Regardless Of Your Dog’s Behavior Problems, Whether They Defer or React, It’s All Up To You



The Good Dog Tip Of The Day: You can have a nervous, fearful, anxious dog that makes poor choices (barks, growls, lunges, attacks, runs, hides) towards people, other dogs, bikes, skateboards etc, or you can have a nervous, fearful, anxious dog that instead of simply reacting to their nervousness, fearfulness or anxiety, defers to you, and makes great choices around all of the above listed items.

Left to figure it out on their own, with no real information about what an appropriate response is, dogs will simply react, and are liable to make very bad choices. It’s your job to show your dog what to think, how to feel, and how to react when faced with things that unnerve them.

This takes knowledge and leadership on your part and establishing the right relationship with your dog.


  1. Karen said:

    This is so true and we are living with the results of not making Roxy work through all of her fear issues that she had when she came to us as a foster at 6 months old. She overcame many but I didn’t push her to overcome them all. She is three now and since moving and the passing of my oldest dog has become reactive, redirected at me and has attacked my other dog. She is now at a boot camp for 5 weeks, started yesterday. I had a hard time finding someone to take her on here in the greater Seattle area. Most felt she should be put down because two of her 12 littermates have been put down due to aggression that was fear based. I am being told by the trainers working with her that she will be a forever ‘management’ issue that we will never be able to trust again because it is genetics. The dog owners are very lucky to have you as a trainer there in Los Angeles, I wish there was someone like you, Chad Mackin or Tyler Muto in my area. I am finding it hard to accept that it is too late for her, at least without trying all we can to help her. Had we not found this trainer we were seriously considering a road trip. I was finding alot of people doing amazing work with aggression on Youtube but none even close by here. It is very frustrating. This has been a very tough emotional lesson learned.

  2. Karen, it’s NOT too late for that dog.

    I fostered then adopted a dog that *screamed* when it saw another human and ran, hiding. It fear bit whenever it could. It wouldn’t go in a room with a broom.

    It was a GSD with huge bat-like ears. It’s hearing was phenomenal.

    Not only was it a naturally nervous dog, someone had *tortured it*. It had two sprung ribs and was covered in cigar burns when I slid her out the back door of a shelter that slated her for euthanasia because they couldn’t even get in the cage with her.

    I used a lot of calming physical pressure and I set the dog up in controlled environments one step at a time for its fears.

    That included a sound proofed crate. It included playing heavy metal/industrial music [yuck] in ever increasing volumes, daily. [UGH!] It included sitting on street corners holding the dog with body pressure while traffic went by. It included choosing some stable “doggy friends” and introducing her to them, one at a time with my Beta dog in attendance [since my Beta did not play–the neurotic dog felt safe AND had dogs to play with and learn socializing skills.]

    I used a check chain but if I did it today–I’d use a prong. It’s a more stable, less frightening pressure response.

    Trick #1 is NEVER yell or raise your voice with a dog like that. Never use “baby tones”. Keep praise down to a simple chest rub. Believe me, it’s not easy. If you’re picking up on the dog’s neurosis, crate it until you’re prepared to deal with it. Don’t frustrate yourself.

    It took me a year to fix that dog.

    Now that I know more, I could probably cut the time. By the end of that year, she could do a show-stopping heel and down on recall, anywhere, any place, any time. She loved everyone she met and they thought she was adorable.

    So, from a screaming wreck of a dog–to a dog everyone liked–it CAN be done.

  3. Karen said:

    Thank you for the encouragement. I am not giving up. Roxy seems like a much different dog, we have done two training sessions with her at the kennel, one being a group class. The owner/trainer is taking her most places with him and he said she has not had any bad reactions. He said that he also doesn’t give her the chance to make bad decisions. Too long of a stare at the dog and she gets a firm correction. At the first session, at the 3 week mark, she did react to another dog that she was sniffing through a fence but it was very mild compared to what it would have been before. I am committed to doing all I can to bring her completely around. I can’t wait to go to the training in a few weeks with Sean and Jeff. I know I am going to learn so much. Roxy is supposed to come home the Monday before that but am planning on having her stay an extra week. I want to find out all I can so that I set her up for success.

    That is funny about the heavy metal music, I had to do that also because the teenage neighbor at our new house had a metal band and Roxy wouldn’t want to go out back when they were playing. I know I did a lot of things right with her but missed some really important stuff along the way. I’m praying that Sean and Jeff can help me connect all the dots so to say.

    I definitely think the socialization aspect of the rehab is what will be lacking. Maybe I will be able to her her to Sean someday. It is like a 18 hour drive I think. Maybe one of the girls longer school breaks. She is doing well in group settings where all the dogs are under proper control. I am nervous about when she comes home and I encounter loose dogs wondering out of their yards with their clueless owners thinking there is nothing wrong with it. My dog I was walking yesterday is fine, he loves everyone and everything. But the instant that happened yesterday I thought of walking Roxy and instantly felt panicked about it. I know I have to get control of my emotions though if I am going to help her.

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