This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Who is ruling the roost?

Driving home after a day of training I thought about the dogs I had seen. Two were little fear aggressive terriers that had bitten houseguests. Another bigger dog was leash reactive, lunging and barking at dogs, cats, squirrels, or anything else that moved. Needless to say his owners had no control over him when he saw something in the house through the window or outside. The fourth dog just didn’t listen. She helped herself to whatever she desired; couch pillow, loaf of bread on the counter, $100 shoes. Didn’t matter, whatever struck her fancy at the moment was hers. Or so she thought. All four of these dogs lead their owners when walked, charging ahead and acting as if the person on the other end of the leash didn’t exist.
These owners are good people who love their dogs. All have one thing in common. Their dogs rule the roost. They love their dogs unconditionally, allowing them full run of the house and provide no structure or rules of behavior. Nothing is earned and the dogs do not have to work for anything. Affection is given indiscriminately and frequently. The dogs see their people as soft and weak and are making their own decisions because no one is doing it for them.  What these dogs need is guidance and less unconditional affection. I asked all of them to do one thing this week besides the individualized homework I had assigned. I asked them to withhold affection for the week and to ignore the dog when they are not training, feeding or taking bathroom breaks. No belly rubs, no baby talk, no cuddling. The dog stays off furniture. Just for one week. I suspect that the dogs will begin to learn to stop taking their owners for granted and will become a bit more attentive to them. 
How we live with our dog 
determines the dog 
we ultimately get

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