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RSPCA and animal behaviourist webchat

(72 Posts)
LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 12-May-14 13:42:32

Introducing pets to young grandchildren can be a stressful exercise and, as the two get to know each other, it can throw up issues that you didn't anticipate.

We are very excited to have two pet experts with us on 21 May to answer all your questions about keeping the peace when grandchildren meet animals, as well as general tips and tricks.

Dr Samantha Gaines (pictured with black Lab), Acting Head of the Companion Animal Science Department at the RSPCA and dog welfare scientist, along with animal behaviourist Rosie Barclay, will be standing by from 1-2pm, ready to answer your questions.

Samantha specialises in dog welfare and has worked for the RSPCA since 2009 covering issues including behaviour modification, kennelling, legislation, working and sporting dog welfare. She shares her office with Sidney, a labrador cross mastiff <lucky>.

Rosie Barclay (pictured) MPhil is a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist, chair of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors and a registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist through the Animal Behaviour & Training Council. She runs a behavioural consultancy in Jersey to help owners and their pets cope better when things go wrong and appeared regularly on Channel 4's Pet Rescue, local and national radio and has her own book Good Dog Bad Dog. She writes for magazines and scientific journals and has just started a new Facebook page Talk to the animals.

One of Rosie's passions is to teach children to stay safe around dogs and she helped to design a campaign called Speak Dog and Stay Safe - an interactive presentation delivered to all year ones in Jersey schools. The campaign is now in its second year and has helped to reduce the numbers of dog bites towards children.

Rosie has plenty of her own animal companions including Thisbe a rescue Pekinese cross, Riff Raff a large Maine Coon cat, chinchillas, rabbits, fish, chickens and a lovely old gypsy horse called Thistle. She also has a very understanding husband and two teenagers.

Join Samantha and Rosie on 21 May from 1-2pm.

hindsight Mon 12-May-14 17:29:07

My 9 year old English Setter has become very strange in his old age - if he gets a bone, he can't eat it without barking at it first (loudly and for a long time).

Also since our older setter died a few years ago, he seems to be really lonely and stares longingly at the other dogs in the park when we're out (he has selective hearing, so can't trust him off the lead in that area as there are roads nearby, though he's fine in the fields), but when DD2 comes round with her female puppy, he growls at her, humphs and turns his back. Why does he want to interact in the park, but not at home where the new puppy has been many times?!

Tegan Mon 12-May-14 19:35:54

My 7 year old whippet is going into kennles for the first time next month. Any tips on how to make it less traumatic for her? Also she's terrified of fireworks. Have tried dap diffusers and valerian tablets but nothing helps. She's a wreck around November time.

Lily56 Tue 13-May-14 14:42:15

i'm a bit disappointed in my niece at the moment (who has just bought a german shepherd puppy) as she says she and her husband can't afford to take it to puppy training.

the puppy a dear little thing when at home with us (my niece and i are very close and see a lot of each other), but is utterly terrified of everyone else outside the home and as a result starts growling at them and getting quite aggressive to people and other dogs. she's not that small any more either so it's alarming for others and embarrassing for us too.

What would you suggest? i believe that she came from a home where all the other dogs (including the mother) were guard dogs and i want to make sure we nip this in the bud now before she gets bigger. she s very obedient at home and very loving. she also barks maniacally at the door when someone knocks i am told.

nancy22 Thu 15-May-14 15:03:11

Hi There. I have a dog who most of the time barks, he doesn't like other dogs and there is a lot of cats where I live and he goes mad when he sees them and also birds. I had him when he was approx. 2 or 3 yrs old and I am the third home he has had. I have now had him approx. 3yrs and he is better than what he was when I first had him. I have tried lots of things but if you can suggest anything to help him calm down it would be gratefully received. The only thing that stops the barking is a collar that has a fragrant lemon that puffs out when he barks. but now he has got wise to it so he does low growls

editorjo Thu 15-May-14 15:19:51 can happen

GN in Chelmsford's running a new guest forum chat on the issue of dopnapping, courtesy of a local retired police officer.

We'd love to know your thoughts on the matter.... and you can link to our post here:

Christine1955 Thu 15-May-14 16:08:56

I have a 10 year old Cairn Terria cross jack Russell, he has always been anti social with other dogs barking etc, although he gets on fine with my sisters border collie but he gets VERY AGGRESSIVE with my sons Irish staffie who is about 8months old and twice the size of my dog, he snarls and try's to attack him, would appreciate any advice please ,many thanks chris.

auntybee Thu 15-May-14 19:40:08

Im a recently retired grandma with three little girls 5, 2 and 1. We had a dog for 17.5 years when our children were little and I'm keen to get a dog for lots of reasons: company for us and also for the little ones to love, share and care for etc. Where do I get reliable advice from as to size/breed/suitability/temperament and how do I ensure the dog we get is healthy?

Charleygirl Thu 15-May-14 20:36:29

I have an 8 year old cat who came to me from the Cat Protection League when she was around 2 years of age. I have laminate floors which have rugs on them. This minx scratches the rugs and the bottom of my bed and is ruining them. I did have an indoor pole scratcher but she used to walk around it to avoid it so I got rid of it. We have plenty of trees outside which she uses to sharpen her claws. I have the furniture covered because she would claw at the back of the chairs given half a chance. I have sprayed cold water at her which works temporarily. She is ruining my house.

brown Thu 15-May-14 21:01:24

I have a golden Labrador 4years old ,shes a lovely dog,but very ,very excitable.If visitors or family arrive she goes beserk running around jumping up banging her tail that hard against cupboard doors she makes it bleed.I have watched all the training programmes ,making her sit and stay while I open the door . It doesnt work my son was in and out the front door like a yoyo.So I make her wait till visitors sit down before I let her in the room .People who have Labs tell me its common that some of them don't settle down until they are old .

merlotgran Thu 15-May-14 21:31:12

Our daughter will soon be moving next door to us on our two acre smallholding. I'm not worried about her two chihuahuas as they already get on very well with our two Jack Russells but I'm concerned about how our female cat will react to our daughter's female cat moving on to her territory. We are in the middle of nowhere with no cats around for miles so our cat has always been Queen of all she surveys . Do you think there might be territory issues and what's the best way to deal with it?

My daughter will be reluctant to keep her cat inside for longer than absolutely necessary because she will be living in a static caravan while building work is being completed. My cat is very sweet natured. She will even help me round up any free range chickens that wander out on to the lane. I think my fear is that she might be driven away. Do you think this is likely?

Firsttimegran13 Sat 17-May-14 07:05:38

I spend 2 days a week looking after my DGD at my DS home and take our 2yr old bedlington terrier with me. She shakes when I put her in the car and pants for the entire journey. She is perfectly happy when we get there but it is making the journey very stressful. I've tried adaptil spray but it makes no difference. Any suggestions

Granmamano1amc Sat 17-May-14 08:42:04

My son and daughter in law have a 3yrold Westie Their daughter is just at stage of moving around and dog constantly follows her nuzzling in at her neck and face. He will not be admonished and it just becomes a constant vigil to keep dog away from child.Westie has from day one slept under babies cot has been very protective but it seems a bit obsessional . When baby has had her bath dog wants to lick her and sniff her almost as if she has changed her smell and he has to verify its her all over again.
I am concerned that dog will become too overly protective when other children are maybe all toddling about or even when they have food in their hands etc.
He is a good little dog normally and a much loved pet.

NanaandGrampy Sat 17-May-14 16:30:29

After many years of having big dogs we have a new Cavalier King Charles puppy. Its all working out well with the dog and grandchildren but we are experiencing one issue we haven't come across before.

We aren't able to let Sammy ( or Spammy as the little ones call him) off the lead because he simply doesn't come back. ANYTHING can distract him from coming back,. a dog, a person, the wind in his ears.... He comes when called indoors and in the garden but the draw of the big wide world is simply too much for him.....

Any advice would be gratefully received because we want to be able to take him out and let him off to chase a ball and play but its too dangerous at the moment.

Tegan Sun 18-May-14 17:55:44

Don't want to but in but when my whippet was a puppy whenever she went outside into the garden I'd give her a minute or so, blow a football whistle and then give her a treat [something really delicious]. So now, whenever she's running loose on the beachwe blow the whistle and she comes straight back [a Pavlov's dogs thing].

MsBehave Mon 19-May-14 10:54:39

What is your advice for ensuring that a pet dog can be trusted around children? I realise this is a big question and am just looking for general guidelines after reading so many stories about family dogs turning on children unexpectedly.

This terrifies me, as my daughter, who has 2 children, is considering getting a dog.

zimba Mon 19-May-14 11:03:29

My grandadughter (aged 5) used to be fine with dogs until a friend's lab puppy got very jumpy around her (in a friendly way but it's a big dog and she is a small child) and now she is nervous. I can tell she is trying to cover this up - when we are in the park for example she will make a point of talking about every dog she sees - look, sweet doggy etc But I can see that she is doing that partly to convince herself and partly to alert me to the fact that there is a dog in the vicinity. What can I do to help her get back to how it was before

granontherun Mon 19-May-14 11:05:14

I like to go for walks with my granddaughter around the local parks, but one thing that always worries me is when other people don't have their dogs on a lead.

I don't trust that the person walking the dog will be able to control it if it decides to attack. What can I do in this situation? How can I tell if the dog is likely to attack at all?

katykat Mon 19-May-14 11:06:54

My question sort of follows on from the one by MsBehave. Out and about with GC they often want to run over and pet dogs that they see. I always check with the owner first to see if they are happy about it and if the dog will react well. But sometimes they are too fast for me. How best to deal with this?

animalmad Mon 19-May-14 11:10:39

I feel that I am fairly across the safety issues with my menagerie (currently 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 chickens, fish and two rescue guinea pigs) in terms of small children interacting with them. I would like to be reassured that I am dealing with he hygiene issues properly too. Clearly keeping them away from faeces. Hand washing with soap after touching. But are there any other risks I should be aware of (specifically with these animals but also we go to a local petting farm quite a lot too)

leaky Mon 19-May-14 11:16:00

My 4 year old grandson is TERRIFIED of dogs. To the point that if he sees one in the park - even on a lead - he wil become hysterical. I have no idea how to deal with this (ditto his parents) so we would be grateful for any advice

OllieAmber Mon 19-May-14 12:29:39

what is a sure sign that a dog is about to bite/snap? i've never seen this in real life so wouldn't know what t o look for when out with granddaughter. Also, what then happens? does that mean the dog is utomatically put to sleep? this seems very wrong to me considering it is often then [erson being bitten or the owner at fault and could be a one-off

NanRex Mon 19-May-14 12:41:53

My son's wife is really starting to get on my nerves lately with regard to our family dog. She is a sweet-natured and extremely gentle dog, but she is big (not boisterous - she's too old for that now!). My daughter in law acts like she's a man-eating danger to society when they visit with the children and my son doesn't really do anything to persuade her otherwise angry

how can I convince her 1. that being around animals is a lovely experience for most children and 2. that she's being really silly and giving her children an unnecessary fear - our lovely old girl is not going to hurt them. This is really starting to affect my relationship with her now, as I simply refuse to shut the dog outside all day (which she requests) especially now it is getting hotter. Any advice appreciated sad

cinnamonstix Mon 19-May-14 14:35:59

NanRex you sound like my MIL wink

I don't like visiting my MIL's house because she has a dog - and although it's generally friendly - my allergies don't agree. I suspect DS has the same allergies as me, so we tend to steer clear of the dog. But as soon as we come through the door up until it's time to leave, the dog is always trying to jump up or sit on our laps. Any advice on how I can get the dog away? MIL doesn't seems more offended than bothered we're both sniffing away!

cinnamonstix Mon 19-May-14 14:37:53

Also - not sure if you know anything about pet allergies - but are there any particular breeds of dogs that typically trigger allergies? Or do you think I'm just allergic to all dogs?! I'm okay with cats, and rabbits make my throat close up...