I was in Roswell last week at a new Home Dog Training session teaching a new client how to properly walk his dog through the neighborhood.  We worked on focus, speed, leash manners and proactive issue mitigation.  It seemed that one of his neighbors, Jake, was observing us while we were out and about in the middle of the lesson.  He appeared from his doorway and walked over to us with an inquisitive look on his face.  Jake had a question regarding his own dog. He told us that he had an eight-month-old Pit Bull named Billy.  He brought Billy home while he was still a little puppy. 

Create special times for your dog when you are not always home

He told us that Billy was a crazy pup when he was young, and he believed that the crazy behavior was just “puppy stuff” and that he would become calm as he got older.  Guess what, being a precocious Pit Bull, Billy still was crazy and full of energy even though he is now almost three years old.  He continued by telling us that he worked in Atlanta and that he was out of the house very early in the morning and didn’t return until the mid-evening.

On top of that, because of his job, he would often have to take three and four day business trips causing more “away time”.  He told me that he saw how well my client’s dog was responding to our methods and was wondering if I had any advice that could help strengthen his bond with Billy.

I initiated my conversation by telling Jake that although many dog owners will never need a professional dog trainer to help them have a wonderful dog, there are times when extra assistance from a professional is needed.  This is normally the case when the dog owner appears to be “at wits end” as to how to solve a problem with their dog.  Without external assistance, they normally revert to ideas that are often irrational or improper. With that said, I thanked him for recognizing his plight and reaching out.

I continued by mentioning that the most common issue that dog owners face in his situation is one of improper socialization and bonding through “lack of face time”. I went on to say that “face time” with your dog isn’t having them perform obedience commands such as “Come”, Sit”, or “Stay”.

He needs to “build up hours” that consist of fun, interactive things.  This is a critical component of the establishment of a proper “owner-dog” bond as well as Billy’s ongoing development. By working long hours away from home, it was very hard for Jake to put in the natural time with Billy. Since Pit Bulls are full of energy and very social, family-centric dogs; that goofy play time is even more important.

I continued by commenting that “quality time” with Billy wasn’t simply petting him at the door when he came home and then sitting with him as he watched NCIS. Larger breed puppies (and especially Pit Bulls) must have the ability to release their energy in a productive manner.  To put it another way, Billy was like a little boy that had remained calmly sitting in his seat in class all day without the ability to go to recess and play.  Until he got Billy de-adrenalized; proper and effective behavior and obedience training could not be accomplished.

Since this is not a unique situation among dog owners of today, I have offered advice on this matter many times.  I would like to share that with you now:

ESTABLISH “QUALITY TIME”: In today’s world, so many people work long hours away from home.  When you come home, make it a point to set aside thirty minutes that will be specifically for you and your dog. The moment you get home, take your dog outside into the back yard.  Fetch is always a great bonding and “get all the juice out” game.

Go out with five or six tennis balls. You may need to get a little pouch, so you don’t drop them all over the ground. Throw one into the yard and actively encourage your dog to get it. As soon as he reaches the tennis ball, throw the next ball and encourage him to focus and run after the second tennis ball.

As he reaches the second ball, throw a third tennis ball in the same manner. As you are throwing the balls, calmly walk to the discarded balls, pick them up, and put them back in your pouch.  This will allow you to have a continuously replenished supply of “tennis ball ammunition”.  Remain calm while you are doing this because you want your dog focused on the balls and not wanting to run back and jump on you.

Continue this process for about ten to fifteen minutes.  After that, calmly walk back to your back porch and sit down in a chair. Encourage your dog to return to your side.  Once he is by you, give him a goodie.  We always love to give our dogs Deer Antlers.  These are all natural, completely safe, and gives the dog an almost indestructible thing to chew on for a very long time.

Pet him while he is “having his chew” and carry on a conversation. Yes, I know that he probably won’t understand what you are saying, but the clear and calm tones of your voice will reinforce the unique bond you and your dog are creating.  After another ten to fifteen minutes, you can go back into the house to continue your evening duties.

INVITE YOUR DOG TO DINNER: Feed your dog at the same time as you are having dinner.  I suggest that you feed him in the same room so that both you and he are engaged in the same action at the same time.  Place his food bowl on the ground and observe that he is eating. Next, bring your plate to the table and start to eat. Never give him any food from the table or respond to any form of begging.

OUTSIDE, INTERACTIVE, SOCIAL STIMULII: Yes, I know that the title sounds like the subject of a graduate-level behavioral science class thesis, but it really means “time for summer camp”.  Most dogs love social interaction and excited play with other dogs.

I highly recommend that you find a “Doggie Day Care” near your home.  The facility should have both an inside and an outside play area.  This guarantees that the dogs in the Day Care can always be engaged in social play whether it is sunny and warm or cold and raining.

You should take your dog there once or twice a week.  Obviously, these should be the days of the week when you are away from the house for the longest period of time. Even though your dog is not with you, it will allow him to establish healthy relationships with other dogs. Since you are taking him to a place that he loves and feels secure, that will strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

DOG WALKERS:  If you are gone for “really long times during the day”, (longer than the Doggie Day Care facilities are open) we suggest that you hire a dog walker.  This person will come into your home, play with your dog, and take him on walks.  This breaks up the monotony of “being alone” and will minimize the possibility that your dog will develop separation anxiety.

I told Jake that these suggestions will get him moving in the right direction to properly establish the long-lasting bond with Billy that all dog owners desire.  I also told him that the establishment of this bond does not happen overnight.  It will take time, but it can be done.  The most important thing that he must do is to start now.

He thought these were excellent ideas and told me that he was going to implement them as soon as possible.

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 nineteen years.  We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.