How Do I Get My Dog To Behave Like a Gentleman

Jack wrote to me saying, ” I feel we have made great progress after reading your book. I stopped him from jumping up on me using the “knee in his chest” method about 20 minutes after downloading your book one morning. Rusty’s one continuing problem centers around his looking at me as “ALPHA”. About 95% of the time he submits to me, but ocassionally when I am trying to brush him or correct him for something he is doing, he will step back and start barking at me or he will start nipping at my hands and barking. If I try to tell him “no” it makes him worse. The more I say “no” the more excited and onery he becomes. I can stop him by changing the subject on him, such as calling him to me or getting him to play ball. But if I try to make him “sit” or “stop” he just gets more excited. Sometimes I will just change the subject on him and he will be fine, then I will go back and pickup on the brushing etc. He reminds me of my middle son in his rebellious teenage years.

Tonight, when he started fighting me about grooming, I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and shook him hard and said “no” in a really harsh firm tone. This calmed him down, but only for a while. I knew it was a contest and I couldn’t let him win. I really had to get pretty rough with him.

I have used the prong collar in much of our training and have used an e-collar for specific problems like digging and jumping out of a fenced area he stays in while we are not able to watch his behavior with flowerbeds, etc. As you have probably already guessed, he is not wearing either the prong or the e-collar when he misbehaves in this way.

As hard as I have tried not to let him become “collar wise”, I believe he has learned well that sometimes I can correct him easily (as with the e-collar) and sometimes it is more difficult (as by grabbing the scruff of his neck).

He is a rough, tough little dog and I like that about him. But I know we can never quite get to the good behavior level I want from him until he stops fighting me.

How do I get him from “behaving like a little gentleman” when he knows I have “the edge”, to having him “behave like a gentleman” when it’s just me correcting him without any mechanical assistance”?

P.S. I’ve enjoyed the book and am enjoying this new challenge of training a dog to be a good companion. In the past dogs have been our family pets, but not really companions. I got Rusty because I wanted a “fishing buddy”. As such I want him to be well mannered and welcomed anywhere. I do not want to leave him at home or at the kennel when I go places.



Dear Jack:

It should be obvious to you by now that grabbing the scruff of the dog’s neck is an ineffective way to correct your dog. It’s obviously not motivational, otherwise you wouldn’t be writing to me with your problem.

Furthermore, you’ve already admitted that the pinch collar and the remote e-collar have worked for you.

Thirdly, you’ve identified (mostly, anyway) the types of behaviors that will encourage your dog to act like a spoiled child.


But let’s step back for a moment. Let’s go back to my book, on page 61, under the topic, “When To Use The Pinch Collar”:

I wrote, “& your dog should wear the pinch collar any time you find yourself interacting with him. Just like another dog, who would always have his mouth and teeth available to administer a correction to a subordinate dog, you need to be in a position to correct your dog, too.”

Further down the page I reiterate, “How do you make sure your dog does not become collar smart? Simply make sure that you leave the pinch collar on, any time you are interacting with your dog.” [And further down the page, once more] “You must be in a position where you can correct [and when I say, “correct” I mean give a meaningful correction] your dog EVERY TIME he exhibits undesirable behavior. After a period of time, your dog will forget he’s wearing the collar because he will have become used to wearing it, similar to the way we humans become accustomed to wearing clothing.”

I also make this point on page 156, in reference to the training collar, “Only take it off if you leave him unsupervised or confined in the crate [or dog run].”

If I’ve understood your question correctly, then my advice to you is, “Don’t be lazy.” Follow my advice precisely, and you’ll soon be able to look back at your problems with your dog as a thing of the past.

Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood your question, though. I do that from time to time.