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"The Dog Feels Responsible For You"

(22 Posts)
CalamityKate Wed 31-Oct-12 18:08:47

Does anyone subscribe to this theory?

The idea that if the dog walks in front of you, or lies looking out of the window, or is at all dodgy with other dogs/people, it's at least partly because the dog feels responsible for protecting you?

I'm not talking dominance BTW.

D0oinMeCleanin Wed 31-Oct-12 21:28:01

My terrier is protective of me and will snap at any strange dog who jumps up at me. However he walks in front of me to get to where he is going quicker, he looks out of the window because it's fun. He's generally fine with polite, non bouncy dogs.

poachedeggs Wed 31-Oct-12 21:44:09

That's Jan Fennel bullshit. Goes hand in hand with eating cream crackers before you feed your dog, and various other nonsense I can't recall because it's such crap it doesn't merit the brain space.

Dogs just care about resources. Dooin had a good example - her dog guards her because she's a resource. Running ahead is about excitement, ditto looking out of doors, and most problematic interactions are conditioned responses.

UltraBOF Wed 31-Oct-12 21:46:30

I think there's something in it, actually. It certainly applied to the terrier I had. She became very anxious because of it, being hypervigilant to the point where the stress was making her fur fall out.

Floralnomad Wed 31-Oct-12 21:47:15

Can you please explain about the cream crackers , I'm intrigued?

LoveDogs Wed 31-Oct-12 21:48:12

Yes, she will stand in front of us and start barking if somebody strange comes close wearing a hoodie, hat or has a beard. Also if I take her out on my own she stays very close to me as if she's protecting me because I'm on my own with her.

LoveDogs Wed 31-Oct-12 21:59:15

Sorry, my reply was to OP.

midori1999 Wed 31-Oct-12 22:06:27

I doubt it. I think humans like to think they do though. We attribute a lot of human emotions to our dogs.

Dogs are loners in the wild, they don't feel responsible for other dogs, so why would they feel responsible for us?

I think any 'guarding' is down to lack of training and poor socialisation. If a dog gets nervous when it sees a stranger, maybe as they sense their owner is nervous and barks and comes close to their owner and the owner either inadvertently rewards that behaviour or doesn't alter it, the dog will keep doing it.

I think it's possible that resource guarding comes into it too.

poachedeggs Wed 31-Oct-12 22:09:46

Jan Fennel, calls herself a dog whisperer, and advises owners to theatrically eat a cream cracker prior to putting food down for their dogs. Just to remind them that the boss eats first. Somewhat overlooking the fact that dominance theory has been completely discredited and the dogs are in fact looking at their owners like hmm 'just give me the Chum already, you crazy bitch'

Catsmamma Wed 31-Oct-12 22:15:51

One of our GSDs is very much on duty when the children are up and about, he likes to know where they are, prefers to lurk in the hall if we are all around the house and especially likes to barricade us in the sitting room by lying against the door so that he knows where we all are.

He is loosening up a bit since ds1 left home, and the little ones (now 15 and 17) are coming and going more but his finest moment was a visit to my mums, where he made sure they were in bed (quite late by the way in his opinion!!) and as we were sat in the garden he came out, looked us up and down and laid down with a huge long pointed sigh as if he had officially clocked off for the day. There is nothing like being judged for slack parenting by a dog! :D

He does this huge sigh every night when he settles in his bed, but not before all the lights are out.

I do think that is quite a GSD thing.

CalamityKate Wed 31-Oct-12 23:27:42

Yes, I thought it sounded like Jan Fennel type stuff. Personally I think she's bonkers.

I ask because I had a behaviourist round for a free assessment (since it was free I thought I'd see what he thought about my dog's occasional dodgy-ness with other dogs) and he was attributing a lot of stuff to the dog "taking responsibility". Generally I think Dogs Do What Works and that it's impossible to work out what they're actually thinking, and therefore pointless to try.

That said, he apparently has a very high success rate with loads of issues, from dogs being aggressive to other dogs/people to lead walking, so I wondered if there was maybe something in it, and what you lot thought.

midori1999 Wed 31-Oct-12 23:32:07

Well Cesar Millan has a high 'success' rate....

In my experience, the best behaviourists look more to how we can solve the problem as opposed to why dogs are doing what they are so much.

In what way did they suggest you stop the dog 'taking responsibility'?

hmc Wed 31-Oct-12 23:37:03

My dog doesn't display protective behaviour towards me. She thinks I am omnipotent as pack leader and rather expects me to protect her should the need arise (and she is a huge Bernese Mountain Dog)

CalamityKate Wed 31-Oct-12 23:43:25

Well, that was a wee bit vague TBH. I assumed that was because the assessment was free! There was a lot of talk about not stroking them when they're excited because that's reinforcing the wrong behaviour (fair enough up to a point) and not giving attention when they come up and ask for it. Talk of "claiming your space" if they crowd you/jump up, by walking into their space and putting a hand up to push them away. Lots of hand signals rather than voice cues. Dog should walk behind you. Don't allow them to lie near doors/windows. Recommended I get Turid Rugaas' book on Calming Signals (been planning to do that for ages anyway).

It didn't occur to me until afterwards to ask - what about Guide Dogs? They walk in front all the time. And probably lie near doors/windows without their owner knowing about it. And if any dog "feels responsible" for their owner, it would be a GD, wouldn't it?

TwelveLeggedWalk Wed 31-Oct-12 23:47:58

I definitely subscribed to the 'this is bobbins' theory previously, especially as our dog is such a poor guarder that the postman once let himself in to put a parcel on our kitchen table and he didn't even bark! (the dog, not the postie..).

But a few months ago I was walking the dog with our twin buggy, and I dropped the dog's ball. The babies were asleep and I'd stopped, so I just put the brake on and went to walk back along the (very quiet) path with the dog on lead to get him to pick it up. He refused, and kept pulling back to the buggy. Balls trump everything in our dog's world, so it was very strange, but it was just as if he was saying 'No, you've forgotten them!'. He did seem to be feeling responsible, I couldn't work out why else he'd do it.

midori1999 Wed 31-Oct-12 23:59:00

Hmm... It all sounds a bit dominance based to me tbh...

I saw a behaviourist once, was a complete waste of time and money, (I have seen others who weren't) and he said dominance was nonsense, but then later he said feed the dogs last. When I asked why he just said 'well, just in case'. In case of what?! confused

CalamityKate Thu 01-Nov-12 00:16:48

It was all a bit mixed really.

When I mentioned that my dog hates any sort of physical correction (I don't mean punishment, but when I was going to obedience trainers, from time to time they'd advise hands-on "putting" the dog in close heelwork position, gently to encourage head up etc - nobody else's dog minded in the slightest but mine hated it! So I stopped doing it) he said yes, that's bullying, don't do that. And at one point he said "I hope you don't tell her off" and I said no I don't. And he's got no time for Cesar-type stuff at all.

But when I said that dominance is hotly debated, he said "Who by??" in a way that suggested he believes in it. But did agree that it's a hugely overused word.

All a bit puzzling. I'd get him back for a clarifying conversation (give him his due, even when I'd made it clear I wouldn't be paying for his services due to the expense, he stayed for 2 hours and it was great to talk dog for so long!) if he wasn't so expensive!

SrirachaGhoul Thu 01-Nov-12 00:31:44

I don't know if 'responsible' is the right word but if one of the children is lagging behind on our walk to school the dogs plant themselves on the sidewalk until they've caught up. They absolutely will not budge until we're all walking together again (this is the only situation in which they'd ignore my 'heel' or 'let's go' command).

nooka Thu 01-Nov-12 05:27:10

Our family collie liked to round us up on walks if we got a bit too strung out, but I think that's because even though he was trained out of sheep dog type behaviour when little he was still at heart a sheepdog I don't think it was out of any sense of responsibiilty as he only really cared about my mother.

Where we live there are bears and if you stay at a national or provincial park with wardens they are quite fierce about keeping dogs on a lead. This is because if the dog is roaming and meets a bear apparently they will frequently come running back to you. Not because they want to introduce you to their new buddy but because they are scared and seeking protection.

LtEveDallas Thu 01-Nov-12 06:26:17

If we are out walking off lead and another dog comes along RottDog ignores it, but MuttDog comes straight back to me, winding round my legs - unless DD is with me, in which case she goes straight to her.

I've always seen it as protective. Mutt isnt a 'guard' dog, quite the opposite, she's quite timid really, but this does seem as if she is protecting us - and that she sees DD as more vulnerable.

I've got to say, whether it's true or not, I'm happy to believe it. It makes DD feel good to think her dog is looking after her. smile

LoveDogs Thu 01-Nov-12 07:05:29

Of course when I said my dog will stand in front of us and bark at somebody wearing a hoodie, hat or somebody who has a beard, this is only occasionally not everybody, she is perfectly well behaved dog and will run up to most people and immediately roll over onto her back for a fuss, it's only people SHE is unsure of that she will bark at and we do stop her as soon as she starts. The other day it was a woman holding a handbag!

coffeeinbed Thu 01-Nov-12 07:13:52

My dog's mate, another dog we see often and spend lots of time with and have known each other since puppies is protective towards my dog .
It a strange fog tried to hump mine, then his mate has a go at the strange dog.

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