This is the final installation of the series of articles about our own pets and what we have learned about them living with them. We got two dogs from the same litter of Dachshund puppies and we managed to get two very different dogs. Bubble is boisterous, outgoing and looks like a typical Dachshund, her sister however is a very different beast.
This article is about Saffron, also known as Lady Saffron of the Crocus Flower (her AKC name), Saffy and Fatty Biscuit. Saffy is a four year old Dachshund with a Red Boar coat; she is not shaped like a typical Dachshund in that she is short in length and has a large barrel chest. She is the sweetest dog I have ever shared space with, an awesome hiker and loves to cuddle. Saffron is always on alert, ready to bark at anything that makes noise or moves, has fear based dog aggression and until recently would not play with toys at all.
Dachshunds are natural barkers. Descended from a strong line of German hunters, the Dachshund instinctively barks to alert their human to potential prey or to a stranger on the premises. Your Dachshund may think that they rule the house, the yard and even the street and they may bark at anything that moves. This is annoying for most but a few training techniques may help solve or at least reduce the barking problem. In addition to the annoyance, prolonged barking may cause physical problems as it stresses the lungs, throat and chest region.
With Saffron, we have worked on eliminating the cause of the barking. Remembering that her bark is useful to alert us to the presence of people on our property we do not try to stop her from barking once or twice to alert us but rather teach her to stop barking persistently on command. Yelling at her does not work, all she gets from that is that I am joining in on the barking at the stranger and reinforcing her bad behavior. Dachshunds are persistent in their stubbornness and it takes patience and commitment in order to help them develop better habits.
What we have found that works best is rewarding Saffron with a treat when she obeys the command to stop barking. I keep a stash of her favorite treats on hand and offer them only when she obeys and stops barking. If tempting her with a treat is not enough to get her to stop barking then I ask her to stop barking and give her a few seconds to quiet down and if she doesn’t than I pick her up and carry her inside without saying another word. Saffron is allowed barks of happiness when she greets us or when we are playing. After all, she is a dog and a dog barks for many reasons. Only inappropriate barking is and should be deterred.
Dog fear aggression is the direct result of a dog’s fear. Saffron is afraid of most other dogs, partly because she is small and also because she had an unfortunate and avoidable incident with a larger dog that tried to eat her when she was a puppy. Often, when she becomes scared, she will lash out aggressively as a form of defense. In most instances of her aggression, the dog is not doing anything to directly threaten her, they are just there and she will bark and sometimes snap at the other dog until they respond to behavior and then she shrieks like she is being killed. Our concern is that one day another dog is going to respond to her bad behavior and she will be seriously injured or worse, after all one of the more common ways for a Dachshund to die is being killed by another dog.
Before you can begin to address the aggressive behavior, you must find the root of the problem: the fear. Once the fear has been identified, it can be addressed. DO NOT set your dog up to fail! Instead of exposing the dog directly to the specific agent that causes this fearful behavior, create a sense of security. Many people think that by “socializing” their dog that their fear and subsequent behavior will just go away but instead you are just exposing them to their greatest fear and escalating their issues. Saffron does not go to the dog park or go on hikes where we would encounter a lot of dogs because this just exacerbates her aggression.
What we do is have a few dogs that she is good with come to the house for her to interact with and learn that not all dogs are bad. When we are on hikes and we come across other dogs I have her focus her attention on me by providing a constant stream of treats so she understands that paying attention to me is going to be far more rewarding than losing her mind on the strange dog and thus lessening the stress and fear of the situation. Never be afraid to let people know that your dog does not play well with others even if they tell you their dog is friendly and if they do not honor that request and keep their dog away from yours, you can even fib and tell them your dog has had a contagious disease recently and that will usually get them to keep their dog away from you and your fearful canine.
As the title of this article suggests Saffron does not fetch and for the longest time would not play with toys at all. We thought it was because her sister is a bully and would take toys from her sister even when given the exact same toy each. What we learned is that she does not play that way. What Saffy likes to do is chase and be chased. We will chase her around the yard and she will run like crazy and start chasing us, in addition we purchased a toy similar to a cat teaser with a squeaky toy attached to it to get her to chase it. When she catches the toy she picks it up and walks off with it chest puffed out and head held high, this is because she was bred to be a hunter and what ever she catches is hers and she does not want to share.
Saffron and her behavior can be a challenge but at the end of the day she is best to cuddle up tight on the couch, which is her favorite place to be. Taking time to understand your dog and traits that are inherent in their breed can make life with them far more harmonious and rewarding for you and your dog. Life better with your pets.
|HUMAN SOCIETY OF MOAB VALLEY
Humane Society of Moab Valley
Annual Dawg Days of Summer
BBQ and Silent Auction
Join us at Old City Park July 28 from 4-8 for our biggest fundraiser of the year, The Annual Dawg Days of Summer BBQ and Silent Auction Benefit. Sit back and enjoy the musical talents of Eric Jones and classic rock, country and blues music from Lost Buffalo performing with Rockin’ Rod while treating your taste buds to fablously prepared BBQ catered by the Moab Brewery. This year’s silent auction is better than ever with romantic dinner packages, spa dates, beautiful art work, massage and fitness certificates. Tickets are available at the HSMV, Moab City Shelter, Sgt. Peppers Music, Moab Barkery and Wabi Sabi.
For more information call: 435-259-4862.