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SEB
21-Jan-07, 23:57
Friend has had little westie dog for 2 months now but having lots of problems with him. Was mistreated by owner and an elderly lady took him. she couldn't handle his behaviour, so friend agreed to take him. He is fine one minute, then suddenly turns aggressive, snarling and biting the next. he won't let anyone pet him, shows no interest in toys, etc, and every so often takes a "mad turn" - running up and down, barking, jumping at walls, etc. Any advice would be gratefully received on how to deal with this type of behaviour, as friend is very reluctant to give up on the dog.

North Rhins
22-Jan-07, 01:12
Wifie and I took in a 5 month old rescue Border Terrier dog some two years ago. We were told that he needed re-homing because he wasnít up to show standard. He was fine for the first week, then the snarling and snapping started. This then turned to biting. We tried everything, including a dog psychologist and having him neutered. Both were a complete waste of money. We finally had to let go after he opened my hand to the bone. It wasnít the poor wee lads fault, something had happened to him before he came to us. This little Westie sounds very similar. Iím afraid if the damage has been done early in his life, then it may be too late. If this dog is starting to bite then donít start making excuses for him and donít leave it too long, we did both of these and when the end came it made it all the harder to cope with it. I hope someone else may have a solution for you, I can only tell you my story.

Torvaig
22-Jan-07, 01:36
A long shot but worth trying. Are you sure he is not in pain during the times he turns aggressive and uncontrollable? If there is a hidden injury or disease this may cause him to react violently.

I know that scans, x-rays etc., are expensive but it may be worth a try if you are determined to give him another chance before the inevitable.

I wish you luck; well done to you and your friend for doing your best. I know the despair you must be feeling.

Moira
22-Jan-07, 13:47
Take a look at this link :-
www.horselistenerscotland.co.uk (http://www.horselistenerscotland.co.uk)

I've seen Isobel Hogton work with dogs too with some amazing results. Good luck :)

donnalee1994
22-Jan-07, 17:32
Hope you dont have kids or grandkids,its such a shame when theve been miss treated,try going to the pet shop they may be able to help sorry i cant be anymore help.

cuddlepop
22-Jan-07, 17:48
Get the dog checked to see if he's in pain as that can make them aggresive.:(
As everyone else has said if animal has suffered any bad handling its difficult to retrain although not impossible:)

porshiepoo
22-Jan-07, 19:40
Friend has had little westie dog for 2 months now but having lots of problems with him. Was mistreated by owner and an elderly lady took him. she couldn't handle his behaviour, so friend agreed to take him. He is fine one minute, then suddenly turns aggressive, snarling and biting the next. he won't let anyone pet him, shows no interest in toys, etc, and every so often takes a "mad turn" - running up and down, barking, jumping at walls, etc. Any advice would be gratefully received on how to deal with this type of behaviour, as friend is very reluctant to give up on the dog.

Assuming there are no underlying health problems with the wee dog, I think if your friend watches very closely she's very likely to notice something that triggers these episodes.
When you say 'mistreated' what do you mean? Starved? Beaten? Everything?
The type of ill treatment could possibly be a factor in his behaviour now.

It's always difficult to bring a new dog into a home as he needs a period of adjustment as much as the new owner does. He needs to know his place in the pack as soon as possible and they will very often show signs of trying to assert this dominance straight away - it's fundamental for every pack animal to need to know that the pack is safe and functioning with leadership ascertained asap and if your friend hasn't made this clear to the dog then the dog will feel it necessary to take control himself.
The fact that he won't let anyone pet him could be dominance but it could also be fear if he has been ill treated, theres the conundrum.
Showing no sign of playing with toys could be many things unfortuntely - he may never have been played with, he may have been taught not to, could be fear could be dominance.

Your friend needs to start asserting their dominance as leader of the pack and simple things work for this: Don't let the animal on the furniture, don't feed it titbits (no matter how much it refuses to eat his own food), your friend should walk through doors first, don't allow the dog to attack visitors (once he's barked at a visitors approach quietly remove him from the hall and shut him away while the visitor enters). There are so many more simple things to do that can assert your friends place as leader of the pack.
Most dogs are quite happy with taking a back seat once they know that the pack is safe and looked after by another leader - he really doesn't want the responsibility if he can help it.

All the above should be put into place immediately but the poor dogs background needs to be taken into account and worked out in his behaviour. Most problems can be dealt with satisfactorily.

Good luck to your friend.

gary.b
22-Jan-07, 19:58
After the vet has checked him out, have a look at his diet, if he's on a dry food have a look and see how much protein he's getting, then it would worth going to pets at home ( or any other pet shop ) and looking for one that's lower in protein or try Nature diet or similar.
The amount of protein can affect behaviour, I'm not saying it will cure his aggression but it might calm him down enough to begin training. It will take a while to kick in.
Also lots of on lead exercise and socialization, he will need a strict routine, and must not to be allowed to be dominant, dogs need to know their position within the pack and at the moment he thinks he's alpha male when in fact he should be lowest. He should be fed last, through the door last, not on the furniture etc etc. You can enforce your dominance by holding in the down position. When you can safely get your hands on him. Don't be afraid to be very firm with him because if it doesn't work, the only other option is the big kennel in the sky. Good luck

gary.b
22-Jan-07, 20:04
Good answer porshiepoo, you beat me to it, I'd better learn to type faster.

blondscot
22-Jan-07, 21:42
Hi sorry to hear that this wee chap is having a hard time and that he is giving your friend a hard time also. I rescued a OES that had been ill treated, she had lived her life in a small room a bathroom i think as she wouldna go into that room when i first got her! she didna know what it was like to play with toys or to run around and play with other dogs nor what to do with any sort of treat! she was nervous but only once did she actually go to bite while i tried to groom her but over time with much patience she has totally turned round but i think that having another dog in the house helped out a lot as well. All dogs are worth a second chance and i applaud your friend for not giving up on the wee man. Getting the vet check him out is the first stage and then take it from there. I have had a dog that was neurotic and he couldna be trusted he be fine one moment and then turn the next! Would it be possible to find out what ill treatment he recieved as this may help with an answer. Good luck

emb123
22-Jan-07, 21:54
gary.b & porshiepoo & blondscot I agree completely.

I write 'you' where I mean 'your friend'... (less typing and reads better)

It's lots of little things that make it clear that you're boss, and what you say goes, what you don't want doesn't.

Important things like not having to repeat yourself when giving instructions - not getting in staring contests - he does as he's told straightaway or it's off to bed. Treats, like being allowed to sit with you, nice walks, nice tidbits etc are to be earned.

At times you'll feel like you're being horrible and mean, but it's only for a short time that this will be necessary. Dogs are very clever and they pick up on the signals very quickly.

It's fair enough to argue that 'I don't want him trained so that his spirit has been defeated and he obeys like a good soldier'. I don't want that from mine either, and he's a long way removed from that, but you have to start with that in mind to a certain extent.

Terriers need a boss, not mithering. Mine was terribly mistreated when I rescued him from the rabbit hutch which he was kept in. It took a couple of months before he knew what to make of me but then he would stick to me like glue, although it was a long time before he would trust anyone else. Nowadays he'll happily sit and lap up fuss and cuddles now, although he's still very selective about who from. He didn't wan't to be fussed at all when I first got him - nor for a very long time. Fuss as far as he was concerned was just a cue that it was time for a game. Still can be sometimes :)

You can lighten the emotional load (for you) with some fun, games and walks, but it sounds like the little fellow doesn't know his place in the pack yet, and it can take a while before he gets the message, especially with a less experienced dog owner.

He does sound like a very energetic and dominant little fellow, and maybe he's never had toys or those which he has helped himself to maybe he's been punished for. Some dogs genuinely don't know how to play - but it doesn't mean they can't learn.

It would be a very good idea cut cut down on the protein as gary.b suggests - and a friend of mine swears blind that his female staff gets quite stroppy if she's had beef.

Well worth getting enrolled on some dog training classes - even (and especially) if your friend has had dogs before. It's not just a case of training the animals as you know it's a way of training the owners too, and more to the point it's a great way of socialising the dog in a controlled environment. Chances are that being a young terrier, he could be bored and needing mental stimulation - the chance to learn things would be a great way to give him fun things to do, made even better if he gets nice stuff for doing it as an extra bonus :) If he's anything like mine (a natural show-off) he'll be absolutely perfect in class but pretend not to hear when he's out having fun with his pals.

He does sound like he's perhaps emotionally scarred but I would think the way to overcome that is not by attempting to cuddle him because that's invading his personal space and he probably doesn't trust his new owner well enough to want that, but rather by doing fun things together with the new owner - training and socialisation with other dogs might be the perfect cure.

I really hope he works out - he sounds like he's not a lost cause, but may need careful, kind and firm handling.
Best wishes to your friend.

SEB
23-Jan-07, 17:32
Hi everyone
Thanks so much for all your postings/advice.
Friend has had the dog neutered, and vet has suggested a dog psychologist (although very expensive!!). Unfortunately we're not sure what the mistreatment in the past has been, but possibly a bit of everything we think!!
He is trying to get into tiny spaces (most likely to hide away?) in the house, and unfortunately has bitten a few times now. He seems extremely nervous of noises and movements, and any type of shadows on the wall/floor. He's also taken a total dislike to several ornaments about the house!! If he's lying sleeping no one dare go near him - there have been occasions where he's been lying sleeping across a doorway - friend has had to make noises around the room in the hope to waken him up naturally to get him to move away from the door! Friend is determined to make this work for the dog and the family, however there are teenagers in the house too and becoming very concerned that they are going to be harmed by the dog. Also becoming concerned for visitors coming to the house or when out walking with the dog - always warns any passers-by not to put their hand out to pet him. Beginning to find it very difficult and stressful.

Liz
23-Jan-07, 18:46
Totally agree with all the advice given.

I would just add that it may be helpful to give him his 'own space' where he can retreat to ( you said he seems to want to hide).
An indoor dog kennel would be ideal and if your friend covered half of this with something like a blanket and then put something like a filled Kong and nice cosy bedding this would provide him with a nice retreat where he could go to and may eliminate some of the stress.

Bach remedies may also help so you could contact Isobel at Rainbow Remedies (sorry can't remember the website address).
I actually have an homeopathic remedy which is supposed to help with bad memories. If you pm me your friend's address I would happily send it to her to try. The only problem might be to get him to take it as you are supposed to give this away from food! However you can put it in a little bit of butter.
Anything is worth a try.
Did you give the horse listener, which Moira suggested, a try as I have heard very good things about her and she can communicate with the animal as well.

Well done to your friend for giving this poor wee dog a chance and I'm sure with TLC and patience it should work out.

emb123
23-Jan-07, 20:00
Totally agree with all the advice given.

I would just add that it may be helpful to give him his 'own space' where he can retreat to ( you said he seems to want to hide).
An indoor dog kennel would be ideal and if your friend covered half of this with something like a blanket and then put something like a filled Kong and nice cosy bedding this would provide him with a nice retreat where he could go to and may eliminate some of the stress.

Bach remedies may also help so you could contact Isobel at Rainbow Remedies (sorry can't remember the website address).
I actually have an homeopathic remedy which is supposed to help with bad memories. If you pm me your friend's address I would happily send it to her to try. The only problem might be to get him to take it as you are supposed to give this away from food! However you can put it in a little bit of butter.
Anything is worth a try.
Did you give the horse listener, which Moira suggested, a try as I have heard very good things about her and she can communicate with the animal as well.

Well done to your friend for giving this poor wee dog a chance and I'm sure with TLC and patience it should work out.
I was going to suggest the own space but couldn't think of a nice way of putting it.

I picked up the term 'crate training' which is basically a cage, but the idea is basically that the dog has his own little kennel, or cage or whatever which is nice and cosy which he can retreat to when he wants to (or when he's told to). It sounds like for this poor little fellow that's exactly what he needs.

If he's trying to get into small spaces then yes he is almost certainly trying to hide.

I really hope your friend doesn't give up on him as the more I learn the more I think he's a very long way from beyond all hope. Poor little mite sounds frightened - all he has known has probably been misery and perhaps pain so it will take some time for him to be able to learn to trust.

As far as biting goes, it's important to remember that he can't just do a Greta Garbo and say 'I vant to be alone', he does his best to convey that he's trying to hide but like any cornered animal when that fails, all he has left are his teeth to ram his message home. He does sound like he may be more dominant than my little fella without seeing him, but he could just be terribly frightened. Dominance in any case is not a fault, it just needs to be handled correctly.

It's not unreasonable to have tell people to leave your dog alone (well I don't think so anyway!).

Perhaps because of his ill-treatment, mine has always been very nervous of noises and still is very much so. He's not crazy about hands coming out of nowhere to pet him either. He has been known to make dental contact too - although he's always stopped at a warning and never actually 'bitten' as such. He's a lot more mellow six years on though.

If absolutely necessary and this little fella is so cute that all the kids want to fuss him and get their hands on him before you can say 'no' you could always use a muzzle in public places to save any legal repercussions.

You'll get a certain amount of 'free' dog psychology from dog training classes. An experienced trainer will pick up on problems very quickly and be able to offer very helpful advice and explain a few 'whys'.

I've got my fingers crossed for this little fellow. He can get there I'm sure with love, patience and understanding.

gary.b
24-Jan-07, 09:49
Seb, this now sound more serious than I first thought, I hope your friend makes progress soon, and that this dog doesn't get passed on again.
Sometimes the kindest decision is to have the dog put to sleep, nobody would like to see a member of the family get hurt, the fact that its a small dog is no excuse to allow that behaviour to continue, we wouldn't put up with it from GSD, Rotti etc.
As I said good luck, I really hope it works out.

Torvaig
24-Jan-07, 10:57
I tend to agree with Gary here; the next bite could be a very serious one. It breaks my heart to think of what the poor dog has been through and it would be great to see him happy again but your friend has to consider the consequences of him really harming someone.

Unless your friend can keep him muzzled (which can cause the dog stress in itself) and away from absolutely any risk of biting someone, with all it's serious consequences, I fear it would be better to have him put to sleep.

It breaks my heart that the dog has been so badly treated to make him like this and sad for your friend that he/she wants to save him so much.

I'd love to think there may be a happy outcome to this story.