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Unruly Young Dog can Learn to Behave

A Head Halter is a Great Leadership tool

Question:
I read the post on your facebook page about the Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd and felt an instant kinship! Our 1 year old Aussie shepherd is driving us nuts. In addition to nuisance barking at everything that moves, tearing around the house and the yard like a crazy bull in a china shop, she barks and lunges at strangers when I take her for walks. People cross the street to avoid her. She has not bitten anyone, but jumped on and scratched a lady, and now I’m worried about taking her to a dog park or doggy daycare or even to “herding” classes.

Dr. Nichol:
What a naughty little dog you have! But a crazy bull in a china shop? Let’s be fair. Surely this delicate young flower is more like a crazy cow in a china shop. She’s out-of-control but I think she has potential. Her unruly conduct points to unmet needs that are essential to a social canine party animal. This girl must be allowed to enjoy her rude proclivities without the frustration of straining against a leash. You’ll have to let her be a real dog more of the time.

Doggy daycare or a dog park may be perfect. After putting in an honest day’s labor of chasing, rear end sniffing, and competitive urinating “Crazy Cow” will drag herself over the threshold, grab a brewski, catch a ball game, and then call it a day. It’s the American way, darn it.

What about your needs? For you and Crazy Cow to enjoy a leisurely stroll without being the neighborhood pariahs you’ll need a Gentle Leader head halter. Rather than punishing her lunging and yapping with a choke or prong collar you can lead your girl and redirect her attention to you, where it belongs. If she is about to jump-up you should ignore her as you stand on the leash, making this obnoxious habit painlessly unfun.

All wild cavorting should be ignored. Rather than yelling, “Crazy Cow – Stop that!” you can derail her using the Gentle Leader and then teach a replacement behavior, always followed by a calm reinforcer. Immediately after your wild child is back on all fours give her a simple command like, “Sit”. Compliance will earn her a pat on the head and a tasty treat. Repeat hundreds of times.

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109