Written by Danielle Dolce, Master Trainer, Strong Mind K9
As I sit in front of my client and their adolescent dog, I can sense their frustration and see that they have reached a clear dead end on what to do. This hyper 8 month old Australian Shepherd was intensely pulling on the leash, jumping on guests, biting for attention and playing the “catch me if you can” game when calling him to come. These were only a few of the behaviors and the kids were now apprehensive of him as he constantly chased them when they tried to get away. As his owners continued to pull him off and hold on to him tightly, I could tell that this family’s dog meant well but his high energy and puppy habits tried his family to no end. Was this the right dog for their family? How would training obedience help to fix these behaviors?
Looking at the big picture, he lacked structure, general impulse control and had an auto-pilot mindset. He did what he pleased instead of looking for or listening to direction. He created his own leadership and his family was not able to clearly communicate with him. So where do we start?
Very simply, we look past the core problem and begin by looking at a dog’s “State of Mind” as a whole. Dogs with similar behaviors need a foundation and guidance to steer them in the right direction. That foundation is what will create a better relationship and allow us to clearly see a dog's motivation, not to mention we can stimulate them mentally. With different commands, we teach dogs what "no" means and are able to praise them when they are doing what we want them to do. These commands serve as tools to help my clients become successful when communicating with their dogs. General obedience skills help a dog to become more respectful and allow the owner to regain dominance in the household.
Transitioning this young Australian Shepherd from a bad dog to a good dog by building the foundation of obedience was a game changer for him and his family. The family was able to better recognize his personality, communicate more effectively with their dog and modify the unwanted behavior through obedience training. Getting your dog trained is not only great for reliability, it also benefits your dog mentally. Being able to implement a solid foundation was a huge sigh of relief not only for the family but also for the dog. Seeing this transformation unfold was truly a satisfying moment in my career as a dog trainer.
Since becoming a professional dog trainer, I have seen a lot of dogs with behavior problems transition over time into the “good dog” that I knew was there all along. It is rewarding to see families become closer and happier with their dogs and it is why I am so passionate about what I do. If you train your dog and work with them consistently on their habits, your relationship will bloom beyond measure.