Helping a Hancock Park Terrier Calm Down and Stop Pulling on the Leash

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 1, 2018

For this Hancock Park dog training session we helped Rumi, a 4 year-old Fox Terrier mix who needs some loose leash training to work stop his leash aggression on walks.

As soon as I arrived for the session I got a first hand example of Rumi’s barking problem. He barked to disagree with my arrival, unexpected movements and any time I objected or disagreed with him.

As a dog behavior expert, anytime I have a barking dog, I try to identify any things in the dog’s day-to-day life that may be confusing it into thinking it has more rank or status than the human or in some cases, that it is responsible for the guardian.

Im pretty sure that was the case with Rumi. Not only did he not have any real rules in place, he was able to tell his guardian what to do to some extent. I suggested a number of small changes to help Rumi start to see his guardian acting like a leader; at least from his perspective.

I also emphasized how important it is to reward the dog when it does things his guardian likes. Often people ignore good behavior from dogs, but are quick to disagree or correct them when they do things we don’t like. This is a common problem that causes many dogs to act out or misbehave as that is what gets their human’s attention.

One of the suggestions I made was what we refer to as “maintenance” in dog behaviorist speak. This means to make changes to the dog’s environment to help eliminate its ability to engage in or practice unwanted dog behaviors. Because Rumi’s home looks out over the street it caused the dog to think he was in a commanding position.

Stopping the dog from looking down on the street and barking at passers by will help him break his habit of barking at dogs and people outside his home.

We headed outside so I could show the guardian some loose leash training tips.

Stopping a dog from pulling on the leash is best accomplished by working on the individual steps one at a time. The first step is training the dog to come back to you when the leash gets taught. Once the dog starts what I call an auto return, you can start asking for more advanced movements.

To help Rumi start putting himself in a heel position once he stops pulling on the leash, his guardian practiced what we called the “pirouette maneuver” (I love using fun command words). You can see her work on this step with Runi in the video below.

At first its ok if the dog sits sideways to the human, but as they both get more comfortable with this exercise, she can start asking for more of a turn. She will need to use the treat to lure him into the circle movement. A tip is to lower the treat so its positioned at his nose level as she lures him around. If he stops tracking the treat, she should move it back to literally touching his nose then try the lure again. Keeping a treat within a inch or so of a dog’s nose is vest when luring into position.

Another tip would be to practice this movement inside her home. This will allow her to practice without a leash. Since she has a nice long hallway, she can simulate a straight ahead walk and help Rumi practice the pirouette maneuver a few times going up and down the hallway. If she practices this for 2-3 minutes a day for a week straight in the hallway, she will see good results on walks.

It will also be important to practice the u turns, reading his body language and even exercising before walks can all help him learn polite leash behavior.

Im hoping that the exercises and techniques we introduced in this in home dog training session will stop Runi from acting aggressively on walks. The guardian should start to see improvements in a week or two. If not, we may need to set up a follow up session to do some BAT training with a dog we can control. That would also give me the ability to show the guardian how to train him to play fetch by himself using an i fetch.

I sum up all the dob heavier secrets I shared with the guardian in the roadmap to success video below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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