I first met the dog I would live with, travel with and love for 17 years in a small NCDL rescue centre, now Dogs Trust in Ballymena. My best friend, whom I was living with at the time had recently rehomed a dog from there and as we were both big dog lovers and now in our own digs, she promised me she would let me have my own dog too.
So the week before my 22nd birthday we decided to take the hour and a half trip up to the centre and have a look. I knew what I had in mind as I always loved lurchers with their sleek coats and slender aerodynamic bodies. This would be my chance to have one of my own. When we got there we walked around the pens looking at all the potential in those many pairs of brown eyes.
There were many lurchers, mainly greyhound crosses with soft eyes and a variety of coat colours and textures, nuzzling and licking our fingers through the wire. My friend could see I was falling in love and so excited, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. She agreed they were all quite beautiful but maybe a little large, as were living in a terraced house with only a small front and back garden, with 1 dog already.
I felt a little disappointed that she wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as myself for these beautiful and unwanted creatures but she encouraged me to keep looking, which is what we did. We stopped at every pen and squinted into the shadow to see who sat there or hid in the back.
On the last row I was losing my enthusiasm and wanted to go back to the lurchers, there were so many it would take me a while to choose one anyway. I walked around the corner and was met at the first pen door by this black jack-in-the-box. He bounced up and down the whole time we stood there but what I could see of this black blur was that he had the same shape of face as my lovely lurchers but that was all I could see. He was also a little smaller.
We asked one of the staff could they bring him out and asked about his story. The lady had a huge smile on her face and said in no uncertain terms that Jacko was her favourite as she slipped a lead over his head and brought him out.
He was in no way a shy dog, he greeted us with his whole body wagging and feet doing a jig and trying to kiss us amid all this crazy welcome dance he was performing. He was sleek jet black with a white stripe on his chest and he looked like a mini lurcher. Jacko as they had called him had been born in the centre to a white whippet mum, they presumed dad was a collie as he had a fluffy undercoat to the outer shiny flat coat and he was now larger than his mum had been. All his siblings had been rehomed, as had he, but he had been returned for being too much to handle by his previous owners.
It was love at first sight. His big brown eyes shone with mischief, love for everyone he met and a pure love of life and I wanted him to be mine. We took him for a walk which involved him pogo jumping half the walk in his enthusiastic way but I knew in my heart this boy was meant to be with me. I was his second chance.
We went through all the necessary paperwork and homechecks and the following weekend of my birthday we went to collect my boy who I renamed Solo, so as not to confuse him completely of his old name which I didn’t care for. He was more like a Han Solo my new ebony boy.
We soon found out he was a chewing expert, carpets, curtains and seat belts were his forte’, barking was another habit which took a long time to master but he had the company of my friends lovely dog Trouble to get him over his transition from kennels to home life.
Soon we moved to Oxfordshire to follow my career with horses and Solo’s first flight in a plane. I spent the whole flight imagining him escaping from his crate and bounding out the door as soon as the baggage handlers opened it and being mortified as images of us all trying to catch him as he chased planes on the runway haunted me! He didn’t I hasten to add but that was the kind of thing he could do.
The move to living in a more open environment with lots of exercise across big grass fields and spending all day with me while I worked in a large yard suited him down to the ground. He made lots of doggy and horsey friends although he always erred on the cautious side to any newcomer on 4 legs. Newcomers on 2 legs were met with his by now well known pogo stick impression and trying to kiss their face while they were still upright. His other trade mark was to gently put their wrist in his mouth, like a doggy handshake. This he only did with his true friends.
He was great with other dogs, he also showed an inbuilt ability for herding when needed and he helped me with many a shy or scared dog, encouraging them with his gentle ways that everything would be fine. He loved the water and the beach and chasing balls and especially if all 3 were combined. Then we could barely get him back to the car!
I couldn’t sum up his whole life in this one small blog but I wanted to let the world know that this funny, intelligent, kind and wonderful dog had existed in this world, if only to help me through life and remind me to keep my sense of humour and patience on many occasions.
For 17 years he was my shadow, my best friend, my confidante and my teacher. He taught me to never judge a book by it’s cover and that every dog deserves a second chance and has the potential to change your life for the better. They come into our lives like a guardian angel to teach us about ourselves and how to treat others, with kindness, with humour and with unconditional love.
And when they leave this world we know they have touched our lives and our hearts like no other creature ever could.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of my ebony boy who will live forever in my heart.
For Solo x
Are you a frustrated dog owner that feels you’ve tried nearly every method of dog training that’s available today? And do you always end up finding that nothing has worked for you? You know the pattern, they all sound great in the beginning, you try them for a while, but eventually your dog’s negative behaviours re-emerge or worse yet, escalate!
While I dislike being the fly in the ointment, is it possible that what’s really not working is your motivation and total commitment to stick to one method consistently, and over the long-term, to realize the results you’re seeking?
But, it’s not your fault!
Today we live in the reality of shorter attention spans, faster convenience, instant gratification and “Quick Fixes” being highlighted on most TV programs.
That’s all well and good when you’re watching a thirty minute TV program featuring your celebrity-dog-trainer-of-choice. But what people don’t see – and ultimately forget – is that all the long, tedious and boring footage has been edited out of the program to make it fit into less than 30 minutes, as well as making it more “dramatic” and “action-packed” to you the viewer; whether you’re sitting at home in your armchair or watching it on the train from your mobile device.
Unfortunately, what we humans have forgotten today (in the endless watching of YouTube “How To” videos and never-ending debates in online chat rooms about the latest harness vs collar or one training method over another) is one critical fact. The only way your dog is going to learn something new and positive is for you to close the laptop, shut off the TV and power down the mobile device and go and practice with them in the backyard. Yes, good old-fashioned work.
You see, your dog doesn’t know (or really care) it’s the 21st century. They don’t understand your always-on noisy TV, the endless tapping on your laptop or frankly, any other domestic contraption. They don’t comprehend the unspoken “rules of the road” that exist in their human’s world (but not in theirs). For example, WE know that it’s a definite no-no to pee on another dog or person. Or that it’s a serious social faux pas to happily hump another dog or even the leg of a guest that’s visiting your mum or dad. Mother Nature did not program these social idiosyncrasies into our canine’s DNA.
So, how do our dogs live in our fast-paced, contraption-filled, rule-abiding insane world without running back to the wild with their tails between their legs?
Simple, We Teach Them!
It constantly amazes me how well our dogs already adapt themselves to living in our crazy world that we accept as “normal.” Consider it for a moment; they live in high-rise apartments and walk down busy streets in bustling and noise-ridden cities throughout the world without as much as a blink of an eye! Or perhaps they live in the remotest parts of the planet, herding sheep at high altitudes on a snow-clad, icy mountain range, taking everything in stride.
Now look at your dog lounging at your feet. YOUR dog can do that as well! Why? Because that adorable creature, looking up at you with those huge puppy eyes, is one of the most intelligent and adaptable creatures who share this planet with us.
They have already proven this to us time after time as they help us with: Companionship, Security (police and customs), Herding (of almost any animal), Military (from bomb units to drug units), Assistance (guide dogs for the blind as well as other disabilities), alerting epileptic owners that a fit is about to happen, smelling out cancers in the human body
But all these incredible canines did not teach themselves how to do all those things. Their inspired dog owners saw the capability and intelligence in their faithful companions and challenged themselves to develop and enhance these innate dog abilities. We are a very resourceful race, us humans, but how did we get to a place where stopping your dog from jumping up or barking has utterly stumped us?!
So it really comes down to this simple question: how badly do you really want to change your dog’s bad habit? It’s really this simple, only those with the true commitment and dedicated motivation will succeed in creating their “perfect” dog.
Your full commitment is required if you want to make you and your dog’s life a better, more harmonious one. You have to be committed to getting over this behavioral hump and be able to visualize the ultimate potential. Motivate yourself to practice and work with your dog every day. You’ll not only be addressing and overcoming undesired behaviors, but also building a stronger bond with your dog.
If you find your knowledge is lacking and not up to the current challenge you’re facing with your dog, ASK FOR HELP! But ultimately, you have to commit to using that help and consistently follow through with it every single day.
DO NOT be embarrassed if you don’t know how to properly address the problem with you dog. There are always qualified professionals ready to help you with whatever situation or problem you might be experiencing with your dog. Professionals who can help you better communicate to your dog what it is that you really want.
Caution: the situation or problem with your dog will not fix itself; it will not fix itself in one session and cannot be fixed by someone else. Get back to the basics and practice, practice, practice with daily hands-on experience.
Just saying “this method doesn’t work for me” gets you nowhere, especially if you have only done it half-heartedly or inconsistently. Just like with any job, it’s time to engage a solid and committed work ethic – along with proper knowledge – in working with your dog!
Dogs aren’t robots, you can’t just type a command and it happens instantaneously! But, with patience, commitment and positive reinforcement, you’ll begin to see real, lasting results within a few weeks. Remember, dogs learn by experience; so go lead, teach and give them a positive, enjoyable experience and they will follow you to the ends of the earth!
I KNOW you have it in you!
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OK there is another new life coming into your home in the next few months and you are worried that fido or Trixiebell isn’t going to be the centre of attention any more. Will they get on, will they be jealous of the new baby? How do you keep everyone happy? Can you cope?
The good news is that if the due date isn’t for a few months there is plenty of time to get prepared when it comes to your dog. They may already know something is going on as you are probably preparing a nursery or painting or doing some kind of preparation for the baby coming home, they’ve noticed.
Now is the time to put down some ground rules for when baby comes, NOT when baby actually comes home. This means that by then these ground rules for your dog should already be ingrained and a habit. Rather than, not only a new human comes home but now your dog isn’t allowed to do certain things it was always allowed to do before, then you really will have your hands full!
Think about it, you are going to be feeding your baby very regularly, changing, trying to get some sleep etc so start with some ‘no dog zones’. The bedroom is a start as you will be spending a lot of time in here with your baby and you don’t want the dog under your feet or looking for your attention when you are trying to deal with a screaming baby. If your dog has always slept in your room or on your bed it is time to give him his own place to sleep, somewhere where he can actually be out of the way of all the noise and commotion too.
Start thinking about your dog’s routine and how it will fit around the new baby’s routine. If you are going to be up early or late it might be worth thinking about changing his walking routine or feeding routine. Do it now and get him used to it before the baby comes, then his world doesn’t become unrecognisable and he then starts to panic at all the changes. Dogs need their routines just like babies.
If you aren’t sure you can cope with the walking on top of everything else, why not think of paying a dog walker to take Fido or Trixiebell out at the same time every day and then you don’t have to worry about that part at all!
Baby gates aren’t just for toddlers, baby gates are great for separating space but your dog can still see everyone and still feel part of the family and not shut out completely. Put these in place now so your dog can get used to them and obviously make sure that they can’t get over them! Best to find that out now. Then when you do come home with baby he can see what is going on and smell and hear everything.
When baby arrives, bring back a blanket or something that smells of the new baby so your dog can smell it, he’ll also smell the new baby off you too. This will mean he will be more familiar with the smell before the baby even enters the home.
When you come home with your new arrival go and get the baby settled before you worry about the dog. If you have been putting new routines in practise this should be one of the major ones. When you come home or you are moving about the house, spend time actively ignoring your dog. This may sound harsh but most dogs have been given the information from us that they are the centre of attention by us making so much eye contact with them. This is like saying hello and starting a conversation with a dog. The dog then wants to carry on the conversation. Attention seeking dogs will do anything to ‘catch your eye’ and start that conversation. So by actively ignoring your dog regularly, on a day-to-day basis, your dog will start to learn that they only get your attention when you are good and ready to and not before. When baby comes it really will be when you are ready and not before!
Lastly, the introduction. This doesn’t have to happen as soon as you arrive home. Everyone will be tired and the baby may be sleeping. Do this when you feel relaxed and you have some time, like in the evening. Put the dog on their lead while mum comes in with baby and gets settled. If your dog gets excited about his lead, drop it and leave the room. Give him a few minutes and come back in, you want your dog to be nice and calm, not in a heightened state of excitement. Keep doing this until Fido knows he isn’t actually going anywhere and is calm, then lead him into the room.
Sit in a chair away from mum and baby and ignore the dog. Just have a chat and relax and wait until Fido is relaxed to. If he starts getting too excitable, jumping or barking, just lead him back into another room and leave him again. He will soon learn he must be calm when he comes in where the baby is. If however fido remains calm after a 10 minutes in the room, move a little closer and sit and chat again. The idea is to eventually get to sit beside each other, with Fido on his lead being calm and relaxed. With some dogs this might happen in one session. With others this may take quite a few sessions.
They will get it eventually, you are teaching them how you wish them to behave around the baby and what is acceptable if they wish to remain in the room with you. Remember dogs take their cues from us and if we make nothing of it and are calm and relaxed, they will be too.
And finally, Never, Never leave a baby or small child unsupervised with your dog. This is as much for your dog’s safety as for your child. Your dog is an instinctive and reactive creature and should never be left to make a decision on it’s own when it comes to young and unpredictable infants and toddlers.
I hope this helps you have confidence in your dog and your baby being around one another. It can be done and there are so many benefits to having a dog around a home with children. It just takes a little thought and practise to do it right and get it right.
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Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
I am going to start with a truth which I tell all my clients; Not all dogs are treated equally. Small dogs get away with a lot more ‘undesirable or bad’ behaviour than big dogs. In fact I would put it to you that owners put up with 3 or 4 times the amount of bad behaviour in a small dog than they would tolerate with a larger dog.
Does your pet have a favourite spot on the sofa or your bed? Of course they do as I’m sure you do. We are all creatures of habit. But are the habits good or bad ones?
I know clients who have had to race to bed before their large dog got there or they would end up sleeping on a sliver of mattress. Or their favourite chair is no longer Their favourite chair it is now the dog’s favourite chair.
When I ask these owners as to why they have given up their comfort or beloved favourite spot they always answer with ‘it makes them happy’ and have a kinda dreamy look on their face as they look at their darling pooch sprawled in luxury and snoring lazily on the said favorite chair or sofa spot, while they take the ‘less favoured’ positions around the room.
Is this such a big deal? I hear you ask, does it really matter?
Well the answer is Yes, to both those questions because the canine is a species, much like ourselves who lives in a family orientated structure. Much like our own. Within this structure is the people or animals that look after the rest of the family, mum and dad, grandparents, the older, more experienced family members. Were you ever told as a child to not touch that as it was granddad’s or get up and let your mum sit down? That’s because there are certain benefits or perks to having a responsible role in the family. Why not, you look after the family, you bring home a wage to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. You keep them safe.
So lets look at it from the dog’s point of view. If the human gives out a lot of signals that are inconsistent, like for instance, they let you up on the sofa beside them for cuddles, great! Next day is the same. The following day you’re not allowed up but you wait til they go out of the room and you sneak on. Your human returns and sits back down and cuddles you again, great! What is your dog learning? That you know your own mind and have rules it needs to follow or that you are a bit of a push over?
Lets add to that. What if your dog has taken on the role of the responsible one for the family, you, your husband or wife, the kids and the cat? What if your dog took his role very seriously about the safety of his family. He chases off trespassers (barks out the window or in the garden), he takes you all out for a walk (he pulls on the lead and has bad recall), bringing you back safe. He might even tell you off if you over-step the mark (by growling or even nipping you). Wouldn’t you want the most prized position in the house for doing that job?
I hate to be the one to break this to you but you are probably not the real decision maker of the family in your household if any of that last paragraph sounded any way familiar to you. Dogs, like humans need boundaries and rules. If there are none of these in place as the dog grows up and matures they will make up their own set of rules to create some kind of structure to their lives, just as we would in a group of human strangers. It is in our instincts and our dogs to have someone in charge to keep the young and the weak safe. With someone making decisions and rules, everyone knows their place and hopefully everyone will survive.
So what if your dog doesn’t see you as that someone?
Usually some sort of chaos ensues in the household as the dog starts making up the rules as he goes along. Remember a dog with little or no experience of the world will be learning everything from scratch. He learns that the approaching footsteps to his door makes him uncomfortable and feel threatened so he starts to bark, the footsteps retreat (most likely the postman, paperboy or delivery man) and the dog has just learnt a valuable lesson. Barking makes the stranger go away.
So if you become your dog’s responsibility, in his eyes. Does it make sense that he feels he has to follow you around the house, especially as you sometimes have the habit of disappearing, sometimes for hours, and then re-appearing again? Does it make sense he feels the need to rush ahead and see what’s on the other side of the door, or that bush, or around the next bend in the path? He’s only doing his job! Right?
If any of this has made sense to you as you’ve read it and thought about it, make one rule today that you will stick to. The dog is only allowed on the bed/ sofa/ chair on your terms and when he is invited and be consistent.
He will love and respect you for it.
Read more about Consistency is the key to Success
Please feel free to leave a comment if you found this article useful or you are having trouble taking back your sofa!
Bernie, The Dog Owners Coach
Is your dog’s chewing or destructive behaviour not only wrecking your home, but stressing you out or putting more stress on your relationship at home?
Have they chewed your furniture, your best shoes, destroyed parts of your home or garden and there seems to be no sign of stopping?
This is a really Big problem in a lot of dog-owning homes and I’m going to help you to not only understand why but help you stop the demolition!
firstly lets Bust a few Myths on destructive behaviour;
Myth One- Your dog is destroying things ‘on purpose’ because you have left him alone.
There is some truth to this but probably not for the reasons you think. Dogs don’t do things out of spite or for revenge, nor do they think, ‘I’ll show you what happens when you leave me here on my own’. Dog’s do not feel emotions like this, what is happening is that when your dog feels stressed, uncomfortable or anxious, it’s stress hormones in his body are heightened. What most dogs learn from an early age is that chewing releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ effect of these then help them cope with the situation.
Myth Two- Your dog looks ‘guilty’ when you come home so you know he’s been doing something bad
If ‘guilty’ means lowering their body or crawling, ears flattened, tail down or between their legs and eyes softened or almost squinting, this is very submissive behaviour from your dog.
If you come home every day to something that has been chewed or destroyed you will probably be in a pattern by now. On the way home you will be thinking about what has already been destroyed, this is going to annoy you, then you will be thinking ‘what am I going to find today when I walk in’ and this is going to stress you out further. Before you even walk in the door you probably have a big negative black cloud above your head. If you don’t live on your own it’s probably not just the dog who makes themselves scarce when you come home. Your dog has connected the dots and come up with You coming home = You in a bad mood
Even when we don’t find something chewed or the tell-tale puddle, we stomp around the house looking for evidence and growling at the dog ‘what did you do?’. Your dog is heading for the closest hiding place at speed because he knows you are in no mood for any kind of communication right now, better wait until the dust settles. Sound familiar?
OK, maybe your dog isn’t quite that bad, look out for these 7 signs below
7 signs that your dog is suffering from separation Anxiety
- excessive Panting
- Urinating or toileting inside
- excessive or obsessive chewing or licking themselves
- chewing or destruction of property
What is behind SA?
To put it in a nutshell, your dog, in his head, is trying to be the head of the household and is not coping with the stress of the job. Let me put this another way. A dog is a social creature, we all know this but what we dont always know or remember is that a dog needs a leader,a head of the family lets say. Someone to keep order, keep everyone safe and make the big decisions for the family. This of course is the humans role as we best understand our world of hoovers, UPS delivery guys, school runs, business hours, window washers, lawnmowers, sleep overs, holidays and so on that our dog will never, ever understand.
So how does your dog end up having this job? Usually because he has seen us lose it, sometimes quite literally. He has spotted a chink in your armour of being leader, there are many things here which can be seen as chinks but the main one is your inconsistent behaviour around the dog. Being human we are naturally quite lazy and we like short cuts and doing things the ‘easy’ way rather than the ‘best’ way. This isn’t how our dogs think though and if you aren’t leadership material, a new one must be elected! Here is where he gets the job whether he wants it or not. Why? Because a family must have a leader. It’s that basic. It is about survival of the family in what ever shape it comes.
7 Tips to being Head of the Household
- Leaders are cool, calm and confident, even in a crisis. If you’ve had a bad day and need a scream or a cry or are just not in the mood for dealing with your dog at this moment. Quietly put him outside or in another room, have a cup of tea and wait til you have calmed down before you say hello or deal with your dog.
- Be consistent with your pooch at all times. Check out my post on Consistency is the key to success
- Give your dog attention on your terms not his, when you are ready.
- Build up to longer separations by practising shorter ones while you are at home. Start closing doors behind you and stop letting your dog follow you everywhere. Ad breaks are great practise times. Limiting access to some areas of the house can help too, have some ‘No Dog’ rooms just for the humans.
- Give him some specific Boredom Busting toys. This will focus his chewing and give him something to occupy his mind. Kongs and Nylabones are good starter toys which are hard to destroy fast.
- If you have a real demolition expert, crate training is a great way to minimise damage. It also gives your dog his own space where he can take himself off to when he wants a nap. Again you must build up spending time in a crate and connect it with good things, like food. Apart from sleeping overnight in a crate I don’t recommend you keep your dog crated for more than 4 hours at any one time.
- If you are having big separation Anxiety issues, seek professional advice and help from a Dog Behaviorist or Dog Listener. Dog Trainers usually deal with obedience issues, SA is a much deeper issue and needs to be dealt with at the root cause which is usually something going on at home. You can contact me via My Website for more info or coaching about this issue.
I hope this helps you on your way to having a happier and more care-free dog. Please feel free to comment below or Sign Up to follow my helpful hints and tips by email- on the right hand side.
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
Have you always wanted a dog like Lassie, Rin tin tin or even Benji? Well I’ll tell you now, They Only Exist in the Movies or with years of training, honing skills of natural or un-natural behaviour and having a very strong and trusting bond with the dog.
It’s time to burst this big bubble that all or even certain dogs – (no matter what breed) are easy to keep, easy to train, are good with people, children, pets etc. No of course they aren’t. Every dog is a single personality, not like their mother or father, not like their litter siblings, not like anyone else. Just like humans, they all have their own personalities, foibles, likes and dis-likes, even from a very early age. Seeing the parents of a pup gives you a degree of certainty that yes they might be social, nice around people or will be healthy but that is never 100% certainty. One certainty you can guarantee 100% is the time you spend teaching your dog skills you want it to have in adult life, they will have in adult life.
If you want your dog to walk nicely by your side as you go for a relaxing walk, or run with you when you go for a jog or pull you if you want to go for a mush, you have to teach them what you want or expect of them. There’s no point in buying expensive harnesses, lines, a rig and put your dog in front, tie him to it and expect him to know that he now has to pull, where as before this you had expected him to walk nicely by your side. You train him and show him how fun this new experience is so he wants to do it again and again. We take driving lessons, guitar lessons, language lessons, tennis or football lessons or ‘practise’ so why should it be any different for your dog? If you want them to have a certain skill then you have to teach them and practise, practise, practise!
I’m not saying you can’t teach your dog to be like Lassie but don’t just expect them to be like her and By the Way… movie and tv Lassie was about 4 or 5 different dogs!
Here’s where some dogs get the short end of the stick when it comes to some people’s expectations. I have come up against people like this when I worked in rescues. The potential new owner wants a dog, ‘OK lets see what type of lifestyle you have so we can find a dog that suits’. They then proceed to tell you they work a 40+hr week, go to the pub at weekends and a couple of foreign holidays a year, don’t do much ‘outdoorsy-things’ and they want a labrador for the kids, are adamant they want one, a big, friendly one. Of course that’s no life for a big energetic dog and most people don’t want to hear that reality. You can change the breed in that story to what someone has in their heads that they want and no matter how much you tell them that they need a lot of grooming /exercise / training etc they don’t see it as a problem, they then find a dog somewhere else and a month down the line there’s a frustrated and angry owner who has no idea how to stop their beagle (any breed) from barking, chasing the neighbours cat or digging holes in the garden, eating the kids toys or going to the toilet inside the house when it lives outside. Later you find out the dog gets 1 walk a day and lives its whole life in the back yard. Sounds to me like the dog is making the best of a bad situation!
When owners call me out because of their dog’s problems they soon realise that respect, interaction, teaching and enjoying each others company is all part of being a good dog owner. I get the phrase ‘it’s a lot like having kids’ when we are in a coaching session and I totally agree. People think long and hard usually before having kids, they need a lot of love, food, clothes, schooling and that’s just the basic stuff. No-one expects their parental duties are over once the kids hit 16, there are driving lessons, college, part-time jobs, socializing, hobbies…. So why do people not think long and hard about adding a 4 legged family member to their household? There’s love, food, vaccinations, bedding, health, education and time all needed there too for the whole of their lives.
It’s time the human race started treating this loyal, patient, forgiving and highly intelligent creature with more care and respect than what it is deemed to be getting here and now in the 21st century. Dont just be a dog owner, be a GOOD dog owner. Dog’s are not an accessory, they are not a short-term phase you are going through to see if you ‘like’ this breed, they should be treated with love and value and as Clarissa Baldwin’s’ very popular adage says ‘a dog is for life not just for christmas’.
Please think wisely, don’t get a dog if you don’t have time for one, if you do have one then give it time and love and you will be wise.
Please leave a comment below if you liked this post.
Once you get through the house training, setting your pups boundaries and probably some basic training and all is going well, be prepared. Because it isn’t all plane sailing from here, just when you think you have the perfect pup, things might start to go awry! Dogs hit their teenage stage usually between 8 month to 18months depending on breed. Obviously personality has a lot to do with this too as a strong boisterous personality might start testing you and your rules more than an easy going personality.
What to expect
Expect the unexpected and you wont be surprised! I know that sounds very general but if your dog who is usually quite compliant and comes when you call him all of a sudden starts doing their own thing or seems to be almost disobedient in some ways, this could be the start of some teenage behaviour. The age range I gave you above is a general guideline but some dogs can start ‘rebeling’ earlier than this or even a bit later, if you are really unlucky.
What do I do when my dog doesn’t listen to me?
That’s easy, you go back to basics and start building a strong and trusting relationship with them. They are looking for a leader at this stage of their lives, in the wild this is when they would now transition from ‘pups’ were they would get away with everything, to ‘adolescent’ and they would start learning from their adult pack members and babysitters. This is when adults would start reprimanding unacceptable behaviour and they would have to start learning to become a valuable member of their pack. In domestic terms, you are reminding them of the boundaries you set as a pup by being consistent with your own behaviour. Play can be very important here, dogs learn a lot through play through interactions with other members of the family, like whether they are allowed to jump up, knock you over, can they start the play and will you follow, obviously at this stage if your dog mouths you, this should be nipped in the bud asap, especially if you have children. Mouthing should be dealt with by quietly and gently taking the dog by the collar and putting to bed or in the back hall and play ends immediately. No eye contact or speaking to him while you do this emphasises to the dog he has done wrong because you no longer will interact with him. After a few times doing this you will find he will get this quickly and think first before he tries to mouth, your timing is the key here. All play should be started by you and finished by you, the dog then will see you as making decisions within the family. Dont fall for the big eyes, waggy tail and the ball or toy in the mouth while you are sitting watching TV or reading or usually doing something that doesn’t involve the dog, that is why he is trying to get you to interact! (Smart puppy!)
The main thing is stay firm in your rules and keep building that relationship. For more tips and help with your doggy dilemas go to my website 4dogenterprises.moonfruit.com or follow me on Twitter @Bernie_Browne
As you may or may not know I am a Dog Listener, we use the dog’s own natural instincts and ‘laws’ to work for you and to better understand how the dog sees his world. It is an amazing way to communicate with dogs and it works because it was created by watching wolves in the wild, how they interact in a pack i.e. your family, how their heirarchy works (who’s the decision maker) and what are their survival motivators (food).
Did you know that most dogs living in most homes today think they are the pack leader? I hear owners say ‘No fido isn’t! I make him sit and wait before feeding him’ or ‘fido will do anything I say, I’m the boss’ or ‘I dont let my dog on the furniture or go through the door before me’.
Ok here are a few things to look for which you may not have even noticed before which tells someone like me that your dog is making decisions in your home and thinks he/ she is the Big Dog.
1. Your dog follows you around the house when you’re at home
2.Your dog sits at a high point in your house, like on the back of the sofa (looking out the window), at the top of your stairs, or even just on your favourite chair
3. Your dog is a fussy eater or doesn’t eat much, therefor you leave food down all day for them
4. Your dog initiates play or fuss, they come over and lean on you, drop a toy or ball in your lap or jump all over you when you come home
5. You dont walk the dog, the dog takes you for a walk!
Sound familiar? If so then you have been giving mixed signals to your dog and in the confussion your dog has become the decision maker of the pack. A very stressfull place to be if you dont know what you’re doing! Most dog’s dont even want this job, not all dogs grow up to be a pack leader and therefor they get themselves in trouble….. we call it behavioural problems!
Here’s what people think about the behaviours I have listed above first
1. My dog loves me
2. He likes to watch the world go by, it’s his favourite spot or he’s keeping my seat warm
3. He’s not greedy or a little picky so it’s easier if he helps himself
4. My dog loves it when I come home, he’s so pleased to see me and loves to play games with me
5. He love’s his walks and getting out… he’s energetic
We humanise our dogs more now than ever before and they are paying the price for it with a stressfull job they dont want. Therefore they are then becoming obsessive, compulsive, neurotic pets to some degree and it affects their health just like us humans.
Here is what the dog is doing in the scenarios above from the way he/ she sees the world
1. I am the leader – This is my baby and I have to make sure nothing happens to them while they are in my care so they aren’t getting out of my sight
2. This is my viewpoint to the world where I can see what’s coming and protect my babies, it is my right as leader/ decision maker to have the highest point and claim it
3. I am the leader and I have food so my pack can survive
4. I am the leader and you will give me attention when I ask for it
5. I am the leader so I must go ahead and make sure it is safe for my pack/ baby
What stands out more to you, that your dog is manipulating you or that they are doing a lot of very stressfull jobs? Hopefully the latter and that you want to change that. You can.
I’ll be writing more about this soon so stay tuned!