Sudden change in 10 month old staffy

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Post by bekind on Tue Jun 12 2018, 18:53

Hello everyone (please bear with me as English isn't my first language),

I came across this forum whilst looking for advice regarding my grandma's staffy Lexie, a 10 month old female.
I've had the pleasure of dog sitting Lexie quite a bit and she is precious. Since my grandma had to have knee surgery I'm now mostly walking Lexie.

She's always been very keen to bite (as pups are), but as she grew that kind of stopped. She bit my grandmother badly on one occasion - when she was excited in the dog park. We figured it was because of excitement, as she'd been chasing a ball. And it didn't happen again. Until a few weeks ago.

Lexie hasn't been in heath yet and the last couple of weeks we've noticed that she's become more unsettled, reacting to noises, etc.

I wonder if she's stressed, or under/overstimulated. She goes on walks about 5 times a day, 2 of them a bit longer and she has plenty of fun with her Kong and other treats and toys. Despite this, she's started jumping and biting me and my clothes almost every time we're out. I've tried getting her to sit, hold out the leash, ignoring her, but it's very hard when she's chomping away at my arm... I also don't want to cause a scene and potentially scare people that see us. I've tried to think of a pattern, and it seems like she gets riled up seeing other dogs or kids that are playing, which causes her to dart back and forth in the leash and ultimately jumping me.

I'd appreciate any advice on this, I didn't grow up with dogs so I feel pretty useless (sorry if my post is all over the place).

bekind
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Post by LizP on Tue Jun 12 2018, 20:20

Hi & welcome to the forum  wave

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Post by LizP on Tue Jun 12 2018, 20:44

Hi and welcome from me and mine!

Your English is brilliant! Please don't worry at all about that side of things.

It sounds from what you're saying that it's a problem of over-excitement, this sort of build up isn't totally uncommon with staffies. They are also great ones for getting into habits, especially excitement driven ones!

Before getting into how to work with her to try and get her calmer, one thing that might be worth lookin at is diet. What food is she on? A lot of dog food, including many well known brands, contain sugars and additives that some dogs react to. If you're not in the UK it might be harder for us to suggest something but you should be able to find a food that is grain/sugar/additive free. In case it helps, this is a good site for information, and you can search by 'avoid ingredients':

https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/the-dog-food-directory

Behaviour wise, I'd suggest a combination of things. Firstly, try and avoid very exciting situations, so walks with lots of other dogs/people and stuff like that. Keeping her energy levels as low as you can (and I appreciate that might not be very low!) is important.

Next we need to look at your reactions. You need to keep yourself quiet too, the more tense you get, the bigger your reactions, the more she will feel it. You also need to try and curb the instinct to raise your arm out of her way, it actually makes it worse as it gives her something to jump at. Having what you want just out of reach is guaranteed to make a staffie want it even more!

I would try working with a tuggy toy, so a rope toy or something, to give her something she can bite safely. You won't turn her around overnight so using an object that she is allowed to sink her teeth into is a way of keeping you safe while you work on a longer term plan.

The next step is then training. Although you say you weren't brought up with dogs, you seem to be pretty clued up and aware so I'm sure you'll be able to at least give it a good go. I would work again with the rope toy and give her something to do with it. You can teach her to tug and let go, using the 'leave it' command. Assuming she likes her treats when she's quiet enough, work at home when she's not wound up giving her the toy quietly, then offering her a treat while saying 'leave it'. She should leave the toy to get the treat. If it doesn't work, find a really powerful treat, such as a bit of cheese or something.

Keep repeating this, maybe over a series of short sessions until she knows that 'leave it' means drop the toy to get the treat. You then don't show her the treat first and teach her to drop the toy just for the words, but still give the treat afterwards. You should then be able to build up to playing with her first, getting her to hold tighter and get more excited, but try to do it in stages so that she's still able to concentrate on you. So just a little tug first and gradually work to bigger and bigger play.

The theory is that you should then be able to use this out on walks, but see how that goes first. I know you need a solution now but these things take time. Hopefully just having the toy to bite on instead of your arm will help in the short term.


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Post by Mia05 on Thu Jul 05 2018, 19:25

Can only add to above statement , frozen vegetables are good for soothing gums also. Welcome to the forum.xx
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