Jumping, jumping, jumping.
I wrote the other day about Elsa smiling at the cable guy. Not only was she smiling but she was jumping all over him. He had caught her by surprise as he walked into the living room; she'd been napping and didn't know that he'd been at our house for what seemed to be hours. He was just finishing up when he came in and was discussing what he'd done with all the connections to my son. I had no treats on me at the time; which was very rare. I'd had Elsa out before her nap and spent all of my treats on working on a recall.
As soon as the guy spoke her ears went up and she kicked into super charged greeting mode. She was hurling herself at him while smiling and wiggling with sheer joy to see a stranger in the house. I asked her to get off but I had nothing to compete with the new guy. Seeing that there was no stopping her as she did her best tasmanian devil greeting routine I ran to get the goods from the kitchen. She followed me into the kitchen and watched as I pocketed my secret weapon. We then headed back into the living room to work on NOT jumping on guests.
The difference was amazing; Elsa loves food so much that when she jumped on the guy and I asked for an off she immediately got off and sat. She was quickly rewarded. Elsa LOVES people and when I want her to stop saying a very rambunctious hello I have to have something better than the greeting that she is partaking in. She then only went to see the guy a couple of times; opting to listen to Mom for her reward. Elsa is turning out to be very typical in that she is an excellent example of how things work in a dogs mind. Behavior work that I have been teaching for years unfold to perfection when used on Elsa, making her a perfect example of what to do and not to do.
Of course each dog is different so if you have a dog that is not into food then you must find what they are into. If you want to stop them from doing something that they love then you must be able to offer them something better if they listen to you. For Tilley it was always a ball, with Luke it was praise; he is a mush and loves nothing better than to be gushed over. He also hates getting into trouble so he was always working for the lavishing of praise from Mom.
As I get to know our little addition to the family more and more it is becoming increasingly obvious that a ball may soon take over food. Of course not in all instances but the other day she didn't even drop a ball for a treat; she opted for another toss instead. Learning all about each is fascinating and knowing what makes them tick is the secret to behavior modification.