• Michael D'Abruzzo

    November 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Hi Wendy,
    Sorry I am so picky for details but just need a little more insight to the pack structure stuff. Sitting for food, treats, toys, and going out the door isn’t necessarily going to communicate pack structure.

    Who owns the toys? Him or the humans?
    Does he solicit and get affection on his terms?

    Details will help to find anything loose that needs to be tightened. The behavior you are describing is usually associated with a dog that has learned to solicit and be rewarded in other areas of his life. It all ties together so we want to make sure we set the stage right to fix the training. For instance if he sits before you open the door, but he is the one who gave the signal for you to go to the door – then it is opposite of what you want to communicate. The pack structure will have nothing to do with obedience and everything about who is deciding when things happen. It can be a confusing concept that I just want to make sure you understand because it ties into so many seemingly unrelated behavior problems that a dog may develop and makes it very hard for the dog to accept direction from someone unless it makes sense to their nature you are communicating in all aspects of his life that you want that position.

    Have you seen this video? This sort of explains the way they see leadership and structure and the way of living with us must ideally reflect this:


    If we have that concept down than you should probably have something to satisfy that restless spirit on a schedule so he never has to ask for it. I think a good game of tug a couple times a day in the house is a good idea if you are following the proper rules of starting it and ending it. We need to get him used to structure and the fact that he never has to ask for anything in his life. Not only should he trust that we will provide it on our own terms, he also needs to know that anything he asks for will also never be rewarded and mostly ignored when possible.

    Since mouthing is so hard to ignore – ultimately the behavior should be corrected, but corrections will be far less with far less protest and he will understand it better and be happier if we get all the foundation in place first. Hence why this is called “foundation style dog training”.

    A good phase 3 “leave it” command will knock the mouthing problem out of the ball park – but alternative problems may emerge like just barking in your face or grabbing your things to get attention if the underlying issues aren’t addressed.

    To get a head start on the obedience part of things and teaching him the concept of discipline that he will need before the “leave it”. I would recommend starting on the “climb” command found in the phase 1 video section. That will teach him what “no” really means and give you a head start to sending him to something when it is time to calm down. You don’t need to use a board like in the video. You can use a dog bed or even a folded up comforter.

    Keep in touch!