This has turned into an interesting topic, IMO, and I might do a blog post on it even if Alex's breeder would see it -- you know what dogs mark a lot? INSECURE dogs mark a lot. Not dogs that are quivering wrecks but dogs who just don't have the emotional maturity or assurance to feel comfortable in some situations. Insecure dogs are markers; and for those dogs, burying their own scent in the scent of their owner is one way they mark, and the place that is most owner-scented is, of course, the owner's bed.
Alex is a momma's boy, many male Lapphunds are. One Lappy breeder made a laughing remark one time that in breeding, the Lapphund girls pretty much have to do all the work and explain things to the boys. Lapphund boys are soft dogs. This is not bad! I like a soft dog, in general! And as I said, it doesn't mean they are timid or spooky, it just means they need increased confidence -- and that's something I can work on!
So the first thing to do, duh, in all the stuff I read, was: keep the marking dog out of the bedroom. Period. And that's in effect here, and I must say it's really nice for me. I don't think the dogs are more than inconvenienced by it, and now Alex can't lie on my bed all day, barking out the bedroom window at my neighbors' grandkids. (INSECURE DOG!)
Another part of this campaign is to just not allow marking in general whenever it presents on walks, and I have done that, too. Alex is a big marker on walks; he marks ten times more than Rowley or Beau. (Beau doesn't mark at all, he is the best leash walking dog, he only stops if he has to potty.) I do not like being stopped by a marking dog on a walk; the leash jerks in my hand, and feels unpleasant on my arthritis. So I don't allow stopping for marking on walks. I will make sure to be 100% about that for Alex from now on. It's a walk, move your legs.
Also, I am now walking Dee and Alex on their own and taking Beau and Rowley on a separate walk, which was started bc of Rowley's heartworm treatment; but I think that may be a good thing to continue for other reasons!
I am also not giving Alex attention every time he asks for it; he is going to be his own dog when we get this worked out, not a momma's boy. I am not using negative reactions at all, just disengaging myself from him and going on about what I'm doing, so he turns his attention elsewhere. He has to develop his own resources, I am not that resource for him for every little thing. (This is one reason I love Dee, she is SO self-sufficient and keeps herself entertained with no problem!) I will not build confidence by simply giving him attention, he needs to be given approval for doing things and doing them well, and not just for being cute. So a sort of NILIF program is in effect for this.
When I said that he blew his last NW3 trial, I meant it: he acted goofy and silly and flung himself on the ground and rolled around, instead of focusing on work, because people laugh at that and say how cute he is and want to pet him. I should not have allowed that, and I will no longer allow it. At the time, I thought 'oh well, this means he's relaxed and not stressed' but it didn't -- and I should have popped him back on his feet with his leash and given him a brisk 'get to work' command with some exercises to make his BRAIN work, not his emotions.
It's not been automatic that Alex matures emotionally, because he lives with other males who ARE mature -- Rowley and Beau; also, I have mistaken intelligence, of which he has plenty, for maturity. I think I'm finally on the right track with him. We'll see. But I have achieved this much: my bedroom is MY BEDROOM! I'm so happy!