"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Golden Doodle Aggression

– Posted in: Aggression, All Positive Dog Training, Behavior Problems, Columns

We are the owners of a 4-year old Golden Doodle. She is an incredibly smart dog and we are very ‘tolerant’ owners. She has the ability to be very well behaved but we have not displayed the commitment to training her in a consistent manner. Many of her foibles seem minor but her reaction to other animals is challenging us. She is very exuberant and her energy can quickly overwhelm other dogs. She is not initially aggressive but will not back down if another dog begins to become aggressive. In the past few months, she now displays this behaviour with animals on television. Our friends laugh when they direct us to the ‘Dog Whisperer’ for tips and we have to admit that Sally won’t let us watch it. If the commercial or programming includes animals, she will charge up to the tv, and bark incessantly. If we have the energy, we get up and physically intervene, if not, we change the channel. Once the channel is changed, Sally stays in place to ensure the animal is not returning. She will look to either side of the tv. She has the ability to be trained, we just need the will and guidance to do it. Thoughts?

J.T.

Hi J.T.

I suspect that what you see as “exuberant energy” might be described differently by guests and the people at the dog park. The lady in the commercial that learns she can clean up more spills with less paper towels has “exuberant energy”. Your dog comes across as more like what would happen if Jim Carrey and Robin Williams had a child.

Let’s consider two possibilities for now. There is something in dog training called learned helplessness. It refers to a dog that just stops trying because whoever has been doing the “training” has done such a poor job that the dog doesn’t believe there is an answer and it no longer makes an effort. Learned helplessness can be found on the other end of the leash as well. Some dog owners exposure to training has only been the “treat-only”, “all positive”, “ignore the bad behaviour, reward the good behaviour,” which produces the same dismal results with a dog as it does a teenager. If you don’t change your approach you’d better resign yourself to the fact that the kid is never moving out.

Your letter left some clues to another possibility. “We are very ‘tolerant’ owners”, “we have not displayed the commitment to training her in a consistent manner”, “we have to admit that Sally won’t let us”, “if we have the energy”, “we just need the will”. Seriously in any cat’s mind you’d be a dream come true but for a dog it’s the road to bedlam. Dogs need more structure. In fact they crave it.

I have no doubt you love her to death but if it has been 4 years and you’re still trying to find the energy to get off the couch before she knocks the flat screen off the wall you’re going to need a little more caffeine in your diet and an appointment or two with a balanced trainer. If her carrying on is a byproduct of learned helplessness on your part, same answer. Find yourself a good balanced trainer that can show you that a dog is capable of being told and responding to, “Stop it!”, and still maintain its self-esteem and love you as much if not more.

Pawsitively Yours

John Wade
www.askthedogguy.com

2 Comments… add one
Bob

We’ve had our golden doodle for 3 or 4 years now he’s huge over 110 pounds but he still thinks he’s a puppy all he wants to do is be scratched or petted there are
Problems though he’s very territorial any one or if either of our other 2 dogs approaches his crate when he’s in it he becomes cujo he also steals things like dish towels a paper plate etc which is no big deal but try to get them back you’re lucky if you still have your arm but we still love him he’s just a big doofus he has apparently decided I’m his pet human iz’ll go out back sit in a chair and no matter where he is he’ll come jump in my lap do I can pet him all day

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Bob,

I never know how to advise a dog owner when there’s such conflicting information in their letter. On one hand “he still thinks he’s a puppy and all he wants to do is be scratched or petted” and on the other hand, the same dog in another context “you’re lucky if you still have your arm”. I always feel like a friend has just told me her spouse is occasionally abusive but is overall a really nice guy.

I’m not suggesting that the dog or the “nice guy” can’t be rehabilitated but a good starting point is acknowledge the behaviour is very serious and not conducive to a healthy relationship and should not be worked around. Contact a good balance trainer and see what they advise. I suspect for the most part that you’ll find the dog is just confused as to who is the student and who is the teacher. However, I have been repeatedly running into this level of resource guarding with the Golden Doodle mutt crossing so it might be a little more hard wired.

John

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