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Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:26 pm
by holisticmom
Well...the good news about Oakley: he's about 80% housebroken, doing well at school, and growing well.

The bad: he's been going into meltdowns late afternoon. No matter how much I walk him or play with him, he goes nuts. Not just the zoomies, but jumping, barking, and mouthing. I've had to throw him in the powder room to chill out. Tonight he backed out of his collar and mouthed my hands when I tried to put it back on him.

What I'm doing: NILF, obedience classes, feeding him Fromm's Chicken a la Veg, frozen Kongs. We're walking 1.5 -2 hours a day. crate him for some chill time for a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon, while we have meals, and when I leave.

All ideas, thoughts, comments, and suggestions welcome. Thanks.

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:06 pm
by Barb Wright
You have a six month old puppy.....hell is part of the equation for a while :P

Out of understanding sympathy I will mention that sometimes pups get over-tired, just like little kids, and you will see "tantrums". This may be the case here.....send him to the cooler and look forward to better times :P

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:23 pm
by Lisa
Ditto what Barb said - you've got a puppy!! And, yes, they can get over tired and have "tantrums".

There's nothing wrong with giving the pup a little time out to just chill. When I've fostered puppies, I typically go with an active for an hour/rest for an hour schedule. If the dog plays hard, then I figure they need a nap, so off to the crate they go, multiple times per day. If I had time, sometimes I'd replace crate rest with sitting on the couch and just chilling with the dog for a while.

Another thing you can consider for dealing with the mouthiness is to teach him to hold a toy in his mouth. When I did this with Buster (to curb obnoxious, excited barking), I just started by sticking a stuffed toy in his mouth when he started barking. He was usually surprised enough to take it and stop barking. Then, I'd tell him how wonderful he was, tons of praise, make having the toy in his mouth seem like the coolest thing ever! Any time he willingly grabbed a toy on his own, I'd tell him "get your toy" and then make a huge deal out of him having it. You could do something similar when Oakley starts to get mouthy. Stick a toy in his mouth and every time he starts to go for skin or clothes, replace instantly with a toy and tell him how awesome he is for having that toy. Buster, at 6 years old, still grabs the first toy he finds when he's excited, and runs around barking with the toy in his mouth (I'm fine with the muffled barks). If I tell him to get his toy when he's totally wound up, he'll go find a toy and race around with it in his mouth.

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:27 pm
by rtropeano
Ditto what Barb and Lisa said and one more thought - maybe you might reward for "no action" or "calmness". We as owners, myself included, are always rewarding for some "action" be it sit, down, etc. - how about teaching and rewarding, relaxation. Often when we were having down time, I'd reward Daisy with a few tasty morsels for just laying there calmly by my feet. Works wonders for teaching a dog that being still is a good thing too.

If you like reading, there is a book called, "Control Unleashed", by Leslie McDevitt it has details about something called the "relaxation protocol" you might find it helpful.

Crate time is a good thing too - just be careful that it's not punishment - don't want to start having crate aversion issues.

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:26 pm
by enginerd
We went through a similar phase with Ripley (being overexcited and tired were the two things that set her off, either way it was like being trapped in a room with a tiger that was just playing with its food). The basic approach our trainer gave us was pretty simple, every time she put her mouth on us, she got a time out (no attention from us... we said oops! walked away until she calmed down and then we came back).

The challenge for us was coming up with a time out and being able to walk away from her safely (for us and the surrounding objects). After a long series of options (and laughs from our trainer at Ripley's creativity and perserverence), we ended up with a steel tether attached to the fridge we could clip her on and then walk away until she calmed down (it sounds horrible, but she ate through leashes, doors, walls and even drug the loveseat across the livingroom as a 20 pounder :oops: ). Once we found our time out spot and stuck to 100% rule (the 100% part was very important), she picked up on the lesson within a day or two and was nip free within a couple of weeks.

We also worked on commands that taught her impulse control (wait, leave it, stay, place) and to help her calm down when she was playing and eventually how to calm herself down (make her sit, wait, be calm before throwing the toy again, etc.). We pretty much walked around with a training bag of boiled chicken on our hip for the better part of a year. She's almost 2 now, so we're finally seeing the dog that is coming out of all of the hard puppy work and she's turning into a great dog.

Also, getting Chuck was the one thing that taught her bite inhibition (we just taught no biting)... so if all else fails, you could always add a older dog to show the kid the ropes :lol:

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:45 pm
by holisticmom
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Enginerd.... :shock: You had to tether her to the fridge? O...M...G!!!
One other thing exacerbating Oakley's behavior: he can't tolerate oatmeal or peanut butter. I've been stuffing his Kongs with rice the last couple of days, and that's helped. He's still having diarrhea, and I'm wondering if he's not allergic to his regular food.
We also invested in an Easy Walk harness and a shorter (4 ft.) leash on the advice of his obedience teacher. We stopped for a walk on the way back from the store. It worked pretty well, except for his compulsion about sticks. How the beaver got in there, I can't tell you...

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:33 am
by enginerd
holisticmom wrote:You had to tether her to the fridge? O...M...G!!!
Remember, we use steel to tether her to the fridge (let's go for maximum horror here :wink: ). Smart and persistent is a brutal combination when paired with the urge to destroy everything in sight. She can't drag the fridge or chew through the steel and only managed to open a kitchen cabinets once and the tile was resistant to the digging for freedom attempts. But the key is that once we figured out how to give her a safe timeout, then it worked pretty quickly.

Kongs: We take some of her kibble and mix it with yogurt and freeze it in the kongs. Stuffing them with a bland food mix has also worked well (boiled chicken and rice). A friend of ours blends the rice/chicken mixture to make a paste before freezing. So you can come up with some bland kong mixes pretty easily while you try to figure out the dietary issues.

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:27 am
by adele
Ah, the joys of puppyhood! We used to tether Lola to a bureau but we just used a leash. Using a steel cable, that's just cruel :wink:

I think everyone has given you good advice. If you follow it strictly in about two years you should be out of the woods. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:34 pm
by rtropeano
adele wrote: If you follow it strictly in about two years you should be out of the woods. :lol: :lol: :lol:

toooo funny......bwwwaahahaahaaaaaaaaaa! :D :lol: :lol: :D

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:27 pm
by holisticmom
Ok, thanks for the reality check. Next question: what do I do if we're out for a walk and he starts to do the jump and mouth thing? What triggers this: Oakley likes to eat, not just carry, but eat sticks and tries to chew them. When I take them from him, he starts mouthing and jumping on me. Today I tried giving him sticks that he couldn't chew up, but he kept dropping them and doing the jump and mouth thing. AAARRRGH!!

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:02 pm
by Lisa
holisticmom wrote:what do I do if we're out for a walk and he starts to do the jump and mouth thing?
Personally - I'd step on the leash about halfway down...so that he has enough leash to stand or sit or lay down, but not jump...and then turn my upper body away and give him no attention until the dog settles down. Then, a happy "good boy," pick up the leash, and start walking again. Repeat as needed. Being a dork gets him ignored...being a good boy gets attention and moving on with the walk. At first, he'll probably be more of a dork, just trying to get your attention, but once he realizes it's not going to work, he'll probably end up sitting or laying down and just watching you to see what will happen next.

Others may have other suggestions...my approach generally tends to be: redirect, ignore, reward for appropriate behaviors.

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:17 pm
by enginerd
Lisa wrote:Personally - I'd step on the leash about halfway down...so that he has enough leash to stand or sit or lay down, but not jump...and then turn my upper body away and give him no attention until the dog settles down.
Great advice!!! That's one of the most valuable lessons we learned in puppy classes. When Ripley was particulary nippy (she LOVED to go for the tender spot on the back of the knee :evil: ), we'd move our foot closer to the collar to restrict her motion a bit more. If you practice it at home first, it will make it easier to do on the walks (we let her drag a leash around for a while to help us with this, another great tip from puppy classes). It can take a while the first few times for them to settle down, but once they figure out the rules then it doesn't take long for them to snap out of it.

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:18 am
by holisticmom
Well, just found out something else in the contributing factor department....flaxseed!! :(
I've been feeding him Fromm's Chicken a la Veg. It has flaxseed. He had to be on a bland diet over the weekend because of a tummy bug, and was pretty well behaved. He started up again with the tantrums when I started transitioning back to his regular food. FEH!

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:11 pm
by rtropeano
I've used the stepping on the leash trick too - works wonders. Just don't be too quick to move forward once he stops acting up otherwise you'll hae a yo-yo effect - meaning act up, stop start, rewind - it can become a pattern very quickly.......

Rose

Re: Barking and mouthing meltdowns

Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:39 pm
by AuntieMom
Hope the diet change helps Oakley. One more idea on the mouthiness if that continues with him …. Scout was a mouthy puppy and his dog obedience instructor told us to squirt lemon juice if he tried nipping at us. He liked lemon juice so that tip did not work for us but maybe it will help Oakley.

Scout’s puppyhood is forever etched in my memory because he was one busy canine. Now he is almost 9 and his muzzle is starting to turn a little gray. Makes me sad but not too much. :wink: I would just say keep up the NILF training and enjoy Oakley’s puppyhood. If the mouthiness continues to concern you, hire a behaviorist to come to your home to see Oakley in action and give you some tips. We had a behaviorist out a couple of times and I always get trained really well. :P