Near you. Practical training, help and problem solving

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Anglian Wolf Society

..but he's so good in the house:

Are you puzzled by the way your dog changes its character depending upon the situation ?

Clients often tell us that they can't understand why their dog is fine with cats but hates children or it's fine with the children but attacks other dogs in the street

This isn't designed to be an article on dog behaviour. It's just here to reassure you that your dog isn't schizoid - or at least, no more so than any other dog.

The truth is that dogs' minds don't work the same way that human minds do. The easiest way to think about this is to imagine that their brains are divided up into separate compartments to deal with different situations and those compartments don't talk to each other.

The compartment that deals with slobbing out in the front room with you in the evenings, for example, is not the same one that deals with meeting other dogs in the street or reacting to strangers visiting your house.

Each of these compartments has its own set of behaviour rules and its own personal memory store and any changes by way of learning or training that affect one of these compartments very often won't affect any of the others.

The basic rule is that a dog's behaviour will be dictated by its highest motivation at any given moment and if, say, it's meeting another dog in the street then its highest motivation will be dictated by rules within the "meeting other dogs" compartment. That compartment might contain strong rules about driving other dogs out of its territory or it might contain a strong rule about playing with them. It all depends upon the individual dog.

Dogs are as individual as humans and exactly what is in each of those compartments will almost never be exactly the same from one dog to another.

Understanding how this system works, how we can change the rules in those compartments and how we can get a dog to do different things in various situations is part of the skill of effective, practical dog training.