Petting a Dog with a Purpose to Help Her Stop Reacting to Some Adults

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 15, 2019

For this Omaha dog training session we shared our petting with a purpose method to help Roxie, a 4 year-old Pitbull who is reactive to human adults but loves being around children.

Roxie was adopted at a very young age due to her mother’s stopping of nursing her. Unfortunately her guardians didn’t enroll her into puppy school. This lack of early socialization is likely why the dog acts aggressive to adult people she doesn’t know.

Roxie’s guardians reached out for help after she nipped an adult who came into the home and started yelling at her guardians. This is not an uncommon reaction for any dog who finds a stranger in their home challenging the guardian. Obviously not what you would want, but not an unusual behavior from a dog in that kind of situation.

While Roxie was reactive to me while she was outside, once she was inside and around the kids, she relaxed completely and showed no signs of aggression, tension, anxiety or any other concerning behaviors. Often this works the other way with dogs being anxious or fearful around children. But since Roxie was raised as a young pup around children off all ages and sizes, she has no fear or apprehension around them. Ive seen many dogs who have this day / night behavioral change where they are completely fine around one type of person and not at all comfortable around another.

Stopping dog aggression is all about finding out why a dog is reacting, then helping it come to a new realization about that stimulus. Often we use something called Behavior Adjustment Training for dogs with an aggression problem. But before we can do that, I discussed her behavior problems and day to day life with her guardians.

While Roxie had some rules in place, some of the ways the humans were interacting with her could be confusing her into thinking she needs to protect her family or the house from people she doesn’t know. I have found a wonderful way to establish a healthy leader follower dynamic is to add structure.

As a dog behavior expert, one of the easiest ways I have found to add structure is to pet the dog with a purpose. I explain this positive dog training technique in the video below.

The more the humans pet Roxie with a purpose, the more she will start to see herself as a follower. It will take the humans a month or two to get into a habit of petting her this way, but once they do, every time they pet her they will increase her respect for them as leaders, boost her confidence as she will feel that she earned that attention and get to practice a desired behavior. A ripple helping of positive dog training benefits.

Near the end of the session, the kids came home from school and that was when I was able to observe a tender side of Roxie; demurring to the young children in the home. Rolling over for belly rubs, feeling good while getting her butt scratched and just hanging out. She showed zero signs of aggressive, possessive or reactive behavior around the kids.

I suggested the guardians work on all the dog behavior tips I shared with them in this in home dog behavior session for the next month or two and then set up a follow up session where we can help Roxie stop reacting to some adults. Since she is able to be calm and relaxed around children, she absolutely has the ability to behave the same way around unknown adults. It will just take some time and the right non confrontational approach.

To help the guardians remember all the tips we covered, we filmed a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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