Advice - independent puppy at 5m

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Advice - independent puppy at 5m

Postby Daniella » Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:22 pm

Hello - thank you all so much for the wealth of information on this forum. I am seeking your opinions about the next steps with our boy Dallas on a few things where we are confused about how best to keep him on track as we hit the 5 month mark.

Here is a little context:
  • After getting past piranha phase, Dallas is still prone to nipping whenever his excitement levels reach a tipping point - usually when something novel appears (including when we walk in the door or let him out of the crate), as well as during zoomie time.
  • He thoroughly enjoys being chased - he trained us to chase him by lifting towels, clothing, toilet paper, "his" spray bottle, magazines, etc and running a loop that includes a jump on top of the sofa (off limits). In the few times when we did not notice the theft from another room, he'll call his handiwork to our attention with [an otherwise rare] "ruff!" from atop the cushions. This is getting better as we've started to ignore him until he can be approached calmly and put in the crate. I'm still concerned because he has never responded to "no" or "leave it".
  • He is doing a goodly amount of jumping up on his hind legs, both on furniture and people. Per above, this is often accompanied by nipping if the target is a person that's just come onto the scene.
  • He is very stimulated by other dogs. When we are walking he lunges toward them to sniff and play-bow, when we have puppy kindergarten he will sniff around the crowd until he finds the other puppy that will let him escalate nipping and wrestling to the point where we have to intervene. It is sad because it is clear it is the highlight of his week, but I'm not sure kindergarten is better for him than an older dog that will correct him. I'm afraid we may have taught him bad habits.
  • He is a genius with learning commands, and shows an amazing level of attentiveness and self-control over food drive in training sessions when there are not distractions. But if another dog is around, you can put a treat up his nostril and he'll continue to lunge, and seek play. He doesn't have as much prey-drive or food-drive...it is all play-drive right now.
  • While he’s not into humping people’s legs, his bed is quite a target. He’s to be neutered next month. I don’t know if that will help or not.
  • Finally, he can turn into a bit of a drama-queen with the whining in the crate.

After reading the other threads, it seems like we should avoid anything that gets him overstimulated. However, this seems to be at odds with exercise, socializing, and play with us and other dogs. How do we allow him to do these things without losing control?

Is the dog park a good idea or a bad idea? To me the park seems like all the dangers of puppy-kindergarten, but on steroids and in a stadium - but he would be able to run off leash play with adults, and if there's not many dogs around he could practice playing fetch outside of our tiny yard. He’s very good at fetch inside the house – but this also winds him up… bad idea?

After the first 5 minutes of meeting Dallas in a group class the trainer recommended a prong collar, which indeed turns him into a perfect gentleman. However, given his behavior I am uncomfortable with the prong collar around other dogs - when we're walking around our [very dog friendly] neighborhood, we have one leash on the prong and one on the harness because I'm afraid that he'll hurt himself if he loses control with the other dogs around (so we end up correcting with the prong, but restraining with the harness). Thoughts? Should we avoid walking where we know there will be dogs…Are we sending him mixed messages?

The other item the trainer recommended was to keep him in his crate more when we are home, and move his crate to a place that is far from activity. We've been tethering him to the area around his bed within eyesight instead, which causes less whining but still keeps him from hunting for trouble. Is the crate better?

Any suggestions you guys have would be fantastic.
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Re: Advice - independent puppy at 5m

Postby Lisa » Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:42 pm

Welcome to the board!!! Long reply, because I wanted to try to address all your points!

Daniella wrote:After getting past piranha phase, Dallas is still prone to nipping whenever his excitement levels reach a tipping point - usually when something novel appears (including when we walk in the door or let him out of the crate), as well as during zoomie time.

This is just a training thing. Try to make the events a little less exciting - ask for a sit or down before being released from his crate, make him wait for a release cue once the door is open, etc. Also, you can teach him to grab a toy when excited, instead of nipping. I teach this by just having a toy ready when I come in or let dogs out of crates, and basically stick the toy in the dog's mouth and tell them "get your toy."

Daniella wrote:He thoroughly enjoys being chased - he trained us to chase him by lifting towels, clothing, toilet paper, "his" spray bottle, magazines, etc and running a loop that includes a jump on top of the sofa (off limits). In the few times when we did not notice the theft from another room, he'll call his handiwork to our attention with [an otherwise rare] "ruff!" from atop the cushions. This is getting better as we've started to ignore him until he can be approached calmly and put in the crate. I'm still concerned because he has never responded to "no" or "leave it".

Dogs don't instantly know what a "no" or "leave it" means...you have to teach and then proof, proof, proof the commands. So, for him, leave it does not apply to stuff he's already got in his mouth. You might try teaching a drop it. With my boy, who is 10 years old and still does this on occasion, I ask him to bring me whatever he has. Buster will stand in the hallway, wiggling his little butt, with some item in his mouth. I get down to his level, and say "what do you have, buddy? Let me see! Bring it here, bud." Once he's wiggled his way over to me, I gently take the item, and thank him for it, then I pet him a little and he's happy. I make him interact with me, instead of him getting me to play his game. All he wants is attention, so you just have to find a better way to give the attention than chase. Acting interested in what the dog has, and making it seem like a fun game to bring it to you works well.

Daniella wrote:He is doing a goodly amount of jumping up on his hind legs, both on furniture and people. Per above, this is often accompanied by nipping if the target is a person that's just come onto the scene.

Yup - Brittany puppy. Just another training issue. He doesn't get pets or attention unless he's got 4 on the floor.

Daniella wrote:He is very stimulated by other dogs. When we are walking he lunges toward them to sniff and play-bow, when we have puppy kindergarten he will sniff around the crowd until he finds the other puppy that will let him escalate nipping and wrestling to the point where we have to intervene. It is sad because it is clear it is the highlight of his week, but I'm not sure kindergarten is better for him than an older dog that will correct him. I'm afraid we may have taught him bad habits.

Again, yup, Brittany puppy. Personally, I'd let them play it out unless the other dog is obviously uncomfortable or overwhelmed. Pups will correct each other if it gets to be too much.

Daniella wrote:He is a genius with learning commands, and shows an amazing level of attentiveness and self-control over food drive in training sessions when there are not distractions. But if another dog is around, you can put a treat up his nostril and he'll continue to lunge, and seek play. He doesn't have as much prey-drive or food-drive...it is all play-drive right now.

You know what I'm gonna say, right? Yup, that's a Brittany pup! Try channeling that play drive in to playing with you. Poke him (lightly) in the ribs, or find some other way to play with him that kinda mimics the way dogs play.

Daniella wrote:While he’s not into humping people’s legs, his bed is quite a target. He’s to be neutered next month. I don’t know if that will help or not.

Neutering might help, but dogs also hump when they are emotionally aroused in other ways - stress, excitement, etc. If it doesn't bother you, I wouldn't worry about it. If it bothers you, just redirect him to some other activity. If either of my dogs get so worked up that they are humping something, I take them by the collar (or scruff if they aren't wearing a collar) and pull them off, then just stand in place with them and put a hand on their back or shoulder until they calm down, then release them. Usually, when I pull them off, I say "stop" so that they will learn that stop means to quit humping whatever they are humping.

Daniella wrote:Finally, he can turn into a bit of a drama-queen with the whining in the crate.

Yup - Brittany puppy. Ignore it unless you think he needs to go potty. Also, work on making the crate a place he really wants to be. Check out Crate Games by Susan Garrett (can probably find tons of videos on You Tube).

Daniella wrote:After reading the other threads, it seems like we should avoid anything that gets him overstimulated. However, this seems to be at odds with exercise, socializing, and play with us and other dogs. How do we allow him to do these things without losing control?

Right now, he's still a baby, so I'd work more on just some focus work and letting him be a puppy. There's stimulated and there's overstimulated, and you will have to experiment a bit to figure out where that line is. When a pup is overstimulated, that's usually a good time for a nap in their crate. Stimulated - they can still think and respond to basic commands (that they solidly know)

Daniella wrote:Is the dog park a good idea or a bad idea? To me the park seems like all the dangers of puppy-kindergarten, but on steroids and in a stadium - but he would be able to run off leash play with adults, and if there's not many dogs around he could practice playing fetch outside of our tiny yard. He’s very good at fetch inside the house – but this also winds him up… bad idea?

Depends on the park and the types of dogs there. Sometimes, a hyper pup is a trouble magnet at a park. If he's got a decent recall, and the park isn't busy, I say go for it. But, be very aware of the dogs that are there and how they're interacting with your pup. If the park has a small dog section, that might be a better option for now. I generally avoid parks with pups, just because I don't know how other dogs will react, and some dogs really don't like puppies.

Daniella wrote:After the first 5 minutes of meeting Dallas in a group class the trainer recommended a prong collar, which indeed turns him into a perfect gentleman. However, given his behavior I am uncomfortable with the prong collar around other dogs - when we're walking around our [very dog friendly] neighborhood, we have one leash on the prong and one on the harness because I'm afraid that he'll hurt himself if he loses control with the other dogs around (so we end up correcting with the prong, but restraining with the harness). Thoughts? Should we avoid walking where we know there will be dogs…Are we sending him mixed messages?

At 5 months old?! No, I would not be using a prong on a pup that young. If I decide to introduce a prong to a dog, I wait until they are at least a year old, and have some clue of what I want. I'd only use the harness, work on teaching him to walk on a loose leash using positive reinforcement, work on teaching him to look at you on command, and work on teaching him a release to go visit other dogs. With my guys, I've taught them that they can't go visit other dogs unless I tell them "ok, go play."

Daniella wrote:The other item the trainer recommended was to keep him in his crate more when we are home, and move his crate to a place that is far from activity. We've been tethering him to the area around his bed within eyesight instead, which causes less whining but still keeps him from hunting for trouble. Is the crate better?

I'm not a fan of crating the dog away from activity. It's a training approach from a book called Ruff Love, and it works for some dogs, but Britts really are people dogs and want to be with their people. I'd rather teach the dog to love their crate (Crate Games), instead of using it for isolation. I do crate pups when I can't have eyes on them, but they're still usually in the center of activity. When I brought Charm home (my youngest), I would bring her crate in to my office when I needed to focus on work instead of watching her. She could lay in her crate, chewing on a bone, and see me, and she was quite happy with that. Tethering is fine, if that works for you, but I've always found it easier to just crate a pup when I need a break from watching them. With most pups, I tend to cycle them in the crate for a few hours, out of the crate for a few hours, throughout the day.

It sounds like you've got a pretty normal Brittany puppy. He just needs to keep working on learning your rules. :D
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Re: Advice - independent puppy at 5m

Postby Daniella » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:58 pm

Thank you! Today was such a good day that I'm almost sure we are going to be the most happy puppy parents ever!
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Re: Advice - independent puppy at 5m

Postby adele » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:54 am

Lisa covered it all so well. You just have to keep up the training and he'll eventually get it. Like you just noted, some days will be better than others, some worse. But just keep with the training and you'll have a great dog. There are lots of posts about demonic little puppies you can look up. Good luck with the training.
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