‘No Touching’. Breaking the Behaviour Pattern of Biting.

‘No touching’ for a period of time is the way to go now.

no touching the dog is the way to goIn all respects apart from the biting, Cocker Spaniel Lupo is wonderful. The young couple have worked really hard and most of the time he’s soft and affectionate. They have had help before and have conscientiously done their best. This hasn’t stopped both of them being bitten many times. Continue reading…

Dog Bites. Why? Touchy. Guards Resources

They worry that it’s their fault that their dog bites them.

I’m sure it’s largely genetic. Some dogs resort to biting a lot more readily than others. Some dogs will put up with anything and not bite.

The family has had eighteen-month-old Rough Haired Dachshund Toto since she was eight weeks old. Like many people, they have had dogs before, treated them in the same loving way, but never had this problem. I myself can look back at past dogs of mine and wish I had known then what I know now.

Toto stole a shoe

She showed no signs of aggression as a young puppy. If they had predicted how dog bites were going to develop, they would have reacted differently from the very first time it happened, when at about a year old Toto stole a shoe – had they realised there was another way.

Like so many people would do, they chased and cornered her in order to retrieve the item. She will have felt both aroused and scared. She growled and then snapped. The behaviour then escalated quickly. Continue reading…

Running Off With Things and Guarding Them

Guarding behaviour is unecessaryThey had been told her guarding behaviour couldn’t be fixed which is pretty unbelievable really. They were told nothing would stop her picking up and guarding anything that was lying around.

The two main problems with beautiful and mostly loving Cockerpoo Nell are that she will steal things, run off with them and become aggressive when they try to take them from her. Also, she has bitten when she didn’t want to be touched.

The two things are related. Nell can feel uncomfortable or threatened when approached directly.

Things like this aren’t usually in isolation so there are one or two other things to be resolved also. I find when eventually each smaller thing is addressed the whole picture becomes clear and everything starts to fall into place.

‘Consequence drives behaviour’.

Nell does things because they work for her in some way.

On each occasion when she has snapped when touched, her space has been invaded. Biting makes the person back away. Bingo.

The guarding is much the same thing. To retrieve the item, her space is invaded. It scares her. It’s weird how dogs set themselves up to be scared like this, knowing what the consequence will be.

On my way home from their house yesterday I was listening to the radio. A young man who had been in prison several times being interviewed. He was talking about the adrenaline rush of the chase if police or householder were after him like it gave him a fix.

Perhaps this is how it is for the dog. She is creating her own excitement and danger.

It’s likely that the working breed in her isn’t getting sufficient fulfillment and she is giving herself an adrenalin rush.

The humans totally have it in their power to stop the behaviour from happening by how they react. They can also give her other activities that will provide her with the kind of stimulation she needs. This isn’t hours of exercise or manic ball play either. She needs to use her clever brain and her hunting and sniffing instincts. She’s a mix of Cocker Spaniel and Poodle after all!

What makes this relatively easy for Nell’s humans is that when she takes something she rarely damages it. It’s hard to know why they bother to go after it, setting her up to growl and guard, thus feeding her fix for excitement and fear.

What they have done for the three years of her life in reaction to her nicking things and guarding them clearly isn’t working or she wouldn’t be doing it anymore.

From now on I advise they totally ignore all guarding.

They will look away or walk out of the room. they will only retrieve the item when Nell isn’t about. What can she get out of it then?

The person who advised them before said it could never be fixed! Nonsense.

With the brain games they can teach her exchange and ‘give’. They will use more food as payment and reward so she is motivated and engaged.

An reaction when being suddenly touched can be solved similarly. She clearly doesn’t like her space invaded, not only if it’s to take something off her but also to take a thorn out of her fur or if she is patted in passing when she is resting.

Again, the humans need to do things differently. Nell’s reaction, growling and snapping, makes the person go away. It works! I suggest for a few weeks none of the family goes into her personal space at all. She lives in a bubble that mustn’t be burst.

If they want to touch her, they sit down a couple of feet away and call her. If she doesn’t want it, so be it. I guarantee she will start putting herself out a bit more for her humans and in time will be a lot more easygoing about it.

‘Trigger stacking’ again.

It’s another case of trigger stacking – where stressors build up and it erupts elsewhere. In Nell’s case with occasional reactivity to other dogs on walks for instance.

They may have been told that nothing can be done about the guarding behaviour but that is ridiculous. It’s not extreme and the solution is simple really. It’s to do the very opposite to what they have done in the past that hasn’t worked but only made things worse.

It also means giving her the stimulation and excitement she needs with appropriate alternative activites.

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approaches I have worked out for Nell. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where fear or any form of aggression is concerned. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page).

Personal Space, the Dog and the Child

Consideration of Personal space is a one-way street for Dijon!

Cavapoo Dijon is a confident little dog in most respects. He knows what he wants – and usually gets it. The one respect in which he’s not so confident is when the lady is about but he can’t get to her. He stresses.

Caverpoo doesn't like the child invading his personal space Fourteen-month-old Dijon is increasingly treating the lady like some sort of resource belonging to himself when the 5-year-old daughter is near to her mother.

Dijon may fly at the child, snapping, if she goes to her for a cuddle.

Dijon has now bitten the little girl’s nose and this was when the lady wasn’t even in the room. She had left dog and child together on her bed for just a moment when the child screamed.

It seems the little girl ‘won’t be told’ where putting her face up close to Molly’s is concerned. She may also invade the dog’s space and he’s a little dog that likes control of his own personal space – though he has no regard whatsoever to the personal space of humans, whether family or people he’s not met before! He flies all over them.

I suggested that just as we are looking for ways to reinforce Dijon for the behaviours that we like, we need to get the child on board in the same way. Her parents say they just can’t get her to listen (much the same as people say about their dogs!).

Motivation is the key.

Dijon on his bedroom sofa

Dijon on his bedroom sofa

One suggestion I use to help young children to observe their dog’s personal space is to pretend that the dog lives in his own personal bubble. They can perhaps draw a picture of what it looks like. If they burst the bubble a terrible smell escapes – children can use their horrid imaginations!

The little girl must not burst Dijon’s bubble. Only Dijon can step out of his bubble and when he does so there is no smell!

She must keep her distance when Dijon is lying down or doing his own thing. They could make little picture stickers for the Dijon’s favourite sleeping places as reminders: ‘Dijon’s Bubble’. It’s much better to be able to remind the child ‘Remember Dijon’s Bubble’ than to have to keep nagging ‘leave Dijon alone’.

So, positive reinforcement for her also. Whenever she is seen observing Dijon’s bubble she should be praised or rewarded in some way and eventually it will become a habit.

It’s fine to touch theBerridgeBubble dog if he himself chooses to come out of his bubble and to the child, but even then the child should learn what sort of touching the dog likes (and doesn’t like).

There are videos for her the parents to watch with her like this and how to kiss a dog.

To ‘cure’ this problem at source needs Dijon to feel better about the child being near her mother, so two things should happen. His relationship with the lady needs to be a bit different so that she is no longer regarded by Dijon as a something belonging to him, and he needs to feel differently about the child herself.

 

The two humans involved, the lady and her little girl, can change things with Dijon

The lady needs to help release Dijon who currently follows her everywhere, all the time. He sleeps in their bedroom or on their bed and doesn’t always take kindly to the child running into the room and jumping on the bed to cuddle her parents.

They will gate the stairs so there is now somewhere that the lady can go without being followed. She should be able to come and go out of sight without it being an issue, starting slowly with very short breaks. Walking out on him can be associated with something nice.

Dijon can be invited upstairs only at bedtime.

When in the bedroom he will learn that he no longer gets on their bed at all.

I’m not against dogs being on beds if that’s what people like unless the dog reacts negatively to any other person (or dog) on the bed.

Keeping him off can be done kindly because there is a comfortable sofa in their bedroom that Dijon also sleeps on. For the child’s safety, management by way of physical precautions is vital. Dijon can be anchored to the sofa area by a lead so he simply can’t chase the child or leap on the bed.

Loving Dijon without bursting bubble

Loving Dijon without bursting bubble

The alternative is to leave him downstairs. They are reluctant to do this because of the panic he gets himself into.

The other thing that needs to happen, in addition to Dijon feeling a bit more independent of the lady’s comings and goings, is for Dijon to feel differently about the child herself.

The little girl is going to learn about counter-conditioning!

When she comes home after school, Dijon jumps all over them with no regard at all for their personal space! They want this to stop. Ignoring him isn’t enough and the little child finds this impossible anyway. She can’t be sufficiently calm and quiet either. Instead, she will be shown something that she can do. She will be given pieces of his dry food. When his feet are on the floor she will drop food. When he’s jumping up she can wait for his feet to be on the floor again. She might even earn a little reward herself.

When she wants a cuddle with her mum, the little girl can tell Dijon. ‘I want to cuddle Mummy’ and as she does so throw a handful of his dry food onto the rug. She can have a tub of ‘cuddle food’ to hand. This will not only help Dijon to associate the occasion with something nice, it will also send him away to the rug – away from leaping up at the her, air-snapping or nipping.

The stair gate is a must. Even when we are in the same room we can’t watch dog and child every second. Shutting a door on Dijon isn’t yet an option. There needs to be somewhere in the house where the little girl is 100% safe and need not be watched.

Like all my stories, this is nowhere near a complete report. I pick an aspect.

A week later I have visited again – with a photo of Dijon printed on a piece of paper. The little girl drew me a picture of ‘Dijon’s bulbble’ around his picture and of herself outside it. Mum will laminate copies of it and put by Dijon’s resting places as a reminder. All off her own bat, the little girl drew hearts, love, from herself to Dijon without breaking his bubble.

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Dijon. I don’t go into detail. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly, particularly where aggression or fearfulness is concerned. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page)

Starting Puppy Off Right

GoldendoodleIdeally I would say a puppy needs some physical boundaries – not too much freedom, and calm humans who don’t give him mixed messages.

However, one size simply can’t fit all. Starting puppy off right can save a whole lot of trouble later on.

Yesterday’s family have a wonderful 11-week-old Goldendoodle puppy called Dexter. They also have a very large open plan house, a big garden and two young children who are very keen to be involved!

I sat in the kitchen watching a lovely scene through the window. In a world of their own, the two children and the puppy were climbing some rocks in the garden beside a covered pond. This is perfect until the children or puppy get excited and start to run about.

When someone hasn’t had a dog before, let alone a puppy, it can be hard to see things from the dog’s perspective. This is the dream: ‘Won’t it be lovely for my seven-year-old boy and his little sister to have a dog to play with’, based on childhood stories and films of dogs bounding free and sharing adventures.

The reality is that this lady now has three young children! Thankfully, the newest member of the family will grow up a lot more quickly, but meanwhile he needs the same sort of attention translated into doggy terms. He needs encouragement, teaching good manners, rewards and reinforcement. The children aren’t smacked and nor should he be. Toddlers are forgiven for toileting mistakes whilst being encouraged to go in the ‘right place’ and so should the puppy.

Little children aren’t given unsupervised freedom anywhere and nor should the puppy. This is particularly the case when he is outside with the children. Thinking it would be fun, they have actively encouraged chasing games which have resulted in Dexter now getting over-excited, hence grabbing and nipping. Running along with children is part of the dream – but chasing them is not.

It may never have occurred to a new dog owner that the dog may not want to be cuddled, crowded and carried around by a child.  It is so important that the children are trained to respect the puppy’s personal space because already Dexter (really the most amenable and gentle puppy) is beginning to growl at the little girl.  It’s also essential that the children keep their distance when he is eating or chewing anything.

Just as Dexter needs reinforcing for everything he does that they like, so do the children. We rewarded the little girl with small sweets for touching him gently on the chest and for hanging back when she wanted to cuddle him. To her he is just a large animated teddy bear and she already has a small cut on her face – but is undeterred. When an excited Dexter ‘goes for’ the little boy, he gets scared and angry and smacks him. This is a recipe for disaster.

The children can have great fun with Dexter by playing games that teach him desirable things.  Instead of chase games, the family can call him from room to room and in from the garden, rewarding him for coming – a brilliant recall game. They can play the sort of tug games that teach him to release and to be careful what he does with his teeth. They can teach him to walk nicely beside them off lead.

Mum is going to have her work cut out for a few months! In addition to starting puppy off right, the children need training as well!

Rather than let things get out of hand and allow Dexter to become unruly and rough, she needs to pre-empt trouble. The moment he begins to get over-excited he should be called to her, rewarded liberally, and shut behind a gate with something to do. Then the children need to be taught that they simply must stay the other side of that gate until he has calmed down.

Although children speak the same language as we do, they are probably harder to train!

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Dexter, which is why I don’t share all the exact details of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own puppy can do more harm than good, particularly where children are involved too. 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

Really Bites Out of the Blue?

Last week three-year-old Cocker Spaniel Pete had been booked in to be putCocker Spaniel's behaviour had resulted in an appointment to have him put to sleep, now cancelled to sleep.

Fortunately the lady phoned me first. Her dog had bitten her quite badly and it wasn’t the first time. She told me the many time he bites out of the blue – for no reason at all.

I suggested that she asked her vet to give Pete a thorough check including bloods and a physical examination to rule out pain and any other condition that could make him have a short fuse. Unfortunately the vet refused, saying he could see the dog was fine and then gave confusing and outdated behaviour advice.

Pete was jumping at me and grabbing my sleeves as I walked in the door. He does the same with the lady. Yet – if she steps on him by mistake, tries to touch his feet or, as she did once, tripped and fell by him, he bites her.

Should not respect for personal space go both ways?

All the bites and near-bites she listed for me can actually be explained. Most were around resources of some sort and the others around Pete’s not wanting to be touched or moved. There is a strong suggestion that at least a couple of those could involve pain of some sort.

Positive reward-based methods aren’t just some modern fad but based on sound scientific research described in all the up-to-date literature, yet still some people hang on to the old notions.

I would agree in principle that the lady should take control of her dog and be ‘in charge’, but that doesn’t mean acting like a ‘dominant Alpha’ which would undoubtedly make things far worse.  In fact, guarding behaviour often starts when people take the puppy’s food away to show ‘who’s boss’. Why do they do that! If he thinks you’re about to steal his food, wouldn’t it actually cause food guarding?

Leadership as in good parenting means building a bond of understanding and mutual respect, whereby the owner is the provider, the protector and the main decision-maker. All this is done kindly using praise and rewards, being motivational so that Pete is willing and cooperative.

I demonstrated the power of food while I was there, showing the lady how to use a clicker and chicken to get Pete eagerly working for her. What a gorgeous dog.

Nearly all conflict between owners and dogs is so unnecessary because dogs so love to please if they are rewarded and appreciated – just like ourselves.  This isn’t bribery.  At the end of a consultation when I’m paid, have they have bribed me to do my job? No. I willingly and happily do my work for them, knowing I then receive my earned reward – payment.

Unless Pete is vet-checked properly we can’t rule out anything physical and invisible, but all the same it usually is very much a relationship issue too when a dog bites out of the blue. It would be a tragedy if Pete’s life were to be ended when with consistent, kind boundaries and getting him to earn much of his food in return for cooperation and learning things, the lady could slowly gain confidence in him.

It will take time.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Pete, which is why I don’t share all the exact details 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

 

Cocker Spaniel Growls at the Puppy

As Flo becomes more tolerant of young Wilson they can spend more time together

Flo and Wilson

I was called out because, as the people interpretted it, three-year-old Blue Roan Cocker Flo was ‘aggressive to puppy Wilson because he wouldn’t leave her alone and kept wanting to play with her’.

The situation was different to what I expected. Dear little 4 1/2 month Wilson was frequently going to Flo in a polite, appeasing ‘I want to be friends with you’ sort of way, making himself low and licking her face. Every time he does this, Flo growls. Flo simply seems not to want her personal space invaded or to be interfered with by Wilson, who simply aches to interact with her.

As time went on I gradually got more clues. Flo is a bit like this with people also.

She gets everything she wants on demand. She paws insistently. ‘What do you want now, Flo?’ and they cast about seeing how they can satisfy her. She won’t eat her food when given it, only when later  its produced as a result of the pawing. Unless slightly intimidated by a loud command, she doesn’t very readily do anything that is asked of her; she has learnt that interaction is under her own terms. She can be nervous which is hardly surprising.

Flo’s life has changed a lot since the arrival of Wilson a couple of months ago. Her food no longer can be left down all the time, she isn’t hand fed any more, Wilson has taken over her bed and her walks have to include a playful puppy. She can’t now even go outside to toilet in peace (this can be rectifed straight away).

Growls at the puppy

To add to the problem, they have been so keen for the two to get on that they have been trying to force her to accept Wilson. She is scolded for growling and Wilson is told off for pestering her. They have even used a water spray. The gentleman is jovial and quite noisy, and when he shouts ‘leave it’ at the puppy or ‘Oi, that’s enough’ or ‘bed’ to Flo, he doesn’t mean to intimidate them but he realises that he does.  Just as with dogs’ behaviour we need to take breed characteristics into consideration, we need to take into consideration human personalities also and work with them! I found both dogs reacted instantly to a soft request followed by reward.

Sleeping Cocker pup

Wilson

I have advised keeping the two dogs apart for now unless closely supervised, both indoors and in the garden, reinforcing and marking all good interaction. Wilson being calm near Flo or lying down quietly by her deserves a silent food reward. Flo, quiet when Winston aproaches her, deserves a silent food reward. No scolding. If Flo’s not happy, Winston can be called away and given something else to do.  As she becomes more tolerant they can spend more time together. Slowly slowly catchee monkey!

Flo needs the security of consistent rules and boundaries and relief from the burden of decision-making. Another saying: ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’. She should then relax and open up to Winston who really is a very self-controlled puppy.

The more Flo has been forced, the more defensive she has understandably become. Her growling is merely saying, ‘please keep away, I don’t want your attention’. How else can she convey this? We expect our dogs, in silence, to put up with so much more than we would tolerate ourselves. Ignored or scolded for trying to be understood, it’s quite surprising in the circumstances that Flo has remained so patient.

It’s not the growling itself that needs dealing with – but the cause of the growling.

If Flo is ‘helped’ through this and it is treated sensitively and given time, I am sure the two will end up the best of friends.

Cocker Spaniel Monty Has Regressed

cockerMontyI visited Monty 18 months ago and he was something of a puppy nightmare – see here for his story back then: http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=2778.

Following instructions, Monty and his family were doing so well that bit by bit they departed from our plan, thinking it no longer necessary. Gradually his old problems returned, and instead of going back to the plan which had worked so well before, they have been ‘listening to people’ and ‘looking on the internet’ (one suggestion given to the young adult daughter was to stare him out which is an extremely aggressive and confrontational thing for one dog to do to another and which I would never, ever do with a dog).

Monty has been receiving a lot of confusing mixed messages.

Things have now have reached crisis point. Monty attacked the daughter twice last week; he is highly stressed. He growls constantly which is ignored as ‘not serious’. Unwittingly it’s being reinforced with lots of attention and the poor dog is now totally confused. He’s a mix of wilful and anxious – he jumped at me, nipped and humped me when I arrived, apparently because I was taking no notice of him; he is very persistent in getting his own way. We put him on harness and lead. He settled down. Later, he growled and lunged at the daughter; he was really scared afterwards and all I did was to silently lead him away.

We looked in detail at events that led up to each of the attacks and exactly what happened afterwards; these two areas need carefully working on against a backdrop of respecting his efforts to communicate, and taking as much general pressure off him as possible.

Monty never has liked invasion of his space; his growls are always ignored. One of the attacks happened on a day when he was already probably over-stimulated by other things and after he had been approached and touched in his bed – despite his warnings. He can’t talk, after all. Soon afterwards the daughter bent over to touch him. Explosion. What more can a dog do when he’s never listened to?

Because of how he was when I first met him aged 5 months, I just wonder whether there may be a touch of ‘Cocker rage’ – just enough for him to ‘unpredictably’ fly off the handle if his stress levels are sufficiently high.  Should this be the case it’s even more important that his humans are consistent and whilst giving consistent rules and boundaries they are also respectful of his needs.

When things go pear shaped it’s usually because owners have been treating behaviour modification a bit like giving antibiotic for an infection and once clear the medication stops. They need to regard it more like insulin – something that has to be administered for the rest of his life for a permanent condition.

So, it’s back to square one with Monty, and always harder the second time around.

Airedale Bites Hands

Airedale Jessie doesn't like hands aproaching from above herAlex is a young man who likes to take his five-year-old Airedale, Jesse, to the pub with him. It sounds perfect, doesn’t it. However, he has a big problem. Jessie doesn’t like people to enter her space, bend over her and touch her, and in a pub atmosphere this is sometimes hard to prevent!

The other day she bit a man she knows well. He was standing at the bar beside her owner and she was between them. All he did was casually drop his hand onto her head and suddenly her teeth were in him. As he withdrew, she bit again – as though to make sure he really was going away.

Jesse has always been uneasy about being approached, never willingly coming over for attention unless under her own terms when she wants something and the only way the man can show her affection is if he goes over to where she is lying – and then she may growl at him. The biting of people really started a while ago when someone ignored all her signals and repeatedly kept coming back to touch her. You can understand why – she looks like a big teddy bear! Eventually she was so provoked that she went for him. Unfortunately he had learning difficulties and should have been protected – as should Jesse, but telling people to back off can seem unfriendly and rude in the best of circumstances. From that time she has been a lot more unpredictable. Unheeded warnings have proved pointless, so she goes straight into the bite.

If it weren’t sad, how she treats her male owner would be quite comical. She sits with her back to him and I can only call it disdain. She ignores him. To quote him – she’s ‘indifferent’. The only times she does willingly communicate with him are to get him to jump to her tune.

Making all the decisions is no better for a dog living in a human environment than it is for a child.

I saw Jesse come to life towards the end of my visit when I called her over (she came promptly instead of the usual repeated calls followed by causal sauntering up sniffing things on the way!), and asked her to do a few things for me, quietly and just the once. She became focussed and looked very happy. I see with many dogs I visit how they love to work for someone when they understand exactly what it is they should be doing and when they find it rewarding. This is the sort of relationship the man needs with his dog. It’s easy for me because I have no past history and can start with a dog the way I mean to go on.

My expectation is for Jesse to cooperate, the owner’s expectation is to be ignored. The respective tones of voice and attitudes are self-fulfilling.

As her ‘guardian/leader’ it’s up to the owner to protect his dog from unwanted attention – and as politely as possible to be forceful. This is something I now find a lot easier than I did at his age! I am sure that when Jesse feels less defensive when people are nearby, less important and more relaxed, she will become much more tolerant of the occasional mistaken hand placed on top of her head, even if never really enjoying it.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.

Regal Alaskan Malamute

Malamute Mia lying on her backSixteen-month-old Mia certainly knows she’s wonderful! What a confident dog!

In the morning when her lady owner comes downstairs, Mia will open one eye and beckon with her paw as if to say ‘You may come here’!

The lady will then go over to her, get down on the floor and make a big fuss of her.  Homage! People often just don’t realise how much their dog controls them until they see it through the eyes of somebody objective like myself.

Mia is adolescent.  She has just had her first season and she is becoming a bit of a bully with some other dogs, especially smaller, less confident ones.  This has escalated and for the first time she has bitten one.  Her owner is devastated, because she has put a lot of effort into socialising and training Mia who has been very popular in the area until recently.

In the nicest way possible Mia needs to be brought down a peg or two without the use of confrontation. If a command is used and she is defiant and refuses, what next? If they back down they have lost, and if they try to insist they risk making her angry. She needs to be eager to cooperate.

At present every resource belongs to Mia, and it’s obvious she considers her lady owner to be a resource also. She objects Malamute Mia is a regal dogwhen one of the young daughters wants a cuddle. She will grumble when one of them walks past her bed. Depending upon her mood, she may grumble when someone comes near her while she has a chew.  She has become very touchy when one of the girls grabs her around her neck to cuddle her.

I suggest that now nobody invades Mia’s personal space, either upon her invitation or not, but that she also is encouraged to respect the personal space of her humans. We don’t want to reduce her confidence in any way but she is beginning to show some instability.  She is too powerful to be allowed to rule the roost. For her to become respectful and controllable out on walks with both people and dogs, she needs to be respectful and controllable at home.  In many ways Mia is a credit to her owner, but this goes a lot deeper than ‘training’. Knowing what is required of her is one thing, but whether she willingly does it or not is another! She is a teenager after all.

Once again, it’s about parenting and leadership.  In Mia’s opinion, just who is the real leader and decision maker in this family? I think we know!

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.