I was in Canton about a week ago working with a new Home Dog Training client and his 2 year-old Weimeraner by the name of Fonzy. Like almost all Weimeraners, Fonzy was full of energy, very playful, and quite intelligent. Normally, these are great characteristics for a dog. The problem arises when the owners don’t take charge and allow the dog to take the leadership role.
Unfortunately, that is what my client (unknowingly) allowed to take place in their household. Fonzy was getting away with everything because he had been permitted to do whatever he wanted. Nobody had told him that he was not the boss. Nobody had “explained to him” that he was not the one writing the “rules of the house”.
The great news is that Weimeraners are very intelligent. If you clearly explain what you want them to do, they will follow your direction. So, the first thing that I did was to teach my client how to lead and direct Fonzy in a way that he clearly understood and had the complete ability to obey. It took a little time to get Fonzy “back on track” because of the length of time “he was driving the bus”, but we got it done. Within a few hours Fonzy was focused on my client, well behaved, and following his obedience commands.
One of the big issues that my client had with Fonzy was his “out-of-control” walking problems. Fonzy was pulling on the leash, stopping when he wanted to stop, and was always setting the pace. My client followed the canine behavioral methodology I had just taught him and he was amazed at the immediate improvement in Fonzy’s walking.
As Fonzy, my client, and I were calmly strolling through the neighborhood, he mentioned that there was one more “walking issue” that he had with Fonzy. It seems that Fonzy “goes nuts” when he sees cars, bikes, or joggers approaching them while out on a walk. He asked if I had any suggestions to fix this specific walking issue.
I told my client that even though a dog may normally walk quite well for most of a walk, the introduction of approaching targets such as cars, joggers, bikes, etc., will often cause heightened anxiety. When this takes place, he must reaffirm his leadership role by taking charge of the situation and clearly demonstrate that he will keep Fonzy safe.
I reminded my client that we had just affirmed his leadership position with Fonzy. Fonzy accepted this situation by providing my client with obedience and respectful focus. In return, my client must always protect and provide for Fonzy. That was the contract just established between my client and Fonzy.
I continued to remind my client about the importance Fonzy places on body language when assessing situations. When another animal or object directly approaches him, that movement can be perceived as a dominant or aggressive action. It is my client’s role in their relationship to meet that challenge, defuse the situation, and provide safety for Fonzy.
I went on to say that the one thing that many dog owners do when they are directly approached by, for example, a neighbor walking their dog, is to stop. They freeze as the “scary situation” draws down on them and do nothing. This increases their dog’s anxiety and clearly demonstrates that they are not fit to be the dog’s protector.
We don’t want this to happen to Fonzy. Because of that, I offered my standard “what to do when you and your dog are out on a walk and someone approaches you” training advice. It is as follows:
- Remove Fonzy from the immediate line of approach by directing him at a 90 degree angle up onto a front lawn, a driveway, etc.
- Calmly give the leash several tugs as you walk him about ten to fifteen feet up the driveway, onto the front lawn, etc.
- Have Fonzie focus on you as you stay calm. If he is still concentrating on the approaching object, direct him farther up the driveway or onto the lawn. Display confidence the entire time while you are gently tugging the leash to maintain Fonzy’s attention on you. Softly talk to him using a reassuring tone. If needed, place your foot on the leash so that Fonzy cannot jump or move around.
- If, after doing all this, he is still focusing on the approaching object, direct Fonzie behind an object that will block his view of the approaching object. This could be a car in the driveway, a fence, or a bush. Continue to have Fonzie focus on you while you display a calm and “in charge” demeanor. If needed, place your foot on the leash to keep him stable and focused on you.
- Once the “scary object” has passed, reward Fonzy’s actions of focusing on you with a high pitched “GOOD PUPPY”. Check to make sure that there are no other inappropriate objects in the immediate area and then continue your walk.
I told my client that the more he successfully performed this action, the more Fonzy would “trust him” with any situation while they were out on a walk. In the future, there will come a time where these “currently scary things” will be able to pass right by without his need to direct Fonzy away.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.