Positive relationship with their puppy to be built through understanding

Published by Theo Stewart on

Their positive relationship with their puppy is worsening.

To quote the man: ‘Every day is a battle where he is taking up our whole lives’.

This is so sad. We get a puppy with such wonderful dreams of a loving, positive relationship.

The 14-week-old Golden Retriever has only been with them for three weeks. His breeder can’t be traced.  I suspect he will have been kept with other maybe older dogs and had to learn to stand up for himself, guarding anything he got hold of.

‘He bites everything he can get hold of, including us… (with a bone) he turned into a dog we’ve never seen… growling uncontrollably, barking extremely aggressively… if he was not in his pen I think he would have really gone for us’. 

Their positive relationship has suffered

The  very understandable way they have reacted to the biting behaviours may unfortunately have introduced defiance. It will have impacted upon their positive relationship.

Upon advice from friends and the internet, they have been scolding Barney for puppy things like a pee on the rug.

He dug up some grass from the new lawn. He eats stones. He wrecks the garden.

The exasperated man has tried to discipline him. He has thrown him into his crate. Barney’s not a puppy that scares easily, so this encourages aggression. This isn’t conducive of a positive relationship.

Confrontation invites defiance. ‘No’ invites frustration. Punishment or force invites self-defence.

This is a slippery slope which we are now going to reverse.

We will be having four online sessions in all, and have made a start. This start is all about a change of tactics.

Motivation and encouragement will give them the positive relationship they need.

Barney’s needs.

They can build their new positive relationship by looking at what needs the puppy has that they aren’t satisfying. Then, now with a bit more knowledge, they will do all the can to satisfy those needs. He’s only a baby after all.

Barney is a nightmare in the evening, constantly chewing for several hours, digging up grass and biting them.

What is he needing?

Obviously he has a need to dig and chew. But that is only to satisfy the real need which is to calm himself down and get rid of a huge build-up of frustration.

As the day wears on he becomes increasingly aroused, frustrated and tired. By the time evening comes they have the puppy nightmare tornedo to cope with.

Where will they start?

By giving him lots of things to do that help him, whilst avoiding the things that get him too worked up. He needs lots of calming enrichment. Things to occupy his brain, nose and jaws.

Understanding their puppy’s needs will give them the positive relationship they need.

Barney needs to know that nobody wants his bone

If they give him a bone or any other resource, they will shut him in his pen or behind a gate and leave him strictly alone. He must now know that nobody wants anything that he has. 

Fortunately he is very food motivated. If he picks up stones, throwing kibble about will teach him to leave the stones much more effectively and calmly than getting cross and trying to prise stones out of his mouth.

If they don’t like what he chooses to do in the garden, they shouldn’t leave him out there to ‘do his own thing’. They will monitor him more closely.

If he has a need to dig, then maybe replacing this with a game of tug would work well. This will help the puppy out at the same time as strengthening a sound positive relationship.

So, we have made a start. I will update this story as we go along.

A Google review, 3 weeks later:
After deliberating whether to spend the money and commit to some sessions with a dog behaviorist, I can honestly say speaking with Theo was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We were really struggling to deal with some behavior issues in our puppy, and could not believe how quickly these have gone after speaking with Theo. She gave us a clear plan on every aspect of his life and he is now the calm, loving dog we had hoped for.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

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