I was in Flowery Branch last week to visit a prior Home Dog Training client and his Golden Retriever, Buddy. We had worked with Buddy over five years earlier when he was just a puppy. Everything worked just great and Buddy was a great dog. Over the last five years, my client had rescued four additional dogs. With five dogs in the house, things could get a little crazy from time to time. The reason my client asked me to return was to help with his newest rescue. He believed that this dog, another Golden Retriever named Mary, was about eight months old. This one was full of energy and would cause the entire pack to go crazy every time they all were released into the back yard. He was at his wits end and that is why he called me back.
As dog trainers, we have observed that bunches of crazy dogs are normally led and adrenalized by one crazy dog. I wanted to confirm this theory with my client, so I continued to ask him some additional questions. From my questioning, I discovered that when the other dogs were outside by themselves, they were normally calm and would quietly play. The “absolute nuts” time would only occur at the time when the new dog would come out of the house.
Mary, the new dog was so excited to get outside, that she would knock things over and break anything on her way to get outside. Because of this, my client opened all the doors and cleared a straight path for her to “take off” as soon as he let her out. She would run full speed into the dogs outside and ramp them all up into a frenzy. Any attempt on my client’s part to try and calm them down was completely ignored. They would continue their crazy play until they got tired.
My client’s input confirmed that the new dog was the instigator of the problem. It also confirmed that he was feeding the problem by allowing her to run full speed into the group completely unchecked and unmanaged. I had a great exercise that we practiced with excellent results. Here is what we did.
- I had my client have the four dogs outside in the back yard without Mary.
- My client then went back into the house to retrieve Mary. The first thing he did was to put a twenty foot training lead on her. He then walked her around the house using the training lead like a regular leash. Mary had to walk next to him and give him focus.
- Now, he walked Mary up to the back door and had her sit. I then had them walk around the room for another thirty seconds and come back to the door and have Mary sit.
- He opened the door slowly and stepped outside. He then had Mary follow and had her sit again. The other dogs looked on quietly. Since Mary wasn’t going nuts, neither were they.
- I reminded my client that “dogs will be dogs” and that they needed their play time. I asked him to release Mary and let her run and play. The big difference this time is that she had a twenty foot lead trailing her. We allowed them to run and play for a few minutes.
- Now it was time to get them quiet and focused for a while. Instead of running and chasing Mary, I had my client slowly move towards the end of the twenty foot lead. Since he was not directly approaching her, she didn’t pay attention to him and his approach to the end of the lead.
- Once he was able, he stepped on the lead. Mary came to an abrupt stop and looked back at my calm and confident client. He stooped down and picked up the leash in his hand.
- I had my client call Mary with a “come” and then walk her back to the porch by the back door. He stood with her until she was quiet, sat down, and focused on him. He released the leash and sat down also.
- As soon as my client had gained Mary’s focus and calmed her down, the other four dogs quickly followed. My client had allowed everyone to have a fun, play time; but on his terms.
- If Mary starts to get excited and play again, my client has complete control to let it continue or to stop it. As this continued, my client noticed that Mary would give him more and more focus as she was playing and would eventually stop and come to him without the need to step on the leash.
As you can see, if you can start out in control of a calm situation and then have the clear ability to manage the environment, all will be fine. Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over fourteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.