An Excited Weimaraner Learns to Follow

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 1, 2015

Cooper (Weim)

Cooper is a five-year-old Weimaraner who overbarks and sometimes lunges when anyone comes to the door of his home. He will also occasionally nip at new people when their backs are turned to him.

Knowing that Cooper acted this way, I made sure to adopt softer body language accompanied with slower movements, avoidance of direct eye contact and keeping my back to the wall to keep the dog in front of me at all times.

In the video you can hear the dog choking a bit as his guardian held him back. Not only was the dog in a territorial state, he was also over excited. This is not that uncommon for dogs when people arrive as the guests often pet the dog or give it their attention.

In Cooper’s case, his guardian was giving treats to the guests and having them give them to him while he was in this excited state. But any time you give a dog attention or affection when in an unbalanced state, you are actually agreeing with the dog’s state of mind at the time.

Instead of rewarding the unbalanced behavior, I showed his guardian who to adopt a new way of controlling the door greeting.

When dogs live in groups, security for the pack is often handed by the top dog who is the authority figure. This perception is usually the case when a dog lacks rules and boundaries so I inquired as to what limits and boundaries were in place.

As is often the case with my clients, Cooper’s guardians didn’t really have many rules in place. This was glaringly apparent by how he failed to show any respect for the personal space of his family members.

Not only did he invade their space, he pawed or nudged them to let them know that they were to pet him. But when a dog demands attention this way and we comply, we are telling the dog it has the authority to tell us what to do.

To change this behavior, I showed Cooper’s family how to pet him with a purpose.

As we were finishing going over this new way of petting and rewarding Cooper, I noticed that he was eyeing the family’s son who was snacking on some crackers at the kitchen table.

I had him come over and sit on the couch next to his mother so I could show her how to disagree with this behavior and teach the dog to respect personal space.

To better enable his guardians to disagree with Cooper when he engaged in unwanted behaviors or failed to listen when they corrected him, I went over the sound I prefer to use as a way of saying “No.”

I also went over the series of escalating consequences that I use when the no sound doesn’t achieve the desired effect.

By consistently applying these escalating consequences the instant the dog starts to do something undesired or against the rules, his guardians can help him understand the rules and boundaries they want him to follow.

Now that we had finished adding in new rules, boundaries and structure, it was time for Cooper’s guardian to put what she learned into practice. We had one of her children go outside and pretend to be a guest knocking at the door.

I answered the door myself first to demonstrate how to claim the door space and communicate to Cooper that he was to stay on the top step of the stairs.

Cooper only needed a few corrections before he got it so I had the child go back outside and play the part of a knocking guest again so I could show Cooper’s guardian how to do it herself.

By the end of the session, Cooper was keeping a respectable distance, was already heeding the new rules and responding to both commands and corrections right away.

Its going to take time and practice before the dog and guardians get used to the new communication methods, petting with a purpose and the new rules and structure we put in place. Cooper may test their resolve a few times, but if they stay consistent and correct him with good timing, his days of lunging, snapping and nipping guests will be over for good.

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This post was written by: David Codr