First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

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slothicious
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First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

Post by slothicious » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:56 am

Hello guys!

So I got my first puppy after a year of contemplating on breed and looking for a breeder (I'm in Australia) - A Japanese Spitz! (I believe they're not recognized in USA, but closest would be American Eskimo Dogs?)

Throughout the year, I watched a lot of youtube videos and researched reads for living with a dog, but nothing prepares you for the real thing like.. well.. like the real thing!

I've been to puppy class last three weeks, and the other puppies (Labrador and Blue Heeler) seem so much more well behaved than my puppy who is now 14.5 weeks old.

Problem I have with him are as follows, and I'm curious if these are quite 'normal'?

A) Hyperactive and Very Excitable

He is very excitable about strangers and guests! I have been trying to ensure to tell the guests to ignore him until he sit / downs and to take a step back if he jumps on them - but I can't do this with everyone, especially random people at the cafes or on the street! Does this behavior eventually tone down or go away on its own? He doesn't jump on me because he knows it is inappropriate (I've done the ignoring thing a lot, or distracting him with a toy).

Also in puppy class, first 15 minutes is me just stepping on his leash and standing still while watching other obedient puppies. Because he just wants to go to every other dog or their owners to greet them! It's kind of embarrassing if I must admit it - I realised no amount of trying to get his attention will help and trainer said best thing is to just step on the leash until he is calm, which takes about 15 minutes then he is better (he starts listening to me for last 20 minutes of class). The labradors and blue heeler puppies are so obedient so I feel like I must be doing something wrong!

Dodgy Recall
Not as concerned for this, but his recall is pretty good at home (with treat or toy), getting better in backyard (with treat or toy), but pretty much none existent outside - I'd imagine this is pretty normal though until he is used to everything that could distract him. I get the basis of the recall training, but I'm really not sure where 15 week old puppy should be - should it be near perfect? or is it ok to be still dodgy? :)

I have taken 2 months off work, and last one month has been like this everyday.

8:00am - 8:20am: walk in the neighbourhood, using treats to direct him as much as possible and make him stay near the heel - not going well to be honest. Also using leash to stop moving and change directions when he pulls, but I don't know if he is getting it! I've been doing it for last one week (he is still not fully vaccinated so I need to be super careful what he sniffs), I'm not really sure if he's getting better or not... some people have said it took their dog 3 days :(

8:20am - 8:40am: play time in backyard, some freedom time, and some short burst of 'obedience training' time mixed in between (his sit / down and 'leave it' is pretty good now!)

8:40am - 9:00am: breakfast time, short bursts of 'check-in look at my eye' training, tbh he rarely looks at me for check in outside still :( I also feel like I've said his name far too much and he has just learnt to ignore it.

9:00am - noon roughly: nap! best time!

12:00pm - 12:30pm: Visit to local cafe! he sits on my laps and see people and cars go by. A lot of people say hi, which he gets really excited about.. too much maybe :(

12:30pm - 1:30pm: come back home, and repeat of backyard freedomtime + training time + lunch!

1:30pm - 5:00pm: nap in the pen and his own time with toys

5:00pm - 7:00pm: play with him inside the house, short burst of training, and getting him used to different parts of the house outside the pen.

As for training method, I see that there is division between the 'traditional' method and 'positive-reinforcement' method! Whilst I think 'traditional' method is harsh, I do see behaviours that could be explained by this whole 'alpha' business.

I've been sticking with positive reinforcement, but I do raise my voice or I do pick him up to calm him if he is totally out of control (Haven't had to do much of this especially recently!). With the annoying bites / nippings, I can't just 'leave' him in the room (I tried and he pee'ed) so if I'm inside, I quickly lift him to put him in the pen and walk out. or I use leash so he can't 'approach' whatever he wants to nip at until he calms down. I also try to distract him but sometimes that doesn't work too well..

Any tips would be appreciated, if I'm doing something wrong, or if you could maybe give an insight on what your puppy was like at 12-18 weeks of age, it'd be great!

JudyN
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Re: First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 11, 2016 7:36 am

He sounds completely normal to me!

I remember taking my pup to a 'puppy party' at a pet store when he was about 12 weeks old. All the other pups, mainly poodles and cavaliers, sat on their owners' laps and appeared to listen intently as the staff told us what we should be buying for them, while my pup, a lurcher, was like a self-propelled power ball on the end of his lead :oops: Then another lurcher pup turned up, she and my boy hooked up straight away, and the two of them looked like one big dustball with random limbs sticking out for the rest of the session, with the other pups and owners staring aghast :lol:

At training classes, he was the opposite to your spitz - he'd focus and behave for the first half of the session, then he'd just lose it and turn into a kangaroo.

So don't compare - they're all different!

I might come back later and respond to some small points in your post, or others might, but I noticed one thing missing from your daily routine (thanks for giving that, BTW). Do you ever leave him, to prepare him for when you return to work?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

Post by Nettle » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:28 am

Completely normal for his age and type.

A lead is a great asset for stopping a puppy jumping on people. :wink: then reward him for 'four on the floor'.

Re: training - at his age he has a very short attention span. He is also of a very independent type, so if you want him to do something, he needs to see that it's worth his while, and if he does it once, leave it at that.

Only use his name to gain his attention - so many people fall into a habit of saying dogs' names over and over, and so their pups block out the noise and ignore them. So - "Rover sit" means the name gets his attention and the next word tells him what to do. But "Rover Rover Rover" just becomes background blah.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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Erica
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Re: First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

Post by Erica » Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:56 am

Remember you really can't compare him to the labs and heelers - those dogs are bred to work closely with humans and are easily motivated by food or toys. A spitz type is more independent as Nettle said, so won't be as easily captivated by training. Do try to find something that makes it fun for him, though! Training a spitz might be more difficult, but it's definitely not impossible :) It sounds like you're doing well.

And as Judy said, getting him used to short absences and building those up to longer periods of time (even if you start with one second) will be vital to prevent distress when you do go back to work.
Delta, standard poodle, born 6/30/14

JudyN
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Re: First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 11, 2016 3:34 pm

slothicious wrote:As for training method, I see that there is division between the 'traditional' method and 'positive-reinforcement' method! Whilst I think 'traditional' method is harsh, I do see behaviours that could be explained by this whole 'alpha' business.
A lot of dog behaviour can look like 'dominance' - if it wasn't so, that approach would never have taken hold in the way it did. But there's always a better, safer way of looking at it - have a read of this article on the main site: https://positively.com/dog-training/myt ... dominance/ Putting 'bad' behaviour down to the dog wanting to be boss and then using 'status-reducing' techniques is like thinking a child who steals a chocolate cake thinks he is in charge of all the resources in the house, and then not feeding him till after you've eaten to show him you're the boss. He simply hasn't learnt the 'rules' and can't cope with the frustration of having the chocolate cake taken off him. And a dog who learns that pestering for food gets rewarded, or snapping at someone who tries to drag him off the sofa means he gets to stay on the sofa will carry on doing so, because it works.
I've been sticking with positive reinforcement, but I do raise my voice or I do pick him up to calm him if he is totally out of control (Haven't had to do much of this especially recently!). With the annoying bites / nippings, I can't just 'leave' him in the room (I tried and he pee'ed) so if I'm inside, I quickly lift him to put him in the pen and walk out. or I use leash so he can't 'approach' whatever he wants to nip at until he calms down. I also try to distract him but sometimes that doesn't work too well..
Do you find that raising your voice works? Generally, raising your voice with an overaroused puppy will just arouse him more - or scare him and potentially damage your relationship. Though it's a rare owner who hasn't shouted at their dog on occasion :lol: Make sure that being put in his pen isn't seen as a 'punishment' as you want it to be a place he is happy to be - but calmly putting him in there and walking away, so the fun has ended, is fine.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Chucklevision
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Re: First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

Post by Chucklevision » Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:44 pm

I have no advice to add as I think it's all been said.

This probably won't make you feel better but my beagle puppy is 7 months old tomorrow and we still struggle with all these things, dependent on what frame of mind Dudley is in.

I've come to the view that it takes as long as it takes and there is no normal. One dog can learn to walk nicely on the lead in 3 days and another 3 months or 3 years.

Try and work out what motivates him and use that to your advantage if you can.

If you have another month off definitely get him used to being by himself. It'll be much easier on both of you.

slothicious
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Re: First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

Post by slothicious » Wed Oct 12, 2016 6:52 am

JudyN wrote:He sounds completely normal to me!

I remember taking my pup to a 'puppy party' at a pet store when he was about 12 weeks old. All the other pups, mainly poodles and cavaliers, sat on their owners' laps and appeared to listen intently as the staff told us what we should be buying for them, while my pup, a lurcher, was like a self-propelled power ball on the end of his lead :oops: Then another lurcher pup turned up, she and my boy hooked up straight away, and the two of them looked like one big dustball with random limbs sticking out for the rest of the session, with the other pups and owners staring aghast :lol:

I might come back later and respond to some small points in your post, or others might, but I noticed one thing missing from your daily routine (thanks for giving that, BTW). Do you ever leave him, to prepare him for when you return to work?
Yes, although its his 'nap' times. I leave him for those 3-3.5 hours, I'm not sure what he does but from the gopro video i recorded one day, looks like he just roams in pen, sleeps, chews on the bedding a little, sleeps, eats kibbles off the toy, sleeps! If I do work though, it'll be 4-4.5 hours away most of time and some days will be 8 hours... But I don't really have any proper work forecast at this stage so I've not given that too much thought yet :( SO MUCH to consider!
Chucklevision wrote: This probably won't make you feel better but my beagle puppy is 7 months old tomorrow and we still struggle with all these things, dependent on what frame of mind Dudley is in.

I've come to the view that it takes as long as it takes and there is no normal. One dog can learn to walk nicely on the lead in 3 days and another 3 months or 3 years.
Nooou :'( haha I do try to take that view, 'as long as it takes' :) I did look into Beagle but a lot of sources said they were pretty hard to train!
JudyN wrote:
slothicious wrote:As for training method, I see that there is division between the 'traditional' method and 'positive-reinforcement' method! Whilst I think 'traditional' method is harsh, I do see behaviours that could be explained by this whole 'alpha' business.
A lot of dog behaviour can look like 'dominance' - if it wasn't so, that approach would never have taken hold in the way it did. But there's always a better, safer way of looking at it - have a read of this article on the main site: https://positively.com/dog-training/myt ... dominance/ Putting 'bad' behaviour down to the dog wanting to be boss and then using 'status-reducing' techniques is like thinking a child who steals a chocolate cake thinks he is in charge of all the resources in the house, and then not feeding him till after you've eaten to show him you're the boss. He simply hasn't learnt the 'rules' and can't cope with the frustration of having the chocolate cake taken off him. And a dog who learns that pestering for food gets rewarded, or snapping at someone who tries to drag him off the sofa means he gets to stay on the sofa will carry on doing so, because it works.
I've been sticking with positive reinforcement, but I do raise my voice or I do pick him up to calm him if he is totally out of control (Haven't had to do much of this especially recently!). With the annoying bites / nippings, I can't just 'leave' him in the room (I tried and he pee'ed) so if I'm inside, I quickly lift him to put him in the pen and walk out. or I use leash so he can't 'approach' whatever he wants to nip at until he calms down. I also try to distract him but sometimes that doesn't work too well..
Do you find that raising your voice works? Generally, raising your voice with an overaroused puppy will just arouse him more - or scare him and potentially damage your relationship. Though it's a rare owner who hasn't shouted at their dog on occasion :lol: Make sure that being put in his pen isn't seen as a 'punishment' as you want it to be a place he is happy to be - but calmly putting him in there and walking away, so the fun has ended, is fine.
raising voice I find isn't too reliable ;) but I still do it on occasion like you said! haha. I do find that raising voice to 'firm' and then distracting work a lot better than just distracting though...
Erica wrote:Remember you really can't compare him to the labs and heelers - those dogs are bred to work closely with humans and are easily motivated by food or toys. A spitz type is more independent as Nettle said, so won't be as easily captivated by training. Do try to find something that makes it fun for him, though! Training a spitz might be more difficult, but it's definitely not impossible :) It sounds like you're doing well.

And as Judy said, getting him used to short absences and building those up to longer periods of time (even if you start with one second) will be vital to prevent distress when you do go back to work.
Does it make a lot of difference depending on the breed? I did read that Spitz - Samoyeds / Huskies / Shinus are not as easily captivated by training but I'm curious if it's day and night between the working dogs or Spitz types! Haven't had other dogs before so I'm unsure how much gap there is. I do like cats and their independence though, so it's not like I'm hating on the spitz all of sudden! :)
Nettle wrote:Only use his name to gain his attention - so many people fall into a habit of saying dogs' names over and over, and so their pups block out the noise and ignore them. So - "Rover sit" means the name gets his attention and the next word tells him what to do. But "Rover Rover Rover" just becomes background blah.
Haha I did read about the "rover rover rover" thing but arghhhhhh human habits die hard... I wonder if it's too late to be careful now and need to change name! :'(

THANKS so much for sound advices guys! looks like I just have to keep chugging along! Not advertising, but if you'd like to see him (Haru), I have few photos on my instagram @slothicious :)

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Nettle
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Re: First Dog - What is Normal for 15 week old puppy?

Post by Nettle » Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:52 am

Good to see you so positive and upbeat :) Puppies challenge all of us no matter how many times we have been through raising puppies.

Breed task is vitally important in relation to attitude to obedience. Some breeds are created to work independently (spitzes! and mastiffs), some under sporadic guidance (hounds) some under total guidance (herders, retrievers) so training methods have to be adjusted to allow for the difference between "What are WE going to do?" and "What exactly is the point of me doing that?".

We can't change that so we have to live with it and adjust our training methods accordingly. It's no use making comparisons - it just creates false expectations. You will notice almost always when trainers put something on Youtube to show what great trainers they are, they use a pastoral breed :lol:
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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