Puppy craziness- help, please?

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Puppy craziness- help, please?

This is a discussion on Puppy craziness- help, please? within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; OK! As I have mentioned before, and as you can see in my "dogs" section, I have a young Standard Poodle puppy named Wesley, and ...

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Old 01-29-2011, 12:30 AM
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Puppy craziness- help, please?

OK! As I have mentioned before, and as you can see in my "dogs" section, I have a young Standard Poodle puppy named Wesley, and we've been having some issues that have me, as a first-time puppy owner, and my parents, as people who like their sleep, going absolutely bonkers!

#1- Wesley likes to growl at people. I don't know where he got the idea that this was fun, but it changes quickly- very, very quickly- from growling in play to aggressive behavior, and because of this it is frustrating to be around him.

#2- I've been clicking to try and correct this, but for the first week and a half I had no problem gently picking up Wesley to move him upstairs and down- but lately he's taking to whining, growling, and finally even biting to be put down, all over a very short period of time. Suggestions other than simply clicking for good behavior?

#3- Wesley finds my little sister, who is seven years old, amazingly stimulating. Every time he sees her, he goes quickly through the scale of exitement- tail wagging to bouncing, bouncing to mouthing, mouthing to growling and mouthing, and finally snapping or biting at her arms and legs. This scared her so much the first time he tried it (He is getting quite big!) that she no longer feels safe around him, though I have been trying to counter-act his problems with click training- having her slowly walk by him and hopefully one day working up to normal speed.

#4- Wesley is also way too excited about playing with our mini, Cleo, to the point where we can't have him in a room with her as he pays absolutely no attention to any signals she gives- growling, snarling, even nipping- and I'm worried she's going to tear his nose off. He doesn't seem to know how big and strong he is, and I think it intimidates her and she reacts extremely, but now- as a result- she's growling at him wherever he goes, and we have to remove her or they both get so riled up they start snarling at people.

#5- He doesn't seem to react to verbal praise, or to petting, in the way I assumed he would- he's super food motivated, but (Number six):

#6- Whenever I click-train Wesley, he tends to bark in frustration when he doesn't understand something, or, the way I percieve it sometimes, simply doesn't want to do a command. He knows sit, down, and stand, but is now, well, "refusing" to do them before lunging at treats, growling, and barking up a storm.

#7- The barking bit. He has started doing this almost non-stop, and it seems to be an attempt to get my attention- which he usually has most of the time anyway? Also, it's infuriating and my parents can't stand it (Neither can I!) bu t clicker training silence doesn't seem to be something he can understand.

#8- Like I said before, he growls a lot, not always in play, and often over him not getting a treat from me. He growls and barks for attention a lot, even though I've never given him any for either of those behaviors just to avoid that. My mom, who raised her golden retriever by putting it in the laundry room and going in there once in a while, thinks I am giving him too much human attention and that it would be easier if I thought of him less like a baby and more like a sort of hobby, but I don't think ignoring him will help his problems in any way, so bah.

#9- Is my dog especially crazy? My mom keeps mentioning that "The dog I raised never did any of these things". She was a small, female golden retriever. Is it possible that he's more of a "rascal" because he's male, or because (As far as we can tell) he is going to be a big dog?

#10- His disposition for the first week was very sunny, willing, eager to please, and I have not changed my training methods or anything like that, so I'm more than a little confused...

Ok, now a little about Wesley's living situation so you guys can understand what's going into all this. Wesley is currently on the cusp of being housetrained but he still has papers for accidents. He is very clever about going on the papers and receives plenty of praise for going outside as well- Though once again, he doesn't seem to give a rat's buttocks whether I praise him, which is disconcerting. He isn't strong enough to get up or down off sofas or beds, and he's not old enough to be allowed to tackle stairs on his own, so I usually carry him up. He knows a special recall, a sort of "Weeeeh-sleeee!" and responds to it. (When he wants to!)
Umm, I am home all day, being a homeschooled student, so I have time to give him attention but sometimes feel like I am overdoing it.
He naps a lot for a pup his age, no health problems, I think it's because he's growing so fast. (That's the scary part... I can handle a fifteen pound growling pup, but not a 50-80 pound growling adult dog, you know?)
He gets short "trick training" sessions with tiny dog treats once or twice a day and gets reinforced or redirected with regard to natural behaviors as often as possible.

I've been told to simply keep going with what I've been doing and stick it out, but I'm at my wits end and so are my parents- not that we'd give him up or something horrendous like that! But we need some help, especially me. This is my first puppy I've raised and right now, despite all the work I've been doing, I feel way, way, way over my head.

Help, please! Be as in-depth as possible, I could really use some sound advice right now- I have a complete open mind about this stuff at this point in time, because I am genuinely worried about my ability to raise him successfully the way things are going, and I need to be able to.

(Not admitting defeat! Simply extremely, extremely frustrated.)
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:11 AM
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wow! it sounds like you have your hands full! first and foremost, deep breaths... i KNOW that this is frustrating stuff, trust me, i know it but from your post, i can tell that you are determined AND you might be making some mistakes here, but it is obvious that you are doing your best.

before i address what isn't working for you, i suggest you make a list of what IS working, it might help you to figure the rest of this stuff out.

Quote:
#1- Wesley likes to growl at people. I don't know where he got the idea that this was fun, but it changes quickly- very, very quickly- from growling in play to aggressive behavior, and because of this it is frustrating to be around him.
this is a situation where i think a little "negative punishment" would be appropriate. basically, that means that you remove what is rewarding to him (most likely you) depending on the situation, this can be as easy as standing up, turning your back on him (very snobbishly, nose in the air) and continually turning away from him, until he stops... it is important that you have good timing here, bc the moment he stops you need to mark (i'd use a verbal marker here, "yes!" then CALMLY re-engage him... if he starts to growl, repeat the dramatic (but calm, you want it to be painfully obvious that you are ignoring him, but not overly exciting) disengagement... if that isn't working, you may have to get up, and leave the room that you are in with him for a few seconds....

Quote:
#2- I've been clicking to try and correct this, but for the first week and a half I had no problem gently picking up Wesley to move him upstairs and down- but lately he's taking to whining, growling, and finally even biting to be put down, all over a very short period of time. Suggestions other than simply clicking for good behavior?
it sounds like he doesn't like to be picked up, it might be time for him to go up and down stairs on his own?

Quote:
#3- Wesley finds my little sister, who is seven years old, amazingly stimulating. Every time he sees her, he goes quickly through the scale of exitement- tail wagging to bouncing, bouncing to mouthing, mouthing to growling and mouthing, and finally snapping or biting at her arms and legs. This scared her so much the first time he tried it (He is getting quite big!) that she no longer feels safe around him, though I have been trying to counter-act his problems with click training- having her slowly walk by him and hopefully one day working up to normal speed.
you may need to keep him leashed whenever he is around her...


Quote:
#4- Wesley is also way too excited about playing with our mini, Cleo, to the point where we can't have him in a room with her as he pays absolutely no attention to any signals she gives- growling, snarling, even nipping- and I'm worried she's going to tear his nose off. He doesn't seem to know how big and strong he is, and I think it intimidates her and she reacts extremely, but now- as a result- she's growling at him wherever he goes, and we have to remove her or they both get so riled up they start snarling at people.
for this, i would interrupt him, IMMEDIATELY, every time that he plays with her, he can learn not to do so, make sure that you re-direct him to something appropriate each time...

Quote:
#5- He doesn't seem to react to verbal praise, or to petting, in the way I assumed he would- he's super food motivated, but (Number six):
yeah, you are going to have to just let this one go praise is not generally very motivating to most dogs, though it can become a "secondary reinforcer" for wesley, i would focus on using food/games/toys for rewards

Quote:
#6- Whenever I click-train Wesley, he tends to bark in frustration when he doesn't understand something, or, the way I percieve it sometimes, simply doesn't want to do a command. He knows sit, down, and stand, but is now, well, "refusing" to do them before lunging at treats, growling, and barking up a storm.
keep your training sessions very very very short... like grab 5 treats, train really quickly, then end the session, you can start a new one in a few minutes. don't frustrate him, set him up for success, start out in a low distraction area (i like the bathroom for this) then start adding distractions
Quote:
#7- The barking bit. He has started doing this almost non-stop, and it seems to be an attempt to get my attention- which he usually has most of the time anyway? Also, it's infuriating and my parents can't stand it (Neither can I!) bu t clicker training silence doesn't seem to be something he can understand.
disengage him when he barks, as described for #1



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Old 01-29-2011, 01:42 AM
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Quote:
#8- Like I said before, he growls a lot, not always in play, and often over him not getting a treat from me. He growls and barks for attention a lot, even though I've never given him any for either of those behaviors just to avoid that. My mom, who raised her golden retriever by putting it in the laundry room and going in there once in a while, thinks I am giving him too much human attention and that it would be easier if I thought of him less like a baby and more like a sort of hobby, but I don't think ignoring him will help his problems in any way, so bah.
your mom is sort of on to something basically, i get the feeling that you are giving him attention when he is behaving like this (probably because you are trying to get him to stop doing it), which is reinforcing him for behaving like this...

does he have a space of his own? he should be getting some time alone...

giving him a space to be alone in, can help him to calm down over-all, i'm a fan of time-outs as a space to calm down in, not as punishments. if you condition him to be happy/calm in his space, you can use that for short time-outs when he gets too excited... again, my impression is that you are spending quite a bit of time working with him, which is good, but he also needs to learn to cope with being on his own...

Quote:
#9- Is my dog especially crazy? My mom keeps mentioning that "The dog I raised never did any of these things". She was a small, female golden retriever. Is it possible that he's more of a "rascal" because he's male, or because (As far as we can tell) he is going to be a big dog?
he's just a different dog, that's all, you really can't compare them, it is like comparing people, we aren't all the same...

Quote:
#10- His disposition for the first week was very sunny, willing, eager to please, and I have not changed my training methods or anything like that, so I'm more than a little confused...
it may be that you NEED to change your training methods, but only just a bit, behavior is very dynamic... IMO wesley needs to have you help him to learn some impulse control:

is a good place to start.

what types of games do you play with wesley? what are you doing to exercise him? besides what you mentioned already, what are your training sessions like (how long, how often etc) what are you doing for exercise with him? what are you doing to help him calm down?

OH i also think you should work on some handling exercise with him:

one more thing, i think you should read this:
https://www.dogforum.com/dog-training...ing-food-1219/

since you say that wesley is more food motivated...

i hope i covered most of what you were asking, i'll let you get through all that before i go into any more... and i really hope that it helps you out...

keep asking questions, and don't give up, you'll get through this



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Old 01-29-2011, 07:03 AM
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Wow - sounds like you have your hands full. I'm not an expert in dog behaviour but another avenue to consider is his diet. What are you feeding him? It may be worth considering going more 'natural' if you're currently feeding him kibble. I know the dog behaviourist I've used has mentioned how dramatically some dogs change their behaviour when they move onto a natural diet. This may not apply in your case, and I'm not suggesting it's the answer to all your challenges, but it may help.
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Old 01-29-2011, 08:29 AM
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What great info from Fawkese!

I would only add that more exercise might be good... outdoors chasing a toy and such, to tire him out.

AND

More ignoring him when he is naughty. "Time out" to let him calm down might be more effective than trying to train him out of all his behaviors all the time (some training is obviously good!) He sounds very smart to me and he may be learning to manipulate the situation to get more and more attention.

Sometimes "less is more" with puppies. Apply that expression anytime things get really confusing.. just simplify. Puppy's needs are simple: food, exercise, play, love, safe boundaries. If in doubt, it may be time for a crate nap!
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Old 01-29-2011, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tess View Post
What great info from Fawkese!

I would only add that more exercise might be good... outdoors chasing a toy and such, to tire him out.

AND

More ignoring him when he is naughty. "Time out" to let him calm down might be more effective than trying to train him out of all his behaviors all the time (some training is obviously good!) He sounds very smart to me and he may be learning to manipulate the situation to get more and more attention.

Sometimes "less is more" with puppies. Apply that expression anytime things get really confusing.. just simplify. Puppy's needs are simple: food, exercise, play, love, safe boundaries. If in doubt, it may be time for a crate nap!
lol, i just re-read my post, and i think i was sleepy last night when i was typing that out. this^^^ is one thing i was trying to get at, but tess put it much more simply than i did... thank you



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Old 02-07-2011, 06:13 PM
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I know I haven't posted in a long time, but I want you all to know that I've been slowly introducing the suggestions you posted and that Wesley is a much better behaved little guy! He has stopped all snapping at people, he is no longer jumping unless he meets someone he hasn't met before, which I am working on, and he's actually well on his way to being leash-trained!

I found the most helpful suggestion, aside from all the great videos, was to leave him alone more often! My mom was right, and so was everyone on here. With more downtime, he is much more responsive to training and to the general conditioning process!

Also, the lack of interest in verbal praise has fixed itself. He's completely tail-waggingly fascinated whenever anyone says "Good boy!" at this point, which I'm so please about. I know it's not a "necessary" thing for him to do, but I like to express my approval and get across the message that way, it's so cuddly-feeling. :3

Anyway, I've actually been doing handling exercises with Wesley since day one, and he doesn't care what you do with his mouth, ears, feet or personal areas, so no worrying about that, thank goodness! He went to the vet for his second set of shots and his second physical today and he was so mellow and wonderful! Not only that, but he didn't even care about getting his temperature taken and whined after the doctor when he left the room. Positive vet experience #2- check!

He's also now had his first dose of Heartworm medication and Flea & Tick Prevention, woohoo! And he is clear to go to puppy socialization class on Friday!

I'm super proud of him, and thanks so much for all your great advice!
He's still crazy, mind you, but I keep reminding myself that he's a puppy and these things take time. X3
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:20 PM
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Thanks so much for the update! So glad to hear he is making progress.
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:11 PM
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^^^ Ditto!
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:23 AM
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awesome! that is GREAT news! good job



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