Dog Training: Problem Solving

Dog Training Problem Solving:   Why Structure and Leadership Matter

When a dog demonstrates behavioral issues,  many people often attempt to solve “the” problem.  In most cases, with fears, jumping on people, resource guarding, or some aggressive behaviors, there are specific training protocols to address “the” problem.    But it’s important — make that  — it’s  critically essential to remember there is usually more to the problem, and therefore more to the solution.

It is seldom just one problem.

That means, unless and until you address the foundational components, you aren’t going to have a complete resolution.

The other side of the equation is also true.   When clients call me with a laundry list of problems to solve, we find that when we focus on the core structure and leadership and the big ticket items… most of the other issues just fade away.

Structure and leadership and obedience are core components to solving most every problem you have — not matter how big or how small.  Don’t skip it!

To assume a stronger leadership role in your home and begin implementing the following:

  • Teach your dog to “Place” on her bed or in her crate.   Build up to her being able to stay in a place for  an hour or two while you watch TV, make dinner or have guests over.
    • Do a bit of duration work every day!
  • Begin making her sit and wait for her food.  Start with a brief wait, and then work up to a couple of minutes.
  • Require your dog to sit calmly before going in or out of doorways.
  • Do 10-15 minutes of basic obedience each day.  Giving praise for a job well done, and holding them accountable to not performing the task on command.
  • Require her to stay in command until you either release her with a verbal OK! Or you issue a new command.
  • Spend some time each day in play.   Look for games and activities and  that tap in to the natural instincts of your dog’s breed and eneegy level.   Have fun with your dog — isn’t that the whole point of having a dog?
    • If your dog escalates with rough play or tug games, or fetch, take a break and end the game for a while.   Don’t encourage the bad behavior.  Work on impluse control.
    • If your dog is guarding toys — this must be address.  And he may not be allowed to have toys for a while, until behavior is improved.


  • Offer affection on your terms — require them to earn affection with manners.  Something as simple as a sit or any command or trick you may have taught.  If the dog seeks out affection, ignore them.   If they demand affection by barking, pawing, or other persistent attempts, put them in a place or down stay away from you.    Later, you call them to you or go to them to give praise and affection.
  • Offer treats on your terms — but only when they have learned to sit patiently with manners.
  • For the bratty and aggressive types — no permission to be on the furniture.   It *might* be a privilege that is earned back — but for now, get strict and change the rules altogether.

Bottom line:   to get the best results to problem solving in dog training — pay attention to the details focus on structure and leadership too.

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