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Dog Behaviour Problems
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Dog Behaviour Problems: Your dog's behaviour


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 rescue dog.

Question: Until 2 weeks ago I had 2 westies, but Jock died aged 15 and has left me with Robbie. I understand how he misses Jock, they had been together for 14 years. Robbie has started chewing the door frame when I leave him to go to work. I have tried leaving the radio on and giving him a toy but he continues. Could you give me any advice? I don't want Robbie to be unhappy.

Answer: I’m sorry that you have lost Jock after all those years with him. It’s not surprising that Robbie is unhappy since he has probably never had to learn to cope with being left totally alone.

Dogs are very social creatures and, ideally, need to learn to deal with isolation when they are very young.

At 14 years, it is probably a bit much to expect him to learn now and you may have to accept that it is too difficult for him at his age. If you are at home most of the time, you could begin leaving him on his own for short periods (about 5 mins at first) and gradually build these up until he can cope with longer absences.

If you go out to work for long periods of time, you will not be able to do this and I suggest you find someone who would be able to look after him.

Unfortunately, getting another dog is probably not a good option. Although it may be company for Robbie, it would not be the same as having Jock with him and you may find that he passes on his distress at being left to the new dog so that you have double the trouble.

If you need further help with this problem, please contact The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors

Question: Until yesterday, I had two cats, Stilton and Chester. Chester was fatally hit by a car on Sunday night and was found by the side of the road outside my house by the newspaper boy. The cats were twin brothers and had never been apart from birth for more than a few minutes. They were extremely close and now that Chester is dead, Stilton is inconsolable and has taken to sucking his own fur as if comforting himself (he used to suckle Chester's fur as a kitten). Is there anything I can do to make things easier for Stilton?

Answer: I’m very sorry you lost Chester. Cats do grieve and just like humans, it takes a while for the greiving process to be worked through.

During this time, try to keep to the normal routine, make him as comfortable as possible, and give him plenty of love and attention. Let him suck his fur, as long as he doesn’t make his skin sore, or see if he will accept a cuddly toy as a substitute.

Then, it’s just a matter of giving him time and space to get over it. You don’t say how old Stilton is but the older he is, the longer it will take for him to recover.

It’s not a good time to introduce another kitten or cat – it will be no substitute and may aggrevate the situation. Eventually he will get used to being alone and then, if you want to, you can try introducing a new kitten into the household.

Also see Gwen Bailey's article on Object Sucking in Dogs

Question: I have recently lost one of my dogs to heart failure and, since his death, my 10-year old doberman has stopped eating and become very withdrawn. Should I get another dog to keep him company or is there anything else I can do to help him?

Answer: Your Doberman will need time to grieve, just as a person does when life changes and loose something that is important to them. All you can do is support him during this time and take things at his speed.

Give him lots of time to rest and try to keep to normal routines. Give him little treats and things that you know will make him feel better. Be with him, but keep jolly rather than too sympathetic.

Massaging can also help as can taking him for short outings to a place he will enjoy. If you want to get another dog, it would be wise to do so later. You will have to judge the time carefully as, at the right time, another dog could take his mind of things.

Another dog can never be a substitute for the one you have lost, as you know only too well, but, in time, it could add value to both your lives if you choose the right one.

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 & give other tips and opinions asked for.

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

Back to Dog Behaviour Problems

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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