Good stuff. Bad stuff. Our dogs may not do certain things . . . yet. “My puppy doesn’t sit if I ask when there are other dogs around.” “My dog growls at people, but he hasn’t bitten anyone.” “Sheba won’t jump into the car.” “Garfield hasn’t met a person he doesn’t like.” Yet.
Our dogs are living, changing organisms. Puppies are growing and changing every day. Adult dogs have different experiences along the way that alter how they feel. Your training can be morphing your dog’s behavior. The weather, whether the dog doesn’t feel right, the time of day, the look of a certain person, the smell of a certain dog, the environment you’re in: all factors that may affect how Sheba is responding.
Let’s start with training. Your dog consistently sits when asked in your kitchen, but she may not be able to sit in a dog park with other dogs partying around her–yet. Work inside your home then outside near your home, then with distractions. Don’t expect too much too quickly. I’m learning French and would not be good in the noise of Starbucks. Skills take time to improve.
“She knows how to go to her bed when I ask. She’s just stubborn and doesn’t want to.” Or is she just not fully trained yet? Or have you “poisoned the cue” somehow–sending her to her place when she misbehaved so now she thinks it’s a punishment? Used “place” sometimes and “bed” sometimes but your wife says, “mat”?
“Sheba won’t jump in the car” or “Sheba never jumps on the sofa,” but you may come home one day and find a warm spot on the sofa where Sheba was just lying. Surprise! She’s now old enough to have the physical strength to jump onto something. For the car you may need to open both doors in the back (dogs belong always in the back seat, not the front, so they are safe!) for her to make the leap, literally. You may need to encourage, cajole, treat, and otherwise work on the jump into the car. It’s weird and not always a natural behavior. Maybe Sheba just hates car rides because she is nauseous.
“My puppy is so good, so quiet, never barks.” Yet. It’s in there, I promise. Young puppies often do not bark–but yours will find his voice if you give him time. Enjoy the quiet while you can!
“My dog bit my babysitter! He’s never, ever done anything like that!” So scary. If it really is his first bite, let’s hope it didn’t even break skin. But that bite has most likely been coming for a while. Did Rufus always growl at people? Did you say no to the growling (mistakenly taking away his warning communication)? Did he eye people in a fearful way? Did he nip at your heels when you walk away sometimes? Did he freak out anytime a stranger came in the house? So many signs could be there before the actual bite happens. Maybe Rufus has an ear infection and his kid grabbed his ear while the unfortunate babysitter was standing in the wrong place at the wrong moment and he always disliked the babysitter….
My point is that dogs are not stagnant creatures any more than we are. Life changes us and them and medical issues and circumstances and funny noises startle us and them. We have to all pay attention and try to help the dog to achieve what we want and to prevent what we don’t want. The sooner the better, of course. A lot of being a dog trainer is being a competent detective and asking the right questions and having lots of solutions to try. Having an outside eye can assist. I am here to help.