View Full Version : I need help!!

26th November 2012, 12:57 PM
i have a 11 month old cavalier, she's a ruby and i've never owned one until my grandma gave me her. i'm having big big issues with her growling at my whole family for no reason, she's also bit my mom and me because of this. besides the growling she seems perfectly normal. she's very very over protective of any food as well, she also will stay outside next to the buttermilk my mom poured out in the yard and guard it so our outside cat's can't get near it! when she does this i have to move her head with a stick and pick her up or she will stay outside all day! another strange thing is she'll be laying in my room and i'll baby talk to her or say "come here girl!" and the white of her eyes are red as fire, and she starts growling. i'm getting worried about this cause my brother lives with me and he's only 11, as well as a 3 month old kitten. she also will chew everything she can! she chewed up my dad's memory card for his camera, our iphone sync cables, my brother's lego's, etc. i need help because i love her so much and i keep thinking maybe i should give her away because of this and i don't want to :(

any help is appreciated ahead of time!

26th November 2012, 03:10 PM
Oh boy -- this is tough for you. I am glad you wrote in because your dog (and family :) ) does need help with this. The behaviour you are seeing is not normal at all and very worrying.

You have a situation that is getting to a very serious level and it needs to be assessed by a professional trainer and also needs to be first checked by a vet.

The starting point with any constantly growling (and worse a biting) dog -- especially in this breed where there is a serious widespread illness that causes pain, called syringomyelia -- is to check for medical causes first for such aggression. You need to get her to her vet, explain what has happened, and have him/her check for any possible signs of pain. Can you let your vet know about the problem of syringomyelia in the breed -- it is sadly, widespread and the kind of pain it creates can cause aggression in some cavaliers. There's info at www.smcavaliers.com, www.cavalierhealth.org and at this site for vets as well as pet owners: http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/faq.htm

If your dog might possibly have this condition, then she needs to see a neurologist and your vet can refer you to one. There may be medications or surgery that could help the pain that could be at the root of the aggression, but this is est assessed by a neurologist IF your vet thinks this is a likely possibility. If your cavalier on the other hand doesn't seem to have pain as the base cause for her aggression, then you'll need to takes steps to deal with this behaviour right away through a professional trainer for advice and guidance. Even the most experienced dog owners would have trouble managing this on their own and it really really does need a certified trainer. You can find one with the correct credentials and approach (CCPDT certified) at http://www.ccpdt.org/index.php?option=com_certificants&Itemid=102

There are a couple of minor points to address and then several major ones.

The minor ones are the chewing -- though I know this seems frustrating. ALL puppies chew and the general rule for owning a puppy and really, a dog generally (as many will want to chew all their lives), is never ever leave anything in reach of the dog that you are not willing to have chewed. A dog your cavalier's age has been teething then developing her very critical jaw muscles and MUST have things to chew at her age - she is at the very height of her need and desire to chew right now and likely it will begin to settle down as she gets a bit older. If she hasn't been managed to keep items like memory cards and shoes etc safely out of reach -- and she hasn't been trained to focus her attention on excellent toys instead such as kongs, nylabones or the many dozens of safe chew toys on the market -- then these other items to her are fair game as she doesn't know they are off limits if 1) it's left lying around and 2) she hasn't been trained and redirected to chew acceptable items.

So that is a problem easily resolved: 1) everyone keeps valuable items out of reach of the dog and 2) she is trained instead to use some acceptable chew toys. This is actually critical to do right away as she easily could end up needing costly emergency surgery to address a blockage or intestinal puncture caused by these items -- any of which could be fatal to her.

You can find out all sorts of ways to manage her and train her to be the adult dog you want by working with a trainer and using the book After You Get Your Puppy, a FREE download available at www.dogstardaily.com/free-downloads :) But this is ONLY for basics and is NOt a solution to your serious problem with growling and biting.

Now for the biting and guarding -- I don't know if these are directly connected given your information, but these are SERIOUS problems if she has bitten twice and MUST be addressed by a professional as they have accelerated to a dangerous point. You cannot risk your younger brother in particular suffering a bite and if you need a stick to get things away from her then this has become very serious guarding indeed. You CAN fix the guarding but the whole family has to work at this. To start you really do not ever ever want to forcibly separate or remove her from something she is guarding unless t is a serious threat to her health. Instead just leave her with it untll she abandons the item, eats it or whatever. Forcing her with a stick will only make the problem worse and worse over time because it reinforces all the reasons she currently guards (to keep people from taking things away). The book above goes into how to train a puppy from the start not to guard -- which is when this generally needs to be done (you train the puppy initially to swap one item for another -- so the puppy never fears that having an item taken away means something bad). The stage you are at now however, is beyond using that approach, and does require a certified trainer using positive/rewards methods ONLY (eg a CPPDT trainer). I cannot stress this enough -- the trainer market is full of idiots who will say you must punish her and this will make the problem worse and wrose, to the point where you may have no choice but to put down a fear aggressive dog.

That's the really critical point to make here -- that this is not just a minor behaviour issue but a quite serious one. Fear aggression from guarding -- if that is the only cause of her behaviour and her biting is directly connected to it -- will only continue to worsen unless addressed through careful training. A dog can then become very dangerous.

If for any reason your family don't feel they can manage this and instead think they should rehome the dog -- please do not consider anything like a pound or putting her to sleep but instead contact your regional cavalier rescue. If you are in the US, UK or Canada I have rescue contacts listed in the breed rescue section, pinned at the top. They WILL take a dog that has these issues and place such a dog where it can get the correct training. It does take a lot of work and will likely also require lifelong management so this isn't a problem that is easily resolved once a dog has reached the point where it is biting hence it is just very important to talk to a professional trainer and make a decision on how to proceed.

Please let us know what you hear back from your vet and what a professional trainer says.

26th November 2012, 08:39 PM
i read up on syringomyelia and the biggest fear is scratching, i know she and our other dogs and cats have fleas, which i tell you we've put almost every brand of flea killer on them (k9 advantage, frontline, etc.) as well as flea collars and they are still covered in them >.< but the main thing i seen is that they constantly scratch at their neck. she usually sleeps in the bed with my mom at night and she's told me numerous times that she will constantly scratch all night long, and she can barely sleep because of this. As for the chewing, she has soooo many toys, in which she has pretty much ripped apart, she loves to rip the stuffing out of toys as well. the guarding though did not become a problem until she got older, when she was a little baby she never did any sort of guarding, which i never thought about to serious because our other dog (a dachshund) has never had any guarding issues. i know we can't afford a professional trainer, but i'll make her an appointment with the vet asap.

27th November 2012, 01:18 AM
Fletcher like to eat fabric and other weird thing that could hurt him so I do not give in any stuffed toys. He also is not into Kongs which is annoying since they seem to work great for a dog who will work on one. He likes balls, rope knotted toys for bigger dogs work great too. He also LOVES antlers and bully sticks for chewing, but those need supervision so they are treats for when he can sit with us. I keep legos, or anything else I do not want chewed out of reach. Its a lot of work to keep our main living area "Fletcher proof" he its easier to avoid the problems BEFORE they happen.

Fletcher is very good at the steal food and run routine. A few weeks ago he actually bit me when I took a homemade super chocolaty ice cream sandwich I dropped when I was look in the freezer for something. He has never done that, but I realize it was a high value treat so I was in the wrong for not approaching him with a treat. Since then I have switch to dried liver and his "special treats" works like a charm when I he finds something he should not have. Guarding food is a common cavalier issue since most LOVE their food. Mine acts like I never feed him too. He is greedy and believes all food is meant for him. Which is a challenge with a little kid in the house.

I am also very concerned about the growling, I couldn't even image a cavalier growling at people and biting!!!! Cavalier's are general very happy and friendly easy dogs. I would def check it out with a vet. Maybe the fleas are the cause. Fleas drive Fletcher crazy. They do make a RX pill that works like a charm on fleas but it sounds like you may need to bomb the house and treat the yard. If you could get the fleas under control which isn't that hard, perhaps the scratching would stop. It should be rules out anyway............ I know if I was itchy or in pain I could be a real BRAT too.

Do you feed her in a crate? Is she crate trained? Perhaps she would chill with the food guarding if she was eating in a crate. I would also keep the cat's buttermilk away for her all together. They are outside cats can you move the dish like up higher or in the unfenced part of the yard?

Sounds like you two might benefit from rereading the raising a puppy books. There are some free downloadable ones on CT. You can train a dog without a professional trainer you just need to learn how to do it yourself. Its hard and there are 100000 opinions out there on how to train but maybe you find something that works for you. I WOULD ONLY go for positive training tips tho, no punishments......

Good luck and keep us posted

Kate H
27th November 2012, 09:59 AM
'I read up on syringomyelia and the biggest fear is scratching' This isn't strictly true, some dogs with SM never scratch, but fleas will drive most dogs demented. If treatments on the dog aren't working, then, as Melissa says, you need to tackle the house. Central heating encourages fleas to live permanently indoors, so you will need to de-flea the house not frequently but regularly. Also, talk to your vet about flea treatment for your animals - there is a pill that you can give (forgotten the name) which may be more effective than spot-on for your fur-babies.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

27th November 2012, 04:20 PM
i'll baby talk to her or say "come here girl!" and the white of her eyes are red as fire, and she starts growling.

Can I ask. Do you mean that the whites of her eyes are firey red in colour instead of white. If this is the case she needs to see a vet as this does not sound right.

27th November 2012, 05:29 PM
You are going to hate me for this, but if you love your young ruby girl so much why is it that you haven't seen a vet about the gross infestation of fleas that you are telling us she has? I think that if I was getting bitten all over by bloodsucking insects such as fleas I would get pretty cross with everyone around me too, especially if the only pleasure I had left in life was food and drink, so no wonder she guards it. Staying outside in the fresh air might be much more comfortable for her too, poor thing her body must be boiling from allergic reactions to all those bites.

The redness around the eyes could well be caused by anaemia by having the iron sucked out of her blood by the fleas. It sounds to me that if you leave it much longer she will die, so if you love her as much as you say, you will do something about it TODAY by seeing the vet.

You will also need to disinfest your home, rugs, floors, beds and all the chairs and cushions, because they will not only be infested themselves, but the females will have layed a great number of eggs deep into the pile of the fabrics. More than one appplication of a strong insecticide will be needed, but your vet will give you full instructions.

I used to live in a very deprived area of the UK and saw this kind of infestation quite frequently. The people who lived there were pretty low in intelligence and short of money, or had addictions to cope with, which I used to have to guide them to seek help to address, so believe me I know what I am talking about.

I agree with Kate, scratching is not invariably seen in dogs with SM.