Petting a Quintet of Yorkies with a Purpose to Help them Respect Their Humans

By: David Codr

Published Date: January 8, 2018

For this Los Angeles dog training session we worked with a quintet of Yorkies who bark, nip people and fight each other at times; Dolce, Ezio, Minnie, Vito and Bronson (Not pictured).

The dogs live with some of the nicest guardians I have worked with. They have been trying hard to get the dogs to behave and stop fighting, but due to the multiple problems and such a large group of dogs living together, they finally realized they needed help and reached out to a local dog behaviorist, me, lol.

Because Bronson had been attacking some of the other males, the guardians had him separated in another room. While this is an ok solution for the short term, its not addressing the problem or affording him the ability to change his behavior.

Discussing the situation with the guardians, I discovered four primary factors that were likely contributing to the dog on dog aggression and overall disharmony in the pack.

  • All three males were still intact. Intact makes can become more territorial, dominant, aggressive and frustrated. Neutering these dogs will not solve the problems, however, until they are adjusted, fixing these problems is going to be more difficult.
  • Under exercised. The dogs exercise was primarily limited to playing together in the house and yard. While this is ok as supplement, a lack of formal exercise (games of fetch, walks, etc) can be a contributing factor for the dog’s unruly behavior.
  • No rules or boundaries. Dogs go through life probing to determine where limits are and who the leaders are (who is enforcing rules and violations). By not enforcing rules, the dogs saw themselves as equal to or superior to the humans.
  • Lack of structure. The dogs jumped up, barked at or scratched their humans for attention. And because the humans complied, the dogs continued to do this. And because they saw it worked, the other dogs would join in making this a jealousy influenced problem.

I advised the guardians to increase the dog’s exercise, especially early in the day. I also recommended that the guardians take a dog out for game of fetch or a walk if it seems out of balance or over stimulated.

Because dogs get over things by moving forward, I want to see the guardians walking the boys who fight together at least once a day. During this walk the dogs need to be on either side of the human walking them or if a second human is needed, with the humans in the middle and the dog on the outside. This will give the dogs time together in a structured way so that they are not so foreign to one another.

If the dogs get into a fight, walking them together in this wayas soon as possible after the fight (once they have settled down) will help by making the last memory of that dog a positive one.

I also recommended the guardians rotate the dogs so that Bronson isn’t the only dog separated from the group. The guardians were already doing this a little, but need to incorporate a equal rotation so no one dog is singled out and separated.

Another dog behavior tip I shared was to tether the fighting males to furniture at times in the same room so they can practice being together in a different capacity. The dogs should be tethered strategically so they cannot get to one another.

It will be important for the guardians to watch for warning signs from either dog (staring, freezing movements, lip curls) as well as signals that the dog is stressed or in distress (yawning, licking of lips, raising of front paw) and intercede. Stopping the dogs from engaging in antisocial behaviors will be an important habit for the guardians to get into.

These tethering sessions would be best done after all the dogs had been sufficiently exercised, given a cool down period and when the house is calm and quiet.

To help the dogs start to see the humans as leaders, I suggested a number of rules (like not allowing the dogs on the furniture or worse, on the top of the back of the couch as this makes them think they have more status that the humans (and causes the other dogs to seek out this higher status themselves creating a cycle), having to sit before going through a door or not being within 7 feet of another dog or person who is eating.

Because these dogs were petted on demand, they had gotten the impression that they had more status or rank than their humans. To help the humans shift the leader follower balance, I shared a few dog behavior secrets that people can use to train their dogs simply by petting them.

Adding in these mini dog training sessions by petting the dogs for specific actions or after displaying desired actions can help them adopt more of a followers mindset. This will help them see and respect their guardians as well as stop seeing the other dogs as rivals for their claim to the throne.

Shifting the leader follower dynamic is something I have helped many dog guardians accomplish. I have had many clients tell me its not that hard with the right approach. It just takes the right technique, which I love sharing with my clients. I guess there is a reason so many people refer to me as LA’s dog behavior expert, lol.

Its going to be up to the guardians to put these dogs into a position to succeed by providing them with rules and structure. Only after the dogs start to identify as followers will it be possible to get this set of five dogs to settle down and get along as a harmonious pack.

Fortunately there are several other things the humans can do to help the dogs make this transition to a follower’s mindset. Because it takes up to 6 weeks to get the hormones out of the system, the sooner the guardians can neuter the males, the better.

It will take a few weeks to get into the habit of petting with a purpose, using passive training, enforcing new rules and finding the right amount of exercise to help the dogs start acting better. But there are other things the guardians can do during and after that takes place.

To help the guardians remember all the other dog training tips I shared during this in home dog training session, I shot a roadmap to success video (see below).

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