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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my husband and I decided last year that since we didn't plan on having kids anytime soon, we should look into getting a puppy. We researched the heck out of breeds and decided on an American Brittany. We wanted an active dog to take hiking and camping, that would still be relatively small in the house and car, and would be good with kids when that time comes. We went on a waiting list for a pup from a very reputable breeder in October 2014 and finally got to pick up our boy May 21st of this year (2015).

Batona (named after the first trail he hiked with us) is healthy, well-bred, and growing fast.. the only problem is that I HATE HIM. I won't lie because that never does any good, but if this dog gets struck by lightning tomorrow, I can't say I'd be that upset. We went to Petsmart puppy classes (only a few since they got cancelled), do regular training at home, and take him everywhere we go to socialize with dogs and people, but he's horrible. He knows how to sit, stay, lay down, come, wait, shake, high-five, drop it, and leave it. The problem is, he never actually does anything we say. The only way he will listen to us is if we have certain treats that are a big motivator for him. I know that he needs to be exercised a lot each day but it's really hard because although he's only 35lbs, he pulls on the leash like he's 200lbs. Our property is just under 3 acres, but he can't be off leash because he doesn't pay attention to us at all (if a leaf or bug or car goes by, he's gone). We were thinking about an invisible fence, but that is A LOT of money to shell out if he's just going to run through it or if it won't make a difference.

I've had Australian Cattle Dogs my entire life so I'm no stranger to intense working dogs, but this dog is a whole different story. You can almost see his brain working he's so high strung. He is kennel trained (although he just started peeing in there recently), and I'm almost always home with him. He's always hurting me between his play biting, scratching, and knocking into me. We did a lot of research, paid a lot of money, took a lot of time training, and we're ending up with a horrible little demon dog.

Please can someone help me? He's scheduled to get neutered the second week of November, will that help at all? Any advice at all is appreciated. I had originally posted on another forum but I mostly got hate, not help.

He may seem well-behaved and calm in the photos but it's a lie! :headbash:
 

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No hate here but I am going to be 100% honest.

If you truly hate him, rehome him. Nothing will get better if you have animosity towards him. He will feel the negativity and it will show in your training. I suspect though, that it isn't hate but frustration that you are feeling.

My next suggestion is to start over with his training with a positive reinforcement trainer. Petsmart training is kind of hit or miss. It sounds like instead of using treats as rewards, you began using them as bribes - I did the same thing so don't feel bad haha. Make training fun for you and your pup! Play games. Use a flirt pole. Give him puzzle toys to mentally stimulate him. I hike with my dog too and we both LOVE it :)

As far as peeing in the crate goes, I'd have the vet look at him to rule out any medical issues. If they don't find anything, I think 'fixing' the training issues may fix this as well.

Neutering may calm him down a little but it's not going to magically turn him into an obedient dog.

Good luck!
 

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Hi! Welcome to the Dog Forum.

I'd like to ask you what kind of training methods you're using. What approaches, books, videos, and so on have you followed? Maybe we can suggest some ideas that will increase the efficiency of your training time.
 

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IME, if dogs only listen when they know you have a treat or a certain treat, it's because you didn't fade the treats from training effectively and/or you have been accidentally using the treats as bribes instead of rewards. It's a super common mistake and really easy to make, that's not a dig on you or anything.

If you could explain exactly how you're training, it would help people give you advice. :)
 

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I also agree, if you truly hate him, then rehome him, but it sounds more like you are overly frustrated and probably a little bit stressed.

Brittanys are a hard breed. They are a bird dog. I would recommend finding a well recommended positive reinforcement trainer. Petsmart training is good for the most basic of owners and dogs. I know, I use to be a trainer there. But if your dog has even the smallest of issue it's not going to be a place for you.
@cbarkerb724 and @crock might also have some suggestions as she is also the owners of a wonderful bird dogs. (Although I know they are very different).
 
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I agree, find a good positive reinforcement trainer. It's funny - when I work with my dog one on one, I notice all the things he does wrong...but when I work with my trainer, she points out all the awesome things he does right. That change of perspective for the better is awesome!

Keep in mind that dogs do have trouble generalizing, so just because he can do those things at home doesn't mean he'll know to do them in public with distractions. So, practice in different environments with increasing amounts of distractions.

Brittanys are crazy, but your dog sounds like a good dog, just one with a lot of spunk and energy! My dog's got other problems, but he too can get overexcited at times...but it's one of those things where, I've noticed, if you stick it out long enough you start to realize improvements are occurring. It just doesn't happen overnight.

Sorry I can't provide a better answer as I have to run to work. Best of luck to you and your pup. He's absolutely handsome, by the way!
 

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You have probably chosen one of the top 5 most energetic breeds. If you can't devote at least 2 hours a day to giving this dog the exercise and stimulation he needs I advise you get in contact with a Brittany rescue. He is a gorgeous young healthy boy and someone with a more compatible lifestyle would snap him up in a second.

Next time when researching a breed, be sure to hit up some breed clubs or join a forum or two to get the firsthand experience that breed owners can share with you. Brittanys are definitely more of a "lifestyle breed" IMO, much like the border collie or the Belgian malnois. Not a breed for the casual owner who is not looking to devote 2,3,4 hours per day to exercising and training with their dog.
 

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Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but if you got him in May at roughly 8 weeks, he's also entering adolescence, which is a very trying time for every pet owner, you're not alone in feeling very frustrated.

To drain some of his energy before you go for a walk, have you considered making a flirt pole? (Flirt Pole Tutorial I always try to do something with my guys before we go because walks are soooooo exciting for them.

I believe the Brittany is an awesome scent dog, have you thought about playing some nose work games with him? I bet he would seriously amaze you.
 
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Welcome to the forum :)

I hate to sound harsh, but if you really hate him so much you wouldn't care if he dropped dead tomorrow, I would rehome him. It's going to be a lot easier to find someone to adopt a purebred Brittany puppy who is excusably untrained, than an untrained problematic adult dog.

Out of curiosity though, what kind of training methods are you using? I would definitely stay away from an invisible fence or shock tactics, as this can cause fear for things like leaving the property when you want him to or associate things like, for example, the bushes near the sensation as bad and scary since he can't comprehend what exactly it's coming from. Among other things near the shock he's receiving like cars, sidewalks, gutters, houses, or the particular soil under his feet. Take this from a person who ignorantly tried shock collars which were recommended by my trainer, and then spent months with a different trainer getting my dog to not be afraid of sewers. :/ Needless to say I'm never doing that again. It's not just a lot of money, it's a lot of damage on your dogs psyche, which you also have to consider.

I agree with Sassafrass. It sounds like you didn't properly phase out treats and now the dog has a "whats in it for me?" attitude, which many intelligent breeds can develop.

When leash training Cosmo I walked a little bit and when he tried yanking me or moving ahead I'd say "wrong" and turn around and go back a couple steps before trying again. It literally took me 40 minutes to get down the hill at first but the next day it was only 30 and the next 20 so on and so forth and now he walks beautifully.

Brittany's are work dogs, and extremely high energy. I have an Aussie who is a herding breed and I have to set aside anywhere from 2-4 hours a day on training and exercise. I just had to stuff a small sierra mist bottle with cheese chunks because he already ate his kibble out of his kong and that's not new enough for him so he tried to grab my grandpa's teeth off the table to find himself entertainment. He's playing with the bottle as we speak.

Also, you mentioned he's peeing in his crate. Why? How long is he in there? When does he do this? If he's peeing in it only while you're gone it could be separation anxiety. If he's peeing in it over night or while in there for hours during the day, you aren't taking him out enough. Dogs don't usually pee in their space unless they're sick or desperate.

If he's high strung as you say, he needs more exercise and mental stimulation. If you can't put in the time, it's time to find him a home that can.
 

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Gah too late to edit: He is gorgeous! Also, does your husband feel the same way? My BC puppy requires a ton of exercise and supervision, and she seriously stresses me out and makes me cry. Two weeks ago both dogs were with the sitter while we got married, so we were without for five days. And I ended up missing them both TERRIBLY. Even the bratty puppy who pees and chews on everything.

Is there any way you could give yourself a break for a day or so to really think about your puppy?
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you all for your kind advice! So far I've only ever used positive reinforcement with him because I know negativity will only hurt the situation. I probably shouldn't have said that I hate him, but rather I hate spending time with him. I understand that he is not at fault here, I'm just trying to figure out how to change what I'm doing in order for him to thrive in my family. The breeder is very involved and he said to stick it out past this adolescent stage and if I absolutely need to, I can take the pup back to him.

As far as my husband is concerned, I'm the one that takes care of the dog and is responsible for most of his daily life, so the final decision is up to me. He is as involved as his work schedule allows, and he really enjoys Batona (Tona) when they hang out on his days off. He takes Tona to the shooting range often, takes him on his errands to Lowes and Tractor Supply, and we usually walk the hiking trails that are within walking distance from our house.

I have a flirt pole that I use with him with a pheasant wing attached, but this only holds his attention for a couple of minutes before something else grabs him. I have never tried scent games with him as I'm not sure what this involves, but I would be 110% down to try it if you could direct me to some good sites or books.

I've read that with more intelligent and energetic dogs you should make them work for pretty much everything so he sits and waits patiently to go in and out of his kennel, in and out of doorways, up and down stairs, in and out of the truck, and for his food. He will sit like a gentlemen if he knows he is getting something (food, water, toy, treat, stick), but usually knows if I don't have anything to offer him. I understand that this is a bribe but I don't know how to phase out the treats without him just totally ignoring me.

As for walking and exercising, I usually take him out for walks around 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, and before bed around 11pm. I would like to take him running with me, but I've been advised against this because he is still growing and it could mess with his growth plates. I'm not sure if I 100% agree with that, but I'm not willing to risk his growth and development. I have seen the front clip harness and the head halter leaders, but I wasn't sure which would be best and if they actually worked. That's part of the reason I wanted to ask a group of "real people", rather than sponsored blog posts from google.

Peeing in the crate has only happened a handful of times, but I thought I should mention it so you all could get the whole picture. The most he is ever in the crate (except overnight which has never been a problem) is about 4 hours, and from what I've read, 6month old puppies his size should be able to go about 5-6 hours. Usually it happens in the mid-morning/early afternoon while I'm running errands. He has a vet appointment soon to get neutered, but should I make another one sooner to check this out?

I am sorry for the lengthy post(s), but I want to do whatever I can to help this little guy work in my household. Some days (today) are absolutely wonderful with him (he is currently laying on my feet chewing on a bully stick), but the bad days are extremely frustrating. I thank you all SO MUCH for your quick and detailed responses, you all were very helpful and I'm willing to try just about anything to get him to work. I usually enjoy the little dude but the bad days really outweigh the good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I was also thinking about looking into agility with him. I have zero experience with this, but there is a local club (I think), and I'd be willing to spend the time and money if it is something that would keep him active and entertained!
 

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Thank you all for your kind advice! So far I've only ever used positive reinforcement with him because I know negativity will only hurt the situation. I probably shouldn't have said that I hate him, but rather I hate spending time with him. I understand that he is not at fault here, I'm just trying to figure out how to change what I'm doing in order for him to thrive in my family. The breeder is very involved and he said to stick it out past this adolescent stage and if I absolutely need to, I can take the pup back to him.

As far as my husband is concerned, I'm the one that takes care of the dog and is responsible for most of his daily life, so the final decision is up to me. He is as involved as his work schedule allows, and he really enjoys Batona (Tona) when they hang out on his days off. He takes Tona to the shooting range often, takes him on his errands to Lowes and Tractor Supply, and we usually walk the hiking trails that are within walking distance from our house.

I have a flirt pole that I use with him with a pheasant wing attached, but this only holds his attention for a couple of minutes before something else grabs him. I have never tried scent games with him as I'm not sure what this involves, but I would be 110% down to try it if you could direct me to some good sites or books.

I've read that with more intelligent and energetic dogs you should make them work for pretty much everything so he sits and waits patiently to go in and out of his kennel, in and out of doorways, up and down stairs, in and out of the truck, and for his food. He will sit like a gentlemen if he knows he is getting something (food, water, toy, treat, stick), but usually knows if I don't have anything to offer him. I understand that this is a bribe but I don't know how to phase out the treats without him just totally ignoring me.

As for walking and exercising, I usually take him out for walks around 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, and before bed around 11pm. I would like to take him running with me, but I've been advised against this because he is still growing and it could mess with his growth plates. I'm not sure if I 100% agree with that, but I'm not willing to risk his growth and development. I have seen the front clip harness and the head halter leaders, but I wasn't sure which would be best and if they actually worked. That's part of the reason I wanted to ask a group of "real people", rather than sponsored blog posts from google.

Peeing in the crate has only happened a handful of times, but I thought I should mention it so you all could get the whole picture. The most he is ever in the crate (except overnight which has never been a problem) is about 4 hours, and from what I've read, 6month old puppies his size should be able to go about 5-6 hours. Usually it happens in the mid-morning/early afternoon while I'm running errands. He has a vet appointment soon to get neutered, but should I make another one sooner to check this out?

I am sorry for the lengthy post(s), but I want to do whatever I can to help this little guy work in my household. Some days (today) are absolutely wonderful with him (he is currently laying on my feet chewing on a bully stick), but the bad days are extremely frustrating. I thank you all SO MUCH for your quick and detailed responses, you all were very helpful and I'm willing to try just about anything to get him to work. I usually enjoy the little dude but the bad days really outweigh the good.
Long responses are good! It helps us better help you :)

First Id like to say that it's really really good news that your breeder is willing to take back the dog. That (usually) means that you have a nice breeder on your hands and your pup came from someone who really cares.

When you mentioned how many walks he goes on I was really surprised! Maybe you're frustrated with him because you spend so much time with him? It's ok to want a break :) I spend a lot of time with Cosmo but sometimes he drives me insane! Having time away from him like work makes me excited to see him when I get off work. Like tonight I was almost rushing home to spend time with him, because I missed him after working all day. Now if I had spent all day with him I might want to chill in my bed and make him lay down and get out of my hair! Haha

What kinds of things are involved in your walks? It may be that even though the walks are frequent, he's mentally understimulated by the walks. You could play a game of "find it" and periodically toss a treat out in front of you. Make him wait since he seems to be good at it and then say "find it!" And let him sniff around in the grass :) toss it in some leaves or high grass where it might be hard to find. I've tossed treats into the little kiddie pool we have in the yard for Cosmo and it's like he's dunking for apples haha, but it keeps him busy!

With the pulling though, it sounds like he wants to get somewhere and as fast as possible. That's a really useful trait to use against him if you teach him he isn't getting anywhere if he doesn't walk calmly with you, so the whole one step forward, yank, three steps back method might work really well for him. The key here is being in an extremely calm mood and just understanding going into it hes going to try to pull you around the first couple days. Just try your driveway first, or even out your door. Tell him to wait at the door and when you use your command to tell him it's ok, if he runs ahead of you say "walk with me" and pull him back to the doorway and start all over. Try for about 15-20 minutes and if he doesn't catch on in that time frame bring him inside and try again in 30-60mins. Eventually he will catch on. Get as far as you can down the driveway and keep lessons short and fun :)

I definitely wouldn't run with him until he's 12 months old. That's a true thing, and you could have big problems if you make his joints over work while they're still growing, so I'd avoid biking or running until 12mo! (Once he is 12mo and knows how to walk on a leash nicely biking could be an EXCELLENT way to tire him out!)


I wouldn't use a head halter because of the amount you stated he pulls. What the head halter does is put pressure on the nose, but in doing so it clamps the mouth shut which can not only panic the dog, but result in a hanging tongue to be snagged on the teeth which can result in real damage to the tongue as well as the jowls. Not sure about the front clip harness risks as I've never used one but in design Id rather that over a head halter.

As for the crate peeing, I'd definitely ask a vet about a UTI because that's a little unusual, but he is still young and it could be that he honestly cant or doesn't know to hold it.

I hope this helped! If any members disagree with any of that and think I'm shelling out crap advice please chime in :)
 

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Also forgot to add that taking him on that many walks all day long may just be causing an adverse reaction and instead of tiring him out its making him always ready to go go go. You may have a better time teaching calm behaviors instead. Cosmo used to be restless even after an hour walk, and I knew he didn't need to go on another walk, so I just went into my room with him, closed the door, and laid down on my bed with a book and handed him a kong. He would get up and whine at the door and I knew he didn't need to pee so I just told him "lay down" and ignored his whining. After a while he just learned that when we go in the room it's time to chill out. Now he's sleeping on my floor beside the bed and has been since he came in here :)

There's a really good YouTube video on teaching calm behaviors by kikopup that I linked below :)

http://youtu.be/wesm2OpE_2c
 

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Everyone else has given really great advice. I only have one thing to add and this may have already been mentioned and I skimmed over it--
3 acres is a nice area of land if you have a long-line--have you tried that? It's a lightweight piece of rope 20-50 feet long with a latch at the end. It allows your dog to range around, sniff and feel "free" while still staying safe. I learned with horses that confinement can often irritate their instinctive kind of "opposition reflex" and it's seemed true frequently with my dogs as well! Longlines give the dog the choice to turn back to you, which you could reward--not luring him back to you, but if he spontaneously checks in, or even just looks at you, tossing a treat often causes them to repeat the behavior.

I have a Rat Terrier who went through an adolescent phase where I thought I wouldn't be able to do any of the activities and sports I dreamed of when I bought him--but then, suddenly when he was about 13 months old it started getting better, very quickly. I always knew I loved him and wanted him though and if you don't feel that way six months + is a long time to go and may not be fair to the dog in the meantime.
 

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@thecoulters - that long post was perfect! It gave lots of good info. I'm so happy to hear that your breeder is being so helpful.

Check out Kikopup on YouTube - she's great!

Also, look up some tricks to teach your dog. Integrate teaching tricks into your basic obedience. It'll be more fun for you and your dog. Start with simple ones like "shake" and "roll over". If you're on FB, there's a group called "tricks & training". I LOVE it! People do such cool things with their dogs! Check it out... I think when you start having more fun in your daily activities, you'll both be happier. :)
 

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Thank you all for your kind advice! So far I've only ever used positive reinforcement with him because I know negativity will only hurt the situation. I probably shouldn't have said that I hate him, but rather I hate spending time with him. I understand that he is not at fault here, I'm just trying to figure out how to change what I'm doing in order for him to thrive in my family. The breeder is very involved and he said to stick it out past this adolescent stage and if I absolutely need to, I can take the pup back to him.
That is awesome news. Positive reinforcement is awesome, I definitely get the vibe you don't hate him, you're just frustrated.

As far as my husband is concerned, I'm the one that takes care of the dog and is responsible for most of his daily life, so the final decision is up to me. He is as involved as his work schedule allows, and he really enjoys Batona (Tona) when they hang out on his days off. He takes Tona to the shooting range often, takes him on his errands to Lowes and Tractor Supply, and we usually walk the hiking trails that are within walking distance from our house.
It sounds like he is getting exposed to tons of different stimuli, and as long as he's happy and not getting fearful you're going to have an amazingly well-adjusted adult dog.

I have a flirt pole that I use with him with a pheasant wing attached, but this only holds his attention for a couple of minutes before something else grabs him. I have never tried scent games with him as I'm not sure what this involves, but I would be 110% down to try it if you could direct me to some good sites or books.
Some dogs just aren't that into flirt poles, despite our best efforts. You could try with a different toy to see if that ups his interest. For my guys, it has to squeak!

Here are a couple of different scent games:

Scent Games


I've read that with more intelligent and energetic dogs you should make them work for pretty much everything so he sits and waits patiently to go in and out of his kennel, in and out of doorways, up and down stairs, in and out of the truck, and for his food. He will sit like a gentlemen if he knows he is getting something (food, water, toy, treat, stick), but usually knows if I don't have anything to offer him. I understand that this is a bribe but I don't know how to phase out the treats without him just totally ignoring me.
This happens ALL THE TIME. It is suuuuper common. This is a video of Kikopup (one of my favourite trainers) showing how to fade a lure while teaching "spin". They are good mechanics that you can use for all behaviours:

Fading the Lure

As for walking and exercising, I usually take him out for walks around 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, and before bed around 11pm. I would like to take him running with me, but I've been advised against this because he is still growing and it could mess with his growth plates. I'm not sure if I 100% agree with that, but I'm not willing to risk his growth and development. I have seen the front clip harness and the head halter leaders, but I wasn't sure which would be best and if they actually worked. That's part of the reason I wanted to ask a group of "real people", rather than sponsored blog posts from google.
That is a lot of walks! I might try to scale down the walks just a bit, because I think he might be pumped because he knows he gets to go out so often. Definitely don't run with him yet, the growth plates fact is 100% true! If your dog is a serious puller, I would use the front clip harness.

This a great clip on loose leash walking:

Loose Leash Walking

And some problem solving: Problem Solving

Peeing in the crate has only happened a handful of times, but I thought I should mention it so you all could get the whole picture. The most he is ever in the crate (except overnight which has never been a problem) is about 4 hours, and from what I've read, 6month old puppies his size should be able to go about 5-6 hours. Usually it happens in the mid-morning/early afternoon while I'm running errands. He has a vet appointment soon to get neutered, but should I make another one sooner to check this out?
I might just mention it to your vet when you drop him off for the neutering.

I am sorry for the lengthy post(s), but I want to do whatever I can to help this little guy work in my household. Some days (today) are absolutely wonderful with him (he is currently laying on my feet chewing on a bully stick), but the bad days are extremely frustrating. I thank you all SO MUCH for your quick and detailed responses, you all were very helpful and I'm willing to try just about anything to get him to work. I usually enjoy the little dude but the bad days really outweigh the good.
Send us more pictures, he's SO CUTE!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you all again!

I will be sure to check out Kikopup as more than one of you have recommended that. I never thought about it if he was getting too many walks, but I understand that he may always be ready to go if he never gets to chill out. I think I'm going to cut back his walks to 3 or 4/day and just make them longer and try to take him new places. Usually we just walk around my neighborhood, but we both could use a change of scenery.

As of this morning, I replaced his second morning walk with some "chill time" and he's pretty relaxed. I'm just doing some work on my laptop in bed and he's next to me chewing a toy and completely leaving me alone (yes!).

I will be sure to work on phasing out treats and teaching him some non-obedience tricks. He knows how to shake, high-five, and crawl, but I haven't tried to teach him any new ones! I should have know this because my parent's dog, a 5 year old Australian Cattle Dog, is full of the silliest tricks you could think of to keep her mind busy. She fetches the paper, pulls your socks off of your feet, rides the horses (with supervision and safety in mind), and will bring you your cellphone! I need to put his little mind to good use!

Also, I have a 50foot longline that I usually use when I have him outside with me, and I try to do half of his daily training sessions outside while he's on that. I think phasing out the treats will help a lot though because he really couldn't care less unless I have a treat in my hand!

And just for fun, as soon as I'm done with this reply I'm going to make him a photo thread on the other board!
 
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