Almost 7 month old Pup

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Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:18 am

One question I want to ask about recall.

We always used the 'come!' command and heavily rewarded that, however when he hit adolescence I stupidly over used it when really I knew he was going to blow me off. So now that word is on his list of 'things I can ignore'. I've discovered he responds to 'this way' near 100% of the time which was always the command I used for 'we're going this way now to continue on the walk, you've gone the wrong way' or in heelwork when we changed direction. If its hard for him to break away I also took off in the opposite direction or hid behind something and he can't resist chasing me/playing hide and seek. Never really did this with 'come!' as it was mostly stationary recalls in class.

Long story short, i'm using 'this way' instead for now, but I wanted to ask is it possible to build up 'Come!' (I've gone back to basics with it like advised) again or is it easier to just start from scratch with a new word? Problem is with 'this way' he actually expects us to go a different way, and so I need a recall word before he figures out 'this way' is just a fake 'come!'.

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JudyN
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:59 am

Don't feel bad about devaluing 'come', we've all been there!

I think you're better off starting with a new word, and also a whistle. Start training at point-blank range in the house, and build up gradually, being wary of distractions (if Jasper vanishes in the woods I can never be sure he hasn't just spotted a deer, so I'll often use a 'soft recall' like 'This way' just so he knows where I am). Don't use it if you want to do something he won't be so keen on - nail clipping or whatever. I find a good reinforcement is if I'm in the kitchen and realised I have a nice greasy pan, dried-up bit of cheese or general leftovers that need attention, so it's an unexpected prize for him.

Sometimes I think having a variety of 'food' words helps. I did use 'sausage' as my 'high-value' recall word at one time, but I found that if that lost its appeal, the novelty of other 'food' words he knew could do the job, like 'cheese' or 'pizza' (bits of pizza crust). In fact I suspect if I called 'Headlice!' he'd get all excited as he's never heard of it before so it must be incredibly exclusive and delicious :lol:

And like you've found, 'soft recall' words like 'this way' are really useful. I think they work well because they're very low pressure - no one likes being TOLD what to do, but will be much more open to a suggestion. That doesn't mean that the 'hard' recall won't work as well, it just means you have to be more careful about training it.

Someone I know said that for recall, a command like 'Come come come' could work better than just 'come'. The idea was that the first 'come' would stop the dig in his tracks (bearing in mind his mind might be on other things), and now his attention was caught, the following 'come come' would bring him towards you. I don't know if the theory translates into practice, though my whistle recall is three short blasts.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:50 am

Great advice, I'll get hold of a whistle and swap our new recall word to 'whatsthis?' since he already associates that with something good. I know another dog owner in the park says 'chicken fillet!' if his dogs are particularly deaf, so I'll see if I can get Merlin interested the same way!

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:58 am

Another question (I know!)

Today we took him to the park, still practising the calm before let off lead etc: He's actually been really, really good since we implemented everything recommended here. He barely barks at dogs now, he can even pass by dogs without pulling to say hello. Sometimes he relapses and lets out a small 'yip' of excitement, but its no longer a prolonged 'LET ME GO AND SAY HELLO NOOWW'. So thanks for all your advice there, and I hope he continues to improve!

Anyway, the question I wanted to ask is about dog-dog bullying. I *think* he was bullying a 16 weeks old puppy today, and I distracted him and took him away as usual, but everytime I did that the puppy came running back to him for more and they were both able to calm down for 'sit and get treats' so I assume they were both low arousal levels. What Merlin was doing was pushing the puppy over and standing on top of him. He didn't pin him down in anyway and the puppy could get up, but Merlin was a bit too forceful and kept pushing him over when the puppy tried to wrestle. He's only done this once before with a Yorkie and I took him away immediately. That dog was definately NOT happy. So I intervened when I thought he was being a bully and distracted him with a ball. They both ran after the ball, and (although it was his ball) Merlin let the puppy chew on it and wasn't at all phased and was happy to run around letting the puppy chase him (so a bit of give and take). Like I said, the puppy didn't seem phased at all and stuck to Merlin like glue.

I want to know if what he was doing (as best as you can tell from what I've said) is bullying? Since the puppy kept running back to him and both seemed low excitement, I'm now confused. The other owner didn't seem bothered, but I definately was alarmed by how rough Merlin was being especially since it was such a young dog so I did intervene. He also wasn't loose in his body language when he was standing over the puppy, he wasn't stiff either but he was just standing there and let out a small arousal growl. Problem is his tail flipped on his back naturally so I can't tell when its 'too high'. Sometimes when he's too aroused it flags a bit, but it wasn't flagging here.

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JudyN
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:56 am

I think not letting the pup back up has to count as bullying and it's best to distract/remove him when that starts. Even if it's pretty mild now and the other puppy doesn't mind, you don't want Merlin to get a taste for it so it becomes the go-to game.

Just because the puppy was OK with it doesn't mean it's not bullying. I see it as Merlin saying, 'Let's play I jump up and down on you and don't let you get up,' or 'I'm gonna show you how BIG boys play' :twisted: Sometimes Jasper will tell a puppy to burger off if it gets annoying, and occasionally the pup insists on coming back again and again, like a fly you keep swatting at. Even in humans, some smaller kids will want to hang around the big ones to look cool, even if the big ones tease or bully them, because they want to look cool.

It's great you can let Merlin play with other dogs now and you'll gain a really good instinct for when to bring a halt to the proceedings :D
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:37 pm

That makes sense, I'm glad I did intervene then and will again without a doubt no matter what the other owner says. After I intervened they played very nicely with give and take and sat patiently for treats next to each other, so I hope he did learn that pushing puppies to the ground is less fun than that. Would hate for Merlin to grow up thinking its fun to be a bully. I think it was definately Merlin flexing his big boy muscles. I need to remember he's a teenager with his marbles and teenage human boys are buttheads aswell and need to be reminded about the rules of the playground constantly. One day he can be an angel, the next I'm looking up the number for the RSPCA... :lol:

My parents are dog lovers aswell and they are thinking of getting a puppy to run on for agility & flyball with Merlin so I need to gain that instinct fast incase he decides to put on his jerk hat around the new puppy! We live close by so they'll likely be walked together aswell.

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:47 pm

I love watching dogs interact. There's so much going on that most people never see. And then there's those encouters when all seems fine, and suddenly all hell breaks loose - I'm sure one dog has just 'said' something rude to the other dog but it's just too subtle or fleeting for us to spot.
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:21 am

I know, I don't know how they spot everything so quickly. I also find it weird how quickly they can 'make friends.' Merlin will meet some dogs and it'll just be a sniff and maybe a gentle run around, but with others they meet and 2 seconds later its OK WE'RE BEST FRIENDS NOW! It seems to happen before they even have a sniff sometimes, just look at each other from a distance and decide they want to be best buddies and then that is it for the next 15 odd mins. I see a huge dog and I think 'hmmm he might be a bit rough for Merlin' but they really do find each others level really quickly. I've seen greyhounds 'chase' him, but really they're only gently jogging behind him while he's sprinting flat out thinking he's the million dollar dog. Dogs are lovely creatures.

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:28 am

Lotsaquestions wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:21 am
I've seen greyhounds 'chase' him, but really they're only gently jogging behind him while he's sprinting flat out thinking he's the million dollar dog. Dogs are lovely creatures.
Yep, it's funny when I get someone saying, 'Oh look, my lab can keep up with your lurcher' :lol:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:00 am

He did it again :(

We went out walking today and he met a 6 month old cocker boy. Both dogs on a lead, they had a sniff then the cocker rolled onto its back. Merlin climbed on top and started growling. Again no teeth bared, but he wasn't loose in his body language and was staring. We seperated them and I apologised and we went on our way. When we continued on Merlin wasn't phased at all. He'd been playing with dogs for about an hour before hand so he was tired, and he'd been really polite and well mannered up until then. We were on our way out when this happened.

He only does this when the dog rolls onto its back, and I'm getting quite concerned now that it will escalate into a fight. He doesn't try to stop them getting up by pinning or anything they can easily get up, he doesn't snap at them, he just climbs on top, stands there, stares at them and growls. If they get up before we've intervened they then start to play / chase whatever ball I've thrown to distract him / both come running to me because I've been frantically jumping around trying to get him to come back to me. At this point I don't know if he's trying to start a fight, or is just being a macho assertive bully who doesn't really want to fight and just wants to flex his muscles.

I really have no experience with a male adolescent dog to know what is normal and not normal and when it should start to calm down. I've always been told intact male teenagers fight, so it is always on my mind. We decided to keep him intact so he can develop normally, but on the flip side if its making him aggressive in any way then I would rather neuter and build his confidence up later. He's coming up to 8 months old now.

On a positive note his other issues are getting better and better. He barely mouths my partner anymore. His barking at dogs has significantly reduced, with some days being not a sound. He can pass dogs by without pulling, just a passing glance and then 'so where is my treat lady?' UNLESS the other dog is pulling to say hello to him. Then he just joins in and both handlers sheepishly smile at each other while we pull our out of control dogs away hoping no one else saw. :roll: We took him to training yesterday after a month break just to see how he would do, and he was amazing. Even managed off lead heelwork around other dogs. We set up an agility course in the garden (the crime scene of trouser biting) when toys weren't distracting him, which has worked wonders. He'd rather run through the tunnel the tenth time then run up to my partner and grab his legs, and the weave poles turn his brain to mush in minutes! So if anyone has googled any of the issues I had and this thread pops up (like I did countless times which is how I found this forum!) I can tell you the advice given here WORKS.

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Ari_RR » Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:27 am

Staring, growling at non-threatening others.. i'd say he is discovering the joy of being a macho bully :(
Not a good habit to acquire.
Our boy became one of those during his adolescence coupled with dog parks, it took forever to unlearn, but to this day this nasty bully is always right under the surface and can stick his ugly head out at any time :(

I would probably consider avoiding on-leash greetings for a while.
Things go easier and smoother when dogs are not restrained, so most of encounters turn into run and chase games rather than staring...

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:40 am

That was what I was afraid of :(

I'll avoid on lead greetings, especially with smaller/younger dogs (his targets it seems :(). Is it something that is likely to just be a part of who he is forever? He hasn't had the chance to practice it often, and he knows play ends if he tries it (or any other pushy behaviour), whilst play continues if he's not being a jerk.

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:59 am

Going by my experience, you have very little to worry about. Jasper can be a bit of a bully on occasion - he likes to show that he's Da Boss - but he is excellent at only picking on dogs who don't retaliate. So my guess is Merlin doesn't want to start a fight, he just wants to show off. In fact if he wanted to start a fight, he'd be more likely to pick on dogs that weren't so obviously passive! But every dog is different, and Ari_RR's lad isn't the sort to hide behind a tree if approached by a dog that looked intimidating.

If you have a feel for the type of dog he will do ithis with then you can still let him greet other dogs if you want, and just avoid those he's likely to pick on. Spaniels are great at rolling over and also squealing when the other dog hasn't even touched them - 'spaniel bowling' is acknowledged by lurcher owners to be one of their dogs' favourite sports :lol:

I'm sure this will settle down as Merlin matures, whether you neuter him or not - though I wouldn't like to guess how long it will take. You probably still want to make sure that he doesn't get obsessed with playing with other dogs in general, though - the more worked up and excited he gets, the more likely he is to flip into OTT behaviour. If you think he's more likely to bully when he's tired, then end play sooner rather than later. If he knows that play will stop when he does this, then as long as he doesn't get a chance to enjoy it too much, he'll probably choose not to.
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:21 pm

Spaniel bowling does sound like fun... :lol:

Merlin is the type of dog to run away if things get too heated (at the moment at least), so, like Jasper, I hope that means he's not trying to start a fight. Dogs have lunged at him aggressively whilst walking on the lead, and he's never lunged back. He jumps back, I get us out of there asap, and he's sniffing the floor for a bit and doesn't give the dog a second look. He doesn't seem to like conflict, which is why this new behaviour really worried me!

To get him less OTT about dogs I've been walking him on the lead daily with a group of boring (in his eyes) OAP dogs. At first he was a nightmare and if he even went near the other dogs he would try and jump on them, but now he's realised not every dog is a play machine and he is able to just relax and do some training / tugs with me instead. Before I found this group of dog walkers his only experience with dogs was full throttle play which I now know wasn't the way to socialise him! I hope this is a good thing to do, I wanted to give him as many calm experiences with dogs as I could, since when I tried cold turkey he would get worse on the lead, and when I let him off again he was a bit crazed.

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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:56 pm

Lotsaquestions wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:21 pm
I hope this is a good thing to do, I wanted to give him as many calm experiences with dogs as I could, since when I tried cold turkey he would get worse on the lead, and when I let him off again he was a bit crazed.
I think it's an excellent plan :D
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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