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How can I enrich my 12mo labs life?

(25 Posts)
gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 19:23:58

Hi all, I have a lovely loyal lab, in fact I'd go as far as to say clingy. She gets walked every day, has a kong toy, other chew toys, gets treats and plenty of attention but is still a little clingy. I think she's a very intelligent dog, as maybe might be a little bored so what can I buy for her/do with her to occupy and challenge her? I don't mind putting the hours in, I don't want her to get grumpy and bored.

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 19:27:16

I just got one of these today and my dogs love it:


You can also do obedience work with her, if you don't already.

gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 19:29:53

bella you must have got the last one, out of stock! what do you mean by obedience work, i just want to stimulate her, she seems so receptive.

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 19:34:28

lol - no, I got mine from a pet shop wink

By obedience work I mean sit, down, stay, come, fetch, leave etc. You can train her using a clicker if you like. If she's fully grown (18 months) you can do agility with her.

Labs are very bright and biddable and just love to please, as you probably know!

Bruce Fogle does a really good dog training book and another book - it may be Think Dog by John Fisher - has a section purely on games to play with your dog.

gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 19:35:52

thanks bella, i've seen you on other pet threads before and you seem helpful. can i ask you another quick question?

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 19:36:25

Gawd yes - I can bore for England on dogs! grin

gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 19:48:55

since i've had izzy she's been very very nervy, to the extent of shying away from people who bend down to pet her. how do i deal with this, and will she grow out of it? she's absolutely fine with people she is familiar with, but in some ways she's quite highly strung and i'd like it if she was a bit more relaxed iyswim?

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 19:53:59

Where/when did you get her? How old was she?

gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 20:04:22

right, it's a bit of a story. I looked on the kennel club site for reputable breeders and contacted a lady close to me off their site. All her pups had gone, (she had an adult dog and bitch) but she said she had bred her dog with another bitch and she knew they had pups and could recommend them. when we got izzy she was 14 weeks old and had a bit of a sob story. she'd been sold once and ended up back at the breeders because allegedly she didn't get on with the dog her new family already had. However, she has always been fab with all other dogs so I'm not sure about that. Also, she runs with her tail between her legs sometimes, it's almost like she's nervous, however, as I said, with us she's brilliant, happy, and fab with my toddler. I've often wondered if something bad happened to her at the other family. The breeders were lovely, saw the mum and the other pup that was left, which they were keeping, no problems there. They just said to me, she's very placid

amazonianwoman Thu 05-Nov-09 20:19:52

a jug - scroll down

amazonianwoman Thu 05-Nov-09 20:20:37

Tug a jug even

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 20:21:13

Well, first my disclaimer - I'm not a behaviourist or a trainer, and there are lots of very knowedgeable and helpful people on here.

My interpretation would be that during her critical socialisation period she was with the first owners, and the existing dog did not react well to her. It's very unusual for a pup not to get on with another dog - they will back down and just want to be accepted by older dogs when they are tiny. So I think it was more a case of the existing dog not getting on with the pup, rather than vice versa, iyswim. That could have taken the form of normal older dog putting pup in its place behaviour, which inexperienced owners may not have been able to understand, or the existing dog itself may have been poorly socialised with other dogs and so may really have been aggressive to the pup.

In any case, that would account for why she is nervous around other dogs, or she may just have a timid and nervous disposition. That would also account for why she is 'clingy'.

tbh, if it were me, I would get a behaviourist to assess her, because of course it's very hard for anyone to say what her character is without having seen her.

In the meantime, you can try to socialise her as much as possible with well behaved dogs. Do not push her out of her comfort zone - allow her to go as slowly as she needs to, but also do not try to soothe or reassure her when she shows fear. That can be interpreted by the dog as a reward for that behaviour, and they will do it even more just to 'please' you. Try to be relaxed and confident round her (I'm sure you are!) and that wil rub off on her.

A training class would be good - it would give her something to occupy her mind and also introduce her to other dogs in a controlled environment.

Right, will stop wittering on now and give some of the other very smart and helpful people on here give their advice too.

Do keep us posted, please smile

gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 20:25:31

just to emphasise bella, she's brilliant with other dogs, it's people she doesn't like.

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 20:29:14

Sorry - I thought when you mentioned tail between legs you were talking about running with other dogs? I am multi tasking so obviously read it wrong.

She may have missed out on some of her critical socialisation with people during the time she was going back and forth to the breeder - it all happens in the same window.

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 20:47:01

lol - yes, have reread your post and it is very clear blush

Serves me right for trying to do too many things at once!!!

It may be her temperament, it may be due to lack of socialisation or it may be due to a bad experience.

<Bella takes size 7 out of her mouth>

Is it only strange people she shows fear towards?

gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 20:54:42

yep only strangers she shows fear to. fine with people she knows. she follows us around the house ALL the time, it's like she can't relax unless she can see us. It has taken us a year of trial and error to get her to settle at night. She has a crate but we don't lock her in it, but she still cried up until recently.

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 20:58:01

Sounds like she has a bit of separation anxiety too maybe? What's she like when you leave her?

gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 21:07:09

not too bad, she doesn't cry or anything. she'd had a few mail chewing episodes and stuff l.ike that but to be honest, i'd have thought that was normal for labs. However, because of mine and my husbands shift patterns, it works out that it's only 2 days out of 8 at the most that she's on her own for more than 3-4 hrs. My neighbour has said she doesn't cry or anything (paperthin walls so she'd defo know)

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 22:33:01

Oh good smile

I have a rescue dog who used to follow me from room to room - if we'd been doing heelwork at Crufts we would have won! You can try gradually building up her confidence that you won't leave her - literally close the door on her and open it immediately, then build up the time period until she will stay in one room while you go into another.

Re the people - again, getting her into a training class would give her the opportunity to meet lots of dog-friendly people, as well as keeping her mind occupied.

Am sure someone else will be along soon with some good ideas. I would recommend a chat with a good, qualified behaviourist though wink


gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 22:36:15

Thanks Bella, you've been a help. I think I will go down the behaviourist route, I'd already toyed with the idea. I just don't want my lovely dog to spend her life in a state of anxiety, it seems so unfair and it can't be healthy. Again, thanks. You may not remember, but it was you that talked me out of buying a British Bulldog about 10 months ago, you highlighted the breeding cruelty and put me off totally.

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 22:39:10

Oh crikes - no, I don't remember blush

Was I on my soapbox? For a change?!

My rescue dog has come on in leaps and bounds - she too was quite fearful of strangers. I am sure Izzy will do the same - you sound like a lovely owner wink

gemmummy Thu 05-Nov-09 22:47:07

We weren't allowed a rescue dog because of my son, and our working patterns (which incidently are better than most dogs get) but apparantly it wasn't suitable. Izzy is a love, she just needs a bit of TLC, I'd like another pooch but it's not really viable, our house is far too small for 2 big un's! Love dogs, it's been an education for my DH, he's never had a dog and thinks they should live in the garden! But when you catch him, he's always giving her treats and taking her out, she loves him to bits! And my DS sits on her bed and reads her stories! No family is complete without a dog!

BellaBonJovi Thu 05-Nov-09 22:54:03

Ah yes, I do remember now!

lol at your dh - I think MmeLindt had similar with her dh wink Lovely about your ds - my ds (7) spends ages getting out the door each morning because he insists on kissing all 3 dogs individually before he leaves grin If the cats are around we are very late shock

minimu Fri 06-Nov-09 10:32:42

What a lucky lab having such a caring owner. You have already been given some good advice. I would certainly agree with Bella re shuting the door behind you and leaving the dog for a few seconds so the dog realises she is not to follow you around. You should be able to build up to asking her to go to her bed and leave the room and she should stay until you return and ask her to leave.

The other thing I would do is not to make a fuss of her when you come home. Just walk into the room put your bags down etc put the kettle on before you acknowledge her. (I know this is so hard to do!) then a few minutes later you can talk to the dog. What this tends to do is highlight the fact that your being away is a big thing. You go away and you come back no big deal.

As for keeping her stimulated the more training she does the more confident she will become. Agility is great fun one - of my labs loves it. General dog training is fun also working trials look for an ADPT trainer in your area. You also make some great new friends. Also any tricks you can teach her would be great - it gets her brain working and keeps her busy a good book is Dog Tricks by Mary Ray. You will soon have a keen labrador putting the rubbish in the bin and her toys in the toy box!

Train her to fetch named objects. The phone, the tv remote control, your car keys she may as well earn her keep! and she will love it. Train her to take off your socks and fetch your boots before you take her for a walk.

Re fear of strangers make sure you are all up beat when you meet new people or walk past them. Also if possible could you get a groups of people she has not meet before just to walk past her and drop a treat on the floor. If you can do this enough times in enough places she will begin to see new people as great!

Have fun!

gemmummy Fri 06-Nov-09 13:21:29

minimu thanks for these ideas, I'm going to start small with the shutting the door behind me thing and see how we get on. I'll jot down the other stuff too so I don't forget, loving the idea of her fetching the remote control (because underneath it all I'm a sloth!)

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