Trouble Brewing: Body Handling SensitivityPublished December 7, 2011
Victoria Schade / Do Not Reproduce
"Whoa!" I thought to myself. "This isn't good."
The day I took Olive home, the woman from the rescue mentioned how good Olive had been with body handling ... she even said that she'd tugged on Olive's tail and had zero response. Clearly things had changed in the ensuing weeks.
Olive’s growling is a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing (I guess) because she's young enough to redirect the growly response; it hasn't had months to take root. It's a curse because she's exhibiting this type of behavior so darn young. I frequently use the word "ascendant" when describing Olive's temperament, and her body sensitivity is yet another example of it. Her youthful surliness is a shock to the system for this dog trainer, whose previous dogs would willingly submit to body cavity searches had I asked.
If I don't address the handling issues now, while she's young, I can guarantee that it'll get worse. Pups don't "grow out of" body sensitivity - the behavior takes root and festers and can manifest in new ways like food and location guarding. Plus her baby "rrr-rrr-rrr" growl might morph into a full on grown-up growl. (We're still not sure how big she's going to get, and I don't relish the thought of a 30-pound dog growling in my face while I wrestle her to wipe her paws.)
The good news? She's taking to the first step of body handling training beautifully. Now when I have to wipe her paws I grab the towel and a small handful of her dog food. I begin wiping and place the pile at her feet, so that the wiping predicts the treats. She vacuums up the food without a grumble while I tend to her mud-collectors.
Am I concerned about her temperament? Yup, a little. I've owned terriers before, but all have been amiable Mama's dogs. This brash, bullying creature is already a test for me.
Yes, I adore her, but we have work to do.