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Thread: Dogs behaving differently when their owner is around - why?

  1. #1
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    Default Dogs behaving differently when their owner is around - why?

    Ok, I used to have a related issue with my previous hound, Luna which I'll describe first because I suspect there is theme here. Luna used to bully other dogs we met pretty consistently. But then I got reports of the times she got out of the yard and her completely ignoring the dogs she met. (She also seemed to get on fine with dogs that didn't have their owner with them.) So I always thought her tendency to domineer other dogs had something to do with what me giving off some unconscious message that that is what I expected of her. But I never managed to solve this.

    Now with Banjo... Her biggest issue is jumping on people. But this behaviour also seems to be a lot worse when I'm around. The house-sitters and the people who minded her at their house reported that she barely jumped at all after I left. This morning I tied her up at the school while I walked my daughter in and when I came back 10 minutes later, she was lying on her back having her tummy rubbed by 2 young boys. But as soon as she saw me she got up and started jumping at them and trying to violently lick them!

    Why?!

  2. #2
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    LOL... my first thought was he might be asking you 'Look how cute they are! Can we keep them?!'

  3. #3
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    I could ask the same about children...they are good for someone else but as soon mum is back in the picture, lets be naughty again....how unusual that dogs show this behaviour too.

  4. #4
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    Beloz

    Somehow you have rewarded and encouraged a behaviour you don't want where as other people don't have the same reaction or encouraging response that you have.

    Examples of my dog...
    She will only paddle / peddle / pump her front feet for treats for other people - not for me. Cos I only rewarded her for keeping all four feet on the ground. If she lifted one - no treat... She's not stupid. But for other people handing out treats - they don't pay attention to this detail. Now I'm trying to get her to do it on cue - cos it's so cute. Not easy.

    She will lick people she really likes - especially my family members (mother brother, and brother's kids). She doesn't lick me. Not much idea here either. It's a bit hard for me to teach her not to - when they give such good reactions (flapping and squealing and playing grab the tongue)

    She jumps on me - when she's really excited but only two other people - who invite her. I was pretty strict about this - I put her on lead and drag her away if she jumps on anyone else - but I somehow haven't got through it's not ok to jump on me. Just not quite consistent enough with a high response cost for doing it. Eg make her drop, put her on lead and put the ball away...

    And Frosty gets very very scary with door to door sales people, and bizarrely the lawnmower man (he's allowed to say hi but not allowed to leave). And yet when we're out away from home - she's everybody's friend. I used to think she didn't have an "opposition reflex" (ie if your friend holds a dog back - they're supposed to pull harder away from your friend - great for fast recalls). So if I hold my dog by the collar so she can't get the possum/salesguy/crow - she just gets more and more excited and ferocious seeming.

  5. #5
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    Agree somewhere along the line you have rewarded this behaviour, maybe when you first got her and wanted her to like everyone, I also suspect you are waiting in anticipation for it to happen & are surprised when she doesn't jump? A bit like the dog that shows guilt over a hole dug 2 hours ago when the owner comes home. There is some anticipation in their body signals that the dog waits for which builds to anxiety of the owner coming home, the owner then associates this as a guilty dog.

    She will probably also be more excited and more confident when you are around. Do you mind if she jumps on you? If you don't but just want her not to with others then you may be some que in her mind.

    I set very strict guidelines with our large dog, she was not to be picked up (as a pup) and not to be rewarded for demanding pats. Well nobody picked her up so she never ever jumps, but the kids often but not always find it funny when she paws at them for pats, the pats are so rewarding it's worth it to her to try and see if she will get what she wants. She only gets what she wants (pats) about 30% of the time, but it's sooo worth it.

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    I should have explained that I got her out of jumping on me ages ago and she very rarely even seems tempted to. I also grab her by the collar when she jumps on others though this is not always effective because she is so wild when she jumps that it regularly takes a few tries. If she jumps on a strange child it is game over and on lead until they're out of sight. But usually I prevent this by using LAT. At home she either gets held by the collar when she tries to jump on visitors at the door or she gets put in time out if she is too out of control. She finally seems to have made the link between the jumping and the consequences and at home she visibly tries to control the urge, albeit after some prompting. Outside though, adults, especially other dog owners are still fair game. Unless I use LAT before the intention to jump has formed in her brain. I often fail to do this with dog owners because I think she's going to greet their dog and then she makes a beeline and suddenly heads for the owner!

    So I have definitely tried not to encourage it. The only way I can think of how I might subconsciously be rewarding the behaviour is because she may see my clumsy attempts at trying to get a hold of her collar when she is behaving like a giant spring as me joining in?

  7. #7
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    Possibly, any attention is good attention with many jumpers, but seems like it's getting thru.

    Many dogs in the kennels misbehave for their owners but with us they are different. I think part of it is uncertainty, not willing to test the new person.

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    Just like kids indeed! Maybe it is a bit similar to the pack mentality too.

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    I think its a bit of a different situation but i will say it anyway, we have noticed that Koda is much more anxious and stressed about other dogs or strangers turning up at our place if i am not around. For example... not long ago we had some friends over and they were trying to pat him but he was being very cautious of them (barking... slinking around... avoiding their offer of pats) ... as soon as i came out... Koda completely changed and became much more calm and happy for our friends to pat him all over!

  10. #10
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    I find with LAT, this only works when my vigilance is high. I am seeing X way before dog sees X.
    Brilliant. Cept doesnt train how to do the correct behaviour, just not do incorrect behaviour.

    You know those ball throwers for dogs? I used one full of food to teach pohm not to jump, she'd have her nose stuck to ground so not jumping. Now she looks on floor for kibble bits when saying hi to visitors.

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