I once received a call from a distraught man and his wife that begged me to come over to their house immediately to get their dog off of their bed. They explained to me that earlier that day they had given their dog a meat bone to chew. Their dog then promptly jumped up on their bed to “have at it”.
Realizing that the bone was going to cause a mess on their comforter, they asked the dog to get off the bed. The dog however, had other plans. He wasn’t about to give up such a prime spot so easily. When the man or his wife tried a little harder to get their dog to move, he growled, rushed at them quickly, and then returned to his bone when they backed off. After the first time this happened, they left the room to leave him alone for a while thinking that it would be easier a little bit later. This proved not to be the case. Each time they tried to move him off of the bed, he growled with more intensity and rushed at them with more vigor than before. It was now late in the afternoon and their dog had been in their room since morning.
I asked the man if this had ever happened before and he admitted it had, but not to the degree they were experiencing this time. When I told the man that I wouldn’t come over just to get the dog off their bed, he was disappointed. I explained that the problem was bound to repeat itself in some way or another even if they didn’t give the dog bones again. That this problem stemmed from a lack of appropriate leadership in the house and without him and his wife making some changes in the way they dealt with their dog, someone might eventually get hurt. This man even agreed this was likely to be true, but I never heard from him again.
I regularly get calls from people with similar problems. One call I received was about a toy poodle that would not let a man back into bed with his wife if he got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. So this man was forced to lie miserable in bed with a full bladder or go sleep the rest of the night on the couch after getting up.
I had another call that was a woman calling for her husband who was stuck at the local dog park trying to catch his dog which would not come to him and had been avoiding him for the past two hours.
It amazes me how much people will put up with before calling for help. Problems like these are very common and can end up being serious, not to mention how much tension there must be for people to live in a home where their dog is calling the shots.
These and many other problems are not really “dog” problems as much as they are “people” problems. The dogs in the above situations were probably not little terrorists in fur. More likely, they were simply doing what had worked on a smaller scale in the past to move up in status in the household. And since it worked in the past, they kept doing it. Dogs are very good at following the rule, “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.”
As time goes by, dogs that are allowed to continue behaving like the one above using “dog language”, as I like to call it, to manipulate situations may cause a real problem one day. Imagine when a child or unsuspecting person, who doesn’t understand what the dog is trying to say, comes too close and gets bitten.
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