There he sat. An unbroken stream of saliva connected his mouth with the floor in at least 3 different locations. There was so much slime it was rather difficult to sort it one stream from another. To accompany this unsightly mess Billy Boy added groans, sighs, and a paw that was not content to rest on the guest’s lap but made regular movements in an effort to get the guest’s attention. It did that all right! It also snagged her silk dress and bruised her leg.
Meanwhile, would you care to guess how Billy Boy’s owners were reacting? It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that they commented on how “cute” he was and that he just wanted an ever so tiny taste from her plate and then, for sure (?) he would go and lie down.
Clearly, B.B. has been well taught by his family. Their side of the story is that when he was young he was so cute that they offered him bits from their plates to watch his performance as he ran from family member to family member becoming more inventive as he whirled around the table. Here a bark, there a leap, followed by woofs, growls, play bows and more. Such a cute puppy.
Now, B.B. has a whole file drawer full of behaviors to get attention and food but the family has tired of the behavior so the guests get the full blast.
What is wrong with this picture?
For starters, B.B. has a very distorted view of how to get food, what food is really his, how to get attention, and how to keep his owners happy. Poor guy. Early on he thought he was king of the world from the way they treated him for his shenanigans but lately he gets mixed messages which, in turn, cause him to be more and more frantic about his act when food is on the scene.
While the idea won’t find a receptive audience at B.B’s house what he really would benefit from is a clear view of his leaders. That means that they indicate that food they are eating or that is otherwise not offered to him, is unavailable. Period! No treats from their plates. No access to food that falls from the table while eating or from the counter while cooking.
B.B. is, after all, a dog. A wonderful creature. Teaching him an appropriate way to behave in the world is the responsibility of a real dog lover. And, definitely should be the responsibility of every – EVERY – dog owner.
And – wouldn’t you like to be able to leave the room to answer the phone - or whatever -and know that you could return to your dinner left unattended on the table?
This can be achieved – with no pain to B.B.
And, guess what? He will be a lot happier and so will you! Give positive reinforcement training a try.