Many breeds of dogs have an instinct built right into their DNA regarding herding (this would be your Border Collies, Australian Shepards, Corgis, or Shelties) or prey drive (this would be your working dogs like Rottweiler, German Shepard, Boxer, or Doberman Pincher). Both of these instincts can get a dog into trouble in the human world because this translates into chasing cars, bicycles, horses, or cats. So, how do teach a dog to stop chasing? I get this question posed to me by my clients quite often. My answer is that this is something that takes some time and patience… and possibly the help of a professional trainer.
One of my most challenging cases was a Border Collie mix by the name of “Sunshine.” This 45 pound dynamo lived on a working farm where she chased everything from cats to the combines to pickup trucks. She had lost a couple of teeth trying to bite the tires of a four-wheeler and almost killed a cat that resulted in a large vet bill! Her owners had tried an electronic collar on her and it had worked for a time. Due to the fact that they were inconsistent with this tool and that the level of correction was too strong for her, it failed to correct the problem long term. I do not recommend electronic or shock collars as they can be very harsh and make the dog worse – afraid of the collar and even worse YOU! It can make a dog fearful and mistrusting. Because harvesting season had begun and the family got busy, they decided to put Sunshine on a chain. No one was happy with this solution, least of all Miss Sunshine!
Leadership for your dog is just as important as what I call the “four basics” food, water, exercise and affection. As an animal behaviorist, I see many dogs and their owners in my line of work. You would be surprised by how many are “out of pack order.” What do I mean by this? Simply stated, it means that they are unsure of who is boss and what their job is.
Many owners think that by letting their dogs pretty much do what they want, they are loving them or spoiling their babies! When a dog is out of pack order, it creates a certain amount of insecurity. When a dog is certain of where he is in pack order, his mind is at ease and he is HAPPY!
Most dog owners don’t know that their dog is unbalanced (any dog out of pack order is unbalanced). So, how would one make this diagnosis? There are many telltale signs, but let me give you the most common ones that I see.
I am an animal behaviorist and I have been working with dogs that have “issues” for 20 plus years. I have rehabilitated not just hundreds, but thousands of dogs. Having said that, I have to tell you that housebreaking dogs and/or puppies is at the top of that my list as far as difficulty is concerned. Yes, yes, we have all heard the stories of dogs that were completely potty trained at eight weeks. Is that urban legend? I have seen this happen, but it is far from the norm! I would say that dog is in the top 95% of his class!
Let’s also clear this up… are males worse than females? On the whole, yes, but I have seen females that were pretty resistant to house training and they can “mark” like a male. I have seen them lift their leg, just like a male!
My passion is to train and rehabilitate dogs with behavioral issues. Some even call me a "dog whisperer" thanks to my ability to work through particularly tough behavior problems and help with aggressive dogs, even when other trainers have failed and owners have nearly given up.
Through my early love for animals, I developed it into a lifetime career and commitment. Backed with 20 years of animal training experience, I take pride in making life better for people and pets through my animal psychology services.