Teaching Furble to Keep His Nose from Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 6, 2014

FurbleThis is Furble a three-year-old Sheepdog mix who had developed an affinity for sticking his nose directly into the crotches of any guests who arrived at the family home.

While sniffing a crotch or rear end is perfectly normal greeting for dogs, his owners understandably wanted to put a stop to that behavior for humans.

When I sat down to discuss the situation with his owners, he showed almost a contempt for their personal space; jumping up on them as they sat, sticking his nose in their laps to demand attention and ignoring any attempts to correct him.

When he attempted to do the same to me I stood up and turned to face him. As soon as I did this, Furble stopped for a moment then he moved back to his owners, but this time I had them repeat the same technique. As soon as they stood up, he stopped, then backed up.

To a dog standing up tall is the most commanding position a humans can assume. By standing up and facing Furble, they were communicating they didn’t want him so close. The problem was, each time someone stood up to Furble, he would move on to someone else. He had become so accustomed to invading their personal space that he took it as his right.

To block him from this pattern I put Furble on a leash and stood on it about a foot from his collar to help him settle down. He stood there for a moment then started barking at me in disagreement when he realized he couldn’t get back to jumping up or leaning on one of his owners.

I ignored him and went over other methods his owners can also use to disagree with unwanted behavior. After a minute or two, Furble stopped his barking and sat down. A minute later, he laid down on the floor completely calm. As soon as he did this, I slowly lifted my foot off the leash and continued my discussion with his owners. Furble lay there for 10 minutes before calmly getting up and walking away.

I suggested that his owners repeat this process any time the dog refuses to respect their corrections, personal space or got over excited. By consistently applying a set of escalating consequences when the dog breaks the rules or gets into trouble, his owners will be able to clearly communicate that the behavior is unwanted and results in consequences.

Because Furble clearly did not see his owners as having more authority than himself, I showed them a leadership exercise to help change that dynamic. It only took a few repetitions before he started to understand the rules so it shouldn’t take log for him to master the exercise. In addition to gaining confidence in himself for mastering this new skill, his owners will be able to use positive reinforcement to help him understand the behaviors they want and reward.

I walked all the members of the family through the exercise until Furble was responding right away to everyone, even the youngest child a 7 year old boy. Furble was also responding better to commands and corrections from everyone now that they were communicating in a way that was clear for the dog to understand.

We moved on to a recall exercise as Furble’s owners told me he often ignores them when they call him. I had the members of the family sit around the room in a circle and showed them how to position their hand to encourage the dog to respond quicker. We used positive reinforcement for this exercise, rewarding Furble with a high value meet treat each time he recalled on command but I also made them put the dog into a sit before offering the reward.

By making the sit a sort of finishing position for the dog when we recall him, we are helping to condition Furble to a different way of interacting with the members of the family. In a sitting position. This helps the dog see himself in more of a follower position and it has the added benefit of getting the dog accustomed to sitting in front of a person when he gets attention.

As we practiced I had the members of the family move farther and farther away to increase the level of difficulty. By practicing these exercises daily for the next week or two, the dog’s respect for his owners commands and authority will increase until following their lead is second nature.

By the end of the session, Furble was noticeably calmer and was more responsive to his owners commands and corrections. Best of all, he was showing respect for everyone’s personal space, going completely crotch free.

By getting the dog accustomed to sitting in front of a person when he wants attention and disagreeing with any relapses to the old nose to crotch greeting, Furble’s days of sticking his nose where the sun don’t shine are over.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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