Q: My once sweet, 10-month-old English bulldog Max has turned into a little devil. Things that used to be easy to do — putting him in his crate, making him go outside, getting him into the tub for a bath — are now becoming real battles that include barking and running away. I think he’s trying to be dominant. How do I fix this?
A: Be dominant? No. Typical adolescent behavior? You bet. Max is simply maturing. Your best approach to addressing these issues is to be nonconfrontational, and to outthink your young dog.
First, recognize that when your dog begins to bark at you, you don’t have to address it directly; ignoring the behavior is a better approach. Entering into conflict with Max gives him more practice at being combative, so don’t fall for that.
Next, the three scenarios you describe can all be addressed in the same manner. Your dog should have a light 4- to 6-foot leash attached to his collar at all times when you are home with him. Just let the leash drag, and pay no attention to it unless you need to put your dog in his crate, in the tub or outside. When you decide to do one of those three things, don’t ask the dog to comply, and don’t negotiate. Avoid directly interacting with him, and just pick up the leash. Then, turn your back on him and begin to move in the direction you want him to go; since he is attached to the leash, he will have no choice but to follow. Praise him as he moves along with you, but don’t turn to face him, and don’t stop. When you have succeeded in getting him to the desired destination, offer more praise or any other reward you choose - treats, petting, etc.
To make this process even more successful, I suggest practicing even if you have no intention of really needing to place him in the crate, the tub or outside. Just randomly, throughout the day, get a few repetitions in of ignoring Max, picking up the leash, turning your back on him, and walking him out the back door or into the crate or tub. Once he’s where you want him, praise him and release him to hang out with you inside again. This way your dog is not likely to resist going with you, since it usually results in praise and freedom once again.