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· Registered
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I'm hoping someone will have suggestions to help with my Luna. I love my dog to death, she is so sweet and funny and lovable, but she's driving me up the wall a little bit.

She's never been easy to train, behaviorally speaking. She learns tricks VERY quickly ("lie down" took maybe 2 5-minute clicker sessions and then she totally had it) but basic manners are next to impossible. We hired a private trainer because her group lessons weren't going well (it was gently suggested to us that we might start with private lessons, as she was so excited she was distracting the other dogs). He does help, but she's starting to become sort of "immune" to the things he suggests.

Here are the problems:
- Biggest one by far is that when people come over, she is SO excited she can't settle down. I had a friend over for four hours last night and Luna never stopped freaking out about it. Constantly jumping on her, biting at her hands (which she doesn't do with us). We tried having my friend ignore her, making the negative marker sound "ACK," spraying her with the water bottle—nothing.
- She will. not. stay out of the kitchen. She's never in her life been allowed in there, and she KNOWS she isn't supposed to be in there (if she's in there when we aren't, she goes tearing out as soon as she hears us coming) but she refuses to stay out. While I'm cooking, I spend about every 30 seconds or so going "Luna, out. Luna, OUT." She'll back up until she's out and then come back in 30 seconds later. Negative noises, spray bottle, treating her for staying out—none of these do any good.
- She's SO hard to walk. She gets very excited about every little thing and pulls as hard as she can. When she weighed 10 pounds, it wasn't a huge deal, but now that she weighs 50 it's very hard (especially as I have tendonitis in my wrists and it hurts very badly when she pulls).

I'm kind of at a loss, because we've been working hard on training her since she was a baby, but it just seems like the things that used to stop her behaviors don't work anymore. It's incredibly embarrassing to have her all over people when they come over, and we have such a little place, if I crate her you can't hear yourself think over all the barking. Does anybody have any other strategies we could try? I'm going to discuss it with our trainer, but he doesn't come back for a few days. Sorry for the novel!

· Registered
2,369 Posts
I have to leave for a meeting in 2 minutes, so I need to be brief.

One place to start is to think about what you want her to do and train those behaviors. Stop concentrating on how to stop behaviors and focus on creating new, incompatible ones.

Others will be along with more details, but changing your general approach can make a world of difference.

Good luck!

· Super Moderator
3,914 Posts
Are you able to close off the kitchen with a baby gate? I have a formal living room with a white carpet that I don't want my dog in, and I've managed to keep him out with gates.

I'm dealing with a lot of similar issues with a rescue dog I adopted seven weeks ago. I had a private trainer come by our house a week ago, and we're still in the process of implementing new behaviors to replace the unwanted ones. One big problem is that my dog, which is also quite large (60 pounds), likes to jump up on and tear my leather sectional. To prevent that, I'm training him to settle on a mat in front of it. I keep his leash on him, have him lie down on the mat, pet him, and give him treats when he lies there quietly. I think it really helps that he has a specific spot to be that is close to me.

I'd like to read some ideas about how to curb leash pulling as well. My dog is great about walking forward with me, but sometimes he sniffs something to the side and pulls very hard to reach it. I feel your pain.

· Banned
6,252 Posts
A few things! I'm going to break it down into small steps for you because I found this helped for me :) A lot of it is minor changes in the way you think, and you need to train yourself as much as your puppy! Also-ha, you thought you wrote a novel ;)

Jumping up

People coming over is HARD. Excitement is high, and it's VERY hard to train that way. Here's what Koda and I have done-she's not perfect yet but has made loads of progress:

-Wait a bit before greeting when you come home. Makes people in and out less exciting
-While still training, you need something for in between. Crates are good to start, or have her on a leash when people come in so that she at least can't jump ON them and practice the bad behaviour. If you need to, use time outs in a calm space so she can have a break from the excitement away from the new arrivals!

-Start with working with YOU going in and out. Click and treat (place on floor) whenever four paws are on the ground (Frequently! Every half second!). Go in and out until you can stick around and not have the excitement level very high. Act calm, give calming signals if it helps.
-Work your way up on the first step by slowly adding excitement, no calming signals. Treat the same way, by placing kibble or treats on the ground. Keep practicing until she doesn't jump on you, consistently. This may not translate to guests yet.
-Bring a friend over for the purpose of doing the exact same exercise. Start slowly again and start with calming signals when they walk through the door. It may help to go outside, give them treats, then wait a minute before allowing them to come in. Practice the same way, until your friend can get really excited and your dog doesn't keep jumping.
-Practice with as many people as you possibly can.

So you can see this may take a while XD But it's very much so worth it. The idea behind this is to train that 4 paws on the ground = praise and treats, which she DOESN'T get if she jumps. You want to condition her to think waiting happily is more rewarding than jumping (which is self rewarding). A lot of dogs jump to greet people eye-to-eye and it's a very natural behaviour, so it will take a long time to condition her that something ELSE is better. But you will get great results :) Plus you may notice as she starts understanding that she's calmer in general around guests and is easier to work with.

Boundary conditioning

You CAN train invisible boundaries. It's not easy. Management will be your friend here, because food is VERY rewarding. Try using a baby gate that you can step over. Yes, she will eventually be physically big enough to jump the gate. It shouldn't matter, the respect for the item blocking the way should be sufficient in a lot of cases. Again you want to train what you want instead of what you don't want. You're not looking to train her to stay OUT of the kitchen, you're looking to have her settle down elsewhere or stop at the entry way. Give her something else to do. She just wants to be with you :)


This is another toughie, because you're again conditioning a new repose (having a loose leash) to be BETTER and MORE rewarding than sniffing and trying to explore. You're going to need to practice this in a similar way as how you did the door. Start inside in a low stimulation type of environment. click and treat for your dog following you around. You can gradually increase distractions and go outside, but remember that this is HARD on your puppy's brain! You may have to go back a step if you find your puppy is pulling more than you can gain her attention.

Overall, you want to focus on what you WANT to happen instead of what you DON'T want to happen. There's a book that's called Behavior Adjustment Training by Stewart that I think you would enjoy :) There's also lots of other stickies on this and threads, so be sure to check them out!

I hope this helps!
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