Still defiant after over two years

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Still defiant after over two years

This is a discussion on Still defiant after over two years within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I love my mutt very much and we've definitely bonded a lot finally after a long road together but sometimes be just drives me crazy. ...

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Old 06-12-2018, 10:40 AM
  #1
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I love my mutt very much and we've definitely bonded a lot finally after a long road together but sometimes be just drives me crazy. I take him to this social dog event twice a week after work which he absolutely loves, he even goes crazy in the car once he realizes we're going there. Problem is a lot of people eat there and everyone gives all the loose dogs tons of treats. With his IBD and food allergies, he's had diarrhea later in the night or the next day if he gets as many treats as he wants. He's a charmer and literally works the whole place, going from group to group doing all his tricks, giving paws, lying down, rolling over, being adorable to get as many treats as he can from literally every person there. If I say leave it and call him, he'll only come back to me if i too give him a treat. Praise and pats don't cut it.
I try to feed him before we go but it doesn't matter.
If I put him on the leash he literally lies at my feet sighing dramatically and looking miserable and people ask me what's wrong with him. Then I feel like the mean owner. Overall his recall is better but he's so addicted to those darn treats. I've started taking handfuls home with me and giving him a few every day so his stomach gets used to them, which worked to stop the diarrhea.
But I feel like a control freak always monitoring him and calling him back and yelling at him. Not to yell at him to be mean but just to get his attention and prevent scuffles as he won't back down if another large dog chases him away from it's owner. Or sometimes I can see he's going to be a thug and is about to try to hump another dog or go digging through someone's purse or pockets or steal food off someone's plate or knock over someone's drink. He's like Dennis the menace or a bull in a China shop in public sometimes. Never at home though, he has good manners there.
Then this morning when I dropped him at doggy daycare before work be randomly lunged and barked at a guy who also dropped his dog off. I told him to leave it but he ignored me and did it again anyway. 99 percent of the time he's friendly and loves everyone so that came out of nowhere. Then I wind up getting frustrated and yelling at him because I don't see any signs to predict it. Two seconds before that he was doing tricks and I was giving him treats and praising him while we were waiting to check in and he was sniffing a shepherd on line behind us. He was fine with that male owner. Then the other man walked out with no warning and he just lunged barking.
I didn't see anything scary about that guy.

I try to be positive with him pretty much all the time and see it works pretty well. But then there's times when there's food or he just goes into protective mode and barks and completely tunes me out.

I can't always prevent it even though I know him pretty well by now. Sometimes I think something could set him off and he'll be perfectly fine.
Doesn't help having had wrist surgery and only having one good arm. He's almost ninety pounds and too strong to easily hold with just one arm when he does lunge out of the blue and takes me by surprise.
I swear he's giving me gray hair. He knows tons of commands and tricks. But there's times he just doesn't feel like listening.
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:18 PM
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My boy is four now and he seems to just now be developing any kind of impulse control. I can call him away from the chicken coop, I can tell him to do certain things in the heat of the moment and he will. But I don't think it's really anything I did, I think he's just finally starting to mature

For the treat party, is there a way you could convince the other owners not to give him treats, but maybe just pats and praise for his offered tricks? I'd say he has allergies and you're trying to limit his diet. If you know everyone there, you can probably spread the word naturally, otherwise I'd try some kind of bandanna with a note printed on it like "DO NOT FEED ME (I have allergies)". Then bring your own treats and have all food come from you.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:03 PM
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He doesn't sound defiant to me!
Much of what you describe sounds like he is just doing what has paid (and well) in the past.
Snagging stuff from plates and tables has paid. Searching bags has paid. Begging from other people has paid. Ultimately ignoring you and doing all of these things (and likely more) instead has paid. He has a decent reinforcement history for all of these things and he'll do it all again if given the opportunity.

If you want his behavior to change you'll most likely need to change yourself. Probably change how you manage and handle him, change or create new training plans, reconsider some of the choices you make, etc.

If you really want to work with him on his behavior at these socials, then you'll need to think about:
What do you need to do to prevent him from practicing all the behaviors you dislike?
What would you like him to do in each problem scenario/instead of each problem behavior?
What is you plan for teaching these desirable behaviors including how are you going to train for the distraction level needed?

Also, you may want to consider if this is even an environment you want to place him in at this time. The dog-dog issues you describe would be concerning to me. Plus I wouldn't want any further reinforcement for the food related issues you are describing.

Regarding the reactions to people...
The fact that the man likely appeared/moved suddenly could be a factor. That said, it sounds like based on this post and others iirc, that this has happened before? You might find working with a trainer on this and some other areas such as setting up training scenarios to help with the social (ie. attention with distractions present, impulse control/default leave it, etc. ) helpful.
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Old 06-12-2018, 03:05 PM
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Thanks for the advice. We've seen a behaviorist several times and he started thyroid medication and increased the dose a couple of months ago. He has to take it twice a day. If I'm late or forget the morning dose he's definitely more reactive as far as barking or not backing down. The vet won't give one dose a day that's time released and I'm only human so do the best I can to not miss any doses but they're not always twelve hours apart.
I recently started a new full time job on top of my part time job and have a long commute so he's home alone ten hours a day three days a week. Two days a week he goes to doggy daycare. He's been awesome as far as his separation anxiety and two of the days he's home all day are these social dog things he loves so it's a nice reward for him. His best dog buddies never go to the local dog park anymore so he gets more excited to go to this event then the park now.
I tell people not to feed him but I don't know everyone there and it can get crowded. The sign is a good idea if he doesn't eat or destroy it. He tends to chew up anything he or other dogs are wearing.
He never starts a fight with other dogs and never hurts or breaks skin, he just doesn't back down from dogs his size or bigger, it's all loud barking and growling and sounds worse than it really is. If a smaller dog growls or snaps at him, he tucks his tail and runs.
He's always been a clever thief. The tips the behaviorist gave me work, it's just tough to always be consistent with one functional arm. And he won't play with me or exercise at all so I try to take him to things he enjoys. I'd like it if he played more with the other dogs there and was less obsessed with the treats.
He used to bark at every strange man he saw when I got him two years ago, now it's rare. But now it's harder to predict and seems more random. Before it was any tall man or anyone with a hat, anyone with skateboards or bikes. Now he's fine with all of those things most of the time like I said in my original post. It's usually only if someone is yelling or running at us or moving in a threatening way, like people roughhousing or actually fighting.

He's definitely improved with the thyroid medication as far as reactiveness. The not listening has always been an issue. I can call him ten times and give him bacon treats every time with tons of praise and pats. Guaranteed one or two of those times he'll look me right in the eye and walk away no matter how positive I am.
If I take away everything fun be loves to do he'll just lie on my bed all day and never leave my apartment. The best way to socialize a dog is to keep bringing them out among people if they're not too scared. He's not, he loves most people and like I said is usually very friendly and shameless about asking for scratches and rubs and leaning on people.
Then there's the jekyll and Hyde random barking episode out of nowhere, or what I can predict if someone's yelling or acting physically agitated.
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Old 06-12-2018, 04:51 PM
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With food related heath issues, just like a dog on an uncommon diet (with relation to the dogs of peers) you have to educate the humans involved. "I'm glad you love my dog, I love him too but, he's on a special diet and, gets sick if he eats the wrong things so, please don't feed him anything, let me give him treats if he earns them." usually works well in a group.

Also change your rewards up, a favorite toy, a few minutes of play or cuddle time, even a single lap of a non water beverage the dog loves can be a treat. My Kaila thinks a lap of sweet tea is a high value treat, just a few drops in the cap of a bottle of it is enough to make her think she got the best reward in the world. A few tugs with her rag bone is just as good as are her meaty training treats and, a five minute lay on "mom" cuddle.

At first give the food treat with the non food, slowly, randomly skip the food part, he will learn that other treats can be high value as well.
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