Tricks to Train a Corgi to Fetch to Drain Her Excess Energy and Help Her Listen

Stella is a two-year-old Corgi who lives in midtown Omaha. Her guardian scheduled a dog obedience training session with me as the dog does not listen to her guardian. The guardian’s husband is in an assisted living facility and Stella is not able to visit due to her rambunctious behavior.

Stella saw me coming and started barking before I even had a chance to knock on the front door.

The reason Stella saw I was coming was her guardian had set her up in a chair that looked out into the front of the house. This is problematic for multiple reasons, but first and foremost as it was one of many ways that the guardian was unintentionally telling Stella she wanted her to be in charge.

Dogs find and fit into a leadership structure anytime they live with others. If you don’t act like a leader through your actions, most dogs will nominate themselves to this position. This was what had happened with Stella and her guardian.

I spent an hour with Stella’s guardian going over ways to incorporate rules and boundaries as well as ways to enforce them. Its going to very important that the guardian consistently enforces these rules within 3 seconds, or preferably before she breaks them for the next 3+ weeks in order for the dog to adopt new behavior:

  • Not allowed on furniture until Stella listens and respect the guardian, then only allowed on furniture with permission.
  • Stella must drop the ball on her own when playing fetch and sit and wait before her guardian will throw it again.
  • Stella should not be within 10 feet of her guardian or guests when they are is eating.
  • Stella needs to sit at the door before being let in or out.
  • Stella needs to follow her guardian through doors or up or down stairs.
  • Stella needs to walk in the heel position instead of in front of her.

As a young, energetic herding dog, Stella is on the higher energy side of the street and a lack of sufficient exercise is absolutely a big part of her behavior issues. While walks are great for leadership, they are not a very efficient way to exercise a high energy dog like Stella.

I have found teaching a dog to fetch is one of the best ways to drain excess energy as the dog can engage its “pursuit” mode and really sprint after the ball. I have many clients who fetch their dog multiple times a day, especially any time the dog starts to act out or get into trouble.

The problem Stella had with this is she didn’t like to drop the ball after retrieving it so I spent a few minutes going over how to teach a dog to fetch and drop the ball.

Now that the guardian knows how to get Stella to fetch, she can use this exercise to drain the dog’s excess energy and make her much easier to train, walk and live with. Fetching Stella 15 minutes before going on a walk, before guests arrive, prior to training or going for a ride will go a long ways toward making her better behaved and more manageable. If its too cold or icy to fetch outside, tossing the ball down the stairs is a great indoor option; a doggie stair-master.

I recommended that the guardian start a journal where she notes Stella’s daily exercise; the number of times she fetched her and how many fetches each time. Then she should give Stella a grade for that day. Each day she should change up the number of fetches, lengths of walks, etc until she finds a combination that results in an obedient dog who listens and behaves better.

ROADMAP to SUCCESS

  • Consistently enforce the new rules within 3 seconds by hissing, standing up or marching at Stella until she turns sideways.
  • Pet Stella with a purpose so that she starts to understand she needs to ask for attention instead of demanding it.
  • Use passive training to reward Stella when she does desired actions on her own like sit, laying down and coming. Say the command word once “sit” at the same time she starts to pet.
  • Avoid petting Stella when over excited such as when returning home.
  • Walk Stella with the Martingale collar and special twist of the leash to keep her in the heel position instead of in front.
  • Add tin foil to the chair in the front of the house to prevent her from sitting in a sentry position.
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