My baby dog turned a year old yesterday! Hard to fathom. Time passes so quickly, too quickly. As a dog trainer time so often works against dog owners. They get a puppy, who turns out to a bit shy. They assume that the pup will grow out of it, but instead, as time passes by, the pup gets more and more worried. By the time they contact a trainer the pup is usually growling at strangers and is well past the crucial socialization age. Time is one thing you do NOT have enough of with a developing puppy. By the time Rufus is 6 mths old your ability to tweak his personality is gone. Yes, you can still train him, still desensitize him to things and still make him comfortable with specific things (specific people, places, dogs etc), but you have lost your window of opportunity to change how he feels about new things in general.
Goose is well socialized. He has regularly been exposed to alot of different people and dogs, some farm animals, a cat or two. He has traveled to Boston, been on a beach, gone hiking in different places. He has spent time away from me with friends and their dogs.
He is in a bit of a spooky stage right now, barking at people occasionally on hiking trails, but I am confident that his solid foundation of socialization will get him through that, provided I handle it properly (NOT correcting him/ rewarding calm and quiet instead) and continue to expose him carefully. Without his good social foundation, my ability to get him through this stage would be very limited.
Goosey is a wild child, as he should be at his age. He LOVES to run and jump and act crazy. He has good basic skills (sit, down, wait) and can respond reliably even when he is REALLY excited, But he has zilch in the way of impulse control. It will come with age. For now he needs alot of reminders to act appropriately!
In truth, if Goose was an only child, he would be a calmer dog. The chaos of an 8 dog household adds to his arrousal level without a doubt. And the fact that alot of my other dogs are wee little things, means that his exhuberance can be dangerous. He wants to play constantly and he is big enough to be a real pain in the ass to the smaller dogs! The only time I REALLY get aggravated with the big dope is when he is too rough with them. But it is not his fault he came into this crazy household! In the end he will learn to play appropriately (safely) with dogs of varying sizes because he lives here. And I need to be patient - again alot of reminders to counter his lack of impulse control and alot of environmental management to prevent it in the first place.
He is really pretty gentle with the Chihuahuas, because I have limited his exposure and been very consistent about what he can and cannot do with them. And truthfully they like to play with him, but are are pretty feisty when he gets too rough. He is much more persistent with the mid sized dogs - Kenzie and Mamacita, because I have let them fend for themselves, so to speak! Kenzie likes to play with him, so he pushes it with her constantly until she has REALLY HAD ENOUGH. Cita also likes to play with him, but gets overwhelmed by him easily. I need to intervene sooner. James has made it clear that he doesn't want to play so Goose doesn't bug him anymore. Goose will tease Tucker to play and occasionally Tucker (the old coot) will humor him. But Tucker has dramatically disciplined Goose on several occasions, so Goose minds his Ps and Qs with the old guy. Tawnie will groom Goose and likes to snuggle but has NEVER EVER EVER encouraged his advances toward play, so for the most part he leaves her alone. As he grows up he will seek Tawnie out for companionship, but right now she's not as much fun as crazy Kenzie!
As I watch the relationships develop between Goose and his siblings it is glaringly obvious that what works with Goose (and every other dog on earth) is consistency. He is over the top with Kenzie, because sometimes she lets him and he gets rewarded by play. She is not consistent about her lines in the sand. So he pushes because it sometimes works to get her to play. Tuckers lines are clear. Tawnie's lines are clear. The chihuahuas lines are clear because I set the boundaries for them. Mamacita is conflicted and unsure of what she wants from Goose. Chase me! STOP chasing me! Wrestle with me! DON'T TOUCH ME!
She LOVES to play but then gets a little scared I think. At that point she will over reacts to Goose's advancements. I can almost read his mind "Geez, don't get your panties in a knot..." . He's not sure what works with Cita, so he keeps trying until I intervene. Its all about getting to play for Goose.
This consistency or lack there of translates into dog/ human relationships too. Goose will sit when asked to at the door to the yard. He will wait coming out of the car. He will stay off of me when I come in the door. He will release toys during fetch games. I have ALWAYS required those behaviors in order for him to access what he wants in those situations.
On the flip side...
He jumps on my friends. He jumps on my husband when he gets home from work. He insists on being next to me on couch, laying right on top of another dog if it happens to be in his spot. He crashes through the front door when we are leaving the house. I have allowed him to get what he wants through obnoxious behavior in those situations.
Goose does what works - plain and simple. He's a simple creature! And so am I. I am as lazy as the next person and am consistent when it is easy to be so or when it suits me. So as we head into his 2nd year we will work hard to be consistent in more situations, so he knows what is expected of him.
We will continue to exercise, exercise, exercise to help curb his exhuberance.
We will continue with careful exposure to the world.
And we will let him continue to be a baby dog...but maybe a little less of a brat!
- my dogs, my world
- My name is Lesli Hyland. In my forty seven years on this earth, my home and my heart have been graced with the company of twenty dogs. Many came to me as seniors. All of them taught me something and helped determine the course of my life. I am a dog trainer because of them. I met my friends because of them. My husband and I are are forever bonded by our mutual connection to them. As a dog trainer I have access to other people's dogs and I am allowed to share in their unique relationships. The dogs make me a better person by forcing me to closely examine my motivation, my actions and my choices. Everything I do affects their behavior, safety and happiness. It is an awesome responsibility. The dogs keep me honest.