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Pit bull Emily was a classic red-zone case. She pulled her owner on walks. She growled and barked at passersby, especially those walking other dogs. Emily’s owner would drag along after her and yell at her to be quiet. Not surprisingly, this tactic didn’t work.

It is important to understand that red-zone dogs are usually frustrated animals. To control a powerful breed, you need to master the position of pack leader. The sheer size and strength of a pit bull, Mastiff, Cane Corso, Rottweiler, or any other large dog can quickly transform a frustrated and dominant animal into a serious threat. You must gain control of the situation before it escalates.

It was clear that Emily held the dominant position in my client’s household. My first focus: training the owner! I explained to my client that he must become Emily’s pack leader; set rules, boundaries, and limitations; understand the importance of recognizing the animal in the dog; and fulfill the dog as Nature intended her to be fulfilled.

Next I turned my attention to rehabilitating Emily. I suspected she wasn’t receiving adequate exercise for her breed and energy level. This was probably the cause of a lot of Emily’s frustration. Out came my rollerblades to give Emily a good, tiring workout.

Remember, in order to talk to the mind, you need to remove the energy from the body. Emily loved our fast tours through the neighborhood, and she easily kept up with me. She started to ignore distractions along the way and focus on where we were going. With her excess energy gone, I was able to get her to follow commands.

The results of our workouts helped Emily’s owner recognize the importance of exercise in maintaining a dog’s healthy state of mind. Most dogs require daily walks, but please don’t think of exercise as one-amount-fits-all. Exercise needs vary depending on the dog’s breed, energy level, and size.

Emily now receives ample exercise, and her owner has established himself as her pack leader. His calm-assertive leadership means Emily doesn’t need to fill that unnatural role. Balance has returned to Emily’s life, and she and her owner are the better for it.

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