top of page



Food or resource guarding

Attention seeking e.g. when the owner is on the phone, talking to people, trying to relax

Jumping up at visitors to the home

Jumping up at people met on walks

Problems during owner absence

Indoor toileting problems

Specific anxiety, fear or phobia

Repetitive behaviours e.g. tail-chasing, limb licking, shadow-chasing

Territorial responses to stimuli passing home or to visitors entering home

Aggression to people or animals outside the home

Aggression to people inside the home

Aggression to another household dog


Only allow the dog to have access to 'sensitive' resources in places and at times when no-one needs to disturb the dog. If a resource must be taken away from the dog, either offer an acceptable 'swap' for a more valuable resource (e.g. a very tasty treat) or, if this is not likely to be safe, lure the dog to another environment, give the dog a tasty reward, shut the door/barrier and remove the problem resource.

Initially, ignore the behaviour but try to ensure that the dog is given an alternative but appropriate form of mental stimulation (e.g. puzzle feeding or food searching activity). Whenever possible, pre-empt the need for attention with suitable mental stimulation.

Don't allow the dog to be part of the greeting party - place it in another room (possibly with 2 doors between them) and give the dog an appropriate activity to keep it busy until the guest is settled. Teach the dog to sit/lie in many different areas of the home and with increasing activity around it. Once 'settled' ask confident visitors to request a sit/lie for a reward.



Don't stop to talk to people until the dog has learnt to sit/lie in increasingly stimulating situations outdoors.

Arrange a dog-sitter for the dog or someone who the dog can visit. Then seek professional help

Initially, medical issues must have been ruled out or treated. Ask questions about the time and location - particularly whether family members are present in the room - this should help determine whether this may be a 'home alone' issue or a fear associated with a particular stimulus. Give advice on the appropriate cleaning routine for soiled areas and the need for the family to remain calm at all times. If not associated with separation or fear, re-start toilet training using the same routines as for puppies to create a substrate and location connection. Gradually extend the period between opportunities to be allowed access to the latrine to produce bladder control.

Protect the dog from exposure to the trigger stimulus - keep the dog out of rooms that are exposed and close doors/windows/curtains/blinds to form visual and auditory barriers. Mask sounds with noise from radio/TV. Create a darkened, sound-proofed den that is constantly available (also see next point)

Get family to keep a diary of preceding events - no matter how trivial or how occasional - avoid exposure to such events and, if unavoidable, mask or pre-empt such events with an activity that the dog enjoys. If an episode is ongoing, appear to ignore it, create a none-startling distraction and get the dog involved in an alternative activity

Don't allow the dog to have access to areas of the home where it can hear or see passing stimuli. Try to ignore territorial barking and, once quiet, try to offer an alternative activity in a quiet area, as a distraction. Don't allow the dog to be part of the 'greeting party' - ensure that the dog is in another area of the home when someone answers the door.

Don't take the dog to environments where it may meet the target. If getting to a safe exercise environment means passing a trigger -either use a different route, drive there or don't go there. If there is a chance that the dog may accidentally meet a target, it should wear a muzzle and remain on the lead.

Never leave the trigger target in a room with the dog - never allow the dog to enter a room with the target without allowing the target the option to move out of the room. Always ensure that the dog wears a lead and muzzle when in an environment where it may meet the trigger target. Use barriers to prevent accidental meetings with target.

If aggression occurs on sight, separate the dogs into different areas of the house - don't 'swap' the areas. If aggression is associated with triggers, identify all triggers and separate prior to exposure to triggers. Use a neutral room between areas, so that accidental escape doesn't lead directly to the other dog. If obviously distressed or the family are unable to manage, consider kennelling one dog. If the dogs can cope when in open spaces outdoors, continue social encounters on walks.

(taken from Hargrave C (2019): Behavioural first aid advice for canine patients. The Veterinary Nurse. November 2019, Volume 10 No 8)
Basic first aid behavioural advice for owners that should supplement environmental and enrichment advice

bottom of page