It’s always interesting what people want from their dogs. Let me give you two examples of people and their dogs. On the surface they seem different but they are really not different.
John and Glenda, have an older dog Ben that had always been independent. Ben is content to lie off to the side where he feels comfortable. He is very obedient and always comes to a family member “when called over.” But he will never come over to visit on his own. Ben has always been a very obedient dog – he just likes his independence.
Then they got Jerry – another male who John wanted as “his dog”. It turns out Jerry is very affectionate. Since Ben is not an affectionate dog, that void is filled by Jerry. Just what the doctor ordered. But, the end result over time is that Jerry has started guarding John to keep Ben away. This usually results in a fight between the two dogs.
To fix the problem, John must come to grips with considering a new approach to life with Jerry and how he handles the affection he showers on Jerry.
He has begun to have doubts about the program. He is really struggling with the idea of throttling way back on the love and affection.
Retired couple, Barry and Carol have a very spoiled small Bichon named Frankie who enjoys lots of lap time with Carol. And of course, after lights-out, Frankie can be found warmly snuggled up against Carol.
At about 24 months of age Frankie began biting the cleaning lady and the occasional visitor who came by when they would get close to Carol. Frankie also lunges and attacks dogs or people who simply walk by their front sidewalk. All of his new bad behavior is simply his way of saying to intruders, “I’m not sharing my Mom with anyone!”
On one particular lesson with these clients, Leila came with one of our dogs to work Frankie. As we were leaving the lesson, Leila said, “Frankie is the center of Carol’s universe and she is not going to give up the only love and affection she gets from within the family.”
That got me to thinking
I remember discussing my recommendations of earn-to-learn on the first lesson. It was as if Carol didn’t hear me say anything. She just wanted to love on her dog. She simply couldn’t resist all the lap-time and bedtime with her pooch. They showed no interest in obedience training and also didn’t seem interested in learning the benefits that dog training had on fixing behavior problems with their dog.
Barry and Carol just wanted me to fix Frankie. They didn’t realize that changing their mindset had to happen before their “Little Frankie” could begin to change.
We are still working on a problem that could have been resolved months ago-but they continue to have issues asking Frankie to do the simplest of commands to earn food, lap-time and affection.
It’s almost as if dogs are now filling a void in our lives that I don’t remember being there years ago.
Just as Barry and Carol are somewhat isolated in their retirement, it seems we are all becoming more isolated in our lives. The conversations we have now are on Facebook and Twitter – more and more electronic connections with people.
In this very busy world of ours – texting and emails – there is more isolation and our dogs are being asked to fill that void that used to be taken care of by family and friends. We now put more requirements on our dogs that they don’t understand how to fulfill and this is creating behavior problems.
My message is NOT, “Don’t love on your dog” but when you do it in a way that does not require your dog to give you something first,(structure) you create behavior problems. When you add consistent structure to your relationship such as – sit for meals and affection to name a few, your dog knows what is expected and therefore becomes less stressed and every one feels better overall.
“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your answer to starting your new puppy off right and fixing behavior issues in dogs.