I often say, “it’s easier to train the dogs than the humans”. It seems that no matter how hard we work to train our dogs the way we want them, some human is going to come along and try to undo all our hard work.
Humans run on emotions, and true pet lovers may possibly be more emotional than others. While it’s easy to get frustrated when someone doesn’t cooperate with the way we want to train our dogs, perhaps it would be easier if we try to understand where that human is coming from. Many people who love dogs want to pet and interact with every pet they meet. Most of them really do mean well, and maybe if we can put aside our own emotions of frustration and irritation when the attention is unwanted, we can get our point across better.
One problem I have run into with many of my dogs has been jumping on people. Our first Lab mix Maggie, and our golden retriever Sheba were the worst. Since they were large dogs, it’s more of a concern to me. People have many reasons they don’t want dogs jumping on them; they may be afraid (even I used to be like that in the past), don’t want their clothes dirtied, or have physical ailments that mean they could get hurt. No one wants their dog jumping on a child or an elderly person, so it’s important to train your dog not to jump.
The only problem with that is that there are a lot of dog lovers out there who don’t mind dogs jumping on them, and they are going to be sure to tell you that when you are instructing your dog not to jump on them! “It’s OK, I don’t mind…oh, hi, Fluffy, come on up! Just ignore your mean old Mom!”
Here’s a case in point, and a story I love to tell. Back when we had our Lab mix Maggie, we had our camper parked at a rustic campground that we loved. The owner of the campground was a younger man from the city and though he was very nice, he could be a bit arrogant at times. He tried to undo all the hard work we’d done to stop Maggie from jumping every time he stopped by our campsite to say hello (often with his own Lab, Baby). We were beating our heads against the wall trying to tell him not to let her, so we finally gave up.
One day, when Maggie was being exceptionally rambunctious, her head came up under his chin and clocked him a good one. Those of you who have had jumping dogs may have experienced this, I know I have, and it really hurts (another reason not to let dogs jump!). Reed was not impressed, and I’m pretty sure he got angry not just at Maggie but us as well! We probably just tried not to laugh, because let’s face it, he got just what he deserved.
However, it still shouldn’t have happened. We should have been more adamant about not letting him egg Maggie on. We did better with Sheba, and she eventually learned. The truth is, our Luke is a jumper too, but I haven’t worked with him on that yet, though I know I need to. Luke is extremely fearful of strangers, and since we can’t be sure he wouldn’t be afraid enough to bite, we don’t let him too close to anyone, so he couldn’t jump on them anyway.
When people come to our house, if Luke is not put in another room, they are told “don’t approach him, don’t look at him, don’t talk to him”. He can be OK if people keep their distance and he doesn’t feel threatened. I’ve found I have much more success with these instructions if the people that are here are not dog lovers. We have one contractor that seems just fine ignoring him, and it makes things easier (even though I get frustrated that he thinks Luke is protecting me, not just fearful). He doesn’t have dogs of his own so I suspect it’s easier for him. That’s because people who really love dogs want to look at Luke, talk to him, and pet him. I can’t really blame them for that!
While we deal with this more at home, those that are out walking and encountering people see it even more. Some people are just idiots, or arrogant like our campground owner. However, I’d like to think that most really do mean well.
After all, when my hubby is letting Luke in the kitchen while he’s cutting up fruit, he doesn’t mean to undo all my hard work of keeping Luke out of the kitchen. He just finds that cute face hard to resist, and even I slip up in that department sometimes. In the end, an occasional slip-up isn’t going to undo ALL of the hard work. If Luke creeps into the kitchen when I’m cooking, I must be tough and resist that cuteness. All I do is look at him, and he immediately moves to the hallway and lies down. He doesn’t forget his training, he just tries to push it sometimes.
It might require gentle reminders to my hubby, and a little more work on my part, but it keeps us all on top of things, and in practice.
This post is for my sister Karen. Both she and her hubby are guilty of not listening to my rules. She’s the one that reminds me that they mean well. They just want to love Luke like we do, and I completely understand that? I want that too, but it’s going to be a long, hard road. I am just as guilty of wanting to see him succeed and letting things go too far.
My point is, maybe we can try to be understanding of why people act the way they do. At the same time, be diligent, be persistent, and be adamant about what you need for your dog. Maybe just put your own emotions aside and deal with them later. The saying is true that we “can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.
That reminds me of the time an off-leash dog came running at Cricket and I when I was walking her once. Cricket went nuts, the dog’s person came running, and I apologized for Cricket. I didn’t need to, but the woman instantly was contrite and apologized herself. She realized her mistake, but perhaps if I had yelled at her, she would have got defensive. I didn’t let my anger at that woman out until later.
In the end, most true dog lovers will come to understand, and if you’ve taken a deep breath and at least tried to be patient, you might feel a little better too; and maybe people can get educated a little bit. There is plenty of time for venting later.
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Training the Humans”. How do we get strangers or even our own family members to help and not hinder with training?”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not!