Arrogance Training

by Telling Dad on April 16, 2012

So there’s this guy who jogs around our village with an unleashed Black Lab right by his side the entire time. The dog holds a stick in its mouth and runs alongside its master stride for stride. When they reach a crosswalk, the dog sits and waits patiently as the man jogs in place. When its safe to cross, off they go, showing off their camaraderie to the townfolk.

Even with all the activity going on around them, from passing cars to spastic dogs to antagonizing squirrels, nothing can compel this dog to stray off course.

I would LOVE to have a dog like that.

But in comparison to this fine example of training, our dogs are unrefined buffoons. To put it in perspective, if our dogs ever attend obedience class, they’ll be the ones eating paste.

Of our three dogs, one was on purpose and the other two are rescues.

Our first, Jackson, would kind of meet the above criteria, but only by default. At 11 years old with bilateral hip dysplasia and a curved spine, he has no choice but to stay by my side or await my return while tethered to a stroller. It’s hard to make an escape when you can barely move. While the will to deviate exists, he simply lacks the means.

Our second, Dory, would fail miserably. We think she’s around 12 or 13 years old. Being partially deaf, partially blind, and way more than partially senile, Dory would have no problem ignoring passing pedestrians. Not because of any special tactical training, but rather because of mangled corneas and seven remaining brain cells.

It’s a sad truth but Dory is beyond training. We’ve tried with even the simplest of commands and an entire box of treats, but she’s just too mentally vacant after so many years of neglect and abuse to do much more than exist. As such, we decided to ditch the training and just keep her comfortable for the remainder of her urine-spritzing days.

To make myself feel as though we’ve at least accomplished something in the realm of training, I’ll occasionally order her to “look oblivious.” And to her credit, she rocks it every time.

Our third dog, Mahlika, shows the most promise. She’s less than two years old, is smart as a whip, and came to us already housebroken, socialized, and trained with the basics (sit, stay, lay down). The problem is that she finds it impossible to ignore anything within her eyesight.

Mahlika's outside and sitting. A very rare sight indeed.

Do you remember the dog from the movie “Up” who said, “My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you.”? Well, that’s Mahlika. Only due to her penchant for over-acting, she follows it with a leap, a grapple, and a dry hump for good measure. Heather says she’s just establishing her dominance and that all female dogs do it. To which I expressed that I’d like to see her establish a little more dominance around here as well.

With treats in reward of course.

When we’re on our walks with Mahlika she’ll tug and pull as though she’s the frontrunner in the Iditarod. As smart as she is, she can’t grasp the fact that if she just walked a tad slower, she wouldn’t sound like an asthmatic zombie with a tracheotomy.

Instead, she feels it proper to stretch our tendons and ligaments to their breaking point while plowing forward into the great beyond. And if she spots a squirrel? Another dog? An inanimate object? Dig those heels in, because unless you’re properly anchored, you’re going for a ride.

There was a squirrel here once. I just KNOW it.

I don’t need the perfect dog and I don’t seek miracles. All I want is a dog that doesn’t take us for a walk when leashed. And it’s going take more than just teaching her how to heel. We also need to teach her to ignore all the wonderful delights and temptations that surround her.

We need to teach her to ignore the squirrels that dare her to give chase by skittling around trees and pouncing on imaginary nuts in the grass.

We need to teach her to ignore all the neighborhood dogs that slip into spastic barking fits at the sight of her.

And we need to teach her that if a leaf overturns after a slight gust of wind, it’s okay. The world will go on. It doesn’t require an all out blitz to investigate.

In short, we need to teach her “Arrogance Training.”

Arrogance Training is the art of instilling feigned obliviousness to everything in sight.

Doggy graduates of Arrogance Training will have the extraordinary ability to recognize the presence of squirrels, birds, and pee-laden street signs without actually feeling compelled to acknowledge them. If a person or animal crosses their line of sight, they’ll be hardwired to ignore their existence. With nose held high, they’ll stroll forward without a care in the world. They’ll be so self-absorbed with manufactured pompousness that anything and anyone will go blissfully ignored.

Having been to Beverly Hills, I know it can be instilled in humans, for it’s a trait shared by elitist movie stars, Real Housewives of Any County, and 13-year old girls.

But how do you instill this behavior in dogs? Judging by the number of distractions in a dog’s world, I’d have the fattest dog on the planet if I tried to dissuade her through treats.

I’ve seen a lot of people using clickers to try and modify a dog’s behavior but I’m not sure how it’d apply to Arrogance Training. Mahlika darts after anything that moves and if I’m expected to click every time I see her ears perk and her eyes widen, I’ll need a pair of castanets to keep pace.

Mahlika: "I see where you want me to go, but here's where I'm going to take you."

My children fruitlessly employ the Dog Whisperer method of “PSHHH’ing” their way through training, but it fails to elicit a response because shouting “PSHHH!” is all they do. They’ll want the dog to sit but say and do nothing more than “PSHHH!”, which coincidentally, is also their command for lay down, come, and help me find the remote. The dogs are justifiably clueless.

I’ve been told to interrupt her natural instinct to chase and explore whenever I see her respond to something of interest. But to Mahlika, everything in the universe is of interest. So how exactly would this be done?

Time? Is that the answer? Just give it time? And if so, how much? Until the dog is deaf, blind, and senile? Until the dog’s hips no longer function? If old age is the secret to training success, fine, I’ll claim victory in about 12 more years. But I’d love to know if there’s a way to shortcut all this.

Like I said, I don’t expect miracles. I realize that squirrels are like furry bags of crack to canines, so I’ll give her those. But Mahlika wants to sniff, love, and chase everything. And it’s tearing us at our limbs. She’s smart enough to do it, she just has two witless dog owners at the controls.

It’ll be so liberating if we can figure this out and join that jogger guy as being the only two people in the county who can unleash their dogs without it resulting in the Amazing Race.

And once that’s accomplished I’ll get crackin’ on my wife’s dominance training. I just hope she’s a little more selective than Mahlika if it’s successful.

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

WilyGuy April 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm

As the owner of two Boston Terriers, I hold no hope of behavior of any kind. They leave no squirrel unturned. There is no bark or neighbor toilet flushing that escapes their ears.

WG

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Tina April 18, 2012 at 2:20 am

Thank goodness it’s not just me. We had to move the lounge to the back of our house to stop our oldest fluffbag barking at every thing that went by our house. Now I have four and the baba fluff barks randomly for no reason setting all four of them off.

We are down to spraying them with water to “shock” them into being quiet – alas all that seems to do with the second youngest is get her to try and catch it. Mind you, she wasn’t breathing when she was first born – although my life saving skills seemed to be in abudance that day I think her brain cells had disappeared by that point.

Shai April 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

One of the blogs I’ve been reading for a long time is Honey the Great Dane. Her human has some very good advice to other people in regards to almost any dog matter.

http://bighoneydog.com/honeys-blog/

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Daryl April 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

No returns:)

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kth April 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I have a 9mo just like Mahlika (well, attitude wise anyway; my pup is a basset hound). I’ve taken him to training and the only good thing to come of it was learning about the Halti with choke chain (the halti by itself wasn’t enough). Now we can walk without being dragged. Though, he does this prance walk when he sees/hears/smells something interesting. Good luck!! I love the idea of arrogance training :)

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David April 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm

A prong collar looks a lot meaner, but it’s actually less likely to damage a dogs throat than a choke chain, when used correctly. Might wanna google it. :)

Rob R April 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Training pets to “look oblivious”. Now, that could be a new trend!

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Elaine- April 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

haha, i have no help for you, our dog is as daft as they come, but i just wanted to say, that my dad used to have a dog with a bad back, and they actually took the dog to the chiropractor, bizarrely this helped the dog more than it helped my dad… just a thought, and good luck, i’m waiting for senility in my husband as well…

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Faith.The Blond. April 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm

*gasps for breath* I about fell over laughing imagining poor Michael being dragged (drug? Grammar Police would be good here I think) around the neighborhood.

I offer no help since I own a cat that, for the most part, just lies around all day. But have you tried a harness rather than just a collar and leash? I’ve heard they can give the walker a bit more control and it’s less likely to hurt the dog.

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Deb K April 16, 2012 at 7:50 pm

No help here. We have a Jack Russell that is 12 years old and still is incorrigible. If there is any transition of movement or energy in the house or outside, she barks. When we get up from the couch, she barks. When we leave for work in the morning, she gets hysterical and is appeased only momentarily with a treat. When she was a puppy, we took her to puppy kindergarten obedience training but dropped out after the third class, when she refused to lay down like all of the other dogs and became disruptive to the class. She never met a dog or human that she did not like and felt compelled to let them know immediately. Although she is in her senior years, there is little sign of abatement of these behaviors. Oh, did I mention that the only time she fails to bark is potty time? If we forget to let her out every few hours, she will simply relieve herself in the house wherever she finds herself. We have invested in a carpet steam cleaning machine for good reason. I know exactly what sound your dog makes when on a leash; what an apt description! Our dog too has yet to figure out that the straining on the leash is not good for her neck and throat.

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Chelle April 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Greg,

I actually skipped the last part of your post (and will go back) in order to tell you that our golden did the exact same thing until we purchase a “gentle leader” harness. It goes around his nose and behind his ears and the leash attaches to it. If you tug up gently, he sits. He can’t drag us. The nose is so sensitive on these dogs that they will be incredibly obedient on these kinds of leashes.

You will no longer have to dig in your heels. Even our 13 year old can walk our willful golden now and they weigh the same thing! You can find gentle leaders at any of your local pet stores or online.

Just needed to share this info with you since you’ve been so helpful with my blog questions! I suggest an immediate trip to the pet store as soon as it opens. I promise you will be amazed at how easy it becomes to walk that dog. This doesn’t mean my dog doesn’t want to lunge after every single thing he sees or that butterflies don’t freak him out, but with a gentle tug “up,” he sits until he calms down and then we continue on our way. I think all goldens must be ADHD or something.

Really hope this helps!

Chelle

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Sara April 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Ditto that on the Gentle Leader. Nothing else worked on my Golden! I always wondered if the launching himself at anything that makes eye contact was a Golden thing, or a general “dog” thing. He still occasionally does it because he just needs to be pet SO BADLY by everyone we encounter on our nightly walks. As if I don’t pet him enough. But the Gentle Leader has done wonders! I will warn you that Mahlika will hate it. She’ll paw and prance and roll around and do a thing where it looks like she’s trying to yawn wide enough to get it off. She’ll look and act uncomfortable and pathetic. But stick with it! It’s so much nicer than a choke collar of any kind. It took about two weeks before Lucky finally gave in, and it’s been great ever since.

Sarah April 17, 2012 at 7:56 am

Totally agree with the gentle leader. You must go and purchase one immediately. My dog Otis is 75 pounds with Hulk like strength when not wearing one. You slip it on and you’d think you were walking a chihuahua. Now my 7 year old daughter can walk him easily. The lead must also act as some sort of distraction for Otis because he no longer chases squirrels, other dogs or makes bee lines for fire hydrants while on our walks anymore. He just happily trudges along right beside us. I also agree with the other Sara that she probably won’t like it much at first but Otis quickly equated the lead to fun stuff so he definitely got use to it.

Smacky April 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

Absolutely, Gentle Leader. Go buy one today. We have four rescue Goldens who want to eat squirrels and we can walk them all at the same time.

Michelle April 17, 2012 at 10:09 am

Yes, I was going to suggest the Gentle Leader as well. I have a Golden and a 112 lb lab/mastiff who I can now walk both at the same time with one hand because of the Gentle Leader. Prior to that? I’d be the one being walked and have arms that ached for days after.

Have you looked into obediance training classes? The one skill we learned from that class that works wonders is “Watch me”. Although, in all honesty, it’s not the dogs that need the training, it’s the kids and husband. I am the only one who can control the dogs without treats or raising my voice. There is hope Greg!

Cho April 17, 2012 at 10:10 am

The gentle leader is amazing, I would definitely recommend it too! Once she’s used to it it’s perfect. I always liken it to a halter on a horse…

Kim April 17, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I’m new to your blog and catching up reading all your old posts, so the first thing I thought of when reading this was that you need to get your dog a harness quickly followed by the thought of your cats in a harness (I laughed so hard I cried when I watched that). Our German Shorthair practically strangled himself when we tried walking him with a leash hooked to his collar. Although we have a regular harness and not the “gentle lead” harness that others here have mentioned, he’s like a different dog and I’m no longer worried about being dragged through mesquite and cactus in pursuit of a cottontail.

Sara April 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I’m another person who can vouch for the Gentle Leader. We have a Catahoula that was an absolute horror to walk with until we put him in a Gentle Leader. Now he Heals and I can just throw the leash over my shoulder and walk down the road. Of course it took a few months for him to get used to it and to get moving, but it was a great training tool.

Anita May 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

Gentle Leader saved my golden’s life. We moved our 95# beast from the farm where he always ran free, to the suburbs where he was expected to walk on a leash. One particularly bad day of walking left me with a black eye and whiplash. I would have strangled him with my bare hands except he was hard to catch with my impaired depth perception and my numb arms didn’t have the strength. Now he is a pleasure to take for a walk.

Noelle April 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Just another chime-in for the gentle leader/Halti setup. We have a 6 month old Newfoundland who is also passionately in love with every new person or dog to come across her path. Weighing in at a hefty 70lbs (and climbing) I was getting pretty bruised and battered trying to keep her under control. Now we use a gentle leader and it has basically stopped all pulling and spazing out. She at times tries to get free of the leader–when that happens I either distract her with a “high-impact” treat or I’ll start to run and she gets distracted while chasing me. Everybody is much happier–the dog gets to go on more walks and my arms stay in my sockets!

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Andrew Reese April 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Have you seen the woman who walks around the neighborhood with FIVE unleashed dogs? She’s just showing off. My wife is in awe.

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MrsTellingDad April 17, 2012 at 6:17 am

Do you ever take Penny for a run? Your problem would be everyone stopping HER…”She’s soooo cute! Can I pet her? She looks like a teddy bear….aawww.” :)

MonicaC April 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Our rescue shepherd, Sophie did the same thing when we first got her… plus she was extremely reactive to other dogs.

The best success we’ve had is making her work for all of her food. She has to follow commands to get any food. My husband is taking her through a schutzhund (police & military dog training) obedience program and she’s really excelling. But it took us 2 years of trial and error to discover what worked for her. If the dog is of even average intelligence and average food motivation, it will work for food. Not just treats… give her all her kibble in 2-3 training sessions throughout the day. It only takes 10 minutes or so at a time. Now, my husband says “Sophie, do you want to work?” before each training session and her ears perk up and her tail immediately starts wagging… she’s learned more commands in the past 3 months this way than in the previous 2 years. This also is the best way to teach “arrogance training”. If you watch police, military, or schutzhund competition dogs, they basically ignore everyone and everything except their handler. They have come to learn that their person is the source of all good things in their life… food, toys, affection… they don’t need all those other dogs, people, or even squirrels.

From my own experience I’ve also learned… do not use a prong collar: It is effective to curb the pulling, but if the dog forgets and lunges toward something of interest (usually another dog, for us) she won’t understand why it hurts and may redirect her frustration to you (or the kids) and nip. Pronged collars have their place in dog training as used by an experienced handler, but out on a walk, for most dogs (and most people, really), is not it.

Gentle Leaders: also effective for curbing pulling, but your dog may absolutely hate it. After the prong collar, we tried a Gentle Leader for months, but Soph would try and rub it off on our legs or with her feet… and… contrary to popular belief, they’re not particularly “gentle”. Dogs have more, more sensitive, nerve endings on their snouts, so it’s more uncomfortable for them than even a pronged collar. It’s worth trying though… after limited success with it, we passed our Gentle Leader to a friend for their at-the-time 1 year old Golden, and it works like a charm for them.

Before we discovered the schutzhund obedience program, the most effective thing we found to keep Sophie from pulling is a harness. For some reason the transfer of pressure from her neck (or nose… with the Gentle Leader) to her chest worked more effectively, and made her less likely to freak out because it wasn’t uncomfortable. We didn’t even use an anti-pulling harness (there are several varieties out there), just a Kong-brand harness. It was originally purchased for car rides, but I accidentally discovered that she walks well in it.

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Cho April 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm

If you were going to go for a harness, I would definitely go for an anti-pulling one. While harnesses work for some dogs, with others it can have the opposite effect and make it even harder to control them, because now they have their -whole- body behind the pulling, not just what they can get from their neck. Nothing against harnesses whatsoever, just use some caution! Haha c:

David April 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Love this comment, and I love to hear about a dog doing Schutzhund and ready to work. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a dog get excited when asked, “Are you ready?”

MonicaC April 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Thanks, David! My husband has developed a real passion for schutzhund, and Sophie the rescue shepherd is his “practice dog” (we’re hoping to add a Belgian Malinois puppy to the fame in a few years). He discovered the sport after we’d already had Soph for a year and had already tried a basic obedience and a “dogs with issues” class, with limited success. We’re fairly certain she was a tie-out dog for the first 2 years of her life, as her house manners were impeccable but she knew no commands and acted like she’d never walked on a leash before.

We can’t do any protection work with her because she’s a rescue… But the schutzhund obedience program has turned her into an entirely different, motivated, happy, obedient dog!

David April 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Wow, a Malinois! I’d love one, but I don’t have the time that a dog that intense would need. I’m excited for you guys, because they’re an awesome breed. I’ve heard really good things about Kaiserhaus Kennels. I linked a youtube video of one of their dogs doing some comp. heeling below. Good luck :)

Dana April 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Our dog, a beagle-malamute/husky cross, took about 7 years to learn not to pull us along. And another year and a half to “just drop the damn ball already so we can throw it!” That just happened last week. And not for lack of trying. We failed puppy training class.

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Linda April 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm

My 2 lab crosses pulled me Iditarod-style around the neighborhood for over a year, until a kind pet shop employee told us about harnesses. This wise soul announced that Labs and Lab crosses have strong necks (no kidding, I thought), and they don’t feel the lead with a regular leash. Both dogs got the message quickly with the harness and now they are the picture of puppy obedience. Good luck!

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Valerie April 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I feel your pain. I have always envied the other people with dogs that actually listen and socialize. Last year I rescued a Min Pin and vowed that I would make her The One… Like total Neo in the Matrix. Turns out, Min Pins are REALLY hyper. And they never stop jumping. I think it’s because they are so tiny that they want to try to keep eye level with everyone else. Or maybe they sneak caffeine. Either way, Punky Brewster does not stop jumping. Ever. I once brought her to a dog birthday party. She snuck into the hostess’s garden and took a dumper. Then she stole the birthday dog’s birthday cupcake. But, honestly, I think they kinda had it coming… I mean.. Respectable dogs don’t wear party hats. But they do rock the Heck out of a skull shirt. Because that’s how WE roll. (We don’t really get invited to parties anymore…)

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Mishka April 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I had to house sit my friend’s dog for three weeks and she was used to dragging the walker each time and they used an extendy leash on her to top it off. It only took me a couple of days to teach her to heal with a regular length canvas leash, but the walks were super slow (as far as exercise for either of us goes) because every two seconds I had to say “Ruby, heel” and make her sit. My shoulders got a great workout pulling back to level with my stride too.

Sounds like you have some terrific furry family members, even if attention span is lacking at the moment. I could totally picture what you wrote and I laughed out loud at times…thanks for the chuckle!

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mark April 17, 2012 at 12:14 am

Three more years and she will start to mellow. Our golden is a sweetheart now at 10 but in his formative years (1-5) he was a punk. A shock collar may have been involved (at the direction of a professional).

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jessie April 17, 2012 at 2:11 am

I’ve only just recently discovered your blog and after reading almost everything, I thought I would comment once.

We now have 2 dogs (both Dutch sheep dogs), both by choice, but one is a rescue that we have only recently adopted. The little man is only 5 months old but lacking any kind of proper training whatsoever and already quite strong our walks with him are very similar to your description.

After two weeks of being dragged about town while getting bruised and being 5 minutes away from torn tendons, we asked help from a dog trainer. She indeed advised to distract him and redirect attention to ourselves. It doesn’t work all the time (sometimes he just goes off into his own little world where there is everything except me) and it is indeed quite tiresome (because in fact you have to beat him to everything in responding), but it has helped us a lot.

You start indoors where there is somewhat less distraction. Say “look” or something similar and when Mahlika indeed looks to you, you give her a treat. When this works you take it outside. Now my dog is very very fond of food which is why it works so well for us (unlike my other dog who much prefers all other distractions over food) and if he doesn’t respond right away I often rustle with the bag containing the cookies.

By now, I don’t give him food every time I ask for attention (just now and then) but I do always reward him by saying he has done very well. Also I cut down on his regular meals because he gets this much cookies (which are reasonably healthy ones) at other times, thus hoping to prevent him becoming enormous.

Oh and yes, with time it gets better. As with people it takes some time for dogs to get to the arrogant attitude. I hope.

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Lolita Gonzales April 17, 2012 at 4:25 am

No doubt! Mahlika does looks like Dug. How Cute^^ Yes! In time she’ll be the sweetest yet the strongest dog you’ll ever have when she gets older. Just don’t push her too much!

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Karen April 17, 2012 at 5:52 am

If you want to teach your dog to be arrogant, have him take lessons from a cat.

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Rebeccah April 17, 2012 at 10:35 am

Bingo. There is no better creature on earth that can demonstrate aloof, totally unavailable and completely beneath my dignity than a cat.

MrsTellingDad April 17, 2012 at 6:02 am

Don’t fight it, just run faster. I think I may have one of my best 5Ks since college. :) Also, I spend less time in the gym because my upper body workout is cut in half. Why change a good thing, lol.

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Wombat Central April 17, 2012 at 6:58 am

Is there an official dog trainer with a good rep in the vicinity? I’d try that first. Sure, it’s an investment, but your arms will remain attached to your body this way, and you’ll still be able to flag down the creepy ice cream man for the kids this summer. Win-win.

Also, your talk of Dory’s spritzing just reminded me to go removed the errant turd from my geriatric lab’s bed that I found this morning.

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Wombat Central April 17, 2012 at 7:00 am

Ack. That should say “remove.” I iz a proofreader by trade (sadly, this is the truth).

Mel April 17, 2012 at 7:14 am

I teach dog-training classes part time and have been training dogs for years. While gentle leaders and harnesses (sometimes the Easy Walk harness works ok for curbing pulling) work ok, as soon as you take it off it’s like it never existed.

To train the dog to walk nicely with you it does take awhile… most of my students take an average of three weeks of consistent training to get the dog to walk nicely on a leash, and probably an extra 2-3 weeks after that to get the dog to Arrogance level with familiar terrain. I use clicker training (which I, personally, think is the best way to train – I’ve tried several other methods and for your garden-variety just-want-a-well-behaved-dog type of owner, it is more than adequate).

The method is fairly simple – once you’ve acclimated the dog to the clicker (a ridiculously easy process that doesn’t have to involve treats, necessarily, especially if the dog prefers toys or affection), take the dog on a walk. As long as the leash is tight, stop and don’t move. When the leash is loose again, click and start walking (I have used this method without clicker training, as well, and to be honest, dogs that have been allowed to pull for awhile tend to take a few minutes to actually slacken up the leash again). The continuation of the walk is the reward. Most students I have are able to get their dogs to do this within the 20 minute time frame allocated in class, but that’s in an area with no distractions (hence the ~3 weeks it takes most people outside of class).

If this is done every single time the dog is taken for a walk, most of them get it pretty quickly (if you let them pull for just one walk, though, it tends to take a lot longer because they re-establish that they can haul you everywhere). To teach Arrogance, though, it takes a bit more – I use “leave it!” with my dogs (which doesn’t mean just “leave it”, it means “look at me instead of that thing”), which is a different process, but results (with time and work, and this is something that clicker training is ideal for) with the dog completely ignoring whatever it is that is distracting them and looking up at you.

I hope this is helpful to you… I know it’s frustrating to have a dog that pulls (one of my dogs is blind, and pulling a bit on the leash is how he orients to where I am, I think), but it’s not impossible to train Arrogance in a dog, especially a halfway clever one. ;)

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kay April 17, 2012 at 7:46 am

Gentle leader for the win EVERY time it will change your life.

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Audra April 17, 2012 at 9:39 am

I apologize that I cannot be of more assistance. I’m still trying to convince my other half to allow me a dog. But I feel like I’ll be more prepared now, once he gives in :)

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Amy April 17, 2012 at 10:25 am

What about a dog backpack with filled water bottles or some other weight inside? It might slow her down and make her feel like she has a job.

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Sarah April 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Our dog is the same way. Luckily he is a min pin mix, so only weighs about 30lbs. He’s incredibly strong, though, and if I’m not paying attention when he catches a whiff of month-old dog poo that he just has to smell right now he can almost pull me over.

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Jaime April 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm

my sister had a lot of luck with using one of the leashes that attaches around your waist because it’s a lot harder for the dog to pull when you have your entire body weight behind the leash…. other than that.. every time she’s distracted by something or pulls .. turn and walk the other way… you’ll be going back and forth a lot but after months (it really does take this long) of consistency it helps. Dogs are all about consistency… :)

good luck!

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Amy May 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Agree. Have had nothing but success with this method. Dog learns to watch and anticipate your moves.

BadKitty April 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm

If you have the time and commitment, take Mahlika to a basic obedience course. Everyone in the family will need to learn and follow the rules about how to interact with her . The trick is that you, as the humans, need to think like a dog since you are, presumably, smarter than the dog. It’s way easier to teach how to think like a dog than to teach a dog to think like a human. Once the humans are properly trained, Mahlika can be trained in no time. If you lack the time or resources to do it right and take her to school, get the Gentle Leader. I used to work for a vet and saw it work miracles. It’s not cruel, it doesn’t hurt, and it’s not a muzzle. I do recommend you get one from your vet or have your vet show you how to use it.

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Shan @ Last Shreds Of Sanity April 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm

As long as our dogs didn’t pee in the house, we pretty much called it a victory. Although, we had one dog, Chewie (so named because my dad thought he looked like an apricot Chewbaca the Wookie and that was actually the name put on his AKC papers), who would not walk on a leash. If you attached it, he would sit, lay or generally take the “go limp” stance of the 60′s war protesters. He could not be moved. All eight pounds of him. He was a pure bred Lhasa Apso.

But, if you drug the leash in front of him, he would follow it perfectly. Damn neurotic dog! :D

By the way, every time you talk about the village you live in, I see a medieval English village with stone walls and thatched roofs in my head. I guess I can’t reconcile anything in New York being a “village” except Greenwich. LOL

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Roseanne April 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Like the others have written above, the Gentle Leader is the way to go. Our Golden cannot keep his nose off the ground unless he’s walking with his Gentle Leader.

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Sheila April 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Aaaww Greg, you just made me think of my Sadie who passed away 3 years ago. She was a lab/dalmation mix and smart as a whip but trying to walk her was just like you described above. My life literally flashed before my eyes during one of those walks. I was also trying the Dog Whisperer method because he is a Dog God but it takes the whole family doing the same thing for that to work, lol. I wish so much for those days again.

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David April 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Hahahahaha. Urine spritzing?! Dear god, man…are you trying to give me convulsions? I couldn’t breathe for tens of seconds.

I don’t like the Gentle Leader, because it doesn’t really teach the dog anything about self control. It applies a consequence to certain behaviors, and if you’ve ever done any wrestling you know that controlling your opponents head (am I wrong to think of her as your opponent in this context? I don’t think so…) gives you a lot of control over their actions. With that said, a dog with this much energy may submit to the head control and walk calmly, learning to relax over time…or get more and more frustrated until, freed from your accursed control, her energy is loosed all at once in a frenzied tornado of destruction.

I’m not saying that will happen, I’m saying it could.

The goal shouldn’t be to get the dog to behave itself when, and only for the duration that, it’s being compelled to do so. The goal should be to teach your dog how to be well mannered, what is expected, and how paying more attention to you can be more rewarding than lunging after every leaf.

In the book “Retriever Training: A back-to-basics approach” Robert Milner talks a good deal about how a dog should be trained to behave well and respond reliably even when it feels full of energy. The dog that expects to be allowed to “run around” and “let off steam” before behaving itself is behaving this way because it hasn’t been taught not to, and instead of channeling its energy into concentration it’s endangering itself and its handlers.

This training will take time and commitment, a Halti or Gentle Leader doesn’t really take either. If you just want to address the behavior a Halti or Gentle Leader might work. This, to me, is like having a kid who bites other kids in pre-school. You can either address the biting or make your kid wear a helmet with a full face mask. Both approaches will resolve the problem of other children being bitten, but one of the approaches doesn’t address the primary concern: turning your child into a reliable, pleasant companion.

If you have the time, I always like training and correcting root cause rather than treating symptoms. This can be done with positive motivational training, but it will require an investment and commitment.

This dog has been trained using the positive methods I’m linking below. You can see that he has a lot of energy, but it’s been channeled into focus and intensity, rather than being left unharnessed to express itself in pulling and lunging: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9vomOf50pWM#t=107s — I’m given to understand that his training has been entirely positive, with no corrections.

This is free: http://leerburg.com/markers.htm
This too: http://leerburg.com/theoryofmotivation.htm
And a video, for the lazy (like me): http://leerburg.com/flix/videodesc.php?id=529

And to get in depth, and pay money, check out:
Check out: http://leerburg.com/219.htm
And: http://leerburg.com/220.htm

Sorry for Soapboxing you. Carry on. :)

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MC April 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

We had success with Dog Whisperer techniques, but they have to be applied consistently. We were able to get dogs who don’t jump on people and walk politely on a leash, beyond that we kinda lost focus. You need to train your family how to interact with your dog first, or any progress you make is going to be one step forward, two steps back.

Your dog is still young. She doesn’t need a walk, she needs a run. Think of trying to teach your daughter something when she hasn’t been outside all day. Kids need recess in order to be calm enough to focus and dogs are the same way. Run her hard and force her to mind her manners on the run(I do this with a short leash and head control like the dog whisperer). As she minds her manners she gets more room to look around, but she isn’t allowed to stop moving forward until you give her permission and she gets no say on the direction of the run. Then after her run, when she’s tired and happy, work on tricks.

In the end dogs are pack animals and they have to understand that their place in the back is below the humans in order for them to do what you say they have to respect you, or you’ll just be that substitute teacher that has to clean spitballs out of your hair (and grass stains off your butt).

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Sheila April 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I absolutely agree with your last paragraph. Ceasar is the dog guru. His philosophy? Train the dog, rehabilitate the owners. They may look happy but unless you become the leader of the pack they don’t become really happy dogs. I did end up with grass stains on my butt a vew times too.

valmg @ Mom Knows It All April 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I’ve had both but I’m way more of a cat person than a dog person.
I’m pretty sure that cats take arrogance training 101 in the womb.

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Grady Pruitt April 18, 2012 at 7:12 am

Ah the joys of pet ownership :D

Sounds like you don’t go for a walk, but a “pull”.

I’ve had several dogs in my life, but one of my two that I have right now is one of the best dogs ever. We’ve had her since she was a puppy and we house trained her pretty quickly. Now, if I could just get her to stop barking at every little thing that moves if she’s outside at 2 AM in the morning :D

My other dog, on the other hand, refuses to be house trained. When he’s loose in the house, he just HAS to mark his territory. And usually when no one’s paying attention, so we can’t ever seem to catch him in the act. We just find the mess later.

Still, I wouldn’t trade either one for anything. They’re both a lot of fun, and I’m sure each of yours has a special place in your heart!

I like this idea of Arrogance training. If you ever figure it out, you just might could make a fortune :D

Thanks for sharing!

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amy April 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm

My two cents for the inside ‘marker’? Tether him to you (you can probably google this technique) so that he has no choice but to be in your eyesight and that way you CAN catch him in the act.

moxie April 18, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I had the same problem. It was recommended that we get a collar that has, for lack of a better description, metal spikes (but not really spikes) on the inside. When the dog starts to pull they dig in a little. I would NOT recommend for dogs that don’t have a lot of fur around their necks, but it’s fine for long haired dogs. They learn not to pull as badly. You can also try a harness that goes around the chest and front legs.

If the collar sounds cruel, it really isn’t. I had friends who’s dog ended up with damaged trachea and neck/spine herniated discs from all the pulling.

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Sweet Sassyfats April 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Oh dear, I’m laughing so hard I have tears running down my face. I admire people who get their dogs to behave well. I have a sweet, docile, smart Corgi who really is a very good doggie. But she is easily distracted, thinks she owns the whole block, and will not come when called without this specific sequence:

“Gracie, come!”
*snap fingers once*
*slap leg twice*
*make a few kissy-smoochie sounds*
“Come on, girl!”
*make a low whistle*
“Wanna eat?”

I would just skip to “wanna eat,” but it’s kinda weird to stand outside saying nothing but “wanna eat” for five solid minutes while she sniffs every blade of grass we own. At least the other way the neighbors know I’m calling the dog and not just thinking of food again…

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Andrea April 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I highly recommend “Family Dog” by Richard Wolters. Common sense, simple to follow, and very effective. Mr. Wolters loves dogs, but doesn’t put up with any nonsense.

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Amy ebel April 19, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Please try purchasing a “gentle leader” it looks like a muzle but its not. Its a simple principle . Google it. They worked for my doggies.

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amy April 19, 2012 at 8:36 pm

It may have been mentioned, but I don’t have time to read all of the responses. First of all, a halter instead of just a neck collar to stop choking the dog. Look up “Martingale” collars for around the neck, as they tighten when pulled on, but loosen again once the pulling stops. I haven’t needed a Gentle Leader for our dog, but have heard great things about it and it’s worth a try.

As far as the clicker goes, it’s to reward for GOOD behaviour. NOT to try and stop bad behaviour. So when you say SIT and she SITS, you click. When you command LAY DOWN and she does, Click. So teach her to Look at you. Whether it’s by using her name, or the command “Look”. When she looks at you, Click. Eventually she will associate the “Click” with “GOOD GIRL!” and the command with the click, and yadda yadda yadda. When you are out, and you see something that is gaining her attention you will be able to say LOOK and she will divert her attention from the distraction, and Look at you. GOOD GIRL!

I also suggest NILIF (just google that) for constant, daily reinforcement training for all areas of her life. You need to be Alpha and stop her from trying to dominate. I cannot handle going to someone’s house and having their dog try to hump my leg or jump up against me. Can’t.Stand.It. Teach her where her place is in the totem pole (at the lower end!). Even the cats are above her. We have taught an elderly female rescue dog using this method.

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Kisha April 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hve you tried a halter-type of lead for her like the Gentle Leader? They work wonders for those high energy, ‘SQUIRREL!!’ kinds of dogs :) Not really any additional ‘training’ required, just put it on, attach the leash and off you go. They work on the same principle as a halter for a horse. You have more control over them w/out having to drag or yank them by the collar. I recommend them to lots of little old ladies who have big, strong labs and goldens (great for kids walking big dogs, too). They usually work like a charm.

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Saraellenawesome April 23, 2012 at 10:17 am

We have a 75 lb doberman who is just as easily distracted and ends up half alive on the kitchen floor after a walk because he’s been choked out for the last 20 minutes. My mom did tell me that when she took her dog to obedience training, they said to keep treats in your pocket and then walk the dog, stop, make the dog sit and then give him a treat. Then repeat a lot. I haven’t tried it yet, but her dog is obedient, so I’ll say it works.

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Heather April 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

This made me laugh out loud at my desk. It’s on par with the post I put up today about my own dog. Do go check it out! You guys need a pinch collar. It’s the most incredibly amazing invention since tacos. Buy the ones with the machined, rounded pinchers, so that it can’t do any physical harm, just cause discomfort. I used to think those were incredibly cruel and awful until a trainer made me put one around my forearm and squeeze it as tight as I could. It didn’t feel wonderful, but it didn’t hurt. We trained our yellow lab to walk with one of those, and it has been day and night…. I strongly recommend it!

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Heather April 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Sorry- tomorrow. The dog post on my blog is scheduled for tomorrow.

Tatum April 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Keep bacon in your pocket.

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Arlyne @acokertx April 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm

This post spoke to me cause I have a fresh “leash burn” on my finger from my lab’s enthusiasm to say hi to another dog on a recent walk :)

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Greg Thompson April 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I found Mahlika to be very adorable. But I’m not very fond of dogs and have no idea how their training works. I hope you can manage to train him really well.

Best wishes.

-Greg

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Beth April 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Um…where’d he go? Since I’ve been following it’s never been this long without a post! Hope everything’s ok!

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Lexi April 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I agree! Hope all is well, Greg!

Jom April 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Ferocious yet cute dog! What’s the breed of your dog? Thanks for sharing this arrogance training. I never thought there’s such a thing.

-Jom

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Melinda April 28, 2012 at 8:35 am

My dog is arrogant as in he looks at me like you gotta be kidding when asked to do anything. He goes out of his way to make things on his terms. Like standing at the door like he wants to come in but refusing to until you open the door a second time. I give up. He’s 11 years old and a grouchy old man who is not willing to listen to anyone. :)

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The Recovering Principal April 30, 2012 at 5:51 am

My 8lb Pomeranian could definitely use some arrogance training. When you get that figured out, please, for the love of God and for my sanity, let me know!

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pam May 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Seems like a great dog. Try changing from a leash to a harness. Easier for your kids, too

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Andrea May 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Try a halti. We have a german sheppard/rhodesian ridgeback mix and then an English Labrador who is quite like “Dug” from “Up” as well. The halti helps them both not be able to drag us around because it pulls their snouts back upward. :) Our trainer friend let us in on these great things and it’s helped tremendously. http://www.petco.com/product/6008/The-Company-of-Animals-Halti-Headcollars.aspx?CoreCat=OnSiteSearch

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