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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20221
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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We have a two year old bishon frise ,we have had for ten weeks

Customer Question

We have a two year old bishon frise ,we have had for ten weeks he seems to be settling in although when we take him for walks he challenges us he circles and nips at our legs and when we try to stop this he gets worse and trys to bite more , how should we address this ? We have tried walking away although he carries on and we have shouted loudly he seems to ignore this too.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

It sounds like he hasn't been leash trained. Let me go over how to leash train a dog which may help with this situation. Then I'll discuss some other things that can help as well.

Number one, put your dog on a leash before leaving the house. Make your dog sit or lie down before leaving. Have a spoon with some peanut butter on it and some hot dog slices. Make sure he knows you have the hot dog slices. You walk out first and the dog should follow you out. With a proper walk, the dog should be right at your side or slightly behind. You dog should be paying attention to you, frequently glancing at you to be sure you haven't changed your mind about where you are going. I will be using the word correction. A correction will indicate a short quick tug and release of the leash. It is meant to remind the dog that he is supposed to be paying attention to you. Initially, keep training sessions short and where there will be minimal distractions even if it is just in your yard. A walk should be fast paced and not a stop and start exercise. The dog should not be investigating, sniffing or socializing on the walk. Walk to a destination and allow the dog some time at the destination to do those things.

I use a food and praise reward system. I use almost paper think pieces of hot dog as the oil from them coats your hand and keeps the smell on your hand. Let the dog smell the treat in your closed hand. For small dogs you can stick the hot dog into the peanut butter on a wooden spoon to actually give it to him. Some people will just use peanut butter on a spoon but this can get the dog to start jumping up at the spoon all the time. This gives your dog motivation to be by your side. He should be happy to follow your hand or the spoon around the yard. Keep your leash short, but without pressure on it. If the dog starts moving away, a correction toward you should be made. Give him a treat every once in a while initially so he understands walking by your side get him treats. Try to time it so it is before he gets distracted. If he starts to glance elsewhere, give a correction and tempt him with sight of the treat. When he is back to paying attention, reward him with the treat in a low calm "good boy". No excitement to your voice as you want him calm. Repeat when you think his attention is shifting. As he gets better at paying attention to you and your "smelly hand", make corrections giving more praise and less treats. Before you know it, your dog will be walking right next to you all the time, with or without treats. When you stop, praise your dog with your voice or a few pats to let your dog know how good he has done. You can train him to sit or lay down when you stop if you want as well. This helps prevent his trying to run off if you stop to talk to someone.

Once your dog is pretty much always walking at your side, you will want to make a correction any time he stops paying attention to you. For instance, they are looking at a cat in a yard, give a correction so they look at you. if he is busy looking ahead and hasn't glanced at you for awhile, give a correction and reverse your direction. Do not stop and wait for the dog, just a quick correction and reverse and walk. They learn to keep an eye on you as well as on what else is going on. Try an be confident during these training sessions. Try not to look down at your dog but more out of the corner of your eye. Act like you are paying attention to the scenery. It sounds strange, but it does work.

Once your dog is doing well in the yard, try adding a few distractions such as family in the yard, then progress to another dog around continuing to correct if he even looks like he is going to glance at the other dog. If you wait till he is already distracted, it is too late. You have to catch him before he focuses on the other animal or person. It is a lot of work and takes lots of practice but it does work.

You can also walk in an exaggerated way bringing the heels of your feet up higher in the back when you walk. The dog can't get close enough to your feet to nip and they learn quickly to not try that behavior. Since you are not kicking and they are running into your feet, they don't see it as you kicking them. that can be hard to teach children, so you may want to keep this tactic to adults only.

You also need to start working him on obedience and let the children participate as best they can. The following site is good for training tips. 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.

Remember that dogs nip and circle and bark when playing with other dogs so he may be trying to get you to play with him. He may need that exercise, so see if you can locate a similar sized female dog whose owner is open to the idea of letting the dogs play together. At two years old he still will want to play often. Around three that energy level evens out and they become calmer, but in the meantime, he needs a playmate. Teaching him to chase a ball and letting the kids throw it for him is a good form of exercise as well.

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.