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Old 08-14-2006, 01:10 AM
Labtec Labtec is offline
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Default New dog, many questions.

Hey guys,

New to the forum.

I'm working on adopting my first dog and have decided to foster Brownie before deciding to adopt. He is about 2 years old and the shelter told me he was a Rhodesian Ridgeback and Lab mix or a Golden Retriever and Lab mix. What do you guys think? I see a little Pit or Stafford terrier in him.

He is extremely friendly and and greets everyone with kisses and a wagging tale. We have only had him for 3 days and I have a couple of questions?

When you get him excited and start playing with a ball, he gets kinda rough and will try to put your hand and arm in his mouth, not all at once . He doesn't bite hard, but the his teeth still hurt. How do I get him to stop “biting” while playing.

Second, he loves to hop on the couch and bed from time to time. He will listen when he wants to but has growled and tried to put my hand in his mouth. How do I get him to stop jumping onto the couch and bed and once he's on, whats the best way to get him off? I just bring out his leash and trick him into thinking we're going for a walk.

Thanks for all your help.

Last edited by Labtec; 08-14-2006 at 01:27 AM.
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Old 08-14-2006, 01:45 AM
silverpawz silverpawz is offline
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Second, he loves to hop on the couch and bed from time to time. He will listen when he wants to but has growled and tried to put my hand in his mouth.
Honestly, I would pass on this dog since you haven't adopted him yet. He's already growling at you, trying to get you to back off and claim the furniture as his. That is NOT okay behavior.

He's easily excited during play and puts his mouth on you. NOT okay behavior there either.

This is not the type of dog I'd reccomend for a 'first dog' just based on your discription of him. He sounds like he'll need a lot of training beyond the basics. I think it's great that you want to foster first before adopting as it give you a chance to see the 'real' dog before making a commitment.

I'd take this one back to the shelter. Plenty of other dogs there that won't growl at you or bite at you.
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:13 AM
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Roxy's CD Roxy's CD is offline
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So first off that's great that you plan on adopting! I've been thinking about it myself. If everything else so far is good with this dog perhaps you could work with him if you like him a lot to correct those behaviours.

So the biting while playing. I dont really agree with silverpaws

Roxy and Hades will "bite" sometimes during play, and we are okay with this. They never bite hard and as soon as I say "enough" play stops completely. Sometimes, ROxy especially her teeth will hit bones in my hand wrist or arm, and THAT's what hurts not the fact that she's biting so hard.

If you don't want him to bite at all while playing, the "ouch" method usually works well, or ceasing play altogether.

As for the furniture, I went through this with Roxy. SHe snarled but never grabbed my hand. SHe was banned off the furniture at all for about a week or more, and now her furniture time is "limited".

If he doesnt' respond to you when you tell him "off", I'd leash him, and if he goes on the furniture, off with a leash correction.

Good luck!
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:19 AM
silverpawz silverpawz is offline
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Roxy and Hades will "bite" sometimes during play, and we are okay with this.
Ah, but the OP is talking about a dog that is already growling at her in other circumstances. That, coupled with the inappropriate mouthing does not sound like a good 'first dog' to me. It sounds like a project waiting to happen.
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Old 08-14-2006, 05:11 AM
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Rubylove Rubylove is offline
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Whilst I think that Silverpawz is quite quick to write-off this dog, and send it back to a shelter where it will basically have to start again, part of me also agrees that this may be a bit too much for a `first-time' dog for you.

However, that being said, if you are willing to put in the time and effort with this dog, you will probably reap wonderful rewards - you will just have to be very careful, and very consistent in your training.

This dog needs to understand that you are the alpha of your pack, not him. The biting during play should be quite straight-forward to stop. And it does need to stop because of the other behaviours associated - and also the behaviours you don't know about yet.

Firstly, the nipping is something the alpha dog would do to other members of the pack to re-establish its position. Especially nipping when you want him off the furniture. The second he mouths at you during play - literally the instant he does it - all play ceases and you leave him on his own. Whether that means you leave him out the back and go inside, or you leave him alone in whatever room you're playing, the point is, you leave him alone. All play stops. The worst thing for a dog is lack of attention and if he nips you, and then all playtime stops and he is left alone, he should soon learn not to nip. It accomplishes two things. Firstly, it makes him realise that the play-time is on your terms, not his, which is a privilege reserved to the alpha of the pack, and secondly, he will understand that behaving in a dominant way over you is not going to be tolerated. Don't yell, growl, hit or any type of threatening behaviour with this dog (not that I would ever advocate that anyway) but particularly not this dog, because aggression begets aggression and you don't want to trigger that in a dog that is already trying to dominate you. He might not bite you, but there's a good probability he will bite someone else, and then its all over.

As for the furniture. What you're doing is good, but I would not use the prospect of going for a walk, I would use a treat. Making him think he's getting a walk and then him not getting one will eventually lead him to shut off from you, and that will stop working - and worse, he won't trust you as much each subsequent time. Lure him off the furniture with a treat or something else he likes - and that you will give to him when he's off the furniture - and when all four paws are on the ground, praise and then give him the treat. He's got to learn that good things happen to dogs who are NOT on the furniture, and by doing it in a way that invites him off the lounge you are not being overtly threatening to him. In time, as he gets more used to you being boss, and gets more in the habit of obeying you in other ways, you can simply tell him to get off the furniture and he will. But you need to work up to that from where you are now.

The things that you do to reinforce yourself as alpha will make him start to view you more in that light, and then you will find that he starts naturally looking to you for leadership, and then the growling and nipping should stop.

Remember, you have only had him for three days so other behaviours will start to make themselves known as he settles in more. I personally would like to see you give this dog a chance and not just re-home him at the first sign of trouble, because as any dog owner knows, they're ALL hard work, and if you are taking the time to foster, get to know this dog, ask for advice and look around, IMO you are the best-equipped to end up eventually adopting him. Most people wouldn't bother with all this effort, so good for you.

Read `The Dog Listener' by Jan Fennell. Absolutely a must for every dog owner (IMO) and teaches invaluable lessons about becoming alpha and staying that way. And good luck - please keep us posted
Chester and Ruby

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare, and love we can spare. In return they give us their all. It is the best deal man has ever made

Last edited by Rubylove; 08-14-2006 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 08-14-2006, 07:13 AM
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mrose_s mrose_s is offline
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hmm. if this is your firdst dog you may wwant to go with a bombproof pooch, but i don't like the idea of sending a healthy very happy looking dog back to a shelt

the couch/bed thing sounds like a dominace issue. make sure he knows your boss. if he doesn't get off right away then don't give up. follow up ALL your commands or he become higher in the "pack order" you could try a treat system of some sort. leaving him in a room and when you come in and he isn't on the furniture rewarding him or else rewardin him for jumping off. the mouthing shoulfd be easy enough to stop. all our dogs were crazy nippers as puppies, and sophie still mouths but not much has come of it. however as your dog has the growling issue you may want to correct the mouthing. if your playing and he mouiths, simply stop. once that happens make it clear the game is over,-

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Old 08-14-2006, 11:07 AM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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The alpha doesn't use physical force or biting to control other dogs. That would show a lack of confidence. Real alphas do not need to do any of that. They just are..... Beta dogs sqabble with eachother but alphas and omegas do not interact that's very rare. Don't worry about pack thoery so much. We are not dogs and our dogs know it.... and relying on such a complex structure causes dogs a lot of problems because people mis- read so much of what is going on with the subtle nuances of dogs. We're also talking about domestic dogs, not wolves.

A lot of people think most misbehavior is a dog trying to be the dominant member, when they're not. They may want their own way and are use to getting it, but that's not the same as a dog scheming to be the alpha of the pack. They simply have not been shown how to live in a human's world and are just being dogs. When you give the dog a profitable alternative, he'll come around just fine.

If you realize scientific learning theory, you'll have it made. Dogs do what works, being the opportunists that they are. Make behaviors you want your dog to engage in work for your dog. You need to control his resources. This is what a leader does. He needs to earn the things he likes by sitting first or some other thing he knows how to do; lie down, shake hands....

Being on the couch is comfortable. That's reward in itself. Anytime there is a reward for a behavior, it will be repeated. Give an alternative....his own, soft dog bed on the floor near the couch. Make sure it's as comfy or better than the couch. Lure him to that and give him a yummy treat for lying on that....a tiny tidbit of hot dog or cheese. Every few minutes give him a treat and praise him for being on his bed. Then start adding a cue word, "bed" or whatever you want to use when you are asking him to get on his bed...just be consistant.

When you're not right there in the room with him where you can intercept him from getting on the couch, manage his behavior by prevention. Prevent a payoff of his being comfy on the couch. Put cardboard boxes on the couch or kitchen keep him off. Make sure his dog bed is better than being on the couch.

When you play with him and he touches you with his teeth, even by accident, promptly end playtime. Go inside, attention over for a couple of minutes. Be very consistant. If he touches you once, game over.

When he come to you for attention, you don't have to respond every time....only if you feel like it. Don't always be the one to react to his actions. Have him be the one to react to you or your commands that you teach him. But of course, he has to understand the commands. If he wants to go outside, fine, but he must sit first. He wants a treat...sit first. He wants his dinner, sit/wait first. He wants his leash on to go for a walk? Fine, sit first. Hand feed him for a while. Make him earn those handfuls of food. Use his food for easier training skills. And special treats for more difficult skills or higher distraction areas. Always start out with no distractions and gradually add them.

Use positive reinforcement training, no harsh methods because he's already showing that he is ready to bite. Don't get into a power struggle with him. Don't become a "beta." (if you want to look at it that way) He will lose respect for you and not look up to you. It isn't needed. Make it so his working with you the way you want is highly profitable and worth it. Become partners. Show him what you mean and reward behavior you like. With unwanted behavior, distract him, give alternatives and reward for new, wanted behaviors. He will soon be choosing behaviors on his own accord which give him the payoff. But you have to be consistant and everyone who interacts with him must be doing the same.

Give him a job every day.....a few short training sessions plus everytime you interact with him is an oppoturnity for training. It doesn't have to be in a "session." Be conscious of behaviors you like and reward him. It is scientific fact that when any mammal is rewarded for a behavior, that behavior is much, much more likely to be repeated in the future. If there is no reward or payoff, the behavior will be much, much less likely to be repeated in the future. Discover what the reward your dog is getting for some undesirable behavior. It may be something you're doing. It may be a self rewarding behaivor or an environmental reward or reinforcement. Dogs learn how to live with humans by being reinforced many times for certain behaviors. They are guessing for a long time. They can't know exactly what we mean at first, not being able to speak our language. So, it takes repitition until they stop guessing and start seeing a pattern in what they're being reinforced (rewarded) for. So be consistant.

On rewards: Observe and think about what your dog likes. He likes to play ball. Use that for reward for some behavior or skill that you ask him for. Does he want to go outside? Use that for a reward. Take advantage of things he wants and likes and use that as a trade...a reward for his doing something you like. If he walks for a few steps nicely, without pulling the leash, reward him with what he'd like the best at that time. Rewards are not always the same value at all times. When the dog is playing fetch, he probably couldn't care less about getting a belly rub. He's having fun fetching. So, for a reward, throw the ball right away for him after he brings it to you or does something you like. At quiet times, when he complies with something you ask, that's the time for the petting or belly rub....if he likes belly rubs. So, think about what he might like at various times. Food is usually a high motivator. Dogs need food to survive. It also has a calming effect on dogs, kind of like macaroni and cheese does on us. They can get excited and motivated for it too, but eating it seems to be so satisfying and calming. No longer do they have to hunt for the day. LOL. So that is a high value reward for most obedience training. There's more on how food treats do not always have to be used. But for starting behaviors, they're great. Don't be afraid to give you dog what he likes as a reinforcer for behaviors you want. It's what makes him repeat that behavior.

Some book recommendations:

*Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson (a must read)
Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor
The Power of Positive Training by Pat Miller
The Other End of the Leash Patricia Mc Connell

Happy training

Last edited by Doberluv; 08-14-2006 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 08-14-2006, 12:31 PM
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Angelique Angelique is offline
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This is absolutely dominant behavior which this dog is displaying. He is disciplining you when you are asking for the space he has laid claim to. This is a dog which has just entered the time in his life (2 year mark) where puppy play is coming to an end and the dog is more driven to exert himself as an adult. Add to this the breed(s) of dog he has in him, and you need to do some serious thinking.

All of the "Positive Only", treat training dog books, and love in the world will not solve a leadership issue with 2 year old dominant dog who is already claiming space, growling, and disciplining you after only a few days. Shaping aggressive and/or dominant behaviors does not address those behaviors.

I think you've gotten in over your head with this dog, which leaves you needing to make some decisions. If you are determined to help yourself help this dog rather than return him to the shelter - find yourself a behaviorist through the International Association of Canine Professionals who uses Cesar Millan's methods of owner education and dog rehabilitation, and get the book "Cesar's Way" by Cesar Millan to read in the meantime. Do this ASAP, don't wait until this dog gets more "serious", which it definately will without these problems being addressed.

You need both an education on how your dog thinks and "reads" you in order to establish leadership, and hands-on help within your home.

Good Luck!
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Reward the good, ignore the bad, and always remember to duck during the temper tantrums!

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Old 08-14-2006, 01:08 PM
silverpawz silverpawz is offline
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Whilst I think that Silverpawz is quite quick to write-off this dog, and send it back to a shelter where it will basically have to start again,
I'm sorry if it seems like I'm writing off this dog quickly. But, (there' always a but. ) I would certainly suggest she work with him IF this was her dog, but it's not, it's a foster dog and she has not made a commitment yet to keep him.

I don't see the need for a new dog owner to start off on the wrong paw so to speak and automatically get a project instead of a pet.

Personally I don't think a dog that displays ANY aggression should have been adopted out in the first place, but that's just me. In the perfect world in my head all shelters temperament test and only adopt out stable pets. But unfortunely that's not reality. Hence the OP ending up with a dog that growls and bites.

And the really sad part? Most new owners will feel sorry for the dog, think it only needs love and keep it anyway. While many perfectly nice, non-aggressive dogs are waiting at the shelter.

Do I think this dog could possibly be turned around in an experienced home? Maybe.
Do I think he belongs in this home with a novice owner? Nope. No way, no how.

If the OP decides to keep him, then of course I think we should provide her with as much help as possible. But at this point I'm all for taking him back and getting a more stable pet.
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Old 08-14-2006, 04:00 PM
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OutlineACDs OutlineACDs is offline
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Also keep in mind, a lot of behavior in a rescue dog doesn't surface until 3-4 weeks after you have had them. It takes a while for them to get used to a new place, if shes already having problems, I would try a different dog.

She IS going to adopt from a shelter, why not get the dog she wants from a shelter, don't discourage her from taking this particular dog back.
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