Meet Lexi. She is a mini schnauzer.
Lexi is staying here at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training for what we call our Board & Train program. She will be with us for 10-14 days. She eats here, sleeps here and will learn a lot while she is here. She is learning some basic manners like not jumping on people, not running out the door, being quiet when told. She is also learning her basic obedience commands, heel, sit, down and come. She is also learning the “place” command, which is a command that means “go get on that place I am indicating and stay there until I either change the command or release you from it.” (She is on a “place” in the photo.) Lexi is 5 years old and has some issues. Her biggest issue and the one most dangerous to her and people is her attitude. She occasionally bites. It’s pretty easy to figure out how that is dangerous for people but how is it dangerous for her? She could lose her life over it. Fortunately, her owner has decided to get some help in changing Lexi’s behavior before it comes to that.
Lexi has pretty much been ruling her world. She has figured out that when she does certain things, the humans respond in a certain way. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s how we usually communicate with our dogs. If they go to the door, turn around and look back at us while standing there, we open the door and let them out. If they paw at their food dish, we feed them. Not so bad, right? How about when they come over and nudge our hand for attention? We pet them, right? What if we don’t? Does the dog get more and more insistent? Usually. Those behaviors in themselves aren’t bad, but what happens in the dog’s mind sometimes is what leads it all down hill. For some dogs, those behaviors are empowering. They think since you have always responded to their every whim, they are the important one of the pack. That makes you the “less-important.” Dog is the king, you are the servant. Dog is the leader, you are the follower.
Changing the dog’s perception of themselves will make a big difference in their behavior. So the plan for Lexi is to teach her the appropriate response to specific commands, like heel, sit, down, come & place. Then we use those commands to control her behavior. She has to sit at the door before going out. That way she doesn’t get to go first because as you know, leaders go first. She has to go to her place and remain there while her dinner is fixed and placed on the floor. She may not get up and go eat it until she is released from the command. She will lay down at a distance from the door as guests arrive, because the leader greets the guest first. Once she is no longer permitted to do the things a leader is entitled to do, she will stop seeing herself as in charge. If she doesn’t see herself as in charge, she won’t see the need to bite someone because they overstepped their bounds. She will no longer be in charge.
Lexi is also a bit sensitive about being touched. We are doing a lot of handling of her body, petting and massaging her all over her body to help desensitize her to being handled. We use a muzzle at first and get to the point where it won’t be needed.
The training going according to plan and once Lexi goes home, we will be doing a lot of follow up with her owners. We want to help Lexi make the transition from being here and knowing the rules and going home and having the rules follow her there. We also will be making sure her owners monitor her behavior very closely in the beginning, until it all falls into place with lots of practice, of course.