Teaching Brodie How to Cop a Chill

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 29, 2013

Brodie

Meet Brodie, a four-and-a-half year old Australian Terrier.

Brodie’s owner asked me to help him walk on a leash without pulling, stop the constant barking and whining and doggy-tantrums anytime the dog didn’t have his owner’s undivided attention.

When I arrived, Brodie’s energy level was pegged at 11. He jumped up on me, ran in circles and whined in an insecure way.

I showed his owner my technique to stop the jumping up. Brodie protested when I corrected him, but after the second correction, he stopped jumping up on me.

When I sat down with his owner to discuss the situation, Brodie paced back and forth and had an almost constant whine going on. I started to disagree with it while I spoke with his owner. It took a few additional corrections, but eventually he settled and calmed down. His owner said she couldn’t believe how quickly I was able to get him to stop and settle down.

I coached her through the best way to disagree or correct any unwanted behavior. When you disagree with a dog with good timing using a correction it understands, you can quickly change or eliminate unwanted behaviors.

While his energy level had gone down quite a bit, it ramped back up the instant he realized we were going to go for a walk. I explained to his owner that it is important to stop and wait for a dog to calm down before moving forward any time it gets too excited. By stopping when the energy level gets too high and only moving forward when the dog is in a calm state of mind, we can help the dog learn to stay in a balanced frame of mind all the time.

Because he pulled on walks, I fitted him up with a Martingale collar and added my special twist to the leash. As we walked to the front door, he became excited again so I paused and only continued once he relaxed.

When we got to the front door, I told him to sit then swung the door wide open. At first, the movement of the door swinging open triggered a reaction from Brodie. But after two corrections, he sat patiently as I continued swinging the door open. By asking him to wait for a command before being able to move forward, we can help Brodie learn to look to and respect his owner as his pack leader.

I gave his owner my three rules for the walk; dog must walk in the heel position, no sniffing and no marking. By adding structure to the walk and following these rules, the walk becomes a leadership exercise.

Because of the Martingale collar, Brodie responded immediately by falling into a heel position and needing very few corrections to stop the pulling. His owner was able to walk up and speak to her neighbor without Brodie making a single bark. As we continued the walk, his owner kept marveling that he didn’t even attempt to sniff or mark anywhere. By waiting until Brodie was in a calm and balanced state of mind before we started the walk, it was much easier for him to focus on and follow his owner’s lead.

When we finished, we went inside so I could show her another leadership exercise to help Brodie learn to focus. It only took two repetitions before Brodie figured it out so I suggested his owner make the exercise more challenging each time. This will build up his ability to focus while also reinforcing his owner’s position of leadership.

By the end of the session, Brodie was laying on the floor in a completely calm and balanced frame of mind. It will be important for his owner to continue to immediately disagree whenever Brodie ramps up his energy level or displays any unwanted behaviors. If done consistently for the next few weeks, the changes we achieved in the two hour session will become permanent.

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