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#1 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am not sure where else to post this. I roamed around a while, and decided to post here.

I have a 14 month old female boxer (spayed).
She's been a very good dog until pretty recently. She learns quickly (most boxers do), and enjoys our family.

However, she is VERY stubborn - doesn't really care if she pleases me or not, and she has become very dominating.

She constantly mounts the kids. I don't think I've ever seen her mount our almost 3yo, but all the other kids she will. I've recently taken her to a kennel for a few trips we took, and the second time they said that they wouldn't let her play with the other dogs because she basically attacks them to establish dominance.

I took her to pick up milk at our milk co-op (she goes in the car with us plenty). The kids all stay in the car, it takes me about 2 minutes, and I am back in the car and on the way home. Well, it is basically a farm. They have 3 dogs that roam. The dogs showed up a few minutes after i got there and was inside. My dog saw them, and started barking and clawing the windows - disregarding the children buckled in their seats, completely oblivious of them - she scratched them, climbed completely on top of them. Just didn't care about them at all. When I opened the car door to get in, she forced past me and got out, and ran and attacked the other dogs. I am not saying she bit them or anything but she growled and barked and was very aggressive acting. She didn't bite them, just was asserting her dominance very eagerly, and they were scared. I am SHOCKED. At this point I had no idea she would do something like that. It had been months - but we went a few hours away and stayed the night with friends and there were 5 other dogs there, and she was in a giant dog run with them - out in the country. She never acted this way.

To top it all off, my husband deployed to Iraq and isn't here. I think this might be a big part of the problem - that she doesn't see me as Alpha in any way, and she has just changed because he is gone. He's not expected back for 2 months, and we're expecting baby #5 then too. Still, I am the one home with her the majority of the day.

I don't know what to think. She has other behaviors I don't like either. If I am playing with the kids, tickling them, or chasing them, she barks at me....a lot. If I tell her to sit down, she'll sit, and then when I begin playing again, she will either just stand up and begin barking or sometimes she'll stay sitting and just growl with a really quiet deep growl. Not acceptable to me. But I have no idea what to do.

She is NOT a careful dog. She is not careful when she plays with my kids. She is not even careful around me. I am afraid for the new baby somewhat.

We have invested a lot of time, money and energy into her. At home, she is generally sweet and cuddly. She has bad behavior outdoors, and when she is playing with the kids, she gets way too rowdy (she bites on the ankles and wrists of their clothing and pulls, she also bites them accidentally, plenty - I know she doesn't mean to, but it is not acceptable anyway). When one of the kids cries she KNOWS to stop - she knows she did something, and she does stop - so I know she is just trying to have fun with them, but she doesn't do a good job of it.

Everyone keeps telling me to give it another year - that she'll calm down in this next year. I don't know what to do. I can possibly give it another year, but in the mean time, I need to know what to do to help her to change all her bad dog behavior.

Does anyone have any ideas, stories they can share? I will listen to "she's terrible, just get rid of her" too. LOL!!! I just need some empathy!!!!!!! She is driving me NUTSO!!!

Amanda, wife to my best friend Josh, Mommy to Jenna, Lukas, Adam, Livea and Ethan!
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#2 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 09:49 PM
 
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Have you worked with a dog trainer? Most of the behavior you describe is fairly normal for a young, untrained dog. A trainer could probably help you get on top of it pretty quickly. If you wait and do nothing, she may calm down, but her bad behaviors might also get worse without proper training. Also, is she getting enough exercise? I tired dog tends to be better behaved. Boxers need a LOT of exercise. Just being let out in the yard or a few short leash walks aren't going to cut it for a young boxer. Nothing you've desribed sends u red flags for me, but I think you'd be a lot happier if you got some help from a trainer in learning how to deal with her behavior.
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#3 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 09:57 PM
 
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I don't know if you can re-establish who is the alpha, but we just got a dog. We're really trying to help her see me as the alpha because I'm at home more. (Plus DH tends to be more playful, which I think will make it hard to distinguish for her.) I know that DH's grandfather's dog will listen to no one except his grandfather. I've read that dogs only accept one person as being in charge of them. So if the issue if your husband being gone, maybe a trainer can help you assert more authority with her.

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#4 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 10:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gentlestrengths View Post
I am afraid for the new baby somewhat.
This right here says everything to me about what you want to do

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Originally Posted by gentlestrengths View Post
when she is playing with the kids, she gets way too rowdy (she bites on the ankles and wrists of their clothing and pulls, she also bites them accidentally, plenty - I know she doesn't mean to, but it is not acceptable anyway). When one of the kids cries she KNOWS to stop - she knows she did something, and she does stop - so I know she is just trying to have fun with them, but she doesn't do a good job of it.
Not acceptable AT ALL. A dog of mine putting their mouths on my children is a ticket out the door. ESPECIALLY to the point where the kids actually cry. She sounds like she would be fine in a family w/ no kids or teens.

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#5 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 10:51 PM
 
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You might want to cross post in the pets forum.

Long term she might not be a good fit, esp with new baby coming, but I could understand wanting to coming up with fixes to make it through until your husband comes back if her behavior is better when he is not deployed (esp if you don't expect additional deployments).

Some ideas to consider:

Crate or seat belt her in the car or get a barrier ASAP. That incident at the milk farm sounded bad... need to restrain her or leave her home for now.

Is there room in your day to make sure she gets exercise in the morning? That sounds unrealistic with hubby deployed, pregnant, and four kids... can you afford a morning dog walker/ runner? I find with young energetic dogs that making sure they get exercise eliminates many behavior problems.

My sister had troubles with a dominant dog and found a book called Leader of the Pack very helpful.

Set down some ground rules for her and the kids re playing. If you cannot trust her when she plays with the kids then they should not initiate play with her.

You and any older kids should work in reinforcing basic commands with her every day. Practice sit and down and come so she gets used to listening to each of you.

Good luck figuring out what to do and if you don't trust her make sure to crate her when you cannot supervise around the kids!!!

mom to a 7 year old lego fanatic and a 5 year old cross dresser
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#6 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 11:23 PM
 
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I definitely don't think you should "get rid" of her. She just doesn't know any better. Hiring a trainer would be best, if you can. It sounds like you need to establish your dominance before addressing any other behaviors, and a trainer will be able to help you.

I'm not a trainer, but this might help. In the pack dynamic, dogs roll over and show their bellies as a sign of surrender to another dog's dominance. I would try bringing her near you and the kid when you are playing with them and have her lie down and roll onto her side or back. If she won't do it on command (sounds like she won't) then just gently maneuver her into that position. Tell her to stay. Then play with your kids like you usually do. If she gets up, tell her to lay down (remember to use a stern voice) and move her back into laying on her side. Continue this until she will lay there while you play with the kids. It doesn't have to be for long, a minute should work. Then give her a release command (I say "okay" in a happy voice) and she can get up.

Another way to establish dominance is a stare down. Pretty simple, just stare her in the eyes. If she looks away, praise her. This is what you want. If she stares you in the eye, correct her. When she looks away, praise her.

Do you train her yourself? Working on basic obedience every day, if even just for a few minutes, is great for a dog. It gives them mental and physical stimulation and shows them that you are the leader.

I hope this helps. Again, getting the help of a professional trainer would be your best bet. If you seriously fear your children's safety, then it would be best to re-home her. Best wishes.

Jessie
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#7 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 11:32 PM
 
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I would be concerned for a new baby as well. I have a female dog (tiny though) and she also tried to show dominance over the children by mounting. We nipped it in the bud immediately, and taught the kids to push her off right away with a very firm "NO". The thing is, the baby won't be able to do that. A dog this size can be dangerous when she feels threatened over this new member of the household. I would be afraid to leave her unsupervised with the baby for even a second.

SAHM to one moody son J hat.gif(06-27-03), one super-girly daughter M hearts.gif (02-23-06) and welcome Sophie! energy.gif(05-23-10) expecting fourth in July baby.gif

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#8 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 11:36 PM
 
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You should post this in the Pets forum. It will probably get moved there anyway. I don't have much advice, but there are many knowledgable people there who will have some for you. Good luck!

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#9 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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Oh you have a lot on your plate....

I have a boxer...she started to have a dominance issue with our other dog over food and I tackled her...she never did it again (it was just instinct for me and clearly not a good idea when pregnant). She is now 5 and my 1.5 year old could probably stick her hand down her throat with no trouble.

I second exercising the crap out of her. Dog whisperer had an episode on a new baby too..he recommended not letting the dog anywhere near the newborn for a few weeks.
Good luck!
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#10 of 22 Old 02-07-2010, 11:59 PM
 
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Ok, lets start by drawing some lines. Your dog issues and kid issues here are not related. They can both however can be stopped by basic gentle obedience training.

First her aggression with other dogs- Dogs attack other dogs not only to establish dominance, but to protect their food and property. In the case of the kennel it's probably a food and toy issue. She is young and scared at the kennel. She may very well have been attacked or snapped at first, and that got her going. I personally will not kennel my dog. The illness and untrained personnel makes me shudder. Her at the farm is actually very simple. The car, children, and her pregnant owner (yes you can bet she knows) are hers. She saw strange dogs and was being protective. If you are going to take her the kids should not ever stay strapped in with a big dog if they can't push her off. Honestly no matter how loving the dog or how short the time I don't trust young children and a dog alone. As for her pushing her way out...she needs to know that you protect. Not the other way around. Teaching her that she is not allowed to greet people at the door with a sit and wait command is good at this. Then when she is in the car and you are outside. You tell her through the glass to sit. Don't open that door until she does. Then tell her wait. You get in, and she knows you have control of how and when the doors open and who gets to enter her world. Until she does a sit and wait perfectly in the house though she doesn't get to ride.

Now the kids-First and foremost. No matter how loving a dog. A dog is still an animal. You don't leave a dog and the kids alone. The kids must know the doggy rules. No neck hugging. Leave them alone while they are eating, drinking, and sleeping. If the dog is jumping on you and snapping you freeze, cross your arms, and turn your back. My mom (a dog trainer) tells kids to be a tree. Your dog is young, and when the kids are running, yelling, and going nuts she sees the other "puppies" playing and wants to play too. She plays with your kids like they are dogs. Your kids need to work with her as well. They need to use treats and make her sit, leave it, down, shake...everyday. If she goes to hump them your kids (or yourself) need to make her sit. She is trying for dominance and them making her sit tells her that they are the boss.

All of this training can be done without you or your kids having to get rough with her. Positive training works wonders, and is wonderful for women and kids that have big dogs in their lives. I suggest going to the library getting a book on positive reinforcement training and a fun one on tricks. If you can put in the money and time take a class, but the books are great too. You need to set aside the time every day to train though. Just 30 min is good. Make it fun and start with small goals.

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#11 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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I've known a few boxers and the first thing I'm wondering is how much exercise and training time does she get on a daily basis? Have you done any training classes with her? Boxers need both of those things IMO, but the exercise is crucial in order to keep them sane.
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#12 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 01:50 AM
 
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Okay, I *am* a professional dog trainer, and from what you've said, I am concerned for your dog and your children.

First of all, yes, your dh's recent deployment has likely stressed her, same as it has stressed everyone in your family...and understandably so. Hugs Mama!

Second, this is NOT a "dominance" problem. It is, however, several other problems rolling together into a big problem for you. The term "dominance" has been tossed around way too much, and used, usually unknowingly as an excuse to punish and sometimes even cause harm to dogs. Dogs do need and search for a "pack leader", and dogs who are not really equipped to be a pack leader can become nervous, anxious, and even pushy when there really isn't one around for them. But "dominance" is a much misunderstood and overused term--people use it to describe every problem under the sun w/dogs, when it is really only a "cause" of very few issues very little of the time. Years ago, Karen Overall, veterinary behaviorist, has said before that she has only ever seen several cases of "dominance aggression" in her many years of practice at the Univ of Pennsylvania. I'm not saying that her mounting behaviors and such aren't a way of asserting herself--they can be--but quite possibly not for the reasons most people think. This dog is not a super confident dog. Confident dogs do not *need* to mount other dogs to prove that they are the top dog--they just *are* the top dog and other dogs recognize it. Your dog is unsure of her place, both w/people and w/other dogs. So, she is bullying, b/c it's the only way she knows how to figure it out.

Third, more exercise can and will help, in conjunction w/good, positive reinforcement training AND stress reduction. Find a professional trainer who does NOT use choke collars, prong collars, shock collars, or terms such as "alpha dog", "alpha roll", "submission", etc. These products and "methods" will only serve to make your dog feel more anxious and out of control. Check out trainers such as Victoria Stillwell on Animal Planet, Pat ****** of Peaceable Paws, Ian Dunbar, Trish McConnell, Jean Donaldson, and Karen Pryor. All of these folks have books, videos, and/or are on tv, so they are accessible. Find a trainer who knows who these people are and uses similar methods--the Association of Pet Dog Trainers website (apdt.com) has many member trainers in their data base, many of which use more positive methods.

I'm getting the impression from your post that your ddog isn't getting enough exercise, is somewhat anxious in general, and doesn't really know what to expect from you or what is expected of her. This can make her more anxious. Anxiety causes stress....stress causes aggression (and other poor behaviors)...and the circle goes round and round....She needs to be positively reinforced for the behaviors you want to see. One example would be you putting her on leash w/a Gentle Leader or Easy Walk harness, asking her to sit, and rewarding her consistently for sitting *calmly* while the kids wrestle. There are many facets of training this way that would help you.

Until you get some real help, please do not leave your dog alone w/your kiddos--even if she doesn't intend to hurt them, she can, plus we don't want her to practice unacceptable behaviors. If you wait a year for her to "grow up" or "grow out of it", you will have given her one more year to practice these bad behaviors and get *better* at them, which eventually is likely to cause a really big problem. She will only get better at behaving this way--she will not outgrow it. When you can't intervene w/her, crate her or put her in another room, inaccessible to your kids. Whatever you do, please do NOT "alpha roll" her or scruff shake her in any way. I noticed someone mentioned staring her down and doing an alpha roll (although she didn't call it this)--please do NOT do these things. You want your dog to like eye contact, right? Children stare at dogs all the time. If your dog is taught that eye contact is bad, it will increase her anxiety to children....and can lead to a bite. Eye contact should be a good thing for a dog. Again, this is another spot that leads to trouble....yes, aggressive dogs give hard stares...this is part of their warning system...but humans giving dogs hard stares can lead to a dog who bites them. Choose a trainer and your training methods carefully.

If you want specific help and/or a referral, I would be happy to help you on line or over the phone--just pm me.

Take care!

mrsfru
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#13 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 02:13 AM
 
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I'm not a trainer, but this might help. In the pack dynamic, dogs roll over and show their bellies as a sign of surrender to another dog's dominance. I would try bringing her near you and the kid when you are playing with them and have her lie down and roll onto her side or back. If she won't do it on command (sounds like she won't) then just gently maneuver her into that position. Tell her to stay. Then play with your kids like you usually do. If she gets up, tell her to lay down (remember to use a stern voice) and move her back into laying on her side. Continue this until she will lay there while you play with the kids. It doesn't have to be for long, a minute should work. Then give her a release command (I say "okay" in a happy voice) and she can get up.

Another way to establish dominance is a stare down. Pretty simple, just stare her in the eyes. If she looks away, praise her. This is what you want. If she stares you in the eye, correct her. When she looks away, praise her.
Please dont alpha roll or do dominance stare downs....

Actually I teach my dogs to look at my eyes...that is to get attention and focus. Dogs know humans are not dogs. Yes, they need leadership and guidance but it is not all about dominance and being alpha. The post above mine has a lot of good advice!!!

I really think you need to invest in a good positive trainer or behaviorist. There are many issues here and without seeing the dog in person its really hard to know what the underlying issues are.

How much exercise is she getting? How much mental stimulation? I love clicker training for mental stimulation. Free shaping really makes a dog think which helps them work and bond to you and has the bonus of wearing them out

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#14 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 02:51 AM
 
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I agree with the previous 2 posters- do NOT alpha roll or stare down your dog. Both are VERY good ways to get yourself bitten. Dogs find both very threatening and they could easily make your situation worse. This doesn't sounds like a dominance issue to me, it sounds like a young, untrained, under exercised dog. It can get better results in much safer, more gentler ways.
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#15 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 02:11 PM
 
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A brilliant post mrsfru! I agree with everything you said, especially this:

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Originally Posted by mrsfru View Post
Second, this is NOT a "dominance" problem. It is, however, several other problems rolling together into a big problem for you. The term "dominance" has been tossed around way too much, and used, usually unknowingly as an excuse to punish and sometimes even cause harm to dogs. Dogs do need and search for a "pack leader", and dogs who are not really equipped to be a pack leader can become nervous, anxious, and even pushy when there really isn't one around for them. But "dominance" is a much misunderstood and overused term--people use it to describe every problem under the sun w/dogs, when it is really only a "cause" of very few issues very little of the time. Years ago, Karen Overall, veterinary behaviorist, has said before that she has only ever seen several cases of "dominance aggression" in her many years of practice at the Univ of Pennsylvania. I'm not saying that her mounting behaviors and such aren't a way of asserting herself--they can be--but quite possibly not for the reasons most people think. This dog is not a super confident dog. Confident dogs do not *need* to mount other dogs to prove that they are the top dog--they just *are* the top dog and other dogs recognize it. Your dog is unsure of her place, both w/people and w/other dogs. So, she is bullying, b/c it's the only way she knows how to figure it out.
A true "alpha dog" doesn't need to act out in order to accomplish things. They are calm and confident, they get other dogs to react by simple turns of their head or a slight freeze of their body. They certainly wouldn't be pushing another dog onto their back. That's where the popular "dominance/submission" theory starts to fall apart and it only goes downhill from there.

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Actually I teach my dogs to look at my eyes...that is to get attention and focus. Dogs know humans are not dogs. Yes, they need leadership and guidance but it is not all about dominance and being alpha.
Definitely! Teaching eye contact is a great way to get a dog to focus around distractions and actually is quite an accomplishment in some situations. A great thing is to teach a dog to "check in" with you by making eye contact at frequent intervals - basically it's the dog's way of saying they are paying attention to you and listening for what you'd like them to do.
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#16 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 03:10 PM
 
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EVERYTHING!

^^^This! <R+ trainer hat on>

Adolescent Boxers (the bigger and smarter the breed, the longer their adolescence- don't expect maturity until 2.5-3 yrs, and "calm" behavior til 5-7 with a Boxer) are EXTREEEEEEEEMELY high energy and need a LOT of aerobic exercise. A walk once a day won't cut it.

A good R+ trainer and way more leave-'em-breathless exercise will both help tremendously, and forgetting the words "dominance" and "alpha" etc will help you focus on the things that will actually help.

I've been training for a number of years and would personally not own a Boxer, as I know I'm not capable at this point of providing enough physical stimulation.

It won't be easy and you won't see results overnight and your children shouldn't be unattended with her (or any dog ideally), but you can make improvements. If rehoming her is the option you settle on, please be sure to carefully screen homes- without training, she should NOT be going to a family with small children.

Good luck.

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#17 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pajamajes View Post
I'm not a trainer, but this might help. In the pack dynamic, dogs roll over and show their bellies as a sign of surrender to another dog's dominance. I would try bringing her near you and the kid when you are playing with them and have her lie down and roll onto her side or back. If she won't do it on command (sounds like she won't) then just gently maneuver her into that position. Tell her to stay. Then play with your kids like you usually do. If she gets up, tell her to lay down (remember to use a stern voice) and move her back into laying on her side. Continue this until she will lay there while you play with the kids. It doesn't have to be for long, a minute should work. Then give her a release command (I say "okay" in a happy voice) and she can get up.

Another way to establish dominance is a stare down. Pretty simple, just stare her in the eyes. If she looks away, praise her. This is what you want. If she stares you in the eye, correct her. When she looks away, praise her.
This is really dangerous advice!!! OP, please don't try this, and pajamajes, please don't advise people to do this!! There is a reason show like Dog Whisperer come with a warning to "not try this at home" if you will. This is a good way to get badly bitten or attacked if done to the wrong dog.

Eye contact is arguably the single most important thing you want to establish with your dog. Eye contact is the first thing I teach all my rescues and is the key to establishing trust, respect and effective communication.


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I would be concerned for a new baby as well. I have a female dog (tiny though) and she also tried to show dominance over the children by mounting.
Mounting/humping is not always about "dominance" in fact in this case it sound a lot like overexcitement to me.

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I don't know if you can re-establish who is the alpha, but we just got a dog. We're really trying to help her see me as the alpha because I'm at home more. ..... maybe a trainer can help you assert more authority with her.
Ola, Greenmagick, and Mrsfru spoke to this perfectly. Dominance theory, alpha theory, establishing authority have all been debunked as an effective way to communicate and train your dog.

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A dog of mine putting their mouths on my children is a ticket out the door. ESPECIALLY to the point where the kids actually cry. She sounds like she would be fine in a family w/ no kids or teens.
I have a great dane who will take my children's arm in her mouth and lead them away from what she perceives as dangerous - ie our slippery laminate floor if they're roughhousing. Other than some slobber, she doesn't leave a mark on them. Of course, no, I don't recommend allowing your dog to do this, but saying that the dog mouthing is a "ticket out the door" seems a bit extreeme to me. Personally, I'd rather know my dog is capable of using their mouth gently, or somewhat gently. This points to proper bite inhibition which in the long run is the biggest safety net a family dog can have.

OP, I think Mrsfru gave you some excellent advice, and I second upping the exercise and looking for a trainer who practices positive reinforcement. The beauty of this style of training is that anyone can do it - including young children because the margin of error is so forgiving. Including your kids in the training of your dog will go a long way to fixing a lot of the problems you're having. And yes, no unsupervised pups and kiddos please
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#18 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 03:57 PM
 
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Ola, Erin, and Quesi,

Thanks for the positive reinforcement!

mrsfru
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#19 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 04:31 PM
 
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Ola, Erin, and Quesi,

Thanks for the positive reinforcement!

mrsfru
Who's a gooooooooood girl? You are!

(LOL, d@mned Alfie Kohn, making me all paranoid about "gooooood girl!")

Doctors aren't out to kill you or your children. Childbirth isn't inherently safe. Science is actually smarter than your intuition. Lighten up. Use sunscreen.

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#20 of 22 Old 02-08-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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Who's a gooooooooood girl? You are!

(LOL, d@mned Alfie Kohn, making me all paranoid about "gooooood girl!")
totally OT but I know!!!

My kids get good girled and boyed...I cant help it, its just so natural I try and watch it but it just pops out though to be fair their favorite game is to pretend they are puppies and to have me train them


My daughter does it to her babies and brother (she uses the clicker on them too!)...you will hear *click* "gooooooood girl!"

Nicole - )0( unschooling mama to Lilahblahblah.gif (12/21/05) and Cianwild.gif (9/21/07) as well as 3 dog2.gif 2 cat.gif,  4 rats, chicken3.gif and ducks
 
 

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#21 of 22 Old 02-09-2010, 09:36 PM
 
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This is really dangerous advice!!! OP, please don't try this, and pajamajes, please don't advise people to do this!! There is a reason show like Dog Whisperer come with a warning to "not try this at home" if you will. This is a good way to get badly bitten or attacked if done to the wrong dog.

Eye contact is arguably the single most important thing you want to establish with your dog. Eye contact is the first thing I teach all my rescues and is the key to establishing trust, respect and effective communication.
Oops, my bad! I actually read that in a book. Must have been a crappy one. :/ At least I had a disclaimer.

Jessie
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#22 of 22 Old 02-11-2010, 02:00 AM
 
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(LOL, d@mned Alfie Kohn, making me all paranoid about "gooooood girl!")
I know, I know!!! Our preschool director gave all of us this article last week! Too funny--as a dog trainer and parent, I loved AND hated the article all at the same time!

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