It has almost been a year since Arthur came into our house like a little whirlwind! He came in and changed life for all of us with his various quirks. He settled in beautifully with Marley, and they have become firm friends, despite a few challenges along the way (Marley’s determination Arthur’s ears are detachable being just one!)
It’s hard to believe that in February of last year Marley was struggling badly with pain and his behaviour was spiralling to such a bad level. Marley had always been reactive to people and dogs on walks, but this had become very manageable with a lot of work and commitment, with him and Ollie able to walk and see dogs with no reaction to the majority of dogs we saw. HowevMarley’seys behaviour was becoming very worrying in the home, he had began to redirect on people and dogs at events that triggered his anxiety. Mainly if someone at the door or dogs the other side of the fence. Marley would began to grab and bite whoever was closest whether human or canine when he could hear the neighbours dogs, and began to snap and bite towards us when we went to answer the door.
Along with this he had become hesitant about walking again, and had several episodes where he became lame suddenly and his gait just seemed “off” to me. He had begun growling when any of the dogs went near him when sleeping and started to lash out more and more. Marley has always had a lot of problems, quite a few of the more serious ones in recent years related to his Epilepsy. But he was becoming harder and harder to handle, and more and more agitated. We were told to greatly reduce his exercise to look for improvement. This seemed to help, and I continued to work solidly on his behaviour. Keeping him onlead in the garden and away from the fencing. Very carefully desensitizing him to the door being knocked on and me answering it, as well as ensuring he got the most amazing treats throughout. Marley is a pessimistic dog, so training is always a challenge. He needs so many more positive or neutral experiences to counter balance old behaviour patterns than the average dog. His behaviour began to improve again and he began to relax more and more. (This is the super short version of his training!)
After many tests and vet visits he was diagnosed with Cervical Disc Disease, this was shortly after Arthur came home. Having a diagnosis was a great relief. Arthur began to bond closely with Marley and seemed to provide him much comfort when he was uncertain. I reduced Marley’s out of the home exercise for a while. It was becoming a challenge to walk him without him reacting due to pain, and on equipment that didn’t cause him further discomfort (he found harnesses most uncomfortable for some reason!) He has enjoyed much playing with Arthur, and brain games and only recently have I realised that Marley is actually much calmer and happier. I had always been incredibly worried about adding a puppy into the home with Marley, however for Marley it seems to have provided him a comfort. Marley has not had a seizure since September 2017. This is the longest period of time he hasn’t had a seizure since his epilepsy began.
Marley is enjoying life at the pace he dictates, and he’s loving that! He gets a walk if he wants, fuss when he wants, puzzles and training when he wants! He is still a much more confident dog than he ever was and I am keen to keep him that way by still taking him out whenever he wants a walk or to meet friends and their dogs he loves!
Most pups will bite in certain contexts or situations. Despite popular opinion ignoring won’t help much! If you ignore it the puppy will just create a strong reinforcement history with biting.
Don’t be tempted to scold, shout at or even physically correct your puppy for nipping, this rarely teaches them anything other than the human is scary and you should avoid them! A lot of puppies nip because they are teething, so be sure to give them items to chew on frequently.
Here are a few tips to help with your nippy puppy.
-Redirect your puppy onto a fun toy rather than you. Teach your puppy what you DO want them to bite.
-Only fuss your puppy when they’re calm if they’re sharky.
-Practice “touch” hand targetting frequently
-Teach your puppy handling is good if they’re nipping from frustration when handled
-Ensure your puppy is getting sufficient mental and physical exercise. Snuffle mats are a great way to slow down a manic puppy.
-Ensure your training sessions are short, so as not to build frustration
-Remove yourself or the puppy from the situation
-If it’s the same situation every time, be prepared and prevent! Prevention is far easier! If your puppy has mad zoomies with sharkiness at 5pm every day, at 4.50pm get your puppy a kong/chew (bully sticks, chicken feet, duck necks), snuffle mat or a puzzle toy. Or be prepared depending on the situation with lots of treats to reward what you like and a line on the puppy to remove them from the situation if they do get bitey.
-Fleece toys are great for pups and fluffy tuggy toys to nibble on.
-If nipping during play with a person, the game is over when teeth touch skin, next time lower excitement level of the game, the puppy nipping is information, he is too excited. Lower excitement and reward for nice play.
-If nipping other dogs remove them from the situation, again this is information, next time keep an eye on play getting too exciting and remove before your puppy gets too nippy.
-Be consistent. If you’re not then your puppy will chance nipping and biting.