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Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Wee-lly pleased to meet you

Hi there

I just wondered if one of your doggy behaviour specialist can answer my question. I have a lovely Jack Russell x Fox Terrier bitch, just turned one year. She is a lively little character full of charm, and very inquisitive and full of intelligence. She loves people and always greets them, with a stream of urine unfortunately - thank god for kitchen lino!

Also another slight problem, we take her daily to the park, but from day one, she loves to run up to dogs whether male or female, but in 9/10 cases if they go towards her to fuss, she squeals loudly and lays on her back in the submissive state. A lot of owners think their dogs have hurt her and they have not even made contact with her. She wants to join in the fun, but I have found on a couple off occasions she has been attacked, maybe due to her being so submissive when the dogs approach her. HELP!!!

Kind regards
Tracey Jow

June Williams, COAPE Association of Behaviouists and Trainers, says...
While puppies and young dogs can have involuntary urination at times of stress and/or excitement, which they tend to grow our of, I would have her vet-checked as she is one-year-old. Make sure you never tell her off, let her meet visitors outside (saves cleaning up inside) and have her do something for the visitor in return for a reward (treat or toy game). For example, a sit or down or give a paw - something to engage the brain.
Outside, do not let her run up to other dogs. Running up is adolescent behaviour and not that polite. Call her back when dogs approach, pop her on the lead and have a more controlled meet and greet with selected dogs - calm, sociable, mature adults. Encourage her to stay upright.
From your description, I am not sure that she does want to join in the fun. The squeal is a learned behaviour, designed to get in first and is off-putting. The rolling on her back is behaviour designed to inform the other dog that she is not a threat. How much socialisation did she have as a puppy? Perhaps she had too much, rather then too litter, and with some rougher dogs. Practise with your friends and their sociable dogs. See if you can find some doggie playmates that will teach her that other dogs are not a threat and are fun. Does she ever play with other dogs? Maybe you need to try a different location if you always go to the same park for a walk.

Amy Hatcher, Canine Behaviourist and Dog Obedience Trainer, says...
It does sound like you have a quite a submissive little pup on your hands. The urination on greeting visitors is involuntary so it's likely that your pup is unaware of her actions. It's a sort of reflex. The best way to solve this is for the visitor to calmly walk in and not even look at your puppy for a few minutes - just until she has stopped jumping around. They can then calmly stroke. It sounds like a frustrating way to try to correct the issue but it does work and then you can go back to the original way your visitors would greet her and the urinating shouldn't return.
The key to the other problem is to make her feel she has no reason to submit to other dogs. You need to build her confidence up before she becomes fearful. The best approach is to walk in a group of calm gentle dogs if you can. When she does meet a dog try to spark up a conversation with the owner for a few seconds, this will give her time to realise the dog is not too interested in her- it is vital that you start with dogs that are extremely well behaved. A lot of dogs will be inclined to chase a small, lively, submissive pup so be choosey to begin with. After a week or so of longer meetings with new dogs you can then
start to be less selective and introduce livelier dogs to the mix.
Do you have a day care centre or dog walker near by? In many cases it makes a big difference if a dog can socialise in a controlled and calm pack without the owner being present as they learn to look around and see what the other dogs are doing instead of constantly trying to get their owner to protect them. You definitely don't want to put her in an out of control pack. A lot of the dogs at my new centre are in for extra socialisation so if you can get to Sussex fairly easily you are welcome to bring her along to meet my pack.

1 comment:

  1. Initially I would have this problem investigated by your Veterinary Surgeon to ensure there is no underlying health condition.
    It is common for sensitive or excitable puppies to urinate when aroused but not so common in adult dogs. There are many things you can do to help. Most of all, I would concentrate on asking visitors to ignore your dog when they enter simply to allow her the opportunity to calm down before they greet her. Using a stairgate or similar across the doorway may help with this. Once she has calmed, ask your visitors to greet her very calmly - starting with a simply glance in her direction. In this way you can gauge her reaction. If she remains calm, you may wish to increase contact by asking visitor to speak to the dog. Gradually aim to build up. This of course assumes that your dog does want the visitor to greet her!
    It would be well worth investing your time finding one or two laid back adult dogs and willing owners that your dog can simply go for walks with so that she gets used to their company without any interaction. Throwing herself on her back in the way you have described sounds a little like she is panicking and trying to pre-empt a potential attack. Teaching her that she can be around other dogs without them even paying attention to her is the first step. Again, gradually increase the interaction levels. Take your time over this! You may want to introduce tasty treats at times where she is calm and relaxed so she learns to associate good feelings with other dogs being around.