A woman trains her dog in a dog parkA woman trains her dog in a dog park

We Help Dog Owners Whose Dogs Have Behavior Problems Richmond VA

Most owners don’t want an Obedience champion for a dog. They simply want their dog to come when they call. Or sit when they say “Sit.” To settle down and be calm. And get along with people and other dogs.

Most owners want a dog that is easy to deal with. Doesn’t chew or mess up in the house. No digging or biting. Or excessive barking. No destructiveness. No fighting with other dogs.

Unfortunately, life with our pet dogs is not always that simple. When Fido is not so easy, then we say he has “issues.” Behavior problems. And he’s in need of some Behavior Modification.

That’s where we come in. Behavior problems are our specialty.

We’ve worked with aggressive dogs that bite people and other dogs. We’ve worked with dogs that are afraid. Of noises. Or people. Or skateboards. Or almost anything.

We see nervous and hyperactive dogs. Dogs with house training issues and dogs with separation anxiety.

We work with impolite dogs that jump on people and counters.

One of my favorite cases was The Bloodhound who turned the gas stove on!

This story is so indicative of what we do. On the surface, it appeared to be a simple counter-surfing problem. But it was so much more.

A couple came home one day to find a burner on their gas stove on. Having no concrete evidence, they still suspected their 8 month-old Bloodhound. Several weeks later they had the answer.

In a fit of energy, the dog ran through the house. She crashed into a chest of drawers. She continued the rampage down the hall and then back into the living room. She jumped on the furniture. All the while her owners were yelling at her to “STOP!” Which wound her up even more.

She then dashed into the kitchen, jumped up on the counter and ran down the length of it. She leaped to the counter on the other side of the room. As she ran down it and out of the kitchen, the last thing her back paw hit was the burner control on the gas stove. And the flame came on. That’s when they called their vet, who then called me.

Solving behavior problems in dogs is usually not about corrections. And it is not as simple as stopping unwanted behavior. Dogs left to their own devices are usually pretty well adjusted. It’s when humans and dogs interact that problems begin. What we do is get to the cause of the problem. Then we can create a solution that works.

When I got to the house the bloodhound was jumping at the door. She wasn’t trying to do me harm. She wanted to play. But she also weighed over 80lbs. And she was intense with her jumping. So intense that it took me at least 30 seconds to get in the door.

On the surface, the problem appeared to be her unruliness. Crazy behavior! But there was a lot more going on.

Once in the house, I was able to show this couple how they had actually encouraged their dog’s behavior. They were a bit wound up themselves. And no one in the house got enough exercise. Finally, they suffered from the typical dog owner’s problem:

“You have a dog that runs your house. She feels like everything revolves around her. In her brain, she is the reason for your existence. You serve her. She is in charge!”

My statement, “you serve her” resonated with them. The wife said, “That’s exactly what we do!” Once that was out on the table the tension left the room. NOW we were moving to the solution!

You see it wasn’t about a dog that turned on the gas stove at all. Once this couple understood that this was about them, not the dog, things changed.

Their dog began to have a new place on the organizational chart. No longer was she the center of attention. And they got her the exercise she needed. And stopped rewarding the behavior they wanted to stop.

At the end of the session, I was giving them final instructions. Their dog was lying on the floor facing me, making no effort to jump up or run out the wide-open front door. The husband said, “I would have never believed she would do that.”

And NOW corrections were effective. When this couple said, “No” or “Stop”, it was now coming from leaders, not “servers.”  As a result, dog craziness stopped. Counter surfing stopped.

Our lives are so busy today that if Fido has issues, it sometimes can be a real problem. For example, a dog that bites a human today can be labeled a dangerous dog in court. The cost of insurance after that is high. Unaffordable in many cases. And as a result, the dog is put down.

K9 Behavior problems are not always so tragic. Sometimes the answer is simple and the solution quick. Maybe the dog just needs some structure. And the owner needs some training to be able to provide that. We say we help dogs by training people.

What Causes K9 Behavior Problems?

Behavior problems are usually caused by a combination of situations. First, a lack of proper exercise. Dogs that are wound up are more likely to misbehave.

Second, a lack of leadership on the part of owners. When the owner is not the clear leader and a dog has no structure (link to Obedience page), behavior problems result.

Third, most owner’s reinforce their dog’s misbehavior. And they have no clue they are doing it!

This brings up the story of Nala. She is an American Pit Bull Terrier with a few “problems.”

Nala has more energy than 6 normal dogs combined! Ok, this might be an exaggeration. But not much of one. When you meet Nala, she gets so excited that she immediately starts to jump.

You might say, “Big deal. Lots of dogs jump.” Nala weighs 70lbs and she is rock hard muscle. Like a cinder block. And when she jumps she can get 6 feet in the air from a standing start.

Her favorite activity is to leap towards someone. Then while in the air, she twists her body. She then hits the person with her paws and pushes off into a 360 turn. She lands on her feet and then leaps again. And again. And again. She doesn’t stop. Corrections only serve to hype Nala up even more.

Nala’s owner called me when Nala ran out of the front door into the street. No amount of calling or yelling at her could get her back. This type of thing happened often. My client told me that Nala once jumped out of the car and jumped into another person’s car. This was in a shopping center parking lot!

Clearly, Nala paid no attention to her owner. It would be easy to correct her behavior and assume everything would work out. But that would be going against Nature. Nala’s owner did not have a leadership position in the relationship. But before that, Nala was too wound up to respond to anything.

I took Nala on a Polite walk (link to Freebie?) and then brought her back. We walked for an hour. A Polite walk is more tiring to a dog then going out for a run! When we got back, I taught her to “Stay” at the open front door. When she got the look like she wanted to bolt, a simple, “ahh, ahh” was all it took to keep her in her “Stay.”

Before the walk, this would not have been possible. My next job was to teach her owner how to get leadership back. That’s the biggest part of my job.  Teaching people. The dogs are usually easy!

How We Work With You

When we work with you we ask a lot of questions. We determine the cause of the problem. Then we develop the fix.

Too many times folks in our business think the answer or the fix to a behavior problem is simply a correction. If a correction is needed it must be the right correction. And it must be humane. And sometimes a correction is the last thing that’s needed.

Inappropriate corrections cause more problems. For example, one of the most common housetraining complaints usually involves an owner who thinks his dog is dumb.

“I take him out for a walk. We walk for an hour and he won’t go. Then I bring him back in the house and he runs away from me into the back room and goes all over the floor! What’s the deal with that?”

We know to ask one simple question after that statement: “Have you ever rubbed his nose in a mess?” The answer is always “yes.”

The cause is simple. The fix is more complex.

So when you work with us, expect to be questioned about circumstances. We want to know what was happening when the dog misbehaved. We want to know how long the misbehavior has been going on. We want to know how many people in your home interact with the dog.

We want to get an accurate picture of what’s been going on. What we find is that in most cases human owners have helped create their dog’s problems. Often a behavior problem in the dog is created or reinforced by a lack of leadership from the owner.

Our job is to help the dog with training and retraining and behavioral modification. We also help owners to see how to change their behaviors.

You have a 50/50 chance to change another person’s mind in a disagreement. To effect change in dogs, many times all you need is to change your behavior. Often that’s all it takes. We’ll show you quickly in a simple and easy way, what changes you need to make.

And we start working with your dog immediately to modify behavior.

We can get results quickly, but this is not a 30 minute TV show. Behavioral modification that changes problem behavior will require consistent work. We work with your dog, changing behavior. And we will give you the plan and the program that you need going forward to effect lasting change.

To get started fill out our intake form and let us know what’s going on with your dog’s behavior. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible and set up a no-cost Strategy/Discovery Session.

In this session, we will determine your dog’s “issues.” And gather some key information about circumstances and environment.

We’ll also gather information about the human component. Who interacts with your dog. And how. And the frequency.

We’re good at assessing the situation right over the phone and determining how we can help. And we’ll make a recommendation.

Creating a change in problem dog behavior takes compassion and understanding. Simply correcting a “bad dog” is ineffective and may times damaging. We’ll help you understand what’s going on with your dog. Then we’ll modify her behavior. And create the program for you to follow going forward.

It takes work. But when you are a part of the change in your dog’s behavior, it’s gratifying work.

As one of our clients said just before Thanksgiving, “We are finally starting to enjoy our dogs!”

It will be fun to enjoy your dog again. Or for the first time. We are honored to help you and your dog!