Frankie has never been a sociable dog and probably never will be. From the days of puppy school when she would spend time cowering and shaking between my legs, I knew and accepted that she doesn't like other dogs. A couple of weeks ago, however, she started displaying signs of aggression towards other dogs while out walking, which was a huge no no for me. I decided it was time for some obedience training.
After I narrated the story of how Frankie had gone from being a terrified, sweet puppy to this loud, nasty nightmare that barks and lunges at other dogs, the trainer told me that Frankie has appointed herself pack leader, which explains her recent bad behaviour - she was protecting me. It also explains her lack of respect for me (not responding to commands), her tendency to bark at me in the morning when I decide to have a lazy sleep in; these were her efforts in trying to rein in her pack (ie.ME). Luckily, identifying the problem meant there is a solution. These are some tips we were given...
1. These days when Frankie jumps on me and barks at me, I immediately turn away or leave the room and give her ZERO attention. This shows her that being pushy will not get her any attention and deters these sorts of behaviour.
2. Sometimes Frankie "demands" attention in the cutest, sweetest way, I'm refering to those times when she looks at me with her big doeful eyes or when she happily picks up a toy and squeaks it as an invitation to play. I ignore her at these times too. This is the hardest thing to do I've had to do.
3. Surprise her. When she least expects it, I throw her a toy, play tug of war, give her belly rubs and lots and lots of cuddles. The trick is NOT to stop loving her, but to stop giving in whenever she demands it. Love and attention should be given on my terms.
4. Stop sharing food. Both Stu and I, as well as mom and dad, who take care of her from time to time, are equally guilty of giving her bits of our dinner from time to time. We stopped that completely in the last week. We also asked mom and dad and all our visitors not to share their food with her, no matter how cute or sad she looks.
Already these tips are working - Frankie seems to have some newfound respect for me, obeying all my commands and actually running to me when I call her. The other day, while out for a walk, she started growling and lunging at another dog, I gave the stay command and she sat down immediately and looked at me. I was amazed.
What about you? Does your dog think he/she is the pack leader too? Do you have any other tips or advice of your own?