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Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question

Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18952
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hello Jane Eight weeks ago, I got a two years old whippet.

Customer Question

Hello Jane. Eight weeks ago, I got a two years old whippet. I already have another whippet, and a greyhound - all rescue. Jess had been ill treated. And I think she has been used for coursing - as that is the only thing I can think of to be the cause of her problem. She is a lovely natured dog, but she goes absolutely berzerk whenever she sees cat. Because she could not get at the cat initially she would grab at the hand holding the lead. Fortunately I was wearing gloves the first few weeks. I bought a halti. But she could still get at me. Things came to a head, when she jumped up, and sunk her teeth through thick cardigan and jumper, and a padded coat sleeve, and narrowly missed a vein in my arm. She now wears a muzzle. But, I am still in the wars!! This week - she jumped up, and her head caught my cheek bone. Yesterday, we went to a reservoir, so I didn't take the muzzle. No cats but Jess got excited when she saw a dog, jumped up and sunk her teeth into my hand and arm. This morning, another cat. She jumped up at me, and her head hit my mouth. I am now sporting a cut and swollen botXXXXX XXXXXp. I have had dogs since I was 7 years old - a long time ago. I have had several sight hounds. But I have never seen anything like Jess's behaviour before. Milly, the greyhound, gets excited when she sees a cat, but nothing like Jess. I am at my wits end, wondering what to try. I have to take the three of them together for walks. As I said, Jess is a lovely nature, but my big worry is that she will start her antics when we are passing someone on the street, and she jumps at them instead of me. I always keep her on the shortest lead possible. I really would appreciate it if you can help me. Thank you XXXXX XXXXX

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi Margaret,
.
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
.
Has she been tested for a thyroid condition?
What obedience training has she had?
Have you listed everything you have tried?
Is she always jumping up when she bites?
What type of muzzle did you put on her?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Jane


 


No, Jess has not been tested for a thyroid problem.


 


Apart from this problem, she is very well behaved now she is settled.


She is obedient. I have got a dog whistle, and she soon learned to come when I blew it. She is excellent with my other two dogs- has been since day one.


 


Yes, I have listed all.


 


Yes, the only time she bites is when she jumps up. She normally has a beautiful nature.


 


I have the box type plastic muzzle. She is very good at wearing that. She never kept trying to get it off . . . which surprised me.


 


 

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.

. Margaret,

.

Thanks for the additional information. It sounds like she has a problem with redirected aggression. What this means is your dog gets very excited and possibly even aggressive toward these other dogs and cats and when they are unable to get to them, they redirect their aggression toward the nearest object which happens to be you. It is also possible that in the past, this jump up and bite caused the owner to let go of the leash and the dog got what they wanted as a result.

 

The only real solution is to desensitize the dog to the stimulus (cat and other dog). `I'm going to give you may method of doing that and then give you another site that uses another method of dealing with dogs that are aggressive toward other animals. Then I have another tool that may help with the situation. I do want you to work with your dog in the muzzle so you are not bit again.

 

It will be helpful if you can find someone with a cat to help you once you have your dog listening to commands consistently. So you will need to work with her on obedience training. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

 

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

 

You want her listening to your commands the first time every time. She should know sit, down, a release command, and come at a minimum. I would also train for the leave it command as well. Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

 

If you feel your dog already listens to commands well, you can start this step now. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their animal a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. Most basket style muzzles allow you to give a treat through the openings. The second you see her fixate on the other animal whether you are using a cat or dog or if she shows any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if she ignores the other dog, she gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other animal closer until she is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well. Use high value treats like hot dog slivers or liver slivers.

 

If there is a dog she reacts to, you might do that one first and then the cat since it will be easier to walk the dog off, where the owner will need to carry the cat or have it on a leash or in a carrier.

 

A method many use for aggression is the BAT method which you can read about here:

http://functionalrewards.com/BAT-basics.pdf

http://www.petexpertise.com/behavior-adjustment-training-dog.html

 

Now if she only bites when she jumps, stopping the jump may be enough to stop the progression to the bite. So the obedience training may help keep her in a down or sit position. If she isn't jumping then she can't bite your arm. So definitely do the obedience training.

.

They make a no jump harness which might be a good tool to use as well. They physically stop a dog from jumping. See one here:

http://www.petmountain.com/product/dog-harnesses/11442-508652/classic-no-jump-harness.html

.

In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques I've described, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.

http://www.apdt.com

.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .

.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you very much for the information.

I had bought an ordinary harness, but that only stopped her pulling.

 

I don't know if this has anything to do with the problem, but Jess likes to eat fleshy leaves on flowering plants. I also caught her in the act of eating my hyacinth flowers. (Outdoor ones).

And, she has eaten chrysanthemum flowers - after knocking the vase over to get at them.

 

When you mentioned thyroid, I thought that could be the answer.

 

I am going off line now, and shall start your retraining tomorrow.

I will keep you informed.

 

Thank you .

XXXXX XXXXX

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
margaret,

The bulbs of the hyacinth are toxic to dogs so be careful so she doesn't ingest the bulb. Chrysanthemums are toxic to dogs and can lead to symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and skin issues. Let me give you a site that discusses toxic plants.
http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ccah/health_information/plants_pets.cfm

I would avoid having these plants in the house or yard to avoid poisoning in the future. I don't believe they have anything to do with your dog's behavior though.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Relist: Answer quality. The following is my final reply to your 'expert', Jane. I would be obliged if you would return my £42 to PayPal. I would never have paid in advance if I had been aware that answers were just gathered from internet sites. Hello again. Perhaps I should have mentioned previously, that I was a dog groomer for over 20 years, so am familiar with 'nasty', or 'fear' aggression. I was also a Welfare Visitor for the XXXXX XXXXX Foundation Trust, for a long time. And, I also did a C.A.L.L. for the People and dogs charity. I had expected to recieve specialist personal advice regarding Jess. What you have told me is readily available - for free - on the internet. In fact, I have used most of it to help people in the past. You just changed dog to cat. And, I had already removed Fogloves from my garden, knowing that they are poisonous. I had thought that perhaps diet was at the root of the problem. Regards XXXXX

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello again.

Perhaps I should have mentioned previously, that I was a dog groomer for over 20 years, so am familiar with 'nasty', or 'fear' aggression.

I was also a Welfare Visitor for the XXXXX XXXXX Foundation Trust, for a long time.

And, I also did a C.A.L.L. for the People and dogs charity.

 

I had expected to recieve specialist personal advice regarding Jess. What you have told me is readily available - for free - on the internet. In fact, I have used most of it to help people in the past. You just changed dog to cat. And, I had already removed Fogloves from my garden, knowing that they are poisonous.

 

I had thought that perhaps diet was at the root of the problem.

 

Regards

XXXXX XXXXX

 

 

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.

Margaret,

.

I will submit it for a refund but my answers are ones that I typed up and based on my experience. Most answers to questions can be found on the internet today if you take enough time to search for them. In fact, my answers are on the internet because I'm the one that wrote them. In addition, some of my methods are mine alone and others are ones that have been proven to be effective. When we first started this question answer 2 days ago and read my initial response, you did not indicate any disatifaction just asked for clarification on whether the plants might cause this behavior which I indicated should not cause the dog to jump up and bite you. And this is NOT fear or nasty aggression. IT IS REDIRECTED aggression. Part of our job is not only to help a customer change their dog's behavior but to identify what behavior you are dealing with. And my suggestions for reducing your dog's reactivity to other animals to help reduce his redirected aggression is a plan I wrote up specifically for your dog only. No reason is needed to get a refund. With the experience you say you have, I am surprised that you did not recognize the issue yourself.

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