Basic manners

Manners; ways of behaving with reference to polite behaviors.  Manners are important; they are what separate us from the uncivilized, unmannerly.  They are also important for dogs; some dogs come with manners built in, they are somehow born not to push buttons or behave bullishly.  Tilley is about the most naturally mannered dog I've met; I have always called her my Lassis in poodle clothing.  She does not push, barge, assume or seek status.  Often it is the status seeking behaviors that get dogs into trouble.

Luke has always been a pushy, gotta be first type of guy.  For much of his life he has been seeking status; now at the age of 11 much of that is gone.  Who cares?  seems to be the message he gives off often although with a new young'n in the house it can still come out now and again.  Status seeking is often seen in toy acquisition; Elsa is very much into the "mine, mine, mine" stage.  Anything anyone else has is what she needs to have.  For this reason Luke will go and take things from her to make a point.  "I will take it because I can," is the message delivered by taking and obtaining his toys.

Prime real estate is also something that is high in demand and not only for humans.  Typically the best spot is beside the owner; although it can be a cozy spot by the fire or the best seat in the house for viewing.  Elsa is a clammerer, she clammers all over us and the other dogs and has no physical boundaries as far as what you climb on and what you do not climb on.  She will get a toy and go sit on Luke's head to chew on it; he is getting very accustom to this and has extended his boundary allowances for her.  Tilley is not as accommodating and will growl at any foot set upon her; females will not typically put up with as much nonsense from other females.

Up until now Elsa has been banned from the couch for the most part.  As the young dog in the house or bottom man it is important to establish rules that the older dogs have earned.  She very much likes to try to climb up and squeeze into the smallest of spots between a human and a sleeping dog.  This weekend we watched a couple of movies and she was allowed to join and snuggle; this allowance has lead to more clammering.  So it is time to establish some very clear rules about furniture; that being that you are not allowed on unless invited.

This rule is one that I have made clear with any dog who likes to push.  Luke was banned from the couch and beds when he was young for a six month period.  He was asked to move off the couch by my young son at the time and growled.  A growl is a ticket off the furniture and depending on the dog will factor on how long this should last.  For Elsa, it is more that she is just a very happy go lucky girl with no personal boundary knowledge.  So she will not be allowed on unless she is specifically invited and not every day.  She must also learn how to get up and that she is not allowed to stomp all over the people or other dogs on the couch or bed.

Going through doors is another biggy as far as status.   Not all dogs barge so not all dogs should be required to wait for us to go through a door.  Luke was a barging type, that "gotta be first" thing was always there.  He doesn't care much now so the rule is no longer enforced except on doors that lead to danger.  Elsa is also just like Luke was as a youngster with doors and being first.  She has no manners and will push and barge her way in to be first.  She has been asked to wait since she arrived as this was a clear behavior already instilled in her.

I really like the "wait" rule for dogs who like to barge because it helps them to learn control.  Self control is difficult for dogs who are driven and are status seeking.  Teaching them to wait and/or to ask before they are allowed to partake in fun activities helps them to learn their much needed manners for life.