Introducing Some Rules, Boundaries and Obedience to Help a Pack of Dogs Develop Respect for Their Owners

By: David Codr

Published Date: March 30, 2015

Toodles, Toyo and Lea

For this session I worked with Toodles (far left), Toyo (Center) and Lea who all live in Whittier California. Their owners called me for help with a number of issues, the most pressing was Toodle’s barking and growling at other dogs when out on walks.

After sitting down with their owners to discuss the situation, it quickly became apparent that the issue was the dogs identifying as being in a leadership position. They all jumped up on the furniture at will, demanded attention from their owners and had no real rules.

While you don’t have to have rules when you have a balanced dog or  dogs, when you have multiple dogs living under the same roof, and they are not calm and balanced, rules make the world go round. I suggested a few as well as some new communication methods.

I also suggested that they stop the over petting of the dogs. I hate to say it, but in this case, the dogs were given so much love and affection without any expectations whatsoever that they had developed some quirks and unwanted behaviors.

When a dog gives a human an order (such as when it scratches for attention) and the human follows said order, essential the dog is in the leadership position and the human is following. This dynamic is a big reason that the dogs were starting to get reactive around other unknown dogs so I offered a suggestion and watched as the owner’s eyes grew wide. I suggested that they stop petting the dogs completely, unless the dog did something for the human first like sit or laying down.

To a dog, sitting or laying down is a more subordinate position. So placing them in this posture helps their mental outlook fall into the right category.

So for the rest of the session, when a dog jumped up or scratched for attention, their owner countered with a “sit” command. Once the dog was in a sitting position, it received some attention. At first the dog looked at the dog with a head cocked puzzled posture. But after a few repetitions the dogs started sitting for their owners much quicker. By the end of the session, the dogs were walking over and sitting in front of their owner as their new way of asking for attention.

I also suggested that their owners start offering the dogs one treat with a one word command. Prior to my visit, their owners pulled out three treats each time. So no matter what the dog did, it got a reward. I suggested that they start to pull out only a single treat and then give all three dogs a command like “come.” The first dog to come over and sit in front of their owner was the one who got “paid” with the treat.

By only making one treat available, their owners will be able to create competition to obey. It didn’t take long for this new technique to have an impact. Id say by the fifth time that they gave a command this way, all three dogs were rushing over and executing the command. By contrast, at the start of the session their owners had to repeat even the most basic of commands multiple times before the dog would comply. Watching how quickly the dogs changes their behaviors put a big smile on my face.

These aren’t bad dogs. The aggression their owners had seen from Toodles was more a case of her attempting to control a situation than actual aggression. I took them all out for a walk and we encountered multiple dogs doing he same. While Toyo was the most vocal, they all reacted in some capacity at first. But after taking the leash and applying timely corrections, the dogs were all able to walk by or next to stranger dogs without incident. This showed me and their owners that they simply needed the owners to be the leaders to the dogs.

By the end of the session the dogs were responding to their owners commands and corrections immediately. Their energy level was much calmer and they were far less reactive to stimulus that used to make them go nuts like a knock at the door.

There is still work to do. Their owners will need to practice the exercises and techniques I showed them as well as embrace the new communication methods and petting for a reason tactic. But based on how quickly the dogs adapted and their obvious intelligence, it shouldn’t take long for the dogs to see their owners in a new leadership light. As this develops, their respect for their owners will continue to grow. This respect will allow them to disagree and lead their dogs under any circumstance or situation with ease.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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