Have you ever called your dog to you and he has:

• Not responded but then a few moments later comes over with a waggy tail?

• Had a big stretch and a bit of a scratch before coming to you?

• Responded… but only after sniffing something very interesting on his way to come to you?

If your answer is yes then I am delighted to confirm to you that you have yourself a ‘stealth dog’! This chap is one of the cleverest of pooches and he wants to work with you but really has to know whether you are the one who he can rely on for everything (including survival and welfare of the entire family pack). Are you cleverer than he? What is your response to the stealth moves when you see them? Your dog is looking for you to answer his questions in a convincing and reassuring way to prove to him that his role is not the decision maker of the family.

Does this ever happen to you:

• You suddenly realise you’ve been stroking the dog who wasn’t there a moment a go but is now positioned under your hand?

• He comes to you when you call but stops just outside of your reach and you end up stepping forward towards him?

Bless them they are so funny and comical but it is extremely important to recognise these ways of getting you to do something on their terms and you have to choose not to have contact with them at that point in time.  Remember it is for the good of the dog – we have to convince our dogs that they are not the decision makers because if they think they are, they are likely stressed and anxious with issues such as uncontrollable barking, nipping, no recall, chewing furniture and pulling on the lead.

So what can you do with your stealth dog? And will you ever have cuddles again?!

Yes you can have cuddles, but only on your terms and by this I mean you initiate the cuddle! Any contact with your dog (any dog!) must begin with you staying where you are and calling the dog to you. The dog then has a choice whether to come to you or not. If he does, cuddles! If he doesn’t, you carry on with something else and disregard him… especially if he comes to you a few moments later after having sniffed that thing, scratched his ear, had a look around on his way over!

We need him to know that he is not the decision maker and if you can recognise all the ways he asks you whether he is or not, you can answer him correctly every time with symbolic disregarding. If you practice this for a few days I bet you that your dog will come to your call for cuddles much more than he used to.