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Thread: Dog training problems and related issues

  1. #1
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    Default Dog training problems and related issues

    Guys... I'm going to sticky this post for a bit... let's try to compile a resource with websites, books, and personal experiences in training dogs. If you've got questions, post them... this subject has come up several times in the past, and we've got some folks here who have a lot of experience with various types of canine training...

    To start us off, here is a really GOOD website with articles and information about many facets of dog ownership. She concentrates on breeding, but there is LOTS of useful stuff here.

    This article is a MUST read for anyone who has dogs, especially if you're really not sure what some of their actions mean! So many behaviors that people think are "cute" are really the dog saying "ha! I'm the boss... you can't make me do nuthin'!"

    http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/articles...aviorsdogs.htm

    I will say that the website owner/writer does her best to scare people off of breeding dogs at all!! I absolutely agree with her that it's not something to undertake lightly, and absolutely it can suddenly turn into a disaster without warning (my very first Akita litter, the dog developed anaphylaxis from an allergy to HER OWN MILK!! It was the middle of an ice storm, we had no possible way to get to a vets- we couldn't even get to a vet who lives 2 miles down the road from us to pick up meds...

    Thankfully, because we have the dairy and I do almost all our own vet work, I had sufficient meds on hand to save her.. and the eight more puppies she had after the treatment worked! Total of 11 pups... when the first three were born and started nursing, she went into immediate anaphylaxis... talk about a freakin' disaster. 140# dog, frantically trying to "run away" from the intense itching and hives... still in labor, but absolutely frantic. What an introduction to breeding Akitas!!

    So, I do understand why she is so strongly discouraging. I wonder if her breed is more prone to problems- for sure, I've never seen a deformed puppy (although we've seen some very weird stillborn kittens!), much less some of the disasters she describes.

    Back to the dominant dog article, here's the first couple of paragraphs. I suspect acvp will recognize MANY of these behaviors!

    Quote:
    Besides the obvious guarding, growling and biting, many dogs display a variety of dominant behaviors that commonly go unrecognized by their humans. Dogs very rarely display the highest level of dominance overnight. There are usually signs leading up to it over the years and dominant alpha dogs do not always growl and bite.

    If the owners are giving the dog what it wants, sometimes there is no reason for the dog to growl or bite unless it is challenged. Dogs understand that they exist in a human world. After all, who gives them food and opens the door for them to go potty? When humans perform these tasks on demand from the dog, though, why wouldn't the dog think it’s the leader?

    It is easy for dogs to get the impression they are alpha in their pack. Since many canine alpha behaviors are not acceptable in human society, for example, biting, it is important for humans to retain their leadership over their dogs.
    Quote:
    Below are some common behaviors dogs display when they believe they are above humans. Keep in mind that a dog does not have to display all of these behaviors to be in a dominant frame of mind. Sometimes an alpha dog will only display a few of the behaviors at random times, depending on what the dog decides it feels like doing at any given moment. Smarter dogs tend to challenge the pack order more than dogs of average or below-average intelligence.



    Stubborn

    Headstrong and willful

    Demanding

    Pushy

    Begging

    Pushing a toy into you or pawing in order to get you to play with them

    Nudging you to be petted

    Sitting in high places, looking down on everything

    Guarding a human from others approaching. People like to call it “protecting” but it's actually “claiming”—dog owns you.

    Barking or whining at humans which many owners consider "talking" (without a command to do so).

    High-pitched screams in protest of something dog does not wish to do.

    Jumping or putting their paws on humans (without a command to do so).

    Persistence about being on a particular piece of furniture when asked to stay off (dog owns it)

    Persistence about going in and out of doorways before humans

    Persistence about walking in front of humans while on a lead

    Persistence about getting through the doorway first

    Refusing to walk on a lead (excludes untrained puppies, dogs with injuries or illnesses)

    Nipping at people's heels when they are leaving (dog did not give permission to leave)

    Not listening to known commands

    Dislikes people touching their food

    Standing proud on a human lap

    Persistence about being on top, be it a lap or stepping on your foot

    Persistence about where they sleep, i.e. on your pillow

    Annoyance if disturbed while sleeping

    Likes to sleep on top of their humans

    Licking (giving kisses) in a determined and focused manner

    Carrying themselves with a proud gait, head held high

    Not liking to be left alone and getting overly excited upon the human’s return (see Separation Anxiety in Dogs)
    And another article on the same site, "Alpha Humans: What does it mean to be dominant?" http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/articles/dominanthumans.htm
    Summerthyme
    Last edited by Summerthyme; 07-11-2013 at 08:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    Sorry ST - Neither of the links work?
    It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. - Charles A. Beard

    In this day and age, the only path of honor for a patriot IS to become a traitor. - Miradus
    [/SIZE]

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  4. #4
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    Sheesh.. why did it truncate them?

    I'll try again:http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/articles/dominanthumans.htm

    http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/articles...aviorsdogs.htm

    Let's see if this works...

    (and of course, just as I'm saying "boy, she really overdoes the warnings about the potential problems with breeding dogs".... I notice that Red has mastitis!! Grrrr... she's not sick at all, and it's not an acute case, but she clearly has an infected mammary glad. Fortunately, I stocked up on the "clavamox" dry syrup (sold for kids ear infections and strep throat) and it's the first choice for treatment, but man, it's always something!

    Summerthyme

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    Ok, I think the links are fixed....

    Summerthyme

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    Ok, this little tidbit is one of THE easiest ways to assert your dominance in the pack multiple times every day- without having to get a leash out, or take any real time out of your routine...

    In the article, part of the list of "dominant behaviors" are these:

    Persistence about going in and out of doorways before humans

    Persistence about walking in front of humans while on a lead

    Persistence about getting through the doorway first
    I train all my dogs to obey the word "wait". (wait is similar to "stay"... but doesn't mean that the dog MUST stay in place, no matter what. On a farm, with working dogs, it's a safety issue- there have been dogs killed because they were obedient in a "stay"... even as the herd of cattle ran over them and killed them. I do teach stay... I just don't use it in many situations)

    Anyway... when you get a new dog, EVERY TIME you both are going to go through a door, or up or down stairs, make the dog WAIT. I use the "stay" signal with my hand (open palm, facing the dog, pushed towards their face in a "stop" signal) and say "wait".. and then I make them stay waiting until I go through the door, or get to the top (or bottom) of the stairs. I then say "ok, that'll do. Come!"... and praise them when they come to me. (that'll do is a Border Collie/working dog command. For real working Borders, they don't use "come" as a command, because "come by" means "go around the flock clockwise". So for Borders, "that will do" means "stop working, and come to me". I use it to mean "you did it... now quit". If I decide I want to start training Borders for herding sheep, I'm going to have to retrain ME, and find a different command for "come".

    Now, I sort of lied... you MUST take enough time when you start this to enforce it! The first few times, make a real point of having enough time to show the dog what you want, and then make it stick.

    But after the dog understands the basics, then it's just up to you to keep it up- and that means always making the dog wait to go until you are through.

    This can be a real safety issue... the last thing anyone needs is a dog dashing through their legs while they're climbing the stairs!

    All of this is minor- but absolutely non-negotiable if you want to have a dog who is a delight to have around, not a constant aggravation. I swear, I've repeated "no paws" and "don't jump" to Dixie a thousand times... maybe ten thousand. But the result is, at a little over a year old, she now sits at anyone's feet, rather than jumping all over them. And she has replaced the pawing for attention and jumping up with a mild "nose bump" into your leg if she's feeling ignored.

    I acknowledge the "request" for petting/attention about half the time by giving her a few minutes of loving... and the other half telling her "not now, I'm busy. Go lie down". EVERY positive thing you give the dog needs to be on YOUR terms... not an automatic response to their demand.

    And, as always... the vast majority of dogs won't become a dangerous problem even if the humans don't hold the Alpha spot. They won't necessarily be nice dogs to own or keep, but they won't show overt aggression. With most people, they don't have to!! The owners let them have their way over almost everything!

    But with a dog who has those dominant Alpha tendencies, the humans MUST "win" pretty much every encounter (and until you get it sorted out who is boss, EVERY encounter will be at least a minor battle). Obviously, a big dog who is also Alpha is more dangerous than a toy dog with the same disposition, but you might be surprised (Meemur wouldn't be!!) at how many truly NASTY small dogs are out there. Too often, the owner thinks they're fragile, and their nasty behavior is seen as "cute". The end result is a nasty dog who really isn't at all happy, and an owner who either wonders what happened, or who is in complete denial (the dog is chewing the hell out of guest's ankles, and the owner is saying 'oh, don't hurt Fluffy!")

    (read James Herriot's books for some absolutely hilarious stories, including several about some truly SPOILED small dogs!)

    Summerthyme

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  8. #8
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    OK, new topic...

    HORMONES!!! LOL!! (can you tell I have a pack of intact dogs at the moment?!)

    I've been training, keeping and breeding dogs for close to 40 years now... I'm STILL learning. Our current "pack" consists of Red, a purebred Border Collie bitch who is 4 years old, Dixie, an English Shepherd bitch who is 18 months, and Prince, Red's son who is also 18 months, and hasn't been neutered- yet.

    He will be!! Mostly because he's not intended for breeding, and because the problems of having an intact male on the place while you have breeding females (NOT meant for him to breed) can get very interesting!

    So... if you've only had spayed and neutered dogs, you might be shocked at how very different they can be if they are intact. As always, every dog is different- some are a bigger PITA than others- but they ALL will be strongly influenced by their hormonal changes.

    The craziest issue we've had this year was Dixie going into a false pregnancy- TWICE! She was in heat at Christmas time, and Prince got to her VERY briefly (I broke them up within 30 seconds pouring a bucket of water over them... and hubby got a lecture about turning a dog in heat outside even if you don't see the male around! LOL!). She began to show every sign of pregnancy within 3 weeks... but thankfully, it turned out to be a false pregnancy.

    She came back into heat in April, and this time, it got weird. We were sure she wasn't pregnant... and she didn't go into a full blown false pregnancy... until Red had her litter of pups! That put Dixie into "pregnancy mode"... and she went absolutely berserk. I could NOT figure out what her problem was, but she spent pretty much 24 hours a day howling and crawling into my lap, telling me to "fix it"... but I had NO idea what "it" was!! 63 days after she was in heat (which would have been her 'due date' if she was bred), she STOLE RED's PUPS!! By then, they were three weeks old, and Red gets tired of them pretty quickly. So, Dixie took them over... and oh, my!! She is MUCH more protective of the pups than Red ever is.

    Along with the other expected changes, Dixie decided that all barn cats were a danger to the pups; she went from being very protective of all cats to nearly killing several of them.

    The pups are now 6 weeks old, and Dixie still is nursing them- she climbs over a 5 foot wall to get to them!

    Anyway... the basic personality changes in her were pretty startling... and she didn't even HAVE puppies of her own.

    Also, Prince chewed his way through chainlink fencing twice to get to her... and he also ripped the entire door frame off the house trying to get into the kitchen to get to her!! This is the sort of behavior that people really don't think about when they decide to keep their dogs intact!

    There are good health reasons to spay or neuter, but I strongly recommend to buyers of our pups that they wait until they're a year old before having it done, IF they are sure that they can handle a heat if a female matures a little young. If they don't have the facilities or ability to deal with it (and it is a giant PITA), then spaying at 8 months is better than having an unwanted litter of pups from a dog which is still a pup herself.

    (the reason to wait until after 12 months is so "secondary sex characteristics", including pelvic development in females, and some of the "masculine" features in males develop... animals neutered very young often develop physical issues because of it... especially urinary tract problems, "leaking", etc. By neutering around 12 months, you get the advantage of the physical maturity, but they're still pretty much a "puppy" in psychological terms, so "bad habits" influenced by hormones aren't yet a problem...)

    Male dogs can develop several problems, including testicular cancer. Those are fairly low risks, although they do exist. But a far bigger risk is the danger to the dog when he's focused solely on getting to a female... I've seen them try to jump through windows, etc... and getting hit on the road is a real danger.

    Females have all the risks of pregnancy, of course (and while it seems that every mongrel in the world manages to have pups without any trouble at all, Murphy's Law is alive and well, and there are multiple issues that CAN happen which can lead to dead pups, or a dead mother dog). But intact females are also at risk for several cancers... mammary, uterine, ovarian. Also, they will cycle most of their life (no real "menopause" in dogs!), but once they're 6 years old, the risks really jump if they get pregnant. They also can be prone to pyometra if they continually cycle but don't get pregnant... that can be a medical emergency in a dog, and requires immediate spaying (if you're lucky enough to keep them alive long enough to survive the surgery)

    So, there are good reasons to have any non-breeding dog spayed or neutered, aside from the "avoiding unwanted pups" issue.

    But if you decide not to, you need to realize that you can see major behavioral and psychological changes over time, as their various hormones ebb and flow. It's not under their control (obviously), and they're usually fairly subtle, but *in certain dogs*, they may be a lot more obvious and even potentially dangerous. A dominant male who wants to get to a female in heat may not obey you- or he may actually physically challenge you. A female in season (or coming in or going out) may be cranky or touchy... even one who is wonderful with kids may lose patience during that time.

    In intact dogs, you need to be aware of these possible changes, and be ready to deal with them.

    Summerthyme

  9. #9
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    Thanks for this thread.

    Dear Summertime, (I see a newspaper column in this!)
    We've had a mixed shepherd that we got from the pound about a year ago. She was in the pound for 2 years and she's 4 years old now.

    It's been a rough road, especially since neither of us had much dog experience. She behaves well around us. We go through the door first, she sits and comes when called. However, when we leave, which is about once every two weeks, she has an absolute tantrum. It hasn't gotten better since we've had her. If we close her up and are outside working, she's fine. But if we have on our "going to town" clothes, she throws a fit.

    We've tried jingling keys, getting dressed but not leaving, but she always knows when we're really going out and when we're acting. If one of us leaves and the other stays, she's fine with it.

    There are only two persistent problems that we have with her, but this is the biggest.

    Thanks!

  10. #10
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    I don't know that much about separation anxiety and the best ways to treat it - but if she gets overly upset - and especially if she's messing up your stuff while you're gone, I'd put her in a crate.

    And I'd put her in a crate periodically even when I'm home - even in the same room, or out in the yard. It should be her own place to be. Special for her - with no kids visiting her little hideout, etc.

    It should be her safe place to be, not a "punishment"...

    But again, that's standard crate training so it might have to be adjusted according to separation anxiety situations.

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