Someone asked my opinion yesterday about their dog who takes cover under the bed and dares the owner to bother him. He also has a tendency to guard his chew bones and act uneasy when the kids want to give him a squeeze, occasionally offering a warning snap. As is most common, the owner wanted a quick fix to these few issues. This takes me back to my ongoing explanation that you cannot isolate particular behaviors in an effort to repair the ones that annoy you the most. I asked lots of questions about Scruffy. He was a rescue dog. He and his litter mates had been pulled out from underneath a farm building in Idaho. He looks to be a mix of more than a few breeds. OK, for starters, his parents could have been feral for all we know and the pups may have not had any human contact when they were very small. And…..mom and pups had to be tough survivors, used to protecting themselves and their food.
Fast forward to two years later with Scruffy living with a wonderful family who can’t understand his behavior. Even if he had been nurtured in someone’s warm kitchen as a wee one, he looks to be the type of dog that does not seek or care for tons of human fondling. He looks all business with a little anxious edge.
You may ask why his loving home has not been enough to make him a gregarious dog. By the time he was brought out into the daylight, his character very well may have been half way to completion, which is formed by sixteen weeks.
When asked what Scruffy enjoys, I was told he loves to go running! Luckily these folks are runners.
My suggestions include: Supply more structure for Scruffy around the house. Be matter of fact and positive. Feed him on a schedule preferably in his crate where he can relax and not be on the defense. Take away the chew bones for now. Have him wear a drop cord (short leash) when free in the house. Start working with him on some basic training skills based on reward. Teach him to seek human attention with tiny treats that you hand him when he approaches you with his head up. Be very upbeat and by all means, do continue taking him out to run.
Feel free to add any ideas that you may have!!!!