Little fourteen-month-old Cockerpoo Izzy (on the left) knows if she barks for long enough she will eventually find her people’s breaking point and get the attention she wants, that if she scratches at the back door someone will open it immediately each time, if she jumps up at people it guarantees attention of some sort – every time. It’s important she stops jumping up, because the people have lots of children coming to their house.
She is a gorgeous little dog with a wonderful personality, and plenty of it! I have had special training in this line of behaviour from my own Cocker Spaniel, Pickle. No amount of book-learning or education can teach how to deal with this sort of thing as well as hands on experience with ones own dog. I call it ‘Pickling’ – constantly looking for something to do and noisily pestering to get what he wants – given a chance. One thing that is a complete waste of time is to get cross! Pickle has now mostly learnt that good behaviour along with plenty to keep him busy gets the best results, but it has been quite a learning curve for me and I appreciate how difficult it is getting other people on board so they don’t sabotage my efforts!
Just like Pickle, Izzy is loving, soft and gentle – an absolute darling.
I put my experience to good use and soon had Izzy like putty in my hands! She was really focused on me. Never had they had such a calm and quiet evening. We showed her why it was far nicer to have her feet on the floor. It was like a little dance. She put her feet on me – I gently tipped her off and looked away – her feet went back on the floor – I tickled her chest gently. Clever little dog then worked it out that she still was rewarded for jumping up, but it was part of a chain – she still got her attention in the end so I didn’t reward her each time. Then I started to ignore her and wait for her to work it out and get down by herself. She sat down. BINGO. Soon you could see she was thinking about putting her feet up on me but not doing it, and sitting down instead! Food Reward!
Intermittently she went back to pestering to be let out, which we ignored. When she gave up I opened the door. As I suspected, she didn’t want to go outside – just someone to jump up at her bidding – especially when they are busy doing something else, like eating, talking, watching TV or on the phone. I know all the tricks – Pickle has taught me!
The most exasperating problem of all is that Izzy barks persistently until she gets what she wants, and although she didn’t do this when I was there directing operations, she has to learn that barking, also, doesn’t get results. Never. Dogs do what works, even if it only works sometimes. They may even have to walk out on her and shut the door when she starts. Barking that never gets results is a waste of time. The important flip-side to this is they must instigate attention and fun things more regularly themselves – when she’s quiet.
She needs lots of praise for doing the right things, but not so much that it fires her up again. A benefit that will filter down from her gentleman owner being less of a pushover at home is she will take more notice of him when they are out and he wants to call her back to him.