Teaching a Pair of Min Pins Control to Help Them Stay Calm and Balanced

By: David Codr

Published Date: March 23, 2016

Izzy and Ellie

Ellie (left) is a three-year-old Min Pin who lives in Omaha with her room mate Izzy, a seven-year-old Min Pin. Their guardians called me for help with their over excitement when guests arrive, jumping up, barking, counter surfing, marking and Separation Anxiety.

Both dogs were clearly excited and communicated such upon my arrival. Let’s just say that this is one house that no one is going to be able to sneak into, LOL.

Whenever possible, I try to let dogs calm and settle themselves down, but because their guardian had informed me that one of them had barked for a solid 15 minutes at a recent guest, I pulled out a couple of leashes and had their guardians attach them to the dog’s collars.

As you can see in the above video, as soon as the dogs were leashed up and blocked from being able to run away, most of the barking subsided right there.

Or so I thought. Once we got into the living room, the barking picked up a little bit again. I used this as an opportunity to show their guardians how to use a leash to give the dogs a timeout when they can’t seem to control themselves.

It’s going to be very important for the dog’s guardians to consistently give them this leash time-out as soon as they pass the communicated energy threshold. In order to do this, we need to act as soon as the dog starts to get out of line. We do dogs a great disservice when we try to ignore unwanted behavior.

Dogs assume that any attention or correction that they receive is a result of what they are doing at the time it is delivered. So if the dog starts to bark and you attempt to ignore it for a few minutes and then apply the leash technique later on, the dog is not sure why it is getting the consequence. This is why it’s so important to immediately address any unwanted issue with a dog. If you disagree with good timing consistently, the dog will eventually connect your disagreement to the action and stop the behavior.

Because excess energy was a huge contributing factor to both dog’s behavior, I suggested that the guardians increase the amount of exercise they receive each day. It’s important that this exercise is delivered as early in the day as possible. While it’s more convenient for us to walk our dogs when we return from work at the end of the day, that leaves the dog with excess energy all day long.

Due to the dogs being so excited on the leash, their guardians had given up on walks over the winter. But just because its cold outside doesnt mean the dogs don’t have excess energy. I recommended the guardians find some exercises and ways to burn the excess energy in other ways so these problems don’t return next winter.

But now that its spring, no such bad weather blackout was in effect. Before we headed out on a walking demo,I went over the rules that I like to incorporate on a structured walk. I also showed the guardians how they can utilize a martingale collar with a special twist of the leash to have better control of the dogs and stop them from pulling.

When we first got outside, I took the leash to demonstrate the proper technique as well as how to best reward and correct the dogs when they were in or out of position. Once I finished, I handed one of the leashes to the family’s mother so that she could walk one of the dogs herself.

At first the mother was a little bit slow in her corrections and not quite as assertive as needed to communicate to the dogs that she disagreed with them trying to take the lead. But within a few hundred feet, her timing and technique improved dramatically.

When she returned to the front of her house, I handed her the other dog’s leash and got a “are you crazy” look.

When you have higher energy dogs like Izzy and Ellie, that energy is going to come out somewhere. Either you can provide a constructive way for them to deplete this excess energy, or they can come up with ways of their own. Often this manifests in unwanted behaviors. Regular walks combined with other strenuous activities like fetch or chase games will dramatically improve the behavior of both of these dogs.

Another time the dogs tended to get overexcited was when they were about to be released from their kennels. I had the guardians take me into the basement so that I could show them an exercise that requires the dog to stay inside the kennel despite the fact that the door is wide open.

Normally I block the dogs from exiting with my shins but because of the height disparity I had the guardians using a tennis racket instead. The racquet essentially extended the reach their arms.

It took a couple of minutes, but eventually Ellie figured it out. If the guardians consistently release the dogs from the kennel in this structured way, it will give the dogs the ability to practice self restraint and control. These skills will go a long ways towards helping the dogs give up many of their nuisance behaviors.

By the end of the session both dogs were worn out. We had forced them to use a muscle that they don’t use very often; their brains.

Because of their high energy levels, adding more constructive exercise to their day-to-day routine it will go a long ways towards helping these dogs behave better.

Fortunately for their guardians, Izzy and Ellie are both smart dogs. They had already started to follow the new rules that we had introduced only a few hours earlier, were following the lead and commands of their guardians right away and were no longer overreacting when people came to the door.

If the guardians can consistently drain the dog’s excess energy and provide them with the leadership and structure they need, it will be a breeze for the humans to disagree with any remaining unwanted behaviors.

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