OMG help! puppy problems

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azaelia
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OMG help! puppy problems

Post by azaelia » Sat May 16, 2015 6:52 pm

i have an 8 month old gsd called Maximus, we're really bgining to struggle with him.

problem no.1 - our biggest problem is play biting, when he gets over excited he starts to bite out hands, arms and sleeves. we've adressed this (or tried to) from day one (we brought him home at 10 weeks old) we have tried diverting him to a toy, telling him no (obviously), taking our hands away (last time i put my hand behind my bach he started digging at my arm to get it back!), gettting up and walking away, ignoring him and finally excluding him. nothing has worked. we've now moved onto a bitter tasting spray and although it seemed to work for a day or 2 it doesn't any more. there isn't really many cues for it, when we play with his ball/ play tug of war he'll eventually get over excited and jump up on us and start biting, when were sitting in bed or on the sofa he just runs at us and stands on our lap and bites. we haven't sat down on the sofa for over a month because as soon as we do he starts. something that worries me slightly is when we're playing ball and also when he's biting he pants so heavily, ive never known a dog to pant so heavily (i've had many) when he's playing but it's only when he's playing so it must be excitment related.

problem 2 - is obediance is shocking! his recall outside is ok, once or twice he'll find something more interesting than me and whats in my hand, but not often. in the house is a different matter! he will not come, sit, lie down or do ANYTHING unless i've got a treat in my hand. i worked on obediance training from day one, by 12 / 13 weeks he was so good at everything but he just reached 5 or 6 months old and everything went out the window, he'll just sit and look at me as if to say "why?" my mum says she thinks he sees us more as playmates than pack leaders and a part of me has to agree. to be honest we did have a rough financial patch in the middle of training where we didn't have any treats for him at all, so maybe thats whats done it and we need to start almost from square one again?

also - lead walking! i think i'm making progress, what i do is as soon as he starts to pull he is told no and i stop. when he makes eye contact he's told "heel, good boy" if i keep his attention for a few steps and he walks to heel then he gets a treat. it's rough going on our way to the field but on the way home he's almost perfect. (the daft dog has a fetish for stones and bricks, yesterday i had to carry a whole brick home for him and he was perfectly to heel the whole way, i think people thought i was crazy but he wouldn't leave it and it was too heavy for him to carry lol)

weve never bothered with going through door ways and up/down stairs first with him, could that be a problem? should we just insist on it (sit and stay) or should we offer a treat when were successful? also with jumping up, we've been ignoring him, then paying attention when he's on the floor - is that the best way?

sorry for the 20 questions.i don't know where we went so wrong with him. he's just getting past a really painfull looking teething problem where his bottom incisor was literally growing into his top gum. but that looks like it's almost corrected itself now, so another week or so and any pain from that should be over.

i'd greatly appreciate any advice. i'm waiting to get a trainers number from mum, someone who's helped a few people she knows with similar problems. i'm reluctant to do it because moneys a little tight atm. but i will definatly do it if needs be, he's worth it!

thanks for reading,
cya

emmabeth
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by emmabeth » Sat May 16, 2015 9:38 pm

Welcome to the world of the 'teenager' GSD pup..

Be reassured that all of this is normal... and some fairly simple changes to the way you are handling him will change things.

Play biting..

Puppies NEED to bite, they investigate the world with their mouths, they need to use their mouths to chew on, to explore, to rag, bite, pull and shred... Your job is to teach him to use his mouth appropriately, via sensible management, and giving him the correct feedback, and teaching him some useful skills.

I think where you have gone wrong here is you have not taught him an appropriate way to ask for interaction (hence the running at youa nd hurling himself at you, teeth first ; this would be a FINE way to instigate play with a litter mate or similarly thuggish, rough and tumble friend!)......

The other thing is management - you know he gets over excited in the end when playing tug, why are you carrying on playing beyond the point where he can handle things - thats like taking a toddler to the fair, filling him up with sugar, spinning him round the waltzers then complaining that hes puked on your shoes and won't sleep for a week!

Ditch the bitter spray, for a number of reasons it won't work and its likely to set you down the path of trying nastier and nastier aversives.

So - clearly he needs something from you or he wouldnt keep behaving this way. Some aspect of the behaviour is also rewarding even if you are trying not to let it be so...

To fix, you need to meet his needs first BEFORE he has to demand them - so for example, increase his mental and physical exercise by adding in more training sessions and walks - teach him appropriate ways to ask for your attention (a sit is nice) - and manage him so he doesn't lose his sh*t... play tug, but stop before hes wound up, ask him to do something else and when he complies, reward him wtih TUG!..

BE consistent - go back to walking away if you really lose control of the situation and you can't get him to listen or its too late to distract him - this WONT fix the behaviour on its own (Which is why in the past it didn;t work), it will ONLY be useful in conjunction with management and meeting his needs.

Btw he pants heavily because the play is incredibly arousing and stimulating for him. He probably has his dinkle out too!

Obedience...

All dogs at this age tend to go through a phase of forgetting they ever did any training. Go back to puppy training stuff, in that you prevent him making mistakes, you prevent him from having the option to ignore you, you set him up for success at ALL times..

Do more training indoors - use a treat pouch that he knwos is filled with treats and your first stage is to wean him off treats in your hand, so lure as if its in your hand, and then deliver the treat fro the pouch, with the other hand.

Once you have that cracked, pop the treat pouch on a shelf or nearby whilst you work so he sees you getting hte treat from the pouch. YOu can hide some in your pockets too so hes now not sure where the treats come from..

Then you can hide the treat pouch entirely and pop surprise sessions on him ...

The idea is that you switch him from 'oh yeah she doesn't hace a treat unless i can SEE that treat' to 'shes MAGIC and may have treats ANY TIME..' It isn't hard to do, it takes a bit of practice is all.

Mum is wrong btw - nothing to do with pack leaders, can't be because dogs arent pack animals! (Thats a new one on a lot of people but it is true!) He may well think you are playmates because you haven't been consistent with him though, consistency is super important, NO ONE, not you or I or anyone, feels comfy with someone who isn't consistent.. its horrible when you don't know where you stand with someone!

Lead walking...

The method you have chosen whilst not the worst, does rely to a certain degree on your dog guessing what you want, and if you are actually doing what you say, then you are waiting for him to make the mistake before you do something... and you are not telling him what you want from him, hes gotta guess.

I prefer the about turn method - quick march and the second he gets ahead of where you want him but BEFORE hes put any pressure on the lead, warn him *this way!* and you about turn, quick march the other way, reward as he gets level with you.

Its important he has the slack to CHOOSE where to walk, and its important that you turn in toward him not away from him so that you are giving him slack as you turna nd not inadvertently going to jerk him with the lead. It also helps him see what you are doing.

This method means its HIS job to stick beside you in a particular zone, and pay attention to you - if he does then forward movement continues and he gets rewards too, if he doesn't whoops back the other way you go but theres NO standing about guessing or waiting for him to figure it out. Its much more a 'doing thing' which dogs find better and easier to work with really!

The downside is that at first you won't get anywhere and you will get dizzy however i don't think this IS such a downside as it does ensure in the first few sessions you dont get so far from home that when you get frustrated or annyed you just give in, just so you can get home quickly. Because you won#t get more than half a street from home, and you can't do this more than 15 minutes at a time, it focuses the mind and helps you be more consistent. (You can of course do many 15 minute sessions in a day, and they will tire you dog out far more than two walks to the park, run off lead and home again type walks!)


Jumping up - get in there and mark *(use a clicker!) and reward BEFORE he jumps up, use the lead to manage him so he can't jump on strangers, if he jumps on you as you come through a door, open it a crack, click and lob a treat on the floor BEFORE he jumps up.

Again here, waiting for him to make a mistake and then either ignoring or punishing is not very effective or efficient training because you are so often missing behaviour you DID like... on the way to the behaviour you don't like.
Wherever possible, GIVE your dog something to do, pick a mutually exclusive behaviour - teach him to sit and reward that heavily rather than ignore him jumping up and then wait for him to guess that he should perhaps keep his paws on the floor.

Getting a GOOD trainer in can be a serious help even if you have just one session however, ensure it is someone who does NOT talk about pack leaders, dominance, corrections or punishments - if you are in the UK, someone who is a member of the PPG or the IMDT would be a good safe bet.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

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Nettle
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by Nettle » Sun May 17, 2015 2:13 am

In addition to Emmabeth's excellent advice, I must just focus on the stone fetish. He will ruin his teeth if you indulge this, and there is also the risk of him swallowing small stones. Therefore at home teach him to swap what he has in his mouth for what you have in your hand (i.e. a really super high-value treat or a toy he really likes) putting a word to it such as 'give'. He must always feel that the surprise in your hand is better than whatever he has, so start by giving him something low value to hold in his mouth, such as a toy he doesn't like all that much, while what you have and are about to give him is GREAT.

Then practice this in every room in the house that he is allowed in, out in the garden and then you can take it out on walks. In your pocket is a toy that only comes on walks and is therefore super high value. If he wants to get hold of a stone - it's up to you to anticipate this and get into the way of changing the action before he actually picks up the stone - waggle the toy or brandish the treat and use your swap word. Then walk smartly away before he thinks he can go back to the stone.

Don't let anyone rough and tumble with him, encourage him to jump up, or play any exciting games, because "calm" is a difficult job with this type of dog.

Many of us have had or do have excitable dogs, so stay with us and we will help you all the way.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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azaelia
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by azaelia » Sun May 17, 2015 3:25 pm

thank you both for replying, you've given us alot to think about.

we've had a pretty good day today. playing ball i wouldn't throw it for him without a sit / paw / down and it seemed to keep his excitment level down well. at one point he did try to put my hand in his mouth so we changed games to tug to keep his attention and it worked well. we're gonna increase his walks too.

i tried the about turn on his walk today and it worked well. i was doing that before and it didn't work but it was different to the way you suggested, so i can see where i was going wrong.

with the stones outside - in the house he's pretty good with give but outside it's just one big game of chase to him so i'll try taking his frisbee with me tomorrow and see how we get on.

one quick question - he's friendly with dogs and people but he's increadibly nervous when they pay attention to him. he likes his space with dogs and i find it best to let go of the lead (if i'm confident with the other dogs temperement and its on a lead) so he has more space to back off and to come for a sniff when he's confident. he doesn't run around like crazy, just when he gets spooked he jumps backwards. i am so carefull in doing that though, with regards to the dog, roads and other people ect. with people he's confident if they're ignoring him but he is very skittish and scared if they pay any attention to him - he can NOT stand being touched by strangers - he barks and trys to get away. we now take him to the pet shop every sunday for confidence and introduce him to anyone who's willing to spend a few mins hand feeding him. the other day i spent 1/2 hour with a guy i met who wasn't at all bothered by the amount of barking he got. he went from tossing treats to max to hand feeding him and finally max lay at my feet while we talked. it took a while but he relaxed and the barking stopped. he still wouldn't be touched though. do you have any tips for helping socialise him? he doesn't have a nasty bone in his body but we've struggled socialising him up till now - our last gsd was lethal so 10 years of fear of people and dogs out and about left they're mark and crossing the road when we saw someone coming was a difficult habbit to break sadly.

emmabeth - i'm in the midlands myself so if i continue to struggle i may contact your training company for help.

many, many thanks

Dibbythedog
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by Dibbythedog » Sun May 17, 2015 5:58 pm

You need to take into account that young dogs go through a fear period in adolesence.

I think you need to slow this down and rethink the way you are socialising Max . Every dog is different and he has his own nature, if he is that fearful , he might never really like strangers.
I would work on introducing him to new people in a less crowded or stressful environment . I wouldn't attempt to let any one touch him if he hates it that much. It easy to "overface" a dog and you need to avoid putting him in a postion where he feels the need to bark or cant escape.
I think if this were me I would use a clicker and I would start off clicking for small things like not reacting if someone glances at him or if he voluntarily steps towards someone .
You can do this at the park or where he can be off lead , just carry on as normal and relax and be ready to click and treat for small things as mentioned above. This way he can gain confidence at his own pace.

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Nettle
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by Nettle » Mon May 18, 2015 5:00 am

None of us would like to be touched by a stranger.

You reduce your dog's trust in you if you "force" strangers onto him. I know what motivates you so this is not a criticism, but offering the dog's point of view. Having a dog that adores strangers can be risky more ways than having a dog that doesn't like them. What you need to reframe as an ambition is a dog that ignores strangers. People love to touch a pretty dog, but that is them taking pleasure not giving it.

So when strangers approach and want to touch, say no. Make it as sweet a 'no' as you like, but make it firm also. I tell people that mine don't like strangers touching them, which does not seem to offend, though you get the odd pushy person who trills that aaaal doggies love meeeee, so I step in front to make sure they can't touch my dog and say Not these ones.

Don't worry about offending people - they'll get over it. Keep in mind your goal of having a sociable dog. Sociable doesn't mean allowing random people to wipe their hands over him. :wink:
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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azaelia
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by azaelia » Mon May 18, 2015 4:26 pm

thanks for the advice. i don't let anyone pet Maximus. ever. and children aren't allowed near him after some woman let hers run up to him and try 2 cuddle him! he was much younger then and probably didn't help the situation. she was told all about my displeasure lol. i just ask anyone whos willing to give him a few treats, and if he freaks out too much i carry on walking. some people hes not too bad with and some people he doesn't like. walking past people minding they're own buisness he doesn't bat an eyelid too. i'll slow it down with him a bit.

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Nettle
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by Nettle » Tue May 19, 2015 2:59 am

Stop the treat-giving too, as it is very stressful for a dog to be offered treats by someone he doesn't know or trust. It creates a conflict of 'want the treat, don't want to be so close to that person'. Some dogs become sufficiently stressed that if the treat-offerer does something sudden (e.g. a gust of wind blows their hat off or makes their coat flap) they react in a way we don't want.

Also, for your dog's own safety, you do not want to create a dog that goes up to strangers for treats.

You are a great owner and he sounds a great dog. As you say, what you need is to slow it down.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Dibbythedog
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by Dibbythedog » Wed May 20, 2015 2:17 am

I second what Nettle says , you are a great puppy owner. It is hard work !

The advice about getting strangers is general advice that has been given by behaviourists including well known ones so I understand why you are trying this . I think though , you have to consider the individual dog and also peoples safety and do the rewarding (reinforcement) for the correct behaviour yourself.

Good luck , :)


ETA , if you decide to consult a trainer/behaviourist avoid those from companies like Barkbusters or jan fennels, Cesar milan types into pack leadership.

azaelia
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by azaelia » Wed May 20, 2015 11:39 am

thanks everyone! ill stop pushing him, i was just so focused on (finally) having a dog thats safe to have off the lead around people i never really thought about pushing him too far. my last boy was so nasty (as a result of being so ill in young life, everyone he ever met was a vet who wanted to put a variety of instruments up his bottom lol) its just a relief to be able to have people round to the house.

ill take a step back and start rewarding him for just being calm. he's always up for aproaching people, which he does on his own, so ill continue to reward him when he does that and if both parties want to meet then great.

one quick question tho - he's always been a funny eater. as a pup he was raw fed and thats how we continued when he came home. he went off one kind of food, we tried another and he ate it for a day and wouldn't eat it again. (this is when he was about 14 weeks maybe) we ended up going through every flavour of 2 different raw food providers, each on frozen, raw and cooked. each time he's have a meal and not eat again. we then went onto the best kibbles we could find. he'd always wolf down my mums dogs food when he went round (assuming because he had competition) so we brought that, ate a meal, then wouldn't touch it. so 3 kibbles later (ant when were talking £60 for a bag it got pricey) he finally settled on one. we gave him a while and re-introduced him to raw. he's been on natures menu for a long time now. bones, organs, meat and the complete frozen cubes they do. he was always so excited at meal times no matter what he got. btw he'll only eat the cubes frozen, the one thing he's been consistent on is he WONT eat mushy food) recently he's decieded he wont eat the cubes. we've had enough of this and are sticking to our guns with him. he'll eat bones and treats fine but the cubes he just wont eat. he dances around his bowl like he wants them but cant take them. weve tried feeding him off the floor and in different bowls. if i hand feed him one cube he'll take it and play with it for 5 mins when he'll eat it and then eat a few more from his bowl.

does anyone have any advice? we tried everything when he was younger as he was growing and we were worried about his nutrition back then.

i know hand feeding isn't ideal but its only one cube, not a whole meal and it doesn't always work. we've also tried staying whith him while he eats (as he just follows us everywhere, he'd rather be with us than his food) and also shutting him in the kitchen on his own to see it that would work. and i tried pretending to eat the food to encourage him - that worked a little as a pup, now it just gets him excited and comes for a cuddle lol) there isn't a scrap of food agression with us and quite often he'll come and plonk his half eaten turkey neck on my knee to play tug. lovely.

emmabeth
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by emmabeth » Fri May 22, 2015 5:06 pm

The people/strangers issue - definitely stop pushing, the thing is he doesnt NEED to adore everyone in the world - he needs to feel safe around people, and he needs to allow SOME people to do SOME things in SOME situations - so if you keep rewarding him for seeing people, for greeting them if he wants to but also for making sensible safe choices such as stepping back behind you or just moving away quietly, if he doesnt want to, he is going to think through these situations rationally, as theres no pressure, and its all associated with reward.

Then you can teach him various skills to allow the things that need to happen, for example you can teach him the vets is a nice place, teach him to hold his nose to a target stick whilst 'stuff happens' (ie, hes touched, his scruff is lifted, pretend jabs are done, tail lifted yadda yadda, mock up all the things that may happen)... so then he has experiences that are positive, and safe, and they all go into the 'trust bank' for the times stuff does have to happen.

Food... thats ringing the 'i don't actually need all this food i have, i can afford to be choosey' bell in my head... and this is often hardest one to solve on an in person consult because the probably is almost entirely... people!

You want your dog to eat, you put down a lovely bowl of horribly expensive food (not always but often!), you watch the dog with baited breath, he eats some, YAY... but he doesn't finish up his bowl ful... noo.. hte next day you watch again and this time he sniffs and walks away.. nooooooooo...... so you buy another brand of another mega expensive food and this time he eats it all, woo hoo... but the next day he doesnt eat so much... and the next he says nooo dont want that...

The more it goes on the worse you feel... the harder you try ... probably the more pressure the dog feels (not in all cases!)..


Pick a food you suspect he likes, that you are reasonably sure doesn't cause him any stomach issues or what have you - since hes eaten raw I would go with that but its your choice...

Two meals a day, now put down HALF what you would normally give him, seriously, HALF what you think he needs.

Make sure food is put down on a surface hes happy with (some dogs dont like a shiny, hard or slippery surface), and walk away leave him to eat it in peace for half an hour or twenty minutes... something like that.

Go back when the times up and if the dog isnt actively face in bowl eating, remove it, put it away (or bin if its not going to last til the next meal time)... repeat.

Unless there is something wrong with your dog, unless there is something wrong with the food, your dog will start eating within two or three days, four days at worst - but you must give them WAY less than what you were giving before, because its almost always that they had too much and didnt need to eat everything they were offered, that has caused the problem.

Once the dog is eating whats given, you can then play around with the amounts til you get to where you and the dog are happy and the dogs weight is correct. Under feeding for a week or two is not going to do any harm unless your dog is severely underweight (and ive not come across a dog yet with this problem, that actually is even slightly underweight!).

Personally i would go with raw feeding as its easier to add in a ton of variety this way, but if you go for a grain free dry food you can buy smaller bags and mix and match flavours , theres NO good reason not to, but food manufacturers dont want you to know that!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

Erica
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by Erica » Sun May 24, 2015 8:33 pm

Wellll I've just started trying the half-amount thing for Delta, since he was only eating his old amount every second or third meal time. So far (three meals in) he's 100% on board and is eating! So hopefully the same plan works for you, Azaelia. :) I know it's worrying (and very annoying) to have a dog ignore the wonderful food you put so much thought into procuring.
Delta, standard poodle, born 6/30/14

azaelia
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Re: OMG help! puppy problems

Post by azaelia » Mon May 25, 2015 7:19 am

thanks for the advice. he's back to eating normally now but when he does it again (that was the 3rd time he went off his fiid since november) we'll try cutting him way back for a bit.

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