Mr Chow the Bulldog Learns to Listen and How to Use the Stairs

Mr ChowMr Chow is a seven-month-old English Bulldog pup. His owner called me to get Mr Chow to listen better as well as over a fear of going down the stairs.

When I arrived for the session, Mr Chow had a medium fun energy. He came over to investigate me and didnt show a lot of respect for my personal space, jumping up on me repeatedly. I showed his owner my preferred way to communicate that jumping up on people is off limits. It took a few corrections, but after that, he stopped trying to jump up.

Because Mr Chow wasn’t always responsive to his opener, I went over a free basic communication methods and emphasized how important timing is when addressing or correcting the dog. As soon as his owner started to use these techniques, Mr Chow’s attention and response to her was much improved.

Next I showed his owner an exercise to help Mr Chow learn to focus and to defer to the authority of his human. It only took him a few repetitions before he figured out the exercise. After I knew he had it down, I walked his owner through it a few times, then suggested she practice it a few times a day for the next week or two. Mr Chow’s mastery of this exercise will also help condition him to defer to and follow the lead of his owner.

When we finished, Mr Chow was much calmer and responsive to his owner. I used that calmness as an opportunity to work on his fear of the stairs. Despite living with his owner since 8 weeks, he had refused to go down the stairs to the TV room, instead stopping at the top stair and looking woefully down.

At first I attempted to use a high value treat to entice him to decent the stairs, but Mr Chow would have none of that. I switched up and walked to the bottom of the landing with his owner to see if his desire to be with his owner would override his fear of the stairs. Mr Chow simply turned and walked away.

I went to the top of the stairs and after placing him on the leash, we started down. I was able to make some progress getting him down a few steps, but it was more me pulling him then Mr Chow doing it for himself.

At this point I took a knee on a step a few from the top and grabbed Mr Chow’s front paws. One by one I manipulated his limbs down the steps. First one, then two and three. But by the fourth step, Mr Chow defended on his own. After a brief pause, he took another step. Then walked down the rest of the was on his own.

He was slow and it looked awkward, but Mr Chow was doing it on his own. Once he got to the bottom, Mr Chow explored his new surroundings a bit, then hopped on up the stairs. We repeated the process a few times and you could see his confidence rise as he became more comfortable walking up and down the steps.

Mt Chow isn’t a bad dog. In fact his happy, playful personality makes him a fun companion. His owner will need to continue using the leadership exercises and new methods of communicating with him for these changes to become permanent

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