8 Jul 2016

Doggy Dan on taming naughty dogs

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 3:24 pm on 8 July 2016

Dog behaviour expert, Daniel Abdelnoor, aka Doggy Dan, answers audiences questions about teaching naughty dogs to behave.

Here are pictures of some of the dogs mentioned below:

And this is a video we were sent of Lucy the golden retriever and how she escapes the house!


Read an edited version of his responses below

1) have an 18-month-old wheaten terrier who stands on her back feet and hops along like a Meerkat every time we meet another dog. No matter what I do I can't get her to focus her attention on me. I would love to be able to walk passed another dog with her ignoring them.

Thanks Ma

Doggy Dan: This sounds to me like the dog is excited more than anything else. I often compare this to children who want ice cream. There are three options we have, because what we’re really trying to say to the dog is “if you calm down then that thing might happen”. It’s a bit like a child who wants ice cream. Because if you say to that child “no” and sometimes you say “yes, you can have an ice cream. It depends on how you behave.” What you are trying to do is get the dog to calm down, so sometimes the answer is “no” and you march your dog right past the other dog. If your dog is behaving well you might say “yip, you’re behaving well, you can go and meet that other dog”. Ultimately it’s a bit of give and take. If the dog is behaving and they would love to meet the other dog, you should let them.

I would say if they’re behaving well and put all four feet on the ground you should let them meet the other dog.

2) Afternoon Jesse and Dan,

We have a Shiatsu Cross who in fact gets very cross with the TV. Not the actual box but the majority of programs on it. She barks furiously at it while usually wagging her tail. Endearing as it sounds, it's awful! Particularly when you are engrossed with a show and she starts. It really spoils a good TV show. How can we control this? It does usually involve any animals, cartoons, hoodie wearers and sunglasses.

Best regards, Sheenagh

Doggy Dan: Again this is probably where the dog is little bit confused, excited and being aggressive. What I would do in this situation is take control of the dog. By that I mean put a leash on the dog and move them away from the TV. What we tend to do is just shout at the dog and all that’s doing is adding more energy to that situation and inflames the situation. So if you take control of the dog and show the dog how you want them to behave it has a vastly different effect. So if you put a leash on and move the dog away, you could maybe bring a bed over and say to your dog “come on, over here”. You have to have the right energy, calm them down, and bring them over to your chair. You could even hook the leash under your chair. So the dog can’t run towards the TV. [You could] use a little treat, say “sit, stay, good boy” that sort of approach.

Or just take them under the collar, sit with them while in your chair. It’s showing them what you want them to do, rather than just shouting at them.

3) Hi Jesse

I would love it if Doggy Dan couldgive me some advice to help with a problem between my dog and my youngest son. Arlo is a 114-month-old Lagotto Romangolo. We got him at the end of July last year.  Leo is seven.  They get on well most of the time, except in the evenings.  Leo has always been really good with the dog and never malicious or hurtful.  But in the evenings, Arlo will guard wherever he is sleeping or resting against Leo and will growl at him.  He doesn't do this to me, my husband or our 11-year-old son, only Leo. We noticed a while ago that he would growl at Leo if Leo got near him while he was eating, or even waiting for his food.  We made a big effort to get Leo to be the one to feed Arlo and now this issue seems to have gone away. Typically what happens is that the dog will be flopped somewhere on the floor at 7:30 when Leo goes to bed.  If Leo goes to say goodnight, Arlo will growl.  An hour later, when Zac goes to go to bed, he can safely go and cuddle the dog goodnight, without any problem.  Hubby and I can approach him without this response too. Sometimes Leo might just stand at the foot of the stairs and the dog (3 or 4 metres away) will growl at him. Help!  I can't see any reason for the dog's worry about Leo (he might have tripped over him once perhaps, but I think we've all done that!) And it's not really on to fear that he might nip at him or bite him next.  What can we do to reassure the dog and to not have him as a threat to Leo?


Janette Campbell

Doggy Dan: It’s a common issue and as much as anything it’s a hierarchy thing. The same as with humans we don’t like people invading our space, especially people who are below us in the hierarchy.

I think what’s happening here is the dog is saying to Leo “don’t you invade my space”. So the more they can get Leo to being above the dog in the pack, the more the dog will be tolerant of him.

For the time being I would suggest that Leo doesn’t invade the dog’s space. So I would be encouraging the recall. So what I’d suggest to Leo is don’t give the dog any pets or cuddles for free, make the dog work for the pats and cuddles. Call the dog over and you can always give Leo the treats, you can save a quarter of the dog’s food and arm Leo with those treats. So the dog is going “you know what Leo is the king, he controls the food”. Because food is king to the dog.

Then Leo can call the dog over and give the dog a pat, and repeat. Having the dog enjoy having Leo call him over, and then invade his space is very important. When a dog is called over for a pat or a cuddle it is very different.

4) My little Shiatsu cross enjoys eating grass. He eats the normal healthy kibble but still likes to go out on the lawn pre mowing to devour some grass. Why? It is getting to the stage when his poo on occasion is as green as the lawn!

John, Christchurch

Doggy Dan: We’re unsure of why dogs do this, but there’s probably a number of reasons. Dogs are scavengers. They probably scavenge for a little biscuit in the house, then they go outside and scavenge for rubbish and they find a bit of grass and they chew on that as well. So that could be the cause.

The other thing you might want to look at is whether there’s enough fibre in the dog’s diet. Often there’s not enough fibre and that’s why the dog is doing it. People think dogs are doing it so that they can regurgitate because grass makes them sick. But only a small percentage of dogs are doing that. They might even be doing it for fun or because they like the taste.

You might want to give them something to chew. Deer antlers are good because with bones and pigs ears and rawhide is that the dogs is putting on more calories. With a deer antler they’re just chewing and then don’t eat it.

Grass eating generally cause any serious issues, unless their eating tonnes and tonnes.

5) Hey Jesse,

Could you please ask Dan a question for me? My girlfriend and I are getting a Samoyed puppy on Saturday - it's only 8 weeks old. Is there any advice that you can give us for the first few days of parenthood to make the transition easier for the wee pup?


Doggy Dan: The first thing is to probably make sure your puppy has a really safe place to go to. And that they can go there, especially when there are young children because they can terrify a young puppy. They can be exhausted by over stimulation. So give them a real safe place to go. Where it’s a crate or a pen or a bed, and when they go there, leave them alone.

The second thing is night-time and sleeping. I’d probably keep them in the crate or the bed, not in the bed, but it’s a way to stop from causing your dog distress. Keep them close to you and they pick up on that. Probably for a couple of days or a week, then you can move the bed slowly out of the room.

And the last thing is toilet training. Make sure you set this up, use treats, and get them outside, use a word. Get it right at the start.

6) Hi Jesse

My dog, an 11-year-old Bichon/poodle cross goes ballistic when I leave her in the car when we're out shopping. I've tried a lot of things, short of hitting her, but nothing works. Help!

Bill Thomas

Doggy Dan: It sounds like separation anxiety. It is a stress when you leave your puppy or dog. It’s not about boredom, it’s almost that they feel like they should be looking after you and then you disappear and they can’t look after you. It’s almost like a parent or a mother losing a child or puppy. So that’s what this dog’s got.

The secret with this is making sure the dog understands their role is not looking after you. It’s about hierarchy again and saying “it’s Ok, I’m in charge”. So one of the best exercises with this is leaving your dog in a calm state inside a room in the house and five or ten seconds later return back - you just return to the room and just ignore the dog. Then you extend that period of time. Then you start doing that in the car. You get out of the car, you walk around the car, then you get back in and you ignore the dog. And that will help them get the idea that there is no danger and there is not drama. Maybe try starting the car exercise on the driveway at home.

7) Hi Jesse,

I have two male miniature longhaired Dachshunds - one 18 months old, one six months, Frankie and Jimmy - the younger one barks A LOT - when out walking he barks at any other dogs and also people approaching. Can you ask “the doctor” what we should do please when this happens to stop him, we don't want him barking at children and whilst others think he is cute now because he is a puppy they may not think he is cute when an adult!



Doggy Dan: I would use something called the calm freeze again. So that’s where you almost take the dog under the collar with a couple of fingers. Turn your hand so your palm is facing upwards and you slip it under your dog’s collar under the chin. This is not about being dominant, if you have the dog by the back of the neck it’s quite a dominant position, but this is quite calming. And I would drop yourself into a mentally calm space. You can always block the visual of the other animal, so the dog can’t see the dog anymore and go into a very quiet zone. The dog will pick up on that energy. Then I’d almost stand up and walk away from that person or dog that they’re barking at. That’s the simple approach.  

It’s all about where your attention goes is where the dog’s energy goes.

8) Hi Guys,

Our two-year-old Border Collie cross, Angie, gets really weird about eating sometimes. We've always made her sit and wait for her food while we put it into her bowl and this was never an issue, until one day she started cowering and occasionally barking at us when we gave her permission to eat. She would then only take one or two mouthfuls and then wait for permission again, barking and cowering. I think it may stem back to Guy Fawkes which really freaked her out and seemed to last until about the middle of March in our neighbourhood. We've tried moving her food from our back porch to a more secure feeling spot and also tried staying with her when she eats but with no success. She's a lovely natured lady, that's fabulous playing with our two-year-old and very eager to please.

Any ideas how we can reassure her?



Doggy Dan: First of all we want to make sure the dog feels safe and that the dog doesn’t think that someone is going to take the food away or that they’re under threat. What I’d do, if you’ve got a crate or something like that. I’d put the dog in the crate and maybe pout a blanket over it so there is only one entrance so they can’t be distracted. Then I’d put the food in the crate with the dog. Then it gives the dog the feeling that no one is in there. It’s just them, there’s nothing to worry about. And you give them that little bit of space. Give her a couple of minutes and if she’s still being silly I’d take the food away and I wouldn’t give it back until the next morning.

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