(An online consultation)

First Buddy eyes up the elderly lady’s feet as she sits in her chair. Then he sniffs her slippers. Next he will bite them then try to remove them – take her socks off even. It’s the same sequence each time.

Getting a reaction

This then develops into jumping on her and grabbing her hands which she’s waving in the air whilst squealing ‘Buddy Leave’, ‘No!’. Buddy gets more stirred up.

Someone then always goes and pulls him away by his collar.

The ten-month-old Labrador has done this since he was a puppy. It’s a learned behaviour – just something he does. Whatever the elderly lady’s reaction is, it’s reinforcing the behaviour.


They don’t ‘bid’ Buddy, they ‘make’ him.

When they want him in his crate, they take him by the collar; they don’t call him.

I watched on the Zoom video as he jumped at the side behind them. I could see Gran walk over and pull up him away by his collar. As she walked back to her chair, Buddy, now aroused, was going for her feet.

He would be able to predict what would happen next. The reaction of the man was to pull him off by his collar.

A little later Buddy jumped on the side behind them again. I loudly called ‘Buddy COME!’ He heard me, jumped down and came immediately to the lady at her laptop. Unfortunately she had no food to give him.

They will now try to avoid grabbing his collar but to motivate him to come to them when they call him. They then have him on remote control.

The excitement starts in the morning.

First the lady comes down and lets Buddy out of his crate. He’s calm and affectionate.

Then Gran comes down!

Buddy is excited before she even opens the door. He follows her as she walks about getting breakfast, nudging and sniffing her. The process of getting a reaction starts.

In future, as soon as Gran comes down, they will give Buddy his own breakfast in a Kong to keep him busy.

During the day they will do whatever they can to keep him occupied with calming things like chewing.

No more rehearsing the behaviour.

As soon as he shows any interest in Gran’s feet and before the mugging starts, someone should call him away. Immediately. Now he will be given something rewarding. Maybe a short game of tug would be a good and acceptable exchange for ‘Gran-mugging’?

They will have a house lead on him, so if calling him away fails, all they need do is to pick up the lead. No scolding, just encouragement.

Sometimes they have put the clothes horse around Gran to protect her! I suggest they make good use of it now.

If they are consistent, he should gradually get out of the habit and Gran can move about and sit down in peace.

(I remember many years ago a pup of my own, Monty – who happened also to be a black Labrador. I used to put Monty’s puppy pen around my elderly mother’s chair when she visited, to protect her from Monty’s sharp puppy teeth!).

Update 10 days later: “Buddy is still doing well with regards to mums feet, he’s not been really bothered at all by them. He still has the lead on, and overall has been a lot calmer with what you suggested being put in place. He is also coming through the door much better, and coming when called instead of us getting him. He still has his moments but on the whole things are a lot better…….So all in all good progress”.

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