Wednesday, 8 July 2009

English Bulldog - Leg humping

This months reply for DforDog web site.

[Name] = Stacy
[County] = Gainsborough/ Lincolnshire
[Country] = UK
[Training Question] = We have a beautiful 8 year old laid back/stubborn typical British Bulldog, who is just gorgeous & we love very much. But he has one problem. He humps (and continues to hump) every visitor to the house, legs! He is 35kg so not a small bully, and I find it hard to get him to stop it. He also humps my leg too. Doesn’t bother any other member of the family (husband & 3 children) just me! And it gets worse if my husband gives me a cuddle; Buster the bully tries to interfere with the cuddle by humping my leg.
I would really appreciate it if you could guide me in the right direction as to how to handle this problem.



Hello Stacy and thank you for the question to DforDog.
As you say a 35Kg Bulldog is a lot of dog to have attached to your leg!
I suspect he is controlling the situation (and you) to a large degree, and has learnt that this is an excellent way to gain and then keep attention. It may have been reinforced by other people laughing when he does it at some earlier point?

If like many homes you don’t have a predictable stream of visitors it can be a slow road to changing his attitude towards such an event. What I would encourage you to do here is to set up a number of people to come over so you can then also put in place a few changes so he cannot get to them and is able to indulge in this behaviour.
I do advocate that a dog should be calm and relaxed before we give interest or affection upon greetings. To fuss an already excitable dog will only serve to reinforce his behaviour, and we can then see more of it next time. So, visitors (and family members) should fully ignore him until he is calm when they enter the home.

How do we keep control of him as people enter the house? The simple answer is to set up a secure wall fixing point in a room such as the lounge or hallway away from the door areas.. My local B&Q make a three-inch square metal plate that can be drilled and fixed onto the wall. This had a D ring protruding whereby a lead can be attached to it. As the visitor pulls up at your home, you then roll in to him a large Kong stuffed with Nature Diet. This allows a strong distraction, and a change of events from his old rehearsed routine. I use this in many scenarios with great effect. It’ll take him about 15 minutes to empty the Kong (try to coincide it with a meal time) and during this time you remain hands free, no embarrassing humping to the poor visitor, and your stress levels return to normal. As is always the case I’d like to say that there are of course other ways of addressing this behaviour, but in the absence of a conversation with you I’m offering what I hope to be a balanced answer that is likely to work.

Once he has emptied the Kong and he is looking calm, you can place a fresh lead on him and detach him from the wall point. Then walk him over to the guest and ask for a sit. Your guest is to do nothing at this point and should only act when you ask them to do so.
Once he is sitting and looking good your visitor can offer the back of the hand for a sniff and then if this remains good you can allow further petting. Keep it calm and short and then walk him away. If I were to imagine that the dog was extremely insistent on the humping and went straight into it I would immediately walk him out of the room and implement a time out. Simply walk him so he can be placed behind a door and close the door on the lead giving him a couple of feet to move on the other side. Say nothing and wait for up to one minute so that he is calm and quiet. Once this happens you can walk him back into the room to study his calm state (or not) and then try the above greeting again. He must be sitting for attention by the way. If he so much as goes into the humping routine, you are to repeat the time out without delay so he sees the being alone for a short spell as an immediate negative outcome. Be nice and sweet…he stays and gains affection. Start humping…and he finds himself removed and alone for a short spell.
It is a fairly ‘dry’ approach, but 35KG of humping dog is not funny in my view. This would probably hurt frankly! Two or three time outs will sort it for most dogs. You may not need to do any as the Kong may guide him through the initial excitement anyway.

Cuddles with husband. Again, I see it as an ownership issue of the dog to you, and he is not happy that he is not involved. I would aim to place up to 100% of his daily intake via the Kong and Nature Diet route, and have plenty of cuddles on the sofa in view of the dog as he works on the Kong. You should to ignore him when he has the Kong. If you were to break his daily intake into four smaller meals via the Kong, each meal could be when you have a visitor coming to you, or a cuddle with hubby.

In the mean time, I want you to work on the sit before affection throughout the day and where possible. For this you could keep back a quarter of his daily food so as you ask him to sit, and he does so you can drop him some food for reward. Ask him to sit generally speaking when you offer him anything Stacy. Exiting through doorways to toilet, before water and meals. Ask for a sit before anything that might be seen as an offering from you to him.
Think dog for the coming weeks, and ensure you are being a leader to him and not a follower. Be firm but fair so he understands you are leading him, not the other way round. Ensure the family are following your example so that the consistent approach from the whole family will support you.

Contact me directly if you would like a hand out to accompany the wall point introduction.

Best of luck!

Nick Jones MCFBA

www.alphadogbehaviour.co.uk



2 comments:

aileen said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Betty

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Nick Jones MCFBA said...

Thank you Aileen! Appreciate the feedback...stay tuned :)