Sometimes behavioral problems come from real misunderstandings between the dog and its owners: that’s the story of Piccolo, a 5 kg earthquake that had put the lives of its owners upside down.
Piccolo, in name but not in fact
Piccolo – in Italian Piccolo means “small, little”- is a 2-year-old Jack Russell who has put a strain on the patience of a couple of friends of mine. Like all the dogs of his breed, he is a stubborn little boy who can become hard to manage if he doesn’t get what he wants.
When my friends contacted me, they were fighting against some problems: the dog pee at home, even if walked him often, he controlled resources and did not like being manipulated. He also tried to bite his human father, guilty of behaviors that did not suit the little pest.
My friends were starting to worry: from their point of view, they were doing everything right with Piccolo. They took him out for walks, spent time with him, fed him, cared for him and cuddled him: they were just forgetting to think about his point of view, they had to learn to understand the dog.
Something had to change!
My suspicion is that Piccolo had made up his mind to have a different role and social position than what his humans wanted him to have. This is because, unconsciously, they had made him think that by leaving erroneous indications of social positioning: the food was always available, he had access to the bed and sofa as he liked and he had completely free movement at home. Some dogs may don’t care about those signs because they are not interested, but if a little guy like a Jack Russell finds them, well, it is very likely that the dog decides to read them to his advantage.
For these reasons, I advised them to not leave food, but to give feed him twice a day, to prevent the dog to get on the bed and on the couch if not invited and to limit slightly his movements at home. In addition, I advised them to minimize manipulations: no more exaggerated pampering (which obviously the dog did not appreciate), only brief sporadic contacts.
Piccolo had to learn to understand his humans, but my friends had to learn to understand the dog.
How are things today?
After a few months of work, the situation is more stable at Piccolo’s home. My friends are no longer frightened by their dog’s reactions, they have learned to understand him and he has learned to make himself understood without coming to direct confrontations, as was once the case. From the story of Piccolo, we can all deduce a valid teaching: it is true that our dog must learn to understand us, but we must also learn to understand the dog if we really want our cohabitation to work well.