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Puppy training/behavior help!  RSS feed

 
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We just got a female 10-week old puppy, half working border collie and half chocolate lab (we met the lab and he’s very sweet and mellow). The puppy is very very sweet and docile and rolls on her back to offer her belly the second she meets you, etc. She’s also highly attentive and walks around like a dog taught to heel, by my side always, and sitting when I stop. Also we have a child. Everything after bringing her home was feeling very easy for a new puppy in the house. But the first day she was chewing on the floorboard, and my son went up to her and she growled. I was surprised because she is so docile. Then a few days later I gave her a bone, and she went to chew it. After a little while my son went and sat next to her, not even touching her or the bone, and she started growling a serious growl and tensed up like she would bite him. So I went over and tried to take the bone away and she acted like she would bite me and almost snapped: so I placed my hand over her muzzle and lifted her body and took the bone without getting bitten. Then I offered the bone to her again and she didn’t seem to care. And I put it away. Then she went back to super docile and sweet. Then I read some dog behavior/training things online that said never take a bone away because that is where the fear comes from (that their food will be taken), and I read on a “positively” dog forum about all these ideas that said to never touch a dog’s food bowl or bone, and if you do that you are just asking to get bitten. And using this “positively” dog training approach, they all recommended to go up to the dog while eating and drop more yummier things into the food bowl so the dog will always associate you with getting more yummier food. And they suggested to only to take something away if you offer something yummier. So I tried all that. I dropped beef into the puppy’s bowl while she ate kibble. And my child fed her from his hand and gave her beef so she would associate him with more yummy food whenever he came close. Then I tried giving her a bone again and as soon as she had it all to herself she growled again when I came close, like a serious growl that she might bite. And then my son was giving seeds to our ducks and the puppy wanted to eat some so my son offered her some seeds from a bowl in his lap, and she ate some oats; and my son reached into the bowl to get some seeds for the ducks and the puppy growled at him.

So my questions are: how do you address this to stop this behavior in a puppy? Is she going to become an aggressive dog? Is this an innate aggression in her? What do you think about the “positively” training method which basically uses treats to get the dogs to do anything? Is she unsafe?

 
gardener
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We also have a dog and baby arms have friends who had the same problem. The dog is fine getting food fron the baby, but I'd the baby gets in her way, no good.

Here's what I learned and it works. As much as humans try to personify dogs, they are basically coexisting wolves. They have an innate idea of social structure that is wolf. In wolf culture,  those higher on the social order get food first and can take the food and snap at those lower on the social ladder. Those higher on the ladder can boss those lower on the ladder.  Dominance is also formally asserted by physically placing your body over the one lower on the ladder when it is challenged.  If you have your dog take food from for kid,  your telling the dog they are higher on the ladder and then the dog has a right to assert dominance over the kid when it's food and toys are being grabbed. After all, how dare that lowly child attempt to dominate your dog? If you assert the kid is dominant and the dog must leave the spot if the kid is annoying, even placing the kid over the dog (given the dog is in a position it will not harm the kid) then the dog will learn it's place. Don't have the kid give the dog food.  Do shoo the dog away if the kid wants the place.  Eventually they will learn to get along. Another way of looking at it is your dog has 2 choices when dealing with an annoying kid: fight or flight, and you must teach your dog that the correct response is flight.

For reference, our 7 mo will grab and pull anything he can grasp. The dog wanted the kid's cheese.  The dog snapped. I asserted dominance (I'm alfa) and followed this method and today,  after only about a week, of asserting the kid's dominance over the dog, the dog removed herself from his presence on her own when he came and grabbed her tail. I also try to talk with the baby,  but he seems to have no concept of the situation, and he's still significantly less mobile than the dog, even though he's a crawler. My friends had the issue with their dog years ago and had to do a similar thing.
 
pollinator
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Amit Enventres wrote: As much as humans try to personify dogs, they are basically coexisting wolves.



I agree and would like to add that in a pack (which you and your family are, in the dog's mind), the leader goes first in everything, followed by the second, third, and so on.  This means the leader eats first, sits down in the best comfiest spot, always walks in front when out for a walk.  Even things like going through a doorway or getting into a car:  leader goes first.

When we started treating our own dog this way, insisting that she was the lowest in the pack order, her behavior really improved in all areas.  She stopped barking at us and random dogs/people, she stopped pulling on the leash--she basically calmed down and was able to enjoy being just a regular dog, instead of being a stressed out leader whose pack wasn't obeying her.

My parents in law had a funny little dog who wasn't treated as lowest in the pack order--unless we came to visit!  I'll never forget the chipper, cheerful little trot he did when my husband told him to leave the kitchen while we were eating:  he was so happy to be told what to do;  it meant that someone else was taking up the responsibility of pack leader and he could relax.
 
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Being pack leader is important, like other posters have mentioned.  Doing basic obedience exercises helps with that.

One thing I've always done with my dogs when they were puppies is to put my hand in their food bowl so they're actually eating out of my hand.  I also make them sit before I put the bowl down and don't let them start eating until I give the signal.  One of my dogs was anxious about food when I first got him and the hand in the bowl thing did seem to calm him down, but I don't know if it on its own does much or not.  I figure it doesn't hurt, so I keep doing it.  My dogs are all totally fine with me reaching in and grabbing their bowl while they're eating.
 
pollinator
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I agree the posts above and want add couple of things. Babies and children are no-no for dogs, they should know that there will be consequences if they bark, growl, show teeth or worse and you are over there to make sure about it. The puppy you have is trying to find it's place in the pack-order, she will try and test everyone one by one. So growling is not something major, she is doing things in natures way since no rules imposed on her yet. It is not because she is a bad dog or something, she is learning. But she should learn that there is an order and she should respect it. Babies and children are a no-no for dogs, the kid may pull its tail or ear and the dog should stay calm. Obviously a puppy or a young-dog may have problems on concentrating and can not hold for long, but a dog that knows boundaries (I am not saying a trained dog- not all "trained" dogs know this stuff) will hold it and will actually help you. She can always walk away.
Couple of tips I want to share (definitely not for LGD's (live stock guardian dogs)- they just have a different type of psychology)
-You own a puppy. Get it socialized as much as possible. Put it in different environments, expose it to different smells, humans, dogs. Believe me, it is crucial for having a human friendly dog. Have as many as toys possible. It doesn't has to be something you buy, it might be a piece of rope with knots at ends, a stick, a burst/flat ball, anything. Do not let her free range all the toys. Some of them can be played only when you are around.
-Both border collie and lab are high energy AND intelligent dogs. When she grows up she might show some destructive behavior like digging, running like crazy, being against authority. Every dog in a pack has a duty. She is bored. Find her a duty. For example my border collie has a duty to keep stay-cats out of my property. I remind her to check the garden every now and than.  "Where is the cat?, run run run! did you check that tree? run run!" Such that. My golden retriever has a duty to keep rat population under control. She takes her job really seriously.
-All in friendly manner (Don't over do): Touch everything, everywhere of her. Hold its nose, pull its ear, turn her upside down, pull her tail. Pet her when she is eating, wake her up when she is sleeping, make fun of her (laugh loudly so that she will understand it is a joke). Make connections with her. She will grow into something 60 pounds probably. You don't want to have a dog that bites when someone touch her tail. Play with it when she is young. She will get used to it. She will be very happy since she is able to communicate with you, you are not only there to give orders and food. You are there also for some silly jokes, pulling tails stuff like that.
-Calm is the word. Wait till she calms down before you give the food, wait till she calms  down before you open the gate etc.
-There is usually one magic word that stops dogs doing bad things in every training. Usually it is "no". One word for every bad habit is just so rough. It puts dogs under stress for minor stuff and it is usually not major when you need to warn the dog. My dogs know I have levels for "no".  3 levels actually. I make a sound like "tchktchktchk"  for minor stuff. It's like "yeah but don't do that" or "I can see that is wrong, correct yourself". When I trow the ball, say, to a tree in the left and she is searching for the ball in the right. It is a bit of a friendly way of saying no. Second level is "shhhh". That is "you know it is wrong", this covers most of the stuff. "don't enter the house", "don't take a dump there (lawn)", "don't walk right before me, stay back". Things start with "don't". The final level is no-no. I say "A!" (in Turkish: E!) in a very high pitch if she insists on doing "shh" stuff, or do something inherently no-no stuff (like growling to a child). It means "cut it immediately". When it is something major (this is usually for young adult dogs- puppy might develop trust issues if you do this) "I am going to hold it from back of your neck and back; drop you to the floor and hold you like that till you obey me, understand!". You should not bluff "A!", she should know there will be consequences immediately.
In worst case scenario, if the puppy bites you when you reach the food or something, puppy bites are not something major. Hold it together, stay calm and do the no-no routine. Be gentle on puppies though. Act a bit cold for some time, she will learn. Nothing is funnier than watching a dog thinking "what I did wrong". Eye browns lifting and dropping, thinking thinking and thinking. they are a bit slow to figure things :)
 
Jan White
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s. ayalp wrote:One word for every bad habit is just so rough. It puts dogs under stress for minor stuff and it is usually not major when you need to warn the dog. My dogs know I have levels for "no".  3 levels actually. I make a sound like "tchktchktchk"  for minor stuff. It's like "yeah but don't do that" or "I can see that is wrong, correct yourself". When I trow the ball, say, to a tree in the left and she is searching for the ball in the right. It is a bit of a friendly way of saying no. Second level is "shhhh". That is "you know it is wrong", this covers most of the stuff. "don't enter the house", "don't take a dump there (lawn)", "don't walk right before me, stay back". Things start with "don't". The final level is no-no. I say "A!"



I really like this.  I'd never thought that much about it before, but I do this with my dogs as well.  I think I have four levels though :)
 
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