Do You Make Excuses for Your Dog?

Do you make excuses for your dog?  Think about it. Making excuses for your dog’s behavior may not only be the wrong solution but it could be an unsafe solution. Let me explain with an example.

A young lady who we will call Susan has a small Jack Russell named Bell. She wrote to me about an incident regarding her dog and by the tone – and length – of her email I could tell she was deeply troubled.

Apparently Susan has a cleaning lady come daily to her home on week days. The cleaning lady enters through the front door each day and Bell greets her on the front porch when she opens the front door.

Bell’s issue according to Susan

This has always been the typical greeting after Susan and Bell have returned from their walk. However, on the day of the incident Susan got a late start for her walk and had just leashed up Bell to go when her cleaning lady came into the foyer. The cleaning lady bent down to greet the leashed pup and got bit on the hand.

Susan was not only devastated but embarrassed with Bell’s behavior and immediately put her away to see to the cleaning lady’s wound.

Susan wrote to me for advice.

What had caused Bell to snap and try to bite someone with whom she has always had a pleasant experience? Susan was desperate for answers.

Not having nearly enough information about Bell’s history, I wrote Susan with questions of my own in hopes to help Susan understand Bell’s dilemma.

Susan’s excuse

The next day and before I got answers to my questions I received another email from Susan saying everything was alright now. Bell and her cleaning lady had a happy encounter and greeting and things were all okay.


Here is her excuse:

“It was at that moment I realized that the day of the incident we had not yet had our walk. Bell was displeased about this and had acted out on our cleaning lady. Today I made sure to walk Bell as usual – before our cleaning lady arrived and Bell is all better now!”

So let me ask you, is Susan’s  dog’s behavior acceptable?  Or should she seek the advice of a professional and consider a dog training program to work on a viable solution?

Has Susan’s excuse masked a more serious problem that would surface again later and cause more pain and problems?

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  Do you make excuses for your dog? Please comment and let me know what you think.

We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.  

I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this.    – I’m here to help.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, 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 the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

3 replies
  1. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Judy. You must change her mind about the vacuum by equating the vacuum being out or being used as an absolutely wonderful thing. Do not carry her – yes I’m cringing 🙂 all you
    are doing with that is reinforcing her fear. Put the vacuum out, when she approaches use the clicker and click and treat. Use a treat that she adores AND here’s the important
    part, the treat is ONLY ONLY used when you are training her about the vacuum. Slowly she will associate wonderful things with the vacuum then you start weaning off the treats.

  2. Judy King
    Judy King says:


    BiBi and I were in training with you back in June. Thank you for all of your tips, as I often think of them when dealing with BiBi “issues”. She goes NUTS, SCREAMING, BARKING, ET AL, when the vaccum comes out. I am afraid she might have a heart attack, it so dramatic. I have tried leaving the vaccum out, letting her come to it and figure out it won’t hurt her. even carrying her in my arms when vaccuming. ( I can see you cringe on that one ). Any suggestions to help us.

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