She's given mixed messagesWhat a dear little dog 8-month-old Penny is – and petite for a Boxer. She has a lovely nature – friendly and cheeky.

Like young Cooper I went to see the day before, Penny jumps up persistently and grabs or nips. She always used to get a reaction of some sort.[divider type=”white”]

Mixed messages

More recently they have been attempting to turn away and ignore it, but because it’s not consistent and because people sometimes react, this probably makes Penny try even harder. Getting the cooperation of other people can be difficult.

Turning away and ignoring her is only one part of the procedure though. Penny needs to know what she should be doing instead. Scolding and commands only tell her to get down at that moment, they don’t teach her not to do it again straight away or in the future, or that there are much better ways to get much higher quality attention.

Sometimes, though, they will play or fuss her when she jumps up. Mixed messages must be adding to her already high state of excitement.

The big difference between Penny and Cooper (the previous dog) is that Cooper will do anything for food. Penny isn’t interested – but there is a good reason for that. She starts the day with two bacon treats. She then shares her owners breakfast of sausage and scrambled egg.  A little later her own food is put down, some dry food with tasty cat food added to tempt her. It is left down for her to eat when she likes. She is enticed to eat because her owners worry. She gets various other snacks.[divider type=”white”]

The value of food is being missed

Why on earth would she work for food? Food has no value. She is even being persuaded to eat. If twenty pound notes were left all over the place, if someone was encouraging you to pick them up and put them in your pocket, would you be then interested if they then offered you £5 to run an errand?

So, initially attention has to be given for feet on the floor only. Gentle and calm attention. Everyone must comply. Always. No more mixed messages. When her eating habits improve and she realises that her staple diet is two sensible dog-nutritious meals a day and not left around for her to graze on at will, food will be more meaningful. She can then start to earn some of it by good behaviour.

Penny’s other problem is lack of control on walks. Again, she has unwittingly been taught to pull because it works – she gets to the park.  Not only does she pull, she jumps up and grabs anyone who stops to talk to them. At the park, she spins around on a retractable lead, trying to chew through it to free herself.

With Penny’s walking we need different equipment. Currently she is walked down the road on a heavy chain lead and collar (a ‘trainer’ advised this?), which must be awful for her thin neck because of the pulling and correcting. It is too hot in the daytime just now, so I am going again this evening, when it’s cooler. I will sort out a harness and a lightweight training lead. We need to go back to basics, using reward and encouragement – and no more mixed messages on walks either.

Possibly she will work for chicken or cheese. I hope so.