Dear John – We adopted Josie, a 3-year-old Jack Russell the beginning of July. She is a cuddler, plays well and is such a good companion. We do have one “situation” and wonder what we can do to correct it.
During the day we can go near her bed, move it or pick her up from it. She even moved it herself from the first floor to our bedroom on the second floor so we knew she wanted to sleep in it. One time she even put it up on our bed. Everything is fine until bedtime and then she turns from her usual good nature.
She has become ever so possessive of it when we go near it or her at bedtime. She looks mean and shows that she means “business” if it is touched. We have talked with her gently and stroked her back but she still continues to assert her ownership of it by growling harshly. It is just at bedtime that she has this turn of nature.
This has been a good match and we love her (immensely) so any help or advice you might have to offer would be most welcome.
I’ve known dogs protective of their crates, toys etc. but not that were quite so time discriminating as yours. I’d suggest teaching, “Go to your mat!” and “Come! (from the mat). The goal is to give her something to do other then protect the mat as well as see an upside to leaving it. Initially do your training only during the times of day she’s not in Cujo mindset.
Start by getting a leash on her, if not all the time then well before you plan on doing some training and certainly when you’re working her during her moonlight madness time.
The purpose of the leash is multifold. Safety is one. I’ve never had the handle of a leash bite me. Secondly it reduces the dog’s stress as reaching for a leash handle rather then the dog is so much less threatening should a dog become unsure of what is happening. Thirdly you can use it to gently guide the dog in the direction you want.
Teach her to go to her mat and to not leave it until she hears the word “Come!” If you want to make it useful, just get her doing it during your meal times and at the doorway. Normally I would use a variety of mats but in her case stick with the one. Once she has the idea take the mat to some public areas where you can work using street distractions. She needs to know this inside out.
Only once she has it down pat do you start to play the game during the witching hour. However always do several warm-ups earlier in the evening in non-confrontational rooms and then just outside the bedroom door just to get her mind on the right track.
In the boudoir add an incentive. When you call her from her mat tell her to stay at the other end of the room and go place a biscuit on the mat. Do it three times in a row, wait a while and repeat later if you can. Hopefully she’ll replace the old belief system with the anticipation of something good.