Your Questions: My Dogs Are Hyper-Active At Home

We have two dogs that need help. We have a 2-year-old male poodle that we brought with us when we relocated last November and a Jack Russell we rescued in March. Each dogs has separate issues.

Our poodle has a fixation light that shines through the windows early morning and late in the evening. He chases the light and barks. He also chases light reflected from the TV running and barking wildly. He attended puppy preschool and has learned basic commands like sit, stay, come and to wait for a treat. He walks on loose leash and will return when off lead. He will sit in time out when told and wait to be released. He is a wonderful dog but the loud barking is making the entire family crazy.

Our rescue, the Jack Russell Terrier, can also sit and is learning to stay. But she has issues with squirrels and screams (Note, these are screams NOT barks) until we let her out. She has also become aggressive towards large dogs and will lunge at them on walks.

Since both dogs are high-energy dogs I walk them both in the morning and evening usually 1 to 2 miles. If it rains, I forgo the walk. What should I do?

Your solution for your 2-year-old poodle could be as simple as putting him on a leash in the house at those times he acts up. Then you can begin to redirect his inappropriate behavior to one or more of those good commands he’s learned in obedience school. Praise and treat him with an extremely high value treat for the preferred behavior. This tells him just how valuable better behavior is. You could also install a blackout pull-down shade on that particular window so you could control the light for when you want to do set up exercises with your poodle.

The next problem will be overcoming your Jack Russell’s prey drive – as strong as it can be in dogs, and especially the Jack Russell breed. This may take a lot more time and require consistency and repetition of commands. Not having evaluated her aggression towards other dogs while on walks, possibilities could be leash aggression, possessive aggression, fear or even something else.

So, what to do? You will need to work on strong leadership in the home and outside on structured walks. Practice the basic obedience commands outside as well. Keep your distance from the dogs to which she is reactive until you can get with a professional trainer to help with your behavior modification exercises. Remember, I strongly recommend choosing a trainer who uses positive reinforcement. Your goal is to get appropriate responses from your Jack Russell around other dogs.

(C) Jim Burwell 2010