Let’s face it, all dogs can and will get into trouble. Sometimes it’ll be little mess ups and other times it could be huge. It’s up to us to manage the environment, be responsible pack leaders and set our dogs up for success. Older dogs can have different issues than younger ones, unneutered dogs will have different issues than altered ones. Take all of this into consideration when you’re working with your dogs.
Here’s a little background about my dogs and how I do it at my house AND how I work with our clients’ dogs…
- Bear Bear, 13 years old, spayed, female, Terrier mix, rescued her when she was about 3 months old
- Boston, 7 years old, male, neutered, Pit Bull, rescued when he was about 3 months old
- Tyson, 2-3 years old, male, neutered, Pit Bull/American Bull Dog mix, rescued when he was about 1 year old
My dogs all know the routine at our house so there’s not a whole lot of disciplining needed except when it comes to people coming over and leashing up to go on walks. This is the hardest thing I deal with and the most frustrating.
Despite all the training they’ve had regarding loose leash walking and not jumping, all of that is thrown out the window and they lose their minds when we have company!
My home (and vehicle) are dog-proofed and through the years I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work in these environments so the kinks have been worked out on those levels.
So, I’ll break down what I do in these situations individually:
When company comes over, I never open the door when they’re blocking the entry or when they’re jumping on the door. I tell them, “Back” and try, that’s the operative word, try, to get them to sit, most of the time I can but with three, it’s difficult. I tell my guest to hold on while I get my dogs situated. If only one dog is out it’s a lot easier to control and manage but with three, it definitely is harder and consistency is the key. I give my dogs the ‘stay’ hand signal and even the ‘down’ signal and have them lay down. Does this work? Sometimes. I won’t lie. Sometimes it doesn’t.
I advise my guest to ignore my pups when they first come in and only pet them or give attention when they’re calm. Ha! Calm, what’s that when there’s someone in the house?! Seriously, they’re full of excitement and love visitors, after about 5 minutes though, they could care less.
How I Prepare To Walk Them
- I don’t say, “Want to go for a walk?” Of course they want to go for a walk and if I ask, I cause more excitement
- I gather my leashes, all three of them!
- I take a deep breath, exhale and relax
- I stand up tall and assertive and give the ‘sit’ hand signal
- Once the dogs all sit, I leash them up one by one
- If they come out of the sit position, they have to get right back into it and wait
- I have all three continue to sit until I open the door
- Usually Bear Bear tries to rush out the door first but I place her right back in the sit position until I’m ready for them to come outside
- Once I get outside, I invite them
- Once on the porch the whole process starts over, I have them sit until I invite them off the porch
- If they rush off, I lure them back and they have to wait
- Once on the side walk or on the road, they have to walk with loose leashes or we stop walking
- When we return home, they have to be invited inside and have to sit politely and wait for me to unleash them
- If we’re going for a car ride, they can’t rush in the vehicle, they have to be invited (and I tether them to prevent accidents)
Getting them ready for walks is much easier than getting them ready for a visitor!
Now when I’m working and dealing with client’s, I pretty much do the same thing. I expect good behavior and envision that when I go visit.
How I Handle a Client
When I’m visiting a dog for a walk, I remain calm and if the dogs are crated, I have them sit while I unlatch crates. If they bounce around, scratch on crate or bark, I wait until they’re calm.
Once outside of their crates, they have to sit and wait for me to grab leashes and attach them. Again, if they bounce around, I wait. I incorporate hand signals in when I work with clients and encourage good behavior. I don’t let the dogs block the door or try to be first outside. They are invited outside, after I go and are invited back in once we finish the walk.
For dogs that aren’t crated, same rules still apply. They’re encouraged to sit and remain calm while I leash them up and continue this behavior while we’re on the walk.
Now what do I do when the dogs misbehave? That depends on the situation. If we’re walking, I use a verbal correction first and a short, quick correction with the leash if necessary. If the dog is pulling, I’ll stop and lure them next to me. There’s no forward movement when they’re pulling.
If a dog is fixated on an outside stimulus, I might use my body to block their sight line or lure them the opposite way, with a verbal correction.
While in the house, verbal correction is done first. I’ll distract the dog with a toy or start working on commands. Anything positive that will deter the dog from doing the naughty behavior.
In all of these situations, remaining calm and positive is the best thing I practice. Positive reinforcement is my fail safe. Most dogs will work for food and for a good boy or good girl.
If you’re having a difficult time with behavior issues, I suggest you work on leadership first. Don’t let your dog run you. Don’t let your dog get his way in a troublesome situation. You have to be in control. Your dog needs you to be his leader and being consistent is key. The minute you slip up, like I do with my dogs and visitors, is the minute you’ve lost control. Check out this other dog training article we published.
Contact us if you’re having basic behavior issue problems with your dog. We can possibly help or refer you to a trainer that would best suit your needs.