My Session with A Yellow Lab Puppy Named Scooby

By: David Codr

Published Date: November 7, 2013


Scooby is a 10 month old yellow lab puppy. His owners contacted me to help slow down or stop his unruly behavior. Scooby had developed a habit of jumping up into his owner’s lap anytime she sat down, not respecting her personal space, jumping up on guests, getting over-excited when anything new was around and chewing on things that he shouldn’t be.

 When I arrived for the appointment, his owners were literally holding him back by his collar. His body language communicated to me that he was excited but I didn’t see any signs of aggression so I asked them to release him. As soon as they did, he immediately jumped up on me in an attempt to claim me. This is a fairly common behavior for puppies who dont yet understand how to restrain themselves.

 I demonstrated my unique method to curb and eliminate dogs from jumping up on guests. Scooby protested, but after that one correction he made no further attempts to jump up on me. If everyone in the family repeats the correction every time Scooby jumps up, that behavior will quickly become a thing of the past.

 Next I demonstrated a leadership exercise that I share with most of my clients. The exercise is designed to help the dog learn to focus while also elevating his owners as leaders in the dog’s eyes. The first few times I did the exercise Scooby got it instantly, but when we went to a larger room to practice, he started to hesitate. Eventually Scooby parked himself underneath the kitchen table and refused to come out no matter what.

 Insecure dogs will often find something to hide underneath when they are uncomfortable or uncertain how to behave. To block him from doing this, I placed a plastic container under the table where he was laying down. Without his comfortable place to retreat to, Scooby was forced to confront the situation head-on. He paced around the room a little bit before sitting down on the floor, at that point I returned to practicing the exercise.

 For puppies or dogs overly sensitive or lacking confidence, the leadership exercise I was attempting can be overwhelming so I decided to change gears. It always best to look for a different path when a dog starts to shut down and not participate rather than attempting to pull their leash or force them. I find using a treat with a pungent smell or adopting a playful energy works best at snapping dogs out of a shut down behavior. 

In Scooby’s case, the smell of the treats weren’t enough so I dropped to his level and made some play body language movements which got him up and going. I lead him to a few treats on the floor and after he gobbled them up, we moved on to the next challenge.

 Scooby’s owner had pointed out that he carried around and had bitten holes in the comforter that was inside of his kennel. I pulled it out and placed it on the floor in the middle of the room. As soon as I did Scooby trotted over to it eager to tear a new hole in it. But as soon as he did, I used a corrective sound to disagree with the behavior which Scooby responded to immediately.

 By disagreeing with the behavior with good timing, using a sound he recognized, I was able to get Scooby to understand that the behavior was unwanted. By repeating this same corrective technique whenever Scooby engages in a repeat of this behavior, he will quickly drop it and look for something else to do.

 By the end of the session Scooby was pooped, contently laying on the floor next to the chair his owner was sitting in. I advised them to spend the next week or two with a watchful eye over Scooby, offering immediate and timely corrections any time that he broke the new rules of the house. Scooby isnt a bad dog by any means, he just has an abundance of energy. Combined with not having any real rules to govern his behavior, he was doing whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Now that his family knows how to communicate with him in a way he understands, Scooby should learn to become a balanced, well behaved dog in no time.

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This post was written by: David Codr