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as of 4 days ago, i'm the proud mom of an adorable staffordshire mix. She is 5 months old, and was a confiscation from someone. Her past is unknown to me. However it is clear from her many behaviors, she has 0 sense of discipline, 0 sense of consequences, and thinks that everything is play. She was most likely kept in a crate and neglected her whole life, and from the looks of things she was most likely taken from her litter too soon and is poorly socialized with both dogs and people.. She's affectionate, and sweet, but is also full of energy and difficult to control and train, no boundaries at all. i've been working on her "no" command, which has been relatively successful for a 3 day endeavor. She does stop what she is doing, but she'll start it up again as soon as I'm not looking. Even with redirection and praise once she has stopped the behavior. My issue is, she has a bad habit of getting at things she's not supposed to. Most of the things i've hid from her aside from her toys and puppy pads while we potty train. Whenever i go over and try to coerce her away from things, she ignores me. Whenever i try to move her, she take it as play and gets super riled up and gets zoomies. I try not to reward her for getting riled up by ignoring her, but i'm not sure what'll break that behavior. Another thing she does is whenever me or a guest is on the couch, she gets way too excited, jumping at our faces, nipping at our hands and arms. Any effort to push her away or place her on the floor just riles her up more and makes the playing even rougher (which hurts). I eventually just stand up and ignore her, but i dont want standing up to mean the end of playtime, I would like for her to understand that couch, and particularly when guests are on the couch, that it is not playtime at all and that she needs to be calm. With me on the couch she eventually calms down and lays with me after i ignore the unwanted behavior and then pet her when she's calmed down. But with guests obviously training goes out the window. How can i fix this behavior of getting excited and making discipline "fun"? Everything to her means play, moving her paws off something, getting her down from the couch, taking away something she's not supposed to have and etc. All these forms of redirection and teaching go over her head and are taken as play and not as something to be fixed. she has no sense of good or bad, or right or wrong and I'm not sure how to instill that in her. All the dogs i've had before kind of already had some sense of right and wrong. I bought a clicker so that there can be a more clear distinct bridge for her good behaviors than just saying "good" since verbal cues seem to be ineffective. I'm not sure where to start, any help would be appreciated. It's also really hard because i'm having to teach her a lot of things that a dog her age should already know (potty training, her name, "no", leash training, and etc).
 

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It's only been 4 days. I think everything is very new and very strange for her and her behaviour is likely because she doesn't know what to do, so she is over the top with exuberance.

Can you pare it right back, maybe avoid visitors for a few days. And rather than trying to train her, just work on a couple of things; teaching her her name, and building a bond between you.

I'd also recommend against teaching ”no”. A negative is very hard for the brain - if I told you to not think of a green and pink striped flying elephant, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Also, at any one time she will be doing loads of things besides the behaviour you are trying to stop, she will be sniffing, watching, chewing, playing, thinking, remembering, planning etc, so she doesn't know what the ”no” refers to. It's always easier to replace an unwanted behaviour with an alternative and incompatible one. So for jumping up, ask for a sit. She can't jump at the same time.

When you train the sit, make it really well rewarded, because in my view, there are three main reasons why a dog doesn't do as we ask.

First, she doesn't understand. Second, the motivation or reward of doing what she is already doing is higher than the motivation or reward of doing what you are asking. So, you need that sit to be far, far better for her than jumping. Third, you are working against a deeply rooted breed trait that the dog has been selectively bred for over centuries. There is a reason why we don't use terriers to herd sheep - it can be done but it is a lot harder.

You said she has no sense of right/wrong or good/bad. Dogs don't. The part of the brain that recognises that sort of thing simply isn't developed in dogs. Dogs recognise what works/doesn't work, what is safe/not safe. So, in time, teach her things like lying on her bed at certain times is a good choice because that brings her great rewards, like a kong toy stuffed with food and frozen, so she can lick it out while she is lying there. In time you can fade the rewards, but be generous in training.

But like I said, that's for the future, at this stage, just maybe take the pressure off both of you for a week or two.

I'd also recommend watching some of Kikopup's short training videos on YouTube. She has material on everything from basic manners to cool tricks.
 

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You’ve only had her for 4 days and she’s only 5 months old so you also need to give it some time. In fact many owners experience the 5-15 month period to be the toughest and that the dog is the most challenging then.

i've been working on her "no" command, which has been relatively successful for a 3 day endeavor. She does stop what she is doing, but she'll start it up again as soon as I'm not looking.
How have you been working on this? When do you use it, how do you use it?
My issue is, she has a bad habit of getting at things she's not supposed to. Most of the things i've hid from her aside from her toys and puppy pads while we potty train. Whenever i go over and try to coerce her away from things, she ignores me.
This is a very common issue and there’s a reason why you have to puppy proof the house. Many puppies will play and bite on almost everything. Have you tried trading with her? Getting her to leave the thing she shouldn’t have by getting her interested in a toy or treats? You can also work on a command of “drop it”. You start training this in a training situation but then, when established, you can use it in these situations.

Whenever i try to move her, she take it as play and gets super riled up and gets zoomies. I try not to reward her for getting riled up by ignoring her, but i'm not sure what'll break that behavior. Another thing she does is whenever me or a guest is on the couch, she gets way too excited, jumping at our faces, nipping at our hands and arms. Any effort to push her away or place her on the floor just riles her up more and makes the playing even rougher (which hurts). I eventually just stand up and ignore her, but i dont want standing up to mean the end of playtime, I would like for her to understand that couch, and particularly when guests are on the couch, that it is not playtime at all and that she needs to be calm. With me on the couch she eventually calms down and lays with me after i ignore the unwanted behavior and then pet her when she's calmed down. But with guests obviously training goes out the window. How can i fix this behavior of getting excited and making discipline "fun"? Everything to her means play, moving her paws off something, getting her down from the couch, taking away something she's not supposed to have and etc. All these forms of redirection and teaching go over her head and are taken as play and not as something to be fixed. she has no sense of good or bad, or right or wrong and I'm not sure how to instill that in her.
How do you try to move her? How do you push her away from the couch or try to place her on the floor?

It seems like she’s thinking this is a fun game and that you’re playing with her, which of course is the opposite of what you want.

I would create a spot for her near the couch and ask her to lie down whenever you want to be on the couch. To have a specific spot for her to be in will make it clearer for both you and the dog. Whenever she comes up to the couch, take her back to the spot. Be calm, neutral and confident. Apart from leading her back you should ignore her.

I want to emphasize that it matters tremendously how you’re doing this. I had a dog with a similar issue. She wanted to get on the couch when she wasn’t allowed and I followed the method above which she was used to and she knew to stay in her bed if I had asked her to. Then my dad tried to take on the same method but she didn’t listen to him whatsoever. He could try on and on and on but it made no difference and then I could tell her one time and she would understand and listen.

So if it’s not working you might have to look over how you’re doing it. For my dad it didn’t work because he was way to uncertain and unclear in how he did it. You also need to be consistent with this. If you can’t properly train it, don’t put the dog in that situation. If you can’t train while having guests over, is it possible to put the dog in another room or in some way restrict her from the couch?

I bought a clicker so that there can be a more clear distinct bridge for her good behaviors than just saying "good" since verbal cues seem to be ineffective. I'm not sure where to start, any help would be appreciated.
The clicker isn’t used as a cue or a reward but to precise the behavior you want to reward. Do you know the basic of clickers and how to train with them?

Lastly I just want to acknowledge that some of these behaviors might be due to understimulation or could be helped by more exercise and activity. These behaviors are very common for puppies but it won’t hurt to look over her exercise and activities. How do you exercise her as for now?
 

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Four days... Oh my lord . weve had George nearly 18 months and we are pleased that his old habits are getting better.. I just remarked to my OH that George hasnt stolen or destroyed anything for a few weeks now,. He hardly ever barks at wildlife or other dogs anymore and he isnt begging now.

There is some good advice in the posts above but as the past and present owner of rescues and second home dogs, Id say give it time dont rush too much and take joy in small things. Praise and rewards get you a lot further than time outs yelling crating or any of those negative methods..
 

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You’ve only had her for 4 days and she’s only 5 months old so you also need to give it some time. In fact many owners experience the 5-15 month period to be the toughest and that the dog is the most challenging then.


How have you been working on this? When do you use it, how do you use it?

This is a very common issue and there’s a reason why you have to puppy proof the house. Many puppies will play and bite on almost everything. Have you tried trading with her? Getting her to leave the thing she shouldn’t have by getting her interested in a toy or treats? You can also work on a command of “drop it”. You start training this in a training situation but then, when established, you can use it in these situations.


How do you try to move her? How do you push her away from the couch or try to place her on the floor?

It seems like she’s thinking this is a fun game and that you’re playing with her, which of course is the opposite of what you want.

I would create a spot for her near the couch and ask her to lie down whenever you want to be on the couch. To have a specific spot for her to be in will make it clearer for both you and the dog. Whenever she comes up to the couch, take her back to the spot. Be calm, neutral and confident. Apart from leading her back you should ignore her.

I want to emphasize that it matters tremendously how you’re doing this. I had a dog with a similar issue. She wanted to get on the couch when she wasn’t allowed and I followed the method above which she was used to and she knew to stay in her bed if I had asked her to. Then my dad tried to take on the same method but she didn’t listen to him whatsoever. He could try on and on and on but it made no difference and then I could tell her one time and she would understand and listen.

So if it’s not working you might have to look over how you’re doing it. For my dad it didn’t work because he was way to uncertain and unclear in how he did it. You also need to be consistent with this. If you can’t properly train it, don’t put the dog in that situation. If you can’t train while having guests over, is it possible to put the dog in another room or in some way restrict her from the couch?


The clicker isn’t used as a cue or a reward but to precise the behavior you want to reward. Do you know the basic of clickers and how to train with them?

Lastly I just want to acknowledge that some of these behaviors might be due to understimulation or could be helped by more exercise and activity. These behaviors are very common for puppies but it won’t hurt to look over her exercise and activities. How do you exercise her as for now?
Yes I know how a clicker works, it’s a bridge as I said. And as I explained I felt like she needed a stronger more distinct bridge between rewards. Bc saying “good” then rewarding wasn’t getting registered as a bridge. For the couch I do one of two things, I either ignore her altogether until she calms down or lays, then reward. Or if she’s getting too riled up. I pick her up gently and place her on the floor. Often asking her to sit, and then I hand her a toy, and have her take it gently.
For her “no” command, I give a stern no whenever she is chewing on things she’s not supposed to (that’s been the only instance for needing it she doesn’t get into much other mischief than that) so it’s been very much a “leave it” command. I say “no”, and when she stops waltzes over, I bridge, reward, and then give her a toys instead. She’s been doing very good about stopping, and playing with the toy for a bit. I’ll even play with her to distract her and keep her redirected at me. But the minute I get up and am not looking, she goes back to chewing what she was chewing. Specifically it’s this piece of carpet that’s hanging up, she likes to tear at that. And her puppy pads, which for the carpet I normally put something over it, a box or something. So she can’t see it. With the puppy pads I can’t obscure them or hide them bc she’s not house trained and she needs them.
 

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If she isn't housetrained, is there any reason why you can't take her outdoors every hour or so? The problem with puppy pads is that they give mixed messages about whether indoor toileting is allowed. Every successful toilet outside is one step closer to being clean in the house.
 

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I do, I take her out every 45 minutes to the dot, but sometimes she slips up and pees too soon (like a minute before the timer is up reminding me). And I haven’t quite figured out her potty cues yet. But like I said, she doesn’t register “good” or “bad” so scolding her when she pees inside doesn’t work to make her adversed to doing it. She doesn’t understand scolding so it’s been hard to get her to understand that outside is what I want. Even bridging and heavily rewarding her for every successful potty trip, she still goes inside so I need puppy pads just so at the very least while she’s still new to holding her pee she won’t be peeing on carpets or floors.
 

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Four days... Oh my lord . weve had George nearly 18 months and we are pleased that his old habits are getting better.. I just remarked to my OH that George hasnt stolen or destroyed anything for a few weeks now,. He hardly ever barks at wildlife or other dogs anymore and he isnt begging now.

There is some good advice in the posts above but as the past and present owner of rescues and second home dogs, Id say give it time dont rush too much and take joy in small things. Praise and rewards get you a lot further than time outs yelling crating or any of those negative methods..
Yeah I’m trying really hard to use only positive reinforcement methods. And get her on a routine and a decent training schedule. But obviously her and I are still getting to know each other so I’m making several mistakes reading her body language and understanding what she wants. She’s the first rescue I’ve had that is basically starting from scratch while also having a lot of bad habits from neglectful previous owners. All my previous rescues have had at least some foundation when I rescued them. So this is my first time with a dog who is just completely unsocialized and poorly mannered. With every day it gets better and we’re getting to know each other. But I guess I just don’t know where to start with undoing old behaviors since I’ve never had a problem with that before with other rescues.
 

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Ah ok. Its actually counterproductive to scold for indoor accidents anyway - in the first place, she doesn't know she is doing something you don't like, and in the second place, dogs cant make the distinction between you being annoyed at them TOILETING, as opposed to toileting INDOORS. So if you get annoyed she may learn to fear your reaction and avoid you if she needs to toilet; seeking or creating opportunities to do it in your absence, by going off and toileting out of sight. Indoor accidents are always the owner's fault for not having the puppy in the right place at the moment she needs to go.
 

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Ah ok. Its actually counterproductive to scold for indoor accidents anyway - in the first place, she doesn't know she is doing something you don't like, and in the second place, dogs cant make the distinction between you being annoyed at them TOILETING, as opposed to toileting INDOORS. So if you get annoyed she may learn to fear your reaction and avoid you if she needs to toilet; seeking or creating opportunities to do it in your absence, by going off and toileting out of sight. Indoor accidents are always the owner's fault for not having the puppy in the right place at the moment she needs to go.
Yeah, it’s been really hard to tell when she’s just curious about the house and exploring and when she actually wants to potty. I was thinking of getting a potty training bell, but adding an extra step is just gonna overwhelm her more. Going on a schedule has helped plenty. But she also refuses to go outside at night, for reasons I’m not quite sure, which means from like 9- midnight when we’re winding down she has an accident or two
 

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Y But I guess I just don’t know where to start with undoing old behaviors since I’ve never had a problem with that before with other rescues.
This is something Ive never focused on. I mean I know you have to stop the old habits but using George as an example.. He was on a long line in the garden and allowed to run to the fence and bark at everyone for attention. Obviously we didnt want this so in the beginning we made sure he walked on a fairly short lead and before he got the chance to bark at anyone we would prompt with a * look at me* command and a treat for as long as he kept his attention on us. We focused on getting him into our routine and not at getting him out of the old one. I know you end up in the same place but its nicer for them to feel they are learning something new and getting rewards and its less frustrating for us to be teaching a new skill instead of keep thinking how do we stop him doing X Y Z?

He didnt respond to here or come but rattle the biscuit tin and he came sprinting over so if I wanted him I would shake the tin and say George come.. Of course he came every time and got a reward so he learned come instead of running off everytime he was called. Him happy us happy and a bad habit broken and forgotten.

We use the command do business for toilet so we would just wait until he peed and then say good boy do business.. Now we can ask him to do business and he does but again after a week of our routine his body adjusted to us and he stopped asking to go out at odd times... 5 months is young and if she hasnt had training she wont understand holding on.. So its going to be a case of getting her used to toileting at times you want her to and where you want her to. Praising when she does it outside and ignoring the accidents...

For the first few weeks with any rescue I never let them out of my sight they stay in the room with me so that I can see if any cues are given or if any problems crop up any tendancy to chew etc.. If your in eyeline they are like kids much less likely to get up to mischief and you are there to nip it in the bud, plus any cue of them needing to toilet and you are there to act on it instead of just finding the puddle later..
 

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I was thinking of getting a potty training bell, but adding an extra step is just gonna overwhelm her more.
I'm not keen on bells - too many dogs learn to riring them to go out, rather than go out to toilet. So you become your dog's personal doorman.

If you take her out regularly, and immediately reward generously when she toilets, she will learn to hold in order to get her fabulous reward. I'd use something high value, only used for outdoor toilets, such as roast chicken or frankfurter sausage. It has to be immediate so that it is clear that it is for toileting and not for anything else, and generous to make it really worth the effort of holding.
 

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This is something Ive never focused on. I mean I know you have to stop the old habits but using George as an example.. He was on a long line in the garden and allowed to run to the fence and bark at everyone for attention. Obviously we didnt want this so in the beginning we made sure he walked on a fairly short lead and before he got the chance to bark at anyone we would prompt with a * look at me* command and a treat for as long as he kept his attention on us. We focused on getting him into our routine and not at getting him out of the old one. I know you end up in the same place but its nicer for them to feel they are learning something new and getting rewards and its less frustrating for us to be teaching a new skill instead of keep thinking how do we stop him doing X Y Z?

He didnt respond to here or come but rattle the biscuit tin and he came sprinting over so if I wanted him I would shake the tin and say George come.. Of course he came every time and got a reward so he learned come instead of running off everytime he was called. Him happy us happy and a bad habit broken and forgotten.

We use the command do business for toilet so we would just wait until he peed and then say good boy do business.. Now we can ask him to do business and he does but again after a week of our routine his body adjusted to us and he stopped asking to go out at odd times... 5 months is young and if she hasnt had training she wont understand holding on.. So its going to be a case of getting her used to toileting at times you want her to and where you want her to. Praising when she does it outside and ignoring the accidents...

For the first few weeks with any rescue I never let them out of my sight they stay in the room with me so that I can see if any cues are given or if any problems crop up any tendancy to chew etc.. If your in eyeline they are like kids much less likely to get up to mischief and you are there to nip it in the bud, plus any cue of them needing to toilet and you are there to act on it instead of just finding the puddle later..
Yeah I’ve kept Presley in my sights at all times the last 4 days, which is exhausting since I’m a one person household, however whenever I’m at my desk working it is sometimes hard to tell if she’s getting up to pick up a toy, to get in the bed, or if it’s to pee. And since scolds don’t work to get her to stop peeing once she started, it’s really just up to reading her better and rewarding only outside potties, and never inside ones. As for her couch behavior, it’s probably gonna boil down to never playing with her or reinforcing her overzealousness on the couch so she stops associating couch with aggressive play. I just feel bad she was raised this way. Whoever had her before really neglected any effort to train and help her
 

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I'm not keen on bells - too many dogs learn to riring them to go out, rather than go out to toilet. So you become your dog's personal doorman.

If you take her out regularly, and immediately reward generously when she toilets, she will learn to hold in order to get her fabulous reward. I'd use something high value, only used for outdoor toilets, such as roast chicken or frankfurter sausage. It has to be immediate so that it is clear that it is for toileting and not for anything else, and generous to make it really worth the effort of holding.
yeah I’ve been doing my best to do that, hopefully she’ll make the distinction between getting treats only when going outside and not inside. Which I’m sure she will.
 

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Actually, play is a powerful tool for motivating and rewarding - don't underestimate its value. But again, it is really early days.
 
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