Good morning, I thought I'd talk about Status this morning. We have alot of status seeking behaviors going on right now in our house so it quickly came to mind. Right now I think my status seeker is downstairs under a blanket sleeping. He is a huge sleepy head in the morning and often does not rise with the girls. He stays in bed until he is good and ready to rise and you only get a greeting if he is in the mood. What a guy.
So what exactly gains and looses status for you in the dog world? Believe me I have lots of examples so that you can truly see how the dog mind works.
Anytime your dog makes a decision where you are involved can be a status escalator. Do you throw the ball each tiime the slimey thing is dropped into your lap or at your feet? Up for your dog, down for you. When your dog stands staring at the cookie cupboard in the kitchen; do you go and get them a cookie? Up for your dog, down for you. Does your dog barge out the door each time it is open? Up for your dog, down for you.
Now this is a big one and one that few people "get." Do you lavish attention on your dog the minute you enter the house? You got it, you have just lowered your status. Of course many or all of these behaviors are not bad for all dogs, many dogs have no status seeking secret plots in their daily agenda. For these non status seeking dogs it doesn't really matter if you mess up or not as a guardian. No two dogs are alike so dog behavior modification is not a science. And those who use "one" method to work with dogs are not educated in true dog behavior.
I have a very good pack to work with, all very different; infact they are at opposite ends of the spectrum behavior wise. Luke is my challenge when talking about status seeking; actually Luke is my challenge for just about everything. Tilley is pretty much perfect and never does anything wrong and Jessie tries hard; but she is a true terrier afterakk. Status seeking behaviors can be very small, so small that they can go unnoticed until they are large enough to become serious. But if you stay on top of them; status seeking behavior will remain just that, seeking not obtaining.
One biggy is the ownership of prime realty. Does your dog have the best, most comfortable spot in the house? Does your dog growl at you if you try to move them from the position? Is your bed a war zone? For many this is a daily obstacle and it should not be. If your dog growls when you attempt to move or dislodge them from a certain spot in the house; then they should not be allowed to have that certain spot. Usually this is the bed, so they get the boot TODAY.
I know only too well how difficult it can be to change some of our own behaviors. Afterall your dog is so adorable it can be very difficult not to hug and kiss them all day long. But if you have an attention seeking type dog; like my Luke it is not a good thing to do. Here is a good example: A new visitor comes to my home and immediately upon seeing the dogs lowers themselves to dishing out all kinds of attention. Next, my visitor stops their direct attention to my dogs and starts to walk into my home. This is where Luke swings into action; barking and lunging and acting the fool.
One minute Luke is being rubbed by the visitor and loving it and the next moment he is acting like he never saw this person before; so what is going on? In Luke's mind; this person came into his home and was immediately demanded to dish out worshiping attention from the dogs. So right away the visitor established a low rank by handing out attention; leader types don't dish out affection for nothing. So Luke; as the true low man in our pack takes it upon himself to do some pushing around. He doesn't get to do it often so takes advantage of it when he can.
It is very easy to turn behaviors around with dogs although some behaviors that have been inplace for a longtime can take some maneouvering by you and your family. Going for walks is a very common situation where status is involved. Does your dog grab their leash and act like a maniac until you are out and on your way? Take control today, do not take a step out of your front door until your dog is under control.
It is very important for you as "top dog" to be in control at all times. This does not mean that you have to run a military camp; it may if you have a bunch of hard heads but if you have an average dog then it means that you need to be calling the shots. If you sit down and think about your day interacting with your dog you will soon discover that a good portion of it is controlled by your dog, turn it around today.