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How can I get my lovely lab to behave?

(8 Posts)
Monkeysmum Thu 30-Dec-10 19:00:57

Hi, I was hoping some of you might be able to help me to iron out some training problems with my (nearly) 3 year old labrador. She has a really lovely temperament and we have most of the basics covered, recall, walking to heel, toilet training, jumping up (most of the time!)etc but at home she is a complete pickle, no food is safe, even if you think it is out of reach she still manages to get it, shoes have to be locked away she has destroyed 2 cushions in the last week and will crunch up pens, children's toys etc (thankfully she destroys but doesn't swallow it all).

Also she knows she is not allowed on the sofa but the second my back is turned she is on it, she is not allowed upstairs and again will go up as soon as no-ones looking. She knows it's wrong from the way she looks at me when she is caught out, I say a very firm 'No' and either put her in the kitchen (behind a dog gate) or in the garden, letting her back in 5 mins later - it's clearly not working- any ideas very gratefully received, we really thought she would have grown out of it by now!! Thanks very much

ChoudeBruxelles Thu 30-Dec-10 19:02:11

Sorry no advice but she may grow out of it in another 7 years or so.

ednurse Thu 30-Dec-10 19:08:00

Is she doing this when she is left alone? If so she is probably bored. Try to keep her entertained with a treat filled Kong toy, it doesn't have to have their own (expensive) branded filler in it, you can put peanut butter in there.

Also she probably won't grow out of going upstairs. Your best bet there is a stairgate.

Monkeysmum Thu 30-Dec-10 19:14:54

Oh dear Choude - that's what I feared!!

Ednurse - I don't think it's boredom as this is all while we are in (I wouldn't trust her with the run of the house while we are out so she stays in the kitchen and is always impeccably behaved in there - I think she must just be asleep!!), maybe will have to try a stairgate again (we used to have one and when we took it down she was great for ages - maybe time to dig it out again!), thanks for the suggestions though, and will try the kong tomorrow while we are in, I was thinking of it as a boredom buster for while we were out but it might give her something to do while we are in the house too.

Slubberdegullion Thu 30-Dec-10 19:20:27

I think wrt to the food stealing that all you can do at the moment is make sure ALL food is put away (in high cupboards or in the fridge) and is TOTALLY inaccessible at all times.

Labs are greedy greedy pig dogs (I have one so can say that grin) and if she has worked out where food is that she can get when your back is turned then she will continue to steal it.

I have read techniques about 'setting the dog up to fail' and then giving them a shock with a bottle of gravel shaken loudly or a water pistol. Not sure of the efficacy. I'd just become vigilant with putting everything edible away.

Likewise anything chewable that you don't want chewed - remove it. My trainer says ANYTHING left on the floor is fair game,. The dds now know if their my little pony or new pens or party shoes get chewed they have no one to blame but themselves. They are v good now at tidying things away grin [result!].
Have a big supply of rotational chew toys that your dog is allowed - kongs are good and my lab loves raw hide stuff and the odd marrow bone.

About the sofa, you need to pimp your dog bed. Make where the dog sleeps better WAY WAY better than the sofa. Treat (or click and treat - do you use a clicker) when she goes into it. Give her a stuffed kong in it. Praise like mad when she is in it. Make sure it is super fab and comfy and smells nice.

Barricade the sofa when you are out.

I have the top of our stairs gated (couldn't be arsed to unscrew the baby gate). Dog never goes up the stairs as there is nowhere to go but perch on the top step. Might be worth a try in the interim while you are helping your dog fall in love with her bed.

Monkeysmum Thu 30-Dec-10 19:40:03

Hi Slubber, the trouble is I always think the food is out of reach - I think it may be a case of training myself - not the dog! I have tried the water pistol thing, it did work for the times I was using it but wouldn't put her off doing it again, and she ate the bottle shaker!

The dc's are fairly well trained (through bitter experience!) but I think we got lapse as she got a lot better and then more recently has got worse again, I will definitely give more chews while we are here, I am realising that I am guilty of keeping them back for when we go out to keep her busy but actually it would be a lot better for her to have them instead of shoes etc while we are home.

I will try putting some more soft blankets in her bed, she has 2 already and the bed has flowers on it and everything - no taste this dog!!

I think I will invest in a clicker tomorrow - never tried it and would be good to give it a go.

Thanks for all the ideas, have got to log off now but will come back tomorrow x

midori1999 Fri 31-Dec-10 12:11:49

The good news is, if she is like this, she is exactly the sort of dog that is easy to train, she is easily motivated.

You do need to make sure food etc is out of her way, which for a lab probably means not left on the worktops at all, but in the fridge, microwave, cupboards etc. The more times she is able to steal food from the worktops, the more she'll try it, so it'd a viscious circle. If she never finds anything to steal up there, she'll eventually give up trying, but that will be months/years rather than weeks.

Re: the sofa thing, use food to make her bed a great place. Frequently 'lure' her over to her bed with food and when she is on it say 'bed' and give her the food. Feed her meals on/next to her bed, leave bits of kibble in there when she is not looking so she can find them, give her her kong to eat on her bed, keep her toys in her bed when you tidy up, throw some food on there for her if she is on there when you walk past. All of these things will make her think bed = wonderful, place where all the food is, sofa = bit boring really.

As for the stairs, keeping all the bedroom doors closed so if she goes upstairs all there is up there is a boring old landing might work after a while, but otherwise, I'd invest in a stairgate for now.

Supervision is the key to not chewing things, plus making sure she gets plenty fo exercise and things to do (training, games etc). An adult lab ideally needs 2 hours plus of exercise a day, split into 2-3 walks, some of which should ideally be off lead. A tired dog is a welll behaved dog and if you are watching her and she takes something that isn't hers, you can replace it with something she is allowed to chew. Also make sure she has lots of chew toys of her own. If you can't supervise her, put her in the kitchen if she doesn't chew anything in there, even if you're just going upstairs to bath the children. Prevention will eventually mean she doesn't do it anymore.

Monkeysmum Thu 13-Jan-11 11:51:11

Midori, thanks so much for your reply, really sorry - somehow I had managed to miss it until now! Things have improved a bit in the last week or so, I think it's harder for her to 'be good' when the kids are off school as they are a lively lot and I think she just joins in to be a part of the 'pack', it's also easier for me to keep food and toys etc out of her way when they are at school, and she is much less likely to go upstairs when there is nothing going on up there (i.e. no kids playing).

Since they have gone back she's much calmer. You are absolutely right about better behaviour when she is tired, to that end we have just had a lovely long walk and she is lying down very calmly looking out of the window. The peanut butter filled kong has been working too (thanks ednurse!), I pimped her bed too (good idea Slubber), although we still need to work on that, will start trying food in there.

I'm off to shut the bedroom doors!! (i'm not sure why that didn't occur to me - i'd blame baby brain but my youngest is nearly 6!!)

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