If you've taken the doggy dominance test and highlighted some issues, then it's time for a change. As was mentioned in the introduction, it's never too late for change. I feel quite sad when I hear people say that their dog is too old or too set in there ways to change now and it's partly the inspiration for this site. What I think they mean is, 'well I can't really be bothered to put the time in to help my dog, I've put up with it for this long, so another couple of years won't hurt'. It is going to take time and patience but with the right strategy your dog will accept change for good and be all the better for it.
Live For Today
To Understand why, we need to stop thinking like humans and place ourselves in the animal world. Dogs are great because they live for the moment, they don't dwell on the past, they don't reason about their behaviour. Yes, they may have bad habits picked up in the past but with the right approach they can be broken out of this quite easily. For an example, we used to have a stair gate to stop the dogs entering our bedrooms but it was a real pain to have to open the gate every time we wanted to go upstairs, plus the dogs would whine and try their best to get over it. So, I decided to put a bit of time and effort in to stop them using the stairs and remove the gate altogether. Every time they set foot on the stairs I would correct the behaviour that I didn't want and within the space of two days they'd stopped going up the stairs. The correction I knew that would work in my dogs case was a little aerosol spray. A little blast as soon as they tried venturing stairward had the desired affect. The dogs now knew their boundaries and limitations and they where happy, all along that's all they wanted to know, where do I stop !
This is just one example of how quickly you can change a habit in your dog, by letting them know what the rules are. No words where necessary in the changing of this behaviour, just a little shush sound from a can of compressed air.
Where Do I Start
If you're having behavioural problems with your dog, then it can be quite daunting to know where to start. Our target is to get the dog calm and content and achieve balance in it's life. A great place to start is the walk, because all dogs love going for a walk and some get extremely excited at the prospect of this activity. I always remember our first dog Benji, I used to get his lead and in a an excited voice used to say, 'shall we go for a walk then', I even had sign language for it. The 'W' word sure did have a dramatic affect on him. He used to pace up and down, jumping around, panting like mad, I had a job to get the lead on him and for that, dear Benji I apologise.
This is really not a good start to the walk and is going to lead to all sorts of undesirable behaviour, pulling on the lead been the main one. Before the walk you need to get your dog in a calm relaxed state. At first this is going to take time and if all you have is half an hour, then spending that half hour on this exercise will pay off in the future. This is in itself a great mental work out for your dog and very tiring. If you don't believe me, try it for yourself, do what your dog does, pace up and down, jump around and pant excitedly, after a couple of minutes I think you'll be pretty exhausted. So, stick with this and work on getting your dog calm. If your dog responds to commands like sit and lay down, you could use this to communicate what you want but don't keep repeating the command over and over if he's not listening, let him work it out. Just be quiet and calm, I normally sit at the bottom of the stairs and wait until I get the desired behaviour. Once calm go to put the lead on, if the excitement starts again wait for that calm state again, break it down into stages. Next stage dog by your side, next stage door open, etc etc until you can achieve a walk with no pulling on the lead. At all times YOU need to try and keep calm.......B.R.E.A.T.H.E...........it can be quite frustrating and energy sapping, don't transmit this to your dog, just stop and take a breath. There are many techniques to get your dog to stop pulling and I'm not going to discuss them all here, find what works for you and don't be afraid to try something new if it's not working.
What worked for me was a simple slip lead. My X collie snoopy is a very strong dog and a normal lead around his neck used to choke him. I then switched to a slip lead and put it high up by his ears, the weakest part of his neck, now I could control him with the lead held between my finger and thumb. After a while he got he message and I could show him some respect by walking him on a loose lead. If he abused my trust by walking ahead and pulling, I'd stop and wouldn't move again until he was by my side. The transformation didn't happen overnight but the change made him a pleasure to walk. Have a look at the links on the left and see if it works for you.