Dog Training Tips to Help an Anxious Treeing Walker Mix Stop Acting Aggressively to Guests

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 19, 2017

Piper is a two-and-a-half year old Treeing Walker Coonhound Mix who lives a few blocks away from where I grew up in Omaha. Her guardians reached out to us to help her stop being aggressive to guests, listen better and stop being an anxious dog.

I called and spoke to Piper’s guardians before knocking on the door to make sure the greeting went well. Anytime you have a dog with human aggression issues, you want to do everything you can to help the dog feel relaxed and calm.

I used a few dog behaviorist tricks as soon as I passed through the door. You can see how well they worked by watching the video below.

I didn’t get much of a sense of aggression from Piper during the greeting. After reflecting back on the session, I didn’t see any signs of her being an aggressive dog.

Now that’s not to say that Piper doesn’t have issues. Because her guardians didn’t introduce much in terms of rules and boundaries, Piper got the impression she needed to handle security for the pack. Problem is, she wasn’t trained to do so, therefore she didn’t know who was ok, and who wasn’t. This feeling of responsibility was absolutely contributing to her stress and anxiety.

I started things off by showing the guardians how they can add in rules and boundaries and how to enforce them consistently. By adding this structure, Piper will start to see her guardians as authority figures each time they enforce them. Its important for a dog to see the humans going through the motions of things for a dog to relent and leave that job to the humans.

While adding rules and boundaries will help to greatly reduce Piper’s feeling of responsibility and reduce her stress, there were a few other things contributing to her unwanted dog behavior.

Pretty early in this dog behavior session I noticed that any time Piper invaded her guardian’s personal space or nudged them for attention, they immediately complied. Whenever you pet a dog, whatever it is doing at the time is why the dog thinks you are petting it. So in these situations, Piper’s guardians were literally training the dog to do the opposite behavior of what they wanted.

To help Piper’s guardians start rewarding her for desired behaviors instead of things they don’t like, I went over my Petting with a Purpose method. You can get this incredibly easy yet powerful effective positive dog training tip in the video below.

Petting with a Purpose and Passive training are great ways to reward your dog for desired behaviors. This type of positive dog training results in dogs that people often find “polite” or to have good manners.

An additional benefit is the dog is practicing a more subordinate position and way of interacting with the humans in its life. This is going to go a long ways towards helping Piper stop thinking its her place to guard the house, yard or humans.

While positive reinforcement is by far the preferred way to train a dog, sometimes you need to just say no. I find its most effective to disagree before a dog breaks a rule or boundary. To do this in a way the dog will respect and respond to, I shared the series of Escalating Consequences I have developed after years of observing how dogs communicate with one another.

You can get more information on these Escalating Consequences and when to use them by watching the video below.

Using the escalating consequences consistently, with good timing will be a very important part of Piper’s behavior modification process. It will take the humans a few weeks before they become second nature to them. Once they do, they should be able to effectively disagree with Piper and stop her from getting into trouble before she gets in too deep.

Now that I had provided Piper’s guardians with the tools they need to effectively communicate, disagree and reward her, I was ready to teach the humans an easy exercise that will enable them to redirect her attention. I call this a focus exercise and demonstrate how to teach a dog to do so on command in the video below.

The Focus exercise is really easy, but a very effective way of redirecting your dog’s attention away from things that it would normally respond to. It takes a lot of short practice sessions to build up this skill set.

If the guardians practice the focus exercise as detailed in the above video, they will develop a powerful tool that will allow them to stop Piper from reacting when she sees another dog on walks, the trash truck on the street or people passing by the house.

Because it will take some time for the guardians to completely master the Focus exercise, I wanted to give them a tool that will give them greater control of the dog on walks.

Anyone who knows me knows I ABHOR pinch and prong collars. These archaic tools are designed to cause your dog to obey out of a fear of pain which is why I never use them. Its one of the main reasons they are banned in most countries.

Instead, I pulled out a Martingale collar and showed the guardians how to apply the special twist of the leash to stop her pulling and give them more control. I didnt film this with Piper so Im including a video from a client I worked with in Los Anageles with the rules for what I like to call a Structured walk.

By the end of the session, Piper was already starting to follow the new rules we introduced. Not only that, her guardians were getting used to using the escalating consequences and reading her body language. Knowing what to look for, shifting the leader follower dynamic and having the right tools in place to redirect her should enable her guardians to put her unwanted dog behavior problems to bed for good.

We wrapped up the session by filming a Roadmap to success video to go over all the dog training tips and dog behavior secrets I shared with Piper’s guardians.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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