Thirty-five years ago, long before I had even heard of dog training let alone behaviour work, I had a large and boisterous Golden Labrador called Paddy. He was wonderful with my children but a devil for jumping up. 18-month old Dotty, the dog I went to see last night, reminded me so much of him!
The owners – the gentleman in particular – had taught her to jump up at people by exciting her, catching her feet and dancing about and allowing her to jump on them when sitting down. She is wildly excited and jumping on them when they come home – and rewarded with fuss. Even when people didn’t want her to be jumping up, their way of trying to stop her was merely reinforcing it.
This behaviour is especially difficult around guests who may not like being jumped up on by a large dog – and she is just the same when she meets people out on walks.
About four months ago Dotty was attacked out of the blue by another dog. She had always been great with dogs. But, from that time, she has decided to get it in first and has lept on dogs she doesn’t know, grabbing them and pinning them down, looking and sounding aggressive. As one might expect, she is highly excited before leaving for a walk, grabs the lead and pulls, so this has to change before she can be expected to be relaxed around other dogs – or people.
All this bouncing about isn’t through pure joy. I read in it a certain amount of frantic anxiety. If a human was so unable to control herself she may well need some sort of counselling! Her owners need to earn her trust and respect by giving her better leadership and behaving more calmly around her. She needs rules and boundaries. She is a bit like a loose canon with little self control or inhibition apart from, fortunately, when she’s around the little three year old daughter. Dotty is a dream with her. She is gentle. She never jumps at her. She follows her and her friends about and even jumps on the trampoline with them. They have a wonderful relationship.
Doitty is a highly trainable dog. I managed, with rewards, to teach her to lie down in about two minutes. She has not had training. She has been lavished with food from the table but never had to earn anything. Seeing her focused on me was a joy – both for me and for Dotty.