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Old 05-13-2010, 06:53 PM
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Default Any extra advice for this situation?

Not about Milo, for once

As many of you know, my boss (at a small, busy grooming shop) recently adopted a 4 year old whippet named Xena. Xena was terribly nervous and unhappy the first few days, but has come around nicely and greets everyone who comes into the shop, plays, and is basically a normal dog.

While all is quiet, Xena sleeps in a bed underneath the register. When someone comes into the store, she recently has been getting up to check it out, and following around the other dogs while they play. She's got a very solid stay.

Twice, Xena has growled at another dog. Both times the dogs were small terriers, a JRT and a yorkie, very high energy, bouncing around, friendly, but totally wound-up and a bit dominant. The first time, she was already in her bed and we just removed the other dog. The second time, she was up and going to check out the other dog, and when the other dogs started wiggling and bouncing, she growled.

My boss wanted to know what she should do. I told her she shouldn't reprimand her, just to tell her to go to her bed, guide her there, and not let the other dog near her spot. She's got to have somewhere to go to get away from the little pesty ones. She's already learning "go lie down" and if we put her there and tell her stay she won't get up.

I was wondering if anyone had any other tips and if that was the right thing to say/do?

Also, she is super, super, super sensitive. Yesterday she got up to approach an unfriendly, very large pit mix and Kathy quickly put her hand up and said quite loudly "No Xena, Stay!" and Xena looked like her poor little heart was going to break into a thousand pieces. We quickly praised her for going to her bed and she forgave Kathy for raising her voice after a few minutes but you could tell she was totally distressed by the harsh command. If you tell her to go lie down, she looks totally insulted and unsure and then if you tell her it's okay to get up, she slinks over to you like you tore her heart out and stomped on it. I think maybe she only got told to go lay down before when she was in trouble? But hopefully with lots of rewards for doing so she'll learn it's not a bad thing.
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Old 05-13-2010, 07:37 PM
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Sweet72947 Sweet72947 is offline
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Giving her a spot to get away from the pesky young dogs is a very good idea. The growling is a warning saying "you're annoying me, leave me alone!"

Whippets are a sensitive breed in general. She might not be as sensitive once she gets more used to your boss, and it does say a lot about her temperament that she has started greeting people who come in the store so quickly, it makes me think that with time, she may not react quite so strongly to vocal correction.

Try not to say commands or corrections in a mean or very loud voice, just an even, firm voice, and praise/treat a lot for her obedience. Your boss just needs to focus on building up the dog's confidence a little bit more.
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Old 05-13-2010, 07:46 PM
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I personally think it's fine that she is growling at dogs in those instances, if she doesn't like rowdy behavior then she doesn't need to tolerate it. A growl or even a snap would be okay. However I do agree with making sure no dogs go near her bed so that she has the option to run and hide if the dogs get on her nerves. Perhaps instead of commanding her to her bed just remind her it's there by saying her name gently so she looks and tapping the bed, so she remembers she can get away if she needs to. Obviously if it starts to escalate (either she gets more aggressive or the other dog won't listen to her and gets more insistent) she'll have to be made to go to her bed (or the other dog needs to be removed) but see if she can deal with it herself first either by telling the dog off safely or hiding in bed. Do try and introduce her to some calm dogs so that she doesn't think all dogs are unpleasent.

As far as being a soft dog goes, Boston Banker could probably help with that. Meg was/is very soft. Try and make the commands...not commands, but more of opportunities to be rewarded. Clicker train the command (if a clicker frightens her then use a word) to go lie down. Make it fun to do, fun to listen.
Homemade agility courses would be a good way to boost her confidence as well. Each time they take that risk to go through a tunnel or walk on an unsteady surface and succeed is a HUGE confidence boost. Of course it's important they are not rushed or else they'll fail and it would have the opposite affect. But I've always heard agility is one of the best ways to boost a dog's confidence.
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Old 05-13-2010, 07:59 PM
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In the past week she's probably met/hung out with about 50 different dogs. She's been fine with all but two of them.

We're going to try to remember to ask her to stay in her place before any aggressive dog comes in, so we aren't frantic to get her back there if she does get up (the other two dogs stay unless they're invited.)
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