Trouble disciplining/training adopted malinois mix dog

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Trouble disciplining/training adopted malinois mix dog

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Old 01-01-2018, 04:57 PM
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Exclamation Trouble disciplining/training adopted malinois mix dog

A few months ago I adopted my dog Mora from a pound, they told me she was 6 months old and was a mix of German shepherd and malinois. I've owned a few German shepherds before so I figured that this pup would be easy enough to train.

Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. She is really hyperactive so I try to take her on long hikes and walks everyday, but I can't trust her at home. She rips apart doors, and tears apart furniture, etc. Whenever I try to discipline her she begins to pee on herself and all over the house (other than when she's being disciplined she never has accidents inside).

She's a wonderful puppy, and she's great with other people and dogs, but I feel like I can't trust her alone anywhere more more than 5 minutes.

Help!! Anyone with experience with a malinois pup or with this sort of behavior in general, it would be sooooo appreciated!
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Old 01-01-2018, 05:31 PM
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It sounds like she's very anxious. Could be separation anxiety. Gsds commonly get it as they bond strongly with their owners. Does she bark and whine and cry when alone as well as destroy things? She might need a behaviorist visit. My dog has separation anxiety and medication as well as behavior training helped a lot.
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Old 01-01-2018, 05:41 PM
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It sounds like she's very anxious. Could be separation anxiety. Gsds commonly get it as they bond strongly with their owners. Does she bark and whine and cry when alone as well as destroy things? She might need a behaviorist visit. My dog has separation anxiety and medication as well as behavior training helped a lot.
Yes! I definitely think she could have separation anxiety. I will definitely look into a behaviorist, I hadn't thought of having another person come in to work with her. thank you!
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:41 PM
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Have you done any research into Malinois at all? Out of curiosity, what kind of breeding did your previous GSDs come from (ie, show lines, pet lines, working lines)? What kind of training experience do you have from these past dogs?

Mals are... different. Especially when they're bred from working lines, which a whole lot of them are. They are prone to destructive behavior (often from boredom), tend to have very high and very specific exercise needs (needing BOTH mental and physical exercise), and often have a lot of trouble "turning off"/settling (and often need to be taught to do so). It is important to keep in mind that what would be considered abnormal behavior in another breed- often severely abnormal behavior- would be considered pretty normal for a Mal. I think this description of the breed does a good job of detailing what I mean by that: The Malinois Ranch Rescue

First, a note on separation anxiety... Personally, from this description of the dog alone, I would not jump straight to separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is possible, but it's always the first step to rule out other possible behavior issues first. Destructive behavior alone would make me think "boredom" more than "anxiety", depending on the exact nature of that behavior (see below). Signs that this behavior is caused by anxiety and is actually indicative of separation anxiety would include the presence of other symptoms such as:
- Inappropriately excited greetings on return (not just jumping and happy wagging- I'm talking things like intense vocalizations like excited screeching, or a sustained reaction for more than 5 minutes after arrival)
- Excessive water consumption on return
- Shadowing (following from room to room, unwillingness to remain in a room without you)
- Unwillingness to eat without you present
- Signs of sweating paw pads or drooling when gone
- Heavy panting when gone when not hot
- Pacing when gone
- Destruction focused on points of entry/exit or escape (think doorways, windows, either chewing or pawing)
- In extreme cases, self-injurious behavior either through self-mutilation (through licking or hair pulling) or through attempts to escape (torn toenails, broken teeth, bloody paws, etc)
Note that to see most of these it would require recording your absence- if you think that these might be occurring I can go into more detail on how you might do that. Also, the severity would be the same whether she was completely alone (without you) or whether she was just without you but accompanied by another human or dog.

From your post, I'm getting 2 main issues:
(1) destructive behavior when left alone
(2) submissive urination when "disciplined".

Addressing (1): Does she or has she ever attempted this behavior while you are home/with her? If yes, what was your reaction and her response? Is the level/intensity of destruction the same if you're gone for 5 minutes or 20? Is she able to be unsupervised in another room without you without destroying it? Is she crate trained at all? I don't want to try offering any concrete advise on it until I get more information in those areas.

Addressing (2): what does "discipline" mean? In terms of addressing it- get softer with her. Be very aware of body language and voice level and tone. Her peeing is a fear response, showing that you've literally scared the pee out of her. Not all dogs are confident enough to handle a raised voice, even.

You might consider joining some breed community pages- there are a few on FB that might offer some perspective.

I would echo the suggestion to find in-person, professional help. Note that if someone is saying they are a "behaviorist", they should have some kind of graduate degree in animal behavior, a CAAB or ACAAB certification from the Animal Behavior Society, or even a CBCC-KA certification through the Certification Countil of Professional Dog Trainers. If they're marketing themselves as a behaviorist without any credentials- run. IME that does not reflect a solid understanding of the science of dog behavior and cognition and often reflects that they operate using questionable methods.

Not being able to leave any ~8 month old puppy loose in the house without coming back to destruction is pretty normal. Broken furniture and doors is a bit extreme, but truthfully if he breed guess is correct, I'd be willing to call it normal behavior.

Hope that provided some kind of help/insight!
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Old 01-02-2018, 01:32 PM
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Smile I'd confine her safely, & give her busywork.

.

re submissive urination:
Dogs don't do this "on purpose", it's an instinctive & uncontrollable response. Puppies are much-more prone to it than adult dogs - however, it's also a heritable susceptibility, & well-known in some breeds [Cocker Spaniels, for instance].
So it's possible that U have a dog whose sphincter is a little looser when she's stressed or anxious, due to genetics; we'll hope that's not so. If worst comes to worst, she might need panties with a disposable liner for high-stress situations [visitors, especially very-tall / loud persons, or for some dogs, any strange men].

By 6-MO, most dogs have outgrown the puppy tendency to spring a leak when they feel anxious or scared, unless it's a BIG scare - so either she has a sensitive temp, or U're being too intense when U 'discipline' her.
6-MO is puberty, the rough equivalent of 12 to 14-YO in humans, behaviorally, & most humans outgrow "peeing their pants" under moderate stress by school-age [5 to 6-YO]; most puppies similarly do so, by approx 3 to 4-MO.

I'd also like to know what 'discipline' includes -
it can be many things, & even a hard stare or displays of anger can unnerve some dogs. Collar jerks, dragging her to the scene of her 'crime', etc, are useless when U come home to already-existing damage. It's done; U don't know WHEN it was done - it could have been 15-mins after U walked out the door, & it's an hour or more later when U return - & punishing after the fact only damages her trust.

U can interrupt a dog in the act of doing something unwanted, by redirecting her / him with a cue for a conflicting behavior, something the dog can't do while also performing the unwanted actions, or with a mild startle [clap hands], etc, & no harm is done; the action is clearly connected to the dog's action ATM, & there's less chance of confusion on the dog's part.
Interruptions are very unlikely to cause fallout, but given her apparently sensitive temp, i'd make them low-key ["Whoops!" or 'uh-oh!' in a cheerful tone might be quite sufficient, for her].

given her breed-mix, overattachment is a common issue, & certainly as above, boredom is a big problem -
"Something to do, & a place to do it" is a crying need in any dog, & my simple preference would be an airline-approved shipping-crate [which serves as transport kennel & evac unit], plus a stuffed & frozen Kong, or other long-lasting busywork / pacifier.
Put her whole meal in a Kong or 2, freeze it rock-solid overnight [tip down in an empty yogurt container, WITH the lid on, keeps it upright & prevents freezer-burn], & give her one or both Kongs B4 U leave.

I'd put the crate away from the main door, with setback, so if there's foot traffic or a delivery, she won't be upset / will be less upset. Another solid interior door between her & any high-traffic areas, to reduce noise, is also good - if the bedroom is the quietest room, i'd put the crate there; whatever works to make her feel secure & lets her relax.

If U don't have a crate, CraigsList, eBay, PreLoved, gumTree, & other "classified ad" sites are good sources for used airline crates; a used model saves about 1/2 the new retail cost.
A standard 2 x 2 x 3 should fit her fine - they're actually abt 26-W x 27-H x 36-L; she only needs to be able to enter, U-turn, & exit, she won't be standing erect with her head & neck at full extension. // Try on the floor models at any pet supply; if she must BACK out, it's too small; if she can stand & raise her head fully, it's too big.
They last for decades, if not left outside in the sun repeatedly [UV will make the resin brittle], & will keep her safe in the car, plus keep her calmer - if she's the type to whine or bark at passing traffic, flip the crate so the solid bottom is up, & she can travel without seeing the cars, trucks, & dogs out the windows.

HTH,
- terry

.
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Old 01-02-2018, 01:51 PM
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I would sign up for an obedience class with a force free trainer immediately. Active breeds need a job. It's great that you're hiking with her but her brain needs to work as well. Sign up for an obedience class and speak with the instructor about possible sports for your dog.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Moonstream View Post
Have you done any research into Malinois at all? Out of curiosity, what kind of breeding did your previous GSDs come from (ie, show lines, pet lines, working lines)? What kind of training experience do you have from these past dogs?

Mals are... different. Especially when they're bred from working lines, which a whole lot of them are. They are prone to destructive behavior (often from boredom), tend to have very high and very specific exercise needs (needing BOTH mental and physical exercise), and often have a lot of trouble "turning off"/settling (and often need to be taught to do so). It is important to keep in mind that what would be considered abnormal behavior in another breed- often severely abnormal behavior- would be considered pretty normal for a Mal. I think this description of the breed does a good job of detailing what I mean by that: The Malinois Ranch Rescue

First, a note on separation anxiety... Personally, from this description of the dog alone, I would not jump straight to separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is possible, but it's always the first step to rule out other possible behavior issues first. Destructive behavior alone would make me think "boredom" more than "anxiety", depending on the exact nature of that behavior (see below). Signs that this behavior is caused by anxiety and is actually indicative of separation anxiety would include the presence of other symptoms such as:
- Inappropriately excited greetings on return (not just jumping and happy wagging- I'm talking things like intense vocalizations like excited screeching, or a sustained reaction for more than 5 minutes after arrival)
- Excessive water consumption on return
- Shadowing (following from room to room, unwillingness to remain in a room without you)
- Unwillingness to eat without you present
- Signs of sweating paw pads or drooling when gone
- Heavy panting when gone when not hot
- Pacing when gone
- Destruction focused on points of entry/exit or escape (think doorways, windows, either chewing or pawing)
- In extreme cases, self-injurious behavior either through self-mutilation (through licking or hair pulling) or through attempts to escape (torn toenails, broken teeth, bloody paws, etc)
Note that to see most of these it would require recording your absence- if you think that these might be occurring I can go into more detail on how you might do that. Also, the severity would be the same whether she was completely alone (without you) or whether she was just without you but accompanied by another human or dog.

From your post, I'm getting 2 main issues:
(1) destructive behavior when left alone
(2) submissive urination when "disciplined".

Addressing (1): Does she or has she ever attempted this behavior while you are home/with her? If yes, what was your reaction and her response? Is the level/intensity of destruction the same if you're gone for 5 minutes or 20? Is she able to be unsupervised in another room without you without destroying it? Is she crate trained at all? I don't want to try offering any concrete advise on it until I get more information in those areas.

Addressing (2): what does "discipline" mean? In terms of addressing it- get softer with her. Be very aware of body language and voice level and tone. Her peeing is a fear response, showing that you've literally scared the pee out of her. Not all dogs are confident enough to handle a raised voice, even.

You might consider joining some breed community pages- there are a few on FB that might offer some perspective.

I would echo the suggestion to find in-person, professional help. Note that if someone is saying they are a "behaviorist", they should have some kind of graduate degree in animal behavior, a CAAB or ACAAB certification from the Animal Behavior Society, or even a CBCC-KA certification through the Certification Countil of Professional Dog Trainers. If they're marketing themselves as a behaviorist without any credentials- run. IME that does not reflect a solid understanding of the science of dog behavior and cognition and often reflects that they operate using questionable methods.

Not being able to leave any ~8 month old puppy loose in the house without coming back to destruction is pretty normal. Broken furniture and doors is a bit extreme, but truthfully if he breed guess is correct, I'd be willing to call it normal behavior.

Hope that provided some kind of help/insight!
Wow!

Almost everything you detailed about separation anxiety is spot on with her. Whenever home with her, Mora will follow me (or my boyfriend) around the house, she does not like to be alone in a room. In the beginning, when she was younger (about 5 to 6 months old), I would leave her for short periods of time to get her used to it. When I would return she would pee all over herself, and jump up on me, etc. Luckily, she doesn't do this anymore. She has destroyed my door frame from biting/scratching it, and left scratches all over my door. In addition, I tried to put her in a 36L, 22W, 25T kennel once, and when I returned she had bent the kennel, and there was blood inside the kennel and on the floor. It turned out that she had bitten at the wiring so much she made her teeth bleed. This is what makes me think she does have separation anxiety.

I feel like I have fostered this in her, because when I leave her I show her that I feel very guilty about it, and am also very excited to see her when I return. I think that I baby her a bit so that is probably part of what is causing her behavior.

When I am home with her, there is no destruction taking place (once, she swiped a steak off my plate) and another time when she was a puppy she peed on the carpet a little bit, in both instances I rubbed her nose in it and gave her a swat on the nose. After reading your post (and others) and doing more research online about her specific breed I am positive this was absolutely the wrong way to discipline her, I just hope that I can make it right.

This has helped tremendously! Thank you so much for the input and advice you gave me, I will definitely be moderating my own behavior around her as well.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by leashedForLife View Post
.

re submissive urination:
Dogs don't do this "on purpose", it's an instinctive & uncontrollable response. Puppies are much-more prone to it than adult dogs - however, it's also a heritable susceptibility, & well-known in some breeds [Cocker Spaniels, for instance].
So it's possible that U have a dog whose sphincter is a little looser when she's stressed or anxious, due to genetics; we'll hope that's not so. If worst comes to worst, she might need panties with a disposable liner for high-stress situations [visitors, especially very-tall / loud persons, or for some dogs, any strange men].

By 6-MO, most dogs have outgrown the puppy tendency to spring a leak when they feel anxious or scared, unless it's a BIG scare - so either she has a sensitive temp, or U're being too intense when U 'discipline' her.
6-MO is puberty, the rough equivalent of 12 to 14-YO in humans, behaviorally, & most humans outgrow "peeing their pants" under moderate stress by school-age [5 to 6-YO]; most puppies similarly do so, by approx 3 to 4-MO.

I'd also like to know what 'discipline' includes -
it can be many things, & even a hard stare or displays of anger can unnerve some dogs. Collar jerks, dragging her to the scene of her 'crime', etc, are useless when U come home to already-existing damage. It's done; U don't know WHEN it was done - it could have been 15-mins after U walked out the door, & it's an hour or more later when U return - & punishing after the fact only damages her trust.

U can interrupt a dog in the act of doing something unwanted, by redirecting her / him with a cue for a conflicting behavior, something the dog can't do while also performing the unwanted actions, or with a mild startle [clap hands], etc, & no harm is done; the action is clearly connected to the dog's action ATM, & there's less chance of confusion on the dog's part.
Interruptions are very unlikely to cause fallout, but given her apparently sensitive temp, i'd make them low-key ["Whoops!" or 'uh-oh!' in a cheerful tone might be quite sufficient, for her].

given her breed-mix, overattachment is a common issue, & certainly as above, boredom is a big problem -
"Something to do, & a place to do it" is a crying need in any dog, & my simple preference would be an airline-approved shipping-crate [which serves as transport kennel & evac unit], plus a stuffed & frozen Kong, or other long-lasting busywork / pacifier.
Put her whole meal in a Kong or 2, freeze it rock-solid overnight [tip down in an empty yogurt container, WITH the lid on, keeps it upright & prevents freezer-burn], & give her one or both Kongs B4 U leave.

I'd put the crate away from the main door, with setback, so if there's foot traffic or a delivery, she won't be upset / will be less upset. Another solid interior door between her & any high-traffic areas, to reduce noise, is also good - if the bedroom is the quietest room, i'd put the crate there; whatever works to make her feel secure & lets her relax.

If U don't have a crate, CraigsList, eBay, PreLoved, gumTree, & other "classified ad" sites are good sources for used airline crates; a used model saves about 1/2 the new retail cost.
A standard 2 x 2 x 3 should fit her fine - they're actually abt 26-W x 27-H x 36-L; she only needs to be able to enter, U-turn, & exit, she won't be standing erect with her head & neck at full extension. // Try on the floor models at any pet supply; if she must BACK out, it's too small; if she can stand & raise her head fully, it's too big.
They last for decades, if not left outside in the sun repeatedly [UV will make the resin brittle], & will keep her safe in the car, plus keep her calmer - if she's the type to whine or bark at passing traffic, flip the crate so the solid bottom is up, & she can travel without seeing the cars, trucks, & dogs out the windows.

HTH,
- terry

.
Hey there!

I am guilty of giving Mora the wrong discipline. When she does something wrong, I take her back to the 'crime scene' haha, I do not drag her, she will follow (sheepishly) and then rub her nose in it and give her a swat on the nose. This has worked with previous dogs (German Shepherds, Border Collie's, Golden Retriever's) but those dogs were all farm dogs used for herding. I'm realizing that Malinois have the intelligence of my previous dogs but conversely she is very sensitive and picks up on my own body language and tone of voice. (I mentioned in my earlier reply that I am guilty of making her anxious before I leave because she picks up on my own anxiousness). I'm wondering if her anxious behavior is directly from me, or if possibly something from her days before the pound played a part in them. I was told that she was found wandering the streets of downtown Santa Cruz (not a very forgiving place), and was starving. I want to give her the life she deserves, and I know I should have done a lot more research on her and been more perceptive to her responsive behaviors...

Your suggestions on disciplining her and keeping her occupied are really appreciated. I'm definitely going to tone down my reactions to her destructive behavior. And, I will definitely be buying a few Kongs, and looking into buying a crate for her instead of the metal kennel she only used once. Thank you!!
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:28 AM
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I would sign up for an obedience class with a force free trainer immediately. Active breeds need a job. It's great that you're hiking with her but her brain needs to work as well. Sign up for an obedience class and speak with the instructor about possible sports for your dog.
I completely agree, I think I need to be working a lot more with her. I have been trying 'obedience walks' which was something I found on youtube from this guy MasterPaw (great informational videos on dog training). She has been listening a lot better, but I do think she would really enjoy some sort of sport.
Thank you
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Old 01-03-2018, 02:20 AM
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Definitely talk to a behaviorist about separation anxiety if she has all the symptoms. My dog has it and medication helps him as does behavior training. He won't eat or drink when he's alone and won't touch his special treats or Kong's or toys until I get home. To work they're only supposed to get the best yummiest treats when they're alone so they associate awesome great stuff with you leaving.
Also you're not supposed to make a big deal about leaving or coming home or let them pick up on your anxiety. This reinforces how traumatic it is.
You can build up lots of little leavings and arrivals. Do the things that simulate your leaving ritual. Pick up your keys and out on your coat and shoes then take them off a million times a day without going anywhere until that died y get a nervous reaction.
Then just walk out the door and come in. Gradually build to leaving for a minute then two, and gradually longer until she's calmer.
Crate training takes time and may not work of she's hurting herself.
My dog is highly anxious and had bad experiences in his last two homes and broke out of a crate in his last home. He wouldn't even go in a crate when I first got him. Now he'll go in and likes his crate but gets frantic if locked in so I never lock him in. I kept him in a small area so he wouldn't destroy the house and he was trying to jump out windows so away from windows. Now he has half my apartment. And he's better. For him medication is crucial. He still follows me everywhere and barks and whines if he can't see me. He follows me to the shower and lies right outside the tub. Sticks his head in to check if I drop anything lol. Is always in the room I'm in. Occasionally I'll wake up and he'll be in another room. In public he has to see me or be with me, stops all interactions if I leave him with anyone.
If I raise my voice to him he cowers and hides in his crate. Very anxious or sensitive. If other people yell, even if he knows and likes them he barks and growls at them.
I'm not an expert on malinois but I've learned a lot about sensitive anxious dogs from this dog. And tons about separation anxiety.
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