Being the leader of a pack of unknown breeding, wide range of ages, covering vastly differing sizes and abilities and all coming from hugely different back grounds for over 30yrs, you tend to think you have seen and dealt with every possible issue. However, when Bella arrived from Hungary to join my happy bunch of misfits, I suddenly found myself banging my head against a brick wall.
I already had 2 middle aged Hungarian rescues and my 14yrs old beagle so Bella had plenty of company and good role models but she was permanently bouncing off the walls.
The minute I left the house, Bella would go on a frenzied destruction spree.Bella's ownerShe trashed, chewed and destroyed everything she could get hold of. She climbed on to tables and windowsills. She climbed trees. She opened doors. She ripped up sofas. Nothing was safe.
I work from home so the dogs are rarely left alone but even a 10 minute visit to the shop at the end of my road became an issue. The minute I left the house, Bella would go on a frenzied destruction spree, even if someone else was in the house. She had become totally dependent on me and couldn’t bear for me to even go out of the room.
She never slept during the day and wanted to be next to me 24/7. She licked and mythered constantly for my attention and was unbearably over excited whenever I had visitors. I walked her for hour upon hour every day, I gave her lots of things to do and play with but after 6 months, there was no sign of improvement. I’d stopped going out almost completely and had all my shopping delivered. The chaos I would come back to if I left her just didn’t seem worth me leaving her.
I then took on another dog who was younger than Bella and the constant bouncing off the walls went up a few more notches. There was always someone to play with and the chaos became out of control. She now had someone who was more than happy to play all day so although it meant she didn’t want just my attention, it meant that peace never reigned in the house except during dead of night. It was exhausting. There was constant mess and mud (they completely dug up the whole lawn) and they dragged half the garden indoors every day. It was wearing me down to say the least. When Willow the new dog would finally settle down for a sleep, Bella would then start on another one of the dogs and try to get them to play but if that didn’t work, she’d look for something to destroy or badger me while I was trying to work. During the night, she was the most perfect little hotwater bottle and snuggled up against me and never moved an inch but she never slept during the day at all.
After another 6 months and a whole year of madness, I had virtually given up and resigned myself to a life of chaos when Ainsley came to my rescue.
In my younger days, I’d won awards for dog training and I’d had rescues dogs with lots of different issues but I was now feeling completely overwhelmed and could no longer see the woods for the trees.
Ainsley assessed Bella’s behaviour and asked me to change her diet as she thought she may be lacking in serotonin as she was so needy and constantly trying to lick me.
As I’ve always had a pack, I tended to feed a lower quality food to prevent meal time aggression and then use high quality food as titbits for training and good behaviour. I had also cut out evening feeds around the time Bella arrived as one of my older Hungarian streetdogs had never been house trained and at 6yrs old, it had been a bit of an issue going to bed with a full belly. Early morning feeds seemed to have sorted the issue so I had stuck with that for all of them. They still got meaty or cheesy recall treats in the evening during their walk and I knew she wasn’t starving. When Ainsley suggested the new food regime, I must admit, I wasn’t keen on the idea. When you have a pack, it helps to feed them all the same food and I was very sceptical that it would make any difference. However, I had tried everything else and I wanted Bella to be happy if I left the house or even just the room so I went along with it.
Within just a few days, I started to notice a small but significant difference. I wasn’t dodging the never ending snake like tongue all the time. After a week or so, there was a little less destruction if I popped out and she had started to have some really good long sleeps during the day. After another week, I no longer needed to call her back with treats when we were out as she was checking back in on her own if she was getting too far away from me. In fact, even though I had secretly thought it wouldn’t make any difference, my little fire cracker was turning into a normal well-behaved dog.
Peace doesn’t quite reign in my house yet. With 5 dogs, it never really will but it doesn’t get to the stage where I want to lock myself in a room on my own with a bottle of wine now.
Bella has come a long way in her life and she is now heading in the right direction thanks to Ainsley and the serotonin enhancing diet.Bella's owner
Ainsley also helped me reassess how I treated Bella and how I pandered to her needy behaviour. She was definitely milking me for more attention than the others so talking to Ainsley helped me think about how I was also making the situation worse and have now modified MY behaviour too.
So no matter how much of a doggy person you are and how much you think you know it all, we all need someone like Ainsley every now and again to help sort out our doggy problems. When you are totally immersed in the madness, somebody from outside can see the issues so much clearer.
Bella has come a long way in her life and she is now heading in the right direction thanks to Ainsley and the serotonin enhancing diet. I am now looking forward to the day when I can leave the house with her not bothering to even look up. We are almost there already!
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