Help, my dog is controlling/following me
Time and again, dog owners are told that the dog is controlling them when he follows them around at home or constantly looks at them while walking ( especially after an attention signal has been established).
But is this actually true?
Are our dogs such control freaks?
Let’s first take a look at the situation during a walk.
We would like our dogs to be at least semi-attentive when we roam the world together.
It makes sense if the dog is not just lost in his own world but also looks from time to time if we are still there.
In addition, it would be nice if the dog looks at us when he sees a bicycle/car/dog/human/wild animal, etc. before he runs after it.
We fulfill all these wishes by training an attention signal and rewarding voluntary attention (i.e. when the dog looks at us of its own accord).
The easiest way to do this is with food.
After all, you can offer it over in so many variations, it won’t get boring quickly and most dogs are enthusiastic about it.
So the dog learns: it’s rewarding to look at my mom.
So if he looks more and more often at his mom, suddenly it is said: ” he is controlling you properly” (alternatively also “who is training whom here” or “you are a nice feeding machine”)…
The irony has surely not escaped you.
Of course, a dog does what is worth doing.
Thousands of years of evolution have made the dog a scavenger, who of course quickly identifies and uses food sources.
This evolution, by the way, is also why dogs love to eat excrements…it was a major food source.
In addition, every living creature does what is rewarding (we use it in education, as well as in the job = salary).
So the dog doesn’t control you but does what seems to make sense to him.
If you want to reduce the attention a little bit, you can go for a walk in more exciting areas or replace the food reward with vocal praise every now and then.
This is also a nice sign that a change of scenery concerning the walking area is needed 😉
Ok, that was one thing.
A completely different story is the following at home.
Again and again, it is said that the dog following you has something to do with control and that he doesn’t trust his human to handle things on his own.
But the reason for this is quite simple.
The dog follows because he is afraid to be alone.
He prevents this with the following quite simply.
That is why dogs that follow you around constantly at home urgently need the training to stay alone comfortably.
Of course, there are exceptions (they smell a hormonal change in their human, they themselves are not well, they are bored)… but they are very rare.
So again, control is not a factor.
What such a dog needs are more confidence, which you can practically train with enrichment and brain games, (so you exclude boredom as well) and training.
The training is where we can afford to make super few mistakes in the form of overwhelming our dogs. Because every time the dog goes back to panic at being alone, we destroy what we have achieved so far.
That’s why small steps are so important here.
If this is topic No. 1 with you right now, you will find the perfect course here 😉
Now it happens again and again that dogs as puppies can stay alone fine and then in puberty it is suddenly an issue.
First of all, it should be said that sudden changes in behavior can always be a sign of health problems and should be checked by a veterinarian.
But in puberty, it has mostly to do with brain development in combination with hormonal changes.
The dog enters a so-called spooky period. Puppies also have these periods from time to time and they are characterized by easy irritability and “overreaction”.
Suddenly things are creepy, which were no problem before… often also from the dead environment (garbage cans are a classic).
If your dog is in such a phase, he needs understanding and sensitivity.
About staying alone, the following applies: start fresh.
Don’t worry, it usually goes faster because your dog has learned it before (as long as it was carefully built up the first time).
So, are dogs controlling us at all?
For me, there are situations where dogs control us.
There are those I train on purpose (e.g. in medical training, where the dog can stop the treatment at any time by interrupting the cooperation signal. So he has control over the situation and my actions) and also those where the dog acts independently.
For example, dogs can place themselves very specifically to block our way or prevent us from moving on.
This is mostly due to fear of visitors or resource guarding concerning the home (aka territorial behavior).
But also when dogs start to herd their humans (there are many reasons for this and often children are involved) they control our movements with their movements.
In principle, however, the same applies here: the dogs do what is worthwhile for them.
And no matter if you call it control or rewarding behavior or whatever, if it bothers you, start training 😉
Because complaining alone won’t get you anywhere.
Are you ready to start?
Then I’ll see you in the course