Q: I have worked with a trainer who really helped with our dog’s behavior indoors, but now we’re facing issues while outdoors on walks and the advice is not working. My dog will jump for the leash and protest my directions by taking the leash and whipping it back and forth, often biting and scratching me in the process. She is a little over a year old, a rescue bully mix that we’ve had since October. I’m interested in finding out more about your process. Thanks!
A: Thanks very much for reaching out about your bully mix. I welcome the opportunity to advise on a bully breed dog, because too often these dogs and their needs are misunderstood. I am also curious to find out more about the issues you faced and the recommendations that were given by the trainer, since you’re saying they helped with the dog’s behavior indoors but don’t appear to be helping when you’re outdoors on walks with her.
First, I would like to comment on behavior indoors versus behavior outdoors and encourage you to realize that a dog that is sound minded and mentally healthy will behave consistently, whether indoors or outdoors. A dog that is steady and bonded will not be affected by a change of environment. Sure, dogs are happy to be outside on an adventure, but that does not mean that their behavior needs to change.
When that happens, it means the way of life indoors is affecting how the dog behaves outdoors. When dogs can do whatever they want indoors, they will act out outdoors. When there is a lack of structure and order inside the home, the dog will expect to enjoy the same lack of structure and order everywhere. We see this through dogs wanting to take control of the leash and refusing to be handled by their humans.
Unless we regulate our dogs’ behavior inside the home, we don’t have the credibility or authority to ask our dogs to behave outside. This is not just about training our dogs; this is about how we manage them and live with them in a way that makes them trust, bond, and feel safe with us, and see us as credible authority figures. One crucial aspect of the Way of Life method is how we manage space and boundaries. When space and boundaries are managed correctly indoors, our dogs are more likely to respect the space and boundaries we ask of them outdoors.
I also wish to touch on the breed of dog that you have. In the Way of Life method, we consider the development of a dog’s drives to be an essential aspect of a dog’s way of life. Many dogs, regardless of breed, have inherited instincts and drives that need to be channeled in healthy ways. This is especially true of bully breed dogs, who need to have their bodies and minds exercised correctly. Because they can be so full of fire and energy, they need to be rested and regulated so that they can also have an “off switch” and develop the kind of gentleness that makes them safe to handle and live with.
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