Achieving Balance and Harmony


A House Guest Terror Poodle, and Over-Aggressive Shepherd Mix, and an Over-Excited Pup

Season 3 | Episode 5 | Maya, Sara & Lilly

A poodle in Omaha harasses house guests so bad that visitors no longer come over; a rescued shepherd mix named Sara is overly aggressive; Maya's chaotic behavior is too much for its owner to handle.


Pushy Poodle

I’m frequently asked how to teach children to behave around dogs, but particularly excited dogs. Children move rapidly and tend to be high-energy already, and overly excited dogs can knock over or scratch a small child. It’s very important that they learn proper human-dog “etiquette.”

When meeting any new dog for the first time, you need to teach kids my “No touch, No talk, No eye contact” rule. Do not approach the dog. Let him come to you and the child first. Allow him to sniff and find out who you are. He must be comfortable with you before you reach out and give affection or invite the dog to play. By practicing this rule and asserting their position, they will soon understand the basic fundamentals of pack leadership.

Saving Sara

The body language of an over-protective dog, such as Sara, a shepherd-mix, can often escalate into the dangerous “red zone.” When I saw her, her ears were forward, eyes fixated, mouth closed, and body poised in a kind of hunting “ready to attack” mode. It was predatory stance; ready to charge.

It’s so important to be able to read your dog’s body language. You’ll see with aggressive dogs that they will often display trigger signs before reaching that dangerous state. If you know what to look for, you can block or redirect that escalating behavior or “snap them out of it.”

For example, with less aggressive cases, you can throw a ball to redirect her attention or use quick phrases such as, “Come on, come on, come on!” In more serious cases, you will need to block and use more assertive commands such as “No” or “Stay.”

Remember, no matter what you do, you must remain calm and assertive. Frustration, fear, anger, or anxiety will only reinforce unwanted behavior in an uncontrollable and unbalanced dog.

Maya Madness

This segment shows how an overly excited dog makes for an uncontrollable walk. Remember in the dog world, excited doesn’t always mean “happy,” although we often think it does.

A happy, healthy walk starts with you. Be calm and assertive from the time you put on your shoes and pick up the leash. Don’t anticipate or visualize any “bad” behavior from the dog. If she starts jumping around in anticipation, stop what you’re doing and wait until she becomes calm-submissive. For a dog, learning to be patient is a psychological exercise in itself. She’ll soon begin to understand that this calm-submissive behavior will earn her the reward of a walk.

The lesson continues when you reach the front door. You must leave first and then give her permission to follow you. If she’s barreling out ahead of you, not only is she displaying dominant behavior, but it can lead to accidents.

It’s okay for your dog to be excited about going for a walk, but you both will enjoy it a lot more if she’s in a calm-submissive state before the leash is on.

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