Robin and I were at a new Home Dog Training client in Flowery Branch last Tuesday afternoon. She had a rambunctious Labrador Retriever named Frosty. Frosty had all the classic “LAB issues” of over excitement, not listening, jumping, counter surfing, running to the door, etc. We handled those rather quickly and our client was amazed at the difference in Frosty in such a short time. As we were finishing the first lesson, our client said she had just one more problem. She wasn’t sure if we could fix this one because it seemed impossible to her. We love “impossible” so we said, “Bring it on!”
Our client has a big back yard with neighbors on both sides and behind her. There are two crazy Golden Retrievers in the house directly behind her that always seem to be outside the same time she and Frosty are out. Frosty starts running up and down the back fence, barking and carrying on in response to the Goldens doing the same thing. No matter what she does, Frosty will not listen and continues running until he gets tired.
We assured her that this is not a unique situation and is rather common when clients have “doggie neighbors”. One of the lessons that we taught her was that she had to calmly control Frosty and to keep his focus. This, obviously, is hard to do when Frosty is running and barking at the doggies on the other side of the fence. So what do we do?
We need to find a way to retrieve Frosty’s focus, even when he is going nuts. In order to do this, we employ the leash. Or, to me more exact, a long training lead. Whenever we have Frosty out in the back yard, we will click a 20 foot training lead on Frosty. With that said, here is what we do:
NEIGHBOR DOGS NOT OUTSIDE:
- As Frosty is walking around the yard, step on the lead until he gets to the end and looks back at you. Pick up the lead and call him to you with a “COME”. If he doesn’t come, give him a slight tug until he does. Praise him in a high voice (i.e GOOD PUPPY) when he reaches you.
- As Frosty walks past you, step on the lead, pick it up, and have him COME to you. Once he is by your side, have him WALK with you by giving him the appropriate command (WALKIES, LET’S GO, ONWARD, HEAL, etc.). After a minute or two, stop and have him sit next to you. Praise him and drop the lead.
- When you and Frosty are just walking around, step on the lead so the he will quickly reach the end. As soon as he does and looks back at you, step off the leash and keep walking.
- Repeat the above processes while the neighbor dogs aren’t outside.
NEIGHBOR DOGS OUTSIDE:
If the neighbor dogs are outside, Frosty will probably be running up and down the back fence. Here is where the fun begins. Remember that you have the 20 foot training lead on.
- As Frosty is running up and down the back fence, calmly walk up to the “race track”.
- As he passes, step on the lead. He will probably already be about 10 feet away from you because he is a pretty fast puppy.
- As Frosty abruptly stops and looks back at you, go down low (holding the lead) and have him COME.
- As soon as Frosty is by your side, walk him away from the back fence. Continue to walk him until his focus is completely on you and not the other doggies.
- Once you have his focus, have Frosty SIT. Praise him for obeying. Wait for about 5 seconds to make sure that his focus is remaining on you.
- Now, let the training lead drop to the ground.
- If Frosty returns to “running the fence line”:
- Repeat the above process, but do not drop the training lead at the last step.
- Move to an area where you can sit with Frosty and have one of his favorite toys, a goodie, or a chew bone.
- Hold the lead or put it under your foot as you engage him in play with his toy.
- Slowly give him more lead.
- After five minutes, if he had not broken focus from you, release the training lead.
The entire purpose of this exercise is to build up a repetitive behavior with Frosty. That behavior is to always give you focus when requested. We used the lead as our “training wheels” during the process. Eventually you will be able to call him to you without the use of the training lead, but you must use the lead as long as you cannot quickly gain his focus.
Please give this a try because, from experience, this is a great solution. You can always call Robin or myself at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help. I have written many great dog training articles that offer you canine behavior and safety advice at Best Dog Trainers Flowery Branch Georgia. Locate all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Flowery Branch Georgia.