Skip to comments.Any ideas/advice for teaching respect to a difficult dog?
Posted on 11/27/2012 5:52:50 AM PST by needmorePaine
My wife and I have a 3.5-year-old female English Springer Spaniel. We got her as a puppy from a breeder, and for the first two years of her life, we were happy with her. She's a beautiful dog bred for the field, not the show line of the breed.
During the year after her first seizures, our focus was largely on seizure control, and I think we made a mistake there in babying her too much because it seems as if she has taken advantage of that and become more dominant in the household.
To complicate matters even more, we've added three kids (1 daughter and 2 twin boys), and the dog has dropped down the pecking order...or should have.
Even with all of the exercise she receives--tricks, obedience training, time off leash to run and use her nose--she still has to be a nuisance in the house. She counter surfs, paces, begs for and steals food, chews up the kid's toys and other random items, eats out of the trash, and jumps on guests.
My wife is about ready to give her up to a rescue for the breed, and I am inclined to agree with her. The dog dominates the day, and my wife has a hard time dealing with that and watching the kids. We're ready to give the dog one last chance simply because of the emotional attachment, but it's not looking good.
I know there are some dog lovers here, so do any freepers have any advice or suggestions on teaching respect to a dog? I believe the issue is that she no longer respect us, and we have failed to assert leadership, especially during the past year or so following the onset of her seizures. We have a trainer who echoed these sentiments, but his techniques have resulted in the dog becoming more pushy rather than gradually improving. The only bright spots are that she is friendly (probably too friendly), smart (probably too smart), and patient with kids. There never has been a sign of aggression.
What sort of vet/med costs are you facing per month? What are your options for shifting her to being an all-the-time outdoor dog?
We had great success using a small water gun. If Elmer started chewing on something he wasn’t supposed to, we would say NO and pick up the water gun. When he saw we had it and if he still kept chewing, we would again say NO and squirt him. It took two days to untrain all of his habits that were ‘incompatible’. He had been an outdoor dog, completely undisciplined but turned into the best dog in quite a short time. Good luck!!!
Actually, they are disposable if they have serious medical or behavioral problems.
I had a family member on phenobarbital for epilepsy for some time. Pretty strong meds with side effects. I wouldn’t discount the possibility that this has been a complicating factor as well.
ESS’s are beautiful dogs, btw. Sounds like you’ve got a full household, but your kids would surely love interacting with her if you could hold on until her more mellow years.
I have to agree with Clintons Are White Trash, its consistent training, we also have a difficult dog in the extended family who graduated obedience school with my daughter and she is very strict about telling everyone in the house for holidays etc what is expected as far as working with the dog. He sits in the family room while we eat in the dining room by himself, but we don’t have anyone sneaking food etc. Its all about consistency.
counter surfs - lock her up behind a see-through gate in a well traveled part of the house during the parts of the day she’s the most trouble.
paces - this may be a mental thing as a result of the meds and/or condition.
begs for and steals food - is she fed from the kitchen around meals or dinner table? stop if so.
chews up the kid’s toys - buy her chew toys and scold heavily / lock up any time she chews up something that isn’t hers. my dog eats anything made out of synthetic fiber and is proving a major pain to train otherwise.
eats out of the trash - get a flip-top heavy / decorative trashcan, like this: “http://homeimprovementstip.com/wooden-trash-bin-for-kitchen.html".
jumps on guests - this one is the trickiest, but also seems the least of your issues.
The plan is to try another round of training, but it may be a last chance for us.
STep one. I’m not impressed witht he trainer’s response. Find another trainer. You are hiring them to help with behavior modification and if they can’t help or “give up,” then they are not the right trainer. Not all trainers are the same. I know around here I can tell clients to interview 3 different types of trainers and most will consult the firt time for free. One trainer here actually has a 12 day ‘boot camp’ and the training is gaurenteed for life.
Step Two: Speak with your vet. The medical condition can potentially be affecting her impulse control. Epi-drugs can make inhibitions difficult. Again you don’t want to change the drugs, but you do need to be aware of the side effects and it may help you to redesign how you are going to live with your dog.
You lost control of the situation a long time ago, needmore :-)
A breeder told me once that it is essential to let the dog know who’s in charge. This dog didn’t get that memo.
I would do what you suggest ..and if you get another dog, get a labrador. They are smart, good with kids and usually very obedient. Your kids would be thrilled with a purebred puppy. But you have to start training and discipline from day one. and crate the dog when you’re not home and at night until they learn to behave.
We have a large fenced-in yard, and she spends hours a day outside, either with me or the wife working with her or just by herself.
Bless your heart.... I have a beagle mix who has diabetes/cushings. One thing that my vet mentioned straight away is that she can sense our “pity” and will take advantage. She’s of average intelligence and so she was easier to put back into place but a springer is smarter and so you may have a little more of an issue.
The first thing that you can do is go to ceasar milans website. His understanding of dogs is complete.
With Chloe we essencially had to take her to boot camp. First the walks....always on a leash and the demand that she walks next to us, never pulling the leash or running ahead. It’s very frustrating to re-teach that and time consuming. I bet I stopped during a walk 30 times.
To assert your dominance you can use your body. When you walk into the door do not talk to her, touch her or look at her until she is in a submissive state. And one of the big ones that we do as dog lovers is reward bad behavior. Dont pet her and love on her to calm her down. That reinforces that behavior.
I hope that you get to keep her, I had to put my Golden down a few months ago and I’m still grieving. : (
Please go to Ceasars website...he has amazing advise for all of that behavior.
This sounds like normal dog behavior to me.
We used a shock collar on our dog...but he’s a 90 lb Pit Bull
The squirt bottle thing worked better then the shock collar. All we had to do is pick up the bottle and his bahavior changed. Until he realized he could drink the water shot at him....
Put the dog up during meals, or at least give it a raw hide or something to chew. They can smell the goodies, so of course they want some too.
Put the trash where the dog can’t get into it....it’s a dog...they like to put their noses in all the wrong places.
Cesar is amazing.
Recently heard of a great trick for dogs that jump up on people for their greeting...
Keep a cookie sheet by the door
When you or guests walk in - grab the cookie sheet first and put it up on your body where the dog usually lands, the dog apparently can’t stand it (fingernails on chalkboard)and won’t jump up (praise for ‘down’-’sit’)
Begging - always feed in one dedicated spot - treat in dedicated spots for tricks.
Trash - get a cover for the barrel - move it to cabinet/closet
Counter-keep stuff to the back of the counter - keep higher
I’ve yet to see a dog that couldn’t be turned around.
First off, a lot of the problems you are experiencing are from the meds. Our alpha male GSD had cluster seizures every month and became a problem due to the medications which were having a very minimal impact on the seizures.
We had to find out what was causing the seizures... turned out it was the water out of the faucet. We now filter our water.
But, on to your issues, you’re going to have to get tough with your dog. No sliding on it. The bad part is that you’re also going to be fighting the meds your dog is on. Our GSD would go from happy happy joy joy to full on rage with nothing in the middle while on the drugs.
My advice is to seek a professional trainer. If that fails, I’d recommend surrender to a breed specific rescue that can find the dog an appropriate home.