Is Your Dog Naughty But Nice?

mitchell2A Naughty But Nice (NBN) dog is exactly how it sounds - they are nice, beautiful, loveable dogs underneath but sometimes they make bad choices! These bad choices might be because they are easily overexcited, overaroused, reactive, frustrated, worried, scared or anxious! They might make these bad choices because they find it impossible to be calm, need to be calmer or maybe have a high desire to chase, hunt, sniff or herd! Naughty but nice dogs are often termed aggressive, angry, overconfident, EVIL - but - you know your dog isn’t any of those things really, they just need to be taught to make better choices and be happier about the things in their life! In fact, many of the things that NBN dogs do are often motivated by FEAR! You may feel alone, but you aren’t! We have been through it, we know you can turn this into a strength and, most importantly, we know it can be FUN!


Examples of NBN dogs and what they may do!

  • Reactive
  • Overexcitable
  • Overaroused
  • High chase/prey“drive”
  • High “drive” to hunt or sniff
  • Can’t be calm
  • Totally distracted
  • Reactive
  • Easily frustrated
  • Anxious or a worrier
  • A pessimist
  • A dog that may growl, bite, lunge, etc.
  • A dog that may switch off, find it difficult to learn or continually bark in training
  • A dog whose learning may not transition from training to the competition environment
  • We could go on and on!

Over the following blog posts, i’ll share with you 5 tips to focus on in training, living with and enjoying your NBN dog that fall under three broad focus areas we share in this video:

  1. Lead walking skills!

Pulling on the lead or leash can be a common source of increasing frustration, excitement/arousal, worry or fear for the Naughty but Nice dog. Teaching loose-lead walking is, therefore, one of the many lead walking skills we develop that are fundamental to surviving and progressing your Naughty but Nice dog! What is loose-lead walking?

Loose-lead walking involves your dog walking on-lead without the lead becoming tight. This means that the dog does not pull and walks at the same pace as you. While loose-lead walking, your dog is free to look where they want and do what they want as long as they maintain the pace you are walking and do so always with a loose-lead.

Further to this, depending on your own preferences, we can add some behaviours to this:

  • Offered eye contact
  • No sniffing
  • Shoulder targeting to your leg
  • Default sits on stopping
  • Default eye contact when distraction appears

It’s crucial that you decide the behaviours you want included in this loose-lead walking behaviour chain for training success. Without clear criteria, we can’t effectively reinforce our dogs or ourselves when things are going well!!

TASK: Write down how you want your loose-lead walking to look and the behaviours you want included and let us know! 

Why is loose-lead important? Loose-lead walking is one of the most important behaviours you can teach your dog:

  • It is a matter of safety when walking near road!
  • Pulling on lead can be seriously relationship-damaging!
  • Walking nicely on lead ensures you and your dog are not prone to injuries!
  • It makes walking way more fun!
  • It seriously enhances the relationship you share with your dog!
  • It further allows you to take control of distractions and put the value into you!
  • It is fundamental for working with reactive dogs effectively!
  • It is a great indicator of arousal!
  • It keeps your dog level-headed and having fun!

What skills are involved? There are many skills to develop for great loose-lead walking. The best bit is that developing these skills is so much fun and they don’t all involve a lead!

  • Fitness
  • Focus
  • Reinforcement strategy
  • Proximity value!
  • Lead value!
  • Body awareness and proprioception!
  • Calmness!
  • Impulse control!
  • Motivation!

We train loose-lead walking and focus through GAMES and you can learn more here:

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog series for more great information on training naughty but nice dogs!

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Positively Expert: absoluteDogs

Tom is a veterinarian, clinical behaviourist and companion and sports dog trainer, providing a unique perspective on all things dog.


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