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At five months old. A couple of questions.


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What do you expect your young dogs to be doing when you are not training/playing/petting them, but they're not ready to sleep?

Our boy plays by himself for a little while with a football outside, chews an appropriate toy, lays down and looks at me (but not for long), potters around smelling things, a couple of times he has started to dig (he's discovered that there are bulbs under the ground) but we've seen him quick enough and asked him not to. Eventually he'll go to sleep and sleep for a couple of hours. He has a stuffed Kong in the afternoon (instead of lunch), gets a chew stick about once a day and has a wobble Kong with kibble which he helps himself to when he is bored/hungry (it's his breakfast but he's not hugely enthusiastic about kibble and gets lots of chicken when training). I don't want to use food as a constant distraction, he's got a ton of different toys to chew/play with and I can't/don't want to give him my undivided attention every moment that I'm home. Sometimes I like to just sit and browse the internet. But he seems bored sometimes and I feel guilty. Is it okay to expect him to lay around and sleep for several hours every day? He gets a few short training sessions at home every day and one or two off lead walks a day (depends on day of the week).

He has started lunging at and trying to nip at random people. They are more likely to be male, but not always, nearly always someone walking their dogs (we only take him places where people walk their dogs) who are thankfully understanding and can see he's a puppy. He doesn't look or sound aggressive, more playful and comes away when we call. Yesterday a runner appeared round the corner, when they stopped I felt relieved and thought they were being dog sensible, but they weren't, they wanted to talk to me so they took a step closer to me and started bouncing up and down on the spot, puppy went mad at him :(, he grabbed the mans shorts and didn't want to let go. I've done a search and read previous threads about the same sort of thing and have a plan. I feel like I know what to do but I just can't get it done quick enough. Meanwhile I was wondering about putting a soft muzzle on him when we are out walking off lead. Our encounters with people who get too close are so few and far between and I feel he benefits so much from pottering along sniffing, exploring, meeting other dogs and practicing recall that I don't want to stop that. Maybe if he wore a muzzle people would be more cautious about approaching him/me and it would prevent him causing any damage if such a situation were to occur again. I'm thinking it would be a short term reassurance for me while we continued training. I've never used a muzzle before, are there any disadvantages for using one when out and about off lead? Will it be a problem when greeting/playing with other dogs?

In other news, the loose lead walking is going really well. When I say really well, I mean we can do a few steps with him at my side before he moves ahead of me and even when he does he then either comes back or sits and waits rather than leaning into the collar. I think we're still a long way from walking around the block together on a loose lead but he knows what is expected of him and is getting less frustrated.

 

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Hi Jami74, I always take a look at your threads as my pup is almost exactly one month younger than yours and I see if you are doing anything I could take on board.

My Pup, Duddley, is allowed access out in our garden and usually is quite content to amuse himself, although some of this are things I don't want him doing i.e. chewing the planters, digging holes and eating the flowers etc. Pretty much impossible to watch him every second but try to correct him if he gets caught. He will eventually settle himself either in a shady patch or back in his crate.

This brings me to a point from your thread. I never walk him off lead as I do not have a great recall with him yet. Do you? and what did you do to make this happen. I know that even in the garden where he cannot escape if he chooses not to recall it is very difficult to catch him. I know I can't let him away with ignoring my call so really have to work on strengthening his recall. He walks really well on lead. If he puts tension on the lead I stop and he quickly stops. He now walks along at my pace and only occasionally will put tension on the lead.

Hope I haven't drifted away from your questions too much and best of luck with you pup.

Brian

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Hi Brian,

In the garden we don't have a perfect recall where he'll present himself in front of us in a sit position every single time, unless he knows we have a handful of treats and thinks we're 'training'. However he will come inside if we call him inside, if something has really caught his attention out there it might be a case of calling him excitedly and then disappearing out of sight.

Our off lead stuff only happens in places a long way from roads where I'm not expecting any major distractions and we rely on his desire to stay with us. More than 'Come' (which means come and sit in front of me) we use a cheerful 'This way!' and change direction. If he hesitates, we run away from him and he quickly follows. We played a game in the woods where we hid behind a tree when he wasn't looking, it sounds mean but he learnt to keep an eye on us. I've tried to make it his responsibility to keep me in his sight, rather than my job to keep up with him. If he comes to me for any reason he gets a nice hello and a treat and then I send him away again 'Go play!'. Every so often we stop and sit down and get the treats out, he naturally comes over, if he doesn't come close I toss him a treat and then he has to 'Come' for his next one and I'll 'catch' him, treat him and send him away again. If he runs after something it is tempting to run after him shouting, but calling his name and running in the opposite direction works better. I have a long line that I use to practice in open places (not good to use in the woods due to getting tangled up) this gives us the confidence to release him 'Go play!' and then call him 'This way!'. If he shoots too far past us we call and change direction again. I never call 'Come' to end the walk anymore, I only use it when I think there's a good chance he will come and sit in front of me. About a month ago we got back to the end of our walk and he didn't want to come, and he didn't want to get in the car. We had a few minutes of chasing him round in circles before luring him in with food. So now I don't recall him to end the walk, we just stop for a rest and a treat, I clip the lead on and then there are treats in the car. There are always treats in the car so the lead going on at the end of the walk doesn't signify the end of fun, it signifies treats in the car.

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Hi again, makes a great deal of good advice. I will try some of your methods. I think he will take to it no problem as he seems to take in new concepts fairly quickly, apart from when he is in the crazies haha.

 

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6 hours ago, jami74 said:

Is it okay to expect him to lay around and sleep for several hours every day?

Absolutely. If you're entertaining him all the time you'll create a dog who demands to be entertained all the time. Sounds like things are going really well in this regard.

As for the nipping, it will help if you're anticipating it and prepared for it to happen each and every time he sees someone. Keep the leash short and simply don't allow him to get close enough to the other person to do it. Prevention is the best plan in situations like this, just as it is, say, in house training. When he calms down and is ready to greet more calmly, then you can allow the person to approach him (rather than letting him taking the initiative) and only allow things to proceed as long as he remains calm and appropriate. Quite, calm praise for calm greetings. You don't want to get him worked up -- you've already seen how that backfires.

A muzzle isn't going to teach him anything. Keep him on a leash and prevent the undesirable behavior.

Good work with the loose leash walking. It takes time and it's frustrating that it doesn't go faster, but patience and perseverance are key.

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4 hours ago, brihop said:

...even in the garden where he cannot escape if he chooses not to recall it is very difficult to catch him.

Let him drag a leash or even a long line It makes it much easier to catch him when you need to while still allowing him some freedom.

Only do this when you're outside with him though. The line can get caught in things and you'll need to be able to untangle it if it does.

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I agree wholeheartedly with Gentle Lake. A muzzle is not a good approach, as it will not teach him anything. While I understand your wanting to have some sense of security in situations, it would be better to approach it by focusing on training the dog.

When I am out with a dog who is in training I almost never take my eyes off the dog. Only enough to prevent walking into things and to stay aware of my surroundings.  I watch the dog all the time so I can see the first signs that he is going to do something and take the appropriate action, whether that is corrective action or praise. In your situation as soon as I saw someone coming I would take the dog to the side of the path, or preferably well off the path, and  have him sit. Calm praise and treats as long as he stayed sitting. If he gets up, he gets put back into a sit. If he is not behaving and the person is approaching, I would hold out my hand and ask them not to approach, as I am training my dog. I would say it in the nicest way possible, but be firm.  If the dog is behaving well, then the person can come closer, but if the dog starts to get up I would ask the person not to approach after all.

Never, ever, let him off the leash until he has a good recall established. In the garden, keep a long line on him so you can reinforce the recall. But make sure that coming to you is something he wants to do because highly desirable things happen when he comes: his favorite treats, or play with his favorite toy, etc. Never call the dog and then just take him inside, making all the fun stop. Always make it worthwhile for the dog to come.

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1 hour ago, GentleLake said:

Absolutely. If you're entertaining him all the time you'll create a dog who demands to be entertained all the time. Sounds like things are going really well in this regard.

Thank-you. I needed to read that.

1 hour ago, GentleLake said:

As for the nipping, it will help if you're anticipating it and prepared for it to happen each and every time he sees someone. Keep the leash short and simply don't allow him to get close enough to the other person to do it. Prevention is the best plan in situations like this, just as it is, say, in house training. When he calms down and is ready to greet more calmly, then you can allow the person to approach him (rather than letting him taking the initiative) and only allow things to proceed as long as he remains calm and appropriate. Quite, calm praise for calm greetings. You don't want to get him worked up -- you've already seen how that backfires.

A muzzle isn't going to teach him anything. Keep him on a leash and prevent the undesirable behavior.

Good work with the loose leash walking. It takes time and it's frustrating that it doesn't go faster, but patience and perseverance are key.

Thanks again. In our case in the original post the man had no interest in even looking at or talking to the dog, he just wanted to talk at me. Now that I've thought about it a bit more, I've realised that maybe my dog wasn't completely wrong being aggressive towards a man I don't know getting that close to me to talk in a loud voice while making sudden movements. While he didn't join our family with the intention of being a personal protection dog, if someone did try to attack me I would hope he didn't just sit calmly and watch. But yes I fully intend to train good greetings, I have made a list of people who I intend to rope in to help with calm meetings.

42 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

I agree wholeheartedly with Gentle Lake. A muzzle is not a good approach, as it will not teach him anything. While I understand your wanting to have some sense of security in situations, it would be better to approach it by focusing on training the dog.

I am absolutely working on the training side, my idea of the muzzle was in no way intended to replace training. Training is my priority, I want a dog who is comfortable, happy and confident in making the right choices.

56 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

If he is not behaving and the person is approaching, I would hold out my hand and ask them not to approach, as I am training my dog. I would say it in the nicest way possible, but be firm.  If the dog is behaving well, then the person can come closer, but if the dog starts to get up I would ask the person not to approach after all.

This! This is where I failed!

I should have warned the man off rather than just trying to restrain my dog as he got closer. He got within the range of the lead which was too close for comfort for my dog. I made exactly the same mistake again today. I had my daughter hold him on the lead at the back of the kitchen and feed him treats when our shopping arrived. Usually the delivery driver waits by the door as I unpack the shopping, he's met our puppy before and isn't particularly interested in him but today it was a different driver who saw we had a puppy and pushed past me to greet him. Puppy was very happy and excited to make a new friend, but wasn't going to lay calmly eating treats after that. I need a lesson in assertiveness.

 

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43 minutes ago, jami74 said:

Now that I've thought about it a bit more, I've realised that maybe my dog wasn't completely wrong being aggressive towards a man I don't know getting that close to me to talk in a loud voice while making sudden movements.

I wouldn't go that far, or you run the risk of allowing a dog to become overly defensive, possessive and possibly aggressive.

Did the man do anything to justify any suspicions of his having ill intent towards you or the dog? Honestly, very few people do. You can't let your pup go around being suspicious of everyone who crosses your path.

Your dog doesn't have to love everyone he meets. But that's not the same thing at all as being able to occupy the same space that others do and to be comfortable in his own skin and safe around others.

From other comments you've made, I really think you'd benefit from the assistance of a good positive reinforcement trainer to help you learn how to read and manage your pup before this gets out of hand.

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6 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

From other comments you've made, I really think you'd benefit from the assistance of a good positive reinforcement trainer to help you learn how to read and manage your pup before this gets out of hand.

Excellent. Good idea, thank-you.

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