I have been working in Cumming with a Home Dog Training client and their Golden Retriever, Charlie, for about three weeks now.  We have had two great lessons and most of their issues with Charlie are now a thing of the past.  One of their large challenges is that they just recently had a beautiful baby girl and need to spend a great deal of time tending to her needs.  Charlie just turned one year old last month and had been their “only child” until recently.  He always got his way and could get their undivided attention whenever he wanted.  Now he has to “wait his turn”.  Recently, he has started to grab anything on the coffee table or on the ground and chew it up.  When they would try and take it away, he would growl and run around.  They are afraid that this may escalate into more aggressive actions and could be a problem with their newborn daughter.  They called me yesterday and asked for suggestions.

Chewing is often a sign or boredom or the need to release too much energy. It can easily be redirected or managed.

I explained to my clients that this was a natural occurrence with many young dogs in families with newborns.  Until the baby came, the young dog could always get whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.  He wanted to play ball, no problem.  He wanted a toy, no problem.  He wanted to sit on their lap, no problem.  Life for the young dog was great.

Now, my clients’ baby is the new “#1” and demands their immediate attention night and day.  Charlie now sees this and he also sees that his demands for attention many times fall on deaf ears.  He no longer is “the chosen one”.  Since he can’t easily reason what had happened and since he “was not given the memo” on the new family dynamic, he still believes he is in charge.

Since his prior tactics of attention are no longer working, he simply chooses to ramp up his “attention getting activity”.  He is not doing this out of spite or aggression; this is simply his way of communication.  He sees that stealing the TV clicker off the coffee table gets their attention.  Grabbing the socks gets them to chase him.  If they corner him and you try to take the item in his mouth away, he growls to extend their period of focus.  All he has done is to switch to his “Plan B” to place his world back to the way he believes it should be.

My clients and I obviously know that this is not the world they want.  They need to focus on their daughter and Charlie has to respect them and understand his new place.  In order to accomplish this, I needed to set up a lesson plan that could stop the stealing and change Charlie from an “active demander” to a “passive responder”.  I suggested the following:

  • The first thing we needed to do was to stop the stealing. We needed to make the things that Charlie would normally steal unpleasant to him.
  • I told my clients to place a nasty tasting substance on the things that Charlie would normally steal. I suggested Bitter Apple, Tabasco Sauce, Jalapeno Sauce, or Habanero Sauce (in that order).  Place the liquid on the objects and place them in areas where Charlie would go after them.
  • If Charlie would pick the object up, the taste in his mouth would be so disgusting, the shock would have him drop the object and move away. I told them that they could have the possibility of “ramping up the iciness” of the sauce until they found the one that Charlie really didn’t like.
  • They also needed to have an alternative action in which Charlie could engage so he wouldn’t go back and try to get the inappropriate item again. I suggested getting some deer antlers and placing low sodium chicken broth/peanut butter on them.  Place them on the ground near the inappropriate items.
  • After Charlie would drop the inappropriate item because of its horrible taste, they could have an appropriate item that would not require my clients to chase after him.
  • Charlie’s actions would be redirected from “give me attention” to “okey dokey, I have something else to do”.
  • I also discussed what they needed to do if Charlie actually got an inappropriate item. The one thing they shouldn’t do is to get mad and chase him.  That is what Charlie wants.
  • They should have a squirt bottle with the hot sauce and make sure it can produce a straight-line spray when triggered.  (Initially water down the hot sauce.  You don’t want to over do it!)
  • Calmly walk over to Charlie with the inappropriate item in his mouth.
  • Place the spray bottle about one foot from Charlie’s mouth and then give it a good squirt right between the teeth holding the item into his mouth. This should startle Charlie and have him drop the object.
  • Use their foot to push the item away.
  • Give Charlie the deer antler with the low sodium chicken broth/peanut butter.
  • Calmly back away from him while facing him. After five or six feet, I told my clients they could turn around and just walk away.
  • The most important part of the entire process is to stay calm and minimize their focus on Charlie.

Charlie will learn very quickly that he is no longer getting the 24/7 attention he once maintained.  My clients’ replacement of the stealing with a alternative, acceptable distraction maintained their support of Charlie’s needs.  I told my clients that it was also imperative that they set a specific amount of time per day to play and bond with Charlie.  The difference in this situation is that the attention is based on my clients’ ability and schedule, not Charlie’s.

When it gets right down to it, training is based on offering choices with the best option being the one that creates the outcome you desire.

Please call Robin hope you will call us at (770) 718-7704 or (770) 718-7716 if you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training tips at Best Dog Trainers Cumming Georgia.  We have all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Cumming Georgia.

Robin and I are excited to be your local dog training experts for over thirteen years having trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families.  We are always checking in on all the local vets in the area.  They are often recommending our services to their clients.  In addition to fixing general canine obedience and behavior problems, we correct special issues like dogs running away.  We have combined our dog training methodologies with our invisible dog fence systems to make sure your dog remains where he belongs.  Please call for a 100% free, in-home consultation and guaranteed price quote by clicking Out of Sight Dog Fence Cumming Georgia.