A Boxer Named Trout Learns to Calm Down and Respect His Guardians

By: David Codr

Published Date: November 19, 2015


Trout is a two-year-old boxer who jumps up on people, shows little respect for anyone’s personal space, gets over excited and exhibits little self-control.

I was a little bit surprised at tryouts reaction when I arrived for the session. While he was excited he certainly wasn’t out of control, well at least at first.

When I sat down with tryouts guardians to discuss the session and what they wanted to accomplish the dog kept getting more and more worked up. He almost wiggled he was so excited.

Usually I like to let a dog settle down on its own before I start to work with them but after a few minutes with Trout it was clear that he was not going to calm down anytime soon so I used a leash technique to disagree with his overexcited behavior.

Even with the leash it took several minutes before trout finally settled down. But once he did I started to probe and ask questions about his day-to-day life and the triggers that seem to make him get over excited.

Dogs don’t become unbalanced on their own, it’s nearly always a result of their experiences and interactions with other animals and people. To this and I offered his guardians some advice on how guests and new arrivals at the home should interact with the dog to help him learn to stay calm.

After discussing the rules of arrival I started to work with trout but noticed he was slightly standoffish for a couple of the exercises.

I always want a dog to feel good about himself when I’m working with them so I change tactics and went over a simple recall exercise that utilizes positive reinforcement.

It was great to see trout start to become more confident as we worked with him. I suggested that the members of the family repeat this exercise daily for the next week or two while gradually increasing the distance between humans. This will help tryout practice responding to their commands and also condition him to the fact that he is obedient.

Because it was clear that Trout considered himself to have equal authority with all the humans in the home, I walked his guardians through leadership exercise I developed a few years ago.

Now that we had incorporated some rules, boundaries and limits to tryouts daily routine we are ready to practice answering the door again.

Unfortunately due to a technical issue I don’t have video of the guardians answering the door.

To sum up I had them walk to the door in a casual manner, turn to face the dog as soon as they passed it which placed the door at their back. Then while keeping the dog in front of them I had them walk directly at the dog moving it away from the door.

Once they had moved the dog back to a respectable 10 feet away from the door I had them walk backwards to the door then break down the door opening process into individual steps; Jiggling the deadbolt, jiggling the doorknob, cracking the door open in a half an inch then opening it all the way. Throughout all of this the guardians kept their hips pointed directly at the dog and anytime the trout started to move forward they immediately hest then took a sudden and deliberate series of steps towards the dog until it treated behind the newly established boundary.

Because Trout was so determined, I pulled out a tennis racket and show them how do use that to extend the reach of their arm.

It took a few repetitions but eventually trout learn to stay behind the boundary on his own while we knocked on the door.

I suggested that the members of the family text or call each other when they are on their way home so that they can practice this door answering exercise when they are ready. Often times the dog engages in unwanted behaviors at a time when we are rushed or unprepared for it. By having the members of the family college other and warn them we can be better prepared to respond correctly to the dog’s reaction.

Because Trout is an extraordinarily high energy dog I had been stressing how important getting regular daily exercise will be towards improving his behavior. His guardians mentioned to me that he was extremely strong and like to pull on the leash which made it difficult to control him.

I pulled out a Martingale collar and show them how do I apply the special twist to the leash to give them more control and stop tryouts pulling. As usual, the Martingale along with a few rules and some structure resulted in an amazing transformation.

By the end of the session Trout was much more obedient and respectful in his interactions with his guardians. He is still a work in progress’s so it will be important for the guardians to practice the leadership exercise daily and strictly enforce the new rules and boundaries for the next week or two. If they consistently disagree when the dog gets out of line and use the leash to give him a timeout when is excited energy becomes too much, coupled with regular daily exercise they should see a noticeable improvement in his day-to-day behavior.


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This post was written by: David Codr

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