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Training a Brave Griffon

Idaho Outback Griffons

Anxiety and Your Griffon – You All Are Making Me Anxious!

Let’s start at the beginning. We can all agree that the WIREHAIRED POINTING GRIFFON is a sensitive soul. When these dogs were first bred, they were a mix of high-powered hunting, pointing, retrieving, and tracking dogs, as well as a generous dose of “How can I please you… Please, I beg you, just tell me what to do…” Those soft teddy bear eyes, with their mischievous nature, sometimes seduce their humans into buying into the “You’re a good dog… I am just going to love, love, love you.” Doesn’t sound that bad, right? Oh, how contraire. I know we went over a lot at puppy pick up. Many puppies are about living with a sensitive, softer breed of dog. I am seeing a serious uptick in folks who are mishandling their Griffon puppies and creating monsters in their adult Griffons.

Doc Halladay

The psychiatry of raising a good puppy, and dare I say, a good human, is the ultimate goal of having a companion dog that is adjusted to the family and the life a family leads. A dog that can play and participate in all manner of family activities and live amongst us as we work, travel, and hunt like an integral part of the family is what we strive towards. A dog’s job is to be a pet or working partner… He is not a human child. He is not equipped to make any decisions, other than ones programmed by nature or nurture. Sometimes, his job is to sit in a kennel or yard for 8 hours while their human works. His job is to be able to self-comfort… something that our small humans should learn as well.

I follow the puppy raising principle of “How to raise a BRAVE puppy.” Begin with positive reinforcement, so there is an incentive to behave the way I want you to. Some dogs work for treats, some for love, and some for play. I use a combination of rewards. I often start with treats. Most of my adult dogs work for a pat, but I think they all still believe a treat could happen, and that always makes their responses crisper. Upfront, you should expose your puppy to everything and everybody. The more they see and experience, the stronger they become.

How to make a Brave Puppy

If I hear a young puppy howling because he is stuck in the woodpile, I take note and then let him work it out. He figures out he can impact his own fate if nothing else, then he was bored being stuck there. He now has a skill of helping himself – being brave. When a puppy gets bit by an adult dog, the other dogs including the mom do not rush over to console, nor do I. When your pup learns a life lesson, please do not undo it by commiserating with their miserable state. Instead, be strong and know what not to do next time.

The Postman is really nice; in fact, they all are. The water spraying on the road is super fun. The BB gun buzzing through the air always brings out a wing or bird! I love to meet the people at Lowes and Petco. I like to go play in the stream and run through the briars with my friends. Your puppy is BRAVE. And when your puppy is in a calm, collected, and strong state, that is when they are loved – not when they are fearful and anxious. REWARD THE BEHAVIOR YOU WANT.

I go out of my way to make lots of experiences fun and rewarding, for example, when I train puppies for loud noises. Don’t shield them from the lawnmower and power tools. The adult dogs are calm, you are calm, all is good. I use a BB gun and am constantly popping at a sparrow or starling. The adult dogs love this game because they know this means a bird could fall to the ground. It is gross, I know, but their joy outweighs the gross factor for me. The puppies see the enthusiasm. So, as the pop gets bigger, the excitement grows.


I love to throw toys in and wade in myself. I always bring other joyful water-loving dogs.

Being Alone

I have been alone. It is not scary; I know because I have been alone. Now let’s imagine you were never ever alone. Someone walked you while you went potty, someone slept next to you, someone didn’t insist you had to stay on a rug or your own bed. If you whimpered, someone raced over and wiped your tears and tugged you onto the couch. If you yip or whine, it is met with a friendly “it’s OK.” Someone hugged you before they left you while going to town, softly caressing you and in a squeaky voice saying “I’ll be back; you just wait right here for me.” When that same someone returned, I raced over crying and wailing, I leapt into their arms just grateful they had not abandoned me. This happens too much. Your puppy needs to learn to be alone and be happy.

Give your Griffon puppy something special they only get when they are alone. A chew toy or treat. Practice leaving and returning and never acknowledge your puppy. He is busy being alone and content. When you are ready to engage, and he is exhibiting calm, non-reactive energy, you can engage. But no need to overdo. After all, this is his job. You are rarely congratulated for making it through another long boring day of work just because you did not have a meltdown. Please hold back when you want to excitedly greet or tearfully say goodbye. It is not good for your Griffon, who then thinks he should worry because you have clearly just averted death or kidnapping, or are soon to leave for war.


Griffons are full of it, the need for speed. In every case, you should allow your Griffon space to stretch and burn calories. Younger Griffons need this even more than older dogs. Once your Griffon has the edge taken off, we now need to turn on the brain. So teach him things. I mean hard things, not just sitting. An off-leash recall, down and stay for extended periods of time, scent hunt your hidden child or partner, teach him to find sheds, look up what is required to make your dogs a good citizen with AKC and visit an old folk’s home. Ask him to obey in increasing outside stimuli. Here is where the motivation comes in handy, i.e., treats.

Or JUST LOVE HIM, and he will be a paranoid mess that can’t breathe or whimper without your assuring force. Some just become less of a dog than they should be; some will decide since you seem to need a leader and will try to keep all the bad guys … things away. At its worst, I am going to open up this wall or door while you are gone with my bare teeth, bleeding, but damn the cost, because I cannot cope. I can’t trust that person because he limps and smells weird… I have absolutely no idea how to lay here and pass the time.

What should I do now? There are rules that will help you raise a brave Griffon:

  • I and all the humans in this house are the boss and rank higher than the Griffon.
  • Babies and small children are my friends. They are prized above all other things by my adult owners, so I worship them as well. I can play gently with them. I never bite, or jump on them, especially the baby though she is super cute. They can greet me and talk high because they are babies… I understand that to a degree.
  • Teenagers or other sub-adults must adhere to similar rules as the adult owners. They are not to teach me to play too rough or ignore basic rules. Most Griffons recognize sub-adults as being pretty fun.
  • Griffons do not need to make any decisions. Let your rules be clear. IE Cats are not food…and the like.
  • Griffons leave kids alone leave other animals alone unless I say different.
  • Avoid talking in a high voice or treating your dog like it is a baby. Your Griffon is a dog, not a child. He takes the high voice in greeting or whatever as some kind of distress, yours or his.
  • Try petting in an upward movement on the chest instead of the top of the head or back, or scratch a belly. Don’t stare him down in adoration or appreciation; it actually feels dominant to most Griffons.
  • Never greet or say goodbye. It is just another day. Wait for the calm after the storm to appreciate your Griff.
  • Put your puppy away lots. In the yard on his mat or kennel, with the neighbor. He needs to be adjusted there. If needed, add an incentive to keep him there.
  • Get your keys, jingle them and happily return; don’t take the dog, unless you want to. Get in your car and come back. Certainly don’t take your Griffon with you every time.
  • Everyone has the same rules in the house, no matter who you are. If the dog can’t be on the couch then not ever.
  • Send a member of the household to an obedience class with your puppy. Pick the person who feels the least control over the puppy; your 2nd choice is the person that is vested the most, but your house will run smoother if you pick the first option.
  • Dogs should not be at your level; they are not humans, stay on the floor and off the bed.
  • Scold without penitence, and immediately.
  • Swiftly get over the anger of correction.
  • Walk with a loose lead; if you don’t know how, either YouTube it or get a trainer. Same with biting or jumping.
  • No harnesses, they incite pulling. If you feel out of control, learn to use an e-collar or a pinch collar or a gentle leader. Used as intended, they are excellent training tools.
  • Some dogs need a play collar and a different collar or set up to differentiate from anything goes to your job to be calm. A backpack etc. The stuff you see on service dogs is on purpose to let the dog know he is working. Use that tool.

If this article applies to you, save your dog, get a trainer today. I am here to inspire. Of late, I have had several Griffons that have struggled, and it is breaking my heart. These rules could save those loads of grief. Please know I am not picking on any one situation or person; do not take offense, just saying things like they are. Remember EXERCISE, OBEDIENCE then LOVE.

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