Training a Rescue Dog to Be a Calm Dog at Home and on Walks

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: September 28, 2017

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with Dusty, a one-year-old Red Heeler mix who needed training to stop being an excited dog; door dashing, barking and nipping when playing.

After greeting Dusty, I sat down with her guardians to learn about their main dog behavior concerns. I learned that Dusty didn’t have a lot of rules in place. When dogs don’t have rules in place they can take on responsibilities on their own, such as barking at neighbors walking their dogs outside. I suggested a few rules for the guardians to incorporate to help Dusty have a more predictable environment, which can help her calm down.

To help Dusty adopt a follower’s mindset and look to her guardians for direction, I taught her guardians our Leadership Exercise. To see how Dusty did, watch the video below.

As you can see in the video, Dusty wanted to assess whether I was serious about taking the leadership position in the house by sitting and waiting to see if I would follow through. Follow- through is a major part of dog ownership, along with consistency. Dogs often learn that if they are persistent in doing the things that they want to do that we will eventually give in to them. When we are consistent and follow through, we show our dogs how much we are committed to them and they learn to look to us for direction.

To help Dusty relax when greeting guests into the home, I taught the guardians our Claiming the Door Exercise. This will help Dusty stay a respectful distance away from the door by setting an invisible boundary for her to stay behind. This also accomplishes helping Dusty learn self-control by not being able to be the first one to the door when a guest arrives. To see how I accomplished this, watch the video below.

Dusty picked up on this exercise very fast! Often times dogs are relieved when we take the leadership position, because we are taking away responsibilities from them, that they took on themselves. Another time period that dogs often take on responsibility or leadership is when going out for a walk. Whenever your dog walks in front of you they are taking the leadership position. By teaching Dusty how to walk next to us, she can relax knowing that we are there to protect and lead her on on the walk.

I used a martingale collar and a flat leash for our Structured Walk exercise. You can see how I taught Dusty how to walk calmly next to her guardians on the leash by watching the video below.

Remember when you are walking Dusty, to keep the leash loose on her at all times, except when you are correcting her. This will help her learn to not pull and follow your walking pace. I have found that when dogs walk calmly next to their owners, their owners enjoy taking them for walks more, which leads them to taking their dogs out for walks more often.

By the end of the session Dusty was a very calm dog and looking to her guardians for direction and leadership. To help keep up this good behavior, the guardians will want to continue to use our Escalating Consequences to disagree with her and use our Petting with a Purpose technique to reward her for good behavior. We wrapped up this session with Dusty’s Roadmap To Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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