TAILS FROM OUR TRAINERS – Lenny the GSD

INTRODUCTION

Lenny the German Shepherd Dog was 10 months old when his owner Natasha contacted me. He had previously attended our puppy classes but was now fully grown and going through a challenging adolescence.

Every evening when Natasha sat down to relax after putting the children to bed, Lenny would begin jumping up at her and mouthing and biting her.

He was getting very rough and Natasha was left covered in bruises and bite marks.

Natasha was worried that she might get genuinely hurt and resorted to putting him in his pen in another room where he settled down happily.

THE PLAN!

We started off with a bit of a clicker recap, just to remind him what the sound of the clicker meant.

If Lenny heard the clicker he would know that at the time he heard the click, he had done something good, and that he would get a treat as a reward.

This in turn would make him more likely to repeat the exercise!

First we thought about what we would like Lenny to do instead of jumping up and biting, and we decided that settling on his bed or the rug would be a better alternative.

So we waited for Lenny to show any interest in the rug or his bed. Every time he walked across the rug or his bed we clicked and then treated him.

After a few repetitions of this Lenny realised that in order to get the click and treat he needed to be on the rug or on his bed, and started settling there.

Once Lenny was at this stage we introduced a Lie Down, and asked him to Lie Down on the rug or his bed which he did.

Lenny picked this up much more quickly than I Had anticipated! In fact I got a message from Natasha just 3 days after our first training session saying;

‘I am on my own in the living room with Lenny watching TV…… he is lying down!!! Hallelujah! No biting, no being a pest. Day 3 and all going well so far!’

Lenny continued to improve, and I followed up to make sure there were no reappearances of the previous behaviour. Luckily, they had stopped completely.

Before we did the training, Lenny wasn’t sure what to do when Natasha was sat in the living room so resorted to jumping up and biting.

Now we had given him an alternative exercise to do which was much more rewarding because he got treats and he got to stay with Natasha!

NATASHA’S FEEDBACK

Lenny is our 1 year old German Shepherd. We sought the help of Nicola around 6 months ago when we had reached the point of despair!

Whilst Lenny was super friendly, he had become so boisterous and with a young family, we really needed some help to gain some control. One of my main concerns at the time was that Lenny would NEVER lie down and relax, apart from when he was in his crate. Of an evening when we would settle down in the living room, Lenny would pace up and down constantly on the alert. If I was alone in the living room with him, he would nip at my hands and feet in a bid to get my attention. Whilst this behaviour was tolerable as a small puppy, Lenny was now a big dog and the behaviour had gotten too much to ignore.

Nicola came round to the house to assess Lenny’s behaviour and also to assess my approach on dealing with his behaviour. With some new techniques and positive reinforcement, Lenny soon learnt that he would only get my attention and praise when he lay down on the rug. Fast forward 6 months and a few more home training sessions and Lenny will now lie down and relax, making our life with Lenny much more enjoyable!

It seemed doubtful for a while that we would ever reach a point where Lenny would become part of the family but we now have a lovely, loyal and well behaved (most of the time!) dog. Lenny has learnt boundaries and is a much happier dog now he understands what is expected of him.

The home training sessions were as much of a learning experience for me as they were for Lenny and I learnt some invaluable techniques that have become part of our every day routine.

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