilet breaks, as well as social contact and education. Leaving a puppy alone for as long as you are out is not fair. Dogs are social animals and puppies, particularly, need plenty of social contact for the majority of the day.

In addition, they need to have someone around to housetrain them, feed them and teach them how to behave well – at least until they are a year old. Perhaps if you could find someone who could help out at lunch times, you could consider giving an adult dog a home. There are lots of them looking for a good home and you may be able to find a quiet, older dog that is happy to sleep for most of the time when you are out.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy

Question: For some time now we have wanted two Staffordshire bull terrier dogs, from the same litter, and are now in the position to give them a good home. However, it has been mentioned that this would not be advisable as the two dogs would not get on. What do you think?

Answer: Dogs live in a hierarchy and with two dogs, one always has to be the leader. Sometimes, two puppies from the same litter will be approximately the same size and strength and will fight for the leadership position. However, the real problem with getting two puppies from the same litter is that they grow up with a very strong bond which sometimes causes problems to their humans.

Generally, two dogs that have grown up together will be less obedient and less dependant on their humans, leading to greater problems of control, particularly when they are adolescent.

I think it is much better to raise one puppy well until it is a year old and then get another puppy. This gives you a chance to bring up the first to be a good role model for the other and gives you the joy of having another puppy later.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & choosing your puppy.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy

Question: We are trying to decide on a suitable breed of dog and our favourites are giant schnauzers and retrievers. Are either of these breeds particularly destructive? We want to be able to leave our new dog without worrying that they will chew the furniture.

Answer: Most puppies are destructive between 6 – 12 months when they would naturally be exploring their environments. Since they do this with their mouths, it is natural for them to chew things at this stage. Gundogs tend to be slightly worse during this phase than others, Labradors in particular, as they were bred to use their mouths to hold things and this seems to give them a propensity to chew.

With good management, this chewing phase can be reduced (see the leaflet ‘Chewing: how to survive it’ available from Blue Cross, Shilton Road, Burford, Oxon OX18 4PF, please send a donation and s.a.e.) You could consider a rescue dog instead that will have grown out of this stage, but make sure you get one that is not insecure or anxious as this may lead you into problems of chewing because of separation anxiety. Dogs are not always predictable and you have to ask yourselves if chewed furniture really would be the end of the world if it happened.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding chewing, teething & coping with being left alone.

Also see Gwen Bailey's articles on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy and Chewing & How to Survive It

Question: I already have two dogs, I work from home but I have a lot of space and time to give and I'd really like to give a home to a dog that would otherwise be unlikely to be picked. Which type of dog is the most often overlooked? Why is this?

Answer: If you happen to be a medium-sized, short-coated, crossbred black dog in amongst many other assorted dogs, you are least likely to be picked, particularly if you are getting on in years. People going around a rescue centre just don’t seem to see you. Even if you are the nicest, happiest, most enthusiastic dog at the Centre, people will just walk straight past!

Very pretty and even very ugly dogs will be chosen first. Dogs that have partly white coats will also be chosen quickly. Little dogs are chosen faster than big dogs, but very large dogs seem to go quite quickly, as do dogs of a definite breed. All of these seem to catch the eye of people as they go round a shelter but the poor old medium-sized black dog doesn’t seem to get noticed.

Most people, if left to their own devices, will make a decision about a dog that is going to live with their family on nothing more substantial than its appearance. People will choose dogs that look like ones they used to have as children, or one that they have owned previously. Very little thought is given to the individual character of the dog in question. Often, this is not helped by the rescue centre that may display few details about the dog’s personality, or may not even know any.

At The Blue Cross, we try to help people make a choice on the basis of character rather than appearance. We try to get them to think about what might suit them and look at the characters of the dogs we have in the kennels on paper in the office before they go out to see the dogs themselves. Dogs and new owners are often much better suited to each other as a result. As a by-product of this process, we have found that all dogs stand an equal chance of being rehomed, even medium-sized black mongrels.

If you are at home all the time, you may like to consider an older dog, perhaps an elderly dog. Elderly dogs often come in to shelters, usually when their owner dies, but people are reluctant to take them on because they realise they may only have a few years left, or think they may need expensive veterinary attention as they get older. However, these ‘oldies’ are often very rewarding, very little trouble to look after, and are usually very loving too.

You may like to read The Rescue Dog which has more information on understanding & adopting a rescue dog.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Assessing the Behaviour of Dogs in Kennels

Question: I've never owned a dog before and would like to start with one that is easy to train, easy to groom, not too demanding on the exercise front and very unlikely to be aggressive - now matter how unassertive I am. In the past I've been afraid of dogs, but have overcome my fears with a few small dogs that belong to my friends. They're so gentle and affectionate ­ but I fear my lack of experience and my low confidence may mean I fail.

Answer: You are sensible to consider your requirements and personality so carefully before making a decision. If more people were like you, the rescue homes around the country wouldn’t be so full of young dogs that haven’t lived up to their first owner’s expectations.

If you are thinking of getting a puppy, I would suggest you look at dogs from the toy group rather than dogs that were bred for working or guarding (most books covering the different breeds will tell you how they are classified into groups). Toy dogs were bred to be companions and so are more likely to be gentle and affectionate and not have any of the strong working traits that can so easily get novice owners into trouble. They are usually small and not bred to have great energy or stamina, so are usually content with less exercise than those bred to do a specific job. Perhaps a Cavalier King Charles spaniel or a Bichon Frise may suit you.

If you do buy a puppy, make sure you sign up for puppy education classes so that you can get expert help with any difficulties you may encounter. Going along to some now before you get your puppy will help you to learn what is going to be necessary and may boost your confidence.

Alternatively, you may find a very suitable dog at a rescue kennels. The advantage of getting an adult is that the size and characteristics are already evident. Also, they are slightly easier for a novice owner as the housetraining, chewing, and education stages are already passed (hopefully, someone else will have done a good job!). Small, nice dogs are in great demand, but you may be lucky and end up with a lovely little dog that is just right for you.

You may like to read The Rescue Dog which has more information on understanding & adopting a rescue dog.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & choosing a puppy.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy

Question: I want to have two dogs and would like your opinion as to whether I get litter brothers, litter sisters or one of each sex. Which combination would make the best buddies? I want them to be close in age so that I get all the housetraining over in one go. Can you see any problems with two pups at the same time.

Answer: Two dogs from the same litter rarely work out as well as you imagine. Littermates have each other to communicate with and so do not need to go to the trouble of learning how to deal with humans as much as a single puppy in a household. They also spend a lot of time playing with each other rather than with people. This builds a very strong bond between them but leaves humans out of their social scene.

Consequently, many owners that have raised too puppies together do not have as good a relationship with them as they would like. This can result in difficulties such as not wanting to come back when called, especially when they are playing with other dogs in the park, or preferring to spend time with each other rather than with the owner. It can also be difficult to handle dogs that have grown up in this way in times of difficulty because they haven’t had the same exposure to humans and have not learnt to trust them as they should.

It is possible to raise two puppies together, but you will need to put a lot of time and effort in to ensure that things do not go wrong. As anyone who has raised just one puppy knows, they can be very hard work. To raise two successfully you almost need to put twice as much effort in, and it can quickly become a full-time job! You should not skimp on the time needed to raise a puppy correctly as you will affect all of the rest of its life by doing so.

Instead, it is much better to wait until one puppy is fully mature before getting another. Puppyhood is not just a chore, but a lovely, sweet, funny time that should also be enjoyed and you will have the pleasure of going through it twice. And, at the end, if you have played your role well, you will have two beautifully behaved dogs that are a pleasure to own.

Whatever you decide, getting one of each sex (and making sure they are neutered once they mature!) will help to avoid any rivalries that sometimes occur with evenly matched adult dogs of the same sex.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & choosing a puppy.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy

Question: I have very recently had to put my little dog to sleep. My husband and I are devastated, it hurts so much. However, people tell us there is another little dog out there waiting for us. We are in the process of looking. We are considering getting two puppies, probably from different litters at approx. the same time, one may be here 10 days earlier. What I wanted to ask was is this a good idea? They will be two girls.

Will they be ok together? I have read about the use of cages for training in dogs today, would I put them in the same cage? Obviously I would get a huge cage. They are miniature long haired Dachshunds. Any other tips or opinions would be gratefully received. We are two very lonely people right now and trying to keep positive and plan ahead. Please can you help us? Thankyou

Answer: I can imagine how much you must be hurting. Just a few weeks ago, my lovely dog died aged 14 years. The stronger the bond, the greater the hurt and we had had a very strong bond which lasted all her life. Coping with the sadness and loss felt when they go to a better place is, as I’m sure you are aware, no joke. Time and tears do heal the pain eventually, but when it’s happened so recently, it seems like it may take forever. Different people deal with their grief in different ways and one way is to begin planning for the next dog in your life.

This is not my way, but I have a friend who has recently lost a dog who cannot wait to get a puppy. I would like to sound a note of caution here though. Some people rush into getting another dog before they have finished grieving for the one they’ve lost. When the new dog arrives, they find they cannot love it as they should, find themselves comparing it to their old dog and find all manner of faults with it. They don’t mean to, but they are just not ready to love another dog yet. The poor dog is prone to developing a whole range of behaviour problems as it tries to get the love and attention it so desperately needs. This may not happen so readily if you are getting a puppy as they are so completely different to an adult dog, but even so, it may be sensible to be sure you are well on the way to recovery before you take on another.

On the subject of getting two puppies, please don’t!

Just one is more than enough to cope with if you are raising it well. Two puppies tend to bond more strongly to each other than to the humans in the household and are often more difficult to control and less successful as pets as a result. In my opinion, it is much better to get one now, enjoy her puppyhood and bring her up to be well behaved and then, when she is fully mature, get another puppy.

You then have the joy (and the terrors!) of another puppyhood and your existing dog can help teach the new pup good habits. Make sure you play at least three times as much with the puppy as she plays with your first dog so that she will get to know and love humans as much as she enjoys the company of other dogs.

As far as cages are concerned, I think it is a good idea to have a puppy play-pen where you can put a small pup when you cannot supervise. A play-pen can be large enough to have a sleeping area and a toilet area. Cages are not usually big enough for this and you are faced with the dilemma of whether to leave the door to the cage open when you go out or risk forcing them to toilet in their beds if you are a little late getting home.

I am not a great fan of cages as I have seen them cause horrible abuse when used by ignorant or lazy owners. In the right hands, they can be useful, but I think you can be more relaxed if you know your puppy has plenty of room to move around and go to the toilet if necessary. Not that you want it to happen too often in the play-pen of course, but if you really can’t be there for some reason, at least you are not forcing your puppy to wait too long or go in his bed.

Good luck with your next pup or puppies and I hope you will soon be able to look back and be content with all the happy times you shared with the dog you miss so much.

You may like to read The Perfect Puppy which has more information on understanding & choosing a puppy.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Ingredients for the Perfect Puppy and Indoor Kennels (Wire Cages & Crates)

Question: I hope you can advise me on the dilemma I'm in at the moment. I am a professional dog walker who has only been in business since September and I am trying to build myself a good reputation and gain the trust of dog owners in the local area. However, I've found myself becoming increasingly concerned about one of the dogs I walk on a daily basis.

Meg is a small, intelligent, rescued cross breed of about 11 months old. You couldn't meet a sweeter, friendlier dog and I've been walking her for about eight weeks. Her owner is a single man who obviously loves her but works full time and therefore has to leave her alone in his flat for 12 hours a day.. He keeps a couple of cats as well but I believe Meg is his first dog. Meg was until recently kept in a small kitchen area about four and a half foot squared, with a basket, a bowl of water and usually a rubber toy. However, for obvious reasons, Meg, to relieve her boredom discovered the joys of chewing things which were left within reach. She also began to leave the occasional puddle on the floor.

During the day, I would turn up at lunch time and take her out for at least an hours run and play with a couple of other young dogs. However, it seems that when the chewing started, her owner contacted the local RSPCA to ask their advice on using a crate for Meg and I'm told that they informed him that it was totally acceptable to leave her in a crate for the 12 hours he was out barring the hours walk I give her. Hence, one lunchtime I turned up to find her crying frantically in a shiny new 3ft crate where she'd been enclosed for 6 hours and had another 5 hours to tolerate in the afternoon/evening. I took her out for an extra hour that day but found the whole situation quite distressing. Since then, she has been left in there on a daily basis, most days without water (she's fed on a complete dry food diet and the central heating is kept on high), with only a hand towel to sleep on and a rubber toy to chew on.

I then got into the habit of collecting her earlier in the day and keeping her out with me for as long as possible, sometimes up to 5 hours whenever possible Eventually, I left a letter for her owner, trying to explain that although he loved his dog, she had various needs and couldn't be kept this way and asked him to ring me to discuss the situation. He was obviously angered by my letter (tact is not one of my strong points) and left a reply for me explaining that he was doing his best for Meg and that he knew the situation wasn't ideal for her but "nor is life". He finished off by telling me that Meg must only be walked by me for the hour as he didn't want her getting used to anything else.

So what do I do now? Am I interfering or am I correct in thinking the situation is intolerable for a young dog? I do not find her owner the easiest person to communicate with and as time goes on, I find myself growing angrier about the whole situation. Please advice. Perhaps you have some suggestions as to how Meg could be entertained when at home. She does have a treat ball which I recommended and a Kong. Her owner pays me £25 a week and could not afford to spend any extra on dog care.

Answer: Oh dear! This sort of mistreatment is exactly why I hate the indiscriminate use of ‘indoor kennels’ which can so easily be turned into a particularly cruel type of doggy prison. Their increasing popularity means that this situation is not uncommon and unintentional abuse all too easy and acceptable. The situation is not helped by people who should know better giving bad advice. Leaving any dog in a small cage for 12 hours is downright cruel and the maximum they should be used for is 2 hours – only then after a good deal of exercise and stimulation. If you are looking after a dog properly, fulfilling all its needs and giving it enough exercise, you really don’t need a crate anyway as they will lay down and sleep whenever you leave them.

I don’t envy your position as the temptation to get angry when you see your little friend so badly treated must be overwhelming. I wonder if that was why your note was so badly received. Perhaps it came through loud and clear that you didn’t approve, even though you tried to disguise it. I suspect the owner has a degree of guilt about leaving her also so it was easier to dismiss your concerns than to tackle a difficult subject or admit he was wrong. Also, once he had dealt with a problem satisfactorily as far as he was concerned, I expect the last thing he wanted was someone telling him he hadn’t done a good job.

Now that you have introduced the idea of a crate as not being the best way to solve the problems, I would suggest a face-to-face encounter with him. Intentions can be badly misconstrued in a letter or during a phone call, and there is a risk of things being taken out of context which may make him even more angry. A few meetings are probably better than one big one as you will get too worked up if you have to get everything sorted out at once and he is more likely to change as much as you need him to if you can do it slowly over time.

Perhaps you can make these meetings seem to happen by chance, e.g. you could accidentally take her lead home with you and then, realising your mistake, return it to him when he gets home from work. In this way, you are not building ‘the meeting’ up in both of your minds. I think it would be much better to pop round in a friendly way, instead of meeting because there is ‘something to discuss’ which may scare both of you!

Your attitude will be very important. I think you will need to go in with some degree of humility - after all, it is his dog. Try not to get angry or defensive, but keep thinking of the situation from his point of view. He is trying to do the best for his dog, keep his job and protect his house from gnawing little teeth. Your job is to try to persuade him that there is a better solution and that you are willing to help him. I think you can only achieve this from the standpoint that you have some good ideas and you are happy to help him make life better for Meg if you can. It may help to write down what it in it for him if he tries your suggestions before you go and keep them in mind throughout your meeting. Whatever happens, avoid being judgmental. If he gets difficult or cross, let it go and just keep being friendly, gently trying to bring him round.

If you are thinking of the problems from his point of view, the most important thing is to stop her chewing things she shouldn’t. I think you should try to bargain for her freedom for just half a day to start with and, if he is satisfied with that, try for a whole day later. Somehow you will need to weave into the conversation that you have a good way to tackle ‘adolescent chewing’ which is more permanent than keeping her confined. Tell him that the ‘adolescent chewing phase’ usually lasts from 6 – 12 months. By providing plenty of things for dogs to chew, you can get them over it more quickly. The best way to do this is to buy 10 different chews/strong toys (like the Kong).

If he will buy them for her (offer to go the pet shop yourself as he may be too busy), you can leave her out of the cage with two of these items every afternoon. This will keep her occupied and, if he picks them up when he comes home, there will be enough different chews for her not to see the same ones for a whole week. This will keep her so interested in them that she is unlikely to want to chew anything else. Choose toys or chews that can be stuffed with cheese or meat paste so that she can spent lots of time licking and chewing to get it out.

These chews and toys will need to be replaced or renewed from time to time, but once you have got him into the habit of buying these things for her, the replacement ones shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Once she is out of the cage, you can go back to using the treat ball as well. When you put treats in the ball, tape up one of the holes so that it takes longer to get all the food out.

Another point to tackle at some stage is the idea of soaking her food. Dry food tends to make them very thirsty quite soon after it is eaten. Once her body requests water, she will tend to take on more than she needs and this is later excreted. If there is no one there to open the door, the only solution is to make a puddle on the floor. Soaking her food will help to prevent this and, once he knows she will not drink excessively, he will no longer feel the need to remove her water.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Indoor Kennels (Wire Cages & Crates)

Question: Should I get another dog as a companion for my current dog, or would it spoil his good temperament?

Answer: It depends on the other dog. If it is badly behaved and a strong character, some of the bad behaviour could rub off on your existing dog, particularly if he is easily led. If the new dog is well behaved, things could work out well.

However, if your dog has a good temperament and a strong character, it is likely that he will be a good influence on the new dog and make it easier for you to integrate it into the family. It would not recommend getting another dog as a companion for your current dog unless you really want another dog yourself.

A second dog can need a lot more work, time and effort, so make sure you are taking one on because you want to. There is likely to be a period of adjustment before both dogs settle down of about 6 months. If you have chosen your new dog well, it should be possible to sort out most minor behaviour problems during that time.

If you chose a female, she will probably get on better with your male dog than another male.

You may like to read The Rescue Dog which has more information on understanding & adopting a rescue dog.

Question: We are trying to decide on a suitable breed of dog and our favourites are giant schnauzers and retrievers. Are either of these breeds particularly destructive? We want to be able to leave our new dog without worrying that they will chew the furniture.

Answer: Most puppies are destructive between 6 – 12 months when they would naturally be exploring their environments. Since they do this with their mouths, it is natural for them to chew things at this stage. Gundogs tend to be slightly worse during this phase than others, Labradors in particular, as they were bred to use their mouths to hold things and this seems to give them a propensity to chew.

With good management, this chewing phase can be reduced (see the leaflet ‘Chewing: how to survive it’ available from The Blue Cross, Shilton Road, Burford, Oxon OX18 4PF, please send a donation and s.a.e.)

You could consider a rescue dog instead that will have grown out of this stage, but make sure you get one that is not insecure or anxious as this may lead you into problems of chewing because of separation anxiety.

Dogs are not always predictable and you have to ask yourselves if chewed furniture really would be the end of the world if it happened.

You may like to read The Rescue Dog which has more information on understanding & adopting a rescue dog.


Also see Gwen Bailey's article on
Assessing the Behaviour of Dogs in Kennels

Back to Dog Behaviour Problems


Click on a picture to learn more ->
Click on a picture to learn more ->
Training for Life - Puppy/Dog Training Classes in a box!
The Rescue Dog/ Adopt the Perfect Dog by Gwen Bailey
The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey
What is my dog thinking? by Gwen Bailey
What is my cat thinking? by Gwen Bailey
Good Dog Behaviour/The Well Behaved Dog by Gwen Bailey
The Puppy Handbook/ The Ideal Puppy by Gwen Bailey