Helping Duke Learn to Listen to and Respect His Owners

DukeDuke is a two-and-a-half year old German Shorthair Pointer. Duke was adopted in part to be a running partner for his long distance runner owner. He called me to help stop Duke from running and pulling on the leash when they run. It only took a few minutes to know that that was simply one of the symptoms of much greater problems.

German Shorthair Pointers are what I call a professional class dog. They are extremely athletic and determined, two qualities that make them fantastic hunting dogs. But these two traits can be a real issue with dogs that don’t respect the authority of their owner.

That was clearly the case with Duke. He was scent-marking his owners, invading their personal space, demand barking for attention or in protest and only followed their instructions when he felt like it.

Because many dog behavior issues stem from being over excited or stimulated, I went over a technique to apply any time Duke’s energy level gets too high. I also went over some basic body language and alliterative communication methods to help Duke understand what they wanted.

Next I ran through an exercise to help Duke start to see himself in a follower position. The exercise is a bit of a challenge as I claim a high value treat that is laying on the floor. As soon as I put it on the ground, Duke moved towards me to get the treat. As soon as I blocked him from doing so, Duke started barking in disagreement. It took about seven minutes of slow deliberate movements before I was able to back away from the treat and get Duke to keep a respectable distance as well.

As soon as Duke laid down to signal that he had surrendered, I quickly gave him permission to get the treat as a reward. It only took a few more repetitions before he understood the exercise. As soon as that happened, his barking stopped.

I walked his owners through the exercise so that they can practice it themselves over the next few weeks. It will be important that they master the exercise so that Duke starts to see and identify himself as being in a follower position.

Near the end of the session, one of Dukes owners said he was amazed at how dramatically he had changed. By continuing to disagree with unwanted behaviors in a way Duke understands and assuming the leadership position, his owners now have all the tools they need to put an end to his unwanted behaviors for good.

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