"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Jealous dog’s name could be ‘Birth Control’

– Posted in: Columns

We have a female Toy Poodle mix, now 5 years old. For some reason I haven’t quite comprehended yet, whenever my wife and I are in the process of getting intimate, she feels the need to separate us.

In the beginning, when she wasn’t successful, she’d go out to the living room or the front door, and started barking as if someone was there. So, I resorted to just locking her in the room with us. Now, she tries to bring us toys, for us to throw and her fetch, or sits in a corner to sadly whine. It’s very distracting. Any clues regarding this behaviour?

Sincerely,

C.B.

Dear C.B.

I’m thinking you don’t have any kids yet. If not, welcome to the world of every parent on the planet. It’s also possible that your relationship technique is wanting. I’m referring of course to the relationship between you and your dog regarding training.

Let me elaborate so there’s no confusion. Sometimes we enable this sort of behaviour by overly catering to our dogs. After a while it’s hard for them to not believe that the world doesn’t revolve around them. When they do, in many circumstances as in yours it can be a real mood killer for all parties concerned.

I have a few questions I ask when I suspect a dog’s relationship is out of a healthy balance. “If someone sits right next to someone on the couch, does the dog try and squeeze in between? How about when someone hugs someone?” The answer is almost always in the affirmative. I’ve never furthered this line of questioning to the point of your situation but I’m guessing the pattern would hold. I’ll add it to my list for my next similar appointment and see what happens.

There’s nothing the matter with paying a little, or a lot of attention to a dog as long as it’s balanced with building some independence as well. Some dogs are made up in such a way that you have to pay more attention to not paying more attention. Over-dependence can lead to neurotic neediness, which can manifest itself in things like separation anxiety. I don’t know that your dog falls into the neurotic category but if I were in your position, hearing sad whining coming from the corner of my bedroom in that context would soon lead to neurotic behaviour on my part so one way or another it’s worthwhile addressing.

I had a case once where whenever mom and dad read the kids a story before bed the family beagle headed on into their bedroom and peed on the bed. In your instance or theirs it’s a form of criticism. My suggestions to them were the same as I have for you. There’s not necessarily any need to pay less attention to the dog but balance it out with some independence exercises. For instance, teach the dog to stay for longer periods of time and at greater distances and with increasing levels of distraction. The good news is that the best way for a dog to learn how to adapt to a distraction is to expose it over and over again.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade

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