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Old 11-06-2011, 06:14 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Why Is My Dog Doing This?

Our problem is that when we are sitting in the family room, and my husband gets up to leave the room, 'Garbonzo' will chase after him barking and snapping at his heals in a non-playful way. He only does this to my husband and only in the evenings.

To give a little history, when we got Garbonzo he was a one year old rescue that had lots of trust issues. A couple had returned him to the rescue prior to us and if we didn't keep him he was going to be put down. With lots of work and love he has become a stubborn but loving dog.

For the past three years, my husband has been with him 24/7 while I continued to work. However, each evening when I got home, Garbonzo would turn all his attention over to me. Yes he’s a Mama’s boy and is drawn to women.

Earlier this year I retired and now we both are now home with him 24/7. The three of us do a lot together, walks in the park, rides in the car. Although my husband is still his primary care giver, I also do things with Garbonzo without my husband. Whenever my husband wants to take Garbonzo with him without me, the dog looks to me for permission. Yes I said permission. He will not go with my husband willingly unless I give him the ‘ok’ and then he’s happy as a lark to go.

Previously, my husband would stop, turn around and ‘claim his space’ until Garbonzo would retreat and return to his ‘pillow’. As this has not stopped Garbonzo’s reaction, we have started ‘ignoring the unwanted behavior’. Garbonzo seems to stop and retreat a lot sooner each time as he’s now not getting a reaction from us and hopefully this will stop soon. Unfortunately this has been going on for a while so it won’t stop overnight.

Any ideas or thoughts?
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think if he is stopping the behaviour when he does not get a reaction, you have already found your solution. I suspect that his behaviour got him lots of attention from both of you - it stopped your husband in his tracks and brought him back into the room, and perhaps had you calling Garbonzo to you, or gently scolding him. It could also be that the "space claiming" was reinforcing some residual fearful reaction from his past. I would keep on ignoring the behaviour you don't want, but I would also reward him when he does what you DO want - perhaps praise and a treat for settling down quietly with you in the evening, and more praise when he is still settled 10 minutes later. Praise for not chasing after your husband. Perhaps even ask him to sit before your husband gets up to leave the room, and praise and treat him for keeping his attention on you. It may be easier to teach him something that you can reward, than have to keep on saying No! In our household it is the cats that get chivvied - I am lavish with compliments when the dogs resist temptation and come to me instead!
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I think if he is stopping the behaviour when he does not get a reaction, you have already found your solution. I suspect that his behaviour got him lots of attention from both of you - it stopped your husband in his tracks and brought him back into the room, and perhaps had you calling Garbonzo to you, or gently scolding him. It could also be that the "space claiming" was reinforcing some residual fearful reaction from his past. I would keep on ignoring the behaviour you don't want, but I would also reward him when he does what you DO want - perhaps praise and a treat for settling down quietly with you in the evening, and more praise when he is still settled 10 minutes later. Praise for not chasing after your husband. Perhaps even ask him to sit before your husband gets up to leave the room, and praise and treat him for keeping his attention on you. It may be easier to teach him something that you can reward, than have to keep on saying No! In our household it is the cats that get chivvied - I am lavish with compliments when the dogs resist temptation and come to me instead!
Thanks very much for the response, I will continue with the 'ignore unwanted behavior' and 'reward often' as you suggest, and see where it takes us. Garbonzo is our first poodle and first rescue, we had a boxer years ago until he passed.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Perhaps even ask him to sit before your husband gets up to leave the room, and praise and treat him for keeping his attention on you.
I like that. Very clear, simple and positive training!
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree with fjm, if ignoring it seems to be working keep doing that. Also, since you say he only does it in the evening, maybe a longer walk than usual around that time could help him get some of his restlessness out so he'll be too relaxed to see the need to go snapping after your husband. You could also try giving him a bone to munch on around that time and pick it up before you go to bed. Only give it to him in the evening so he'll stay more preoccupied with it when he has it.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I also agree with fjm ... ignoring the behaviour you don't want is very often the quickest, easiest, most painless solution.

Another idea, though ... what if your husband gets up and calls the dog to come with him into another room, where a yummy treat awaits? I love to train in the short periods when adverts come on a television programme, and often I do a mini-heelwork session with my dog to the kitchen and back.
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Garbonzo usually gets 3 1/2 hrs walks a day. However, per Muffins suggestion, his afternoon walk yesterday turned into an hour and a half...it was a beautiful day in the park. Last night, no problem. The longer walk did make a difference.

I also like JE-UK's suggestion about having my husband call him to go with him when he leaves the room and gives him a treat that will take Garbonzo some time to work on. He loves his kong filled with peanut butter.

Thanks very much for all of your suggestions and now I do see light at the end of the tunnel...at least for this issue.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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My Sooty does this too- It can be very random. Mine is also a rescue. Thank you for all of the great suggestions everyone!
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Garbonzo View Post
Garbonzo usually gets 3 1/2 hrs walks a day. However, per Muffins suggestion, his afternoon walk yesterday turned into an hour and a half...it was a beautiful day in the park. Last night, no problem. The longer walk did make a difference.

I also like JE-UK's suggestion about having my husband call him to go with him when he leaves the room and gives him a treat that will take Garbonzo some time to work on. He loves his kong filled with peanut butter.

Thanks very much for all of your suggestions and now I do see light at the end of the tunnel...at least for this issue.
I'm glad the longer walk helped! I had to to the same thing with Gracie because it's right around the evening that she starts getting bored and decides to terrorize the place LOL! I think the extra fresh air and exercise puts her in a relaxed mood as we settle down for the night!
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