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Rebecca
Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 14930
Experience:  Veterinarian for more than 30 years
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I have a four year old female parson terrier who has developed

Customer Question

I have a four year old female parson terrier who has developed obsessive slightly manic behavior such as barking at the shower cubicle, catching the post as it comes through the door and ripping up the letters, staring and barking at the wood burner and trying to catch the Sparks through the glass. The latter behavior is new and highly dangerous. How do I approach this please?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
Hello,
I am sorry to hear about your concerns with Roxy's behavior. I am a veterinarian, and will do my best to help.
These obsessive behaviors in terriers can be challenging. There is no quick and easy answer.
Has she been to an obedience class? If you give her a basic command, such as Sit or Down, does she obey as soon as she hears the command?
How much exercise does she get daily?
Has she had a good physical examination by her veterinarian recently?
This is an Info Request, to help me answer your question.
Rebecca
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She is physically very fit.
She does tend to respond to command although not when being told to get away from the fire!
She normally has two walks a day. A twenty minute walk in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. She has regular runs on the beach for longer.
She hasn't been to an obedience class.
She is a rescue dog and we have only had her since August.
I must admit she has lacked exercise over the Christmas period so she may be a little stir crazy. She lives with a male parson terrier so they do play together in the house and garden.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information, Lucy.
Terriers are bred for catching prey, ridding us of pests. Generations of breeding for this trait results in dogs that are always at attention, watching for any quick little movements that attract their brain to a situation that may be a mouse or a rat or a situation they need to take care of.
She may see the incoming post as an intrusion, that must be dealt with, and the sparks as similar movements that a rat, mouse or bird may make.
A dog like her needs an outlet for her energy and talents. She needs toys to distract her, and lots of exercise.
But most of all she needs training. Obedience work will give her intelligence, curiousity, and need to "work" a positive outlet. I would start with a training class to get the basics down: Sit, Stay, Watch Me, Leave It, Down, Come. These need to be practiced, with treats, twice daily (for as little as 5 minutes). Once she gets the basics, then she can move on to more advanced things.
Check out this video of Jesse, a terrier whose owner has trained him to do amazing things.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9Fyey4D5hg
This is the kind of "work" a terrier needs to do, to give them an outlet for their instincts, and talents. I am not saying your dog has to learn to do all this! But a dog that knows this many commands is a happy terrier who is not learning obsessive traits like ruining the post and watching sparks as an outlet to replace the "job" she thinks she should be doing.
Once you get basic obedience down, then you can distract her from the sparks by giving her a command, and a reward for doing it. That is a good time to use Watch Me or Leave It. You need a trainer to show you how to teach these things.
If the post comes at a predictable time, you can begin some commands or tricks for rewards at that time. If she is rewarded for ignoring the post, she will learn to stop that behavior, and come to you for a reward instead.
Let me know what else I can help with, or answer.
Rebecca
Rebecca and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the great rating.
Rebecca

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