HELP! I Have an Extreme Dog!

Frustrated CartoonBefore reading the following, please remember to ALWAYS properly balance your corrections with lots of praise and play as the best rewards for compliance and good behavior. This is the essence of my Nature-Based Discipline, Praise & Play Method™, and it is what makes my Perfect Dog® system so successful. 

So, you think you have an extreme dog? Firstly, I encourage you to examine the level of corrections you’re implementing. One of the Golden Rules is that if your dog – even if he’s just a puppy – is continuing the bad behavior after being corrected, it means your dog is not respecting the level at which you’re correcting him. That is, your dog is not sufficiently motivated by the level of authority you’re exercising in the relationship between the two of you.

Also make sure you’re using the proper corrective technique. Some people make the mistake of assuming the Command Collar is a self-correcting device whereby simply its presence on the dog will do the job. This is not the case. It’s an amazingly effective tool, but you have to operate it as demonstrated.

Maybe you just need to “up” things a little – perhaps a lot – and you’ll suddenly experience compliance in your dog. For the first time, your dog will look at you with newfound regard as a solid, capable master, and you’ll see him relax – his eyes will soften and you’ll feel an invisible warmth as he leans on you as the stronger one in the relationship.

If you’re still having problems after having done the above, re-watch the “Equipment” section on DVD #1. You may need to incorporate the use of one or more of the specialized training tools for a while until you overcome the most significant challenges. However, the same Golden Rule discussed above still applies.

Also take note of the “CRITICAL TIPS FOR SUCCESS” listed at the end of this post. No-one can expect to truly maximize their training results without fulfilling all of these important steps. Skipping the Quick Start Guide, or failing to thoroughly watch both DVDs in their entirety (preferably twice through) before beginning training can start dog owners off on the wrong foot. They can seriously undermine the training results, hit roadblocks that seem to be impossible to overcome, or even create unproductive precedents in the relationships with their dogs that will take extra effort to undo down the track.

If dog owners take the necessary time and attention to properly prepare themselves before beginning any training, they’ll be able to fast track toward the amazing “Trust Zone” self-governance level that I reach with all of my dogs. 

Now, having said all of this, IF you truly have an EXTREME dog that is highly resistant, outwardly rebellious, or even acting aggressively toward you since you began using the Perfect Dog training system, it’s essential that you understand the following:

Many dogs are insanely stubborn and resistant to corrections. They simply don’t understand that life will be amazing for them (full of freedoms, tons of play and exercise in all kinds of fun environments, and constant peace and harmony between everyone in the “home pack”) if they willingly and happily hand over the reigns of leadership to you. The change could be instant for these dogs!

When you have an extreme dog, it’s really quite baffling from a humanistic perspective – after all, what you’re asking of your dog is very reasonable and not a big deal, and a simple change in attitude from your dog would truly transform his quality of life. Yet, he’s choosing to play hardball. He’s making it hard on himself when everything could be butterflies and roses!

Some dogs have such dominant-minded personalities that they’re almost willing to hold on to their self-perceived authority at all costs, particularly when it comes to the “Down” command (as this is the most submissive of all the commands). This makes your job very difficult, but with determination and vision you can overcome the hurdles and reach the most exceptional training results possible. The possibilities are still the same for you as any other dog owner, it’s just that there are more obstacles in your way. Don’t be put off by them. Don’t be faint-hearted. If you do so, you’ll be resigning yourself to a life of chaos and frustration with your dog, and you’ll be sentencing your dog to a life of restrictions and unfulfilling relationships in your household and beyond.

There are myriad ways dominant-minded dogs can rebel against your attempts to train them toward what I term the “Trust Zone.” On the mild end of the scale, some dogs simply act pouty and sulky. Some even try the “muling” trick as soon as the collar and line go on, refusing to budge an inch. These dogs mentally “dig in their heels” and look at you as if to say, “Nope, no way…!” or “It’s not fair you big meanie!” They might act reluctantly compliant at times to try to get you off of their back, but they choose to wallow in a mud of self-pity for a very long time before they finally give in and accept that the jig is up. Beware, this “very long time” can last for weeks!

Then there are the dogs that are extremely vocal, from simple whining to even outright wailing. These dogs want you to believe you’re really hurting them when, in reality, the only thing you’re really hurting is their pride!

If you have a pouty, muling, or vocal dog, you may be easily fooled into thinking you’re “breaking your dog’s spirit.” Rest assured, this is not the case. Your dog is playing emotional games with you and the result will depend on who wins the psychological battle. As long as you’re assertive and don’t back down – and always reward good behavior with lots of praise and play – your dog will soon accept the fact that there’s no way out for him other than to comply. His resistance will gradually transition to reluctant submission which will, in turn, soon change to eagerness to follow. Finally, contented self-governance will be established. He will learn to trust you as his master who knows what’s best for him. His determination to maintain control will dissolve into happy compliance as he discovers all the benefits of his new life with you.

Yet other dogs will rebel using aggression. This may range from mild nipping, lunging, and/or growling (yes, these are all forms of aggression), to the most extreme levels where your own life is at stake. You may be tempted to believe the training has “made” your dog aggressive, however this is not the case in any way whatsoever. What you have done is simply expose what has been lying dormant in your dog’s individual personality.

You see, some dogs may never reveal their true colors because they never come across a situation where they feel sufficiently challenged. Their whole lives, they run the show – most often without the owners even realizing it! Yet, some of these leader type dogs do eventually show what they’re capable of because something does come up that pushes the dog’s buttons, and the results are too often tragic. You can read in one of my other Blog posts about a loving family dog that suddenly and completely unexpectedly attacked a newborn baby while the entire family watched TV on the bed together. The two-day-old child died.

The ONLY way to prevent unexpected, dangerous situations from arising with your dog is to expose what your dog is really like underneath all the kisses and cuddles and fun times at the beach. This is what my Perfect Dog training system aims to do. Once you know the fullness of your dog’s personality, you can then systematically go about “reprogramming” him away from the negative defaults and build in him new, positive, safe habits. My Perfect Dog system aims to transform your dog, not just bribe him toward good behavior (which is the basis of most other training methods).

So, if you’re saddled with an extreme dog, what do you do? First, you have a decision to make: You either choose to be led by him and risk having a ticking time bomb with you 24/7, or you dig deep into your emotional and physical reserves and do what it takes now – once and for all – to erase the ugly side and water the beautiful side of your canine pal.

The reality is that you just have to rise up and be the bigger dog in order to fully overcome your pet’s issues. Consider this: If your dog became part of a strange dog pack which was ruled by an extremely tough leader, that leader would do whatever it took to subdue your dog to the point where he completely submitted to the leader’s authority. That’s simply what you need to do. Perhaps you’ve come close, but you haven’t yet exceeded your dog’s self-perceived level in your home pack hierarchy.

Note that when you have a particularly challenging dog, it’s always best to do the majority of the overcoming/subduing in your home environment where you can correct your dog without concern about how the public (or unsupportive family and friends) will react. Then, once the dog has significantly improved, begin to take him out into broader environments. You might also do well to obtain a dog vest and have an “In Training” patch stitched to it. Communication is key, so if you explain to people (when necessary) that your dog’s aggression issues are dangerous to others and you need to fully resolve them before someone/another animal gets hurt, most people will understand.

If you need to use human beings or other dogs as distractions to test your dog for things like jumping up, dominating children, barking, etc. then consider which of your family members and/or friends you could trust to support and assist you with the training. Invite these people to participate in a series of training sessions with you, but first ensure they’re sufficiently prepared for what to expect.

Of course, ALWAYS have your dog muzzled if there’s any potential that someone (or another animal) might get hurt. (Carefully review my discussion on muzzles under the “Equipment” section on Perfect Dog DVD #1 as well as all of the information and demonstrations within the “Aggression” training lessons.)

Finally, never underestimate the effectiveness of a muzzle for extreme dogs even if they haven’t yet displayed aggression. As I mention in my DVDs, using a muzzle as often as needed will mentally subdue your dog over time. It will gradually reprogram him toward submission because he knows he doesn’t have his teeth available to enforce dominance if he wanted to. (IMPORTANT: Ensure the muzzle opening is large enough for the dog to pant and lap water.)

So, now you have a solid plan. You can move forward confidently and with conviction that if you just stay the course and don’t let your emotions (or other people’s emotions!) get in the way, you will rise above this temporary nightmare you’re living with your dog and the “Lassie” dream will very soon be a reality – for you and your dog.   – Don Sullivan “The DogFather”

P.S. Don’t forget the following essentials!:


To ensure training success, please note the following:

1. Before beginning any training, thoroughly read the Essential Reading Quick Start Guide which contains a training plan and critical pointers. All systems purchased from the official distributor contain the Quick Start Guide.

2. Before beginning any training, watch both Perfect Dog® training DVDs in their entirety at least once through, preferably twice. Even segments you may feel are unrelated to your dog’s issues still contain important information that will help you in other areas.

3. If your dog is particularly challenging, and/or if your dog is showing any signs of aggression, please take note of all the specialized techniques discussed under “Equipment” on DVD #1. Plus, pay extra attention to all of my lessons relating to aggression.

4. If you initially purchased a Perfect Dog Starter Kit (which includes a Command Collar & 30-minute introductory DVD) and you need to obtain the complete Perfect Dog DVD set (which includes 5 hours of training instruction – 70+ lessons), please visit the “Accessories” page at A variety of other training items are available from that page including extra equipment sets (Command Collar & Freedom Training Lines set) for those with more than one dog. 

Note: Many people also find the information in my book (Wake Up and Smell the Poop!) extremely helpful. While my Perfect Dog system provides all of the “how” components to the training, my book provides the “inside look” into the nature of the canine species and also societal influences that can have a detrimental affect on the training results. Here’s the direct link:

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3 responses to “HELP! I Have an Extreme Dog!”

  1. […] following Blog post which discusses in more detail how to effectively deal with challenging dogs: Read all the way to the end of the post so you don’t miss the “Critical Tips for […]

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