A List of Free Tips To Help a Trio of Dogs Learn to Listen to and Respect Their Guardians

By: David Codr

Published Date: February 15, 2017

Loki (left) and Junior (right) are a pair of Siberian Huskies who were joined this year by Nala, a one-year-old German Shepherd. The guardians called me primarily for a dog obedience training session with Nala to stop her from getting excited, barking, nipping when excited, jumping up, not listening, charging the door and some dog aggression.

The dogs showed good confidence but little respect for personal space when I arrived for the session; moving around me while occasionally attempting to jump up.

When we open the door and the dog or dogs are in front of us, they can easily get the impression that we are assisting them in handling door security. Security for the group is a job that is usually handled by an authority figure in a dog pack so this was my first indicator that the dogs didn’t see their humans as leaders.

I sat down with the dogs and their guardians to discuss how I could help them with their problems. In the course of that discussion, I learned that the dog’s didn’t have many rules or boundaries. I also saw the humans rewarding the dogs for a number of the behaviors they asked me to stop.

Whenever we pet our dogs, we are rewarding them for whatever they happen to be doing at the time. So each time the dogs invaded their personal space and the humans petted them, they were sending a very confusing message to the dogs.

By Petting the dogs with a purpose for desired actions and behaviors, we can help this trio start to develop more respect for the humans as authority figures while also helping them develop some self control.

I also recommended that the humans use passive training to help the dogs learn that these actions and behaviors are desired and rewarded. This is a great way to use positive reinforcement to help your dog develop good manners and habits.

I had one of the guardians get a piece of lunch meat and microwave it a bit so that it would smell very interesting to the dogs. Once ready, I had him bring the lunchmeat into the living room to show him how to claim his personal space.

Now having three dogs makes anything more challenging, but when the dogs don’t have the proper respect for personal space, an exercise like this becomes pretty difficult. While we were able to achieve success today, I recommended that the guardians practice this exercise again with each dog individually. Once the dog has practiced enough on their own, then the guardians can try with the two best dogs together, and once they are on track, bring in the third dog.

Staging activities like this when the humans can focus on the dogs instead of trying to be a good host, etc, can go a long way towards eliminating unwanted behaviors. I have found most dog problems as a result of the human failing to teach the dog how they want them to act, then getting frustrated when they don’t act how we want them to.

By recreating situations where the dog’s don’t act the way we want, and helping them by rewarding them for the desired actions and behaviors, we can help everyone get on the same page while eliminating miscommunication and frustration. Over the years as a dog behaviorist, I have found his type of positive dog training is easy, effective and fun.

ROADMAP to SUCCESS

  • Introduce rules, boundaries and limits and enforce them consistently within 3 seconds.
  • Use nonverbal communication cues to disagree with unwanted actions or behaviors.
  • Practice defining a one foot circle of personal space instead of letting the dogs shove and push onto the humans.
  • Avoid shoving the dogs back or correcting them physically.
  • Practice establishing an invisible boundary around the table when the other guardian or a guest has food. Also practice establishing an invisible boundary to the kitchen when food is being prepared.
  • Practice the Focus exercise with each dog individually, multiple times a day in short 1-2 minute practice sprints.
  • Only start increasing the delay of the second movement of the Focus exercise once the dogs start focusing right away.
  • Recreate and stage situations where the dog’s display behavior that is not desired and break it into small sections and practice each one with each dog individually.
  • Use passive training to reward the dogs for engaging in desired actions and behaviors.
  • Change the come command word to “here” to start fresh and dump the baggage that has built up with failed training of the word “come.”
  • Practice the come exercise with all three dogs, but only one treat. Only the first dog to come and get it gets the reward to help motivate the dogs to respond faster.
  • Once all three dogs are coming right away, then rewarding all them with a treat is ok.
  • If one dog consistently is last when called, practice with that dog separately with 3 or more people sitting around the room with a circle.
  • Practice the come in short sessions (1-2 minutes) where each person is about 10 feet away who has 5-7 treats. When the dog starts to come consistently, start increasing the distance between people.
  • Practice randomly calling Loki over to a human who is hanging out in the back yard with him. After getting the treat, allow Loki to continue on so he doesn’t interpret a recall command in the back yard as the end of play time.
  • Practice claiming the door to the home when guests arrive. Bothe guardians should call or text one another on their way home to pretend to be a guest.
  • Practice leashing the dogs up multiple times a day, stopping the process as soon as the dog walks in front of the human or gets over excited.
  • Practice leashing the dogs up separately if its too difficult to do with all three at once.
  • Get Martingale collars and use the special twist of the leash to stop her from pulling on the leash.
  • Look for ways to delay permission or gratification to help the dogs develop more self control.
  • Add structure to meal times and always eat before giving the first dog permission to eat (dogs should eat one at a time).
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