Teaching Tobi the Scottish Terrier Pup to Behave

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 15, 2015

Tobi 1

Toby is ten-month-old Scottish Terrier who mouthes and nips, gets over-excited, jumps up on people, pulls on the leash and plays too rough with other dogs.

When I sat down with his guardians to discuss Tobi’s behavior, I learned that he didn’t really have many rules and since he pulled on the leash so bad, didn’t get as much exercise as he should. When a dog doesn’t get the full release of his energy, that can lead to issues.

When a dog doesn’t have any rules, it can lead it to believe that it must be the authority figure who sets the rules for others. This is not a good precedent for a puppy. But making matters worse, the dog pawed at his guardians to tell them when it was time to pet him. When a human acquiesces to that sort of behavior, they are putting the dog in a leadership position.

To help change the leader follower dynamic between human and dog, I suggested that they give him a counter order asking him to sit or lay down when he scratched for attention, then only pet him when he obeyed. Problem is, Tobi didn’t know how to sit on command so I ran through a remedial training exercise for the sit.

After teaching Tobi to sit, I suggested some rules, boundaries and structure that his guardians can apply to help the dog start to see and identify as being a follower. Rules and limits are a great way to help a dog learn to respect his guardians. While some people think they are mean, correcting a dog for breaking the rules is a healthy way to communicate to your dog and each time you do so, you help it see you as more of a leader.

I went over an exercise that will help the dog learn to focus and see his guardian as being in a position of authority. The first time I ran through it, Tobi tried to use his athletic advantage to go around me and defeat the exercise. I stayed calm and consistently corrected him until he calmed down and ran through the exercise the right way.

Because the first time took so long, I practiced the exercise with him for another 15 minutes before having one of his guardians try. Because of the dog’s athletic ability and his guardians having him for so long without any rules or structure, I was conceded he would try to use his athletic ability again so I moved the exercise into a hallway. The confined space negated the dog’s athletic advantage allowing his guardian to be successful.

To put a stop to Tobi’s leash pulling, I had his guardian go to get his leash so I could see how excited he got. She informed me that he usually got so excited she had to take him into the bathroom so she could get a leash on him instead of his running away.

As soon as the dog started to get excited, I had her drop the leash and return to her seat in the living room. By repeatedly stopping and walking away the instant a dog starts to get excited, we can help it learn to keep itself calm. It only took one more attempt to get the leash on the dog and when she did, he was completely calm. I suggested that she repeat this technique any time the dog starts to get over excited. This should not be limited to adding the leash for a walk. Any time the dog starts to get revved up, pausing or stopping consistently can communicate to the dog that excitement stops the activity.

Because the harness that his guardians used didnt stop his pulling, I pulled out a Martingale collar and added my special twist to the leash. Once outside, his guardian was smitten with how quickly the Martingale stopped his pulling.

While the Martingale certainly helped, taking the time to apply the leash kept the dog in a calm state of mind. Since dogs often get into the most trouble when they are over excited, helping them understand that the only way to move on is by being calm, we can prevent many future issues before the even start.

When we got back from the walk, poor Tobi was bushed, crashing out on the floor at his guardian’s feet.

Tobi 2

By the time we finished the session, Tobi was much calmer, listening better and clearly respecting the commands and corrections of his guardians. I suggested that they repeat the exercises I had showed them and enforce the new rules and boundaries consistently to help these changes in behavior become Tobi’s new normal. Once these changes in behavior take root, Tobi will be better equipped to restrain himself rather than reacting so instinctively to other dogs or when he gets over excited.

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