Harry is ten months old and a beautiful Red Labrador (his male owners says I should call him handsome, not beautiful!). He has a lovely nature, but the best way to describe him is that he can be a bit ……..too much.
He is very persistent in his jumping onto people both when they are standing and sitting down. The smallest bit of attention gets him very excited. He finds pinching things and running off with them great fun and he sometimes eats unspeakable stuff! Of course he pulls on lead too.
Harry is quite a good example of how, without meaning to, human owners who are trying to do things right actually teach their dogs to do the very behaviours they don’t want. This starts when they get their little puppy home. Boundaries and rules don’t exist. He is encouraged to leap all over people. In no time at all the little puppy gets a bit bigger, and now believes he is the most important member of the family – after all, his every wish is granted. Isn’t the most important member, whose every wish granted, the leader?.
This is what many of us are teaching our puppies.
Too soon he develops behaviours that aren’t so cute in an older bigger dog. We start to make the word NO the most used in our vocabulary. He jumps all over us. We think we are ‘training’ him by sternly telling him down and by pushing him off with our hands. In my opinion this is actually teaching him the very opposite. He may obey briefly, but he’s learnt it’s a sure-fire way of getting attention next time because he has been looked at, spoken to and touched all under his own terms. How would a respected dog get the message over to another dog that he doesn’t want to be jumped on? He certainly doesn’t use hands to push or say Down!
Stealing things is great fun when he’s then chased around the garden for the item. It teaches him to pinch things and run away! Following him on a tight lead or ‘correcting’ him which is uncomfortable, teaches him to pull because forward progress happens when the lead is tight. He may also wish to get as far away from the source of the discomfort as possible – you. Rolling around on the floor with a human who allows the dog to use his mouth and growl teaches disrespect and roughness. A dog like Harry doesn’t need assistance in getting excited! Rushing at him or chasing him when he’s about to pick up something revolting or dangerous, teaches him you want it, that it must be of value, and to swallow it quickly before you can get it.
Dealing with dogs like Harry requires outwitting them, and looking at how another respected, stable dog would deal with him. This is the key.