So yesterday I was patiently waiting for the Patriots game to start.
When out of the blue, a Facebook message pops up on my phone. It’s from my neighbor and she’s having a problem with her dog.
I can’t imagine what it’s like living next to me and having a dog problem. I think it must be like living next to Robert De Niro and wanting some acting tips.
Anyway, I have the greatest neighbors on the planet so I suited up and walked across the street.
I walked in the house and they told me how their very nice dog had growled at them over a ham bone. A common but unacceptable behavior problem.
They gave her the ham bone and sure enough, she growled and did not want to give up her bone.
My neighbor was extremely nervous and did not want me or anyone else to get hurt. I calmly assured her that I was a trained professional and that I had dealt with this hundreds of times in my lengthy career and she had nothing to worry about.
It’s usually around this point that I get bit, so I asked for a leash. That’s when my job became much easier. You see, this dog LOVES going for walks. The presence of the leash was enough for her to completely forget about the bone.
Once she saw the leash she lost all interest in her bone. My job was easy because my instructions were going to be easy to follow and applied at any time.
Here is what I told them to do:
- Give the ham bone and wait a few minutes. Let her really get into chewing it.
- Get leash but do NOT let her see it. Hold behind back.
- Approach dog but stay at safe distance. Say her name and clearly say, “Drop it.”
- Wait a second and then show leash. If she drops and leaves it put her on leash and take for a short walk.
- Repeat a few times a day.
Simple instructions but let me break this down for you:
FIRST: When a dog growls around a bone or toy, the dog is in a negative emotional state and any direct contact could result in a bite.
SECOND: Offering food will usually not work and could actually reinforce the behavior.
THIRD: The sight of the leash with this dog completely changed her emotional state. She went from being defensive to completely out her mind happy about taking a walk.
FOURTH: The command, “Drop it,” was given BEFORE she saw the leash. We are teaching her to release it before we apply a consequence. By repeating the process she’ll start to learn the words, “Drop it.”
FIFTH: I made it very clear that regressions in behavior are common and if she reverts back to growling around the bone she has to contact me to take the next steps.
Now before I wrap this up, let me clearly state that this will NOT work for every dog. If your dog is growling or acting aggressive, it would be wise to contact a skilled trainer.
I had other tools in my box to use if this had not worked and may still need to use them.
Okay enough. If you have questions or problems with your dog, the best place to go is The Dog Training Inner Circle where we have videos, articles and a forum to ask questions.
It’s not as good as living next to me but it’s the next best thing. And you can get in for just $1.00!
Here’s where to go NEXT: