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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20180
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hi, I wonder if you can help, please? I walk my mums

Customer Question


I wonder if you can help, please?
I walk my mum's 2 small terrier cross dogs daily. They are both young rescue dogs, (about 2.5 and 2 years) and are very good natured, generally nice dogs, apart from the typical terrier tendency to chase, but that's not too much of a problem. They are fabulous with my little girls, and very loving little dogs.

Dexter arrived at Mum's a few months before Jack. Until Jack came, Dexter and I had great walks anywhere. He made me so proud when he was off the lead. But we felt a bit bad about Dexter being put back home alone when I wasn't walking him and Mum at work, so Jack was adopted to be a wee friend for him.

It's a bit complicated, I shall try to outline you on where we are just now. We had a dog behaviourist come out to assess the dogs' home lives, as although they are happy dogs, mum was demented at their constant barking. Jack always initiates it, and Dexter follows. The woman assessed that Jack was very much the dominant dog, so mum has adjusted her own behaviour to help with that. Food change has made them calmer, she only invites them up on to furniture, etc etc. They are rewarded for barking when the doorbell rings, but also rewarded ("good quiet") for when they quieten down and stop. I would say they are not half as annoying now.

When they Are out walking we have tried to all the pulling down. Again, when we just had Dexter he didn't pull on the lead, but Jack's arrival has meant they both strain when first out. Jack is definitely the leader. We stop them doing this by turning around, etc, and I'd say the straining on the lead has become better.

However, big problem for me, but not for my mum. Dexter barks at some people.
He barks at big dogs on a lead, but I can pretty much cope with that by shortening the leash and 'hiding' him behind my legs to make him feel secure.
He generally likes everyone, but always seems to bark at people who are afraid of dogs! Wen we are walking in the countryside, he & Jack will be off lead, all will be lovely, we'll pass several people, then for wherever reason he'll circle someone, barking, and making them angry / terrified / very unimpressed. Can I get him back? Nope. It's so embarrassing, and very stressful. I can only imagine that he can sense that person's fear, so he is in turn frightened, hence the barking? Whatever it is, my ability to get him back is rubbish.

We often practice the 'come' command, with clicker / treats, etc. he and Jack ( particularly Jack) are good at it. But when he gets into the mode of barking, I haven't a hope. I don't want to shout...I can imagine that must just sound like I am backing up the barking. But its difficult not to! I have tried a high pitch whistle, sternly saying "Dexter, come"... But nothing works. So when I eventually get him back, usually after person screaming at me, I put him on the lead, and leave him on it. (Telling him firmly I'm not happy with him if I've gone to get him, but if he comes back eventually after me calling, I don't shout as he might think he's in trouble for coming back?) It's also difficult, as I don't know how much my mum trains him in the same way. We talk a lot about it to try to ensure we are singing from the same hymn sheet, but she just says she never has the issues I do!
Apparently he doesn't do this with my mum or the other dog walker.
Does he see me and my kids as a pack he must protect? I can imagine that if I see dogs coming towards us on a lead my behaviour might subtly change therefore making him anxious? But the other day he circled and terrorised a young lad and his granny. I had no reason to think he would, so therefore was chilled on their approach. Until he began barking. The poor lad was hysterical at the end, his Gran upset, and me mortified and apologetic.

Please help!
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX for the novel!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi Charlotte,
My name is Jane. I've professionally worked with animals for over 16 years dealing with both health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
sorry for the delay in getting to you. We all sign in at different times and I just signed in. Don't worry about the novel. It actually was very informative and allows me to answer without asking a lot of questions.
Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links to supporting websites at this time. So where there is a site listed, you may have to copy that to a separate browser window or tab to access the data there.
You have done so much work with the dogs and it sounds like you are doing great with them. I'm pretty sure we can stop the few problems you still have.
If you are not doing daily obedience work with the dogs, then you should start. It helps reinforce the fact that the humans are the bosses and the dogs are the submissive members of the house.
The following site is helpful if you need instructions for training. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
You will also want to keep a leash on them at all times initially to grab if they should disobey. The first thing I would change is to stop rewarding them for barking at the door. A single bark to alert people home to a visitor should be enough. When you encourage the barking, you send the message that it is fine to bark at strangers. We see it as barking at the door. Dogs see it as barking at strangers. So stop treats for barking and only reward for not barking on command.
I would use a tasty smelly treat tof training purposes when out. I use hot dogs slices. The oil from them coats the hand and makes the hand smell quite good to the dogs and keeps their attention.
You want to perfect the come command. Many times dogs don't come all the time because often we stop play time, make them come inside or worse punish them when they come, so they actually learn not to come when called, so we are going to change that. Now every time they come to you, reward them with a tiny treat. Hot dogs can be cut into about 40 tiny slivers to use. They learn that coming always gives them enjoyment. It usually doesn't take long before they are coming to you immediately when called. This will help greatly in controlling them.
The next training you will want to do with the worse one first and then with the other dog and then finally with both dogs together. This is because (as you have noticed) the two dogs will back slide when together and will need retraining once placed together again.

It will be helpful if you can find someone with a dog to help you once you have your dog listening to commands consistently. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their dog a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. The second you see him fixate on the other dog or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, barking, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if he ignores the other dog, he gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until he is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.
Keeping a treat in your hand at your side can also keep a dog at your side rather than surging forward. As the dog stays at your side, give treats. As the dog catches on, you give less treats and more calm praise. Do not tempt the dog back and give the treat, but give it when they are by your side behaving as you want them to.
You need to relax when walking as well because (as you have seen) dogs know when a person is worried or not. They can not distinquish why you are worried though. They assume it is the people or dogs and go to protect you. It the people are worried, the dog figures that they must be suspicious since the dog sees nothing to worry about.
Use the same technique for people that the dog reacts to as well. Once the worse dog (Dexter) is doing well, repeat with Jack and then together. They must be perfect before one is allowed off leash. I'd start with the Jack off leash first since he is best and reward him for acting appropriately. Do not reward dexter unless he is perfect on leash. This helps show Dexter the behavior you want. I thin you will be able to tell when Dexter can be off leash. It isn't going to be a quick fix but will work. since they know the quiet command, use it as well on walks. It can help.
You can also have strangers reward your dogs with treats as well for calm behavior which will teach them that strangers are good and not to be feared or suspicious of.
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.
Since there have been recalls on certain foods, please check the following site to be sure the food your animals eat is not affected. If it is affected, contact your vet as soon as possible. Have your dog seen if they have any symptoms.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.

Just a quick note to see if you have had a chance to try any of my suggestions yet. i hope you found my suggestions helpful.