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This isn't working out, and I need help

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I grew up with dogs, but they were my mom's dogs.  I've never had a dog of my own, and frankly, never wanted one.  But, my older son (who is almost 10) adores animals, and has been begging for a dog since he could talk.  We moved to the 'burbs a few years ago, and have a big yard.  Everyone has a dog.  Ds would even go do dog project meetings at 4H and be the only kid without a dog.  Dh has been an IT manager a non profit Guide Dogs organization for 10 years.  Anyhow, we finally relented and adopted a puppy from a shelter about 2 months ago.  She is now about 5 months old, and I've been hoping that she would grow on me.

 

She is sooooo strong willed, I don't know if I can take it anymore.  She only listens when we have a treat - she knows, she just always knows  She's very smart - she knows the commands but chooses when to listen.  She won't stop grabbing things and running tear ass through the house trying to get us to chase her.  She was very puppy bitey in the beginning, but that got a lot better, but now she is gets bitey as a means of control.  She does it with my 6yo, and me when I'm trying to towel the mud off of her and she wants to be let go, for instance. 

 

We did a puppy training class.  I've read the books, watched the shows, read the websites.  I've tried turning her on her back when she mouths my hand, but I can't even get her on her back any more, only her side, she's so squiggly.

 

She jumps up constantly, even though we never give her attention for it, and either knee her off or turn our back.  She gets so overly excited when a visitor comes that she will pee a little bit.  I've never taken her off the leash anywhere except our backyard because she runs so fast and I can't guarantee she will come when called.  She loved playing with other dogs, but again, gets so overexcited that it's hard to control her.

 

She is crate trained, but I don't feel right leaving her in there for more than 2.5-3 hours at a time, although she does sleep in there.  House training is pretty good, with very few accidents.  At this point I'm constantly putting her on the tie down.

 

I am at home with her during the day, and am not enjoying her.  I find myself angry all the time.  I don't know what to do.  The kids love her, and at this point rehoming her would be very traumatic.

 

I don't know what is just puppy behavior and what is problematic behavior.  I don't have the money to be hiring a bunch of personal trainers (which run $50-$80/hr in our area).

 

Is this all just a puppy phase that will get better?  Or are these serious personality/behavior problems?  (She is a german shepherd mix - she has the facial markings of a germal shepherd, but her whole body is golden and she is short haired, so we don't know what else she is mixed with.)

post #2 of 30

I dont know what breeds she is, but this could be a teen phase, and they are rough.  She should be in classes still IMO.  Puppy classes are great but its a continuing thing.  

 

How much exercise is she getting?  How much fun training are you doing a day?  Clicker training is a lot of fun and your 10 year old should be able to help out.  Dogs need a lot of physical AND mental activity.  Funnel all that energy into what you DO want instead of fighting about what your DONT want.

post #3 of 30

I definately think that her behaviors could be greatly helped by an increase in exercise. Many of those puppy behaviors could be calmed WAY down if she had an appropriate way to get out some of that energy. Maybe your 10yr old could play an active game of fetch with her several times a day? Is there a way she could get a half hour or one hour walk each day?

 

Perhaps some mental stimulation like puzzle toys (like the kong wobbler type things) for mealtimes? I agree with the pp that puppy classes are a good thing at this age. Our dog went through beginner and intermediate, and as soon as my baby is a bit older (7 weeks tomorrow!) I plan to get back with advanced followed by agility classes.

 

These are just some of the things that have helped with my dog. Good luck!

post #4 of 30

I am going to agree with everyone else! When my dogs were pups we took them to the dog park to let off some steam which accomplishes playing and socialization. Long walks + dog park + some toys that make her "think" may be good, she's in that weird puppy stage and well, puppies can be adorably annoying. 

 

 

My Shepherd also pees (it's submissive) and what I do is when he's really excited but also submitting I just ignore him or walk away, don't make eye contact and don't touch his head. That helps! Especially when we walk in the house...

post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 

Darn, I lost my post! 

 

Thanks everyone for your comments.  We will continue training, and I do think that agility would be perfect for her, but these classes cost $150 a pop around here, so we've had to space them out.  The next training class starts on 4/20, so I'm going to do that with her.  Right now she gets on average 2 15 minute walks a day, plus several full run ball throwing sessions in the backyard.  It's been really rainy the past 2 weeks, so we haven't gotten out as much as we'd like.  I also realized that she hasn't had the opportunity to play with any other dogs in awhile.  She used to have regular play sessions during puppy class, but that ended, then it's been raining, and I haven't even taken her to a dog park yet.  Dog parks kind of freak me out, but I'm not sure how else to give her time to play with other dogs.  I'm just so nervous about having her off leash and playing and having something happen and be unable to control her.

 

I mainly need some guidance/reassurance about normal puppy behavior vs. problematic behavior.  I have such a fear of dog aggression that I freak when she does the thing like mouthing my hand to get me to stop wiping her down.  All the books/trainers say to just walk away and stop playing if she mouths you, but that doesn't work when she's mouthing me to try to get me to stop doing something.  I'm just not sure what to be doing, and we have gotten into some bad spiraling aggression moments that really leave me flustered.  And she is very strong willed:  She'll just stare at me with the forbidden object in her mouth as I'm saying "Drop it!"  She knows full well she's supposed to drop it, but she's just not gonna unless I make her.  We have a lot of moments like that throughout the day.

 

Here's a pic of her from last month (she's probably at least 5lbs heavier by now):

 

IMG_3191.JPG

 

post #6 of 30

She's really cute! 

 

It really does just seem like normal (if anything maybe a little dominant) puppy behavior. When you say you are afraid you can't control her at dog parks what do you mean -- is she just excited and jumping and playing with other dogs or is she aggressive? 

post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 

Well, we've never been to a dog park before, but she does get super excited when playing with other dogs.  She plays well, though, and I've never seen her get aggressive, but I'm worried about if it happens and I can't rely on her to listen to my commands.

post #8 of 30

It's hard to tell from the pic, but perhaps Shepherd/Lab?  I have a shepherd lab mix, who was almost exactly as you describe.  And looks very similar (though again, hard to tell from the pic.

 

Anyway, if she's just mouthing and not actually biting, I wouldn't be too concerned about aggression.  Still be on the look out but remember, dogs don't have hands, so all they have to put on you to try to get you to stop doing something they don't want you to do, is their mouth.  Think about a toddler...if they want you to stop, they put their hands out, sometimes try to hit.  The dog is just doing the equivilant.  Now, if you are talking about real biting (which doesn't necessarily mean breaking the skin) and has growling and such, that could be an aggression issue.

 

If you have a shepherd lab mix, if it's anything like mine, I am sorry to say the energy lasts....like forever.  Mine is now 7 and is only just now calming down.  Getting her to listen to all our commands is still hard.  We have been to training classes, I have watched the shows and we have worked and worked and worked.  Most of the time, I can get her to reliably obey: sit, heel, out (the command to leave a particular space) down (when she jumps-I can't always get her to not jump, but I can almost always get her off with the command if she does.)  and downstairs.  Stay is a sometimes thing, Come NEVER happens.

 

I will say, both our dogs are 70lbs...we don't keep them inside and we don't crate train.  I dispise crates, I think they are too cruel to big dogs.  We have a big backyard, fenced it, so both dogs are indoor/outdoor dogs.  They are not in any way outside 100% of the time...they sleep inside, eat inside, and anytime the weather is bad, they are in.  But, during the day with nice weather, they are out.  And, they seem to be happy that way.  Often, if I am trying to bring them in at night and it's still nice out, it's a struggle to bring them in even.  They have lots of space to run and play out there, and the fence keeps them totally safe. 

 

Stopping the mouthing specifically...a few things I have heard to try: Holding her tounge down in her mouth and saying no very firmly.  Or, holding her mouth closed firmly with both hands, repeating "no."  Also, requiring the dog to sit (by holding onto the training collar-not a choke chain) and stay until he calms down...takes more work and patience.  Honestly, I can't remember what worked for Lilo, I think we ended up just having to wait until she grew out of it.

 

For us, the biggest thing as been establishing that I am alpha dog.  I do this by basically just being intimidating.  Standing high over the dog, projecting a low tone firm voice, continually moving into the dog's space, forcing the dog to back away.  I avoid getting to the dog's level if I can, that just seems to invite the dog to climb all over me.  Because we have 2 dogs, I do witness some dominance behavior, Lilo is dominant over the other one...but she NEVER exhibits that behavior on me or anyone else in the family.  That, imo, is the biggest key to stopping unwanted behavior, just being sure the dog knows that you are the one in charge. 

 

 

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sesa70 View Post

I definately think that her behaviors could be greatly helped by an increase in exercise. Many of those puppy behaviors could be calmed WAY down if she had an appropriate way to get out some of that energy. Maybe your 10yr old could play an active game of fetch with her several times a day? Is there a way she could get a half hour or one hour walk each day?

 

Perhaps some mental stimulation like puzzle toys (like the kong wobbler type things) for mealtimes? I agree with the pp that puppy classes are a good thing at this age. Our dog went through beginner and intermediate, and as soon as my baby is a bit older (7 weeks tomorrow!) I plan to get back with advanced followed by agility classes.

 

These are just some of the things that have helped with my dog. Good luck!


Completely agree with this!

 

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post

Well, we've never been to a dog park before, but she does get super excited when playing with other dogs.  She plays well, though, and I've never seen her get aggressive, but I'm worried about if it happens and I can't rely on her to listen to my commands.

ETA: 2, 15 minute walks a day are NOT long enough at all....At least half and hour twice a day or a full hour is needed for any dog really, especially high energy puppies.
 

First, she is adorable!

Second, dog park dynamics are very tricky things. She is going to immediately pick up on your anxiety about being there and that will affect her behavior...Maybe your spouse can bring her without you a few times so you can learn that it will be ok?

 

Second, she is small still and most adult dogs won't have an issue being dominated by a puppy...Even small adult dogs are tough generally and dogs at dog parks especially can generally handle rough and tumble play...

She may  be a very very dominant little girl but I guarantee you that if an adult dog there isn't interested in her BS they are going to let her know very quickly...Keep in mind that dog play always looks worse than it really is..If you watch very closely you can pick up on the rapid play initiation cues and note that although there may be a ton of noise coming from the dogs and it looks like they may be biting a lot, most of the time it is simply mouthing and just noise, no aggression just noise...

 

I think it is REALLY REALLY important you get that puppy to a dog park, other dogs will show her better than you how to be submissive and how to behave in a group setting. She NEEDS that socializing to teach her how to be a dog. You don't want to see what a dog is like when they haven't had regular contact with other dogs...I suspect my dog (before we got her) did not have much contact with other dogs, amongst her other issues (most likely abuse of some kind) and it has taken us a long time to get her to behave better around other dogs although we still have days where I want to pull my hair out...

 

Goodluck mama, remember, puppy will pick up on your discomfort or fear so keep that in mind. Also don't be afraid she will be trouble at the dog park! Like I said, most puppies I have seem at the dog park get swarmed right away by happy dogs and they go totally submissive because in a puppy's mind (even a dominant puppy) it is a good and safe idea to be submissive to a bigger stronger adult dog!

post #11 of 30

She's still a baby!  Really, she's 5 months old - everything you described is totally normal.  She'll (hopefully) calm down eventually.

 

You've gotten some great advice.  More training, tons more exercise and get that dog to a dog park!  The other dogs will tell her how to behave.  Do it now so she can get socialized because you don't want to end up with a full grown, high energy unsocialized dog.  That will drive you crazy.


My spaz of a dog is now 2 years old and finally calming down and turning into a great dog.  At 5 months?  Oh gosh, I was ready to strangle him but I knew it was just a waiting game and he'd settle down eventually.  He did.  He still has his moments but overall he's a very good dog now.

 

And I wouldn't let a 5 month old dog off leash either - they just aren't ready.  Luckily our dog park is entirely fenced in, it is awesome.  If you are worried, start with a really long leash (like 25 ft) and see how she does.  Chances are she'll be fine, just start early!

 

You have a 10 yr old boy who really wanted this dog, no reason he can't be responsible for 2 walks a day.

post #12 of 30

Personally I do not like dog parks.  Too often people bring unsocialized aggressive dogs in and fights happen.  That can really affect a pup for the rest of its life.

 

I also totally disagree with the advice to initimidate and be the "alpha dog"

 

As far her her knowing you want her to drop it, no, she is a baby.  She doesnt know:)  Its like a toddler at this point...the have really short attention spans and really dont remember things...its all about learning about the world at this point.  How did you teach "drop it"?

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmagick View Post

Personally I do not like dog parks.  Too often people bring unsocialized aggressive dogs in and fights happen.  That can really affect a pup for the rest of its life.

 

I also totally disagree with the advice to initimidate and be the "alpha dog"

 

As far her her knowing you want her to drop it, no, she is a baby.  She doesnt know:)  Its like a toddler at this point...the have really short attention spans and really dont remember things...its all about learning about the world at this point.  How did you teach "drop it"?


I was actually just reading an article online about the "alpha roll"...it is apparently causing a lot of problems with dogs and owners because people who don't understand it are using the technique...I myself have never been a big fan and have only done it a couple of times to my dog in a couple of very intense situations...

Most good trainers strongly advice against the "alpha roll" technique...I am trying to find the article I read about it as I type...

 

 

ETA, I have been to dog parks a lot and I have never EVER seen an actual dog fight...There is a big difference between a momentary struggle for dominance that looks ferocious and an out and out dog fight which is a scary thing that I have witnessed first hand... I find most people who bring their dogs to the dog park are actually over protective and very cautious about any hint of a disagreement between their dogs...Then again the dog parks I have been to have been frequented by the same groups of people over and over so everyone is fairly familiar with each other.

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ldavis24 View Post



 

 

ETA, I have been to dog parks a lot and I have never EVER seen an actual dog fight...There is a big difference between a momentary struggle for dominance that looks ferocious and an out and out dog fight which is a scary thing that I have witnessed first hand... I find most people who bring their dogs to the dog park are actually over protective and very cautious about any hint of a disagreement between their dogs...Then again the dog parks I have been to have been frequented by the same groups of people over and over so everyone is fairly familiar with each other.



I haven't taken our pup (8 months old) to the park much, really just in the past couple of weeks, and he never did puppy classes because of the vax issue (completely unvaxed dog). But despite not being around many dogs, Oscar was super well behaved at the dog park with the other dogs, although he is apt to glom onto one dog and stick with them, so you just never know. I have to say, I have been pretty impressed with the dogs and their owners, things have never gotten out of hand. Dog parks in our city have a notice outside saying aggressive dogs are not allowed, and I guess people respect that rule.

 

To the OP, please give your dog time, she is still very much a puppy. Everyone has given you great advice.

post #15 of 30

Well, I am glad they are working for you guys...many people do use them.  I just know on hte couple dog forums I am on for every happy story you hear a tragic one...so just be careful:)

post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmagick View Post

Well, I am glad they are working for you guys...many people do use them.  I just know on hte couple dog forums I am on for every happy story you hear a tragic one...so just be careful:)



I just so disagree with this! I have never met a person IRL who has ever seen a TRAGIC outcome at a dog park...Don't scare people away!

The internet is a place where I feel like all I ever read are crazy stories..I'm thinking of the boards here even. It's not like people post about how nice and normal and boring things are..

 

I don't know, I maintain that dog parks are just about the best place you can socialize your dog. Most owners know their dogs well enough to avoid them when they need to. I myself don't even go with my dog all that much anymore because she just jumps on too many people, gets way to crazy.

 

 

post #17 of 30

To b clear, I dont mean tragic like dogs being mauled.  I mean learning really bad behaviors and having bad interactions which definitely can lead to problems down the line.

 

Again, if you are happy with them thats awesome!  I just would not trust them myself and know many other dog people who feel the same.  They to me are a great idea in theory, just not so much in practice.

 

post #18 of 30

I agree that more exercise will probably hugely benefit you.  

Not a fan of dogparks myself - for exactly the reasons already mentioned.  An alternative could be local meetups where you have a bit more control over who's involved.  Even better go for plain old leash walks or back to obedience class (group class - less expensive) to help teach your pup proper behavior in a more controlled setting.

post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmagick View Post

To b clear, I dont mean tragic like dogs being mauled.  I mean learning really bad behaviors and having bad interactions which definitely can lead to problems down the line.

 

Again, if you are happy with them thats awesome!  I just would not trust them myself and know many other dog people who feel the same.  They to me are a great idea in theory, just not so much in practice.

 


Ok in my head, I was thinking like major attacks or dogs needing stitches etc...My imagine was running away with me I suppose.

 

Also, I think a factor in our local dog park is that it is literally the same crowd at the same times of day, every day...These dogs were all pretty familiar with each other and we were all able to remember who was who...I think I might have a sheltered dog park experience because we are not in a heavily populated area by any means..

 

Oh, OP, I don't know where you live but another great exercise is swimming! Nothing tires our pooch out like a good swim. Almost every day all summer we would take her. She loves the water though, so that is something you'd have to feel out with your dog.

 

post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 

We definitely plan on upping the exercise.  We were having an issue with walking her on a leash, as she was just pulling the entire time, frustrating us and her.  So we bought a harness, and that worked great, until we left it on her one day and she chewed through it.  It took us a few days to get the new harness but then it was almost constant rain for 2 weeks.  She also gets a couple of sessions of fetch in the backyard, and runs like the dickens.  Dh and the kids took her for an hour long hike today, and we plan to do that more often.  Ds is more than happy to take her for walks, but I don't feel comfortable having him walk her alone yet, because she gets really excited if she sees another dog, and I worry that if he didn't have a firm grip on the leash she might be able to get away.  But yes, more exercise.

 

Dh is going to come with me to the dog park Monday am, so that will be nice.  He's calmer in these situations, and she listens a bit more to him anyhow.

 

We do think she may be a lab/shepherd mix, with maybe some pointer?

 

The mouthing is definitely mouthing, not biting with growling or other signs of aggression, but it's also done in a way to try to dominate me, and I don't like it at all. 

 

On the upside . . . on the way back from the walk today, dh heard her chewing on something in the back of the car (we use a tiedown in the back of our station wagon).  He pulled over and opened the back, and she jumped and bolted from the car!  Turns out she had chewed through the old leash we were using as a tiedown.  She ran down the sidewalk, but he called her, and she turned around and came back!  (It didn't hurt that he had treats on him.)  So that was reassuring.  Now, had there been another dog or something else exciting I'm not sure that she would have listened, but it made us both feel a bit better that she is getting it.

 

I'm a high anxiety person in general, and man, this whole dog thing has given me a whole new world of issues to freak out about!

 

 

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