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?
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.