Helping a Dominant Min Pin Mix in West Hollywood Learn She’s Not the Boss

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 26, 2015

Daphne 1

Daphne is a seven-year-old min pin mix in West Hollywood who’s barking was getting out of control, especially when people knocked on the door to her home. Her guardian mentioned that she also barks and acts aggressively to other dogs when out for a walk.

When I arrived for the session, Daphne charged the door barking at me in a show of dominance. I avoided making any eye contact but kept my hips and shoulders facing her while I remained in place. Daphne started to circle me while continuing to bark. I rotated my body to keep the dog in front of me while she triads to circle me. After a minute of this, her barking slowed down a bit and she moved slightly away.

I walked into the living room and as soon as I did, Daphne resumed her barking. But this time I presented a leash when she charged at me, then turned the tables and started walking towards her. Daphne backed away a little, but continued to bark in a dominant way. Her hackles were up, she was breathing heavily and was holding her ears in a forward position with dilated pupils.

But as soon as I slid he leash over her head, the barking stopped and she started to calm down. I laid the leash on the floor then stood on it to prevent her from running away. It only took a moment in this dog time out for her to calm down. Once she did, I removed the leash while I discussed the situation with her guardian and room mate.

The primary issue was the dog’s over-barking when people knocked on the door. After trying everything they could think of to stop the dog from going crazy when guests knocked, her guardians had resorted to placing her in her kennel. While this kept the guest from getting nipped, it didn’t stop Daphne from barking. After spending a few moments with her it was clear that the dog was acting this way in an attempt to dominate the home and situation.

I suggested some simple rules, boundaries and limits to help start changing the dog’s perception of itself as being in a leadership position. I also went over new ways to communicate with Daphne as well as how to disagree with unwanted actions and behaviors. Daphne responded to these new rules and non-verbal communication methods right away. You could see her interactions with her guardian start to improve right away. She was listening better and stopping when he disagreed with any of her actions or behaviors.

I had the room mate leave and wait a few moments before pretending to be a guest knocking on the door. As soon as Daphne heard the barking, she started barking again, charging the front door like she did when I arrived.

I got up and walked to the door in a calm manner (No rushing). As soon as I passed Daphne, I turned so that she was in front of me and door behind me. I started to walk towards her while making a sound to disagree with her behavior to claim the area around the front door. Daphne hadn’t been challenged like this before and it showed as she didn’t know what to do. At first she tried to go around me, but after I blocked her she started to move away and her barking slowed. Only after she moved completely away did I open the door.

We repeated the exercise, but this time Daphne’s guardian got up to answer the door. He repeated the technique that I had showed him, moving her away from the door with ease with his body language and movement. By the time we practiced the exercise a third time, not only did Daphne refrain from barking a single time, she walked to the far side of the room and sat down in her little dog bed without being prompted to.

Daphne 2

Next I asked her guardian to get out a leash so that I could see how she reacted. As soon as he walked to where the leash was kept, Daphne got up and her energy level went way up. I had him replace the leash to the shelf and walk way. By pausing or stopping when a dog starts to get excited, we can help it learn to stay calm as its the only way the human moves forward. It took a few moments, but eventually her handler was able to get the leash out and on her while she remained completely calm. By repeating this process for the next few walks, the dog will learn that the only way to go forward is by being completely calm.

Because she pulled on the leash I fitted Daphne up with a Martingale collar and added my special twist to the leash. As usual, it immediately stopped the dog from pulling. I showed her guardians how to hold the leash, use it to communicate to her and suggested a few rules to help make sure that Daphne moved in a followers position (never in front of her handlers).

Because we took our time, Daphne was calm and listening attentively to her guardian as we left for the walk. When we neared the front door to the building, she started to get excited so we stopped again allowing her to calm down. To capitalize on the situation, I had her guardian practice swinging the door wide open in front of her and correcting her any time she tried to run out. After a few practices, she was sitting at the door looking up respectfully at her guardian as he swung the door open wide.

Daphne 3

On the walk itself, Daphne’s handler was easily able to correct her any time we passed a dog out in the neighborhood. Even when we passed a house with three barking dogs in the front yard, Daphne barely reacted. And when she did, it only took a minor correction to get her to snap her attention back to the leash handler.

By the end of the session, Daphne was a different dog. She was completely calm, her barking almost non existent and it was clear that she had a newfound respect for her guardian and room mate. Now that they know how to lead and communicate with her, her barking, attempts at dominance and other unwanted behaviors will stop completely.

Daphne 4

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This post was written by: David Codr

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