Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dog Training: Doing What's Right vs. Doing What Looks Right

Ever since I adopted Miss M, I have been battling her constant obsession with people and being petted.
Sure it came in handy when we were Bachelorettes and she was my wingwoman, but her obsession has reached a point that if someone even glances her way or talks to her she is completely overwhelmed with excitement and if they don't come pet her fast enough she works herself into a frenzy.
Which has caused a dilemma.
I know that each time she over-reacts, and gets rewarded by petting, she will just keep overreacting when she meets people.
At the same time, when I try to put her in a sit-stay and wait to be petted she gets so impatient she makes her hungry gremlin voice. Which combined with her intense stare, has been misinterpreted as growling.
Most recently someone asked to pet her, and she became impatient and started staring and grumbling and the woman was scared away.
Is it better to continue her training, making her sit, even though she might make scary gremlin noises and scare people?
Or is it better to let her look like an excited, 'untrained' dog, who isn't scary?

22 comments:

TheQueerBird said...

I think it's better to make her sit, but you could also add something that YOU say to explain her sitting: "Sit and tell me if you want attention!" or "What does a Gremlin say?" Maybe you could teach her that "What does a Gremlin say" (or whatever cue you want) also means "sit," since she's going to make those noises anyway.

Gardenwife said...

That's a great thought, TQB. I'd think that would serve to dispel doubt.

waldobungie said...

I think that a short explanation from you (or some command that serves as an explanation, like TQB said) would be enough to let people know she isn't scary AND work on her training. Although I know the gremlin noise all too well (Turk does it and Ginger Rogers did it too), and I don't think it sounds scary so much as super silly. But I guess I'm used to it...

Gin said...

I agree with TQB. My girl Maria sounds like a wookiee from star wars. And baby girl Mystic growl/howls through her kong when we come home from somewhere, which sometimes startles people because otherwise she a very quite dog. My old man Dragon doesn't make noises unless he's whining for food or he's playing. I always tell people a head of time that my dogs can get very vocal and it don't mean anything but more loving.

Angela said...

I was just reading about teaching a dog "quiet" in The Other End of the Leash (Patricia McConnell) a few weeks ago (pages 50-53). This was in reference to a barking dog, but noise is noise maybe? She said that as soon as the dog starts barking to say "Enough", move a treat within an inch of her nose and start making smooching noises to get her attention. When she turns away don't give the treat right away, palm it in your hand and lure her away from what she's barking at, then give the treat. I personally feel like training comes first and foremost, and while you know the Gremlin noise isn't scary you also don't want people thinking she's scary...so once again it's a behavior you don't want. Not all unwanted behavior is "negative" behavior. If she was your human kid I'm guessing you wouldn't allow her to squeal with joy if she's supposed to be quietly waiting :)

ohmelvin.com said...

I am getting out my notebook ready to take notes! Melvin is EXACTLY the same only the noise he makes sounds more like Chewbaca being tortured. People don't know whether to laugh or run.

Corbin said...

Corbin makes those grumbley noises either way and I have yet to find an acceptable way to make him stop. I just have to tell people he likes to "talk" and that it's not an aggressive growl. He just gets excited and that's how he shows it!
-Corbin's momma Jenn

Rebelwerewolf said...

I feel you on the dilemma. We've been turning Badger and Mushroom around to avoid people (especially children) and dogs on our walks. (We live in a suburb, so this is feasible.) On the one hand, we don't want to encourage jumping or leash-pulling. On the other hand, we get far more scowls and glares than smiles. =/

Christine Fischer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine Fischer said...

My vote is on making her sit, explaining to the potential petter why you are working with Ms M, and bring treats so that there is an added reward.

Alanna said...

Oh, I can relate. My Maebe is what you might call and overly-sociabull. She LOVES people, especially kids and elderly people. It's like she's on a mission to meet and make as many human friends as possible. Unlike Miss M though, she's a bit too patient - sometimes if we're on a quiet street and she see's someone walking towards us she'll lie down with her bum wiggling and refuse to move until the person walks by and either says hello and pats her or expresses their disinterest in her by just walking past us. She's always going up to people in full body wiggle with a big grin. Usually I just say that she's really friendly and apologize if she's startled them. Luckily strangers seem to think we're both slightly goofy and endearing.

H Ski said...

Lola does the same exact thing. Down to the talking gremlin voice (I call hers chewbacca). With her I figure it is best to make her sit or lay down. That way, at least she is not jumping and getting too excited. But I also don't like people being scared away by her "talking". Sometimes it is tough figuring out the best way to handle the situation. So obviously, I am no help, but can relate to the same problem.

brooke said...

Darwin barks. It scares people. We tell them she just likes to talk, but a 135lb Great Dane barking in your face isn't exactly welcoming.
We JUST met with a trainer this past weekend in the hopes that he can help us with it and also to work on her heeling as people in Singapore aren't as dog friendly and we'd like to go there with her on her best behavior.

My Two Pitties said...

I'm having a similar dilemma right now, I'm working on training my dogs to wait for my approval to approach people and dogs, or at least ignore certain ones I decide seem fearful or on edge. They are off leash dogs so I know it will be a great benefit in the long run.

I find it hard to see Mrs. M's gremlin face as scary but poeple think my pittie pup is scary sometimes...even with his ever-present worried face. Maybe you can give her an alternate command after the sit like her wave.

Jen said...

I was going to recommend part of what TheQueerBird says...put "gremlin voice" on cue! That might help her be less "scary" (dogs make sounds other than just barking and growling, people!) and might serve to be more endearing.

Definitely keep the sit!

Of Pit Bulls and Patience said...

Maybe you can find some middle ground. Instead of asking her to sit and stay, do some short behaviors. Sit-paw-down-sit or some other combo. That way Miss M is doing something instead of trying to stay still and contain the gremlin. She'll still be thinking instead of just acting out, and it might break her focus a little bit so that even if she grumbles, there won't also be a stare.

runningwithsquirrels said...

haha I know it is bad to reinforce and we are also trying to tame the Gremlin voice ... but I have to be honest, it is my favorite! It makes me laugh every time. We call it The Pterodactyl dinosaur call.

Jessy@FairytaleFrosting said...

Oh thank god my dog isnt a freak. Similar situation happened to me recently, he wanted to meet this guy on rollerblades. I made him sit, he started to make crazy noises and the guy skated off repeatedly giving me dirty looks down the block. As we stood there, a car driving by slowed down and rolled the window down and asked if he was OK. Yeah. Awkward.
Loving the gremlin on command idea!

Two French Bulldogs said...

Ms M, we do think that is so adorable
Benny & Lily

volunteers4paws said...

I think the sitting thing is what we would prefer, even with the noise. this is if the goal is to have her be calmer about greetings.

but if the end goal if this training is to make her more appealing to the general public on your outtings, then perhaps the excitable happy looking dog is what makes her appealing.

Richard the expert dog and puppy trainer said...

It ia usually down to the way a dog is being socialised.

You are better of teaching her that she should not always expect a stroke on the head by everyone that passes her or visits.

I think she had become used to it now and you may need to teach her that people will not always do what she wants.

Patrick Wong said...
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