“My dog did that just to annoy me.”
(In the pic above, Figgis discovered that there might be food to steal in the sink)
Let’s think about the sort of situation where a person might feel their dog did something just to annoy them. “He jumped onto the table, and knocked my laptop off”.
“He ate my mobile phone.”
“He put his paws on the window sill I’d just painted then ran around the house with paint all over his paws.”
“He just ripped up his bed/duvet into a million pieces of foam.”
and finally one of my favourites “He’s constantly jumping at me when we’re out on walks”.
Hmm, wow yes those things are all really annoying! Here’s why I think your dog did those things. “He jumped onto the table, and knocked my laptop off.” Sometimes dogs want to be up high as they feel safe. I expect something scary happened. Or – at some point you have inadvertently reinforced that it’s good to be on the table, your dog might have snaffled some food from the table, or you might have laughed at them jumping up there. The laptop just happened to be there, that’s not your dog’s fault.
(Morris sometimes gets on the table if he’s worried about something)
“He ate my mobile phone.” Where did you leave it? On the arm of the sofa? Just within range of your dog’s nose. Mmm I bet it smelled nice, probably of the last meal you ate. Mobiles, remotes, reading glasses, they’re all favourite chew toys. (hint hint, they all smell of you!)
Your dog (most especially a puppy) can’t differentiate between your expensive things and the things they are allowed to chew on. The only way to be 100% sure they won’t chew your stuff is – guess what – put it away and provide appropriate doggy chew toys.
(Elsa chewing on Laura’s hat, mmm smells good!)
“He put his paws on the window sill I”d just painted…” etc. Did someone come to the door? Did someone walk past the house? I bet he usually puts his paws up there to look out – and usually it’s not a problem. Prevent access from anywhere you’re decorating – and the paint will stay where it should do, on the window sill and not on your dog’s paws! Control the environment!
“He just ripped up his bed/duvet into a million pieces of foam.” I’d bet this happened when you were not at home. Does your dog have Separation Distress? Or perhaps it was that other one, Separation Fun! Maybe someone knocked on the door and he was scared. Maybe there was a teeny weeny hole in the dog bed and a bit of foam was sticking out, then he realised how much fun it was and boom, we have a foamfest! Did you leave your dog something to do when you were out? A stuffed Kong, a destruction box (cardboard boxes full of newspaper and treats), or something yummy (and safe) to chew on? Maybe next time you will.
“He’s constantly jumping up at me on walks.” Jumping up at the owner can be a sign that a dog is finding the situation they’re in very stressful. It’s a kind of ‘help me’ signal. Have a think about exactly when your dog is jumping up. It could be as simple as you holding a treat up too high. You might’ve taught them to jump up by mistake!
(We taught Figgis to jump up just for this photo!)
When you’re feeling frustrated/angry/embarrassed by something your dog has done, try reallllllly hard to remember that they repeat things that feel good or things that get the desired result. They pull on the lead because they get to the park quicker. They bark at the postman, he goes away. They steal food from the worktop, it tastes nice. They bark at other dogs, the other dogs go away (or you take them away).
If you’re having any of the issues above, try the most obvious solution first. If that doesn’t work, get in touch with a force free dog professional who can help. Most of all, be patient and try your hardest to understand your dog’s motivations.
© Dog Communication 2016