Frustrated, confused, venting!

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Frustrated, confused, venting!

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Old 08-20-2013, 08:33 AM
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Question Frustrated, confused, venting!

Since I'm new to owning a puppy, I'm not always sure how to handle Theo's behavior, and I get confused....then I worry that I'm confusing him about what I'm expecting. The past few days, Theo has been relatively calm when coming out of his crate in the morning, but today was an exception. Theo was biting, humping, and pulling on my pant legs. When I removed myself from his penned-in area and turned to ignore him, he got up on the pen, growled, and barked.

When I get him up in the morning, I feed him, walk him to the front and backyard, then we go inside so I can start getting my lunch together for work, while I play fetch with him or get him to settle and chew his chew toys. Sometimes it's an impossible task, as he starts pulling on my pant legs. Today, I tried redirecting him with a game of tuggy, but that seemed to increase his behavior toward my pants.

It seems that on some days (such as today), every effort I make to redirect him just gets him more and more wound up. Then, when I ignore him for biting, he barks and barks and barks, or decides to pull up the rug, or tip his water bowl over so I'll come back. Then when I come back, he's right back on my leg, humping and biting. I'm so frustrated. I feel like I must be confusing him, because the behavior won't stop.

Theo does need a lot of exercise, but it's hard to help him with this when in the process, he runs at me and starts biting my legs and barks at me. I'm interpreting this as "PLAY WITH ME!!!" but I could be wrong. Either way, I'm not sure how to help him see the appropriate way to play with me, and I"m not sure how to help him settle down. Normally, I'd walk him up and down the street before I leave for work (all with treats and while practicing "Leave it"), but we couldn't do that today, because he kept biting me.

Here's what we're trying (and many of these are great suggestions from this forum!): Getting up and ignoring Theo when he starts biting me, attempting to redirect before he starts biting my pant legs, giving treats for "leave it" and for when he is quiet for a few seconds (but sometimes I encourage him by saying "QUIET" and I think I"m confusing him), and if it gets to be too much biting and barking, putting him in his crate for 5-10 minutes.

How can I help him settle down, or how can I play with him and keep him away from my feet?? I've been trying "leave it" and giving a treat, but today he was unmoved. He wanted those pant legs and nothing else would do! Truthfully, I'm a little bit afraid of him. When he bites, IT HURTS. And I have a horrible past experience with another dog who lunged at me when I was a child, so that fear is still with me.

Also, Theo is in puppy class and we do practice training, which he does very, very well. That seems to help him settle a little bit, as he is extremely food motivated.

I guess this is a rant/vent, but any suggestions are welcome, either regarding other things to do, or whether or not I may be confusing him. Things seemed to be going so well, and I'm frustrated with this. And, he has really stepped up the barking.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:00 AM
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Puppies are challenging for sure!
Sounds like this one is going to be a high drive, high energy little guy.

You are on the right track to be gentle, never get angry, and to mostly handle this problem by management.

Just realize that puppies cannot help themselves yet. They have very little self control, and in this sense they are a lot like a 2 year old child. Be patient. He will grow up in in time. Mostly your job is to survive this period! It is not that training won't help... it will, but not very fast, not until the puppy matures a little bit.

Read a bunch of threads in the puppy help section. You will find lots of tips, as well as others who have been through what you are not going through.

Above all, do not get angry or punish the puppy as this sort of mis-handling by the humans can have lasting negative affects, that usually do not show up for several months. So stay calm, keep your hands and feet still, or slow moving. Keep your voice calm and quiet. Always engage the puppy with a toy, never wrestle with your hands. And if he is out of control, step away so he cannot play alligator.

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Old 08-20-2013, 09:48 AM
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Above all, do not get angry or punish the puppy as this sort of mis-handling by the humans can have lasting negative affects, that usually do not show up for several months. So stay calm, keep your hands and feet still, or slow moving. Keep your voice calm and quiet. Always engage the puppy with a toy, never wrestle with your hands. And if he is out of control, step away so he cannot play alligator.
Thanks for the uplifting post and the support! I read and read so much information, I think that's why I get confused. Sometimes I step away from him 10x in less than 10 minutes. It just gets to be frustrating, especially the barking! My previous dog (golden retriever) hardly barked, and it was the occasional "WOOF". Theo has found his voice and he is loving it, so it's a new experience. I'm trying to be patient with him, and with myself, sometimes I just need a reminder that he's a puppy and he'll eventually grow up! And that sometimes, I'll have to ignore him 10x in 10 minutes and that's just where he's at that day.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:54 AM
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You are probably not confusing him, since it sounds pretty much like Charlie (13 weeks) on some days and unfortunately today was one of them.
How much exercise does he get? Charlie's level of excitement is quite directly related to how much outdoor activity he gets. A really hot day like today - he is really hard to deal with in the evening. If it rains and is a bit cooler he becomes much more active outside and is a lot easier to deal with. If you can, try to do more outdoor activities with him and see if that helps.
I think a lot of the biting, jumping, inability to calm down etc is just part of being a puppy and we just have accept it. Charlie is clever and easy to train, but will forget every single command if he is enough excited (unless he sees that I have food, then he'll go into "we are training now"-mode). On a day like this, I'll just try to remember how well his house training is going, how much more confident he has become since I found him etc. And hopefully things will be better tomorrow.
How is house training going?
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:57 AM
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Posts like yours quickly remind me why I do NOT want a puppy, Leesi from 6 - 10 months is bad enough hahahaha

Really feel for you guys, why puppies insist on biting anything and everything!!!!

Just remember to not give him cues if he doesn't know what it means like quiet....you're speaking french and so far he gets bonjour! (sp) Rest the little mite still has to learn
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:01 AM
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Like little kids, puppies need LOTS of repetition. Think of how many times moms have to remind kids to do things like "shut the door!" or "take your shoes off!" Developing brains just take time for things to sink in and become really automatic and ingrained, so it can feel like a technique isn't working when it's just the biology of developing brains.

Because we are human beings with feelings, though, we get frustrated and tend to blame ourselves - "He's not getting it, what am I doing wrong?!" You're not necessarily doing anything wrong. Just be patient, don't get angry with him, and stay consistent with the management and gentle redirection techniques you are already using. It will sink in eventually, even if it sometimes doesn't feel like it.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:45 AM
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How is house training going?

House training is going really well! Theo hasn't had an accident in the house for over a week, and I could count on one hand how many accidents he's had since we brought him home a month ago. He caught onto that very quickly and knows how to sit at the door and bark when it's time.

I try not to get upset with him...however at 5.55am the barking is a little shrill and can work my nerves but for the most part, when I sense my frustration is rising, that's my cue to walk away from his pen, whether or not he's biting, so I can calm down before I interact.

It's so weird how he can be "on" for 3-4 days, off for 2. I"m sure he needs more outdoor exercise, but until he is really good with "leave it", I can't walk him very far, because he tries to eat everything that is in our path. Also, we can't leave him off the leash outside because while we have a large privacy fence, our neighbors lawn has eroded, so there's big gaps between the fence and the ground. Mostly we go outside and walk him back and forth between the front and the back, we play tuggy inside, fetch inside, name recall inside, and do all training inside, but it's probably not enough. Then we he does get exercise, he gets very excited, which then makes him bitey, growly, and barky.

We're getting better, but sometimes I just need to VENT and need some support! My husband doesn't understand so much, because Theo rarely plays tug of war with his pants. And by the time my husband has finished getting ready in the morning, Theo has calmed down a lot, because he's expended that energy on ME!
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Old 08-20-2013, 02:38 PM
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Have you made a "flirt pole" yet? It helps not only with keeping puppy and your hands far apart from each other, but it's also a good way to burn off puppy energy.

Now that Cobber's not biting me all the time, he's even more interested in the flirt pole because he still wants to chomp on something, and the squeaker toy I tied to the end of the rope is really fun for him. He runs and runs and runs after that thing, and I don't have to do too much besides walking a few steps and spinning in a circle.

There are a bunch of you tube videos that show how to make them. I got a 5' pvc pipe/tube from Home Depot, some nylon rope and the squeaker was from Petco. Easy to make and getting the pups to run helps burn off the energy.
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Old 08-20-2013, 02:55 PM
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Thanks for the uplifting post and the support! I read and read so much information, I think that's why I get confused. Sometimes I step away from him 10x in less than 10 minutes. It just gets to be frustrating, especially the barking! My previous dog (golden retriever) hardly barked, and it was the occasional "WOOF". Theo has found his voice and he is loving it, so it's a new experience. I'm trying to be patient with him, and with myself, sometimes I just need a reminder that he's a puppy and he'll eventually grow up! And that sometimes, I'll have to ignore him 10x in 10 minutes and that's just where he's at that day.

One way to deal with barking and other behavior that is demanding is to play "red light - green light".
So if he is barking because he wants something to happen, such as you letting him out of his crate then here's what you do.
When he barks, turn to stone, even close your eyes, and wait. He'll be confused at first and may bark harder and louder. Eventually he'll try not barking, at which point you open your eyes and start moving ever so slooowly towards his crate door. If he starts barking again, turn to stone again, or even turn your back to him. He'll catch on pretty soon that his fussing makes you stop doing what he wants you to do.

By the way, the puppy has learned to bark partly because it has yielded the results he wants. You see, we are always training our puppies, most of all when we least realize it!
So just be careful of your own behavior and reactions, as that is what the puppy is learning from. If you get more excited when he is excited, that will escalate his behavior.

I think one of the most important things my puppies and dogs have taught me, is to be very conscious of my own movements, voice, and overall emotions projected, as well as my responses to their behaviors. Those are the things dogs notice and cue off of.

You can do a whole lot of influencing his behavior, by becoming more aware of your own. One thing new puppy owners often do not realize is the extent to which their own actions tend to wind their puppy up. I always tell people not to act like another puppy, but rather to be a boring human being. People want to roughhouse with their puppy and make high pitched noises and be very animated. All these things get the puppy very excited and next thing you know, the puppy is biting pant legs and bouncing around like a maniac. Try moving like an old person and speaking very little at all to the puppy. Move like molasses in winter and talk like a boring college professor. The puppy might find his toys more interesting than your skin.

And one more thing, don't pet the puppy unless he is in a sleepy mood and you can do so without stimulating him. Petting is an invitation to engage in puppy play and chew on you. Puppies invite play from other puppies through touch and he will engage your hands/feet like he would a littermate and that means with his teeth. You'll have plenty of time to pet him when he is older and settled down.
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Last edited by Tess; 08-20-2013 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 08-20-2013, 02:58 PM
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If he's barking as a demand for attention then I'd advise ignoring him completely when he does so or you'll end up with a dog that barks all the time. By ignore I mean put some earplugs in your ears if necessary and pretend he does not exist, don't speak to him, don't look at him, ANY attention even telling him quiet will likely encourage him. Wait till he's quiet for around 5 to 10 seconds before giving him attention. If as you go toward him he barks then go back to ignoring him and wait for another 5 to 10 seconds of quiet.
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