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Ask Pilar: Pulling On Things, Barking At Night And Getting Along With Pet Bird

Welcome to our “Ask Pilar” series! Professional dog trainer and groomer Pilar Garrido will answer questions you have about your pup. She is only providing a basic overview. For more information, please consult a trainer, behaviorist or groomer in your area, who can directly work with your dogs.

For this round of questions, our readers asked:

1. We just adopted a 13-month-old female French bulldog. My ten-year-old daughter was so happy; the dog is very playful and follows her around the house. However, while playing together inside my daughter’s indoor play tent one day, the dog started pulling everything apart. Is this a normal behavior?

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A 13-month-old French bulldog is still considered a puppy; she is growing and needs to learn a lot. In human years, she is a teenager. Puppies in their teens tend to play a lot and break things. When your daughter was playing with her and the dog suddenly started breaking or pulling on things, there are two reasons the dog may have been provoked. She could’ve gotten stressed by playing excessively. Also, her energy was very high, which could have increased her frustration causing her to destroy things. Usually, when children play, they like to scream and run around the house, making the dog nervous. I would supervise the playtimes and see how your daughter behaves and how the dog responds.

Whenever you see your daughter shouting, let her know that she may need to lower her voice so that it does not provoke the dog. Since your dog is adopted, she may have had bad experiences in the past where she associated loud noises with something unpleasant. Since the dog cannot control the situation, destroying things was her only outlet. We need to supervise our children when playing with the dog at home. We need to ensure that both are interacting correctly. We want to ensure that both are safe, especially with dogs being so susceptible to sounds. By controlling the noise level and the energy the two have, we can see a positive outcome in the dog’s behavior. However, if the problem persists, consult a professional dog trainer.

2. I have a 10-month-old female Yorkshire Terrier that my husband gave me as a birthday present. For the most part, she never causes any problems at home. The only thing that bothers us is, when going to bed, she barks at night for no reason, and it sometimes affects our sleep. Is there anything you can suggest to take care of this?

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Before trying anything new with your dog, I would suggest first bringing her to the veterinarian to rule out any medical problems she may be having. If there are no problems, we will need to train the dog to exercise every day. That means three long walks a day, plus any additional interactions at the dog park or elsewhere. Once she returns home from her morning exercise, bring her to her room or to a place where she can relax quietly with her favorite toy. Make sure no one bothers her during her time of rest. We want her to feel safe in her resting area so that when it comes to sleeping at night, she will know how to behave. By the time she gets to her last exercise in the evening or afternoon, her energy level will be lowered. Bonus tip: spray her bed with a small amount of lavender essential oil. This is calming and will help her sleep.

3. I just brought home a three-year-old female miniature Pincher. It used to be my brother’s so she is used to being in my house (he’s dropped her off with me before). However, I have a Cockatoo bird at home and the dog is not used to being with my bird. She loves to bark a lot when my bird starts to make some sounds and it’s driving me nuts. Is there anything I can do?

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Thanks for bringing up the question of bird and dog interactions. Both are very dear to my heart. I always have birds (parakeets) in my home, and my dogs and parakeets get along very well. There’s no doubt the same can happen with your situation. This is where you will need to step up as a leader for your dog and bird.  Here’s what you can do: 

(a) Never allow your dog to approach the bird without your presence. Try to keep them at a reasonable distance from each other. You cannot predict what your dog might do.

(b) The dog should only approach the bird when she is calm. When your dog is quiet and not barking at the bird, reward her and she’ll associate the calm behavior as something positive.

(c) Once the dog behaves consistently, allow her to approach the bird. However, you still need to monitor her no matter what. 

(e) You must also monitor the bird and make sure that she is comfortable and does not get alarmed or panicked by the dog’s presence. If she does, the dog will react too.

(f) Cockatoos are very friendly and intelligent; if the dog is calm, she will remain calm too. In due time, they will learn to accept each other as part of the family. Good luck! Take your time and be patient. You will see your reward in the end as I have with my pets.

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