When dogs own their owners....
I was in Coventry this week as I was asked to help with two dogs who wouldn’t tolerate each other in the same house. One was a one year and nine months old Yorkshire terrier and one was a 12 week old miniature pinscher. The dogs belong to members of the same family but they live separately. The yorkie has five people to give him attention, the miniature pinscher only has two but both dogs are used to getting their own way.
The Yorkie in particular as he has learned to be very vocal in order to retain his position as centre of attention at all times. The interesting point for me, having discussed his behaviour with the family was this. If the other family members hadn’t got the miniature pinscher, they want the two dogs to be able to spend time together, they wouldn’t have done anything about the barking Yorkie, they would have been prepared to live with the behaviour!
I find that very interesting. He is clearly a very loved dog but to be prepared to tolerate that behaviour for possibly the next fifteen years is remarkable!
Even at one year and nine months old, the barking behaviour is quite entrenched and quite intense and he applied the barking behaviour to me when I came into the house and for a little dog, he has a good pair of lungs!
When the puppy was brought in, the Yorkies noise levels went up several levels as did the intensity of the dogs barking! He clearly thought this was his domain and he should be the centre of attention. You can see similar behaviours in children who are used to getting their own way!
An hour and a half later both dogs were relaxed and lying down in very close proximity. How was this achieved in such a short space of time?
Change and thinking.
If people behave the same way in terms of their reaction to their dogs behaviour, the dog will behave the same way. If people change their behaviour in terms of how and when they react to their dogs behaviour, the dog will change its behaviour. That is a fact and it will work with 99% of dogs.
No one reacted to his barking, actually the barking caused him to be removed from the room and with repetition, he quickly learned barking was counter productive.
When his behaviour wasn’t generating the attention he is used to, he has to change his behaviour. This makes him think and to think clearly and solve a problem, a dog has to be calm. Dogs find periods of intense concentration very tiring so by making the Yorkie think, we not only calm him down, we also tire him out mentally because he has to learn new behaviours.
Watching a dog solve the problem he is given, when I work with a dog the problem he has to solve is which behaviours do I get attention for, it is always fascinating to see them go through their checklist as they test behaviours that have always worked, they realise those behaviours no longer work yet a set of new ones do and how quickly dogs can grasp and adapt to that change never ceases to amaze me, even after 25 years of working with dogs and training owners.
The challenge now is for the owners to consistently change their behaviours, this can be a bigger challenge for people than it is for their dogs and that is why several follow up visits will be needed to ensure they are getting the help and support they need to make the changes permanent.
If you need help and guidance with a dog behaviour problem, please get in touch and we will be very happy to help you make your life and your dogs life less stressful.