Naughty But Nice – You are Not Alone!

This has been one of our favourite blogs to film. That’s because it’s about one of the topics we are most passionate about – naughty but nice dogs!

These are dogs that may be reactive, chase, pessimistic, fearful, overaroused, overexcitable – in fact, we are sure you all can continue this list!

We want to help you out if you own one of these dogs – it’s important to us!

Any of this sound like your dog? After watching this you’ll want to head on over to HERE

  • Mary

    I have a male BC who will occasionally do something random like the labrador you described. Triggers that I have noticed are – being “eyed” by other BC’s (particularly blue eyed ones), German shepherds (following an attack as a pup), bull nose breeds and other dogs getting too close to this “thing” (me, or toy).

  • Sarah Jones

    Hi, I have a beautiful staffie who I rescued at 4mths from the RSPCA, she was born there so no background…however in puppy classes she was a little snappy at one or two pups, I thought it was odd and the trainer didn’t really take any notice when I mentioned it. I did all you should do to socialise in puppy class and out and about and had no issues, she was even taken by a professional dog walker once a week when I was in the office and absolutely no problems. One day we went to a house we had not been to before, where a dog that we new lived and had previously come to our house and had played lovely with my pup but at his house he went into territorial mode and “went for her” as it were, she reacted and locked her jaw firmly over his neck! drew some blood but no lasting damage or vet bills luckily. Since that day she has pinned dogs she does not like and the ones she does like are few and far between…but she can still make friends with those that have the right energy for her. This is only an issue when the rude owners let their dog come rushing up to her and then she goes into defence mode once she has had a sniff….so of course we avoid that scenario as much as possible but we can’t always! Recently I have become more anxious as a couple of people, one with a wonderfully behaved dog that is her best friend, and another with no pets that knows her since day one and tells me its me and my fault …consequently that doesn’t help and so my anxiety levels are through the roof sometimes which isn’t helping and also needs correcting! I love my pup dearly and it makes me question if I am right for her as the owner now at aged nearly 3.

  • Helen

    My Australian Kelpie Rue is probably best described as a hyper-vigilant dog. When I got Rue at 12 weeks old he was terrified of everything and would bark, growl and lunge at even the friendliest of strangers. He is three now and has come A LONG way with a lot of positive reinforcement for incompatible behaviours on walks like look at me and calmly look at that – he is even starting to meet and greet calm strangers, offering a hand touch in exchange for cookies. He is even getting better around other dogs, as long as they are calm dogs and not intruding into his bubble. However, he still struggles with fast moving beings, both humans and dogs. Recently at a demo he decided that the crazy and young Border Collie on our team was the worst creature in the world, and while I could get Rue calm and looking at me, as soon as the excited BC started to bark or race, Rue would loose it. So, my next job with Rue is getting him to stay calm around others who are not.

  • Stella, our 6 year old (today!) Jack Russell Terrier, has been steadily getting more reactive. I *think* it stemmed from a car accident we had 4 years ago, we were hit head on and she happened to be on my lap at the time (passenger side!). Since then, she’s had to be reintroduced to the car which initially caused much stress, suffers severe separation anxiety (of the not sleeping/eating/drinking/staring out the window variety. no destruction.) and more recently leash aggression. I’m sure part of this is my own stress that she’s fed off of (particularly re: the car) but it’s getting so that I’m beginning to stress while in populated environments. We live in a very rural setting on 150acres so much of her day is with no outside encounters. We’re about to embark on a cross-country adventure (2016) where that won’t be the case however and I’d love to nip this in the bud and get my easy going, happy dog back!

  • Lisa Ponsillo

    Hi. I have a lovely little BT called Stan. 5 1/2 years old. I have had him 2 1/2 years. He is very good most of most of the time. He does get excited when we have visitors initially, but soon calms down. The main problem is other dogs. He can be very aggressive with other dogs if they come close to him. Off the lead he is ok with small dogs unless they try to sniff him, then he snaps at them. With bigger dogs he had a no-fly zone which differs from dog to dog. He never approaches other dogs and the problems we have had is when other people can’t control their dogs and they approach him. If I can get the other dog under control by saying SIT, SIT, SIT ect he is ok, but if they run at us he will bite them.
    I have had some success walking him with my daughters greyhound, but off the lead he gets overexcited and they have faught.
    It has come to the point when I don’t risk letting him interact with any dogs at all as I’m afraid he will fight them. When he is off the free running he wears a short lead so I can catch him quickly.
    The trouble with this is that the other day a big puppy Great Dane approached us at speed, Stan was on the lead, I couldn’t control the puppy and poor Stan got yanked around on the end of his lead for about a minute before the Dane’s owner got hold of the puppy.

    I’d love to take Stan on all our holidays in this country as we are keen walkers, but he is a nightmare on campsites as he can see other dogs walking past and gets more and more stressed.

  • Christine

    I have a 2 year old spaniel who is definitely naughty but nice! One of our biggest struggles is his over arousal around other dogs. He is generally ok when we are in a populated area, but if we are by ourselves (like on a walk) and another dog suddenly appears, then he loses it. He is not really agressive (he wouldn’t attack or bite another dog), but he does get totally over the top with barking and lunging. I think some of it is frustration that he can’t get to the other dog and I think he is also worried when another dog suddenly appears in the environment. I also have an issue within our household. He can be a “bully” when interacting with my other, smaller dog. He body slams my other dog and sometimes mounts him when he gets over aroused. I mostly have to keep them separate as I am worried that he will hurt my other dog with his rough interactions. This can be very frustratig to have to keep them separate all the time. Help!!

  • Claire Lowman

    Really great advice – love the 80% calm rule. Our rescue Vizsla came to us at 18 months and had not been on a lead before, had no recall and was in “survival” mode. We have come along way, he used to bark and lunge at all dogs walking down the street. I can now get his focus on to me and its almost like he “shrugs” and thinks “Oh yeah theres another dog I don’t need to react”. We can’t yet walk past on the same side of the road but if they are across the road or in the park he is cool. His interactions with other dogs off lead are mixed, we find city parks territorial and as his recall isn’t 100% yet I do tend to avoid them as its not fair on other owners if he runs up to theirs to play with no manners. In big open spaces in the countryside or beach he is a lot better. His best interactions are when he is in groups of 5 or fewer dogs, and these are usually with our dog walker and at daycare (so I do feel that I am missing out on his best times, but at least he is still having them!). Something I have learnt is that if the introductions go well he then relaxes and has fun. even if I am anxious on the inside I know that I need to do lots of happy voice and confident body language so that he realises that he doesn’t need to take charge of the situation. So for us we need to nail the recall and get him mixing with dogs that are a good influence on him so that he can cope in situations and not react once he starts having more freedom off his lead. I feel guilty for keeping him on a long line a lot but its a 10 metre lunge line and I quite often run along with him, he doesn’t seem to get frustrated on it. We also go to a secure field where he can run around with our other dog off lead but we can relax knowing that no-one else is going to arrive. I hope that I am getting the balance right for him, but its not quite like having our other dog who is “bomb-proof” and you can take anywhere!

  • Jackie Knee

    Hi I’ve two ESS both of whom are reactive (pessimistic) in different ways. My older female (6) has been attacked several times by a variety of types of dogs (Alsatian, Husky, Whippet x and a Staffie) and now if dogs approach her she warns them off first. Once we’ve got over the initial meeting, she’s fine and I could walk quite happily along with them. When I see a dog coming I get the ball out and throw it for her – it acts a bit like a comforter for her. My male (2) has quite different issues. He is ever so easily over aroused, distracted and over excited. He is lead reactive to other dogs. If he’s on lead, he lunges. If the other dog is on lead, he circles them. He dislikes “entire” males and is snarly and barky around them. He is also a dog that chases small birds and his recall becomes non-existent. He wasn’t always like this and thankfully isn’t always like this

  • Anne Edwards

    Flo my lovely Flo now 5 yrs old frightened of other dogs so much any interaction from a dog she does not know results in screaming in an echolic high pitched pulses. I have to watch Flo carefully as she will try and chase up behind the dog once passed. Clicker and food helps situations . Flo on lead much worse. If dog persisted in curiosity or chases she will come to me for help however has bolted in the past.

  • Helen

    Hi guys I am with Devon dogs. I have Jake who is 3 and Tia who is a young 12 year old both border collies. Tia I got when she was 2 and was very ill treated from a farm and is totally devoted to me. Jake is a very loving dog who I am doing agility with. I have had a 1 to 1 to try and find out why Jake behaves why he does around Tia and also been on let the dogs talk for me to try to understand what is going on. Tia picked Jake when he was 2 days old and used to play with him until he over grew her now she will not play with him but will play with other dogs. When we are out for walks if I call her or him or if she goes to say hello to another dog he will try to block her from getting there. She will tell him off and she has had a mouth full of his hair but he is not listening to her at all. Tia looks at me as if to say please help every time I will put him on a lead move him away and will not realise until he looks me in the eye and I have got his attention. However this is no longer working also not all dogs but bigger and young dogs he has started to chase and pick what I think is a fight. Please can you help?

  • Carrie

    Hello! I have a 4 year old Aussie named Jules. She is incredibly smart and athletic, she’s my first really active dog. I started Flyball about 2.5 years ago with her and she loves it and learned her job quickly. The problem comes when another dog is out and running, she is a major chaser. We have been working through this for a long time and we both love the sport. It really is frustrating and sad to me that she isn’t able to run in a tournament and earn titles. I’m thinking about maybe stepping back and focusing on keeping her under treshhold until she can be next to a Flyball race without lunging to chase.

  • Janet in Oz aka MRB

    My dog has back chained together “be naughty then be nice” = “get treat”. Oops. I have tried rewarding calm behaviour with treats but that makes the back chain worse and she will put on quite the nasty performance – because she thinks she needs to do that to get treat.

    The thing I’d like her to do is be more consistently nice with random rude and not so rude poodle crosses that show up at our local off lead park or just walking along footpaths. If I don’t stop her, she goes and scares the crap out of these dogs and their owners and then comes back to me like “I get a treat for that right?”. No, no you don’t.

    She had a couple of bad experiences with my brother’s groodle and me believing my brother about “letting them sort it out” She sorted out the groodle – eventually persuading it to back off with quite hard nips. So now she thinks all poodle cross need to be dealt with the same. Especially ones that get in her face or are just pulling like maniacs on lead.

    I can’t even ask the owners to pick up after their dog or call their dog away. Best I can do is get is a firm hold and say in a happy voice “Bad Bad Idea”.

    The weird thing is my dog had poodle cross friends – who look the same as the dogs she hates and I can’t tell which dog she’s going to pick on. There’s also a lab and a border collie that she picks on. Even tho most labs and BC she ignores or tolerates or makes friends with.

    She used to be everybody’s bestest friend – until the Groodle. She’s a herding dog bitsa with a fair bit of cattle dog. So I’d rather she didn’t pick on other dogs.

    At the moment I’m doing fairly well by pretending I’m really pleased to see the poodle x, but sometimes she spots it first. We’re also working on being nice to cats when we meet them out and about but she has my permission to chase them out of my back yard – so I suspect I’m not winning. I really don’t want cats in my yard tho.

    Is there anything else I can do – given it’s a bit hard to tell what dog she will pick on next?

  • Tania

    My Archie is a 2.5 year old Standard Dachshund who has many many issues. Bless him… it’s not his fault, of course. His misfortune was being born in a puppy farm, in some Godforsaken Eastern European country; he was subsequently purchased at a pet shop by clueless people and kept crated for the first year of his life, at which point he became an annoying barker and needed to go… I took him in, not knowing what the hell I was getting myself into ( and, if I have to be honest,I was completely delusional about owning a dog). One and half years on and I’m really at the end of my tether… I’ve lost a substantial amount of weight, I’m constantly stressed-out beyond belief, but hey… that’s my problem! Archie’s issues are multiple, ranging from reactivity to a ridiculously high prey drive and several other issues in between, which include an inability/disinterest to play – toys, other dogs (obviously), or me, for that matter + territorial and resource guarding (me) + hyper vigilance + anxious/high-strung + never relaxes… ). I’ve been working with the BAT and CARE(for reactive dogs) protocols for well over 8 months now and occasionally see a smidgen of improvement but it always seems very short lived. If anything, his reactivity seems to be getting worse (he occasionally even seems “aggressive”)… It almost seems like he’d rather be anywhere else but with me (pessimist??). I’m telling you: this is my last resort… I don’t know what else to do… my physical and mental well-being are at stake here and Archie’s future with me is too… Sorry to be such a pessimist… I have my hopes pinned on the NBN Breakthrough!!

  • Junie2dogs

    If I am out of the house My husband comes in the house with no reaction from my dogs He has minimal involvement with the dogs on a daily basis – No Value for his return 😄
    If I am in the house and my husband comes in the house dogs go nuts screaming and barking and conflict can happen when they gather to greet him ?

  • Jan Blue

    I have a 4 year old border collie that is a cat junkie. She has difficulty relaxing even after mental trying and physical activities. She will to stand or lay on one side of the gate and watch or wait to see my cat. She could do this for hours if not interrupted. She spends too much time in high arrousal. No other animal is hurt by her behavior but she rarely rests.

  • Junie2dogs

    Nearly two year old collie bitch who whistles for attention. Any suggestions for getting this behaviour to stop. Off switch broken springs to mind.😄. I do use a verbal Enough to aid the off switch but definitely an area for me that I would appreciate any feedback on.

  • Tom Mitchell

    Hello Helen! Awesome! Have you checked this out?

  • Tom Mitchell

    We have so many strategies to share with you, Lisa! Here’s a great place to start:

  • Tom Mitchell

    The fact that you are sharing this with us means you are definitely right for her, Sarah – have you checked this out as a starting point?

  • Tom Mitchell

    We discuss off-switch and building it quite a bit in this free video seminar and have lots more on the way! 😀

  • Tom Mitchell

    Have you tried our strategy for calmness we share with you in this video seminar, Jan?

  • Tom Mitchell

    Hi Tania – don’t despair! We so want to help you on this! Can’t wait! Tom

  • Tom Mitchell

    Have you checked this out Janet?

  • Tom Mitchell

    This is sure to help, Carrie:

  • Tom Mitchell

    Helen, have you watched this yet?

  • Tom Mitchell

    This is sure to help! Free seminar:

  • Tom Mitchell

    This is sure to help – can’t wait!! Free seminar:

  • Tom Mitchell

    This is sure to help Stella! Free seminar:

  • Tania

    Thank you Tom… I’m looking forward to getting started… and… actually, today was an alright-day!! My apologies for yesterday’s pessimistic rant… I do love my wee guy to bits…

  • checkboxother

    Tom, it’s actually through watching this that I ended up here. I’ve started working with her focus and ‘on a bed’ but would love to see or hear where to go from there.

  • Linda Hughes

    My Border Collie is fearful but not reactive. I do competitive obedience and have worked hard to build her confidence. Certainly from the doing the DD course I learned a lot, in particular feeding her fear has helped a great deal and she is much more trusting of me to look after her. She even comes to me for reassurance when I’m not aware of a noise that has spooked her. But she still spooks at random things and noises and can go to pieces in the ring and not be able to work. She recovers very quickly with my reassurance and I’m seeing improvement but, I’m sure there’s more I could be doing so wondered if I should be doing the NBN course with her. My concern is there will be noisy reactive dogs there which will spook her, so it could be counterproductive. I know the course is very well managed and closely supervised but some guidance would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Janet in Oz aka MRB

    The video seems to be taking a very long time to download. It won’t just play. Don’t know what is wrong. Have no trouble with Susan Garrett’s videos. I don’t have the best speed internet but it’s usually enough for downloads. Note – here in Oz, NBN = National Broadband Network – if I ever get connected – everything at my end will be super fast.

  • Willow

    Hi, In your DVD you discuss not rewarding unwanted behaviors. For example dog hassling their person, wanting to play or train. After you have ignored this and your dog has settled and stopped (in my case) barking to do some training, how long after the behavior has subsided can you leave it before doing an activity with your dog?

  • Maryse Fortin

    For the boundary games, should I start with a new mat/bed? She already has a bed but I’m afraid there is already an association made to it and it would take longer to change it than to start anew. What do you think?

  • Gab

    Hi I would like to know whether you recommend prozac(fluoroxine) for nbn dogs?i have a 3 yr old English cocker spaniel Velcro dog who changed at 2 1/2 years old.saw a vet behavourist,and a dog trainer referred by behavourist,who taught us to control environment,we started on outside of a dog class @70metres,then 5 weeks later were in small (2other dogs)dog classes.Dog is fine off lead,its only on lead she lunges n barks at other dogs.on lead i can have 100% focus on me with high reward.recall is great as was started with a wolf whistle when a pup n out of my sight on a acre.
    I’ve acomplished vet fear,car window wind noise fear @90klms or more,and do u turns to any(high energy )boys and strange dogs.not a very normal life for a dog not to see another dog..I’ve suggested that distance regular parallel walking ,with a non reactive dog,closer n closer may desensitise her with our daily walks,can u give an opinion on this?im not getting any suggestions from my trainers,she also has a fear of balloons,flags,wave riders ,hangliders ,anything that moves in the wind above her head,,of which I haven’t figured out how to desensitise..This came from my son tying 2 helium balloons to back of her collar when she was 3-4 months old ,with ceiling fans going really fast(summer)before I could grab her n cut them off.the noise of them rubbing together seems to have made her a bit reactive to noise phobia,no desensitising has been done with this either.thanks

  • Sandra Benner

    We have 3 Agility Cattle Dogs. 2 Females and a new 10 month old male puppy. We had a peaceful home till the male puppy came into our home. He can be the sweetest, loving dog, but he wants to be the Alpha and has had fights with our Alpha bitch. He is much larger and can hurt her. I can see it coming. It’s almost like a switch flips in his head. We make him wait for his food till we give him the ok. He will sit on a matt while the others train. We thought teaching him self control would help, but it has not changed things. We have changed diet, tried homeopathic products, but nothing has seemed to work. He has no fear so it is not a fearful issue. Any suggestions?

  • Rebekah Chappel

    We have 2 1/2 year old Aussie/golden retriever/corgi/Jack Russell mix female we know has separation anxiety. She will actually tense up and shiver hard if she thinks we’re leaving. The biggest difficulties is she reacts to everything outside the door, especially people arriving. When she gets anxious, it’s like her hearing completely shuts off and she responds to nothing.
    We also just got a new 6 month old Border Collie/black lab puppy. So far we haven’t identified any negative behaviors, but it’s day 3.
    We want to help Valentine be calmer and safer and start Elliott off right.

  • Joanne Timms

    Hi. I have 1yr old short haired BC called Oscar. I’ve had him from 10wks old. I’m having trouble with him wanting to chase cars, bikes and even little children that run. He is not easy to take for a walk as he wants to lunge at them all the time. I’m getting quite stressed when he does it. He did escape once and started chasing cars on a busy road and I thought his life is over and could of caused an accident. I really need advice on how to deal with it.
    Many thanks