Adolescent behavior

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Adolescent behavior

Postby Kathy Knappenberger » Thu May 25, 2006 2:50 pm

Hi all,

Chewy is now 11 months old and we can tell the hormones are really kicking in. Since we are showing him we can't neuter him yet, and I would probably wait until 16-18 months old anyway even if we weren't showing him. So I have a question on how to manage some of his adolescent behaviors...

The first thing is that he seems to be going through a spooky/fear period and will bark and back away with his hackles up from some unfamiliar things and people. He did this when he was 16-18 weeks, then it passed, but now seems to be resurfacing. I have been telling him "quiet" and then asking him to come (if it is in the yard) or watch/sit/touch or other behavior if he is on leash and giving him treats and praise for ignoring the scary thing or person and listening to me instead. Is there anything else you would recommend doing?

The second thing is that he has become obsessed with sniffing and licking our 5-6 year old GSP's butt. I understand that the greeting sniffing is normal with dogs, but he will follow her around the house and will not back down when she growls and bares her teeth. She actually has to chase him down to get him to knock it off. I have started calling him away with "leave it" or even squirting him with a squirt bottle of water, but since this is our first adolescent intact male, I've never had to deal with this kind of situation so I don't know the best way to handle it. What advice would you give for getting Chewy to be less obnoxious about this? Normally I let the dogs work out their own issues, but I feel bad that our Shorthair is being pestered (even though she's normally the Alpha!) and I don't want this to escalate to where someone (Chewy) gets hurt.

Thanks!

Kathy

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Postby Barb Wright » Thu May 25, 2006 4:31 pm

Couple things I can think of....he's going through hormonal changes at quite an increased rate right now which could account for some "mood" swings or intensified reactions. Sort of like the difference in a human 12 yo and 16 yo....two different people :shock:

Another....and I'm sure you get tired of me harping on this, BUT, vaccinations and/or meds of any kind cause chemical changes in the brain which in turn cause neurological responses of varying kinds. Sometimes noticeable, sometimes not. Just something to consider.

About all you can do is what you are doing to get him past the "scary" period. Treat it as a conditioning problem and go from there....just my guess.

Am assuming your GSP girl is spayed :?: If so, she still may have "something" going on back there...minor UTI, perhaps a hormonal imbalance causing some unusual odors, an anal gland acting up just a little...dunno. But it IS odor that attracts a male.....have you taken her around any other males (intact) to see how they react to her :?: Or, Chewys' developing "manhood" may be telling him "I gotta keep checking her out, I may score" :P :P :D

All I can think of except with him bothering the GSP, it is a management situation. Even if she were in full heat he still needs to learn his manners :wink: and if you say it is a NO-NO, then them's the rules :D

I might add that males can learn to be around a female in heat and leave her alone.....you just NEVER leave them ALONE TOGETHER unsupervised, then all bets are off and training goes out the window :lol: :P
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Postby Dave » Thu May 25, 2006 9:10 pm

:lol:
I might add that males can learn to be around a female in heat and leave her alone.....you just NEVER leave them ALONE TOGETHER unsupervised, then all bets are off and training goes out the window
:P . I had to answer that :lol: . Anyway I would grab Chewie leash him ,and walk off sternly telling him "Leave it " . Don't let him argue with you either . If he keeps it up walk his furry butt over and in his crate then just ignore him . Each time he persists do it longer in the crate . The behaviorist I attended her teaching seminar told us , break their train of thought immediately . She slips a leash over their head just below their ears and makes them sit till calm and not doing what she is blocking . Each time he even looks make him focus on you by saying "Calm" . Tug slight up to make him look at you . Don't let him win either , make him sit and ignore her and also let him know you aren't happy if he doesn't . He'll give it up rather quickly you just have to be consistant . 8) Dave
Last edited by Dave on Fri May 26, 2006 7:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Barb Wright » Thu May 25, 2006 10:14 pm

Dave wrote::...Don't let him win either , make him sit and ignore her and also let him know you aren't happy if he doesn't . He'll give it up rather quickly you just have to be consistant . 8)


DITTO, DITTO, DITTO 8) :D They just need to be convinced it is "your way or the highway" (which of course translates to crate/tether/no goodies/no freedom/no fun) :lol:
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thanks

Postby Kathy Knappenberger » Fri May 26, 2006 7:22 am

Hi Barb and Dave,

Thanks for the suggestions. Our Shorthair (Chena) has been spayed for 3+ years since we adopted her from rescue, but has had a history of not concentrating her urine and sometimes leaking, though all the tests have come back negative for the various disease possiblities. We'll be taking her in for an annual checkup shortly, so I'll see if any other tests are warranted in case Chewy is picking up on something medical. We have not had Chena around a lot of intact males, but she generally does not tolerate anything past a casual sniff - any friskiness is quickly met with a growl and other dogs back off.

My guess is that it's more the male hormone thing and Chewy is pushing the envelope to see what he can get away with. Since we have been training "leave it" since he was a little pup, he is pretty good about listening to that and if he doesn't a little squirt from the water bottle reminds him to listen to mom, then I will just work on redirecting his attention to something else or taking away privileges until he gets the idea that it's not OK to be rude to Chena.

Other than this issue, I'm actually glad he's not too intimidated by her growling because the two of them will chase and play when in the past most dogs (including our older brittany) just leave when Chena started to get growly.

Thanks again!

Kathy
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Postby Dave » Fri May 26, 2006 8:29 am

Kathy , You have it figured out well . I would check the medical aspect . I had a foster male that wouldn't quit humping my older male Brittany named Pax . I did everything I could think of and finally gave him to another foster home before I lost it :? . Come to find out my old boy was in end stage renal failure and the other dog smelled something was wrong and reacted by humping him . I don't know if was a play for dominace , but his renal failure was causing a weird scent . Anyway teenaged boy dogs , they can be fun :roll: :lol: Dave
Last edited by Dave on Fri May 26, 2006 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Catharina » Fri May 26, 2006 9:44 am

About the "fear thing":

Looks like you are doing everything I've been doing! 8)

The one additional thing I would consider adding is counter-conditioning:

First, figure out as much as you can about the specifics of his triggers (What are the unfamiliar things that set him off? Do they have anything in common? Is it any strangers? Or just men? Or people with funny hats? etc.). What helped me was to keep a "diary" of fear responses -- over time, you see patterns emerge that you might have missed otherwise.

Once you've got that figured out, and once your current "focus on me" program has worked so that he calms down enough for you to do this without pushing his buttons, you can add counter-conditioning to your training program. Basically, you give extra-yummy treats for calm behavior in closer and closer proximity to his triggers. This may be a little different from what you are doing at the moment in that you only approach far enough to known triggers to keep him below stress-threshold (i.e. you don't ever let him "pop off" or even pant or whatever else shows you he's starting to get scared). As you slowly work your way closer and closer to the trigger, you can eventually ask people who are "scary strangers" to him to toss treats in his direction, so that the "goodies" come directly from the previously scary person. Just be careful to communicate clearly to people that they are to toss the goodies, not hand-feed them (at least not at first). People are amazingly dense about this all-important safety-detail. :roll: (As I have had to learn by experience.... :oops: ).

The goal is to have him not just be calm but basically go "yippee!" at the sight of any former trigger: "Oh boy, this is the thing that makes good stuff happen!"

I would keep up this part of the routine for all known triggers far beyond the time point at which he stops showing fear: You want to buy yourself a lot of "insurance" against yet another future reversion here.
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fear

Postby Kathy Knappenberger » Fri May 26, 2006 11:37 am

Catharina,

Thanks for the additional steps for the fear/spooking behavior. I've been watching your thread on Kibo and you have certainly been working through lots with him. Obviously my hope is to prevent this from becoming a real issue by dealing with it early. We have the advantage of having him since puppyhood and knowing his history, so that certainly helps.

What's funny is that Chewy is completely relaxed and generally unflappable in busy, stressful situations like dog shows (where he has to be examined by a stranger - the judge - and weave amongst lots of dogs and people) or busy playgrounds with lots of kids. However, he seems to be more on edge when we are out walking in a quiet area, particularly if there are other stimuli like birds and critters. Then, the sight of people approaching causes him to become alarmed for some reason. This has only happened a couple times and mostly on our last camping trip a couple weeks ago (when we were out for an early morning walk when the campground was still pretty quiet) so I'll have to wait and see if the "triggers" remain the same (which in his case may be more the environmental context than the appearance of the person).

I already know that any strange object in the back yard sets him off (like a stray acme bag that flew into our yard, or the neighbors' bright pink soccer ball that wound up in our yard) so he will bark and dance around it until I tell him quiet and show him it's no big deal and give him a toy or treat to go play with. But that is not a major concern for me, so I'm not too worried about counter-conditioning him to accept grocery store bags in the back yard :)

Kathy
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Postby Barb Wright » Fri May 26, 2006 11:54 am

Kathy...what you just described to Catharina sounds very much to me like a very bright, observant, and cautious puppy. He shouldn't be blase about new and strange things, but rather curious, cautious, careful. Finally approaching new and "scary" things shows he is thinking things through and making decisions about them. Camping out has LOTS of odors for him to learn about and make decisions about, such as, are they "dangerous". He is still going through all sorts of learning situations, and sounds like he is just being brave but cautious...good signs really.

When the event occurs that seems to "alarm" him is a NEW event I would let him take his time to investigate it, assuming it actually isn't something you either don't want him to go near, or he shouldn't go near. This is one way in which he will gain confidence in himself, and will make him more able to cope with each and every new situation that arises. The more exposure he has to new and different things the less "scary" he will act as he gains confidence.

Just a couple more thoughts here.....
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Postby Catharina » Fri May 26, 2006 1:13 pm

Could he just feel more responsible for you when you are "out alone" with him?

People and dogs milling all 'round might make him feel more like you are both in a safe social environment, whereas seeing someone coming with nobody else around may make it feel like he ought to go on "guard dog duty". Just guessing here, but it sure sounds like you or me walking down a busy main street vs. running into a lone stranger in a dark alley, doesn't it?

If you are right and it's indeed the environment, that should be a pretty easy setup for counter-conditioning, if you have some "stranger" friends willing to play along!

I, too, find the "scary grocery bag" events amusing rather than threatening -- Kibo would definitely react the exact same way, and it can be hilarious to watch. I do think this might show that his overall personality might be rather "cautious" as opposed to "laid-back", though. (B.t.w., having strange objects pop up is one of the way in which they select police dog pups: Puppies who explore new things (such as inflatable pop-up figures) without showing much alarm apparently make the best police dogs.)

Chewey sure is one lucky dog to have you watch out for symptoms of fear and treat them before they become an issue for him!
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Postby Kathy Knappenberger » Sun May 28, 2006 5:11 am

Barb and Catharina,

I think you are both right - Chewy is just being a normal puppy, but one with a more cautious outlook on things especially when he is highly stimulated or feeling uncertain about things. While we have camped with him at least 4-5 times before, I think it is the combination of his own maturation and the "new " sights and smells that cause his alarm reaction. So we're just trying to figure out how to help him deal with it best so that he learns that these things are not scary and can become a good citizen. I knew with a puppy that there would be lots of need for socialization (which we did spend time doing early on, though not as early as I would have liked since we could not bring him home till 13 weeks of age) but I suppose I did not realize the effects of adolescence on his perception of the world. So we will just keep getting out and let him explore and if he starts showing signs of fear, get him to refocus and learn that these things are no big deal. Thanks again for all the insight.

Kathy
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