They do have the loveliest of rumps don’t they?
But I’m not here to talk about those gawgus wiggly butts…..I want to talk about something a bit fishy.
(If you just want a giggle and the content of the blog doesn't relate to your dog, scroll through to the video link right at the end....it never fails to make me giggle loudly!)
Recently I’ve had a number of people contact me asking for help regarding sudden behavioural changes, particularly in young males, towards other dogs…..specifically ones they know and live with and have always been fine with. (I'm not talking about rivalry, thats a totally different and complex issue that really does need a qualified behaviourist supporting you).
My dog won't leave my other dog alone! Sound familiar? Read on!
The behaviours described are usually:
They are whining at them.
Trying to hump them.
Licking them excessively.
Even going off their food.
For any sudden behavioural change I would always suggest a vet trip first anyway. I am not a vet, and I bow down to the knowledge and education of the vets. Sometimes behaviour and medical cross over – its important to stay in our lane….but work together. Sudden changes in behaviour tend to have a medical implication.
Over time I have noticed a pattern, the behaviours being described towards the other dog were similar to the ones they would show to a female in season. But they're a boy!
Could it be as simple as the "target" dogs anal glands being full or blocked?
Normal and known signs of blocked glands are
Scooting - rubbing the bottom (anus) on the ground
A foul, fishy smell
Nibbling and licking the anus and/or lower back
Suddenly sitting down in discomfort
Looking round at their back end suddenly.
Being sensitive or cranky if you touch or lift their tail
Tucking their tail
Is your offender picking up on this?
I have looked to see if there is any scientific information on the topic – but my parental controls kicked in…..and no….i don’t have them set but obviously I don’t want to get THAT content!
What I am saying is just my opinion, a bit out of the box maybe, I don’t have anything to back it up….bar multiple dogs with similar issues which played out in a very similar way. And where there’s a pattern.....and its not just one dog or even 10…..it tells me…..its a thing!
Here’s the patterns I have seen in the 'offending' dog. (Offending being the doer not the receiver):
Usually male dogs
Usually entire (but I have seen a number of neutered males behave in the same way.)
Usually under 2 years old
Usually a more active personality.
What about the 'target' dog?
Often (but not always) neutered
Frequently older than the offender.
Usually more placid in temperament
Behaviours demonstrated by the 'offending' dog:
Teeth chattering (think Hannibal)
Obsessed with the bottom area on the other dog
Usually aimed at a dog they live with or spend time with.
On rare occasions aggression towards another animal in the home.
Typically, they show the behaviours seen when a female is in season –commonly known as “bitching” or "courting."
It is also possible they are picking up on something different so I would always get the target dog checked out as well as the offending dog.
A word on dachshunds specifically!
A dogs nose is estimated to be 100,000 times more sensitive than ours! BUT, dachshunds are scent hounds. Their noses are as powerful of that as a bloodhound! We often forget that. Being a scent hound they are genetically predisposed to having stronger noses than say a collie or a dobermann. Just like a collie will have a predisposition towards herding behaviours. Its very possible this is a breed "thing" or potentially a hound group thing?
They were bred to hunt….yep we know that. But what does that mean? Not solely going to ground but they were bred to track over exceptionally long distances through thick German forests to find their prey. If you’ve never done tracking, you should, its fantastic. Even their ears are believed to be the way they are to enhance their scent.
Its not surprising is it that they pick up this smell…..and others. (Edited to add urine infections (in the target) can also cause similar responses but not quite as extreme).
Young males rarely encounter a bitch in season. Some males couldn’t care less (mine couldn’t thank goodness) but many can get really stressed out by it. They may go off their food, whine, pace, howl, get cranky, and all the behaviours I’ve listed above in terms of “bitching” behaviours. It may be the sudden change in smell, triggers some sort of chemical reaction in the brain driving them to demonstrate mating behaviours. It may be the smell is the same to them as a female at that point in her season. It is interesting it is the younger boys that are affected, I’ve not come across an older male demonstrating the same thing......yet!
Is this a thing across all breeds? I don’t know. Whilst I do work with other breeds dachshunds are my specialty and as a result I am able to note patterns of behaviour much more easily.
What do you do if this is your dog?
For any sudden behavioural change I would always talk to a vet for advice anyway.
But….also …talk to your vet about the ‘target’ of the behaviour. Ask them to check their glands as well as a general check over.
If their glands are full….and its causing the change...once emptied, you should see the behaviour dissipate within a few days. If it doesn’t then something else is going on – behavioural or medical but it certainly needs addressing. It may be one thing led to another and there are a combination of issues. But the concern is the target of the amorous one may retaliate leading to far more complex issues.
Wipe your target dog down with a dog friendly scent and potentially spray your home with a dog friendly calming spray like Adaptil.
Control interactions and give the offending dog other calming things to think about.
If it doesn't improve seek the help of a qualified behavioural professional.
On anal glands and the Law.
At one time, groomers used to empty anal glands routinely. However it is important to remember under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 "only a qualified veterinary surgeon registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) can carry out acts of veterinary surgery in the UK. This includes diagnosis, medical and surgical treatments, and the performance of surgical operations."
Following a review, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons advised “external expression of the para-anal sacs (also known as anal glands) is a procedure that may be undertaken by competent owners or lay people (i.e. those who have had the procedure demonstrated and explained to them by a veterinary surgeon). “ However “Internal expression of the para-anal sacs per rectum amounts to the practise of veterinary surgery. This means that it may only be undertaken by veterinary surgeons or student/registered veterinary nurses working under the direction of their veterinary surgeon employer.”
There have been a significant number of dogs struggling with their glands over recent years. I think a big part of this is due to diet, and a lot of advice is to ensure the fibre balance is correct, but in honesty there doesn’t seem to be a conclusive answer. I know many owners who feed extra fibre and yet their dogs still struggle. I know a handful who have resorted to having the glands removed.
The glands form a part of their scent marking network, but why they fill up and don’t empty…..we can only speculate at this time. I've not seen any concrete research confirming the whys, only specualtion. If anyone has any academic articles on this, I’d love to see them, but I failed in that task. Something has changed in the last decade though, this was never an issue before.....or was it but social media and research have made it appear more prevalent like other things?
Going forwards what do you do?
Generally they do seem to grow out of it
Try to explore why your dogs glands aren't emptying
Get them emptied regularly if they aren't doing it themselves. Generally I don't like having my dogs bottoms fiddled with, but if they had an issue, I would ensure they were ok. Blocked glands can lead to exploding absesses, you don't want that.
There are very few veterinary level nutritionists in the UK. The highest course I have seen for non vets is level 3. It is such a spiderweb of a subject I wouldn't even know where to start. There are a few nutritionists who are excellent and there are many.....who.....aren't! So be careful. Ask what qualifications they have. Don't just take it at face value, research what that qualification means.
Personally I am a fan of Raw Medics, 2 are vets and nutritionists, the other a Behaviourist and nutritionist. They are a fun bunch but having met them recently I can say confidently they really do know their stuff. Have a look at their facebook page. Yep, they are going against the grain, but it’s refreshing to see professionals really look deeper and be so passionate about their subject. Here’s a link to one of their many lives https://fb.watch/pmITh8SGl1/
Allaboutdogfood.co.uk is a really useful resource and they have some awesome videos on their facebook page. The commerical dog food industry is somewhat scary. How things are sold, the way ingredients are listed. The ingredients. Its very worrying what can pass for "complete" and "trusted!" Watch a documentary called "Petfooled." It really is shocking.
Gross but weirdly interesting:
Here’s a gross fun fact…..dogs can identify different species bases on scent matching….but get this, in a study by Kniha and Havia (2020) they were able to identify individual beavers by their anal scent sac secretion by an average accuracy of 88.9……gross right! (link below if you want to read it). Totally mental!!
And if you really want a giggle.....you have to watch this. Be prepared to get continuous giggles. I cried! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LW-gWHSkTA
Kniha and Havia (2020) https://nsojournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.2981/wlb.00658