About a month and a half ago I had started a Home Dog Training program for a client and his English Sheepdog named Saint in Dahlonega. We have met twice so far and the original issues of stealing food and walking on a leash are going quite well. This morning he called me and said that there was an entirely new problem with Saint. Some of his relatives had come down from Virginia to spend a long Memorial Day weekend in Georgia with them. He told me that he thought that everything would be fine. His relatives arrived yesterday and they all came “pouring through the front door”. Normally Saint is calm and collected when people come over, but when his family arrived yesterday, he went nuts. He was barking, running after them, jumping on them, and even nipping. My client just didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t really focus on Saint because he had his hands full with his crazy relatives. Things seemed to be spinning out of control.
I explained to my client that, although really annoying, Saint really wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary for dogs. For the last month he had been calm and collected with my client and when he had friends over to his house. This was because my client could take the lessons that I had taught him and worked on Saint providing him focus, respect, and obedience. He had also told his guests not to focus on Saint and not to act too animated or playful. This could be related to our childhood when we would be in a calm classroom and could easily focus on our teacher and the lesson being taught.
Yesterday, a horde of crazy relatives came crashing through his front door all wound up after a long road trip down half the East Coast. They were adrenalized and created the same adrenalized state within Saint. Saint translated their “animation” into “I want to play” and started the natural, canine play process of jump, bark, run, and nip. These actions adrenalized them more and only caused Saint to increase his actions. This happened so quickly that my client could do nothing to calm Saint or his relatives down. It was simply a perfect storm of craziness.
Even though this made perfect sense to my client, he still had a house full of crazy relatives for the next few days and was at a quandary as to what he needed to do. I explained that he needed to do two things. The first thing is the easy part.
My client needs to be able to gain Saint’s focus and have the ability to direct him to the proper behavior at all times. The best way to accomplish this is through the use of the leash. As soon as he sees Saint begin to act up or he feels that the situation is spiraling into an adrenalized environment, he must remind Saint of the appropriate pecking order. I told him to place a leash on Saint for the remainder of his relatives’ visit.
As soon as Saint begins to act out an inappropriate behavior (jumping, barking, nipping, chasing, etc.), he needs to calmly step on the leash in order to break Saint’s inappropriate focus and to have him focus on my client. He then needs to pick up the leash and guide Saint back to him. Then, he needs to calmly walk Saint around the room or the house for a moment until he sees that Saint is giving him complete and constant focus. Then, he needs to have him perform an activity such as “sit”. This allows my client to praise Saint for “obeying him”.
This little activity provides a consistent and calm redirection from the inappropriate action and reinforces Saint’s subservience to my client. From a canine perspective, hit reinforces Saint’s need to focus and respect my client.
Now, I told my client that he had a second chore to perform. This chore was far more difficult than the first and just might be impossible to enact. He needed to tell his relatives not to be so crazy around the house and not to constantly engage with Saint in playful acts. When they become animated and allow Saint to tell them what to do, it undermines my client’s authority with Saint. They need to stay relaxed and only call Saint to them on their terms in a calm manner. This keeps Saint in control and helps minimize my client’s constant policing of his relatives.
Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Dahlonega Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dahlonega Georgia.