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Does anyone else have an Independent dog

(26 Posts)
MrsNonSmoker Wed 24-Nov-10 09:50:25

that is to say a dog that doesn't care if it has your approval or affection etc., so is very hard to train?

We waited until our children were old enough (7&9) to help take care of a dog, researched various breeds, decided to pay through the nose for a Cockerpoo - a spaniel poodle cross. Obviously they are very cute when you get them. When we went to look at our puppy (we were last on the list so didn't choose him, he was the one left) he seemed ok, came over for a cuddle, wagged his tail, slept on my DD etc., but his mother, the bitch, growled at my husband and hid under the stairs. The breeder told us this was normal for bitches with litters, I now know this is not true. Cockerpoos are advertised as having a wonderful temperament ... ahem, ours has serious issues. He bites the children (as in still mouthing and nipping not attacking them) eats paper, tissues, babywipes anything vaguely paper he will risk any punishment to eat, he is totally uncontrollable in the house and outside spends most of his time trying to get into the road (if we open the front door its a major exercise in dog restraint), eating mud or rolling in poo. He is not scared of our shouting, we've even tried rolled up newspaper (which to him is like hitting him with food). He doesn't care, he is not bothered, not intimidated or worried.

And before you suggest it, he is not motivated by food either, he doesn't care much about that, although he will attempt to get on the table to steal; a tidbit offered during training is ignored. We have been to 2 different training classes, one lasted 12 weeks no improvement.

What now?

MrsNonSmoker Wed 24-Nov-10 09:51:28

PS - dog is nearly 10 months now

WhyHavePets Wed 24-Nov-10 09:55:57

Honestly? He sounds like a normal puppy to me! A strong willed one I admit but still normal.

You have bought a spaniel, these are highly intelligent and need lots and lots of stimulation and training. I tsounds like he has a spaniel mind so you need to think about him as a spaniel and forget the poodle. Look into things like whistle or gun training him and work towards that, think of him as a working dog who need sto be trained to work and then worked.

The paper thing is normal btw mine loves tissues, used preferably, you just have to keep them away until he is older.

CountessDracula Wed 24-Nov-10 09:56:17

Tbh he sounds like a normal pup with some dominance issues

You need to show him his place in the pack. Who is the pack leader as far as he is concerned? You need that person to consistently discipline him and show that they are dominant

Have you got the Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey? Is vg in this area

DooinMeCleanin Wed 24-Nov-10 09:59:06

Yes, but we are making progress now I have started using play as a treat. He loves tug games. I do clicker training mainly, but under the advise of a trainer I have had to add some correction training in because he is just not reward orientated. I'd never in a million years hit him with anything. I use a spray bottle and spray him with water, mainly as a distraction technique when he goes into his 'zone', once I have his attention, we go back to using the tug game as a treat.

Food is something he must eat to survive in his imo, unless it is stolen off the dining table, it is not enjoyable. I have yet to find something He loves.

The Devil Dog is growly and bad tempered. I have never in my life been afraid of a dog, and I have trained my parents Akita. The Devil Dog is a mere terrier by comparison, but he has made me question my ability to cope with him at times, especially with the growling and snapping (which was only ever aimed at me and DH, mainly when it was at bedtime)

I use a one to one trainer. Classes are of no use because he is not socilaised enough and classes are often reward/food based, which he is not into.

Does your dog have a favourite toy/game?

DooinMeCleanin Wed 24-Nov-10 10:00:35

Oh The Devil Dog was two when we got him, so not a pup just a mardy teenager grin

Runaway from dominance/pack theory, t'is rubbish (sorry Countess)

Clockspotter Wed 24-Nov-10 10:04:24

Yup, I remember wondering why our pup hadnt grown out of behaviour like that at 10 months but is totally normal. Ours settled by 18 months but we took him to puppy training classes at 6 months. Spaniels are lively and mouthy by nature and not a doddle to train. But relatively easier to tame his behaviour now while hes young.

We recently adopted an older dog who'd lived in kennels all her life. Shes a whole lot more difficult to re-train! It definitely takes time for them to attach themselves to you and not be excited and distracted by EVERYTHING they see. Bit like toddlers really.

I should also mention we have a childgate across the hall which the dogs go behind before we answer the door. Saves chasing them down the street after them in an embarrassing fashion!

midori1999 Wed 24-Nov-10 10:09:15

Don't bother trying to show your dog you are dominant, that's not the issue here...

I hate to say it, but your puppy sounds like a normal puppy who's behaviour has been allowed to get out of hand.

Whatever anyone tries to tell you, dogs don't really care less about pleasing us. They are in it for themselves. They are looking for what they can get out of every situation.

You need to find a way to motivate your dog. You say he's not motivated by food, but yet he steals food from the table, that suggests to me he is motivated by food. Dogs like this are usually the easiest to train, once you find out how.

I would start with simple things. Does your dog sit for his meals to be put down? Will he do anything on command? What do the DC do when he is biting them?

I think you are going to need a training class or some professional help also.

MrsNonSmoker Wed 24-Nov-10 10:30:11

Feel very encouraged so far that posters are saying this is normal.

dreamingofsun Wed 24-Nov-10 10:31:34

agree with what else has been said - sounds a normal puppy. we have a spaniel and as a puppy she used to eat everything - shinpads and shoes were her favourites. The biting is its way of asking your children to play - we were told to turn our backs and ignore dog when she did this.

think you need more training advice from a professional aimed at your specific dog's personality.

once they settle spaniels are brilliant - though still slightly mad. great family dogs.

also had the running out the front door/road issue - after several years she's now stopped this.

dreamingofsun Wed 24-Nov-10 10:33:28

my neighbours dog eats poo and she puts a muzzle on it for walks. everyone thinks its really ferocious - which it isn't

WhyHavePets Wed 24-Nov-10 10:42:27

I really think you just need to keep at it, lots of stimulation and fun. I used to walk mine for a shorter walk in teh am then longer in the pm but the extra time left over (because younger dogs cannot walk as long as older dogs) I would put into training time, games like hide and seek, teaching him the names of toys, basic training practice etc etc. All of which keep the mind occupied and tire him out without damaging his bones.

Clicker training is good but can be difficult to get the timing right if your puppy is easily distracted and moves fast.

My top tip is to pick a discipline and work towards it, this dog is going to need something to keep his mind happy so decide now what you want to do if you fancy agilty then call an agility trainer and ask if there is anything you can do now, things like walking along planks on the ground, getting used to going under and through things (no jumping or high stress stuff for now as he is too young). How about gun training? Is there anyone in your area who could do this with you?

Eating poo doesn't hurt them usually it jsut turns our stomaches. Have him on a long line when you go out so you can gethim away from it without needing to be close and shout no or whatever then immediatly bring him back to do something fun, carry a squeaky toy or something, you may need to haul him in for the first bit until you get him distracted.

The key point here is that he is doing things to keep his own mind occupied, your job is to replace the thnigs you don't want with things you do!

dreamingofsun Wed 24-Nov-10 10:48:53

do you use a crate at all? our spaniel puppy would have trashed the whole house without it.

WhyHavePets Wed 24-Nov-10 10:53:21

I did when he was little then I changed it to using the utility room when we needed quiet time or at night (just put a stair gate up). I, personally, think crates are fantastic in the early days so long as they are properly introduced and not over-used.

WhyHavePets Wed 24-Nov-10 10:54:06

grin sorry DOS, thought you wre the op for a second there! blush

Anyway, my thoughts on teh crate stand!

dreamingofsun Wed 24-Nov-10 10:57:26

whyhave - thats ok. we've done the same. she would have eaten the washing machine in the utility when she was a puppy!

DooinMeCleanin Wed 24-Nov-10 11:01:17

yy to crate training we had one for The Devil Dog, which has made getting him to bed a lot easier as seems to prefer it ( I think he feels more secure), to his old bed. There is no more growling and snapping at who ever is putting him to bed, he goes on his own when he sees us getting ready for bed, so quite why he has eaten his crate I don't know confused

It's also handy when you have workmen etc in and out or need the dog contained for a short period time.

Madsometimes Wed 24-Nov-10 11:26:18

I have a cockapoo and he does many of the things that your dog does.

Eats paper
Runs out of the house when door opens
Eats mud and poo
Rolls in poo

Also:
Eats shoes
Jumps up on table to steal children's toys
Pulls on lead
Jumps up at people

We are lucky that he does have a good bite inhibition, which we were very firm about when he was a young puppy. Out of the above, the jumping up is his worst and most ingrained fault.

I cannot leave Patch unsupervised downstairs in the morning while I am hurrying the children to get ready for school - pandemonium is guaranteed. However, once he has a had a good walk in the park, he tends to be well behaved. At the moment he is crashed out on top of his crate. Spaniels are high energy dogs, and adolescent dogs do like to test boundaries.

MrsNonSmoker Wed 24-Nov-10 11:33:39

Thanks everyone you have no idea yesterday I wanted to get rid of him, everyone was crying etc., then my friend who is a "dog" person said she thought I should have him rehomed and I thought well, that's it then.

Seem to have got the best of Mumsnet today as I feel absolutely reassured, some of you have picked up on things I had suspected e.g. stimulation - also very pleased to hear from another cockerpoo owner Madsometimes - how old is your dog?

Our pup was presented to me as the best dog for us, calm, quiet, obedient, non moult low odour etc etc our expectations were sky high. We did not expect it to be anything like a spaniel (hmm, daft or what?!) Other puppies from same litter their owners have posted on breeders' website that their dogs were winning awards for obedience training at 14 weeks etc etc. Bit like when you have your first baby and it seems everyone is an expert/competitive.

I do have one final question though - he used to love his crate. Then when we had DCs' friends round, most of them freaked out at the dog, they hated it, screaming etc. so I used to haul him off to the crate and lock the door. Eventually, he became terrified of it. Should I/could I reintroduce it now?

dreamingofsun Wed 24-Nov-10 11:40:48

spaniels are fab!! now she's grown up (ish) mine sits at the door from 2.30 waiting for the kids to come back from school.

ref crate - if you want to use it, i would leave it somewhere with his bedding in and some toys and let him decide.

WhyHavePets Wed 24-Nov-10 11:47:56

You can reintroduce it but it will take work, put it up and leave it up. Feed him near it for a while. Then start dropping the odd treat or two in. After a while do food in the cage, hide treats in the bedding so it is part of his fun routine etc.

Regaining faith in a crate is a long process but totally worth it, take it at his pace and make it interesting in there!

Madsometimes Wed 24-Nov-10 12:13:04

Patch is 13 months, and is still very puppyish. I tend to keep him locked in the kitchen when the children have friends to play, because he usually wants to join in with their games.

Madsometimes Wed 24-Nov-10 12:19:15

As others have said, spaniels love toys, and if your dog does not react to treats, he may to a squeaky toy.

Also, for treats try small pieces of cocktail sausage or nibbles of cheese. Dried dog treats are not really that special, and may remind your dog of kibble. However, human food is usually liked by most fussy dogs.

DooinMeCleanin Wed 24-Nov-10 12:31:18

My dog does not like hotdogs, cheese, liver cake, anything else the books reccomend (I think he has not read The Guide to Being the Perfec Dog grin) but he will work for his tug toy outdoors and roast chicken pieces, raw mince and some sort of block the butcher makes indoors (i.e. when there are no other distractions), which I have discovered today is simply cooked scraps such as pigs ear, innards (yummy), and gristle etc, as well as bits of left over meat. He loves it and as it is very fatty when its cooked and minced it sort of forms into a hard block so easy to cut into treat sized pieces. However as it is very fatty you should be careful not to overfeed on it. A fat, untrained puppy is the last thing you need grin

I find it easy to train things with his tug toy. He will do anything to get that toy and the technique is exactly the same as it would be with food, you give the command and once the dog does what you ask you give the treat, so if it's a tug toy you'd play a short game of tug as a treat.

Squeaky toys are great as a reward if your dog is into them as you can use the squeak to regain their attention if they get distracted. Unfortunately they are not interesting enough for my dog, although he likes them, interactive games are far more rewarding to him.

The key is finding what works for your dog. They're all different. And poo poo to the obidience winning puppies, I find Devil Dog far more fun and rewarding to work with than my Whippet (who is the perfect puppy) although she makes the best hotwater bottle on an evening.

I'd definately reccomend calling in a one to one trainer for a few sessions at least until you get the hang of it.

Lizcat Wed 24-Nov-10 17:03:22

Another cockapoo owner here with a teenage willful boy. Firstly mobile mop is not easily motivated by food, it has to be massively high value to motivate him - small pieces of human salami and cheddar cheese. Certain aspects of his training just do not work with food.
He is still mouthy, but improving with very loud scream whenever he does it we are gradually winning.
I attend a traditional dog obedience class once weekly like a religion and spend at least 30 mins each day doing the training. Again we are gradually winning, but it's slow. I did try clicker training as previous mad girl was clicker trained, but he would have put two fingers up at the clicker if he could have.
As a vet I would say just see this as preparation for the kids to hit their teens.

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