Choose the right “Influencers” for your dog wisely
This is going to make some people upset. But this is important and does not really get talked about much at all. There are basically two types of dog owners. One will make their dogs behave better with their presence; the other will make their dogs worse once they are there. You can easily tell simply by looking at their dogs. The former one is the kind whose dog is really engaged around them. They can usually have that effect on other people’s dogs too. “My dog is trying to act his best when you are around, what is your magic?” “Your dog acts like he does not even know my dog is here, how can you get your dog so focused on you?” “My dog stops barking once he sees you!” “My dog has never walked this well on leash, how did you do that?” The latter will have a dog who is much worse behaved once the owner shows up. The dog will show separation anxiety, resource guarding, reactivity...around this person, but not so much once this person is gone. The presence of this person will trigger a particular state of mind that brings the worse out of the dog. “The dog is fine with my wife, but is very protective of me!” “My dog barks a lot in my house, but she is really good with my sister when l go on vacation.” This does not only apply to their own dogs. The latter can also make other people’s dogs more anxious, reactive, and even trigger aggression. You can tell just by watching your dog after you and your dog have spent some time with this person, or after you have asked this person to look after your dog. Your dog will whine more, not really listen to you as well as before, become more pushy and demanding, have problem with things he didn’t have before - all triggered simply by the “presence” of this person. They are usually very friendly people. They are usually very nice and kind to all dogs. They love dogs. They are not “bad” people. This is not about them as a person. It is about how they act in front of dogs. This is about their mindset and their behaviour. This is usually a result of them being highly emotional while offering the dog a ridiculous amount of misplaced freedom and unearned affection without any awareness to what their action can do to the dog’s mind and behaviour - all the time. Their presence will trigger an inappropriate mindset in the dog, and they will usually reward such mindset to the extreme with their praise and affection, which can quickly induce a lot of inappropriate behaviours. A lot of them know they have a problem. I have helped many owners who were the latter to become the former. I cannot tell you how proud l am of the transformation they have made in themselves and their dogs. I have also met owners who do not know they are the latter type. They are usually not my clients but friends/family members/neighbors/or friends of clients. They will say things like, “my dog just really likes to be next to me” (when the dog is anxiously whining and screaming because she is 3 feet away from the owner), “my dog just really likes to make friends” (when the dog is frantically pulling towards every dog on the street and won’t stop), “my dog just really loves to play” (when their dog cannot be recalled), “my dog just likes to put the other dog in their place” (when the dog is growling, air snapping, barking at other dogs during play), “my dog does not like male unfixed dog, female fixed dog, some fixed male dogs that are big, or medium sized, and puppies, other than that, he is really good with dogs.” (When the dog is reacting in a frenzy to a docile dog just passing by 50 meters down the road), “my dog just needs some time to be introduced to the person properly, he won’t harm a fly” (when the dog is lunging and barking at a stranger incessantly with teeth bearing)... They are usually the ones who cannot stop touching their dogs - and other people’s dogs. They have a hard time not talking to a dog. They cannot stop staring at a dog. If you ask them not to touch/look/talk to a dog, they may say yes but they will not stop. Because they cannot be controlled and they won’t listen, and because their presence can trigger anxiety/reactivity in a dog (not just their own dog), and they do not know they have a problem, hence are not going to change - they are not the type of people l will let near my dogs (unless l want to proof my training to this kind of energy). They are not bad people. They could be a close friend or family member of mine. But l will put my dog away when they show up, and l will never ask them to baby sit my dog. lf you want your dog to thrive, keep your dog around the former type (positive influencers), learn from them, watch what they do, let them influence your dog positively; and keep your dog away from the latter type (negative influencers), do not let them trigger the worse in your dog. Hope this helps.