Should I get a behaviourist?

(32 Posts)
lainiekazan Wed 25-Sep-13 14:11:00

I have posted about Dog before and received good advice. But he is so difficult and I've had a good cry today because I just can't handle him.

He is a 6-month old golden retriever - and very big already.

I can't take him for a walk because although I've reduced the pulling by buying a Dogmatic collar, he now just jumps up and tries to get the lead off me by biting and will not give up. He has also ramped up the biting so about every hour he launches into a random attack, and especially if I try to do a bit of training or even play. His adult teeth are now in and although it is not snappy biting, he is pressing down and it hurts. Standing "like a tree" is all very well but he bites down harder.

He obviously needs exercise but I've reached the point where I can't face going out. I tried letting him off the lead at the large local rec (he has excellent recall in house/garden) and he just flew off and eventually a woman caught him for me. Tried training line - he just bit at it and me.

He attends training classes but I can't concentrate because I'm so occupied trying to stop him leaping, biting and pulling. The trainer said that he was a very naughty dog and I would have to work ten times as hard as other people as he seemed very resistant to training sad .

I feel so depressed about it. I would add that when he's calm he is lovely and friendly.

But I'm increasingly having to crate him due to his biting and lunging, especially if anyone comes to the house.

HelgatheHairy Thu 26-Sep-13 13:13:36

A bit like what LittleWhiteBag said, I found circular walks helped so you are not going back the same way you came. My boy never acted up going, it was always the way back, so once I started doing circular walks it helped.

I think there's a definite element of maturity to it. Where I live there are no trainers or behavioroligists so I did all training myself. So a lot of of it he just grew out of because I'm not that good a trainer.

littlewhitebag Thu 26-Sep-13 12:32:06

One of the things which helped us with this was advised at puppy class. I was told to take control of the walk. Tell yourself it is your walk not the dog's walk. Then go off at a brisk pace and keep changing direction so the dog is kept guessing. Every time she looked like the mischief was going to start i would go off in a random direction.
I am lucky as i live by a golf course so i had a lot of opportunity to just walk here, there and every where. You do get some VERY strange looks but for some reason it worked.
I think the dog is so focussed on what you are doing and where you are going next they forget to act up. I am sure someone will come along and tell me this is rubbish but it really worked for us and our dog was exactly like yours.

StarsGoBlue Thu 26-Sep-13 12:22:19

My golden retriever also did the jumping up and grabbing the lead/biting thing. It made walks on lead a nightmare, as he was guaranteed to do this at least once on every walk. Like you, I found that attempting to ignore just didn't work, and was seriously questioning our decision to have a dog. Amazingly, the behaviour just dropped out after his first birthday - he's 3 years old now, and has never done any of that since then. So, there may be hope that your dog will also just stop doing this as he matures.

lainiekazan Thu 26-Sep-13 10:26:41

Sorry to be so whiney. I just need somewhere to vent and dh and dcs get so cross if I complain.

Went out this morning. Helga - I feel your pain. Dog started out quite jauntily. In next road he started jumping and biting. He went through my anorak and sweatshirt and it still hurt. Then he lay down and WOULD NOT move. Nothing would budge him, not even a large quantity of cheese. I timed it and we were actually there for 20 minutes. In the end I think he got bored and grudgingly stomped home. I praised him profusely for walking nicely although I was seething at his bloody-mindedness and the fact that I caused either amusement or terror to passers by.

HelgatheHairy Thu 26-Sep-13 10:03:14

I can still vividly remember my worst walk. My Goldie was 8 months at the time. I was 8 weeks pregnant. We were walking on the narrow bendy country roads. Going was ok but he started acting up on the way back. Then it started lashing rain and he lost it - kept jumping at me and biting. He was jumping on my stomach, biting, it was lashing rain and we were just on a bend, if a car had come at that point they would have hit us!

Luckily enough a car came from the other direction and distracted him enough that I was able to get him through a field gate and take the lead off and we went home through the fields.

After that things did improve and now he's lovely and really good to walk (recent photo on my profile) but that day I really did think I couldn't do it anymore. I promise it gets better.

Whoknowswhocares Thu 26-Sep-13 09:50:54

Blimey, that sounds like a totally shit training class! I wouldn't abandon the whole concept based on that one, although some one to one help first would definitely be best.
As an idea, the beginner group I attended covered nipping,health checks,jumping up,how to play with your dog appropriately,how to let your dog greet people and other dogs,home boundaries etc etc as well as the basic sit,stay,lead work stuff. Basically they gave us exercises to improve all the problem areas, plus individual concerns could also be addressed, and the trainers were available by phone throughout the week for any other help required
Doesn't sound like you've had anything approaching that level of help though?

lainiekazan Thu 26-Sep-13 08:00:07

Thanks for your advice. Will investigate Kris Glover.

I am a bit calmer today (so far - it's only 8 am!) and realise that group training is not for dog. He can't cope and neither can I. I can only imagine it's like finding oneself in the top maths set when you can just about manage to add 2 + 2. Actually it was worse because the other owners last night were particularly snooty and there was much pursing of lips when dog didn't have a clue. Also I am not particularly coordinated myself and whilst everyone was merrily weaving in and out of cones I kept going the wrong way, let alone the dog.

Lilcamper Wed 25-Sep-13 22:03:31

Agree with the Kris Glover recommendation. she really knows her stuff and is a lovely lady too smile

littlewhitebag Wed 25-Sep-13 20:40:37

I have a 16 mo golden lab. At six months i too was at the end of my tether with her. She was difficult to walk for the very reasons you give - jumping, biting on the lead and at me, pulling. A complete nightmare. I would be lying if i said i had turned her into a perfect dog. She is anything but. However, i went to really great training classes where most of us had pretty unruly mutts. The trainer was incredibly patient and had seen it all. He gave me the confidence to (i am finding it hard to put into word what he gave me actually) i suppose just to take each day as it came, deal with each incident and reward every tiny bit of good behaviour. She can still have her moments but i can really see how much progress we have made. I think you have reached the pint where i would have been happy to walk away from my dog but i am so pleases i persevered.
Sorry - this was a bit of a ramble but all i want to say is, stick in there. It CAN and WILL get better. Get a better trainer and take each day as it comes. Good luck. I would come and walk with you but i am in Scotland. Bit far for a stroll on the beach!

moosemama Wed 25-Sep-13 19:56:42

I don't think you don't have a relationship with him or that you don't love him or him you, sorry if I gave that impression.

I just think that your confidence in him and your ability to control him out and about has taken a bashing and you need help to get that back on track and build on your relationship in positive ways.

I know what it's like to have a dog you truly love, but don't enjoy, iyswim. I had a large breed, fear-aggressive dog years ago and would have gladly laid down my life for him, I will admit to getting very little joy out of our life with him in many ways, particularly through the juvenile/teenage period.

What changed everything was contacting people who were far more experienced and knowledgeable than me and learning from them the skills I needed to modify his behaviour. Sadly we lost him to cancer when he was 7, but by then he was a different dog, I was a half-decent handler and I loved every minute of having him in my life.

To be honest, your trainer doesn't sound up to much. If the classes are stressing you - and from the sounds of it him - that much and you don't feel you are making any progress, I'd ditch them for a while and have a course of private sessions with the person idir recommended instead. Then, once you have your confidence back and have learned a few bits to help you manage him, if you want to you can go back and show them how it's done.

EasyToEatTiger Wed 25-Sep-13 19:53:35

I think you don't have a suitable trainer. I have experienced the same thing. Training a dog is not all about walking round in a circle in an enclosed space and the dog coming back to you. It is about how we relate to the dog in question and watching and watching and watching. Some dogs are harder to live with than others and often these dogs make the best ever companions. If your dog is confused and you are seeking help, I think the help you are seeking is wrong!

lainiekazan Wed 25-Sep-13 19:51:28

I'll take a look at that, thanks.

Poor dog. He's now on absolute best behaviour. One sharp bark to ask to go out to the loo, now he's flopped down beside me.

But he'll be back to his bad ways when he's wide awake!

idirdog Wed 25-Sep-13 19:49:25

Kris Glover is on TV BBC1 on Friday in Ronnie's Animal Crackers if you want to see her in action.

lainiekazan Wed 25-Sep-13 19:43:26

We do actually have a good relationship! He seems devoted to me and even busts into the loo and stares at me with unconditional love there. Whenever I call him at home he rushes to my side. In the evenings he positions himself on my feet and snores (and farts) contentedly.

But it's just the horrible biting, pulling and general non-compliance that happens throughout the day.

It was dog training this evening. He was dire . The trainer, who is very experienced, said that she could see he was a handful and it wasn't just my fault. It doesn't help that the other dogs there don't need any training (in spite of it being labelled a beginner's class) and all love showing off fancy heel work and other tricks whilst my poor dog is totally confused.

EasyToEatTiger Wed 25-Sep-13 19:15:24

I have contacted trainers/behaviourists through dog mags such as Your Dog. The contributors are professional dog people and I have found it a good place to start. You are experiencing a young adult dog which is often a tricky time, worse in some ways than teenagers as you are dealing with a different species. With the right help you will probably be able to change a bit in how you deal with the dog and shift the relationship.

moosemama Wed 25-Sep-13 18:11:52

Definitely go with whoever idirdog advises.

It sounds like you need to work on your relationship with him as you seem to have made your mind up that he is difficult and deliberately non-compliant, so normal rules/training methods don't apply.

I have to agree with Whoknowswhocares Kikopup methods work with any breed/size of dog they are simply based around non-aversive, positive reinforcement, but rely on patience, timing and consistency - and confidence.

I think you have lost confidence in both your dog and your ability to train and control him and working with a good, qualified behaviourist is exactly what you need to fix that.

In the meantime, he needs exercise so employing a dog-walker is a good idea - as is looking into his diet and perhaps some TTouch techniques, maybe even taking him to qualified TTouch practitioner for a couple of sessions so you can learn how to do some of it at home.

Good luck.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 25-Sep-13 17:12:06

I would echo Iridogs advice Kris Glover is excellent.

idirdog Wed 25-Sep-13 16:59:41

I highly recommend Kris Glover from Pets in Practise.

She covers your area and will travel. A fantastic professional who will make a huge difference to your relationship with your dog and give you the tools to enjoy dog ownership again

0118 9836470 / 07843 55944
or
here

lainiekazan Wed 25-Sep-13 16:49:20

Right. Decided. I will find a proper one-to-one trainer. Quite a few advertise, but who to choose?

I asked a passing golden retriever owner if she could recommend someone; she looked at me with a curled lip and said she did all her training herself. Unfortunately most people cross the road when they see me coming puffing and blowing and fighting with a mad dog.

Whoknowswhocares Wed 25-Sep-13 16:38:44

Kikopup methods DO work with a big lump of a dog. I have the same breed as you ( about 6 weeks older I think) and have used exactly her methods. Now pup is not perfect and we still have work to do but she does walk nicely on the lead,recall,sit,stay etc etc. all the basics are now fine.

Our breed can get very hyped up around the distraction of other dogs and people who they are desperate to make friends with can't they? I also have been through the lunging stage (although mine thankfully didn't bite). I found working on her impulse control the most useful way of dealing with this. I think you said your 'leave it' was not very solid yet. Definitely that has helped mine enormously. It's not just the act of leaving the food it teaches. The act of waiting and resisting something they want is transferable to outdoors on walks too

JemimaPuddle Wed 25-Sep-13 16:38:11

Ttouch is excellent for calming too

JemimaPuddle Wed 25-Sep-13 16:37:35

Definitely try a behaviourist, I had one years ago after my dog was badly attacked & became fear aggressive.
We did clicker training - which I cannot recommend enough - and spent loads of time rebuilding mine & the dogs confidence.

LEMisdisappointed Wed 25-Sep-13 16:37:28

Yes do look at his food, you need something with a low protein content otherwise you may be feeding the doggie equivalent of fruitshoots. Made a HUGE difference to our rescue rottie that was deranged after his settling down period. Also have you thought of a DAP diffuser - you say you have other threads about him?

LEMisdisappointed Wed 25-Sep-13 16:34:48

I am in the south east (in a very popular seaside town) if that sounds close, pm me smile

1MitchellMum Wed 25-Sep-13 16:34:01

Poor you! May I ask what you're feeding him? Hope you manage to get a dog walking companion and trainer sorted. Also maybe worth taking him to hydrotherapy (one where they do 'fun' swims) as that's an enclosed place and it does tire them out. And of course goldens usually LOVE swimming. Good luck!

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