Dog Behavior That Embarrasses You

Tired of Apologizing for Your Dog’s Bad Behavior?

That’s what my last client of the day had to say, “I’m tired of apologizing for my dog’s bad behavior.” She also added that her dog’s behavior was, in her conservative view, embarrassing as well.

Dog Behavior That Embarrasses You

She had tried puppy class but had taken Sophie out of training because Sophie, as a puppy, was too afraid of the other dogs. It would soon be apparent to me that there had been very little formal dog obedience training in Sophie’s life.

Sophie, is a 12 month old lab/Catahoula mix and full of energy. My client – we’ll call her Ann – says she barks at people on walks – especially men and she becomes highly reactive to dogs on walk.

The barking part was confirmed as I knocked on the door to begin our first lesson. I could see the frustration in Ann’s eyes as she apologized by saying, “Sorry, but you see what I mean?”  Lots – and I mean lots of barking.

Successful Entry

Upon entering, I used my “silver bullet” approach by promptly stuffing her mouth with a loaded Kong toy (lamb loaf.) My quick action immediately accomplished 3 things: It shut her up, prevented jumping and most importantly, I became her BFF. Ha! LOL!

 Ann’s frustration melted into smiles as she gave me an ecstatic, “Wow! She’s never stopped barking and warmed up so quickly! This is amazing!”   Now typically most dogs go off to another room – Kong in mouth – never to be seen again – or at least for 15 minutes. Nope. Not Sophie.

This is when I learned of her athletic abilities as she broad-jumped the coffee table and landed on the sofa right next to me – almost before I could seat myself.  Ann quickly noted out loud, “Oh yes, could you fix that too?”

As it turned out Sophie is not aggressive towards people – she’s just a little (or a lot depending on the person) scared and misguided – like a teenager needing a lot of direction and structure.  

Now, if you feel as if you are on the outside of a window looking through and watching your own life with your dog, read on.

I got Sophie under control by putting a leash on her and settling her down next to my foot on the floor – with the Kong. It was time to get the lowdown on the rest of the behavior problems.   Sophie’s fear of people and dogs was the main reason I was called but it was clear that there was a good laundry list of adolescent behavior that needed to be curbed quickly.

Easy Solutions

 The honest truth is most of the adolescent behaviors are easy fixes. The main solution for most of Sophie’s dog behavior problems involved pairing high value food treats and stuffed Kongs with people thereby changing the way Sophie thought about strangers.  Now, strangers meant “manna from heaven?  Her fear of dogs will take a little longer to work on.

I could see Ann liked my Kong solution. It did seem easy. And just to make sure she could replicate my “silver Bullet” approach with others, her mom had agreed to come over halfway through our first lesson.  In the past her mom was hesitant to visit very frequently because of Sophie’s jumping and improper behaviors.   But if a stuffed Kong was placed outside on Ann’s door mat her mom would have a silver bullet too! We stuffed our Kong and put it in a small zip lock bag on the front porch. We settled in, continued our lesson where we were working on Ann’s personal space and Sophie.  

The doorbell rang and Ann greeted her mom. The order was: Silver bullet to Sophie, hug the mom, settle the dog and then settle mom.  Done.   I also told Ann that she could use this technique when she had gentlemen callers.  A girl’s got to have a life, right?

Things to Remember

  1. Always greet visitors with your dog on leash while in training.
  2. Always be prepared with food treats and a stuffed Kong.
  3. Always settle your dog by your side.
  4. Always praise your dog for good behavior.

We all want calm dogs for which we don’t have to apologize. In fact, we’d really like to get compliments like, “What a nice dog!” It’s not impossible and it’s probably easier than you think. 

What Do You Think?  Let us know your thoughts on today’s issue by commenting below and remember “Sharing is Caring.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

4 replies
  1. Cheri Sandland file
    Cheri Sandland file says:

    Hello. I have 2 female blue heelers 11 months old. I take them to my barber shop to train for service (mobility). I cant seperate them to train or at all bc they lose it! I need help with their jumping on people, sibling rivalry, they fight alot. Serious fights. Im afraid they wont make service unless i get them under control. They were a gift from my husband who is 100% disabled at 7 weeks. I have several training manuals and have a medium amount of control as long as i am in immediate area. We are together almost 24/7. Thank you for any suggestions. Oh their last fight one almost lost an eye.

  2. leila_admin
    leila_admin says:

    Cindy: please feel free to go to the contact us page and there is a place for you to ask some questions. That will then be forwarded to Jim. Thanks for commenting and
    being part of our wonderful community of dog lovers

  3. cindy
    cindy says:

    Hi Jim,
    Your training methods with Ann and Sophie worked well with one dog. Sound like Ann is well on her way to a wonderful longtime relationship with her adorable pup Sophie. Good job Jim. You probably saved Sophie from the Dog Pound or being given away to someone else in the future because of the bad behavior that she use to have. That’s fantastic.
    Where can I write to you to ask you questions regarding my three English Bull Dog Pups that are a little over 11 months old?
    Thank you,

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