Buddy the Cockapoo Gets a Second Chance and Makes the Most Out of It

BuddyThis happy looking guy is Buddy, a three year old Cockapoo. Im so glad I had the opportunity to work with Buddy and his owners. Buddy’s owners called me about a session after Buddy nipped their daughter in law when she grabbed him after he escaped into the street.

Because their daughter in law is expecting her first child, Buddy’s owners were concerned that something may happen with their future grandchild and that thought was more than they could bear. A week after scheduling the session with me, they called to say that the risk was too great and that they would be rehoming Buddy. I sent them a reply and mentioned I had helped many red zone case or out of control dogs and that I was confident I could do the same for them.

Fortunately for all involved, Buddy’s owners rescheduled the session.

As soon as I met Buddy I could see why they were concerned. He wasn’t at all aggressive, but he was yippy and he darted around the room and back to his owners after each bark. I had his owner put Buddy on the leash and hand it to me.

As soon as Buddy was on the leash, the barking stopped. As soon as his owner handed me the leash, Buddy started to pull away. I stepped on the leash and ignored him. After a minute of struggling, he calmed down quite a bit. A minute later he sat down next to me and I could see his nostrils flaring as he sniffed me. This was exactly what I wanted. A dog is most “dog” when they are using their nose to investigate and meet a new person.

I suggested that his owners add some rules and structure to Buddy’s life to help him see a distinction between his and their authority. Buddy was clearly a bit insecure when dealing with visitors as evidenced by his barking form a distance and circling back to jump up on the couch next to his owners when he was uncertain. This can lead to an inferiority of confidence which can result in many behavioral problems. Simple rules and boundary enforcement such as making furniture off limits can go a long way to helping Buddy develop a new way of interacting with visitors or situations he lacks experience in.

I showed them how to tell Buddy to stay off the couch as well as how to disagree with unwanted behaviors so that they can help him understand what is and is not allowed. I had taken Buddy off the leash to demonstrate these methods and they had an immediate impact. He did not continue to bark, his energy level was much lower and he seemed far less anxious than when I arrived.

When his owner commented on how much calmer Buddy was, I knew we were on the right path. I suggested that they place him on a leash and stand on it in the same way whenever his energy level got too high. Its not uncommon for dogs to get into trouble when they are over excited. By placing him in a leash time out each time he gets too revved up, his owners can communicate that unbalanced behavior results in restricted movement. In time, Buddy will adopt a calmer overall demeanor as a result.

Taking that one step further, I suggested that anytime that Buddy gets over excited (when they pull out a leash, get out his food, pick up a ball, etc), that they pause and wait for him to settle and calm himself before continuing. This will take a bit of time at first, but will have a lifelong impact on Buddy as it will also help him learn to stay calm and in control.

Next I demonstrated a leadership exercise that will help Buddy learn to calm down, look to his humans for guidance, and practice self restraint. It only took a few repetitions before Buddy understood the exercise. Once he did, I coached his owners through it as well and recommended that they continue to practice it and increase the level of difficulty for the next week or two.

Because his energy was a big part of his behavioral issues, I went over how to conduct a structured walk. Because he was all over the place on walks, I fitted him up with a Martingale collar and added my special twist to the leash. After going over the rules of a structured walk, we went out for a short jaunt.

I had his owners wait on their porch as I walked Buddy back and forth in front of their house to get him used to the leash. As usual the Martingale collar stopped his pulling completely so I focused on keeping him in a heel position. Once he was walking at a nice heel on his own, I invited his owners over and coached them through the walk so that they got the same results.

We finished up the session by implementing a more structured way of feeding Buddy. It was a little challenging at first, but his owners stayed with it and were able to get Buddy to sit and wait while food was in his bowl while they had a small snack in front of him. When they finished they walked over and gave him permission to eat which Buddy did immediately.

By the end of the session, Buddy was considerably calmer and was showing much better response and respect for his owners. Buddy is in no way, shape or form an aggressive dog. Im guessing the nip he gave his owner’s daughter-in-law was a reaction due to her being concerned that he was loose combined with his lack of practice at calming himself. Sometimes dogs will react to the behavior of the people they are interacting with and this was lily the case with Buddy’s one nip.

By practicing the calming techniques and taking time so that Buddy learns to calm down on his own, most of the unwanted behaviors will subside. And for those issues that don’t stop, his owners will be able to apply the new methods of communication and disagree in a way Buddy understands and respects.

It will likely take a week or few of practice and consistent applications of the new rules before Buddy adopts a calm demeanor all the time. But based on how quickly his energy and behavior improved in the few hours we worked together, Im confident his owner’s grandchild and Buddy will become lifelong friends.

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