Here are some of our members problems that Anne has helped with:
Q. When Bella sees a dog approaching she backs up and hides behind me. I tend to keep her on the lead a lot more as if she isn't on the lead she scarpers and I'm afraid she will just go. I know that having her on the lead is making her feel more vulnerable so I'm not sure what to do. I try and keep her calm and feed her treats when she sees a dog but we're not getting anywhere. I'm not sure exactly when this started but she's had a few times where dogs have lunged at her and I wondered if finally she has had enough. She used to be desperate to say hello to any dog she met; now it's only ones that she knows well she will go to. Another thought that may or may not have a bearing is that we moved house a couple of months ago too, may be a silly idea or may be not?
A. Hiding and shying away is working for Bella but is unlikely to do so forever so if pushed she may feel that her only option is to respond with reactivity. I think you're wise to keep her on leash. Having her on leash will only make her more vulnerable if you don't 'listen' to her pleas for distance. Using food is a good idea if she will eat and if introduced correctly. Counterconditioning work must be systematic and a specific program devised. Have a look at this article (which I've posted for the others too!): leash reactivity
Changes to lifestyle and routine can definitely contribute. Get her checked out and maybe look at some calming/anti-stress work too; here is an entire blog series on teaching self-calming: Crazy canines
Q. Dylan has an issue with a large white German shepherd. He appears nervous of the dog and wants to run away. The dog has never done anything to him particularly. I am not frightened of the dog either and try not to react at all when the dog is there - just ignore and walk on when we are out. However when we are home, if the dog walks across the road from our house, Dylan will bark at him through the window. Things I have tried are walking with the other dog's owners with both dogs on the lead. This did work for a short while, & Dylan seemed to ignore the German shepherd through the window. However we now seem to be back to square one. I am not sure how to help Dylan not be nervous of the dog.
A. Hi Janet, if the dog appears afraid of something (anything!), gives him what he needs - distance. If he alerts to that dog in the distance, click (or say YES!) and then move away from the GSD. Have a bit of a celebration (a quick game of tug for example) to diffuse the tension. In the house, work on teaching him to speak/shush and counter condition him to the presence of the other dog by playing the Look at That game (LAT) - scroll down to that here: Leash reactivity
Triggers at the window mean go to mum, she has something yummy lol! the one thing we know about fears is that they generalise - so it might start with one individual GSD, then other similar GSDs, then other similar dogs and so on. Let's start with distance - this boosts confidence. We can also work on counterconditioning - establish a safe distance (where he is aware of the 'scary' thing but not showing any mild stress) - as soon as he alerts to GSD, good things happen. This, like LAT is known as counterconditioning and it does two things: it helps them feel better about the arrival of scary thing because its arrival predicts the arrival of yummies and it teaches doggie to look to you when scary thing shows up. The appearance of the white GSD becomes a cue to look at you (or carry out any other behavior)
Q. I have an issue in that Jasper has a liking for other dog’s balls or other people’s things full stop. If he gets another dog’s ball, he runs away with it bouncing as if he is very pleased with himself. The problem is he won’t come back with it and this is embarrassing. He is normally good at recall and always brings his own ball back but it’s getting to the point where I am worried to let him off his lead whilst on the beach as obviously the other dogs are playing with their balls/toys and people are going to be going down with their picnics very soon! You might recall an episode with someone’s hat a few weeks ago! Any advice on how to stop him doing this, or getting him to come straight back with the ball/item would be much appreciated.
A. Stolen things are way more valuable than your own stuff plus we often take stolen stuff off them and maybe even tell them off too (double telling off!) so playing keep away is very beneficial to the stealing dog. Proof your recall to include returning with stolen items - this works by teaching him that if he comes back with a stolen item he gets a treat and gets the stolen item back - this is a teaching scenario so that he believes this will happen every time.
View not coming back after stealing as a distraction and teach as you would a distraction recalls exercise: http: Recalls
Teach a solid leave it http:Self-control exercises
Teach object exchanges so that giving up an item means he always gets something yummy and the other item back. More on stealing: Stealing dogs
Q. Molly was rehomed from her first home at 17 months old for attacking the other (younger) dog and the kids in the family. She had not really had any training, no off-lead and not much else. I have now had her 10 months and she is a different dog, reasonable level of training, loves her walks and her off lead running and is mostly a happy girl who loves everyone. My problem is her frustration when she wants something she can't have - examples being a person walking past who does not say hello to her! or birds flying overhead she would like to chase. She has improved hugely with the people issue with me anticipating and getting her attention on me and rewarding once they have passed but still sometimes goes from calm to totally hyped in seconds at times. At the moment I am handling this by asking her to sit, step forward, sit, step forward until she calms enough to respond to something more. We have done some self-control work and she can leave a piece of food on the floor when asked, or wait to be released to get a tuggy toy (for seconds and only low level waving of tuggy - but we are working on it!) but I suspect she needs a lot more of this sort of stuff to help her with her frustration.
A. What a history for this poor chicken. Yes to lots and lots and lots and lots of gradual building on self-control work. If she can't handle something, give her distance rather than inching forward - act crazy, you lose out, calm down you get a step toward success. Start to generalise your 'leave it' work to other stimuli too. A really good resource for general impulse control is Susan Garrett’s Crate Games DVD and also Leslie McDevvit’s Control Unleashed book - excellent resources with step by step approaches.
Q. If another dog approaches me (or my husband) or comes anywhere near her if she is beside me - she will lash out and go for it. I cannot greet or stroke another dog or she will snack at it, when she is playing or interacting with other dogs she will race up to them and nudge into them or run right into their faces - it's as if she doesn't realise what appropriate play is, almost like a very over enthusiastic puppy with no manners if you understand what I mean?! This has always been present with her but seems more noticeable now she doesn't have the ball to occupy her. She had a go at an Airedale terrier yesterday because it got too close to me on the beach... I would so like to take her back to training classes but to be honest I don't think she could cope with the other dogs being so close to her. She seems to be constantly hyper all the time racing about and charging at other dogs and people. Sorry for the long post, trying to get everything in!
A. Working on recall, attention, self-control, self-calming in general is super important for Ellie. Also working on increasing her comfort in close proximity to other dogs. If she feels she needs to 'lash out' at other dogs then she feels unable to increase distance any other way. This behavior works for her because she gets rid of whatever it is she thinks challenges her possession of you, the ball etc. Resource guarding is a stress response that at an escalated level is a reaction used to get some space.
Dog-dog guarding is covered here: Resource guarding (there are 3 parts, this is the first). Also maybe have a look at some info on reactivity too: leash reactivity
I think that the ball doesn't need to go altogether, but certainly until she is under control and has gained more acceptable coping strategies. Work on this at home and work on counterconditioning while out on the beach, for right now. Teach her that the appearance of other dogs, at a safe distance, means something good happens and that her subtle signaling gets her distance if things start to get too hairy! Distance from other dogs is also good - she can't cope with dogs near her and you within a certain distance. You need to work on consistently moving away from other dogs when they are close to that distance. Teach her an escape cue to get her out of there: Getting outta dodge And move away. The idea is to teach her that she can get the distance she needs without having to react - being calm works! Again this must be systematic and consistent so as to help her confidence increase - "don't need to worry about other dogs, I can always escape!".
Dog-dog stuff takes so much work because there are so many unknowns and so many variables. Getting her responses under control (focus) and teaching her acceptable alternatives (counterconditioning, escape cues) are the most useful.
Q. Hi Anne, if no-one is asking you anything right now I'll start with this. Murphy (15 months) has a one acre enclosed garden to play in (since November). In the last three months he's killed a pheasant, rabbit, Blue tit and pigeon. He seems to have a very strong hunting instinct. I can't see him all the time from the kitchen where I am usually situated! Can you offer any advice? Should I just accept that this is what dogs do? He's the same on walks.
A. Wow that's quite an achievement! Yes, he is being a dog and he definitely seems to have quite a high motivation for hinting. This will have been greatly heightened because he has achieved the ultimate reward for this behaviour - completing a kill. I am always concerned about this in pet dogs because this will make off leash walks with him, for example, very difficult and potentially dangerous. You might want to check out David Ryan’s stuff on predatory chasing:www.dog-secrets.co.uk
And put some of his programs in place to offset any problems while out in public.
We also must be aware of the tendency of this behaviour to generalise too many species which may include protected wildlife or even pet animals such as small dogs and cats.
Q. My Cockapoo is 2 and a half and was diagnosed with epilepsy 8 weeks ago, this obviously unsettled her greatly and we allowed her to start sleeping on our bed just so we could all get some sleep. This week we have started to try and get her to settle back downstairs but she is protesting vocally!! Any tips greatly appreciated. Thanks :)
A. Dogs don't like sudden changes so any change should be implemented gradually by weaning her slowly. This is especially important as you mention Millie having been diagnosed with epilepsy - I presume that she has had at least one fit and they have ruled out other causes?
Fits may be elicited by stressful situations (stress on the body may be seen when the dog appears excited, fearful, happy etc. - covers a wide range of emotions) and encouraging her to 'cry it out' may not be a good thing. Although this may cause her vocalising to reduce or stop it is flooding which means to expose a dog to something unpleasant at a strong enough level to cause her to stop responding. Unfortunately causes great stress to the dog and the emotional effects can be quite damaging even though the behavioural effects may seem to improve.
If you have a dog sleeping on your bed this is a difficult one to sort as it’s just so lovely to sleep with her family! So to design your fix-it plan - start with the easiest possible scenario for her - this might be for her to start sleeping on her bed on the floor right beside the bed, then when she is better with that to the end of the bed, then to the bedroom door, then to outside the door and so on. Teach her to get off the bed on cue - use some of her most favourite treats cut into teeny tiny pieces (quarter of a fingernail size). Invite her up on the bed, and as soon as she gets up immediately say 'off' (or any cue word you like) and toss a couple of yummies on the floor or even better onto her bed beside your bed. This cue word comes to mean 'get off the bed and check my bed for yummies!' Repeat - important that she doesn't get any treats for being on the bed - this is a treat in and of itself!
This is the easiest stage as you are standing beside the bed and she is only up there for a second. It’s much harder to get off the comfy bed the longer she has been up there. As you progress you might sit or lie on the bed but this is harder for her so have her up on the bed only for a short period of time. Each time you make one thing harder in a lesson, make everything else easier. Practice lots of off and on exercises just before you go to bed so that she has had some exercise, some mental exercise and is being rewarded for being on her bed right beside you. It can obviously be difficult to implement this exercise when you are asleep so you might confine her e.g. in a crate or tether her to something solid with a non-chewable tether on a buckle collar or even better a harness for safety.
Q. Hi, I have a lovely Cockapoo boy, Alfie who is brilliant in every way and we all love him dearly he is great. We now have a young female cocker spaniel that is gorgeous, too scatty though like all spaniels. She is 16 weeks old and she is not neutered. Alfie was neutered at approximately 7 months ago. Trouble is he has now become protective of her when we are out on walks and barks and gets a touch aggressive at times to other dogs while we are out walking (off lead in the park) and also when he hears a noise or someone comes to the door. When he is off the lead he runs to the other dogs and barks at them. He is usually very good a recall but not when he is barking at other dogs he seems not to hear then! He does also do it when other dogs approach him and especially when he is on his lead we then make him sit. How do we stop or cut down on this behaviour?
A. This certainly sounds like some adolescent reactivity - this is grounded in fear so it’s really important to give him distance and don't allow him to practice this behaviour.
It will probably appear more escalated with Ziva around because he will be a little more aroused (excited) with another dog. Have a look at the reactivity link http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/leash-reactivity/ and start learning about helping him. I would also be very careful with your young impressionable puppy that is just coming to the end of her socialisation period and her attitude to other dogs and such may suffer. So it’s important to get some positive socialisation in for her. I would recommend that you get both dogs into separate training classes. For Ziva so she can have some positive socialisation and for Alfie so that he can learn to focus on you when other dogs are around and to boost his confidence. His behaviour needs to be managed to prevent him getting practice at it - so on leash around other dogs and move away if they are too close. Look at the reactivity protocols and be careful choosing a training class so as not to exacerbate his problem. http://www.apdt.co.uk/local_dog_trainers.asp
Q. Hi Anne, our Cockapoo Dexter is 3 years old and has been fantastic with both our kids aged 12 and 10. In the past year he has been growling at our eldest everything he goes near him and also hides when he comes into the room. He says he hasn't accidentally hurt him, we can't think what the problem is?
A. Hi. This happened about the time your dog was reaching behavioural maturity so that in itself may be relevant as we dig! How does Dexter do with other men or teenage boys in other settings and in your home? Your son may not have done anything intentional for the dog to associated him with unpleasantness, he may just be associated with an unpleasant incident. Fear can certainly be established in one trial learning situations. So, first port of call any and every time there is new or difficult to explain behaviour is the vet for a full check-up and work up - not just a once over. For example, some underlying physical issue may have been causing your dog discomfort one time and is associated with your son. But we can speculate about cause but may never be right - after all we can't ask the dog! So we need to deal with the behaviour in front of us - he is uncomfortable for whatever reason when your son approaches. With fear first establish how close your son can come to your dog without Dexter showing any discomfort or just mild discomfort. If Dexter is seeking a hiding place I would think we will need to turn the impending arrival of your son into something more pleasant for Dexter. So prevent rehearsal of this behaviour and for right now make sure your son ignores Dexter - I know this is hard but reassure your son not to take this personally. Have your son come to for example the living room door, open the door pop his head in, as soon as your dog sees him feed him three high value treats. Then have your son immediately leave. Repeat often.
This doubly rewards Dexter - yummies plus distance. Your son turning up makes good things happen = Dexter will soon like having him around.
As he progresses you will notice Dexter looking at your son and then you (where's my treat?!) have your son go to the next level - open the door, step in (you feed Dexter) and then son moves away. Repeat. Build on getting closer and closer but be aware that this behaviour has been in place for a year so will not be sorted overnight. Continue with this protocol of approach, feed and retreat. When Dexter is comfortable enough to have him approach close-ish, have your son toss food but we are going to play a game called treat and retreat, well a variation. Have your son approach toss a bit of normal kibble away from Dexter and drop a piece of hotdog or other yummy at his feet. Dexter gets two rewards again.
Definitely get the vet check and it might be a good idea to hire a trainer to come help you to implement a D+C program (a step by step program that gradually changes the way an animal feels about scary situations). Take it slow with scared dogs and always take your cues from his signalling.
Cautious Canine by Patricia McConnell is a fantastic little book - http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB586 you will find it on amazon too.
APDT trainers : www.apdt.co.uk/about-apdt Make sure they know how to deal with fears and implement D+C properly otherwise this will get worse.
Q. Hi Anne. My question is about my 6 month old Cockapoo, Benji. He was nippy and mouthy as a little pup, but since he has lost his baby teeth nipping has stopped. However when he gets excited and wanting to play he will jump-up and be mouthy with my youngest daughter (aged 10). She seems to be bottom of the pack , he doesn't do this with the rest of the family. My daughter knows to turn her back and walk out of the room and not to play (he will usually be hanging off her jeans as she walks away!). Any other tips?
A. Don't worry too much about 'pack' talk - doesn't really apply to dogs in their relationships with humans. If behaviour is there something is reinforcing it or has been reinforcing it and certainly moving away with dog attached is rewarding too many dogs for example. Mouthing is a typical adolescent behaviour and is seen in situations where the teenage dog is having trouble calming themselves and/or is conflicted. Mouthing dogs need impulse control training - and lots of it! Management is the first step - he must not get the op to practice this with your youngest.
He should wear a drag line in the house (when supervised only) and if he does this he must be removed immediately. You don't need to shout or tell him off - just a 'too bad' and immediately guide him out for a time out and calming break.
Work on training with your daughter. Have Benji and your daughter in the room together. Have her stand up and immediately toss two yummy treats (cut up into teeny tiny pieces quarter of a fingernail size) the opposite way. Every step she takes toss one treat in the other direction. This of course works to distract Benji from his pursuit of your daughter’s legs. This must be repeated and repeated and indeed you can have your daughter use one of his meals to work on this every day or so. If the dog does this have your daughter 'be a tree' and freeze - movement is rewarding. You mark the undesirable behaviour with a calm and quiet 'too bad' and then lead him out for a 20 second time out. However you must also work on the underlying issue - the self-control issue - he is a teenager after all! Here is more on mouthing http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/mouthing/
The most basic impulse control exercise http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/selfcontrolexercises/
Q. My 13 week old Cockapoo is now 'dry and clean' through the night (avg 8 hours) but still peeing in the house during the day even when we take her out at least every hour. Are we doing something wrong (she squats for a pee on command usually but not always outside and we praise her afterwards and ignore indoor accidents) or will she not have control of her bladder and bowels yet? If so when should she have control?
A. At 13 weeks she is nowhere near toilet trained - she is physically incapable. I would be a little concerned about having her at this age 'hold it' for 8 hours. Usually it’s one hour per month for healthy holding it in - so she should be given toilet breaks no less than every 4 hours - overnight if she is sleeping soundly you can pump that up to about 6 hours.
The key to quick toilet training:
-Management - supervise so she never has an accident
- Clean-up to remove all traces of urine to prevent remarking
- bring her for toilet breaks after eating, drinking, excitement, games etc.
- bring her to a toileting-only area for toilet break and just wait for her to go and praise calmly while she goes then reward with three or four VERY high value treats.
- never end the fun after appropriate toileting - always have a game, interaction etc. after toileting so that she isn't holding it to prevent attention ending.
Puppies will toilet train themselves and often prefer to go indoors (especially small breed winter puppies’ brrrr!) and on something absorbent so it may be that she is reluctant to go outside so is holding it as best she can. During the day is there a pattern to her accidents? E.g. is she going in the same place/s? Are you in sight when she has accidents? Are accidents at similar times or during similar periods of the day each day? Keep a diary to spot a pattern and keep toilet training.
Here is more http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/housetraining/ Good luck!
Q. My friend has a small dog that spent his first 7 months in kennels with virtually no socialisation. She has now had him around 5 months and he has improved a great deal - but he has realised he has legs for springs and can get onto any of her work surfaces and steal food. She realises all the rules about trying to limit stuff left out - but he can reach anywhere and get pretty much anything so has been richly rewarded at times when mistakes have been made and stuff has been left out (most recent was an entire pan of chilli which was about to be warmed up and he ate almost the lot in just a couple of minutes. The back door is in the kitchen and design of house would make it difficult to restrict access - so any ideas for putting a stop to his extreme counter surfing! He lives in a busy house with other dogs, plenty of exercise and is rarely left.
A. Lack of socialisation, competition from other dogs, hectic household and of course a strong reinforcement history (mmmm chilli!) are often ingredients in the counter surfer. First, management- don't reward him for this behaviour. Next increased enrichment and interaction - counter surfers are problem solvers so need more appropriate outlets for their smarts. Tons of impulse control training - just 'cos its out doesn't mean it’s yours! Good things only come to calm dogs! Rock solid mat work too can help.
Here is a more in-depth covering of solutions for stealing dogs http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/stealingdogs/
More on some easy to implement enrichment ideas http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/keeping-the-peace/
Best of luck!
Q. Anne, when Flo is really excited it seems to me that a hand signal is more effective than a voice command. I'm thinking that a hand signal flat palm toward Flo (held until ready to release) rather than a verbal 'wait' might be more effective to establish an agility wait. In your experience are hand signals and body signals more effective than verbal commands? Flo is excitable and 'edgy', though now I've read CU is possibly not what you would describe as a reactive dog.
A. Pretty much with dogs hand signals are going to be more effective than verbals. Dogs are not verbal first of all and are much more receptive to body movement after all this is how they perceive messages from one another so are more tuned into facial expressions, body movements and postures. When teaching an exercise, we should always start with a hand signal or body movement and teach this in association with the behaviour and reward. This makes it easier for the dog. Then we can use the body movement to translate the cue into English - remember English is a second language to your dog!
Your dog probably has a better reinforcement history with the hand signal as it will have been relevant to her for longer therefore when her inhibitions are lowered (when excited) and she is less well able to focus and control herself she is better able to 'understand' the hand signals. Certainly use the hand signal and work hard to proof the verbal so that you have two effective cues. Line her up using the between the legs method which I have come to realise is certainly the most effective at teaching a start line wait
Q. I have Fern who is Amber's daughter and is a Cockapoo. They all get on really well and at home I have no problems with them they love visitors and both Ruby and Amber have been wonderful Mums and I have had some wonderful puppies who have all gone on to bring lots of joy and happiness to their new owners. They were all well socialized and attended training classes until they were a year old.
Now my BIG problem with them is that they will bark and growl at ANY dog we meet while we are out walking. They are always wagging their tails and play bowing at the same time, so aren't in any way wanting to hurt the other dog but their owners don't know that .This has meant that walking them is getting harder and harder. I have to take them to places where there are no other dogs as it is just too stressful trying to avoid any dogs that I see in the distance.
A. What do they actually do when they meet other dogs up close? and as the greeting proceeds?
Tail wagging and even play bows are not indicative of happiness. Tail wagging simply indicates arousal (emotional excitement) and play bowing may be an invitation to play so a distance decreasing behaviour but more often than not, especially if reciprocal signalling is not seen, play bowing shows conflict, as in not being sure what to do, much the same as barking. Can they greet other dogs off leash?
Here is some more on reactivity including D+C as mentioned above and as indicated in the clip posted: http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/leash-reactivity/
Walking them separately may be a good idea as walking in groups tends to boost arousal. Continue managing by avoiding allowing them to practice this behaviour (practice makes perfect after all!!) until we can start on the road to increasing their comfort levels in meet and greet situations. Reactivity is more likely to be seen in on leash situations or other situations where the reactive dog is or feels confined. It is essential that at the start and throughout training that behaviour is managed. This means that the op to practice behaviour is eliminated. Reactivity is usually seen in dogs that are unsure as to how to proceed, so is therefore grounded in fear. A confident and calm dog has no reason to growl or bark. As you work through a training program you will be working on building the dog's comfort levels with proximity to other dogs but you should not exposed them at a proximity that the subject dog is yet to be ready for. This is the essence of desensitisation and counterconditioning.
I have asked for more information as it is not clear exactly how these dogs cope with proximity with other dogs. As such, 'first aid' advice (if you like) is to avoid giving these dogs the op to rehearse this behaviour - they more the dog does it the worse this becomes for a number of reasons. Growling, lunging, barking are all indicators of over arousal (a stress response), which as you mention is unfortunately present as an accepted part of many dog sports too.
Q. We are getting a puppy later on this year when my daughter will be 4 and son will be around 20months. Do any of you have experience with Cockapoos and young children or in your experience would we be better waiting or getting a different breed? Whichever breed we get will attend puppy classes once a week and socialise with my mums 10yr old dog too but I've done a lot of research and these dogs look adorable and gorgeous pets but worried my children are too young. What do you think?
A. From a behavioural point of view, the most important thing to consider where you get your puppy. It is vital that you get your puppy from a breeder who has reared the puppies indoors and who has positively exposed puppies to children and lots of other people in teh 8 weeks puppy has lived there. How much free time do you have right now - this is time that you will need to devote to puppy activities. How much spare money do you have now? This is money that may go towards puppy stuff. Preparation is the key anytime dogs and children are in the mix; covered in detail here: http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/kidsandk9s/
Q. Parker has started growling at us when we ask him to go to his bed that is in the Utility room. He's always gone off with no problem up until this last week. We have only had Parker for 7 weeks on Sat and he's four years old. He had the snip last Friday and we are thinking that he's just being grouchy as he's not feeling 100%. He isn't healing as well as he should but is much, much better today. Wherever he is when we ask him, he usually gets into his bed in the lounge and gives us "the look". We usually have to just tip the back of the bed up and he growls at us and has actually sort of gone for us (he has his cone on so can't actually bite at the moment) but does then go off to his other bed once told again. Now, the thing I'm worried about is how do we react? I read often that the problem is the owner, and not the dog. I'm constantly worried that whatever we do in reaction to any incident is making it worse. I'm guessing we will have to wait until he's recovered from his op to see if he still does it? We've also had a few resource guarding issues (from day one) that we are going to work on once he is cone free, i.e. Leave, and treat and give back sort of thing to gain his trust with us. Any tips greatly appreciated! Thanks!
A. First thing to understand is a bit about doggie signalling. Growling is a normal part of their communication systems and is welcomed from our doggie pals. If we take doggie signalling along a gradient giving a zero to a warm, happy chilled dog right through to a dog that delivers an inhibited bite at 10, growling is about a 6. That means that we need to look for the 5 or 6 missing bits where our dog is signalling their discomfort. We are pushing our dogs into exhibiting escalated discomfort signalling. The important thing in relation to our reactions to growling is to never 'punish' it, correct it or tell the dog off. It’s important to keep the growl so give the growling dog what he wants - distance. This is just management; we now have to work on teaching the dog how to be more comfortable in whatever situation caused the growling and discomfort.
There are lots of reasons that this dog may be growling - certainly discomfort in relation to his neutering but it’s important to understand that this only likely serves to escalate his responses - so some discomfort is there and the sore site is causing him to escalate quicker. As I said previously growling is good so respond appropriately by giving the dog distance. During training manage so as to prevent putting him in situations that are likely to elicit this behaviour. Work on gradually increasing his comfort levels in these situations. You are absolutely right that the discomfort from the neuter will be contributing but there is a RG history here I would think. RG dogs are often also uncomfortable with certain handling and proximity routines too. Is your vet still supervising his healing? There may be a pain management issue that you can discuss with him/her?
I would certainly work on 'leave it' as an impulse control exercise; more here - http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/selfcontrolexercises/
Also work on a thank you cue; more here - http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/gameswithrules/
and here - http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/day-12/
Scroll down to exercise 4.
I would also teach a mat cue so that you can have him go to bed on cue without confrontation. More on this here - http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/matwork/
Have a chat with the vet about this issue. Is he insured? I feel that given that you have him such a short while and he is showing some signs of resource guarding that getting a behaviourist in to help you will be helpful. If he is insured this may cover an APBC behaviourist http://www.apbc.org.uk/help/region they will need to be brought in on vet referral.
Certainly pain, discomfort and frustration can escalated this but there may be an underlying issue that has been disguised in the settling in period and now the post neuter stuff. Jean Donaldson's book MINE! is excellent for resource guarding but you will probably need a behaviour professional's help to implement some of the programs. I think having him wear a drag line (when supervised only) so that you can move him without having to touch him. Have a look at this article on RG: http://ahimsadogtraining.com/blog/resource-guarding/
Also work some resource guarding prevention exercises into interaction - tether him securely. Give him something kind of low value. Approach him and stop as soon as he looks up, notices you, freezes or stops eating. From there toss him a few high value treats and immediately walk away. Repeat. This is to teach him that people approaching means no pressure and good things happen! As he progresses you will see he looks for his treats upon your approach. Now you can take one step closer and work to that distance.
Never take stuff off any dog in an attempt to resolve resource guarding, even if you give it back to him straight away. Get some help and research some on resource guarding.
Q. Cont’d…..He growls when we are playing etc. but this growl is the same sort of deep concentrated growl that we get with his resource guarding. It concerns me as it has only happened just this week. It only happens when we ask him to go to his night time bed. If we approach him in that bed he's fine it's when he is in another room or in his bed in the lounge and he's asked to go to his night time bed that this happens - up to now anyway. I don’t' think he's guarding his bed in the lounge although I may be wrong, I'm finding this all more confusing every week as he has no problem with us going near him approaching him for a stroke, belly rub, ear rub, etc., or to put, say a toy back in there with him. I'm guessing that by us trying to tip up his bed, it's a negative reaction from us, maybe we are not giving him his distance that you talk of and also it may be our tone of voice that isn’t' helping when we then tell him to go to his bed, which he does so after the 'tipping'. Should we be maybe, diffusing the situation by say, using a happy voice and maybe tempting with a treat or pretending we may be going for walkies perhaps?
A. Cont’d….All growling is communication - in play role playing is at work and growling is practicing for communicating in more serious real life situations! How was he trained to go to his night time bed?
I would certainly go back and teach him in a non-confrontational way don't pretend to go for a walk because that will soon be tainted. Teach him that going to bed means good things happen and teach him to go to bed on cue - no touching, telling off voice or the like. Maybe teach him to hand target so that you can move him without confrontation too: http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/focus/
A couple of things may be happening - he is in pain and associates this with bedtime/his bed; maybe he wasn't so happily trained in his other life; but also every time he goes to bed he is then left alone for night time.... Maybe get him a different bed and start mat work training during the day - have several short sessions around the house during the day; here is more on mat work - http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/matwork/
Q: "Does anyone have puppies who pee when greeting you or excited? I have heard it's the poodle in cockapoo and it's a submisive thing. Just wonder how to stop it. If it's floor or my feet ok,but other peopls carpet not so good hey?
A : So called submissive urination is generally associated with young dogs who have lowered inhibitions than mature dogs and tend not to be able to control their arousal as well.
It is seen in lots of different types of dogs but spaniel types and females are over-represented in cases I see.
I have seen two cases in the recent past where although there was this issue it was being worsened by the dogs having UTIs.
So if frequency of urination or drinking is up and/or if there are change/s to behaviour particularly toileting associated behaviour a vet check is a good idea.
I can't stand the term 'submissive' urination as it suggests that there is a social issue here and that it is associated with the dog's personality. This is not true. Although this behaviour is socially mediated this is a behaviour associated for the most part with being physiologically immature and without having developed sufficient self control in social situations, something that is likely to be associated with other social and self control issues later on too.
First, attention must be paid to the dog's continued socialisation. So rather than letting every single person greet her and allow her to do this, make greetings more low key by starting to teach her to regulate her excitement in greeting situations.
So, upon approach to a greeter if she appears excited, stop and turn away or have the greeter do this. Reapproach when she has calmed a little until she can approach a little calmer and is learning some self-control.
Also some training for greeters too is important. Instead of having people get right up to her, looming have them stop, bend down and allow her to approach them. Only allow greetings for three seconds, turn away and reapproach for another very brief three second greeting.
Work on self control exercises too in other situations such as some of these described here: http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/selfcontrolexercises/
Super important for all doggies!
Teach her some alternatives to rolling and peeing when greeting. Teach her a specific behaviour and proof it really well. Teaching a default sit is a super important exercise for all dogs.
Its really important in greeting situations that the dog is not yelled at nor a big fuss is made out of the situation. If she is excited in greeting, whether that be peeing, jumping, vocalising, pulling or whatever, stop the greeting and have the greeter stand up and either turn away or walk away.
Its about teaching self control so no words, telling off or anything else needed - just quietly and calmly leave the interaction.
Hope that helps - best of luck!
Q:Charlie is 19 weeks old, and joined our family when he was 8 weeks old. He is a bright, responsive pup who enjoys puppy classes. Lead walking, recall, sit all good, stay improving. We have a 14 year old cross breed (Milo) who has helped teach Charlie manners, by being impatient with his pestering. Charlie greets other dogs when out walking very well, either on or off lead. We also have a labradoodle, Tilly, who is rising 5. She and Charlie enjoy each others company a lot, in and out of the house. They play rolling over, lots of mouthing and it hasn't been a problem until last week. Tilly would use her paw, or her mouth to check Charlie if his exuberance became too much for her. Charlie is crated over night, and if the dogs are left alone. His crate is next to the big dog bed, shared by Milo and Tilly. Charlie is happy to go into his crate at bed time, or if I'm going out. No crying or whinging, but if I leave him in a room and leave that room, he does whine, bark etc. One morning last week, I left the 3 dogs in the kitchen, whilst I was busy upstairs. I could hear Charlie yipping, and as he wasn't barking, scratching at the door after me, assumed he and Tilly were playing. Later, I heard a big and fierce bark from Tilly and a yelp from Charlie. I went down and found that Tilly had some fur from her side missing, this was on the floor. All was quiet by this time but since then, Charlie has maintained the behaviour, pulling at Tilly's ears, around her neck, and especially at her side if out on walks.
In an attempt to break the habit I have used a long training lead on walks, and called NO alongside stepping on the lead as soon as he begins to race towards Tilly, barking. The behaviour outside the house was much improved within 3 days, and for the past 2 days I haven't needed the training lead, just a loud AH AH, or No leave it have had positive results. Tilly also rounded on Charlie, knocking him over 3 times in succession when he was beginning to pester, and this had positive effect on walks. The key time for the behaviour is in the house, usually some time between 6 and 7 when I sit down with a book for half an hour, all 3 dogs usually lie around me. Tilly is a very patient, good humoured dog and has always played very well with young dogs/pups and she and Charlie are good pals, they snuggle up together and play tug games etc. However, she is overly patient with him about the hair pulling, possibly because it doesn't hurt? I don't want a patchwork doodle though, and I do want an obedient, well mannered cockerpoo. So, in the evening, I have intervened as soon as Charlie has begun to pull at her hair, using distractions, or a loud Ah Ah, and a couple of times resorting to a water spray to shock him.
Advice would be very welcome please. He is a confident (one way of describing him - full of himself could be another) and loveable little pup and we want to give him the best chance to reach his potential. Many thanks
A : Play behaviour, like all behaviour, evolves and and changes as the dog learns and develops. Allowing dogs to play unchecked for periods of time is generally not a good idea especially when dealing with puppies or adolescents.
Charlie is now an adolescent and the problem with teenage dogs is that they show up all the deficits in our puppy training -
First thing, is to stop using aversives - the water spray, leash corrections and the verbal reprimands suppress behaviour rather than teach as they leave a gap that will be filled with another behaviour, possibly one that we don't like ;-)
Charlie's behaviour is seen as a result of arousal - he is over excited and as such his ability to inhibit and control his behaviour where necessary is reduced. Adding aversives increases stress and arousal and therefore further reduces inhibitions which is not what we need here.
As well as that we want to keep his confidence - that is something that is soooo difficult (next to impossible in some cases) to teach so let's maintain that and work on the stuff that is easier - modifying his play behaviour.
Does Charlie get to play regularly with other adult dogs, other than your own? Does he get to play off leash in puppy class? If so, what controls are put in place on play time?
In relation to your intervention - if he is already pulling hair and such then play has already gone too far.
Start a program of supervised play on a clean slate. This involves supervising play and interrupting it, keeping arousal low and in control at all times (for both dogs).
Allow the dogs to play for a 5 count (we start with a 5 count but as they get better we can allow them to play for longer and longer).
Call both dogs to interrupt their game. Reward each dog with two high value rewards (such as hot dog, cheese etc.) and then have an obedience break that is twice as long as the play time e.g. 10 seconds.
During the obedience break ask the dogs to do simple behaviours such as sit, down, stay or whatever you are working on.
Release the dogs with a release cue e.g. 'go play!' and repeat.
By interrupting play you are doing what the dogs are apparently unable to do, and is the most important ingredient in canine play - stopping and restarting.
But more importantly you are preventing arousal ever becoming an issue and you are keeping your dog's focus on you, probably most importantly of all.
Anne, thanks so much for this helpful, and speedy response. Prior to your reply, I had done some searching on this site, which confirmed my feeling that Charlie was becoming over excited and unable to contain himself. I didn't like using a water spray, it didn't fit with my approach to (attempting) always to stay calm around the dogs, no matter what, so had stopped this. I also realised using hands to intervene was not a good idea, and instead called Tilly to settle, which she will usually do fairly promptly. I'd then tell Charlie to sit, something he very rarely fails to do instantly, I'd then praise both. Also have been consistent yesterday evening, and today about expecting all 3 dogs to settle. Old Milo is a bit of a wanderer now, so I put him into the kitchen in his bed, as he does sleep more as well. It was much easier to encourage the other two dogs to settle and praise for this. So, thanks for the very helpful advice about use of aversives, an approach I haven't previously used with my dogs and am glad to see the back of (though it was only a couple of evenings, I didn't feel comfortable with it, and didn't like the shocked and uncertain look on my confident pups face.
Yes, Charlie has a good walk in the morning, off lead. Milo sometimes joins us, Tilly rarely doesn't. He meets and greets all unknown dogs calmly and appropriately. He will join in games of running circles with other pups, and even when he is enjoying this, his recall is excellent. We meet a half sister of Charlie's who is the same age and the two puppies love playing together, rolling about and chasing. He doesn't nip/pull at her fur, despite high arousal. He always stops when I call him. So, it is a pattern of play with Tilly that within a few days became too much. Off lead with Tilly, he now stops and comes to me when I call his name if he starts running and grabbing at her - I throw a treat and he seems to calm quickly. This morning, he only did this when first off lead, and very briefly, a big improvement in a show time. I also do a 15 minute street walk most days, during which I ask him to sit/down/stay etc and his wagging tail, and desire to please by following instruction say he enjoys this special time.
At puppy classes he behaves very well, and clearly enjoys it. The pups haven't been off lead together, but we have practiced recalls, with a pup's lead held by a trainer, handler walks the length of the hall, calls the puppy - Charlie has never failed to run to me, ignoring the other pups and handlers, who stand either side of the space for the recall.
I have a stock of hot dog sausages and cheese and thanks so much for the advice on best use of these to interrupt play and stop it escalating.
A : OK it's interesting that your puppy class doesn't involve loose puppy play - your puppy sounds like a pup that needs more structured dog-dog play so as to learn how to talk dog and to manage inhibitions.
just want to say thanks again for your advice, especially about positive intervention rather than aversives. A few days on, and already we see continuing improvements.
Q : Thank you, Anne for all the help on the recalls. Harry is now much, much better!
Now, I'm afraid, I have a new problem. Harry is terrible whilst on the lead. When we're at his training classes and the treats are out he's amazing, but as soon as they go away, as does the heel. Please help!
A : Yes, along with recalls Loose Leash Walking are the most common 'obedience' issues I see. And just the recall training you have been doing it takes some work to put right, especially as we have been teaching our dogs to pull for some time.
It's very common for dogs to do well in class and especially if the presence of food rewards has become contingent on good leash walking manners.
There are a couple of keys to successful LLW:
- the first one is management - we first must stop rewarding pulling because right now when the dog pulls they get where they want to go
- teach self control - the crazy behaviour starts before the leash is on so teach him that calm behaviour gets to walkies and that to get what he wants he must be calm and on a loose leash
- teach the dog to become aware of leash pressure and to work to keep the leash loose
Here is a piece on the step by step exericises that will bring success: http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/looseleashwalking/
You don't necessarily need to do all of them but certainly understand the thinking behind them.
The most effective way to teach LLW is to get it perfected without the leash first ;-)
Let us know how you get on. Best of luck!
Q: Dudley is our nearly 6 month old cockapoo. He is a lovely dog but has one big fault. He is a Jekyll and Hyde character when he has something in his mouth he knows he is not allowed. For instance pinching pieces of paper, picking up stones or in some cases more harmful things like snails. He will run away and if you try to take anything off him he will actually go for you and bite. It has also manifested itself in a slightly different way my daughter was talking to him whilst he was in his cage and put her hand in to stroke him and again he snarled and bit just catching her fingers. He is not possessive of his food or toys or anything like that. He is a friendly sociable dog when he is out and has many doggy friends as well as human. We are at our wits end. We have young Grandchildren and we cannot have this behaviour from him putting them at risk. When ever they come he is very loving and plays with them but we are on tenterhooks all the time incase he picks up something and they go to take it off him and get bitten. It has come to the point where we are seriously thinking of letting him go.
We are experienced dog owners our first dog lived until 17 and our second dog we had to have put down at nearly 14 due to cancer. Please try to point us in the right direction.
First, what damage did Dudley do when he bit your daughter through his crate? This is very important information.
Has he bitten anyone else and if so what damage did he do in those cases? If not, is he just air snapping (going for you) when confronted with stolen items?
Resource guarding is normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour and is exceptionally common in Cockers and similar dogs, particularly 'mouthy' type dogs. Your dog is an adolescent and an escalation in resource guarding behaviour is very likely to be seen at this stage, especially where resource guarding prevention was not a big part of puppy socialisation.
Items that have been stolen and the dog is not supposed to have are way more valuable to the dog and more likely to be guarded or swallowed. It is very likely that there is low-level guarding here in other situations with this dog.
Regarding him biting while in the crate - this is quite a common issue and one that is somewhat associated with resource guarding but more likely caused by some proximity discomfort. Dogs in crates are confined and their ability to signal and escape discomfort is frustrated - if they are in their crate leave them alone!
Work can be done to increase their comfort in such situations but the rule, especially for children, needs to be LEAVE THEM ALONE when in their crate.
If a dog is biting or snapping, his more subtle discomfort signaling is being ignored. Dogs communicate their discomfort in a social situation using a range of distance increasing signaling. The earliest signaling of discomfort and request for time and space may be behaviours such as yawning, lip licking, head turns escalating to whale eye, commisure erection and then to freezing, tail raise to grubmling, growling, snarling, snapping and eventually inhibited biting.
If the more subtle, earlier signaling is ignored (and therefore effectively punished) the dog won't use it - there is no point, it doesn't work. So instead they use more obvious signaling e.g. the growling, snapping etc. to achieve the distance they want and need.
A dog that doesn't signal is dangerous because we don't have enough time to get out of there should there be a situation from which the dog wishes to escape.
When dealing with resource guarding where the dog has escalated I feel the best advice is for you to get some professional help. If Dudley is insured a vet referred behaviour consult may be covered by your policy. If not, you will need to take great care choosing a professional. I can help you with that, if needs be.
The first stage in any behaviour modification situation is management. This means to prevent the dog practicing the undesired behaviour - because more practice means perfect, and he's already pretty good at it!
So, if he is guarding steal-ables, then these need to be put out of his reach. Confine him from areas where tidying away things is not possible.
Where the dog picks up and ingests items such as stones, snails etc. muzzle training (so that he is totally comfortable wearing one) and a suitably fitted muzzle may be necessary.
It is only acceptable to use a muzzle where the dog has gone through a similar desensitisation program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FABgZTFvHo
When management fails, as its likely to do, use diversion rather than confrontation e.g. open the fridge, move away excitedly, go to the front door, get his leash, toss high value food in the other direction etc. so that he giving up the item is his idea ;-)
While management strategies are in place work really hard on teaching leave it and drop it cues; starting with items that he is not that crazy about and gradually working up to more desirable items.
Teaching leave it: http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/selfcontrolexercises/
Teaching a thank you cue: http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/day-4-2/ (scroll down)
You can teach the dog to ‘find’ forbidden items, such as pebbles or snails so that he can alert you for a reward and then you can avoid the item.
More on dogs that steal here, including teaching him to alert you to the presence of forbidden items:
Regarding improving his comfort when in his crate:
Does he go willingly into the crate, on cue?
Does he fuss in his crate to get out?
Does he get excited when you go to let him out of the crate?
Remember the rules for the kids or people not in constant contact with the dog is to leave the dog alone if he is in his crate.
It’s probably a good idea to have his crate in a quieter area so that it is a bit of a refuge for him.
Have him settle in his crate.
Approach him from the other side of the room.
Stop approaching as soon as he notices you or looks at you (responds to you in any way) – this is your safe working distance
Toss three pieces of high value food to him in the crate (such as pieces of chicken, hotdog, cheese cut to half fingernail size) and immediately turn and move away
Soon you will notice that he ‘expects’ a treat upon your arrival – this is called a ‘Yippee response’ and that’s what we want.
When you get that Yippee response work a couple of steps closer and repeat. Each Yippee response allows you to work a little closer to him, immediately moving away and repeating. This rewards the dog twice – once with food, once with distance. There is no pressure put on the dog so he feels better about the situation.
When you get to the crate build by putting your hand flat on the top of the crate, tossing food and move away; then when comfortable with that bed over the crate, feed and move away. You can build the amount of time you spend at the crate, feed and move away so that you are proofing this situation where someone comes too close to the crate (when the rule fails!).
The same routine can be followed when proofing resource guarding with other items such as chews, toys or food. Secure the dog (by tethering or behind a baby gate), with the item, approach and stop when he notices you. Toss food and move away. Look for the Yippee response before moving away.
But, as above I feel that given the dogs escalation a professional consultation is needed here. Let me know where you are living and I can help you locate a suitable professional.
How I can stop Murphy from jumping up when anyone shows him any attention... he knows 'down' but excitement takes over , I have tried all sorts but he still reverts back and at times when off lead... he's under control but if anyone calls him over to say hello he then again goes into Murphy 'explosion'?
- Anne Rogers Hi jumping is a real problem when you need to generalise it toward jumping up on other people.
We certainly don't want to tell the dog off for greeting people as they will soon begin to associate unpleasantness with other people and this will bring along all sorts of more complex issues.
The first thing is management - this is obviously a very rewarding behaviour and we need to stop him getting rewarded for this behaviour.
The other problem is that this is a self control issue and it will build and build and build and feeds itself.
You need to prevent him getting into these situations whether that means that he is at a distance or on leash/line. Recall training and even leave it training may also be part of this.
The first thing is consistency. Rewards with attention or anything else must only be delivered when all four are on the floor.
Teaching a really strong default behaviour other than jumping up is also super important. This can be a sit, down, spin (although I would take care teaching that one in exciting situations), beg, basically any behaviour that involves not jumping up.
General self control in all situations which I know you work on is also super important.
I would also do a ton of set ups with him on leash, and learning to focus on you when a new person is around. So on leash approach, as soon as his excitement builds say too bad and bring him away. As soon as he calms return to approaching.
You can build this to him focusing on you to earn the op to approach. His reward for this is to get the op to greet calmly.
Will take a lot of practice so many extras needed in many locations.
By teaching him that focus gets him what he wants you are practicing self control and greeting all in one.
For chronic jumper uppers I also recommend putting jumping up on cue and really working hard on that so that he only jumps up when asked.
Here is a clip on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c877MVeZkyE
Wow thanks Anne for such great advice!
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