Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Not all dogs are alike and what works in discipline with one dog may not work with another. I am finding how to work the Troublemaker side of Kolby.

You would think that a discipline procedure for a puppy would consistent of hands-on removal, appropriate verbal cues in a loud voice, or even a firm scruff that is Canine Companions appropriate. Through trial and error, and the help of our amazing Contract Trainer, I am finding that purely Ignoring Kolby is the kiss of death to our long legged, over-sized, floppy-eared, somewhat clumsy puppy.

Yes, my boy - who had started a bad habit of putting himself into a Lap while I was on the computer, or when we were sitting on the sofa, did not respond to verbal negative cues of Don't and physical removal. That only seemed to inspire him to continue to Lap-us more.

However, when we would lift up our hands, and turn our face the opposite direction (as he continued to Lap and crawl his way up our side, and onto our lap) was eventually far more effective than any verbal or physical contact. It lasted a good five days of consistent ignoring him and he got the point.

Now we can sit on the sofa or at the computer, and he will Stand, Sit, or Down beside us. No more crawling upon us for attention.

Kolby is also going through a Troublemaker phase of snapping the air. Again, we tried the verbal commands, the physical removal ... but it wasn't until we decided to go for the Ignoring Kolby completely, has things actually started to look like he is getting it.

After multiple long discussions with our Trainer, we decided to change plans and this is what we are doing now: the humans leave the room for one minute (putting us behind a closed door), or we turn our back on Kolby. Both instances we say Nothing to him. We ignore him completely, giving him no reaction. The point will be that Kolby can not be the leader when he is seeking attention. Because for Kolby, any attention is good attention, and by snapping he is getting negative attention.

It is very easy for Puppy Raisers to raise their voice and get "all excited" over a negative behavior. The puppy (aka: Kolby) may interpret that as fun and games and a party. So, doing the opposite (aka: nothing) creates no fun and game, and no party. We will also be upp'ing our "all excited" voice over positive behavior, because it is obvious Kolby likes a party.

(Side note: I am not sure why he needs as much attention as he does, perhaps he just loves to work that much, that even five minutes of down-time, so I can get some of my obligations done while sitting, drives him stir-crazy.)

This is what I wrote to my Contract Trainer today:

Hey T* - So today has been a typical-snappy morning. But I had to laugh because as I was standing in the laundry room with the sliding pocket door closed, I could hear Kolby pressing his nose up against the door, breathing heavy ... and then I could see his tongue sliding under the door. I stayed for a minute, holding my laughter. I came back to sit at the computer, and he went back to snapping ... so I turned my back. I found his head on my lap in a Visit. Ahhh. I acknowledged his good choice. He went back to snapping, I turned my back - he put himself in a Side next to me with a closed mouth. I acknowledged. He is now walking the house being good. I think this just might work - thanks for your help! We're off to give him a good walk around the 'hood. 

She replied:

Excellent. So it is making him think about what kind of attention he wants. So that is perfect. 

I am confident that this too shall pass, and I am sharing the Trouble-maker side of Kolby so I don't forget that they are Still Puppies. They do not come perfect. A favorite slogan that I love from Canine Companions is this: Service Dogs aren't born, they're raised. Yes, we must raise them to know the rules and expectations, and Kolby is just in that phase where he is learning to learn the rules.

I remember with Haddie - her naughty side at this age-group and thinking, "Ohh, mannnn, you are never going to make it past the first month of Advanced Training." You just never know - so never throw in the towel.

Love you, Kolby - Troublemaker side and all!!


  1. haha, oh wow yet another example of the identical-ness between Kolby and Novel :) I'm glad you are finding some good solutions and making progress with the naughty behavior!

  2. HaHa, Katherine!! Are Kolby and Novel half-siblings from Luca? I do see A Lot of identical-ness between our two boys too. Amazing.

  3. Oh wow, that is such a blessing to have such hands on and accessible trainers to work with! WIth them on your side and helping with suggestions, Kolby is sure to be successful like Haddie! So neat to have so many options to work with and mold these precious puppies into great helpers.

  4. Yes, we are very fortunate to have the amazing trainer that we do...I wish I could share all that she has done/experience, she is awesome. One day.....