‘Happy Owner..? I’m Free!!’

Discussion in 'Obedience' started by Brittany1547, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. Brittany1547

    Brittany1547 Registered Users

    Mar 24, 2019
    I’m looking for some help.
    I have a 3 and a half year old golden retriever. As a puppy she suffered from extreme separation anxiety, because she was constantly by the owners side. Now that I have taken over the training with her owner, her separation anxiety has been completely diminished, and we have established quite a lot of control over the dog (when we are near her). But, I’m finding that every time I really WANT to reward her and give her my attention, she chooses to act out and do things she knows she is not allowed to do. (i.e, I command her to lay in her bed, a few minutes later I allow her to come sit in the living room with me on my command, but sometimes she tests me and walks right on to the rug.) This is an area where she KNOWS she is not allowed to be. She has been trained to stay off, yet she still tries to do it sometimes. Normally she does things like this when she thinks I am very happy with her for behaving.. so she takes that as a “I can do what I want now because She’s giving me attention”.
    It seems as if she mostly misbehaves when we are giving her attention, she knows we’re happy with her, or we’re trying to bond with her.
    This is one of the biggest issues we have with the dog. It seems most of our problems come from her “testing” our limits during a time where she knows she should be obeying to us.
    My conclusion in this is that I believe she is acting out and disobeying during times of attention/happiness, because she links that to her previous non-existent training. She may be linking our happy attitude to what she was allowed to do in the past. because in the past when we had a happy/upbeat attitude and giving her attention all the time, she was essentially allowed to do whatever she wanted. (Human=Happy? Okay, this is just like they used to be, I can do what I want now.) as you know, this can be a vicious cycle. Because we want to give the dog attention, but we know if we do, she immediately takes that as her cue to disobey, therefore leading us to be less inclined to give her attention.. and therefore leading to an unhappy dog.
    Do you think this may be the case? Is she linking her experienced behaviours from the past, to our attitudes today?
    Any advice on this would be great, I have been trying to work at this for months and months on my own.
  2. 5labs

    5labs Registered Users

    Mar 19, 2019
    North Yorkshire
    I sounds to me as though you are overthinking this.
    It is difficult without seeig the behaviours, but it seems to me as though she is very confused.
  3. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

    Aug 25, 2018
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    I think you need to learn a lot about how dogs think and learn and function - and not make assumptions that involve projecting all kinds of human emotions onto canine behaviour.

    Dogs don't 'act out', whatever that means. They do what works, what is reinforcing. They have no ulterior motive. They are not out to subvert you or take over the world or your house.

    Clearly she doesn't 'know' this, because she is there. If she 'knew' it, under these conditions, at this time, then she would not be there. The evidence is right in front of you, showing you what the dog understands clearly. It would be best to look at that and interpret the dog's knowledge from what you see instead of inferring all kinds of things you don't have any evidence for.

    Then you haven't trained her properly.

    This is just randomly making things up. How do you know the dog "thinks" you are very happy with her for behaving? How do you know she believes she can do what she wants now? You are making all kinds of assumptions about what your dog is thinking which are based on how humans think, then you are projecting that onto your dog - and damaging your relationship with your dog, in the meantime - because the assumptions are quite negative and are affecting how you feel about your dog, and how you behave towards her and treat her.

    I would suggest you spend some time reading some good books on canine behaviour and on how dogs think, and stop applying human thought processes to dogs.

    I would suggest The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson and Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor...
    5labs and Edp like this.
  4. Plum's mum

    Plum's mum Registered Users

    Jan 1, 2017
    East Sussex
    It does sound as if your thinking is a bit skewed - you are attributing human emotions, thoughts and feelings to your dog. Dogs don’t think the way that you are presuming they do, they don’t think in terms of ’happy’ owners, they don’t choose to ‘disobey’ deliberately, they have absolutely no notion of ‘acting out.’

    When she’s in her bed after you’ve ‘commanded’ her to settle and then she comes to join you in the lounge, she’s wanting your company. If you’ve got a rug on your floor and she walks into the room where the rug is, why do you want to keep her off the rug?

    Dogs are social and want to be with you. My dog loves nothing better than snuggling as close as she can possibly get to me when I’m laying on the sofa.

    It sounds like it would be helpful to change your mindset about your dog and read the book Jo recommends.
    Jo Laurens, 5labs and Edp like this.
  5. Natalya Abuaita

    Natalya Abuaita Registered Users

    May 9, 2019
    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    I think you shouldn't leave her for total isolation. I also had a puppy who was suffering because of anxiety due to leaving her siblings and mother, but I managed to handle her anxiety by offering her joyful toys, making her busy playing activities and allowing her to play with other neighbouring dogs. However, if you feel it is severe, then you should ask for your vet a drug therapy to overcome the anxiety issue.

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