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Hey, I'm back again after awhile.... I suppose I haven't posted lately beacause Milton has been very bad :rolleyes: I guess I've been kinda ashamed about it, but he's getting so bad that I've decided to swallow my pride and ask for help.


First off he has almost completely thrown away his submissive posture. I am the only one that he will usally obey anymore and rarely do I get complete submission. The biggest area of this COMING immediatly when called. He used to drop what he was doing and come but he doesn't seem to honor me in that area anymore..... then there is fecth..... unless I have a frisbee ready and waiting for him when he brings back the other one he will not relinquish it. I'll have to call him a couple times or go and get it, at which point he'll bow his head in mock submission but reclench his teeth on the object. This drives me CRAZY!!!


The worst area of all, though, is growling at my younger siblings ages 12 and 3. At first I tried locking away (seperation from pack), then I tried laying on top of him till I sensed a submissive attiude. After trying this for many months and he still kept doing this, I began to use more drastic measures like whipping him with a magazine or cayanne extract on the tongue...NOTHING worked! I am completely lost in this area now, and my Dad says that if he lunges,/growls at him he is history :D I've heard of the shock collar, but that I just really can't afford it............


I haven't been working with him as much beacause the hoilday's and school have been to much for me. I really think that could be the root of the problem. That we stopped training him when he was in the middle of it instead of the end.


My mom thinks we love on him and have spoiled him to much, but then again, most people say BCs respond best to postive training then other methods....


AAARRRGGGG! I'm just confused, and frustrated. There needs to be a change soon or things might start going downhill from here.


Please Help!

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Ummm ... I really shouldn't touch this at all but ....


Hitting the dog is not going to make him LESS aggressive. And I'm not really sure where you heard this notion of lying on top of the dog to make him submissive, but that's more likely to just make him frustrated. And how is you laying on him going to decrease his aggression to your siblings? Lastly, if doing something for several months does not produce the desired result, would it not be fair to suggest that it's probably time to try a new method?


I'm going to go out on an upopular limb here and suggest that if your whole family is not on board with a more positive and intelligent training program with this dog, rehoming him with someone who can might be the better solution. In my experience, dogs who are lunging and growling at people are not happy (and no offense, but it is somewhat obvious to me why he is not happy - you really need to adjust how you train the dog) and unless you can change how you manage him, he's just going to get worse. I will leave it to other people to make suggestions on how you might handle the dog, but suffice to say you really should employ the services of a dog savvy trainer, like, now.


Edited to add - do NOT and I repeat this emphatically, do NOT put a shock collar on that dog! If you want to make him a horribly aggressive mess, then by all means shock the crap out of him. If you want to address his issues, please get a trainer!



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By laying on top of him I meant holding him in a submissive posture and not allowing him freedom till he was submissive. Usally I let him do this on his own but in this case it was necessary. And, in doing the same training method for months i was trying to be consistent (which did work for awhile) but when it no longer did I knew it was not the right method for him, per se.


My family is willing i just need to present to them a plan of attack, giving them specifc rules and jobs and such.......

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I think what would be good is to let go of the idea of making him be submissive. Let that go, and start working (instead) on how to be a good leader. I really think, in this situation, that finding a good positive trainer or behaviorist is the way to go.


If your father is not open to that possibility, here are some suggestions for the meantime:


1. Search online for infomation on NILIF (nothing in life is free). This involves the concept that the dog must work for resources and attention. For example, he wants you to pet him? He must sit.


Also Suzanne Clothier has some great online articles: http://www.flyingdogpress.com/artlibreg.htm


2. Buy and read Patricia McConnell's book, "The other end of the Leash". You can order it from amazon or www.dogwise.com . This will give you some ideas about why dogs do what they do, and how you can interract with them better.


3. Be fair and consistent. Sit ALWAYS means sit.


4. Devote time EVERY day to exercising and training - and UP your obedience work. Wouldn't hurt to enroll in an obedience class to get hands on help.


5. Make sure everyone sits down and agrees on training methods (ie - no making the dog submit, lie on its side, etc. No hitting the dog. No spanking.)


6. Better supervision and clearer rules for the younger children.


I suspect your dog is afraid and unsure about what the rules are. I also suspect that to continue along this holding him in a submissive posture thing will INCREASE agression, as opposed to decreasing it. Please - do read up on NILIF methods. Please, don't try to use a shock collar on this dog.


Take a look at this article:



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A BC without intelligence work can become a family terrorist or they try to do herding cars or joggers. We have nearly the same discussion in a "Herding Dog Boards" here.


When you train your BC again he shall give this up and again you have a wonderful dog. A dog-trainer or someone with much experience in BC`s could help a lot if you are not sure what to do as the best for your BC. Good luck.

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It sounds to me like your dog is maturing and testing boundaries. I agree that it is crucial to work it out now.


To be honest - I don't know that cayanne on the tongue and sitting on top of them don't sound to ME like something that would work. I really really wouldn't try the shock collar.


Do some searches on the NILF, I think that might help you in asserting yourself and your family - gently.


Lilly at 7 months is most definitely starting to test her boundaries, though not to that extent.

The most I correct her physically is a stern no and a scruff shake - if she's getting to rough with my other dogs. Then the cold shoulder.

She might be more submissive/sensitive to correction then Milton.



Good luck to you, and I'm sure others will have better advice.



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He used to drop what he was doing and come but he doesn't seem to honor me in that area anymore..... then there is fecth..... unless I have a frisbee ready and waiting for him when he brings back the other one he will not relinquish it. I'll have to call him a couple times or go and get it, at which point he'll bow his head in mock submission but reclench his teeth on the object. This drives me CRAZY!!!
Here is where you need to adjust your way of thinking. It's not a submission issue. Giving you the ball is a matter of TRAINING, not submission. Everything your dog does is not tied up in whether he's submissive or not. This particular action is tied up in what he understands and what he doesn't.


I also agree with RDM - this may be a situation where if the whole family isn't on board maybe the dog would be better of going back to whence he came. I would keep this option open if you exhaust your other options.


Additionally, maybe finding a positive trainer in your area, or a behaviorist would be a good way to go. You guys probably would benefit from some hands-on help!

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I'm very sad to hear about the way things are going with Milton.


I second and third what RDM said.


There are good positive trainers in your area. I could give you some names and numbers if you would like to try to find someone to help you.


I have to be very blunt here, especially because of what your father has said.


If you are looking to use a shock collar, or to continue to hit him or lay on top of him to try to force him into submission, I urge you to take him back to the shelter that you got him from as soon as possible. They will get him to a safe place.


The methods that you have described are not going to bring about the results that you are looking for and are very likely to result in your dog ending up dead, and that doesn't have to happen.


I wouldn't even recommend trying to "go it alone" on this one. If you can find a good trainer, I think you can make it work.

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Thanks for the great ideas Laura! I'm definatly going to check them out.


Milton ending up DEAD! My goodness where did that come from? I hope I haven't made the impression that I whip my dog to death... The idea with the magazine is that it never hurts your dog they just hate the loud sound, and I NEVER used it for anything else beside aggression to younger children, aka, capital offence. I'm not planning on useing it anymore in either case.


He is still a pup and is testing boundries. The thing I would really like is that an expert trainer could sit me down and give ME a class or something. Since the owner is where it almost always starts.

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While I agree with RDM's views, I also think training is a great step. Obedience classes and training would help greatly! With Rivendell when we got her I really had zero clue what I was doing, obedience classes helped us bond with her, but also helped us show her we were leader. The only problem I foresee in that is if your parents or you are willing to spring the money for it.


Just a note on the alpha roll (laying over him in dominance). Dogs know when you dont know what you're doing in attempting this roll. That helps their view of you not being their leader, IMO. While the boards are generally split on the whole alpha roll, Im sure those who agree with it would also agree that if you dont know and havent been shown positively how to do it, it is a good way to get bit, or get even more aggression from the dog.


BC's that I know of respond better with exercise. Take Milton out and just exercise the hell out of him. Get him tired, I think that could help as well.


Does Milton know the meaning of the command "drop it"? This could help you in your frisbee issues as well. Instead of trying to grab it out of his mouth, try to have him drop it. I actually have a similar problem with Riven. She thinks that its a game to run from me with the tennis ball because some people (me) are too fat to keep up with her lol... drop it is a usefull tool.


I think everyone is right with NILF! That is what I started with Riven after positive training was NOT working. I went from NILF to Ceasar Millan's method, and I know I'll get flack for saying it, but its true. NILF did help a lot with her.


Small things as well helped with Rivens attitude. (not aggression, just lack of listening) Small things like, I go in or out the door first not her. This way you are leading him inside, not the opposite. On walks, he is NOT to walk in front of you, same thing that is him leading you. Also when you want to do something, walking for instance, you need to have a clear vision in your head of what you want. So when I want to put Riven's lead on and walk, I invision in my head what I want and that makes me come off more confident/strong. That increases your energy from unsure to strong and positive. Believe it or not dogs do read body language and energy.


I wish you all the luck. I know you want whats best and with a fathers views like that I know its tough. My father was the same way. Stick with it, and always keep in mind whats best for Milton, even if it is hard.

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I don't see why you would need to consider giving up the dog at this point. It sounds to me as if you have just been going down the wrong track with him, and things could improve greatly if you tried a new approach.


I agree with those who have posted that these are not submission issues. In fact, put submission out of your mind -- the less you can make your training be about dominance and submission, the better off you will be. Coming when called is not a matter of honoring you, and if you view it in those terms your pride will get all mixed up in the training and cause trouble. It's just a matter of training. I believe that it's very hard to train a dog effectively if you don't like the dog, and it sounds to me as if you're not liking him much right now. I'm betting that is coming through to him.


When a dog with a reliable recall begins not coming when called, you have to go back to basics and work on that issue. Use whatever method you used in the first place if you're comfortable with that, but approach it as if the dog doesn't know that "Here" (or whatever word you use) means he has to stop what he's doing and come to you. No blame, no guilt, no anger, no hurt feelings -- try to keep all emotion out of it, because dogs react badly to your frustration. Just accept the challenge of figuring out how to get across to him that that's what "Here" means, and set up your training sessions so that he can't run away when you call him. I think I posted something recently on how I go about training a dog to come -- I'll see if I can find it in case it might be helpful. Don't expect instant success -- I think you have some damage to your relationship to overcome, and it will take a little time to do that.


As for his not dropping the frisbee, back off for now. Don't try to get him to give it up, and certainly don't get angry at him for not giving it up (frisbee is for fun, remember?). Some dogs like the tug game a whole lot, and why should they be blamed for that? But you don't like the tug game, so don't play it by trying to tug the frisbee away from him. Just ignore him if he doesn't give it to you at your first request, and throw it again immediately when he does give it up. With most of the dogs I've had, that approach had them pestering me to take it from them in short order.


What are the circumstances when he growls at your younger siblings? How often has it happened, and what was going on when it did? Oh, and how old is he? I know you got him from the shelter, but what info do you have about his age?

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Thanks Maralynn


OMG! I just read the NILF and know what I'm doing wrong.... The problem is I "allow" him way to much and then punish him when he gets out of control. In the beginning I did a lot of NILF stuff and then got to busy (or so I thought) and stopped doing it. I'm getting back on track right now! I'm going to have everyone in my family read that paper, in fact I'm going to have a family meeting Thanks again guys!

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You've gotten a lot of great advice, esp Laura's. It sounds like you are the main trainer for the dog but the whole family needs to be on board with the training style. In addition to reading The Other End of the Leash (great book - I highly recommend it) I would get McConnell's pamphlet "How to be the leader of your pack - and have your dog love you for it" - it is really cheap and only 13 pages. I doubt your whole family will read "The Other End of the Leash" (though again, I highly recommend you read it) but they can probably be convinced to read the pamphlet and it will help you all be on the same page.


ETA: Another short book that helped me a lot is "Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas. It is a quick read and really helped me better read my dog's body language when I was first starting out. It made me realize how often I was stressing him out during training and how my frustration was affecting him. Once I learned that, his training went a whole lot faster and it was more fun for both of us.

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Eileen, thanks so much for that! I felt a little lost like everyone was telling me to give him up.... But what you said I think is true it's just a training issue. I do get way to mad at him! I'll make that public confession right now.

I need to re-focus and remember that training doesn't work when I hold on to past emotions...


The growling has occured with the youngest sibling quite often, mainly beacuse he's a tot . When he has a treat or is eating. He growls with just about anybody if the treat is good enough. What really shocked me is Sarah (the older one). In the past week he's shown aggresion to her which he had never done before. I had a talk with her and i told her it was beacuse she fawned over him way to much... she's trying not to do that anymore.


Milton was around 7 to 8 months when we got him, they weren't quite sure about the age. So I settled for his birthday to be January 1st which means he is almost a year old.

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Everyone has given you great advice. I think that the 3-year-old should not be around Milton unsupervised (by your or your parents, not your 12-y.o. sister) and should never be allowed to roughouse with him or be rough to him. That's just setting both child and dog up for a bite--a lose-lose situation that can easily be avoided. I don't care how good or bombproof a dog is (and Milton clearly is not), letting a small child be rough with a dog is asking for trouble, especially a young dog who may not understand all the nuances of proper behavior with is human pack (you know, if one pup is too rough with another, the second pup will growl at, snap at, or bite the first pup, so if Milton has a similar reaction toward your brother, it's not because he's incorrigible--Milton, that is--but rather because he doesn't know any other way to act to defend himself from what he considers inappropriate/hurtful behavior toward him). That doesn't mean it's acceptable for Milton to growl or react badly with your brother, but it will help you to deal with it if you understand why he's doing it.


With Sarah, if she's doing a lot of hugging, grabbing, etc., that may make Milton feel uncomfortable enough to growl, especially if he's already got issues with the toddler. Sarah should be old enough to understand the training techniques you wish to use and to help you with Milton's training, but I would still supervise their interactions to be safe and to make sure she's reinforcing what you want taught and not inadvertently allowing bad habits to develop.


Good luck with him.



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I also wanted to clarify that my family is very supportive and loves Milton very much. I realize that I wrote with too much emotion in the first post and some have interpretted it incorrectly as being my Dad is a tyrannt. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is just worried mainly about the aggresive behavior toward the younger family members.

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This is why I HATE the idea of submission/alpha, etc. - somewhere the notion got bastardized or at least elevated to a level that I don't really think it deserves in dog training. You don't need your dog to "submit" (in fact, I don't want my dogs to "submit"), instead you need it to do what you want it to do (there's a subtle difference). In order to do this it needs to 1) understand what you want it to do, 2) be able to do it for you and 3) want to do it for you. Many people focus on the third requirement and fail to consider points 1) and 2). You can have the most submissive dog in the world and if it doesn't understand what you want or if it doesn't want to work for you (have a working relationship with you) you're unlikely to have a dog that behaves. Likewise, if you're using harsh methods and your timing is wrong, or if the dog, again, doesn't understand what you want it to do, you're likely to undermine the working relationship necessary to promote good behavior and may even create frustration and aggression. A couple suggestions: Set your dog up to succeed - don't put it in situations where it's likely/able to fail, reinforcing bad behaviors (i.e., keep it away from your siblings when unsupervised). When training, focus on being clear, consistent, and fair and forget about making your dog "submit" -- you'll get a better dog in the long run. Probably more important - get a good trainer - you need a different perspective. Having someone right there, who knows your dog, can be invaluable.



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