I had a really good conversation with my dad last night while I was driving home. It was good because my dad has a lifetime of experience training dogs and it felt good to pose some of my training quandries to him and get some answers.
He confirmed something Wes and I have suspected since almost day 1: our dog is of a very dominant frame of mind. How did we know this since almost day 1? Our breeder has a webcam set up and we were able to watch our puppy whenever we wanted to. He was very easy to spot because he was always the one crawling over all the other puppies. When they were introduced to solid food, Doc was always to be found on top of the feeding tray, as opposed to around the tray like all the other pups. When we picked him up to take him home, the breeder told us that Doc was the first puppy in their 20 years of breeding experience to have chewed up their outdoor carpeting. He had ripped it to shreds!
When we brought him home we noticed pretty much immediately that Doc was not going to go quietly into that good night. He fought us on virtually everything. I wasn’t too alarmed, however, figuring that with high intelligence comes a strong ability to make leaders justify their leadership. Then came that fateful morning when I knew that our puppy was different.
I was getting ready for church and Doc was playing in the room with his duck. I looked down at him when I couldn’t hear the squeaker (like with children, when a puppy goes quiet they’re probably up to no good) and lo and behold he was humping my purse.
He was 11 weeks old when this happened. This shouldn’t happen with a puppy this young. I soundly chastised him and hoped to goodness the problem was solved. It wasn’t. Two weeks later I was sitting on the floor and he started humping my leg. Wes thought it was funny but I was blushing so furiously I thought my cheeks were going to catch fire.
When I told this story to my dad, he told me I needed to work with my puppy more. Obviously Doc listens to me when we do obedience and walks but still seems to think he owns me. Well, he’s wrong.
After garnering my dad’s opinion I resolved that this was a new Erika. No more letting the puppy sit on my lap or snap at my hand. I was going to be calm, assertive, and NOT HUMPED! Doc and I spent some quality time last night working on his attitude. It was very difficult to remain calm because he is very stubborn (not unlike his puppy-parents). I did my best, however, and I think he’s getting it. He may not give in easily, but if I’m persistent and calm enough he will eventually give in.
I guess the reason this is a happy hump day is that I feel like God is working on me through the dog. I am not normally of a calm and assertive state of mind. I am naturally more frantic and controlling (which is assertive in its own way but is not very healthy for anyone involved, really) and I don’t really want to be frantic or controlling when Wes and I have kids. I want my kids to respect and listen to me but I don’t want to gain that respect by losing my temper and freaking out on them all the time.
I was joking with Wes last night that I want to be a good puppy-parent, I just don’t want to have to change to do so. It’s really a good thing that Wes and I have such a stubborn dog, though. It’s good practice. If our kids are anything like us they will be nothing if not headstrong, stubborn, and convinced they are always right. I feel like nannying was a rehearsal for having kids and that the dog is a dress rehearsal. Hopefully when the curtain goes up for real I won’t choke and forget my lines.