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.
Diet? Is the dog getting a food very high in protein? Only working dogs need very high protein food.
Dogs are scavengers. They look for food hungry or not. Try feeding more or more often. Maybe the dog is just really hungry.
Pheromones. There is a product made with lactating female dog hormones. It calms dogs, making them feel soothed like a nursing puppy. Can be put on collar or plugged into wall
Flirt pole. You can wear a dog out fast with this exercise tool. It’s a prey chasing game. Instructions on the net for making these.
Ignore bad behaviour. Isolate immediately when dog acts up.
When dog acts up do not escalate by yelling. Become calmer
My pit did all the things yours did till he was about a year. Then he calmed down and is the very best dog we have ever had. Seems like your dog should have matured by now. Your dog has epilepsy. It’s not a normal, healthy dog.
Is it really imperative upon you to maintain an animal that is ill and may not ever be able to function normally in a family setting? Do you really want to put this dog up for rescue when the next family might abuse it in their anger and dissapointment? This is a dog, not a human. If you’ve done all you can, then maybe the adult thing is to have the dog put down humanely. That’s what we would have to do with our pit if he ever shows signs of human aggression. It would mean he has a breeding defect that, we did not cause but that we must address as responsible dog owners.
The problem here is that you've got the seizures AND the meds on top of whatever training problem there is. Sometimes it's hard to disentangle them.
There shouldn't have been deterioration of the training as the dog ages -- my experience has been the exact opposite, age brings calm and better obedience (at least until they become senior dogs, then they take shameless advantage.)
If you've removed the "pity" factor - i.e. treat her like any other dog - then what's left is probably neurological.
I would consult with your vet and with the trainer about possible changes in strategy to accommodate those. My own inclination would be LONG walks with plenty of work and mental stimulation - for Labs, that would be periodic marks and blinds in the course of a 2-3 mile walk.
I don't know if I'd rule out the Ecollar completely - perhaps consult with the vet, then carefully collar-condition her and keep it on a very low setting - you shouldn't set it where the dog vocalizes or jumps, just look for a blink or hesitation. On a good variable-intensity collar (Tri-Tronics, Dogtra, Sportdog) the lowest setting is BARELY perceptible. I always test a collar's settings against the inside of my forearm before using it on my dog. And good collars have a separate tone button that you can use as a warning before hitting the red button - one of my dogs NEVER gets nicked anymore, she knows when she hears the tone that it's time to shape up.
Given that kids and a lot of work are also in the equation, re-homing may have to be an option. I wouldn't rule that out, so long as you can find a good placement. If there is a local rescue devoted to Springers I would give them a call. Our local Lab rescue is run by a lady with an immense amount of knowledge (former Master Nationals handler) and she almost always has a solution for just about any training problem.
I tried the water gun trick (actually a squirt bottle) on our new Sheltie last year, and it only makes her angry, and she not only barks at the water bottle, she tries to eat the stream of water. She does the same to the garden hose, running under the water stream and biting at it, trying to bite the nozzle, and even the faucet when I’m turning on the water.
Otherwise, this dog is pretty good - and smart - and doesn’t chew things up, but she barks at EVERYTHING. When I sneeze, it sends her into a barking frenzy.
I’m told it’s the nature of Shelties, as is herding. She tries to herd everything that moves. I think she’s really a democrat.
But, she’s not quite a year old, and we’re hoping she’ll grow out of it. I think I’ve made a little progress, as I only have to yell “Shutup” three times now before she starts to quieten down.
Dogs are pack animals. There's only one leader of the pack, and that should be you - not the dog. I find in most cases, the human leader backs down and isn't consistent enough, so the dog automatically sees itself as the leader of the pack.
Gut instinct tells me your dog, because of it's "gluttony", may have a mineral defincacy as well. It's "craving" something.
Please do not seek the advice of a trainer who still bases their approach to dog ownership on dominance theory, which has been debunked by veterinary animal behaviorists who have spent years studying the adverse effects on dogs AND people from using these techniques.
Most “normal” dogs are so resilient that Cesar’s way will not harm them, but that’s not the case for novice owners of puppies or adoptive dogs turning to him as a guide for training their dogs.
Dr. Karen Overall, faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, is a diplomate of the American College of Behavior Medicine (ACVB) and is board-certified by the Animal Behavior Society (ABS) as an Applied Animal Behaviorist. Here is what she writes about trainers like Cesar Milan:
“The single most devastating advice ever given to people with dogs is that they should dominate their dogs and show the problem dogs “who is boss.” Under this rubric, untold numbers of humans have been bitten by dogs they have betrayed, terrified and given no choice. And for dogs that have an anxiety disorder that involves information processing and accurate risk assessment, the behaviors used to dominate a dog (e.g., hitting, hanging, subjecting the dog to dominance downs, alpha rolls and other punitive, coercive techniques) convince that troubled, needy, pathological dog that the human is indeed a threat, resulting in the dog’s condition worsening.”
I speak from experience here, as we were advised years ago by an “expert” to show our rescue “who was boss”, against my better judgement from years of working as a behaviorist with humans.
We ended up consulting Dr. Overall and our aggressive dog was able to live with us for the rest of his life. Even no-kill shelters had told us that they would have to euthanize our dog as he would be deemed a threat to their staff. We did not have children in the home, so it was possible for us to do what was necessary to give this abnormal dog a chance at life.
In my humble opinion, the characteristics of your breed, combined with the medical issues and the nature of a household with 3 children are not a good match.
The fact that your dog is not aggressive will make it much easier to find a suitable home for him.
If it were me, I would speak with the breeder of your dog or the breed rescue volunteer in your area. If the breeder and/or volunteer agree that your home is not a good match for the dog, they can reassure you that the decision to turn the dog over to them is in the best interest of the dog.
You will feel guilty, some may shame you for not following through on your commitment when you purchased the puppy, but put yourself in the dog’s place and consider things from his point of view. For a dog who needs a calm environment with clear and consistent expectations and consequences, can your home provide that? If not, do what is best for the dog and give him the opportunity for a life with someone who can provide what he needs. Forget value judgements from yourself and others—do what is in the best interest of the dog and you will make the right decision.
If you feel that your wife and kids can REALISTICALLY work with a trainer who can help you set up an environment for success in living with this dog, realize that there are NO QUICK FIXES (despite what Cesar Milan’s snapshots may show).
Working with anxious, nervous dogs who may have underlying neurological issues requires a training coach who truly understands animal behavior.
For more science-based information on dog behavior, please refer to these articles:
http://drsophiayin.com/philosophy/dominance/?/dominance.php (some good video here)
I am sorry if I’ve offended anyone. Trainers like Cesar Milan have been a “pet” peeve for years.
To me, you sound like a responsible family trying to do the right thing for your dog, given your current situation. You can use this experience to educate others about the need for researching the characteristics of a breed prior to purchasing or adopting a specific breed, the benefits of working with a breed rescue group (HOPEFULLY you will have a positive experience—there are nuts out there in every endeavor) and what it means to truly love a dog. Sometimes that means admitting that your home is not the best place for the dog, or that you made a mistake in choosing a breed that wasn’t a good match for your family/lifestyle.
This is true. The timeline is that from 8 weeks to 2 years, she received consistent leadership and was a good dog, not perfect but good. From 2 years to just over 3 years, we failed to provide consistent leadership after the onset of her seizures. Our desire to control her episodes overcame our desire to maintain her good behavior. As a result, some really bad habits emerged because of our failure and, in part, because of the impact of the medication. We are now trying to re-assert dominance, but it isn't going well.
I would say the best advice you have gotten is be consistent! Every dog wants to be part of the pack; they will do what pleases the master of the pack. Since you admit you spoiled her you will now pay the price.
You say the dog is smart so it should pick up your cues easily.
A) Feed her once or twice a day but always try to keep the same time.
B) Never feed her directly from the table. If you want, give her a leftover plate when everyone is done.
C) When you catch her chewing something she should not, scold her and give her an acceptable chew toy. (Never use old shoes or socks use doggie toys) Then praise her.
D) For counter surfing and garbage picking you must catch her and scold her. Then praise her when she listens
E) For jumping everyone must not allow it. Teach her to sit and command her when someone comes in to sit and wait for a greeting
F) When she is bad try sending her to bed or some place for a time out. (Dont lock her up) When you are unhappy with her tell her to go lay down or something away from the fun. She will quickly learn if she does something bad she is sent away from the pack and in a short time she will connect counter surfing, jumping or stealing food with the unpleasant experience of being sent away.
G) Have the kids help with training her the sit ,down ,and come command with treats it helps the dog understand the pecking order and the kids bond with the dog.
It seems fine to take the dog to a breed specific rescue. But the next owners should be fully informed of all the dogs problems and completely willing to take them on. If not then, you have to take the dog back or have her humanely down. I so hope it never comes to that.
I am sorry it didn’t work. Our beagle was so receptive to it that he even stopped baying inside. We would aim for his haunches and he just DIDN’T like it. It was just so quick for him to understand and learn what we considered to be unacceptable behavior.
Your post about your Sheltie reminded me about a video about these three dogs at a bar.
>On the advice of the trainer, we have tried feeding her a portion of her meals by “scatter feeding,”<
Heh. I like your trainer. I use a similar technique with a Norwegian Elkhound, also a hunting breed. I scatter a portion of her food over obstacles like a ladder and a tunnel, letting her track for the food. She loves this game and she is extremely good at using her nose.
My dogs through the years have been pretty well behaved, but if the dog is breaking the rules in front of me, it either means the dog doesn't understand the rules or else thinks it's in charge. Either way, the tin can and pennies is a sharp enough reprimand to get your message across.
I'd recommend reading the Monks of New Skete to get a handle on your dog's psychology. I have always corrected my German Shepherds with a little tug to the back of their necks, the same way a mother dog would correct them. I did have one very alpha Shepherd a few years back who required the occasional shakedown (as shown in the book by the Monks of New Skete), but for the most part, the tin cans and the correction on the back of the neck for the first few months they live in my home has kept all my Shepherds in line over the years.
Squirting has done absolutely nothing for us. Our dog also eats the stream of water. She can get a squirt right between the eys and not respond. It may work for some dogs, but it means nothing to others.
Otherwise, this dog is pretty good - and smart - and doesnt chew things up, but she barks at EVERYTHING. When I sneeze, it sends her into a barking frenzy.
Our dog is thankfully not a constant barker. She will bark at strangers, but she stops with a word from us. She does react to sneezing but not by barking. When I sneeze she runs over and wants to jump up on me and sniff my nose.
I'm a big believer in crating a dog, and sometimes dogs do need to calm down in a crate, but I'd be careful not to use the crate as a punishment. A crate is like the dog's cave. A dog should always feel safe in his cage.
I don't know that I've ever owned an aggressive dog - I've certainly owned assertive dogs. Not a one of them has been mean. I do think there is a danger in telling people they need to be the alpha dog that they think that means they can bully the dog and so in that sense what you're saying may be true. But a good leader doesn't need to be a bully. My dogs have submitted to me over the years because they have loved and respected me.
I’m not sure if this will help, but we used Tabasco sauce to train our wolf type dog not to play bite and not to bother the cat. If your dog doesn’t like the hot sauce, a little drop will do as a training tool. When our wolf type dog starts playing too rough or getting a stuffed object that isn’t one of his toys, the word “SAUCE” will usually do the trick. ...It only works if they don’t like the hot sauce. We recently acquired a little Boston terrier/pit bull mix from neighbors who didn’t want to keep him chained up, and he is happy to eat the hot sauce. Luckily, he is a sweetheart who learns well without it.
I’m not offended, but I also disagree.
Cesar’s methods have worked great on our stubborn Pit.
You are correct—a good leader is what dogs need (clear communication of expectations, structure, consistency, etc.)
Leadership is what fosters the kind of relationship you have with your dogs. My view is that your dogs are following a good leader who is a very effective communicator, rather than submitting to your dominance.
You are also correct in that a breed’s temperament is definitely a factor in every aspect of training, so tone of voice, animation, choice of rewards, all need to be tailored to the temperament of individual dogs.
There are also definitely “normal” vs. “abnormal” behaviors in dogs and special care must be taken in working with abnormal dogs. There is usually a physiological basis (genetics, malnutrition, neurological damage at birth) for obsessive-compulsive, anxiety and other disorders seen in dogs, but the behavior can be exacerbated by poor early socialization and/or inappropriate training methods.
If you read more on dominance research, you will find that dogs are constantly switching roles in their packs, so even among dogs, dominance theory as commonly discussed among dog trainers does not hold.
I have had two English Springers in the past 20 years. My current one is 14 months old. He is extremely well behaved. Take my advice. Get an electronic training collar from GunDogSupply.com. It is fantastic. My dog is respectful because of it and very very happy.
That worked for me for about a week.
Then our dog started opening her mouth and trying to drink the stream of water.
She’s a real stinker