Dawg went through his sixth training course with flying colors last month. We’ve decided it’s going to be the last one. At the end of the class Dawg received his American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Certificate proving that he’s officially a “good boy” — most of the time, at least.
The reason Dawg’s been through so many training courses is he’s developed a behavorial problem: he lunges at people. Not all the time; not even very often. But every once and a while, he’ll be sitting or laying in the grass while my wife or I talk with someone and when they turn to go, or when they reach down to pat him one last time, he’ll shoot up at them like a dolphin going after a flying fish. Scares them to death, of course, although from his demeanor, he’s not being “mean”. He’s just doing what a dog does when he wants another animal to start running so he can chase them. In other words, he’s bored.
We’ve tried standing on the leash, only to be knocked over when the strap rips out from under our shoes. We’ve tried temping him with treats whenever someone else is around. We’ve tried watching Dawg intensely, trying to pick up a signal, some sign he’s about to erupt, but it happens right out of the blue. He doesn’t even snap at them. He just lunges. We’ve taken to walking him mostly after sundown and before dawn just so we don’t meet anyone, since we never know when it’ll happen.
We’ve gone as long as six months without an incident. But sooner or later, he lunges. If there are no people around, he’ll lunge towards a dog across the street, even though there’s no way he can reach it.
Naturally, he never does it in front of a trainer, so all we can do is describe Dawg’s actions. Frankly, I don’t think the trainers believe us. After all, Dawg is a perfect little robot whenever we’re in class. We’ve even read every book on dog training that we can find, but we never sure if we’re having any success since the lunges happen so infrequently. But so far, nothing has fixed the problem. Not even keeping him on a short leash when we’re outside and not giving him an “okay release” command. It just doesn’t matter; when whatever it is that triggers his lunge happens, he lunges, no matter what.
It’s very frustrating. Sure wish I could get inside Dawg’s head when he does that.