How I changed my dog's problem behaviors in one day
I barely woke up on a cool September morning when my wife let our German Sheppard, Sachi, outside. We own an Invisible Fence that surrounds our property. Sachi is a nervous and very territorial dog but we never had problems with her because she stays inside the limits of the Invisible Fence area - at least, until this morning.
This cool September morning, Sachi ran through the fence and after a lady walking her dog. We heard the barking and screams from inside. Instantly, we got Sachi back to house. Thank god, she did not bite the startled passersby.
We noticed the weeks leading up to this incident that her territorial behavior was getting worse. Now, we could no longer ignore the problem. I knew I needed to train her or risk her biting someone or worse
So I read everything on the internet that I could on dog training. Some advice was bad like close your curtains so they would not bark at activity outside and some of it was excellent. Here are the steps that changed my dog's attitude in less than a day.
We love our dog and she loves us but that does not mean that she respects me. The key of great dog behavior is demanding respect first. Dogs need leadership and they respect a strong leader. It's in their pack mentality. After the incident, I began the process of becoming Sachi's leader. Being your dog's leader goes beyond bribing them with treats to perform tricks. It's about the dog recognizing you as the leader of the family pack.
Target Specific Behaviors
Instead of a shotgun approach to training, I thought about specific behaviors I desired to change in my dog.
Three specific behavior came to mind.
1. Pulling on her leash typically, my dog would race ahead of me, dragging me behind.
2. Going crazy in the car we avoided driving her in the car because she'd drive us nuts with her barking, whining, and restless behavior.
3. Aggressive behavior - inside or outside the house towards other dogs
To fix any dog behavioral problem, we need a toolbox of basic dog commands. Sachi already knew some basic commands but we only haphazardly employed them. I used the following commands to change her behavior, sit, down, stay, and heel.
I worked on the leash pulling with a heel command. Dogs interrupted you letting them running ahead of you as a sign that they are the leader. The Heel command means that the dog walks at your side. The instant that your dog walks even a step ahead you give them a quick snap with the chain collar. Most people use the chain collar like a choker, this is incorrect use of the chain collar. The sound of the chain reminds the dog to back up into the proper position. Don't think of the correction as yanking the dog back. Instead, quickly snap the chain so that you hear the metallic noise.
If your dog travels to far ahead, use a sit command and return her to your side. At first, I used many sit commands to focus my dog. Your dog should sit at your side before crossing the street and while waiting for you to open a door.
I surprised my wife with how good she was walking at my side after a short time practicing the heel command. She never saw Sachi walk right by my side before. For quick result, award tons of praise for good behavior.
Going Crazy in the Car
Next, it was time to take her for a ride. Sachi never traveled well. She barks, whines, and restlessly moves in the car seat. Her behavior is so distracting that on many occasions, I barely avoided an accident or two.
On this ride, I started out with the down and stay command. Every time she started to get up, I pointed down at the seat and she returned to the down position. Every once in a while, I would reward her with a quick pat and say "good dog". Not only did she seem more relaxed, but the ride became the quietest one I ever experienced with her.
My last stop was the local park to work on the aggressiveness. I thought this one would be the hardest one to conquer because of all the park activity. I was proven wrong. All the prior training built a great foundation. I practiced my heel command some more and she successful followed my sit and stay command. Every time she would move slightly from the stay command, I would quickly snap the chain to regain the sit position. Eventually, Sachi just sat and appeared to enjoy the scenery as other dogs and owners walked by.
Now, that her basic behavioral problems were solved. I can enjoy my time with her, without all of the annoying behaviors that plagued our relationship. I spend more time with her because traveling and walking are so much easier. I got my great dog back and so can you by consistently following, teaching, and enforcing basic dog commands.