As a puppy, Lola was taken to puppy classes so is the better ‘trained’ of the two, but she is nervous. Roxy is a lot more confident and is already trying to dominate Lola. She can be pushy, jump up and be generally annoying as a puppy entering adolescence can be! They may tell her to stop jumping up, to sit, to go away when they are eating, or to come back when she is off lead, but she won’t ‘listen’.
The real problems are out on walks. Both dogs pull – Roxy especially. Her recall is very unreliable as is that of many a pup and possibly they are expecting too much here. Whilst some dogs come back willingly from the word go, with many dogs recall has to be worked on for a long time before the dog can be reliably trusted to come back if there is something else she would rather be doing, like chasing cats or going after other dogs.
What is bringing matters to a head is Roxy’s behaviour when she sees other dogs. She will run up to them barking, backed up by Lola who has begun to snap and growl at them – something she never used to do before Roxy came. It seems to be getting worse. I am wondering whether Roxy thinks she is protecting Lola, while Lola thinks she is protecting Roxy! Either way, the person with them is not relevant as decision-maker and protector.
Whilst Roxy and Lola get on very well, it seems that having Roxy hasn’t been altogether easy for Lola. Already sensitive, she now has become protective of her. For her to try to keep Roxy in check is an impossible task. I am worried that as Roxy grows older, more determined and dominant, and that if the owners don’t give stronger leadership, there could be trouble between the two dogs.
Walking needs to be brought back to basics. The dogs need to be walking calmly on loose leads without the need for checking – which often simply isn’t achieved by traditional training methods – Lola is proof of that. When they encounter other dogs, they need to keep calm and rely on the person walking them to make the decisions. When off lead, the owners may feel that the dogs should come back when they are called, but in these situations they simply are not sufficiently relevant. We lack relevance when we are at our dogs’ beck and call and touch them every time they come near us. If our time and attention is readily on tap and never has to be earned, it lacks value.
The humans need to earn that relevance throughout all aspects of their life with their dogs – and then the dogs, Roxy in particular, will start to ‘listen’.