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The Saddest of Dogs

Posted on 04/11/2016
Filed under: Behavioural Issues

sad dogThis was the way that a loving owner talked about her gorgeous 6 year old Labrador, who had become withdrawn and quiet since they had lost their senior dog, a year ago.

The owner believed that her dog was so sad at not knowing where a friend had gone, so the family decided to bring a new puppy into the household, as company for everyone.  The problem is that the older dog has become more and more withdrawn and miserable.

What this owner just could not understand was why, having been told that the older dog will gain a new lease of life with the arrival of a new puppy, this was not the reality, so I asked a few more questions based on my experience of this situation.

Firstly I asked the lady to describe the puppy's personality, now he is nine months of age. The reply came that he is bouncy, friendly and very, very, playful and loves to 'play' with the older dog, who often grumbles at the youngster when he gets too rough.

On further enquiry it became obvious that the puppy's demeanour was bordering on bullying the older dog and once the owner talked it through with me, she realised that the older dog just didn't know what to do about this new and rude boy.

Dogs have a great deal of things in common with people and one of those things is that many people who are middle aged or older can, and do, enjoy the company of well-behaved youngster, however, even then, there comes a time when it is great to give them back to the parents. When faced with a youngster with little or no manners then distance is all that is wanted and in the case of this older dog, the further the better!

The ideal situation would be for the owner to play with the puppy, allowing the older dog to join in, if it chooses, and when the puppy is enforcing itself on the older dog then it’s time for the owner to simply step in, separating the little “darling” and allowing it to calm down.

I said that it would be a good idea for the owners to teach the puppy some basic manners which would benefit them both; the older one would be extremely relieved and the younger dog will benefit from curbing this behaviour. The belief that the young dog was only demonstrating 'playful' behaviour was incorrect and what was being observed was actually a dog with no boundaries, a situation which can never produce a truly happy animal.

Of course, this learning period is perfect natural and something that nature has allowed for by building in this precious 'time to learn', just as human youngsters learn that attempting to ride a bike over a ditch can be extremely unwise, not to mention painful but not something that a senior person would not contemplate or wish to be part of.

We then come on to the fact that this lady was concentrating on the wrong dog, just as many owners do especially when they have one dog that 'has issues' while the other dog is perfection.

It is very common to misinterpret the dynamic between two or more dogs and, in this kind of scenario, something that I and my team have come to call, 'Angel Dog/Devil Dog', a situation where the dog that appears to be the problem is only demonstrating their reaction to the subtle behaviour of the dog that is perceived to acting 'normally'.

We help both dogs by employing Amichien Bonding because we actually focus on the one that is really causing the problem and by working 'recall' and teaching polite heel work, with the cause” dog, then the other dog(s) can see that we are taking charge of the whole situation and progress can be gained with all of the dogs.

As we finished our conversation I was happy that these dogs are owned by a lady who had an open mind and most of all wanted to 'Do whatever it takes' (her loving words).

One important point that this lady came to understand is that we can only really help our dogs when we are in possession of the right information and knowing that she was now empowered to bring about the changes she desired in such a joyful way meant that she no longer felt helpless but could take control of the situation and finally be able to help her 6 year old lab find some peace.


Jan F