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Is he Getting Spoiled?

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Our Freeway is usually very good with other dogs. I take him to work where he has a group of at least 10 dogs he plays with on a regular basis.(Not all in one day but over the week he is exposed to 10 or more different dogs).

He is doing a good citizens class where he know a few of the dogs from puppy classes. This week he got nasty with a Rottweiler pup who he had played with in puppy class. It wasn't vicious and he was doing a growling yippy thing as he did it. Also a large German Shepherd pup 8 months and HUGE....was the object of his bad mood. They were playing fine and I was throwing a ball..the GSD took the ball and Freeway was doing the growly yipping and trying to bite this dogs neck. The GSD is a big clumsy oaf...and Freeway is often stood upon by this pup. However he has never acted this way before.

Freeway is also spending more of his time during class with his nose to the floor and ignoring me...outside of class he is great. Freeway has a nervous disposition and we have been working on that. It has been suggested he is starting t get spoiled and the instructor of the class said possibly he was guarding me from the Rottie pup and same with the GSD pup. He sleeps in a crate sometimes in my room sometimes in the living room. If I am upstairs watching TV he comes on the bed with me.

A side note

I have been possibly offered a spot on the agility team for work and need ideas of getting him to be unconcerned about other people or dogs when going to events.


He comes to work so he is exposed to plenty of people and dogs so I am not sure how to proceed if he is still showing fear. I dont ming him being stand offish....but he is also going to be doing obedience and part of the exercise will be the judge touching him and at this point in time he will bark and growl at strangers...

He is very food oriented....and will take food from people....then continue his barking.

Our boos who has invited us to partake may withdraw the offer if he cant control himself.


Thanks for ideas.


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[i don't see this as an issue of being spoiled. It sounds like you are dealing with some temperament and training issues. How old is Freeway? Are you saying that he is fearful with people and that's why he's barking? What kind of training has he had? What methods are you using? Sorry to hit you with a bunch of questions, but I don't want to throw ideas at you if they aren't appropriate for your situation.


I'd think if you are obviously working with your dog to help him overcome any issues and you are in control of him, then you will still be welcome on the team. There are lots of dogs in sports who have less than perfect temperaments but they have learned how to ignore/coexist with the other dogs and people. My first agility dog was horribly shy and scared of other dogs and people. He eventually learned to calmly hang out at my club and shows, often sitting in his own chair with a dignified, aloof expression. He even had a great scam going where he'd quietly go up to people who felt honored by his attention and showered him with treats. This was a dog that many people had thought was worthless, so believe me it can be done.

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How old is Freeway? 9 months


Are you saying that he is fearful with people and that's why he's barking? He is fearful in general. Recently he has been showing fear at things he has been used to. He barks if things are changed...like new plant pot where none had been before. Or now he is barking at people on TV. If he sees someone he knows from a distance he will bark and run at them. Or if they are wearing or carrying something new like a back pack.



What kind of training has he had? he has been to puppy foundation classes and is now doing the bronze course for the Canine Good Citizens.

I have taught him a range of tricks and obedience.

he knows:

Sit, down, relax (lay on his side), head down (puts his head on floor), paw, high 5, touch (hand or target stick), follow (hands), turn, jum, walk back, close heel, finish (heel position from any other position) and he is started on agility equipment ( walk over, jumps tunnel and weave poles), go to bed, leave it, gimme (pick up something that is dropped), jump through hoola hoops or over arms and legs (for doggie dancing)and he is started on scent discrimination,

he knows quite a few more things as well .



What methods are you using? he is bieng taught with treat and praise system. I started training him when my clicker was lost so it was easier for me to continue by marking behaviour with the words "good boy" then treating. He is not physically punished but will be told off when being naughty.


he is usually very good with other dogs unless they have a go at him. He greets most new dogs with hackles up but after a good sniff he often plays with them.


He does not bark at all people. He can go a few days sometimes without barking (fearfully) at them. He does use avoidance if people he does not know try to pet him. He does not try to bite. When he barks it is usually while backing away from the person in question. He is profusely praised when taking treats from people.

I do not require him to be friendly to everyone. But there will be times when he needs to accept being touched with out barking or showing overt fear.( meeting judges for obedience)

I DO need him to be able to concentrate dispite being nervous in classes or when competing. I find he sniffs the floor or ignores commands when around others (dogs and people).


He is a smart cookie and has had a very hard start as a puppy. He was very sick spending 7 days on a drip and taking another two weeks of force feeding before eating on his own.(story here somewhere). Also he is prone to bloat and has to be on three small feeds (plus training treats) a day. He had a bloat where he needed to be sedated and his stomach drained. Since the first time he has bloated less seriously at least twice.

needless to say he doesn't like to be handled too much.

I am sure we can get him over this as he is still a puppy...but since he is already in a place where he meets lots of people and dogs...I am not sure what else to do.




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Originally posted by al8dan:

I am sure we can get him over this as he is still a puppy...but since he is already in a place where he meets lots of people and dogs...I am not sure what else to do.

First off it sounds like you are already doing lots of great things to help him! He is so lucky to have you! Hang in there and he will make progress.


It sounds like you may be largely dealing with temperament here. I've come to the conclusion over the past several years that temperament trumps all in dogs. That doesn't mean you can't modify and improve upon (or ruin, for that matter) a dog's basic temperament, but it's where you start from and what you build on. For what it's worth, I have a huge soft spot for shy dogs. I learned more from my phobic boy than all my other dogs put together and I bonded more with him than any of my other dogs too. Agility hasn't been the same for me since I lost him, though Quinn is bringing his own brand of thrills to the game


The first thing I advise is patience. Freeway will proceed at his own pace and he will always be who he is (that was one of my mantras with my dog). It can take a while for a dog to overcome fears and build confidence. It's good to find activities that they enjoy and can "lose themselves in." The best thing I ever did for my shy guy was start him in agility which he loved. He never cared for obedience however, and after 18 months of trying, I let him drop out. So pursuing sports with Freeway is a great way to help him, I think.


One thing I wish I had known about with my dog was clicker training. I use a verbal marker way more than I do a clicker so I think your "Good boy" can be fine. I don't know what books are available in the UK for clicker training but I found Click to Calm by Emma Parsons to be a really great one. It is marketed towards dogs with aggression, but can be used for fear issues or just as a great manual for that matter. Something along that line would be very good.


I believe there is a Yahoo group for shy dogs which might be a good resource, depending on how active they are. There are also clicker groups on Yahoo. Clicker Solutions is a fantastic resource, but it also is a wildly busy one with about 75 posts a day on average, which I find overwhelming even in digest format. Another good training Yahoo Group is Dog Trek. It isn't only clicker training, but a lot of the trainers use operant conditioning and have very good ideas.


A handy trick to have with any dog, especially one who might have "issues" is training eye contact. It gives the dog a behavior to perform other than worrying about or acting out in reaction to the stressor or trigger. You can use it to get your dog's attention back on you and best of all, they learn to automatically offer the behavior in response to the trigger. Very useful, I've found (and something I didn't have with my shy dog).


Freeway is still very young, so things like getting and keeping his attention will improve with time, experience and practice. As he matures, learns and gains confidence, he will be less distractible and stressed in class and at shows. His sniffing is most likely a stress or calming sign. Dogs will stress up (zoom, go visit, etc.) or down (sniff, yawn, move slowly, etc.). Be sure not to make the common mistake of saying "He's blowing me off" when what he really is doing is stressing. And please don't let others convince you differently.


I would strongly suggest that you do not use any corrections when it comes to Freeway's agility performance. I'm not talking about behavior, but performance. Not getting the rewards (treat, toys or simply doing the obstacles) is consequence enough for not performing the way you want him to. Always keep agility fun for him. Most mistakes are due to our handling or training, anyway.


What I found was that success was incredibly sweet for the struggles my shy guy and I faced. Sometimes that feels like cold comfort, but really it is true. There are so many rewards to be found working with these kinds of dogs. They have a special courage and love all their own as they face fears and take on the world because we ask them to.

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