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'Bad Dog Challenge' takes on over-protective pooch

Posted July 17, 2008
Updated October 12, 2011

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— The latest subject in WRAL's Bad Dog challenge is a young Lhasapoo who won't let another male into the life of his owner, a single woman.

Jordan Pittman, of Raleigh, volunteered Riley, a 2½-year-old Lhasa Apso-Poodle mix, to see if a trainer could turn her bad dog into a good one.

Riley weighs just 10 pounds, but he rules the house with his bad behavior. He is overprotective, jumps on people and steal things out of the garbage.

"He is my best friend. I treat him like a kid, like he's my son," Pittman said.

However, Riley won't tolerate others getting close to his owner.

"If anybody touches my leg or puts their arm around me, he is after them immediately," Pittman said.

Worse, Riley's developed a habit of biting, "and that's really a big problem because I can't have company over or take him to anybody's house without feeling on edge," Pittman said.

She said that for a while, she hoped her boy's bad behavior was just a phase. "Honestly, I was like, 'Maybe the terrible twos will be over soon,'" she said.

However, Riley's behavior was only getting worse, so dog trainer Jenny Marconyak, of Bark Busters, arrived to help.

Marconyak began by working on Riley's bad manners when someone comes to the front door. The trainer told Pittman to use a friendly voice to call Riley back from the door and make him wait. If he doesn't do it, Jordan corrects him with a noise – and by squirting him with a water bottle if he still doesn't comply.

The goal, Marconyak said, is to take Riley's attention off the front door and, instead, focus it on Pittman. Eventually, Riley gets it.

Riley, though, also likes to steal things out of the garbage to get attention, so his next lesson is to "leave it." His trainer and owner used treats and temptations and similar corrections – including the squirt gun.

Although he got a little wet, Riley started to change his bad ways. And by the end of the session, correcting Riley's growling and overprotective behavior came quickly.

Marconyak said that often, an aggressive dog might really be afraid, and that is what causes him to act out. 


WRAL will profile another Bad Dog next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Also, each Thursday at 8 p.m., tune into WRAL for the CBS show "Greatest American Dog."

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  • devilblue Jul 18, 2008

    My parents had a male Llasa that was very aggressive like Riley. He was protective over whomever he was sitting beside at the time. It got so bad that people couldn't even walk into the same room if he was sitting on the couch with someone. I think he had a screw loose but they loved him.

  • enoughsenough Jul 18, 2008

    Nothing that a fly swatter won't take care of.