The dog’s non-stop pacing was the reason for the initial call. The dog paced in the living room in front of their front windows wearing down the hardwood floors in the areas where he made his sharp turns. The same pacing was happening in the back yard where his pacing continued as well.
These were former clients of mine whose 5 year old rescue dog had been through basic and intermediate obedience with me. Upon returning to their home I found the dog was still impeccable on sits, downs, stays and go to your place. However, he had begun to have the behavioral issue of pacing, which coincided with the same time this couple moved into a new house and had their first baby.
Until that time, the dog had pretty much been the center of their attention. Now, with a new baby, that had changed.
So we started our behavior modification. We kept the dog on his earn-to-learn program of working for everything (they were already doing an outstanding job of this) and we increased formal training in the form of 2 minute sits, downs and come- back and forth between the owners twice each evening. We also put the dog back on his “daily” walking ritual with Mom, Dad and the new baby. We made sure that all things associated with the baby were positive, happy things for the dog.
Part of of behavior management protocol required closing the blinds for a while – especially during the day when Mom and Dad were at work. We also put the doggie door down to close access to the back yard while they were away. This confined him to the house during the work day but one or the other came home mid-day to let him out to go potty or they had a pet sitter come over.
In the evenings the blinds were reopened so that we could provide a training opportunity to call the dog back into the family room when they noticed him sneaking off towards the living room to pace.
Three weeks of this and the pacing stopped. Each time he was let out into the back yard to potty, he was on a long line so that if he began pacing or fence charging at the dog on the other side of the fence, Dad could pick up the line if necessary as he performed his recall/come exercise, praise the dog and send him right back to play. If he charged the fence good ol’ Dad simply did the recall/come again and eventually with repetition, he began to respond without barking.
The pacing has now stopped. All is well and the pup now once again has a “strong sense of place and purpose”. He is a much more settled dog relaxing with his pack and feeling quite full of himself!
Jim Burwell, Jim Burwell’s Petiquette