Pack Leader (or so she thinks)

Frankie has never been a sociable dog and probably never will be. From the days of puppy school when she would spend time cowering and shaking between my legs, I knew and accepted that she doesn't like other dogs. A couple of weeks ago, however, she started displaying signs of aggression towards other dogs while out walking, which was a huge no no for me. I decided it was time for some obedience training.
Turns out I was the one who required training.

After I narrated the story of how Frankie had gone from being a terrified, sweet puppy to this loud, nasty nightmare that barks and lunges at other dogs, the trainer told me that Frankie has appointed herself pack leader, which explains her recent bad behaviour - she was protecting me. It also explains her lack of respect for me (not responding to commands), her tendency to bark at me in the morning when I decide to have a lazy sleep in; these were her efforts in trying to rein in her pack (ie.ME). Luckily, identifying the problem meant there is a solution. These are some tips we were given...

1. These days when Frankie jumps on me and barks at me, I immediately turn away or leave the room and give her ZERO attention. This shows her that being pushy will not get her any attention and deters these sorts of behaviour.

2. Sometimes Frankie "demands" attention in the cutest, sweetest way, I'm refering to those times when she looks at me with her big doeful eyes or when she happily picks up a toy and squeaks it as an invitation to play. I ignore her at these times too. This is the hardest thing to do I've had to do.

3. Surprise her. When she least expects it, I throw her a toy, play tug of war, give her belly rubs and lots and lots of cuddles. The trick is NOT to stop loving her, but to stop giving in whenever she demands it. Love and attention should be given on my terms.

4. Stop sharing food. Both Stu and I, as well as mom and dad, who take care of her from time to time, are equally guilty of giving her bits of our dinner from time to time. We stopped that completely in the last week. We also asked mom and dad and all our visitors not to share their food with her, no matter how cute or sad she looks.

Already these tips are working - Frankie seems to have some newfound respect for me, obeying all my commands and actually running to me when I call her. The other day, while out for a walk, she started growling and lunging at another dog, I gave the stay command and she sat down immediately and looked at me. I was amazed.

What about you? Does your dog think he/she is the pack leader too? Do you have any other tips or advice of your own?

60 Responses to Pack Leader (or so she thinks)

Victoria said...

Look at that face! How cute is Frankie!? My little dog was once very trained, but since my parents have been taking care of her, they broke all the 4 rules you listed + more... She definitely knows she's spoiled and now runs the place. Looks like we need discipline just as much as your lovely doggies.

Victoria

pretty little things said...

she's adorable but. great tips and happy training her.
xo sabbi

Sarah Jane said...

Frankie is adorable! I can see how those eyes of hers could easy con you into doing things for her :D

Rilla was starting to ignore me a little, and trying to get me to do things the way she wanted them done. Border Collies can be control freaks sometimes, and very good at it, since they were bred to manipulate animals twice their size just by staring them down!

I stopped feeding her tidbits whilst eating, and every time she comes to me for attention, she has to "do" something first to get it, either sitting, dropping, or a trick.
She's been a lot better behaved since I started this with her. I also do the "surprise" thing with her a lot too :-)

Good luck with Frankie! Sounds like you are making good progress,
xx

oomph. said...

i have watched cesar milan often enough to know that it's hard to break human habits! we are the ones that need training!

although...i'm wondering if these same tactics would work on my kids, lol!

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paisleysummer said...

Our dog is quite timid and although she has never been aggressive in any way, she is not super obedient. She's a bit wilful really. I have never been able to stop her from jumping up on us when we she gets excited!
I know it's because I am far too soft, also feeding her at the table etc, but at 12 years old nothing is going to change now!
You're doing well with Frankie x

Chloe Moon said...

I wonder if this applies to cat behavior too? One of my boyfriends cats is so mean but then is all cuddles to him. Maybe she is protecting him??

Frankie is so cute! I hope the tips continue to work!! =)

Ergo - Blog

Sam said...

Aw Frankie is beautiful...I had no idea that dogs could be trained in this manner, really interesting tips.

Briseidy said...

she is adorable! good luck training her!

sonia de macedo said...

First let me just say how adorable little Frankie is! OMG! Cuteness overload! My dog is much like that but I think she knows I'm still boss, at least I like to think so LOL! She'll sleep in with me in the mornings (thank f***!) but I think I need to stand my ground on the food thing, she's always demanding it from me LOL!

Awesome tips though, will put some into practice for sure!
SDMxx
www.daringcoco.com

Chai Chen said...

Ohhhh I love dogs. Such a great post Trishie! :)

My dog is not like Frankie. SheRa is scared of other dogs and is very quiet. She feels like part of the family haha. But she's also very lively and playful - but with people though. Not other dogs. :)

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Pamela RG said...

Frankie is so cute. Those are great tips and good thing they worked for Frankie. Our dogs are our BFF and companions.. We just love them and they love us too.

Camila Carneiro said...

Oh, my goodness, it's hard to believe that Frankie (and all her cuteness!) can be so disobedient... I mean, look at those sweet eyes!
Dear Frankie, learn fast so you can get all the belly rubs and play time you deserve!
xoxo, The Brazilian Way of Life
www.camilagcarneiro.blogspot.com.br

p.s.: I accidentally deleted one of your older comments on my blog as I was working on it using my phone. Sorry! :(

Jane said...

It's hard with those cute eyes! My dog has always been great (so different from my first cocker spaniel who was really agressive). But he had a period where he showed aggression to other dogs. It was right after his neuter surgery. He got it late in his life and when I told the vet of the extreme personality change she told me that it was probably because he feels the need to protect himself and not look like he could be messed with. It was really tough because we couldn't have play dates with other dogs like we used to. But he's ok now. His aggression went away. It was a tough time, but I'm glad his confidence came back!

Debie Grace said...

Awwwww! It must be difficult to do, no? But it's good the she is obeying you now! If I was there, and she stared at me while eating something, it must be so hard to resist! :P

Christine ♥ CHRiiSSYDOLLXO said...

awwww.. sooooo cute!!sounds like it's hard to train her, but i'm sure you'll both get there :) goodluck and seems like you're getting progress though :)

I hope you're having a beautiful day ~ xo
www.chriissydollxo.com

THE ALTERNATIVE WIFE said...

So glad that these new tips are working! It's incredible what a little training can do. Hope everything continues to look up for you and Frankie :)

Have a great weekend! xoxo

Becky said...

Cuuuutest dog ever!!!

Tasha said...

Omg Frankie is so cute akdaskldjaskldjasdlkas

Ann said...

So cute...
both Frankie and the story.

Arni @ Travel Gourmande said...

Thanks for these great tips. I would like to have a dog one day when we get settled in a place. So I'll keep these in mind. Frankie looks innocent and sweet so I can't imagine how hard it must be to resist those doe eyes demanding attention.

Sam said...

Thanks for taking the time to stop by....have a wonderful weekend. ♥

Sadie said...

Aw Frankie is so cute! I have the complete opposite problem with my dog, as he is overly friendly and just want to plays with any dog he sees! This can be a problem when he's desperate to play with an aggressive dog. I think dog obedience is a tough thing to crack and knowing when to be tough on them, because I don't want to punish him for wanting to play. Sounds like Frankie is a quick learner though and doing well with his training :) xx

MaysaAndSunshine said...

Aww..look at that face. How funny she thinks she can be your boss. I used to have 5 dogs snd they were great. Now i have three cats (all were rescued). Cats are so different, they can't really be trained cuz they are so arrogant and stubborn. Gotta love and hate them at the same time.

Natalie G said...

What a sweet dog :)

Marie said...

Good luck with the training! She is just too cute :)
xx Marie

Anouka said...

I don't own a dog but I found this advice very useful... I could probably apply it to some people in my life. I'm convinced that it would work.

LUXESSED

fhenny said...

oh wow never thought a dog could thing she is the one who leads you. never encountered this before with my dog but thank you for sharing!
xoxo
style frontier

Bobbi Arbore said...

I live with six cats and I am their mattress, their personal trainer, their cook, their groomer, in one word - their victim. Frankie is absolutely adorable.

Gloria said...

Awww Frankie is so adorable!! I could definitely use these tips on my furball :-)

rooth said...

Good job being the pack leader. Cesar Milan would be proud!

Breakfast at Cindi's said...

Frankie is soooooo cute ! I love him : )

xo,
Cindi
Breakfast at Cindi’s

Jo N said...

Frankie is so cute! It must have been hard ignoring her when she looks at you with those eyes. But I glad the tips worked and she listens to you now.

Deidre said...

what a cutie! it would be so hard to not give that pup attention!

Someday when we get a dog, I'm going to struggle with this MAJORLY.

Catherine said...

Frankie is so cute. Your tips are great Trishie, I think the only tip I have is to be consistent with your rules so the dog always knows what to expect. When we eat dinner Molly is always told to go to her bed and mostly we don't even have to do it because she just knows now but she will try and break the rules;) My hubby and the girls are going to go to obedience training with her next week to get some more tips so if I can anymore helpful ones I'll let you know. x

Shirley Tay said...

Sounds like you've gotten yourself a real gem. I've never shared food with my Candy even tho she has eyes like Puss in Boots. Candy is very different from other dogs that I'd owned, she doesn't bark at all. Maybe that's why everyone adores her. Thks so much for sharing about Frankie! Such a lovely post, Trish!

Samantha said...

Trishie!!

So nice to meet you! Frankie is adorable - our fur baby is Franklin!! We had the same issue right after we moved to Fort Worth. It turns out we were the problem!

xo, sam

STYLE of SAM 

nancy said...

OHHH she's adorable! I've never had a little puppy before - my partner and I are planning on getting one after we've finished travelling - I couldn't bear to leave the little guy or girl at home while we went away!

Marsya Aulia Rizkita said...

great post!

following you now, hope you follow back ;)

www.heymarsya.blogspot.com

Prisilia Felicia said...

ah this is like the kind of story that pops up in Dog Whisperer! I've never had a dog so I don't know what it's like :s but congrats for the progress \:D/ your dog is so cute!

Stephanie Louise said...

Such an adorable face! So interesting reading about all that, I've heard about some of that happening, but wow, to experience it first hand with your Frankie. It's good to have the training, she'll be perfectly fine soon :) xx

Diva In Me said...

Doesn't it feels good to be the leader instead? LOL!
I'm glad the training session works for you =)

Latrina said...

I've been wanting to enroll my dachshund to an obedience class, too. I don't think she's the "pack leader" but sure feels that way sometimes. She's such a sweet & loving dog but there are just sometime she acts out and I have NO idea why. So it'll be very interesting to hear what a professional thinks!

It's interesting that they said Frankie sees herself as the pack leader, see -- I would have never thought!

Jo said...

I think it must have been really hard not to give in esp if your pet gives you souful pitiful eyes but I'm glad your determination worked.

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Amber said...

Frankie is adorable! I'm going to have to try these tips with my dog grendel... he always barks/growls at other dogs when we're out. Or if we're inside the house, and he hears a little sound from outside, or someone knocks on the door, he goes mental, and there is no shushing him!

good luck with frankie :)

:: Lavender's Green :: said...

I don't have a dog, so I can only relate on a cat level and really, we all know that cats don't have owners ... they have staff, haha. But I saw a huge difference in the two cats we had growing up, and it was all based on how we treated them. One was happy and content and the other was such a snob ... or a 'princess' as my sister called her (she was my sister's cat, haha).

x Jasmine

PS. Frankie is so cute!

Elly @ Caribbean Living said...

Such a gorgeous pic! Really interesting post, good luck with sorting her out!

K.Lee said...

look at that! so cute.

xx,
klee

kisskissbyklee.blogspot.com

FAIIINT said...

Aw, I love Frankie, she is just adorable!
We had similar issues with Nico. He was very well behaved up until we went on holiday & my grandparents took care of him for two weeks, they pretty much broke all of those rules & got spoiled rotten! Needless to say, once he was back home he became a bit of a brat! We've gone back to tough love with him & he's getting much better. It's so hard to ignore them, but once you see the improvement it makes it's so worth it.
Good luck with Frankie! :)

ねこちゃん said...

What trusty eyes she has :) and she's a beautiful dog! I wish we had trained our dog earlier.. but some of the points you mentioned are exactly the same with my mother's dog Nina! I'm pretty sure your training will be succesful! good endurance!

blondebenedicte said...

really lovely post dear! adorable doggy awn, i've 2 dogs & they're the loves of my life, lol :)
bisous cheri x

Winnie said...

She's so adorable but I am glad that the training is working out well for both of you!

Heel in Mint said...

I never owned a dog so I don't know anything about them. I know more about cats. She is so adorable. Thanks for sharing...it might come in handy someday :)

xx
Heel in Mint

becca said...

she is the most perfect little thing!
dogs are so tough to figure out.
all of this is new to me, but good luck with your re-training!

Stephanie G said...

that's so interesting. frankie is soooo cute, ah those eyes.. i'd never have guessed she had the pack leader mentality too - this is getting me thinking a bit about my cat's unsocial behaviour towards other cats!

steph / absolutely-fuzzy.com

lucent imagery said...

I don't trust dog parks when other owners are there at the same time because you don't know how they behave (owners and dogs!). But if you know someone with a well behaved dog it would be good to get Frankie socialised with it, firstly on neutral territory like a dog park rather than each others back yards. Also, teach "give" or "drop it" and test by taking a toy/chew away gently but firmly for no reason - just to remind who is boss. Also, hang around the food bowl occasionally while Frankie is eating to remind who is the provider of the food. If you feel that Frankie won't react towards you aggressively, touch the food or her back and be firm in your voice if she shows any signs of aggression or possessiveness over the food to you.

Ms George said...

Oh she was the pack leader trying to pull you into line for sleeping in! That is hilarious and mean...we are hoping to adopt a rescue greyhound in the next couple of years. they are actually really lazy as opposed to people thinking they are really energetic. a lazy dog is a good dog for me- i like to sleep in!

caroline said...

oh my gosh, I just wanted to say frankie is really good looking! her little wavy ears and chin!! and that leathery nose! too cute.

daisymay aka Chantele said...

Oh my she is totally adorable! Stunning dog, and Frakie is such a cute name!
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Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

Oh your post made me smile, and brings back a few memories too! Our spoodle Bruno was exactly the same - and also required some help from the dog whisperer. Except, as you say, we were the ones needing the help and training. Pack leader indeed - or so he thought. But your post also made me realise it's easy to slip back in to bad habits, and I might need to retrain myself yet again!

suki pooki said...

Wow thanks for sharing this information! For my own dog I would say he listens to my commands about 80-90% of the time, the other 10% he doesn't but it might be because he knows I'm asking him to do meaningless things like come up stairs where he is not needed LOL He likes to stay downstairs by the front door =) Frankie is adorable!!!! My dog also prefers people but doesn't mind other dogs.