My once sweet, 10-month-old English bulldog Max has
turned into a little devil. Things that used to be easy
to do ó putting him in his crate, making him go
outside, getting him into the tub for a bath ó are now
becoming real battles which include him barking at me
and running away when I try to catch him. I think heís
trying to be dominant. How do I fix this?
Be dominant? No. Typical adolescent behavior? You bet.
Max is simply maturing. Your best approach to addressing
these issues is to be non-confrontational, and to
outthink your young dog.
recognize that when your dog begins to bark at you, you
donít have to address it directly; ignoring the
behavior is a better approach. Entering into conflict
with Max gives him more practice at being combative, so
donít fall for that.
the three scenarios you describe can all be addressed in
the same manner. Your dog should have a light 4- to
6-foot leash attached to his collar at all times when
you are home with him. Just let the leash drag, and pay
no attention to it unless you need to put your dog in
his crate, in the tub or outside. When you decide to do
one of those three things, donít ask the dog to
comply, and donít negotiate. Avoid directly
interacting with him, and just pick up the leash. Then,
turn your back on him and begin to move in the direction
you want him to go; since he is attached to the leash,
he will have no choice but to follow. Praise him as he
moves along with you, but donít turn to face him, and
donít stop. When you have succeeded in getting him to
the desired destination, offer more praise or any other
reward you choose ó treats, petting, etc.
make this process even more successful, I suggest
practicing even if you have no intention of really
needing to place him in the crate, the tub or outside.
Just randomly, throughout the day, get a few repetitions
in of ignoring Max, picking up the leash, turning your
back on him, and walking him out the back door or into
the crate or tub. Once heís where you want him, praise
him and release him to hang out with you inside again.
This way your dog is not likely to resist going with
you, since it usually results in praise and freedom once
Iím confused about what I should allow my dog to do on
a walk. Should I let him stop and sniff at every bush
and tree or follow the advice of my trainer and make him
walk only at my side?
There are no absolutes here, ó you get to decide what
you prefer, and then your job is to teach your dog what
you want. Iíll tell you what I do: I teach my dogs to
walk at my side on a loose leash, and put it on cue
("Letís go"). We pass by all sorts of
distractions, including bushes, trees, kids, cats, etc.,
and yet my dogís job is to ignore those things and
continue to walk with me. When I decide, I give my dogs
a different cue ("Get busy") when we get to an
area where Iíve determined itís OK for them to stop
walking at my side and enjoy a good sniff around, and
take a potty break if theyíd like. After I pick up
their "business," I give my leash-walking cue
again, and off we go together. The important concept to
note here is that it is my decision, not the dogís. So
figure out what you want your dog to do on walks, the
cues you will want to teach him, and then begin by
teaching each concept independently. Combine the two
only when your dog understands each behavior separately.