Posted by: Smartie | 2003/12/09

Q for the behaviourist

Hi. My stafie girl is 5 yrs old. She had previous owners from when she was a puppy to about two years. My first problem is that she is a constant attention seeker, follows me everywhere, never leaves me alone for a moment. I take her for a long walk every second day and there is always somebody at home during the day. Second problem: she is find with other dogs when we go for walks in the park. She ignors them totally. All her attention is on me. However friends cannot bring their dog to my house, there is sure to be a fight. How do I get he to be more independent.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Hi Smartie
Your staffie is over-attached to you and it is going to take some self-discipline on your part to change this as it is not very good for her. You need to start by just shutting doors between you on odd occasions - maybe once a day for a few minutes at a time. Give her lots of interesting chewy toys like hooves, bones, pig's ears etc. to encourage independence, but perhaps only allow her to chew them outside or in one room. Just keep taking them back to that place if she moves them to follow you. Gradually increase the times you are apart. Whoever is at home when you aren't should do the same. There may be a time when she will have to be left alone, so it's a good idea to practice now. The second problem is not so easy to cure as genetics play a major part. Staffies were sectively bred for fighting and they are prone to aggression towards other dogs because of this. On her own turf she is defending her territory as well as you. As she ignores other dogs during walks she doesn't know how to socialise. Early puppy socialising classes can sometimes help prevent this sort of behaviour in staffies, but I'm afraid it's too late for her. Perhaps the only way is to put her in a separate area when you have visiting dogs.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil

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