Adding Structure to Help a Little Yappy Dog Learn to Listen to and Respect Her Guardian

By: David Codr

Published Date: September 13, 2017

Missy (left) is an 8 year-old Silkie Terrier / Yorkie mix who lives in Omaha with 4 year-old mix breed Teddy. Their guardian set up this dog behavior training session to get them to stop barking, being an excited dog, protective / possessive of her guardian especially when people come into their home.

I could immediately tell that Missy needed more help that Teddy. She barked relentlessly, moved in front of Teddy frequently, demanded attention from the guardian and attempted to take the bully stick I gave Teddy.

After chatting with their guardian about the dog behavior problems and their day to day life, it quickly became apparent that a lack of rules and limits, combined with love and affection at the wrong times resulted in Missy becoming a petulant dog. If the guardian wasn’t giving her her total attention, or didn’t give the dog exactly what she wanted, she started demand barking at her.

To help the guardian get into a habit of providing leadership and structure, I suggested the guardian start petting the dogs with a purpose. This is one of the easiest forms of positive dog training out there. You can sit in on this discussion by watching the dog training video below.

While petting with a purpose may seem like a minor thing, because its a heavily repeated activity, it can become a powerful tool when it comes to behavior modification in dogs.

An offshoot of petting with a purpose is something I like to call, passive training. This is quite possibly the easiest way to train your dog and is a wonderful example of positive dog training.

Passive training and petting with a purpose work well if they are repeated over and over. Its going to be important for the guardian to make a conscious effort to do these daily for the next month in order for them to become habit. But once that is the case, each time she pets her dog, it will be a micro dog obedience training session every time she pets the dog.

Next I suggested some rules and boundaries that will help the dogs start to see the human as being an authority figure.

We tend to think the dogs should naturally see us as a leader but dogs are all about what they see us do. They probe to determine where boundaries or limits are. If we don’t have any rules, the dog can quickly get the impression they are the authority figure. To help reshape the leader follower dynamic, I suggested a number of rules and limits.

After we finished discussing rules and boundaries, the guardian looked up at me and asked how she was supposed to enforce these rules and get the dog to listen. Shortly after being a dog behaviorist, I developed a series of three Escalating Consequences to disagree with unwanted actions or behaviors.

Since one of the new rules was that the dogs weren’t allowed to go into the kitchen when food was being prepared, I decided to demonstrate how to establish and enforce an invisible boundary to the kitchen using the escalating consequences.

Because I modeled these consequences after how dogs communicate with one another in their native language, most dogs catch on to them right away. Missy was no exception.

To help the guardian practice using the Escalating Consequences, I demonstrated a leadership exercise I developed a few years ago. You can watch me go through it with Missy in the video below.

Id like to see the guardian practice the leadership exercise a few times a day for the next week, working herself up to 15 minutes before she gives the dog permission to get the treat laying in the middle of the floor.

This was really a case of a guardian who loved her dog and spoiled her. By granting every request for help or attention, the guardian’s love was misinterpreted as coming from a subordinate place. After repeating these actions for years, Missy got the impression she was the top dog. Then when her guardian leaned on the dog to get through some rough times, things got even worse.

Now that the guardian knows how to provide Missy and Teddy with the leadership they need to thrive, and has the tools and was to communicate what she does and does not want from them, its just going to take practice and receptions before this new more desirable dog behavior becomes the norm.

We finished things up by shooting a roadmap to success video which you can watch below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorized in:

This post was written by: David Codr

Follow Us via Email