Dog Trainer Dilemma: What Would You Do?

Every now and again I am presented with a dog trainer dilemma, a seemingly overwhelming task to perform. This particular dog trainer dilemma was “turning around” a mismatched owner-dog relationship.


Here are the details of the case


Mr. and Mrs. Smith had had numerous German Shepherd dogs – all males – during their 50 years of marriage.

They were veteran dog owners to say the least.

They were both 75 years of age.

They had been without a dog for some time when they acquired their last male German Shepherd puppy at 8 weeks of age. They named him Buddy.

When Buddy was 4 months of age, Mr. Smith suddenly passed away leaving Mrs. Smith to deal with raising a new puppy.

She decided to keep the puppy for companionship and fulfill her commitment to Buddy.

Additional discovery revealed the following about Buddy as a puppy:

  • Buddy was fed a grocery store variety dog food
  • Buddy was walked on a flat buckle collar and 6’ leash
  • Crate trained and loved his crate. 
  • Crated at night and when Mrs. Smith left the house. 
  • Buddy was very food treat motivated.

But, at the bossy age of 6 months, Mrs. Smith was faced with the following dog behavior problems:

Buddy began to challenge Mrs. Smith which presented the following dog behavior problems:

  1. Being very mouthy with her
  2. Jumping on her 
  3. Destructive with couch pillows, magazines and her shoes.
  4. Leash pulling and biting the leash limited him to a short once a day walk

Joining a dog obedience class was a fiasco because she was unable to control him around the other dogs.


Your dog trainer dilemma

Dog Trainer DilemaSometimes the dog size, strength and temperament is such a mismatch with the owner’s size, capabilities and intestinal fortitude that you feel obligated to suggest re-homing the dog. On the other hand it’s not easy to come up with the best way to present that option – especially without first working with Mrs. Smith and Buddy.


So, what would you do to help Mrs. Smith?


What would you recommend as solutions to the following 3 dilemmas?  Let’s talk about this in the comments section below.

  • A quick-fix to immediately get Buddy under control in the house
  • One thing you would teach her to get better behavior in the house
  • Easier walking solution to increase control and walking time outside

As always, I am interested in in helping you and hearing what you have to say.

4 replies
  1. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Sissy ~ Good suggestion! Not very many dog owners even think about using a leash in the house , much less a Gentle Leader to tame the wild beast! I am glad you like my articles. If there is a topic you would like me to consider as an article, let me hear from you. Jim Burwell

  2. Sissy Janek
    Sissy Janek says:

    Mr. Burwell ~ I’d make use of the Gentle Leader in the house when Buddy is on leash as well. I had a similar situation with a lady that wasn’t as old as Mrs. Smith but with a large dog. The Gentle Leader worked well for her. I like your articles — especially the one on the one lesson controversy. Thanks!

  3. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Hi Charles and thanks for the comments. Great suggestions. Here are some more suggestions to try:

    1. While crating is good, putting a leash on Buddy for more control in the house can help prevent jumping; and, obedience for re-directs and creating mental fatigue.
    2. Providing Buddy with a Buster Cube or Bob-A-Lot food dispensing toy to work for part or all of his food.
    3. As old as Mrs. Smith is, she might do better with a Gentle Leader for longer walks twice daily (physical fatigue.)

    Jim Burwell

  4. Charles Moore
    Charles Moore says:

    I’ll take a stab at some solutions:

    1. A quick fix might be to use the crate more when he acts out.
    2. One thing for better behavior would be to ignore bad behavior and reward good behavior.
    3. Maybe for better walking use an easy walk harness.

    Let me know if I’m in the ball park. I appreciate your articles!

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