Dealing with your dog’s prey obsession problems

Andersenm writes to me:

Hi Adam – Just joined and started on the book – I adopted from a rescue orginization a Border collie/Golden retriever mix of 15 months of age. he definitly needs work but has learned some commands while indoors – problem is his prey obsession, I have had to cover some windows and door windows because he has become totally obsessed with the squirrels outside. Since this is entering week four of our relationship I still use a leash on him in my 1.5 acre fenced yard. I realize I cannot rid him of this as it is natural but do have to temper it some. Anything that would help while I digest your book cover to cover would help. I did raise and train a border collie that we had for 15 years before he passed and do not remember having this much trouble with him.
Mike Andersen


Adam replies:

Hi, Mike:

Most likely, with this breed mix, he’s got a pretty soft temperament– which is a good thing– so it shouldn’t be too hard to correct this.

First: Make sure his exercise requirements are met. (This means: A lot of cardio).

Second: You’re correct in keeping the leash (or a long line, outside) on him… until he’s 100%. I would start with correcting the behavior in the house, using the tab (as described in the book). This is mostly an issue of making your corrections motivational, and then keeping him in the dog crate (in the house) or kennel (outside) when you’re not home. This allows us to make sure the dog is getting corrected CONSISTENTLY until he drops the behavior.

You’re actually quite lucky, because you can channel that prey drive into a ball or a toy, and use it as a motivator to get him to respond to commands extra-fast and with a positive attitude.

Read through the book. I think it’ll make a lot of things clear for you. If you still have questions, please post again and I’ll try to extrapolate on any issue that might not be clear.


Train Your Dog to Stop Licking

DancingFlame writes to me: “Hello, I have a pug/chihuahua mix and I would like to thank you for the solutions you’ve already given me. My dog was whining in her crate and having a hard time learning the down command. We bought her a comfy bed and began feeding her inside the crate, and now she actually enjoys napping in it and will go inside at bedtime without being prompted. We’ve also got a good start on the “down” command.

I’ve looked over your games to play section in order and would like to teach her to locate hidden items. I started with smelly salmon treats, and she was unable to find them. Do you have any recommendations of tricks or techniques that can help us to develop her sense of smell? I would love to work up to her bringing me my keys (when I lose them).

My husband has a question for you. Our dog will often lick his hands, face, and arms while he’s petting her. He doesn’t like it and says he feels like a jerky treat, but hasn’t corrected her yet, as he doesn’t want to discourage her from feeling confident in our pack. Should we train her not to do this, or is it normal behavior for her place in the pack?

Thank you in advance!”

Adam Replies Hi DancingFlame:

Hi, DancingFlame:

Thanks for the feedback.

The trick with teaching her how to find hidden objects is to start by getting her excited about the treat, and then let her see you hide the treat — but pretend like you’re really hiding it. Tell her, “Go find it!”

Do that a few times, and then hide it in pretty much the same place, but don’t let her see you put it there. (She’ll go back to the same place! LOL).

After a few times, hide it maybe a 1/2 foot, and then a foot from that same location.

The rinse and repeat in two more locations.

Then mix it up, so that she goes to check the old locations, too. At the same time, you can help her out by saying, “Check here,” and snapping your fingers at the spot.

As for the licking: It could be from a vitamin deficiency. You might talk with your vet about changing food. If it is behavioral, usually the easiest way to fix it is to just say, “No!” and pinch the tongue when she licks you. (This licking behavior isn’t submission, because the submissive behavior does not continue for more than a couple of seconds, when it’s that!)

If pinching the tongue doesn’t work, you can use the collar and tab to give a LIGHT correction, and then offer her a toy to chew on.

Keep me posted.




2.5 Year-old Golden Retriever Poodle-mix Exhibiting Guarding, Dominance or Fear Behavior?

Leslie asks: I have a 2.5 yr old neutered male golden doodle that follows me like there is no tomorrow. He sleeps in my bedroom on the floor by my bed or in the bathroom. The dog will give a low throated steady growl if someone comes in through the closed bedroom door, and may get up to go towards the door.

This stops when the familiar faces of family enter. He also showed dog aggression toward the UPS man while the dog and I were in the garage and the man came in to deliver a package. The dog chased him, barking and growling. Unfortunately he was not wearing his e collar, and my commands were only verbal. He did stop chasing after yelling no 2 times. The last case for concern is when we are in my SUV. We stop almost daily at the same corner with a crossing guard.

The dog rides in passenger side with window down and the guard comes over and gives him a biscuit. ALL good. When I put up the window and start to drive away the dog jumps in the back and seriously snarls and growls. It is almost like he can’t tell that the guard is walking away and not approaching the car. this is most concerning as I take him in my truck everywhere that I can. I always take him to school to pick my kids up and he hangs his head out the window waiting. Kids come up or walk past constantly and I need to make sure they are safe.He will be wearing his e collar daily. Also, which e collar do you suggest. I have a Dogtra 280np or something like that and the transmitter seems to lose its charge in less than 10 hours. May just get a new one or start trouble shooting this one. Hate to throw good money after bad. Thanks again!
– Leslie

Adam replies: Hi, Leslie:

This should be pretty easy for you to fix, as it’s fairly predictable in regard to the type of situation the dog reacts in– and you can “set it up.”

Mostly, your problem is one of consistency. I want your dog to receive the correction immediately … every time he does the behavior. Every time, until he stops exhibiting the aggression.

So– make sure he’s wearing the e-collar when he’s not in the crate, and wear the e-collar transmitter around your neck (or clip it to your pocket, so that it’s handy).

When he’s in the car with you, do not let him jump in the back of the SUV. Get one of those tie-down doggie seat belts. If you don’t want to do that (highly recommended, as it’s safest for your dog) … at least put the leash on a flat collar and attach the other end short, around the seat or the seat belt to keep him in the front with you. So, you’re teaching him to sit in his seat and act like a gentleman, not fly around the car like a wild animal.

The Dogtra collars are generally pretty good. Ten hours is about what you can expect from a charge. What I recommend is: Put the dog in the crate (or kennel run) for a few hours during the day. For example: While you’re taking a shower, or when you’re doing something without the dog. Take the e-collar off and plug it into the charger. Keep the charger near the crate, so that you remember to take it off and put it back on, every time the dog goes in and out of the crate.

When I let the dogs out in the yard in the morning to potty, I put the e-collars on and supervise as they run around the yard. Then, when they’re ready to come back in the house, their feet are wet so I make them sit and take the e-collars off and plug them into the chargers (which sit conveniently on top of the crate). Then I make the dogs get into the crates to give their paws a chance to dry off, while I have breakfast.