Back to Insights

Snapping At Other Dogs: How We Can Help

Bert's Case Story

  • Dog Behaviour

Behavioral Case Study from Becky Shuttleworth, Canine Flow Practitioner

Bert: Small 12-year-old Crossbreed Terrier – Barking and Snapping at the other dogs is his household.

Bert was rescued 10 years ago and has always lived in a multi-dog household. However, recently he was attacked by another dog on a walk and has since been snapping at the other dogs in the house, often resulting in fights with them.

When I entered the house, the 3 dogs were together behind a dog gate. Bert seemed to be trying to get to the front and was snarling and barking at the others to get himself there. It looked as though he was trying to get between the gate and the other dogs and force them back away from it, but in doing this, he was upsetting the other dogs and they started growling back at him.

Bert also showed concern if the others were play fighting. He would pace around them in circles, snapping and snarling at them, as if trying to break up the fight and keep the peace. This would cause the others to react and have a go at him.

At no point did he show any aggression to people.

I made 4 visits to Bert over the space of 2 weeks. I spent most of the first visit assessing his behaviour and building his trust. He showed no aggression towards me but he was wary of coming near me. So I used Energy techniques to help calm him to start with as I could do this from a distance. Bert seemed to enjoy this and fell asleep quite quickly during it.

I spoke at length to his owner Carol, about his behaviour. I found that she can be quite an anxious person and practiced a lot of meditation to try and calm herself. Carol was very receptive to everything I wanted to try. She used a lot of recorded guided meditations, and thinking back to when I was on the Spiritual Dog Retreat last year and knowing how the dogs reacted to our meditations every morning, I suggested that she let the dogs in the room with her when she meditated, or at least Bert if she found it difficult to settle with them all there. Carol agreed to try this with just Bert at first, as she felt that she would worry too much about arguments if they were all together, and not be able to meditate herself.

On my second visit, I walked in and Bert went through his normal routine at the gate. I felt he was trying to keep the others back from the situation so he could check it was safe. I went into the room and sat down on the floor. The other dogs came over to see me but Bert just watched from a distance. I asked Carol to remove the other 2 dogs from the room and see if it made a difference. As soon as they left Bert came over to investigate me. He sat next to me and let me start to stroke him. I was able to slowly turn the strokes into spirals and practiced the Spiral Energy technique with him. Bert started to fall asleep as I worked but woke up as soon as I went anywhere near his paws. He wasn't happy for me to work on any of them, and knowing how important it is for them to be able to use their feet to Ground excess Emotional Energies, I felt that this was an area I really needed to work on.

On my third visit, Carol reported seeing improvements in Bert’s behaviour. She said he let the other 2 dogs play the night before, he had simply lay in his bed and watched. I decided that I would just carry on with the Spiral work and see how that went before trying the Hypnotherapy. I was surprised to see that when I walked in, he didn't do his normal routine at the dog gate either. He stood back behind the other 2 dogs and wagged his tail at me. I again sat on the floor in the room with Bert on his own and I worked on him all over again. But again, I couldn't touch his paws. I spoke to Carol about this and she said that he's usually fine having his paws touched because she's always made sure her dogs are used to it to make claw clipping easier. Due to the fact that he was making improvements in his behaviour in such a short space of time I decided not to get hung up on this and just enjoy working with the areas he would allow me to work with. Bert spent a lot of time on his back trying to get me to work on his chest area.

On my fourth visit, again the routine at the gate didn't happen and again he let me use the Spiral technique on him. While I worked on him, I spoke to Carol about the improvements he’d made in the 2 weeks. She said that she was really happy with how he now was. There hadn't been an argument between the 3 dogs for over a week and Bert was a lot more relaxed around the other dogs at the times she previously experienced issues such as when they played or when someone entered the house. Carol said it was like he was getting over his attack and back to normal. As I worked, Bert moved on to his side and began pressing all four feet up against me with quite a bit of force. He was actually stretching out to touch me. I started to work my way down his legs and was surprised to see that he actually gave me each paw to work with as I got down to them. As I left, I felt like I'd really achieved something with Bert.

Carol has kept up with letting Bert meditate with her since my visits and now, because the fights have stopped, she also lets the other dogs join in as well.

Success all round!

This is a wonderful story and example of emotional transformation through bodywork, and allowing a dog to experience the calm vibrations and owner's coherent Heart Energy during meditation.

We use the Spiral in Canine Flow as Spiral as essentially the Cycle of Life and Energy Flow. The Fibonacci Spiral is linked with quantum science and biology. At the cellular level, enzymes spin in a spiral fashion, spirals merge with life and create transformation in frequency.

Canine Hypnotherapy was not required this time but is another of the Canine Flow techniques that could have been used should Bert have needed it.

Bert is very lucky to have such an open minded mum, keen to work with him alongside Becky. This I am convinced, sped up the transformation for him. Whilst the issues to begin with seemed to be related to the other dogs, they actually centered around a fear Bert held within him, and actually wasn’t able to let go off initially, taking 3 visits to allow it to fully be released from his physical self. A dog’s paws can very easily become tense and limit their Flow of Energy, just in the same way we often clench our fists or feet if we feel concerned or anxious.

Play fighting allows dogs to interact and use up Emotional Energy. It's an intrinsic part of nature that almost all animals do to interact and assist them to Ground Energy. A dog is always looking for a way to give or Ground its Emotional Energy, always. Not thinking about where or how to do so, simply naturally acting in ways that allow the exchange to occur. For dogs who feel tense taking part in - or even just seeing - the Energy exchange, it can cause feelings of anxiety. They simply would prefer not to have the Energy around them, as they know at an instinctive level, they are not as flexible and able to get away from the fast paced Energy exchange happening in front of them.

Commonly, a dog like Bert can be told off and removed from the situation, be blamed for reacting to the other dog’s behaviour or even labelled as dominant. None of which would help to clear Bert’s Emotional Energies. In fact mostly, they would contribute to it.

It can be useful for commands such as "Leave" it to be used; they would give an owner a way to make a change themselves, but it would not address the reason behind a dog like Bert’s concern. By simply applying management techniques and limiting Bert’s ability to express his anxiety, the emotion cannot be expressed. Usually the denied expression of anxiety will show up as a different behaviour: the same anxiety just being expressed in a different way. This is where, if needed, a blend of training types can be used: situation management but then Emotional Energy transformation too.


How We Helped An Aggressive Dog With Canine Flow