Dear Dog Whisperer,
Do you make visits to homes in England by chance? We could use your help and would be more than happy to fly you over here.
Carol and Shawn B.
In all seriousness, we're having some issues with our pooch and can use some help. Dog training is not one of our specialties, and I think we will definitely be seeking help/advice either here in the U.K. or when we move back to Michigan.
Fletch is 2 and 1/2, is a wonderful, loving dog, and we all love him tons. The problem is that if he is off of his leash/lead, running around and getting exercise, he will not come when called. He pretty much comes when he's good and ready and usually comes back half gray, half golden. We do realize that he's a hunting dog, loves squirrels and other small creatures, and is just behaving as any red-blooded retriever would. We just want him to be obedient.
Ever since he re-joined us in October, 2008 after having been apart from us for 5 months, he came back not so tolerant of children. He was staying with friends of ours that have no children, but have a Golden Retriever of their own, and Fletcher was extremely happy there. They loved him very much and basically spoiled him. That didn't bother us a bit, we truly appreciated how they cared for him.
As he acclimated to his new environment here with 5 children that he knew for over a year before we parted from him, he displayed low tolerance for our younger 3 children. He was trying to put them lower than him in the hierarchy of our family. He would give them a low growl, and also show his teeth at times. We have taught the twins how to show dominance and it has been fairly successful, however he still will growl at them at times.
This has been going on for about a year now. Just yesterday we had friends over with their two children, ages 10 and 7. We are cautiously aware of Fletch's tendency to try and dominate children, and so try to make everyone aware, all the while leaving him out so that we can try and get through this. Sure enough the 7 year old goes to pet him and he snaps at her, leaving a little mark on her hand. She becomes terribly frightened, cries, and gets lovingly consoled by her mom. We, of course, are embarrassed, frustrated, and upset at Fletch. We put him up in our bedroom for several hours as we visited.
Outside of this bad behavior, he is THE most loving dog. I honestly don't know what to do. After our friends left, I said to Shawn that we need to get a muzzle for Fletch so that he can be around children. His thought was that we just put him in another room to protect the children. I think that's good as well, but it doesn't solve the problem.
Help! If you have any suggestions or recommendations, please comment or e-mail me.
Here he is all gray and golden and ready for a bath.
Look at that poor face. He so doesn't like his bath.