Busted: Henry's story

by Terri Babcock
(Seabeck, Washington)


This article busted my poodle-terrier mix. His name is Henry, he has a beautiful, white, soft coat, and he weighs 14 pounds.

We got him from a rescue in Seattle that brings small dogs in from California. Henry was found roaming the streets in the Bay Area.

We have had Henry for about two months, and we tell people no wonder he has attitude, he's a white boy from the hood.

Henry was pretty docile when we first got him, a little barking at first at us, but he had wonderful foster parents who loved him dearly.

We do a lot of RVing, and he is the perfect traveling dog. Loves the motor home, loves to go on walks, but we noticed immediately that his barking became increasingly hostile the longer we have had him.

Our adult daughter and her three children live downstairs in our home, and he loves the kids, who are ages 4, 7, and 8. He barks at our adult daughter, and any other adults who come over.

The one thing that we can't figure out is that two of the neighborhood boys who come over, who also have dogs, bring out a hostile reaction from Henry. He lunges and nips, lunges and nips, and to one of the boys who is quite small, it was terrifying.

Another thing he does, which I have never seen another dog do, is remain silent, almost encouraging people to come up to him, and to those who get in his face, smiling and soft voiced, he will lunge and snap.

This behavior, obviously, can't be tolerated. Here are some facts about Henry's day:

Exercise: He takes 1/2 mile walks three-four times a day in order to explore and do his business. My husband is a runner, and Henry goes with him, probably twice a week, 2 miles worth.

Food: He eats once in the morning, and his food is picked up. He eats again at night, and again his food is picked up. He has water out all the time.

Separation: When we can't take him with us, he stays in a bathroom, with his bed, blanket, and water.

If we are out for longer than a couple of hours we like to take him with us, however the weather has gotten cold and so we don't want to leave him in the car if we go into a store.

The first time we left him he did fine.

The second time, we came home to a mess. He had somehow gotten a small cut on his pad, or, in jumping, and yanked a bit at a tender spot near the nail, and had bled a lot.

The third time we left him, he did fine again.

Bedtime: He sleeps on the bed, at the foot, and has done so since day one. That is where he slept at the foster family's home.

Playtime: He loves to "mangle" toys, whipping them around and growling "ferociously." He loves to chase things that are thrown, and brings them to you to do it again.

Discipline and training: We are not sure what works best for the aggressive barking at strangers.

We have heard flopping him over on his side, grabbing the back of his neck, grabbing his muzzle, etc.

We're still in the process of figuring out what to do. I am particularly attached to him, and will do whatever it takes so that he can be a happy, contented dog in our people world.

Hi, Janice Here From Small Dog Place...

Sounds like you inherited a cute little dog with a history that the rescue organization may not have been aware of at the time of adoption. But it is clear that those "ghosts in the closet" are surfacing from time to time, making the dog seem unpredictable and worrisome.

I do hope you will be able to get in touch with a canine behavioral specialists to see what might be going on. Your vet or the state's veterinary college would be a good place to start to search for a referral.

In the meantime, the technique that you described, is in my mind, old school and an ineffective way of showing a dog who is alpha in your house. I think it only leads to fear and possibly more aggression.

Everything you are doing seems very appropriate (exercise, love, feeding, etc.) so I would definitely continue that routine. Good Luck.

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