Our cars say “Home Dog Training” on the sides with a cool logo of a doggie sitting by his dog house.  Because of this, we are often stopped while we are out and about and asked dog training questions.  I was in Dahlonega last week when just such an event occurred.  As I was getting into my car, a person approached.  He said his name was Frank and mentioned that he had taken his American Bulldog, Loki, to more dog training classed that he could remember.  Every time he would go to the class, the trainer got Loki to behave and be a great dog.  Every time he came home, Loki would revert right back to being crazy; jumping, chasing, nipping, etc.  Did I have any suggestions?

Our experience is that Group Dog Training classes are very good for simple obedience training and standard socialization.  Sometimes they just don’t work for specific, inappropriate behavior because the issue can’t be repeated and properly addressed in the group environment.  I was pretty sure that this was the case, so I asked a few questions.

It seemed that Loki’s family consisted of Frank, his wife, and three children under the age of eight.  Loki was calm most of the day until the kids came home and then everything goes nuts.  The kids love to chase and squeal with Loki and he responds in kind.  For the rest of the evening, Loki is adrenalized and only wants to play.  He steals things off the table to get their attention.  He jumps in their laps, and nips at their pants whenever they try to get away from him.  They finally have to put him in another room and just let him bark for an hour until he “runs out of bark”.

Whenever we examine a behavioral issue, we try to discover the catalyst.  Where is the horizon between “everything is great” to “what just happened here?”  The catalyst in Frank’s problem is the initial entrance and crazy behavior of his three kids.  They are a highly focused, adrenaline distraction that spikes Loki’s adrenaline to the point of overload.

What needs to be done here is to calm the kids on their initial entry.  Here is what I suggested:

  • Have Loki on a leash with a family member in the far side of the house when the kids come home. Make sure the kids are calm and quiet.  (I know, I know… Easier said than done!)
  • If Loki begins to adrenalize, tug the leash and get him to focus on the family member. Walk him around or even take him to the back yard and back.  Do this until he is calm.
  • Once Loki is calm, have the kids come into the room and sit down at least ten feet away. They should not pay attention to Loki and start watching TV or perform another activity.
  • Walk Loki around the room, slowly getting closer and closer to the kids.
  • After the family member and Loki (remember, on the leash) have passed closely by the kids two or three times, stop and allow the kids to calmly pet Loki.
  • Do not squeeze Loki, give him belly rubs, or anything that would start to ramp him up.
  • Once Loki is calm and the kids have petted him, remove Loki to the other side of the room and drop the leash. Give him a quiet “Good puppy”.

You have now broken the “crazy adrenaline spike” caused by the kids’ arrival.  We made sure that we were in charge of the environment as the point of misbehavior normally began and we proactively minimized the problem.  I told Frank that he could use this same methodology for other times when Loki started to get a little too crazy.

Frank was grateful for the advice and saw how the group classes could never have helped him solve this problem.  He knew that the hard part of all of this would be his kids, but he was determined to get through it. I gave him my card and told him to give me a call if he needed any other dog training tips.

Yes, we know it is hard to “train your kids”.  We are still working on our 23 year-old.

We invite you to call us at (770) 718-7704 if you are having any dog training issues.  There are many more dog training tips at Best Dog Trainers Dahlonega Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dahlonega Georgia.