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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20268
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have a problem with my Russel she has become very clingy

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Hi there,I have a problem with my Jack Russel she has become very clingy with my friend I have staying at the moment. To the point where she growls and has gone for me which is seriously unheard off! I am Thirty three weeks pregnant could this be the problem? I am really worried about this as I adore my Jack Russel but can't have agressive behaviour round my new baby. Can you give some advice? Thanks Emily De Trana
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
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Welcome to Just Answer. My name is***** have been involved professionally with dogs in the healthcare and behavioral fields for over 20 years. I’ve worked as a Vet Assistant and Behaviorist and have extensive experience in dog reproduction, as a breeder, for even longer than that.. Canine behavioral issues and training are also my specialties. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. I'm so sorry that no other expert answered your question earlier. Your question just showed up on the list of unanswered questions that I have access to and I wanted to help. I hope you will rate my answer rather than the delay. I also do not do phone calls.

It is necessary for me to get a little information from you before I can type up your reply. Your patience is appreciated.

Do you still want help with this matter?

If so, what sex is your friend?

Is your dog allowed on the furniture?

What obedience training has she had?

What was the dog doing when it went for you?

Has it displayed aggression in the past?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Hi there,
Sorry I have not got back sooner, but I would love some advice on how to best get my dog used to the big change of new baby in the family. I am so wanting it to go smoothly as she is a lovely dog and I don't want to have to give her away but as you understand the safety and wellbeing of the new arrrival is paramount. Is there anything I can do to make it easier for her? She is spoilt rotten and allowed on furniture and was on the bed of my friend when she was agressive. I have told her not to let her on the bed and have tried to keep her from being in my friends bedroom and have stopped her from coming into mine. This was a one off I think and seems to be much more relaxed now.

Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful.

There are some medical conditions that can cause sudden aggression and those may be a factor. Unfortunately, these would not be able to be ruled out without testing.

It sounds like your dog may be having issues with dominance aggression. Many dominant dogs are described as well behaved until you try to get them to do something they do not want to do, and then they reprimand you either with a growl or bite if you don't heed the growl. Things like taking away something they want, making them move when they don't want to, waking them up, etc can cause them to reprimand (bite) you. In this case, she may feel that your friend belongs to her and thus guards her. Your friend may be giving your dog more attention and even treats and stuff that you are not doing at this point since you are going to have a little one.

Dogs that are allowed on furniture (even if put on the furniture) tend to feel that since they are elevated to your level or higher if on your lap, they mentally feel elevated as well in the pack order and thus are the boss. Keeping them on the floor can help lower them mentally back to a submissive position in the pack. So the first thing is to not allow her higher that the humans or even on the same level. In addition, humans shouldn't be on the floor with her either. A small short stool is enough to keep them higher than the dog when petting the dog. Attach a leash and use it to remove her from the furniture. Give a correction in the form of a quick tug and firm "NO" when she attempts to get on and a treat when she starts not trying to get on the furniture. Thus you are providing consequences for the getting on the furniture and positive reinforcement for the desired behavior (not attempting to get on the furniture).

There are other ways to regain the dominant position in the house as well. The best way is to start obedience training. While a formal training class is great, you can start obedience training without a formal class. The following site is helpful in helping owners train their 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.

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.

You will also want to keep a leash on her at all times initially to grab if she should disobey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your dog does with training. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.

Additionally, I would suggest you get a basket muzzle and make her wear it when the baby comes initially. Be sure to use the leash to make her obey you. If she growls give a short tug to get her attention and a firm "NO" to let her know, you are not going to allow her aggression. If she is sleeping, give a little tug to let her know that someone is there so she isn't startled when being woken up.

I also recommend some baby training to make the situation safer for your baby when he/she comes. Dogs initially usually treat babies like newborn pups and are pretty lenient with them allowing a lot of behavior they wouldn't from others but they expect a baby to learn what behavior is acceptable and what isn't such as not just pulling on their ears, hugging, etc and will lash out at them sometimes causing real damage. However, you can train your dog to keep their distance from your baby until both your baby and your dog know what interactions are acceptable.

I would start teaching your dog to stay a certain distance away from the baby as soon as the baby comes. You will leash your dog and if the dog gets within 3 feet of the baby, you will give the dog a short tug on the leash and a firm, low toned NO. Since the baby isn't here yet, you might start with a lifesize baby doll and be sure it smells like baby powder. Once she starts stopping the required distance from the baby, start rewarding her with a tasty treat like a thin hot dog slice. At this point you will see her stopping long before she gets to the baby. It is important that you reward this behavior with both treats and praise. Once she has it down pat, you can start sometimes just using praise and sometimes treats so she doesn't know if she is getting treats or not.
At this point, you will want to teach her to move if the baby gets within 3 feet of her. So you will move the baby into her space about 2 feet from the dog and then using the leash move her away from the baby the required distance and give a treat. Since she already know she isn't supposed to be close to the baby, it may only take a couple of times before she sees that she needs to get up and move if the baby enters her space. Since treats are involved, they usually learn quickly. Again, treat for desired behavior. This is important because when the baby starts walking everywhere, the dog needs to move out of the babies way.
Most of the dogs that I have trained have learned within a few weeks but the owners worked with the dogs daily and were very consistent. Once your baby is around 3 years of age, then the baby should be able to say sit and down with a little conviction. At this point, you will start the baby giving the dog known commands to teach the dog that ahe has to obey the child as well.

You can see why obedience training is so important especially with a new baby on the way.

In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques on the previous website, 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.

I hope I've given you great service. If so, I'd appreciate a 5 star rating. The rating should be based on my answer and not any site issue. Experts are not compensated until a rating is done. If you have any other questions at all, please reply here and I'll be happy to follow up with you even after you have rated. .

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Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your response, the information you gave me was very informative. I do disagree though with keeping my dog on the leash all the time and will never use it unless I have to. I do feel that the reason why we have had this problem is because I have been so busy trying to get ready for my baby, and have not spent as much time with her doing the things that she enjoys. I have now made an effort to put aside whatever I am doing and spend time with my dog playing games or taking her for a walk which she loves.Pepper ( my dog) has very much been a pet and is a part of the family and this is the way we all want it to stay. I will introduce Pepper to the baby and be sure not to show anxiety that she might pick up when being around the baby. I want her to see that this is a good thing and for baby and dog to become good friends. A firm no and a smack on the bump will be given if she tries to be agressive. She is very responsive dog and doesn't like being told off and responds well to praise and treats with there will be plenty of for good behaviour.I also very much want to use time like the evenings when my Husband is around to spend special time with the dog so she dysentery get gelous that I am spending most of the time with the vary. I will also have family and friends to help with either dog or baby!!

The leash is temporary and your dog can drag a short around. It allows you some control of your dog without having to touch them or pick them up. It is only until your dog is listening to commands like come and down consistently.