Monday, April 11, 2016

Boston terrier tempermant lesson: Use your inside voice (even on corrections)

Sinead the Boston terrier looking sad
Even the sweetest Boston terrier will make a mistake now and then. That's especially true when these dogs are in the puppy stages. They're busy little things that like to stick their noses into almost everything, even if those things just aren't safe for them to be around. And unfortunately, the Boston terrier puppy stage can last until age 5 (!!). That means the average BT gets quite a few corrections.

And here's where the lesson comes in.

Some dogs can be stubborn and single minded, so when they get into some sort of hassle, they can be hard to redirect. Liam the pug is a lot like this. If he sees a piece of food hit the floor, no amount of calling and whistling and clapping is going to keep him from it. Getting his attention often means getting in front of him and blocking him physically. And correcting him verbally often means using a very loud voice. Calling out, "LIAM, STAY!" has saved him from running into the path of an aggressive dog on more than one occasion. Without the loud voice, he never would have turned his head.

Boston terriers are different.

A key part of the Boston terrier temperament involves sensitivity. These are dogs that live and breathe to be with the people that they love. And they seem to get extremely uncomfortable with the mere idea of displeasing someone that they love.

Consider Sinead.

Today, I found this little dog playing a spirited game of chase with Popoki. Maybe the cat was enjoying the game (I think she may have started it), but I didn't want the activity to continue or grow worse. So I said, "SINEAD, COME" in a very loud voice.

Here's how she looked when she arrived.

Sinead the Boston terrier looking sad

Note the pinned ears, the slitted eyes and the rounded back. This could be a stink-eye pose, but she was also doing a little shivering and shaking. She was worried that she had done something unforgivable, and she spent the next 15 minutes trying to lick my cheeks and hands.

These dogs are sensitive, and they have extreme reactions to commands that seem, to them, to be a little extreme. Using those commands isn't smart, as it tends to break the bonds between you and your dog. The dog begins to fear you, not respect you, and that can break all of your hard work apart.

It's hard to remember this lesson on the fly. When your dog is doing something dumb, your first response is to make the dog stop that right now, by any means necessary. But really. How often would you like to see this face? Probably never. And if that means thinking a little more before bellowing, it's probably worth it.


1 comment:

  1. omg, I may be a Boston terrier inside.
    That picture is heartbreaking. I am off to read about her treatments...LeeAnna