How to keep from spoiling your dog?

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mjemere
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Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:44 pm

How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by mjemere » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:45 pm

I got my dog Jack about 1 month and he is 1 yrs old. He is timid around other dogs but he is fairly good with people.

Thing is, I think I'm being "too" nice to him and he is testing me in different ways. LIke for example he will put his paw on my shoulder or face lol, or lean on me and constantly nudge me for a rub on his belly. He loves rubs on his belly. BUt Is that dominance behaviour? I rub his belly all the time and when I dont he throws a fit and I tell him no and he stops. He doesnt get physical or anything he jsut throws a fit like a little kid. I jsut want to discipline him so he listens to me. So far he only listens to sit or down when I have a treat.

I dont want him to turn out to be a spoiled brat. IF anyone can give me tips I would really appreciate it.

ScarletSci
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Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by ScarletSci » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:17 pm

Firstly, forget the dominance nonsense, it's old and debunked practice.

I don't think you can spoil a dog in giving it too much attention. It's a concern if he gets snarky with you, but pawing at you isn't a sign of dominance, just a sign of pawing to get your attention!

Dogs are not 'sneaky' in the sense that they see you as a soft touch to be exploited, so I think you can put your mind to rest on that one. When you say he "throws a fit", what does this entail?

What does concern me is your thinking about what to do with this new dog of yours. This isn't a negative criticism, just an observation. Your dog is a year old, but you've only had him for a month. It'll take him a long time to settle in. I'd love for your approach to be more like "How do I build a strong relationship with my new dog so that he feels safe and comfortable, and we can work well together so he listens and responds to me?"

"throwing a fit" is a vague term that could mean anything, and if it's this behaviour you want to "discipline", then I'd still be advocating for a more positive approach. How to encourage the behaviour you DO want rather than punish the behaviour you don't.

It sounds to me as though you've been raised with old dominance based theoaries of dog training and behaviour, where the reasoning is that dogs MUST OBEY, must be punished for infractions and can't be spoiled. You can cow a dog into listening to you and obeying you, and people have done that for decades. However, this sort of approach doesn't leave you with a happy dog and a happy owner, just a scared, conforming dog and an owner that doesn't understand him.

Could you tell us some more about your dog and what behaviours you want and or/are concerned about? The more detail the better! We love long posts here, and we love pics too! :D What breed, background, daily routine and diet, training and exercise, neutered/unneutered, any background info you can give us will help.

Since you've only had him for a month and we don't know his background, that he listens to sit and down with a treat is a good thing. There's nothing wrong with him working for treats - we wouldn't work full time for free either! The treats are essential in the beginning (or reward of some kind at least) because you are conditioning a behaviour. The dog needs to learn that this word means this behaviour = reward. This needs a lot repetition, lots of rewards, and lots of patience! If the dog isn't listening to you, it means he either doesn't understand what you're asking of him, or he isn't tuned into you at that moment. Neither of these are things that require discipline... all that would do is hurt your relationship with him and lead to negative experiences. We don't want that with training! It won't help him learn or help him focus.

Dog training is both extremely simple and very difficult. The only definate I can give you is that there is no such thing as an untrainable dog! Some are more keen than others, but if a dog "won't obey me", the problem always lies with the trainer or the training method, not the animal. We can help you with training specific behaviours that you want your dog to learn.

Most of all, congrats on getting your new dog, welcome to the forum, and I'm really glad to see that you've come to a positively based training forum. That's a sign of a good, loving and committed owner who wants the best relationship with their pet as possible. With some more info we can offer lots of specific advice, and the people here are lovely and friendly, and many are very experienced trainers and dog owners.

jacksdad
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Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by jacksdad » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:22 pm

first, want to second the advice to not worry about or see this as "dominance". there are lots of more logical and solid explanations for what your dog is or isn't doing than "dominance".

So, that out of the way.....

First, spoiled. what does that look like to you specifically? reason I ask, spoiled is a kind of subjective description. I do lots of the things with my dog, for my dog, and too my dog and allowed my dog to do that many would conciser "spoiled" or causing him to be "spoiled". but he isn't. at least not in the sense that "he is spoiled and won't listen". which is actually better translated, I didn't actually train my dog so he doesn't understand what I am asking. So if you are worried about your dog not listening to you because you allow him to ask for affection/attention/play time etc...or that you might be "giving too much" of those things, I would STRONGLY urge you to NOT worry about that. IF you actually teach your dog what you want from it, and your dog finds it safe and rewarding (rewarding can take the form of a whole lot of things) to to do as you ask, there shouldn't be any issues with your dog asking for attention/getting attention.

So again, when you worry about "spoiled" what exactly are you worried about?

Now, having said all the above..... it is possible for your dog to become demanding, pushy, have low tolerance for delayed gratification etc. sometimes this is because the human goofed. sometimes it's just the dog. But even in these situations, it still isn't a "dominance" situation. and if your dog is behaving this way, there are things you can do to help set boundaries, teach your dog how to ask, create the ability to deal with delayed gratification/frustration tolerance etc.

So "step 2" is, do you have some specific example of something you are worried about or that you would like to work on?

On discipline. before we even go down that road, you first have to teach your dog what it is you do want him to be doing. discipline, even as benign as simply ending interactions or timeouts, in MOST cases MUST BE proceeded by first teaching your dog what you do want from it. "random" discipline/punishment without any idea of what IS expected can be detrimental to your dog and your relationship with your dog. So for example, first we teach how do you ask for belly rubs, how to deal with the end of belly rubs. how do you ask for play etc. a lot of the time, a dog not doing what we ask has a whole lot more to do with them not understanding what we are asking, than them choosing to be "bad". we often think we trained them to do something, but the reality is...we didn't. so for now, I would NOT worry about discipline/punishment/corrections. focus on what it is you do want, make that the default behavior through consistency, repetition, and making it safe and rewarding to do.

And since you are worried about spoiling, I want to take this moment and assure you that it is OK...and I can't stress this enough...it is OK for our dog to ask for our attention. And it is OK for them to get that attention for free. but it is also OK for us to insist they ask politely. so if for example that your dog wants to play some fetch with you, it is ok to ask for this...but what would be a polite way...sit with ball in mouth and look at you. what would be not ok...running over and jumping on you, pawing at you etc. dogs will first and foremost do what works. so which of these two examples would you rather have your dog do...make that way work to get attention and a chance to play fetch. just an example.

some general concepts for you ......

sometimes mildly "annoying" attention getting behaviors can be a sign of a dog actually and legitimately needing social activity/time with you. remember, dogs are social animals, they NEED (and it differs how much, what form it takes etc with each dog, breed etc) social interaction with us. so, making sure our dogs are getting their social time with us, their physical exercise, some mental exercise ....or put another way...their needs met, can go a long way to solving some mild "annoying" attention getting behaviors. so, part of getting you and your dog off to a good start then for the rest of his life...is making sure he IS getting the attention he needs, but in healthy ways.

hope that all makes sense and helps. if I actually confused you....oops, but do feel free to ask questions and I look forward to seeing your more specific example of things you are worried about and would like to work on and what spoiled means to you so we can better help you.

in the mean time, you have only had Jack a month...he could just really be soaking up the attention do to a drought prior to coming to live with you. I wouldn't be overly worried just yet. BUT...it is good that you are looking to help Jack get off on the right paw and thinking ahead. he is lucky to have you.

mjemere
Posts: 32
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:44 pm

Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by mjemere » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:33 pm

Thank you both for the helpful advice. THe thing is we are still learning about each other and adjusting. OK, Ill give you one major example. Today he humped my leg for the first time. I'm not sure why he did it. I hear that is sort of a dominance behavior. IF it isn't ok but I just want to make sure I am setting the rules for him correctly.

jacksdad
Posts: 4885
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by jacksdad » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:40 pm

to know for sure, we would have to ask him ;)

There are lots of reasons that he could be doing this. but the solution would be the same...mostly...regardless of the reason. Just redirect him over to a dog pillow or pile of blankets that are his. don't make a big deal out of it because one of the reasons is sometimes rooted in stress/insecurity.

mjemere
Posts: 32
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:44 pm

Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by mjemere » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:46 pm

jacksdad wrote:to know for sure, we would have to ask him ;)

There are lots of reasons that he could be doing this. but the solution would be the same...mostly...regardless of the reason. Just redirect him over to a dog pillow or pile of blankets that are his. don't make a big deal out of it because one of the reasons is sometimes rooted in stress/insecurity.

OK. HE is a sweet dog. When I tell him "bedtime" he runs in his crate. When I command him to sit, he sits unless he's distracted. lol He got beat up by a pitbull when he was with his previous owner so he is anxious around other dogs but he is real sweet with people but he is weary. I love him so much and I just want to train him correctly, you know? :D

mjemere
Posts: 32
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:44 pm

Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by mjemere » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:47 pm

jacksdad wrote:to know for sure, we would have to ask him ;)

There are lots of reasons that he could be doing this. but the solution would be the same...mostly...regardless of the reason. Just redirect him over to a dog pillow or pile of blankets that are his. don't make a big deal out of it because one of the reasons is sometimes rooted in stress/insecurity.

Also, its so confusing because everything you read its all because of dominance..I think that is why Im so paranoid. I don't want him to turn into a monster. :shock:

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Wes
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Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by Wes » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:12 am

mjemere wrote:
jacksdad wrote:to know for sure, we would have to ask him ;)

There are lots of reasons that he could be doing this. but the solution would be the same...mostly...regardless of the reason. Just redirect him over to a dog pillow or pile of blankets that are his. don't make a big deal out of it because one of the reasons is sometimes rooted in stress/insecurity.

Also, its so confusing because everything you read its all because of dominance..I think that is why Im so paranoid. I don't want him to turn into a monster. :shock:
That's why we say to just forget about "dominance." :)

JudyN
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Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by JudyN » Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:11 am

Dogs tend to hump just out of excitement. Mine will hump his dog bed if he's overexcited. If I get him to worked up when we're playing he'll try to hump me. When I was a child we had a Yorkie who was the sweetest-natured dog ever and she would hump my leg. It really is nothing about them wanting to be boss, it's just an outlet for their pent-up energy.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

jacksdad
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Re: How to keep from spoiling your dog?

Post by jacksdad » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:19 pm

Wes wrote:
mjemere wrote:
jacksdad wrote:to know for sure, we would have to ask him ;)

There are lots of reasons that he could be doing this. but the solution would be the same...mostly...regardless of the reason. Just redirect him over to a dog pillow or pile of blankets that are his. don't make a big deal out of it because one of the reasons is sometimes rooted in stress/insecurity.

Also, its so confusing because everything you read its all because of dominance..I think that is why Im so paranoid. I don't want him to turn into a monster. :shock:
That's why we say to just forget about "dominance." :)
what Wes says.

when you stop viewing everything your dog does as "attempt at dominance" you start to see the real causes which can range from maybe you didn't train sit as well as you thought (or some other skill) or maybe your dog is afraid, or maybe your dog is in pain or sick. There are far more useful/helpful/real explanations than dominance.

There really is such a thing as dominance and dominance hierarchies. But those terms are meant to describe some very specific behaviors and the relationship between individuals in specific situations. it is NOT a catch all explanation/description of all that our dogs do. There is also some question of if there can even be inter species dominance situation, ie dog dominates human.

The irony is, what the science world is trying to label/describe when they talk about dominance is behaviors and ritualized behaviors meant to DEFUSE conflict and to avoid fights. which is often counter the advice/explanation you see when people just flippantly toss out "oh that is dominance" and the solution given is often VERY confrontational and very much creates conflict.

So, long winded...but Wes gives the right advice...don't even worry about it.

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