I have had a cutie of a pup staying with us for B&T for a couple of weeks now. This pup, while young, has one of the most wonderful temperaments I have so far encountered. She is friendly to people and dogs, very respectful of her adult dog companions, yet full of zest and confidence. She is also a bit mischievous which is really okay in my book.
One trait that I noticed needs a bit of work is her lack of impulse control when it comes to being able to remain quietly in her crate after finishing her meal or the nightly chewy. As soon as she is done she wants out! Period. Don’t get me wrong, she can sleep comfortably in her crate for the night so it is not that she finds that the crate is aversive. The best way I can describe her behavior is a lack of impulse control which is often seen in young animals. Also true, some adults of all species may also lack impulse control.
Impulse control is like a muscle that needs to be made stronger by multiple repetitions.
As I approach her crate one morning, I find her sitting patiently. She has learned that sitting and waiting politely for a couple of seconds without barking is the key to that crate being opened.
I look at her and I smile because she is indeed flexing that muscle! For some reason, thoughts of how I respond poorly in certain circumstances such as when talking to customer service or tech support, flood my mind. Yes, indeed, there are areas where I too can flex the impulse/polite muscle a bit more- it is not only this young pup.
The point I am trying to make is that behavior and its motivation is so freaking complex. For example: an individual dog can exercise some awesome self-control under certain circumstances but not others.
I would say that it is more a practice than a temperament trait. Yes, indeed, some temperaments in dogs are more prone to easy arousal, while others appear to habitat the world as if they had no cares.
Being mindful that impulse control in young animals is something that needs not only our attention but also our understanding makes the process of teaching it more benign. We can appreciate that dog “x” is really good at waiting politely for the Kong now filled with their daily chow be delivered. This same dog waits at the door instead of rushing out with little regard as who’s toes they might step on, etc. However, he struggles with walking on a loose leash.
Rio, is a perfect example of this. Her walking politely on leash is something we are still working on. However, this girl gets an A+ in not eating anything from the ground while we are cooking and while she waits (patiently- ever so patiently) for us to reward her with a tasty bit. There you have it. Two perfect examples of the same dog scoring high in some areas of self-control and not being so successful in others.
So here is my message to you: Observe carefully what your dog’s behavior is. Don’t label your dog! Instead, choose to see him by appreciating that they are complex beings and not automatons. They have better days and bad days, the have moments of brilliancy and moments of failure. They can be taught to be patient, polite in all sorts of circumstances but above all they are alive and as such their behavior will be ever changing. Adapting to their surroundings just like we are.