Teaching Rocky to Listen to and Respect His Owners

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 26, 2014

RockyRocky is a ten-month-old Great Pyrenees who lives in the country.  His owners called me to stop his barking at anyone or anything he disagreed with.

Great Pyrenees are a nocturnal dog who are known to get aggressive with anything they   perceive as a threat against animals under its protection. Being an outdoor-only dog who lives near horses and other animals and livestock, its not at all surprising that Rocky frequently barked late at night.

Because of their guardian / protective nature, its crucial that a Great Pyrenees recognizes and respects the authority of its humans. This won’t stop the dog’s protective nature, but it does allow the human to disagree and correct it.

I find that teaching and practicing basic commands is a great way to use positive reinforcement to condition a dog to identify itself as a follower and his human as being in an authoritative position.

Rocky’s owners said that he was inconsistent with the basic commands so I started out with a simple recall exercise. We all stood about 20 feet apart and took turns calling Rocky over. I called him over first and demonstrated how to use a hand motion to get Rocky to sit down in front of me.

At first Rocky was slow in responding. It took a little coaxing to get him to lumber on over the first few times. But on the third call he had more bounce in his walk. After that he started to respond faster and with more energy, stopping right in front of whoever called him and sitting pretty.

I suggested that they practice this a few times a day over the next week or two, then occasionally after that. I also suggested that they practice calling him over randomly when he wasn’t at the fence line barking at something. Its important to condition the dog to respond to the recall in different situations, but I also want to make sure its done most frequently as a form of positive reinforcement. Simply put, the more practice the dog has at recalling in good conditions, the better they will be when there are distractions.

I showed his owners a few more advanced leadership exercises to build up to as well as some tips on how to communicate with him through body language.

The daughter used this new body language to communicate to Rocky that he needed to stand back when she went through the fence gate. She told me that usually Rocky  charged at or tried to sneak out the door. But using the new body movement, she was able to tell Rocky to stand back without saying a word. After a few practices, he stayed put as she swung the fence gate wide open in front of him.

Because he is still an impressionable puppy, Rocky should adopt a new respect for the authority of his owners. By practicing and mastering the recall exercise, they will be able to get him to stop his barking and come to them when they give the command. This should help them stop him from over barking.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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