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8mo Pup Pushing Boundaries / Dominance


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Hey everyone, 

Quinn is now 8mo as of this week and he’s honestly a great pup. Mostly well-behaved but, headstrong (as we are all aware) and displaying some dominance tendencies towards other dogs (mostly my Mom’s Yorkiepoo who is feisty herself) and some defiance towards me. 

He had an especially bad day on Monday of this week where he went after Maebelle (yorkiepoo) over a treat, grabbed her and rolled her 3 times before human intervention.

Later, in the evening, he also growled at me when I held his snout after I’d told him to stop some barking behavior towards other dogs when we were walking (first time that’s EVER happened and he got put on his side in submission until I said he could get up). 

Any advice you can give to a first time BC mom? I’m on the struggle bus. Hoping a puppy training class will help us some and mostly me in how to better handle him. 

Thanks in advance, 

Merrill

 

P.S. Quinn does many things right and this bad day was a first. He’s a very loving and mostly (since he doesn’t know his own strength) gentle pup. 

P.S.S. He’s also really bad about getting into food (see chip bag photo). Any good food recommendations for BC pups?

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I think around about 8/9 months old a lot of the things we have taught our puppy, now 9 months old have gone out the window and he is pushing his luck. He seems to change each week and although we have not had any problems with other dogs, a few of his friends of the same age now bark and growl at ours. I have never held his snout when barking, not sure that this would work with ours, as he would definitely go for me.

We did the first round of puppy classes when he was 12 weeks old, which covered some basics, sit, stay, walk on lead, wait for treats, and wait while going through a gate. We have not bothered yet with the next stage, but might try and find him some outdoor activity centre.

Ours also loves a chip bag, we don’t mind him having these, as long as they are empty, not too salty, we always watch him and take it away when he has finished with it.

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Hey Mandy! 

Appreciate your reply. The reactionary barking is definitely the worst. He’s pretty good otherwise and I’m just not quite sure how to stem that behavior. Redirecting maybe? 

As for chip bags, yes, definitely supervised. This was the one time he stole it off a table and I caught him. Wasn’t phased at all. 

He’s a tired pup tonight. Went and put himself to bed. 

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I should add, he knows all of his basic commands and has done well at them. We are starting to get into fetch now. He LOVES it. He also has a few puzzles, a treat ball, and a Kong Wobble. Loves all of them. 

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1 hour ago, Merrill Anne Jordan said:

Hey Mandy! 

Appreciate your reply. The reactionary barking is definitely the worst. He’s pretty good otherwise and I’m just not quite sure how to stem that behavior. Redirecting maybe? 

As for chip bags, yes, definitely supervised. This was the one time he stole it off a table and I caught him. Wasn’t phased at all. 

I've not raised a puppy or a child, but have been around several for long periods of time. One thing the parents of 2 very young humans, 7 yrs and 3 yrs, was keep absolutely everything off any surface the 3 yr old could reach.

Reactionary barking ~ pop him in his crate, cover it, leave the room. When he's been quiet for a minute, or even 30 seconds, approach the crate. If he starts to bark, you leave. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I've had good success w/my adult dogs who had barking addiction.

Good luck,

Ruth & Gibbs

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21 hours ago, Merrill Anne Jordan said:

...he also growled at me when I held his snout... he got put on his side in submission until I said he could get up...

This is a perfect example of how punishment and dominance based training can backfire, especially with a dog like this.

Mandy's right; this is an age where pups are coming into their own and pushing back to find out what they can and can't do. But aggressive corrections like this are just as likely to elicit aggressive responses as they are to actually correct the problem. Alpha rolls and grabbing snouts are unlikely to foster good working communication between dogs and humans. This is definitely not the kind of relationship I want to foster between me and my dog.

My recommendation would be to consult a good positive reinforcement trainer who can teach you some less confrontational methods for teaching Quinn to have better manners. I worry that you're setting up an adversarial relationship with your pup and that's rarely a good thing. Relationships like that can definitely go downhill fast when you've got 2 willful entities opposing each other.

 

 

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GentleLake, 

Appreciate your feedback. I will say that positive reinforcement is something that, especially with Quinn, I’ve had to work on. I will also say, we have a good relationship and he is a happy pup. I do think that my inexperience with the barking has led to some poor responses, e.g. snout grabbing.  

I’m looking forward to the puppy class which will begin in March. But in the meantime we are actually spending some additional 1-on-1 time together lately (fetch, Training, etc.) which has improved his responses to me because he’s getting a LOT of praise. I’ve also realized that he is incredibly sensitive and when he gets a forceful response it’s not always appropriate or good. Trust is the foundation I want to continue to build on and it’s been a learning experience for us both I think. 

He’s so intelligent and I’m grateful to have such a sweet boy.

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Is it a puppy class or a beginners' obedience? I only ask because 8 months seems to be pretty old for what I consider a puppy class.

Whatever it is, I hope it'll be helpful for you to have someone else seeing your interactions and offering recommendations for ways to deal with some of the issues without resorting to aversive tactics. I do understand those moments of frustration when something more forceful seems like the best option in the moment. I just had one of them the other day with my 7 year old when, after years of training she lost control of her impulses and dashed in to steal the last bit of the old dog's food. I was angry and frustrated and I also lost my temper for a moment when I grabbed to pull her off before regaining my own self control. If I'd been paying more attention (silly me thinking at 7+ years old I could take my eyes off her for a second :rolleyes:) I'd have been able to redirect her or give her a leave it cue or even ask her to sit before she acted, but I had a lapse. It happens. But I really do think it's in our and our dogs' best interest to work positively with them. Tansy didn't learn anything useful from that exchange other than that if she's quick enough she might be able to steal the last bite and then I'll yell at her. But it was still self rewarding for her to be able to steal that last bite and that's where I dropped the ball. Being able to reward her for a better behavior would've been more likely to make an impression that would result in better impulse control.

Being aware of Quinn's sensitivity and that the aversive response doesn't work in either or your favors is a good thing. Keep being mindful of that and the redirection and cuing for behaviors that are incompatible with the offending behavior will begin to come to you more readily -- at least most of the time. ;)

 

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^^I can't believe the pictures came through but none of the text did.

On 2/26/2019 at 11:33 PM, Merrill Anne Jordan said:

...(see chip bag photo)...

On 2/27/2019 at 9:03 AM, Mandy1961 said:

...Ours also loves a chip bag...

Please be very, very careful about chip bags. I've read about a number of dogs and cats getting suffocated in them. A friend very nearly lost her own cat this way.

Since reading this I cut the bottom off of every bag that does into my trash, and then slice up the side. Plastic rings from jar caps and the six pack rings also get cut up before going into the garbage. There are tons of gruesome pictures on the internet, many worse than the ones above.

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So, take what you can from this.


I've been seeing a lot of posts everywhere about teenage puppies 'testing boundaries' and my initial thought was:   It's a common problem; I wonder why my dogs never do it?


Then I sat down and I realized that really, what other people see as a lack of respect, dominance issues, or testing/pushing boundaries in rebellion, I see as the dog learning to think, experimenting, and being more active in communicating.  For me, that's a BONUS and a sign of them growing a brain.  They're developing a will and a personality and being able to think about things and communicate in return. I LIKE that.  Figuring out how to learn about the dog, listen to what they have to say and work with it is useful to me.  It's a sign of intelligence nad maturity and growth, rather than some sort of challenge to me/my authority/rules.

 

I'm not saying the behavior is always great - it isn't - or you should accept things you don't want.  I'm not sa ying that. 


I AM saying that listening to your dog, figuring out what's there and not necessarily seeing the behavior as confrontational or advesarial will help you a lot, if you can manage it.  Including the growling and discomfort and 'bad' stuff.

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48 minutes ago, CptJack said:

I AM saying that listening to your dog, figuring out what's there and not necessarily seeing the behavior as confrontational or advesarial will help you a lot, if you can manage it.  Including the growling and discomfort and 'bad' stuff. 
 

Bravo!

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  12 hours ago, CptJack said:

I AM saying that listening to your dog, figuring out what's there and not necessarily seeing the behavior as confrontational or advesarial will help you a lot, if you can manage it.  Including the growling and discomfort and 'bad' stuff. 

11 hours ago, Hooper2 said:

Bravo!

Agreed; Bravo!  Our internal dialogue has a huge impact on how we approach life in general (which is why CBT is so often used by psychologists) and dog ownership in particular.  Reframing that dialogue definitely helps!

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Thanks guys.  I have the odd moment.  And. I am becoming increasing convinced that a lot of this 'dog adolescence is awful and terrible is the product of:

1-) People forgetting that they're STILL PUPPIES and having unreasonable expectations.  A 4 month old puppy growls at someone, blows a recall, freaks out about something and growls or does something weird like pees in the floor or chews the couch for the first time in a while 'it's a puppy,.  they're  still learning/don't have impulse control yet'.  A 6-9 month old (or hell, 12 month old) does it, the world is ending.  Because they look adult and they're bigger and more physically coordinated and stronger, I guess. We decide they should know it 'by now'.  Well, clearly they don't and my dogs have never cared much about my timeline - I have yet to find a way to lecture a dog about acting their age :P.  I view my dogs as puppies or call them baby dogs until they're like THREE.  it makes me enormously more tolerant. 

2-) People anticipating it so hard they look for it.  "Teenage dogs are terrible, teenage dogs are terrible, teenage dogs are terrible" is EVERYWHERE.   So people start tensing up as their puppy approaches that age and stuff they did yesterday wasn't a big deal but now it's a sign of a dominance struggle/rebellion or something. MINOR stuff. DOG stuff.  Because they're looking for the conflict with the dog everyone said would show up. 

 

...and all that babble aside:

Seriously the term 'baby dog' has saved me.  I have a 20 month old. He's a baby dog. I say it frequently.  It's his position in the house.  He is The Baby Dog when talking about him and often to him.  Keeps front and center in my mind that he LOOKS like an adult and he might be almost physically mature, but he lacks experience and maturity mentally and emotionally.  He is a *BABY DOG* and i need to not be expecting him to act like a 5 year old.  I still work stuff, and deal with stuff, but I do it from the perspective of him still being basically a big puppy with some stamina and more intelligence.  It really DOES help.

 

 

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CptJack, these are great posts.  I have daydreamed about a long post titled, "Thoughts on Puppyhood", but you already made most of my points.  The only one I would add is the modern tendency to be a hyper-vigilant, over-protective, helicopter puppy parent is really not helpful.  This is shared with modern human child rearing practices.

While I generally hate those "x dog years = y human years" equations, sometimes it is helpful to think of each month in a puppy's life being developmentally similar to each year in a human child's life.  Modern research shows that human brains are not mature until the mid-twenties. Dogs under 24 months still have puppy brains even if they are able to have puppies themselves.  Of course different dogs and different breeds mature at different rates, but the herding breeds tend to be late bloomers.  My Australian shepherd Brenden did not have a fully adult brain until he was 30 months old.  I don't expect border collie Levi (now 14 months) to be any different.

Relax!  Be gentle, be positive, be consistent.  Watching a puppy develop his/her individual intelligence and personality is one of the great joys of having a dog.

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Oh, Lord, the Helicopter Parent thing.  I don't know if we're using it the same way but.  Yeah.  Kids and dogs, but since dog forum - dogs.


Everything's structured.  Everything's planned.      I swear people are forgetting how to just play with and be with their dogs.  It's not real useful for the dog's gaining life experience or bonding.

 100 things to do with a box is awesome but ... so is sitting on the floor and shredding the box with your dog.  Sometimes play needs to just be play.  They're still learning but it's NOT all about YOUR agenda for the play session.

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GREAT posts, thanks all. I'd like to add an important criteria for behavior in a dog. Is the dog doing something I'd allow an adult human to do? Say the dog wants to lay on the couch next to me. Q ~ would I allow a human friend to sit next to me on my couch? A ~ Yes. Therefore, I allow a canine friend to sit on my couch.

Q ~ Would I allow a human friend to yell at me unceasingly " Hurry up! I wanna go NOWWWWW!" A ~ NO. Therefore I discourage such activity from my dog or any dogs.

There are exceptions, of course. And every humans take on what's acceptable for dogs is going to be slightly different. As a basic yardstick, it works great for me. 

Ruth & Gibbs

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18 hours ago, CptJack said:

So, take what you can from this.


I've been seeing a lot of posts everywhere about teenage puppies 'testing boundaries' and my initial thought was:   It's a common problem; I wonder why my dogs never do it?


Then I sat down and I realized that really, what other people see as a lack of respect, dominance issues, or testing/pushing boundaries in rebellion, I see as the dog learning to think, experimenting, and being more active in communicating.  For me, that's a BONUS and a sign of them growing a brain.  They're developing a will and a personality and being able to think about things and communicate in return. I LIKE that.  Figuring out how to learn about the dog, listen to what they have to say and work with it is useful to me.  It's a sign of intelligence nad maturity and growth, rather than some sort of challenge to me/my authority/rules.

 

I'm not saying the behavior is always great - it isn't - or you should accept things you don't want.  I'm not sa ying that. 


I AM saying that listening to your dog, figuring out what's there and not necessarily seeing the behavior as confrontational or advesarial will help you a lot, if you can manage it.  Including the growling and discomfort and 'bad' stuff.

Hear, Hear!  And the same for your following posts. I am a firm believer that the attitude with which you approach your dog is very important. I always cringe when someone calls their young dog stubborn or defiant. I don't think puppies are those things, and the owner thinking that may turn into the kind of relationship with the dog that is not beneficial to either human or dog. You put it well.

I also think it is important not to be upset if a dog doesn't learn something in the time you think it should. If the training needs more work, it needs more work. I have not always learned something as fast as I thought I should, either. B)

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I'm a cross over trainer (of my own dogs, not a professional). I spent 8 years training at a very tradicional, kind of military place. I learned a lot there, as I learned a lot on the many seminars and workshops I took and the 40+ books about dog behaviour and training I bought, and of course, forums like this one. I learned enough to realize that, although I never hurted or abused my dogs, there where better ways to train. I changed trainers as I realized fully that having/training a dog isn't all about what I need from him, it's equally about what he needs from me. It's a partnership, not a leader/follower thing. The dog needs to learn how to navigate this human world and meet my expectations, and I need to learn him, to understand what he's telling me in every circumstance, to protect and encourage him and to give him a happy fulfilled life. A happy fulfilled dog's life.

My current trainer told me once: you know, Tess is a happy dog who loves to work, but you will really see the diference in your next dog, that's trained positively from the start. And now that I have Josh I do see it, she likes to work with me but he absolutely loooves it, not having known from me nothing but laughter and happiness (and yes, he's silly bordering on an asshole sometimes and he is corrected, but not in a negative way, if that makes sense. As in, he quicly learned he had to sit before being unleashed, and wait for the release cue to go run and explore. After a few weeks of course he decided he didn't want to sit. So I unleashed Tess, told her to go play and waited. And waited. And waited some more. After at least 4 miinutes he sat. Huge praise, I unleashed him and told him to go play. Problem solved..

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Hey everyone! 

I’ve been loving all the replies and thank you. I’ve actually been calling Quinn “baby doggie” all week since I read it. Good tip, among all the rest of them. Q is now 45lbs as of our vet visit today. 

Gentle Lake, regarding your question about the training course. It’s actually Dog Obedience 1. After this it’ll open doors for us to do other courses like Agility for Fun which I know he will enjoy immensely. 

Related to potato chip bags. I am VERY wary of making sure he’s not left with them in general. This was the one time when he took it off the table. I thought it was cute that he was completely unremorseful but then I read an article about a dog suffocating in one. Not so cute. 

We’ve been working on settling one this week and time-outs have been helping a little bit with some of the challenging behaviors. And he’s been happier because we are spending more time together lately playing fetch and training since he’s been under the weather a bit (he got exposed to Kennel cough so better safe than sorry).

I appreciate all the thoughts and advice. All good stuff! 

 

 

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