Practicing Leadership to Help Anabell Grow into a Balanced Adult

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 10, 2013

AnabelleThis little bundle of cuteness is Anabell. I was called in by her owner’s to address a few issues the four-month-old puppy had; potty training, barking, biting and chewing / destroying things.

Anabell’s owners let her jump up on the furniture whenever she wanted, most of which she chewed on. For dogs, the height at which they sit has a correlation to their rank in the pack. When you have a puppy who hasn’t figured out the proper boundaries of right and wrong (such as what is appropriate to chew and what isn’t), letting them up on the furniture can send the wrong message about rights and authority.

Because she is amazingly cute, it will be difficult to do, but I suggested her owners not let her up on the furniture for the next month. This will help her see and identify as a follower which will help with the destructive / chewing behavior.

I demonstrated how to communicate that she needed to get down a few times as well as how to disagree with her before she jumped up on the furniture. Its always easier to disagree with a dog behavior before they engage in it. By disagreeing with Anabell before she jumps up on the couch or their laps, and immediately instructing her to get off when she forgets, her owners will be able to institute some boundaries which will help with the leader / follower dynamic.

During our discussion of the furniture, I noticed several items in the dog’s toy basket that were not dog toys; water bottles, a slipper, sock, etc. When I asked about these items their owners said that since Anabell had already chewed these items they left them there for her. While this make sense to a human, it sends a mixed message to the dog as its hard for them to tell the difference between a water bottle or shoe that she is and is not allowed to chew. By consistently telling the dog a type of item is off limits, we make it easier for the dog to understand the boundaries we want it to respect.

Next I showed her owners a leadership exercise I show many of my clients. It helps the dog learn to defer to their human’s leadership and permission, teaches the dog to focus and offers the ability to practice self restraint. It took a few repetitions before Anabell understood the message the exercise communicates, but once she did you could see a little bit of pride growing. This pride that comes with an acquired skill is as important to a dog as it is to a human. I suggested they practice this exercise a few times a day for the next week or two to help Anabell’s development.

By the end of the session Anabell was laying on the floor sleepily. By practicing the new rules and leadership exercise, her owners will be better able to communicate what they want and expect from her. Knowing what and what is not allowed will help Anabell’s confidence and growth into a well behaved adult.

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