This picture sums up three-year-old Bentley perfectly. He is extremely agile for a Dachshund and he sits high on a shelf looking as if to say “who said you could take a photo of me!”
Bentley is a real little character with a mind of his own. His humans have worked hard with him, having taken him to training classes, using positive methods and reward. Positive methods however don’t mean that boundaries aren’t important, and there are areas where Bentley needs to learn a bit more self-control.
He can become obsessive about having toys thrown for him, especially persistent when someone comes to the house. It would actually be rather sweet in small doses, but he uses it not so much for the pleasure of chasing as for getting the person to do what he wants. As I discovered, if one doesn’t obey him he then barks!
Like people, some dogs are simply less tactile than other. Some grow to object when showered with touching and attention. It’s quite difficult for people who adore their dogs to play a little hard to get, but the truth is that if they do the dog will probably stop the growling and even learn to welcome being approached and touched in small doses.
Imagine people in your house, unprompted, touch or cuddle you whenever you sit down for a bit of peace. Wouldn’t you eventually get cross? Soon, when people approached you, would you not say ‘go away, leave me alone’. You may even shout at them when someone touches you accidentally. Let’s face it, when we cuddle another person or a dog, it can be more about making us feel good than the object of our affection. We somehow just can’t stop ourselves.
Bentley’s owners are very perceptive and all they needed was an objective point of view.
Sometimes we can be blind to the obvious when we are actually living in the middle of things.
From email received about 7 weeks later: “Bentley really is so much calmer these days but don’t get me wrong, he’s still the extremely energetic and entertaining character he was before! Certain things still get him a bit worked up, such as noises from neighbours, but it’s much, much easier to control it now. The hardest part is certainly on our part, being persistent and consistent – but the efforts are so worth it. Overall we can see such an improvement.
Yesterday was a great example of all the improvements. A quick visit to the park yesterday and a tiny, tiny chihuahua came over to try and play with him, running with him for quite some time and Bentley didn’t care even though he had his brand new toy, no heckles went up. He didn’t interact with the dog but he just wasn’t bothered – it was fantastic! Then as we were leaving, there was a jack russell and a larger dog leaving so I thought it would be a good test to see how Bentley would be as we were behind them and again, he really didn’t seem bothered. We walked right behind them as we crossed the road and he was absolutely fine! It was such a nice relief!
I generally feel much more confident that Bentley won’t react like he used to. Then last night we were all on the sofa and one of the cats came over and gave a miaow and Bentley went over and gave him a sniff and then later proceeded to sleeping right next to him. That doesn’t happen every day but he’s much less possessive over the sofa these days 🙂
Thank you so much for everything – we couldn’t be happier with all the advice you have given. He’s still an absolute nutter, but we are really proud of him and we’re so happy knowing that for the most part, he’s a much calmer sausage!
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Bentley, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).