Given that no one can change that many behaviors in a couple of hours, I thought it best to approach this situation differently. I asked her to tell me all of the things she loved about her dog. That gave her pause. So, I suggested the following: Don't you love the way he looks forward to you picking him up from daycare? Don't you love the way he nudges your hand for attention? Don't you love how happy he is to go for a walk? Don't you love how nicely he gets along with other dogs? Now she could see where I was headed with this. While she was frustrated, she needed to see all of the good things about her dog as well. His list of positive attributes far outweighed his negative ones and at this point, his owner was ready to have a rational discussion about what could be done in the short term to help with her immediate issues as they would effect her holiday plans this week.
First off, she needs to keep him on leash at all times so she can stand on his leash when he greets people, thus keeping him from jumping up. She has to use the head halter we had already trained him to wear that helped greatly with the pulling as well as the chasing of squirrels and ducks. She had quit using the head halter because she didn't keep it with the leash by the door, so just got out of the habit of using it. By keeping him on leash, she could easily keep him off of furniture. I suggested a portable crate and a nice dog bed to take with them on their trip for alternate nap spots. Treats were to be given in a closed hand to discourage snapping and he was to be reminded to do a couple of "touch" behaviors before being given any treat as that got him thinking rather than simply reacting. Finally, I suggested not feeding him before they left for their road trip and instead giving him a couple of ginger snaps cookies to settle his stomach. She also needed to use his car harness and belt him into place so he stayed facing forward. Rolling down his window would help as well.
Now she had some strategies to get her through this trip to her friend's house for Thanksgiving. Plus, she had a much better appreciation of all of her dog's positive attributes and behaviors, no longer so focused on the negative. And we set up an appointment to meet in person when she got back so we could "check in" and see how those basic solutions were working for both her and her dog.
So, I am thankful for clients who listen and their pets who appreciate my help. I am thankful for the opportunity to help pet owners and educate them about why animals think and behave the way they do. Most of all, I am thankful for my family and friends who have supported me all these years even though my jeans are often dirty, I frequently have peanut butter in my hair, and I always smell like dog saliva and chicken jerky. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
As always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.
I am thankful for these four: my daughter, Jessica, and our collie collective!