I once had clients with a beautiful Standard Poodle. They had been A+ dog owners in every way. Great puppy raising set-up, a lot of enrichment and toys for their dog, she was taken to puppy classes and obedience classes and went to doggy daycare whenever the owners had to leave for more than half a way. She loved all people and dogs, there was nothing in her life that seemed to scare or worry her. She was neither sleepy nor over-the-top driven, but a happy medium between the two extremes and very nice to be around.
The dog was by all means well-adjusted, happy, had received the very best care and training opportunities – but she just would not listen or even seem interested in interacting with her owners.
This was when they called me and asked for help. Their primary goal was to have an engaged dog who would actually want to do things with them, instead of by herself.
I visited and they explained the setup of their dog’s life to me. And I explained the Cup Theory, and how it is the reason their dog seemed to live in her own little world.
Every dog has an imaginary cup. This cup is a measure of his need for social interactions, fun and activities. Every morning your dog’s cup is empty, and throughout the day it gets filled.
Some dogs, especially working-bred dogs, have a very big cup. They are always ready to go-go-go and up for anything. They will play fetch for hours and learn a million tricks and go on a long hike, and when you get home after a day of activities with them they look at you and say “So … what’s next?”
Other dogs have smaller cups. These might be older dogs, dogs that were not bred to work daily or dogs that simpl