You couldn’t find a nicer pair of people. A smashing young couple whose lives were dedicated to helping others. So wouldn’t you think they’d be able to manage a new dog in their household?
Sadly, no! Well-intentioned as they were, they had a fear of the dog doing something bad, and this gave them the wrong approach.
Jimbob was a rescue dog. He’d had a bad start in life, lived with someone who was harsh with him, and he’d developed lots of strategies for survival. When he arrived with his new owners, he simply carried on doing the things he’d learned. And they had no idea how to deal with this.
His repertoire included:
Inability to relax
Destruction (his crate, his bed, furniture …)
Refusing to relinquish prize articles he’d found
Growling, teeth-baring, snapping
Defiant and Stubborn?
Jimbob’s owners had unwittingly managed to escalate the situation by challenging him over all of this. They misread his survival strategies as defiance, his refusal to comply as stubbornness. Fortunately when they realised they needed help they scrapped the coercive trainer they’d been going to and chose a force-free trainer, viz me.
So we started to work with Jimbob instead of against him.
His owners worked hard and made speedy progress. They were surprised not only at how willing Jimbob was to learn, but how easy it became to divert him from one of his annoying habits into one of the new games which they were teaching him.
After only a few sessions (and much dedicated homework from his family) Jimbob was happy to go into his crate and find the things given to him to chew there. He was free to rip up his own blankets if he wished and not a word would be said.
He no longer growled or bared his teeth, because his owners now knew how to get what they wanted without threatening him.
They started playing new games with him that engaged his breed-specific instinctive drives (hunting and sniffing, mainly)
They taught him tricks
They interacted with him in a relaxed way
They stopped trying to control this wayward creature and instead rejoiced in giving him more freedom
And they ended the day with a happy, sleepy dog!
By the time their course was over, Jimbob could sleep in his crate while they worked at their desks, and was happy to rest there quietly when they were out.
Before: “He steals food all the time. Destroys cushions, blankets, curtains, parquet flooring - happens daily. Growling, snarling.”
After: “Thank you so much for all your help with Jimbob; he is certainly much less boisterous and we feel a lot happier and more confident in relating to him and encouraging him in his positive behaviours. It is actually easier than I thought to ask Jimbob to do something, rather than just telling him (or telling him off) all the time.”
While I was able to give this couple lots of techniques to change Jimbob’s ways, it was the change in their attitude to their new pet that formed the basis of their success.
Find some of the strategies we used in the detailed lessons in this free e-course: