When adding a new dog to the pack, it is crucial to have complete respect and obedience from any current dogs before introducing the new fur babies into the family. Owners we worked with earlier this month knew the wisdom in this and contacted us when they made the decision to adopt two pups from a rescue.
Their 9-month-old German Shepard had picked up some poor habits that definitely needed addressed before adding the other two dogs. Not only were typical behaviors of pulling during walks and hanging on to old puppy behaviors, but he would bark and growl at their very young grandchildren. If the issues persisted into the adoption and introduction process, the new pups would easily begin those same habits. The dog had already been through some training but we needed to tweak a few things in order for them to take back control of their home.
Our session started off by taking a Respect Walk, adjusting a few behaviors as we saw them and not letting the dog pull them anymore. The whole family was able to see how important the walk is to gaining your leadership over a dog. The second best strategy is to give him a job to do while in the house, so we helped train him to use the treadmill and burn off that extra energy that all German Shepherds have from lack of exercise.
Since we were already inside the home, we allowed the grandchildren to run around and play like normal to begin addressing the dog's attempts to show dominance to the children. We believe children should be completely untouchable to a dog until the adults say if or when it is ok to engage. Instructing the pup to stay in a "down, stay" while the kids played allowed him to realize that he simply is supposed to observe them. This eliminated the barking and running at the children. As we moved out into the backyard, we also addressed using proper door control and not chasing the kids around the backyard.
The last issue to work on was his tendency to run the fence line in order to intimidate the neighbor and their two smaller dogs. The neighbors were gracious enough to briefly join in and help. Respect for his owner was already firmly established so the pup had no issues adjusting to the new expectations while outside.
Overall, we had a great time working with these owners, showing them how to avoid accidentally praising bad behaviors instead of the ones they wanted, correcting past behaviors and helping them learn to create the perfect dog for them. When they adopt their new pups, they will be ready to have us back to work with the whole pack as a family.