Hey Mofo Friends!
Have you had the perfect dog up until today, but now have to ask yourself…
Why is my dog acting aggressively, using the house as a toilet, or destroying things?
My client had this exact problem. We had trained her lab Maggie together and she was a fantastic puppy. She learned potty training quickly and her obedience commands were on point. She was a kind, loving, and obedient dog.
My services were no longer needed and the client and I parted ways.
Then several months later I received a panicked text. Maggie was pooping and peeing all over the house. She was chewing up everything she could get her little teeth on. My services were again needed.
How had this perfect dog morphed into a nightmare?
Making a diagnosis was simple. The client had recently moved from a single-family home with a fenced-in yard to an upper floor condo.
In order to get outside to potty, Maggie had to get into the elevator. She became fearful, clenching all sphincters, and once outside would wander around too tense to poop.
Then, bowels unrelieved, Maggie had to brave the elevator back upstairs, reinforcing that same fear and clenching – until she was back safely in the condo, whereupon she could finally relax (emotionally and physically) and find somewhere sneaky to let it all “out of her system.”
Maggie didn't like to break the rules and potty in the house. She was an obedient, well-trained dog. Her disobedience was situational, but that terrible fear of the elevator had built up some serious anxiety. Maggie expressed her stress by chewing up things that didn't belong to her, destroying some of the owner's expensive property in the process.
This was no way for Maggie or her pet-parent to live! It was clear that Maggie was scared to death of the elevator, but taking the stairs a billion times a day was not an option. What to do?
Once the problem was identified, it was actually an easy fix. I coached the client long-distance and the client did it herself in 2 days.
🐾 Step one was to get some super special tasty treats and break them into tiny bits. Rotisserie chicken, hot dogs, pieces of bacon – whatever floated Maggie’s boat. The key is that the food was delicious and special to the dog.
🐾 Then, I had the client take Maggie into the elevator. Once they were in, she praised Maggie and gave her a little treat.
🐾 When the elevator door closed, Maggie was again praised and given a treat.
🐾 Up one floor, praise and treat. Then down 2 floors, praise and treat. Down another floor, praise and treat. You get the idea. Short sessions (7-10 minutes) with random ups and downs.
🐾 When Maggie exited the elevator, yet another praise and treat.
🐾 I instructed my client to do this in multiple sessions, several times a day, staying positive, praising every session and rewarding Maggie with her treats.
And that's it. The praise and the treats eliminated Maggie's anxiety with the elevator in TWO DAYS. Maggie continued riding every day like a champ (No special treats needed)!
So if you have a perfect dog who all of a sudden isn't acting very perfect, ask yourself one simple thing:
WHAT IS DIFFERENT IN YOUR LIFE?
The dog is the same dog. Somehow their environment has changed. Identifying the difference is half the battle. Your dog wants to be a good dog!
Everything is awesome. Now go walk your mofo 🙂
There are no “bad” dogs, just mofos with problems. Problems generally have solutions, and I’ve encountered them all. For more practical and professional help on mofo issues from A to Z check out my Basic Training course.
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