Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Warning!While we are sliding our dog to the bottom of the pack ladder, you may notice your dog acting in a new way. It may start looking quiet and "glum", going off to lie down by itself, lying with its back to everyone, and seeming somehow "sad". Some dogs even give a loud, drawn-out sigh!

"Oh no! What have we done to you, dear, sweet little Buffy? We've destroyed your merry little spirit! Whaaaaaaaaagh!!!!!"

Now don't go and un-do all your hard work! IN THE DOG WORLD THIS IS NOT SULKING!

"Oh my goodness! What have I done? Speak to me, Spotty! Speak to me, pleeeeeeease!"

Although it does resemble human sulking, this is not the dog version. Rather, it is simple, clear dog language that all dogs use and understand. It means: "OK, I'm being polite now. I'm exaggerating how submissive I can be so you can really understand."

This behaviour is actually a great sign that you are on the right track and your dog is successfully sliding down the ladder. Your dog will look happier and more relaxed once it's sure it doesn't need to exaggerate its body language quite so much.
This should take a few weeks, though it's sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on the individual dog.

Because dogs are very social and naturally form packs - even with humans - ignoring our dog is a very powerful tool we have at our disposal.

Ignoring our dog is a much more effective method than physically punishing our dog down to the bottom rung of the pack ladder.

So make up your mind to be firm about this very essential "ignoring period". Don't give your dog attention until it's giving you the polite, calm, well-behaved, undemanding behaviour that we're after.


simmo said...

Amazing stuff Dog Man. We are currently engaging some young troubled youth in our community (Armidale) by getting them involved in dog jumping at the local shows. We have access to funding and were wanting to see if you are interested in a visit here to 'workshop' these kids on various aspects of dog handling. However I can't seem to find a contact phone/email address anywhere. Can you help? cheers andrew (asimpso9@une.edu.au)

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr McKenna,

I came upon your page about dogs and sulking while looking for whether someone had tried to explain that aspect of dog behaviour. I'm currently writing about how it might be that some dog behaviour cannot be explained because it has no precedents in the wild.

There is much of dog behaviour that asks us to either assume that dogs can extrapolate from known behaviour to new behaviour, which would accord them a higher degree of intelligence than we thought possible, <or ask us to postulate that there is a place in the dog mind/psyche/brain for an alpha beyond the alpha dog/wolf, which can be evoked/elicited only by a human.

Time is precious, so I was wondering if you'd respond to just this:

When you say sulking is dog behaviour that dogs display and understand, and that it can even extend for a few weeks, you're implying that the alpha dog/wolf can and does notice individual pack members' lack of activity, absence from immediate sight, extreme submission, etc. and that it later behaves in a manner that indicates to the sulking member that it did notice and register.

This is a tall order, but unless this is true in the wild, there would be no precedent for sulking behaviour. There are, of course, many possibilities here, but I trust you understand what I am asking. Do reply if you have the time! My ID is TheDog@wolfenmann.com

Thanks --

Der Wolfenmann

Cielia said...

Thank you so much and what wonderful illustrations! I had a feeling that ignoring this behaviour was on the right track but I had no idea why it was presenting itself. Our little dog Mayu gets quite "sulky" every now and again and you can imagine she's been getting a lot of attention for that from my husband which sounds like it is just making matters worse. Thank you!

The Dreadlock Dog Man said...

Hi, Martin, The Dreadlock Dog Man here,
sorry - but I lost the password to this blog - and let it slide.
However - I have great news!
I am now on Youtube - and this footage of me communicating with rescue dogs led to me getting a great publishing deal!
You can now buy my ground-breaking new book on-line at HarperCollins Australia. It's called, "WHAT'S YOUR DOG TELLING YOU?" and is being released 1st Sept., 2011.
See me in action on Youtube at: the dreadlock dog man.
Find me on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/martinmckennadog for free tips and links to ordering book.
Thanks so much for your support!

mia said...

Our dog has been to the dog groomers and has been very quiet for the last couple of days. She has been very clingy on return. She has been shaved (shorter than normal). Is she telling us that she doesnt like her look?

mia said...

Our dog has been to the dog groomers and has been very quiet for the last couple of days. She has been very clingy on return. She has been shaved (shorter than normal). Is she telling us that she doesnt like her look?

Lucu Lencia said...

No... dogs don't give a sh** what they look like. She was probably treated roughly by the groomer or the groomer experience scared her and she's feeling low (as we all do after a bad experience). Cheer her up by playing fetch (or other game she likes) and taking her out for nice long walks until she gets over it.

Next time maybe groom her yourself or stay and watch to see how they are treating your dog. I hear screaming and howling from the dog groomers next to my office every day - its not a pleasant experience for most dogs.

Jesse Sao said...

what a despicable article perhaps as despicable as feminism or maybe even more despicable than that. dogs are a loyal and couragous animal. it is not uncommon for dogs to sacrifice life and limb to save their owner or their familiy. the article is tainted with power trips and looking to undermine dogs who are naturally good natured creatures who are most common to save their owners and the family.

truly a despicable thing to say that dogs are evil or vile or profane or disobedient or have any bad in them.

ussually when dogs dogs do have bad in them it is because of their dumb evil owners. most of the time they will sacrifice themselves to protect their "pack"

what this article is, is nothing less of an abusive person trying to say that dogs are evil and without altruism and making dogs out to be bad guys which in almost every circumstance is a big fat lie and mostly they are a good people who WILL love you and your family even to its death.

dogs are mostly loyal and most of them only become bad when abused. a dog can only be as smart as their owners and in this case, martin is NOT the sharpest tool in the shed.

Martin is the kind of guy that gets shits and giggles by abusing his dogs, he is the kind of guy who harasses other people because he has a low self esteem of himself

he needs to constantly remind himself of being in control of his dogs because he feels so little and powerless about his own life.

Martin has a low self esteem of himself so he makes it an appoint to belittle his dogs and exert his control over them.

i wouldnt trust the guy on my life.