Robin and I were in Dacula last Thursday visiting a friend who had recently moved here from Florida. During our visit, he mentioned to us that both they and their neighbor in Florida had purchased puppies from the same breeder at the same time. When they went to pick out the puppies, the ones they took home seemed pretty much the same. It has now been one year since they got the puppies and the their dog is calm and rather well behaved. Their Florida neighbor’s dog is nuts. He was wondering how that could happen.
Robin and I have seen this many times and the answer is pretty simple. The problem is that most people just can’t see the simple answers. From our experience in training over 5,000 dogs, family dynamics is very important in the temperament and behavior of the family dog.
When a family consists of older adults who are normally calm and lead structured lives, the family dog will normally be calm, cool, and collected. When the family is very active, has children who love to play and chase the dog, and the family is always having friends and neighbors over, they will probably have a more active, social, engaging, and (sometimes) annoying dog.
Don’t forget what they always say, “You are what you eat”. A family’s dog will often adjust to the family’s environment in order to fit in. Since I assume that most people are just fine with their calm, well behaved, and sedate dog, I will focus my discussion on the crazy families and their “precocious” dogs…
- The first thing the family must do is not go nuts with their dog in the house. Their dog will get accustomed to chasing them, barking, jumping, and stealing things from them in the house all the time. Their dog just won’t understand that he can’t go nuts all the time because he is simply emulating the environment and the actions of the “animals around him” in that environment.
- I tell my clients to set aside at least 30 minutes every day to play and go nuts with their dog in the back yard or any large, enclosed area. They should do things like throw the Frisbee, toss tennis balls, scatter feed, or do anything else that engages their dog and drains his adrenaline. What I don’t want them to do is to play games that might encourage general bad behavior such as tug-of-war, chase-me chase-me, or jump-on-me with him.
- They should encourage their kids to pet the family dog calmly by stroking him from the back of his head to the middle of his neck. This is a very quieting and soothing experience for the dog. It also teaches the client’s children and their family dog how they can engage each other without going nuts.
- When ever they have guests over, they need to ask the guests to ignore their dog for the first few minutes when they enter. We always teach our clients that their dog sees their guests entering the house as “new playmates” and will almost instantly engage them by barking and jumping. When the guests ignore the dog, it will minimize the possibility of heightened adrenaline. They should tell their guests that after things calm down, it will be OK to play with their dog in a calm and orderly manner. If they want to go nuts, they can go outside.
- When things get out of hand and they need to correct their dog, it is (again) important to remain calm and resolute. Don’t go nuts because that will only make their misbehaving dog go even more nuts. They need to stand tall and correct in a low toned “Mommy means it” voice. They can also have a leash on their dog during times of possible bad behavior and use the leash to calmly redirect their dog away from “the problem”.
It is very important that our friend’s Florida neighbor manages their dog’s adrenaline by the examples that they are setting. When they are calm with their dog, they will not encourage a spike in his adrenaline that leads to the annoying crazy stuff.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over fifteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.