Some friends of mine have a yellow lab that used to be the sweetest dog. When visitors would come to the door, he would be there to greet them with a lick. He was clearly a very happy and people-loving dog. He was also very good with my friends' two kids. It didn't matter what was going on or what the kids were doing, the dog would kind of just "know" what the right thing to do was, whether that was play fetch if the kids wanted to do that or whether that was hang out elsewhere, as in if the kids were rowdy.
Everything was all well and good until my friends's kids started school (previously there were home all day with a nanny). As soon as the kids were off for 1/2-3/4 day (we're talking 5 yr olds) the dog's behavior changed dramatically. What was once a happy friendly dog is now acting very aggressive and is scaring people. When people come over, the dog barks and growls at the visitors. When I hang out with my friends the dog does antics like run into the kids bedroom, which he knows he is not supposed to do, and grabs their toys and then comes into the room where everyone else is and then proceeds to shred the toy. If you try to take the toy away the bog barks and bares his teeth at you.
The nanny who is helping out with the kids is scared of the dog and doesn't dare get close to him.
Why the sudden change? Since it's not my dog, not my house, it's not really my business, so I'm asking mainly out of curiosity so I can understand my own pets better and why they do or don't do certain things.
Yeah, it could very well be a dog that has had a lot of leeway granted where behavior is concerned and has decided that anything goes. Add to that a dog that has never been trained, and isn't given adequate exercise and this is what you end up with.
I know with my chosen breed, 2-3 years old is still considered adolescence. And I can guarantee that your friend's dog didn't "just seem to know what the right thing to do was". The dog was doing his own thing then, too, but his thing looked enough like the right thing that all was good. As far as he is concerned, the rules are still up to him to decide.
Yes, I think he's "acting out" due to being alone for long periods of time. I think Victoria Stillwell needs to be called...
Truthfully, please tell your friends to get a great, gentle trainer as this dog is probably super smart & is trying to tell them something. Please tell them not to "rehome" him as so many do these days.
Do you think it has something to do with being left alone for longer periods of time because the kids are in school? That's the only major thing I can think of that has changed.
yes I do. Dogs are social, gregarious animals and s/he was used to having people around. Now, when everyone gets home s/he is probably uber excited but the people probably aren't. Bad combination that.
Truly....some treats and a clicker will go a LONG way to helping this dog understand what the people want, if they want to fix the issue.
I agree that it sounds like attention seeking behavior. My young BC mix (13 months) steals illegal items and chews them up ONLY when we are at home. If she were just a destructive chewer, she'd be doing it when we're not home and there was no one to stop her. She wants someone to chase her to get it, tell her "no" or substitute something else for the thing that is "not hers". All of that is attention for her and, as with kids, negative attention is better than no attention.
The kids starting school probably means she is alone more and isn't being played with on and off all day like she was.
For our young dog the solution is EXERCISE and LOTS OF IT. If we can get her out for at least 45 minutes to an hour of: true running, involving going to off leash areas, a lot of swimming, or a good hard wrestle/chase session with a similarly energetic doggie friend (a leash walk will not do it for her), twice a day, the attention seeking behavior is minimal and she's quite easy to get along with.
A 2-3 year old Lab is going to be similar, needing plenty of exercise. If the nanny isn't willing to take the dog out for some good, hard, fun while the kids are at school, maybe they can hire a dog walker to do so? Then another walk/play session with the kids when they get home?
Lab? 2-3 years old? Take ball-thrower, take ball, insert into ball-thrower, throw, take ball off dog (treats help), repeat. Add river/pond/stream - throw ball into water, lab swims out, retrieves, repeat.
Issue is a lack of exercise, a lack of training and a lack of boundaries! Labs actually need the same level of exercise as a Border Collie - and they love it!