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.

PeanutPatty Sun 16-Jun-13 07:40:42

A really good book which is worth a read is called "Life Skills for Puppies" by Daniel Mills.

lainiekazan Sun 16-Jun-13 05:57:22

Thanks for all the support. We all watched "Marley & Me" last night. Bawled our eyes out of course. Now I'm bawling with tiredness sitting here with dog who has been up since 5 past 5 full of beans. I dropped the washing powder and he ate a giant lump of that... I expect him to be foaming at the mouth later...

daftwit Sat 15-Jun-13 22:51:38

I can totally understand what you are going through right now, I have a 16 week pup, who is mad ! The bruises on our ankles are shocking, from the constant nipping, it gets to me some days.
However, as a family, we lost our beautiful golden retriever in a sudden and tragic accident, we were not ready to lose our family member. He was only young and a much loved member of our family. He too, as a puppy, was very trying and a complete loon . But, with lots of attention, training and perseverance he became a wonderful dog. Retrievers are loyal, obedient dogs who love to please.
As a family, we decided to choose a different breed of dog this time, our pup is a challenge, as was our retriever. However, this time around I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Puppies are toddlers ! Very unpredictable, but constant training really does work.
Please keep at it, you are not alone in these puppy years !!!!!!!!!

Spero Fri 14-Jun-13 23:06:12

I completely agree with the judicious use of the word 'no'. I only use it in emergency or serious situation. Dog knows it is serious and responds. If she was going after one of the cats or pooing on the rug I am certainly not waving a toy or treat.

PeanutPatty Fri 14-Jun-13 22:55:22

Depending on what you do with the soft toy decides whether the dog will leave the wires to come and play a game with you? You need to be more interesting and fun than anything else.

I'd recommend clicker training and Kay Laurence, Learning About Dogs is worth a read / google.

HoneyDragon Fri 14-Jun-13 21:32:40

Idirdog, as always has explained it better grin

My no! Is nearly always out side. I think my pup thinks it means. "Uh oh the humans panicking better see what's up" rather than "I am not meant to be doing this".

idirdog Fri 14-Jun-13 21:29:03

90% of dog training is preventing the incorrect behaviour in the first place.

eg you do not want your dog to go upstairs. Install a gate and the dog can not go upstairs, no need to yell, If you remove the gate a few months later most dogs will not attempt to go upstairs - training made easy by preventing the behaviour you do not want. You dont want your dog to counter surf do not leave food on the counter so there is no need for your dog to counter surf.

You should not put your dog in a position where you have to say boom no. IF on the odd occasion your dog does need to be stopped it would be much more positive and productive to yell down or wait then reward that behaviour than the negative command of no.

HoneyDragon Fri 14-Jun-13 21:19:05

No is just a good a word as any to get a dogs attention and the one the comes easiest when you see unwanted behaviour.

The important thing is to immediately follow the No! With an instruction the dog can follow, and reward the dog positively for complying. Always.

lainiekazan Fri 14-Jun-13 21:09:04

I do agree that the training method does depend on the dog. Positive training is good, but if the dog is doing something bad/dangerous you just have to boom NO! rather than doing some distraction technique. Obviously too much no-ing is counterproductive, but also too much softly-softly will lead any dog with half a brain to think it can get away with murder. Brandishing a soft toy will hardly tempt a dog away from a nice chewy electrical wire.

EuroShaggleton Fri 14-Jun-13 15:42:18

My parents got a female goldie pup to get me over my awful, awful fear of dogs when I was a child.

She was mega cute and fluffy to start with. Then she turned into the anti-social bitey bullying "toddler" that you describe. She was hard to walk and in the house had to be kept in part of a room that was fenced off otherwise she would just nip at people all the time.

The answer was dog training classes. This was a while ago so it might be unfashionable now, but it worked. We were told to establish one member of the household as pack leader. We were told to give strong clear commands (I remember at the class she was trying to bite the lead and not paying any attention to what my dad was saying. The instructor said "we don't say 'naughty' we say 'NOOOOOOOOOOO'" in this big booming voice. The instructor combined it with grabbing her by the scruff of the neck). It really worked. She turned into the most lovely, good-natured dog you could imagine. She'd walk by us off the lead, be pulled around by the local children and all sorts. She never went for anyone.

So those tehniques might not be fashionable any more, but I would say that a good dog trainer would be invaluable.

LittleFeileFooFoo Fri 14-Jun-13 15:28:34

Animals that are neutered younger grow larger. That probably is part of the hormone surge thing too.

Now why didn't I know that about neutering goldies until later? My vet was trying to neuter ours at 6 months. I held off until 18 months because he was bonkers and I wanted to give him a chance to mature beyond bonkers behaviour before neutering him, but I didn't know that about hip dysplasia being linked to neutering age.

I would get some training in positive reinforcement. Ours (nearly 3) is still very bouncy when excited so I have done an awful lot of work on 'down' because if he is lying down he can't leap up and at an all over people. He loves food rewards in the house, completely ignores them when out, so I have had to start using throwing a ball as the reinforcer for training when out & about.

They are very clever - which is both a help and a hinderance. Good luck!

lainiekazan Fri 14-Jun-13 14:00:11

Feel much better today. Dh got up at 5am this morning allowing me two hours more sleep.. Consequently dh is in a right grump and the dog is wearing a halo and has barely put a paw wrong.

Gingersstuff Fri 14-Jun-13 13:19:33

It does get easier though they still have their moments...my three all rolled in fox poop the other week, I washed the two girls first and while the boy was in the shower getting a scrubdown, the ladies decided they'd use my freshly-changed duvet to enthusiastically dry themselves on. I could have wept sad

Confusedandfedup Fri 14-Jun-13 11:39:39

I'm hoping it gets easier. I felt a little better this week as we got rid of the crate (which I hated...it was huge, ugly and in the way). Dog is fine without it and as crazy as it sounds it was like getting back to normal (how things were before we got her).

Spero Fri 14-Jun-13 11:24:13

I hope it is going ok. My dog hurled herself on my bed this morning and flopped on her back with such a goofy expression of adoration. It is a nice way to wake up.

I hope you can get there with your dog -when it works it is great. Best relationship with another living thing I have ever had!

Gingersstuff Fri 14-Jun-13 09:52:37

IAm neutering really isn't recommended for goldies (especially males) until at least 18 months-2 years, as Tabu says. Early neutering is very probably the cause of ongoing genetic hip dysplasias as they have a surge of hormones around that age which fuse the big hip and skull joints together, which doesn't occur in neutered males (which is why the stats show much more hip dysplasia in males than females).
Vets will always advise neutering sooner than later to prevent unplanned litters and some cancers in females but specifically for male goldies, this isn't the best option.

Gingersstuff Fri 14-Jun-13 09:47:48

Little Neutered? At 12 weeks? shock No, no, no. We've had goldens many years, neutering them much before they are 2 is asking for trouble with major hip dysplasia in later life.
OP, your pup is very young and as many have said, goldies are a very intelligent breed who do need a routine, plenty of exercise (tho obviously restricted at that young age) and most of all, a calm, rational approach to training. They will take advantage of you if they're allowed to. Your pup can't be so big at 12 weeks that you can't pick him up off the sofa and put him on the floor with a "Down" or "Off" command.
Keep in mind that these big breeds don't mature much until they are 2-3 so he has a lot of growing and development to do. You do sound like you need help with him though so get ye to a good trainer who will start you off on the right foot, then consistency is the key.
Honestly, once you get past this you'll realise that goldies are just the best...calm, intelligent, loyal, laid-back dogs who are just a joy to have around. The very best of luck to you.

tabulahrasa Fri 14-Jun-13 09:46:42

There was a recent study (actually done on golden retrievers) confirming that early - before the growth plates have closed at about 18 months - neutering is linked to joint problems.

Besides, hormonal aggression wouldn't start a good couple of months before puberty hits.

There's no quick fixes for puppy behaviour, just training, consistency and time for them to learn what you expect.

IAmNotAMindReader Fri 14-Jun-13 09:18:54

With a large breed most vets advise neutering at around 8 months. The snapping is also a learned behaviour he has learned he gets left to do what he wants if he does it, doesn't mean he wants to rip your throat out. Dogs are relatively simple things that use the idea of do what works.
They quickly work out what gets them the response they want, if I do x (look sulky, snarl, respond to owner) I get y. You just have to approach things form a different angle now to redirect this focus to he gets his reward from responding to you. See a few trainers and stay away from those who start on about dominance, however you need to be firm, calm and consistant.

Also keep on top of training all the time, around the teenage years (8 months to just over1) it can be like being back to 3 months again with some behaviours so remember to reinforce what you learn then.

It may seem like a hard slog but put the effort in now to moulding the dog you want and he will be a wonderful family friend for years to come.

LittleFeileFooFoo Fri 14-Jun-13 03:21:47

Is he neutered? That may help with some of the aggression too.

And exercise helps right before training, I think.

But others have very good advice.

IAmNotAMindReader Thu 13-Jun-13 19:42:55

Golden retrievers are an intelligent breed and do require lots of mental stimulation. Until he can reliably come when you call try teaching him to sit, stay, lie down and of course come to you on command rewarding with food. They are a breed which is very food motivated find the right treat and they will do anything for it. Wear him out mentally and he will be a lot calmer.

They are also very vocal and a lot of their vocalisations are through growls. They are said to be one of the few breeds that growl through pure happiness. You will learn the difference between a yeah I love this, I really love this and go away. Look at videos on you tube etc of dog behaviour for the other behaviours which say I'm not happy (looking away, yawning, leaning away, lip licking and tense body).

Ours was a total land shark you couldn't sit in the garden when she was out or she'd think it was an invitation to play and leap on you growling happily and sink her teeth in. Gradually she learned this was not acceptable. She worked her way around the stair gate and made her way upstairs and ate the bed. She has now accepted when the stair gate is on she doesn't go up even thoguh she could easily defeat it.

Calm, consitant, firm training with lots of praise as reward, they don't do well with shouting and punishment. Praise the good and ignore the bad by turning away with arms folded (mainly so they don't get chewed) or substituting a forbidden item for one they really like (favourite toy, treat filled kong etc) and a bouncy puppy will soon give up as that is boring.
Remember their coats and skin is thicker than ours so they have to learn bite inhibition and to be gentle.

Dominance theory is complete bollocks, some of it has merit because it is common sense, ie you go through a door before the dog not because you are asserting your dominance but because you don't know what is on the other side and can handle the situation better with a heads up.

Be aware as with all dogs but particularly golden retrievers due to the intelligence they learn to manipiulate us really quickly. There is no ill intent behind it they just read our body language well and soon learn if I act like this (the worlds most emo dog) then I get (insert whatever they have their eye on). Channel that intelligence with training and they will love to please as it is fun for them too.

tabulahrasa Thu 13-Jun-13 19:02:36

Ah you made it sound like he'd just been wandering round all day left a bit to his own devices...he's fine to explore when he's out there.

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 18:57:00

He hasn't been free roaming all day, just when he goes out and obviously in the warmer weather there were longer periods of this. He follows the Gwen Bailey routine to the last letter (except the family meals every day - honestly - what family spends all day together every day?) We do have a rather wild garden blush which is an inquisitive puppy's paradise.

tabulahrasa Thu 13-Jun-13 18:51:23

'Oh Tabularasha, you have described my 13 month lab to a tee. Steals, chews, rude and over friendly.'

I'm always so glad when it's not just mine that's like that, lol...I know full well it's just his age, but sometimes you feel like 'that' owner.

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