Another miserable new dog owner

(84 Posts)
lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 09:32:05

I am so worn out and worried.

We were all eager to welcome a dog and prepared by and large for what it entailed.

However, 3-month old puppy is displaying some really challenging behaviour. He is getting increasingly aggressive - snarling and growling if he's prevented from doing something (eg eating stones/attacking tv). Or if I try to tempt him into his crate if I have to go shopping/school run. He is quite big already and frankly it is a bit scary. He is well house-trained, but if I have to go upstairs he leaves a well-placed poo by the stair gate.

Also, dd said last night, "Look, Mummy, he's dancing with your cardigan.". He was most certainly not dancing, unless it was dirty dancing... He is only 3 months old!

Ds loves him, and is getting upset with me as a couple of times this week I've burst into tears. He also rises at 4.30 every morning and refuses to bed down again.

Judyandherdreamofhorses Thu 13-Jun-13 09:37:58

I really rated Ian Dunbar's work on puppies when I got mine 2 years ago. All available free online, so do look him up. I found crate training utterly invaluable (had a toddler at the time) and he is still very happy in his crate (baby now too).

There's some sections on 'error free' chew training. Ours now settles for most of the day if he has a bone. It didn't take long to get to this point.

What breed is he?

Judyandherdreamofhorses Thu 13-Jun-13 09:39:02

PS - I hated the first few months and would have given him back any time (if his breeder hadn't just died).

Wouldn't be without him now.

Chazz88 Thu 13-Jun-13 09:39:59

Hi what breed is it and have you been attending puppy training a 3 month old puppy with still be teething and may be a bit bitty but there are things you can do to prevent that. E.g yelp when he does it really loud it will give him a fright.

As for snarling he's prob just seeing what he can get away with if he does this you should all leave the room and leave him for a few moments and repeat until he stops.

As for sleeping did your 3 months old baby sleep through the night all night long every night I suspect not. Patience is key hear you have to ignore him take him to the toilet make no eye contact and put him back in his create.

My pup went through a snarly stage at exactly the same age and is now 10 months and is so placid. Even the vets have commented that he is such a good temprement they could do anything to him. But he was a snarly horror at 12 weeks.

Puppies are such hard work and they do go through stages of horrible behaviour, much like children. It won't be like this forever. Do you do anything fun with him so it doesn't all feel like slog and work? Clicker training is great for this as you have the instant reward for you and the dog.

Chazz88 Thu 13-Jun-13 09:42:26

As for the (dancing) thats completely normal and there is noting at all sexual about it he/she is not evan sexually mature yet they just think its fun. If it bothers you take the item away and repeat he will get the gist.

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 09:42:41

He's a golden retriever. I have done everything by the book and enrolled in training classes. At first he responded really well to positive training, but now won't do anything for a treat/praise.

OrmirianResurgam Thu 13-Jun-13 09:42:55

It takes time. A puppy is hard work! I do sympathise. Our dog was a year old not a pup but he had come from a home where he has been neglected and I suspect hit so was quite nervous and chewed things (new leather dining chair and entire arm of sofa hmm plus various playmobil toys), messed everywhere, and chased the cats. Patience and consistency and lots of love worked a treat. He is a now a real gent.

Spero Thu 13-Jun-13 09:43:17

Sorry to hear that, it must be hard.

I really think you need to get some professional help with training, to get you on right track. If yo are worn out and even find your dog scarey, you are going to get trapped in a vicious circle and it will be difficult to brak without help.

Dogs should bring you happiness most of the time or there is no point, it is stressful and miserable for both of you. My dog is lovely 80% of the time which means I can put up with the 20% of awfulness. But if the ratio was reversed we would both be having a horrible life.

OrmirianResurgam Thu 13-Jun-13 09:45:24

When I was having a hard time with the Harlster in the beginning I met a dog trainer who would come to the house. She reckoned one visit would be enough. But as it cost £70 I politely declined. However she did seem to have excellent results. Could you find someone like that?

Spero Thu 13-Jun-13 09:45:25

I think for this breed good consistent and early training is essential. I have met a few adult retrievers who had not been trained - they were big, headstrong and frankly a dangerous nightmare. I think the problem is they are very intelligent and have big personalities which need channelling.

Spero Thu 13-Jun-13 09:46:37

My dog walker incorporated training and exercise for £10 an hour. She was brilliant. Money well spent, she did a lot of the hard initial work, I just had to keep up with it and be consistent.

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 09:48:18

Thanks. I'm sitting here blubbing like a complete twerp. It all seems to have gone wrong and I feel imprisoned by a bad-tempered dog who doesn't know when he's well off!

Spero Thu 13-Jun-13 09:51:26

Don't cry! It is not hopeless, it just seems awful while you go through it.

Find yourself a good trainer/walker and let them take the brunt of this for at least a few weeks while you have a break. Sounds like you need it.

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 09:53:30

I have to go out to get some food and post office and I just can't face it. If I try to get him to go in his crate he'll snarl and launch himself at me.

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 09:55:09

Spero, you're very kind. I was nervous about posting as I've seen some scary dog ladies on here who think that everything is the owner's fault.

Spero Thu 13-Jun-13 09:55:09

I think you do need help. Soinds like he is picking up on fact you are a bit frightened and uncertain which possibly in turn is making him more anxious. I wouldn't tolerate any pet dog snarling at me - either he is in pain and needs medical help or his behaviour urgently needs modification.

littlewhitebag Thu 13-Jun-13 09:58:59

I have a 13 mth old golden lab. At 3 months she reduced me and my two daughters to tears most days (they were 14 and 19 then). She was hard to walk on lead. She nipped, lunged and growled at us. She was worse in the evening leaping up at our faces and tbh i was scared of her and thought we had made a terrible mistake.
Puppy class was our life saver as we were taught fantastic techniques to control her. It seems we had babied Her instead of taking complete control.
After puppy class we attended junior obedience classes. She is now a (mostly) calm and lovely dog and I am so glad we persevered.
Have you tried feeding him in his crate so he associates it with good things? Also try not feeding him all his food in his bowl. Feed it bit by bit during the day so that almost everything you do is training. This works best with kibble.
Keep going. It will be so worth it.

Spero Thu 13-Jun-13 09:59:02

Dg threads can get heated - mainly because people really love their dogs and can get very passionate. Which is good, because it shows you how rewarding it can be when you and your dog bond.

But a badly behaved dog is at best an utter pest and nuisance, at worst dangerous.

I think you need help to see if you and your dog can work together. It's always better to get on the right track at an early age.

I think it's too early for any prognostications of doom BUT if it does turn out that you and dog just don't suit each other temperamentally, the best thing for both of you is to find this out sooner rather than later so there are more realistic options for re homing the dog.

littlewhitebag Thu 13-Jun-13 10:00:40

Also our puppy class was run by a vet nurse in the practice. Contact them and ask if they have anyone who does puppy training.

Judyandherdreamofhorses Thu 13-Jun-13 10:01:24

Honestly, read Ian Dunbar. My pup wasn't interested in treats at first. I followed the instructions to hand feed every single bit of food (dry) as a reward. You measure out his food at the beginning of the day. He has to do something for you for every piece of it.

And look up clicker training too.

And lose the guilt. I felt guilty every time I left him. Terribly guilty. Turns out he doesn't care at all!

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 10:02:05

I shall phone a dog trainer now. I have tried but I shall have to call in the big guns.

He has also colonised one of the sofas: if I try to sit down he growls and tries to manoeuvre me off. Oh no, he's a bully!

MumnGran Thu 13-Jun-13 10:02:45

I think your puppy has been testing his status in the pack, and has decided he is dominant. You need to step on this now, or you will have a major problem with any and all control as he gets older....and would suggest you seek professional dog training help. Your vet should be able to recommend someone.

Ahead of behavioural expertise, you can start regaining the "top of the pack" status that you need by instigating any of the following which you don't currently do:
1) never feed him before you or the children. Eat, and then feed the dog at least one hour later
2) Don't let him walk through any doorway, ahead of you. Always make him wait (use a lead if you have to)
3) Don't allow him onto any 'people' furniture. If he has been allowed, then change it now.
4) Don't play rough-house games, and if you play tug games ....you MUST win. If he is pulling so strongly that he always wins then lose the tug toys
5) Make him sit before giving affection.

Hope some of this helps. Retrievers are great family dogs, but they can be dominant and do need to know where they stand in the pecking order. At the bottom is where they belong, and everyone will be happy (including the dog!) once they know their place.

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 10:09:31

Yes, I did ascribe to the Positive Training ethos, but in this case the dog thinks I'm a sap. Trying to distract him from danger/undesirable behaviour with a better offer has been useless. I could offer him the postman's leg and he'd rather continue to scratch at next door's fence.

D0oinMeCleanin Thu 13-Jun-13 10:13:11

Everything is the owners fault, sorry, but it really, truly is. You'll get out of your dog what you put in. It's that simple. That's not say you've done it on purpose, or failed. Everyone makes mistakes, even the experts. We make mistakes with our kids, ditto our pets. All we can do is pick ourselves up and start again.

Puppies are hard work. I adore dogs and spend most of my life working with them but I despair when I get phone calls that start with "There's this puppy and...." grin

How are you stopping him from doing the things that cause him to snarl? A lot of dogs will snarl if you grab their collar or forcibly remove them from a situation they find fun, it's totally normal. The better way is to divert and distract. If he attacks the TV, call his name, as soon as he stops attacking the TV, click and reward with food or a game.

Teach leave it, settle, wait and stay. They are invaluable for dealing with unwanted behaviors.

How much time do you spend training? Training is awesome for building up a bond and tiring puppies out and a tired puppy is a well behaved puppy at that age I'd be aiming for at least 10 minutes 3-4 times a day. Anything longer than 10 minutes and the puppy will get bored and frustrated, try and end on a high note with a command he knows. We always start and end clicker sessions with something I know they'll get right.

Kikopup on YouTube has some brilliant clicker tutorials. Start working your way through those. Jean Donaldson's Train Your Dog Like a Pro is a good book to work through too and have a read of Gwen Bailey's Perfect Puppy book. Get booked into puppy training classes asap, make sure you look for a class that uses positive reinforcement and is not based on pack theory.

I always randomly reward calm behavior around the house. I keep a handful of treats in my pocket and a clicker around my wrist. I completely ignore my dogs when they are up and wandering about or getting upto mischief but if I pass them and they're laid down somewhere they are supposed to be laid down, they'll get a click and a treat. I give them affection on my terms i.e. when I call them to me and ignore them if they come for a game or cuddle while I am eating/getting on with college work/washing up etc. I do make sure I find time to spend one on one with each dog daily.

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