Desperate puppy owner - I need advise please!(20 Posts)
I have a 15 week old Shih Tzu (boy), had him since he was 9 weeks old - he is my first dog and I am pretty much convinced I am useless as a dog owner despite my best efforts.
I feel I have been too "weak" in training him and telling him off when he does something wrong, and now he basically does whatever he wants and I have absolutely no control.
- He bites. I don't think it's aggressive, it's playful but obviously not good as he is very cute and children on the street always want to stroke him (plus my own son!) and he gets so excited, jumps up and bites. Also bites randomly if I am stroking him, or in the morning when I get up, chases me down the hall and bites my ankles hard. I've tried saying "NO!" firmly, but he may as well not hear, he does not react at all.
- He doesn't seem to responding to any form of training in terms of teaching him to sit, so for example when crossing a road he will pull desperately at the lead and try and run ahead, if he sees a child or another dog will frantically try and race towards them. I have basically followed what I have read in books and seen on youtube videos so using treats as a reward, but he gets SO excited when he knows there is a treat that he just doesn't seem to hear me or see anything other than the treat.
- Barking. Obviously I know dogs bark. But it's when he gets excited, he will start biting, then barking and sometimes growling.
I just don't know what to do! I'm sure this is all normal puppy behaviour but I feel I have left it too late now, and he seems to think he rules the roost.
PLEASE someone help. How do I stop the biting?
There is more than this but these are the main issues. I feel like an actual failure and I also feel sorry for him as he must need boundaries but I just don't know what to do. Have I left it too late?
DP has had many dogs before and says if he bites, hit him - I can't and wouldn't. DP says this is the ONLY way but no, it's wrong and I do not want to do that, surely that isn't want people with dogs all do?
Puppies bite / nip at their siblings to play. I found the best thing to do is make a high pitched yelp to show it's painful (what a puppy would do if its sibling bites too hard) and tap it on the top of the head. You don't need to hit the puppy hard - that's not helping anyone just show it's not acceptable. If he does it while playing - stop playing with him and sit down or do something else. My dog caught in after a week and has never bitten since.
Another one I found helpful is if the puppy tries to pull on the lead especially to get to someone or something is to turn 180 in the other direction and walk him away. You control the walk - not him.
He's a baby, he has only existed for a few weeks. He's probably also been out into the world for a fraction of that time. He doesn't yet know right from wrong and he almost certainly isn't staging some kind of coup to take over but yes, he does need boundaries.
Find a good, local training class which uses positive training methods (no yanking about or - really? - hitting), go every week (or to every session) and practice at home, without distractions, in between. He will get used to being around other dogs and you will get some reassurance as to how to deal with him.
With regard to children wanting to fuss him, tell them he's still learning how to meet people properly so it's best if they don't today; when you have tackled the biting and he has been taught to be calm, then children can fuss him.
IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE when he bites ignore him. DON'T PUSH him away (a great game) just ignore and walk away. Or quietly pick him up and put in another room. It is important that ignore means totally blank, no eye contact and or shouting. He will soon learn that biting isn't a game and actually quite boring.
Reward calm behaviour CALMLY very described offer a treat but no big fuss to ramp up the excitement.
Look at what food you are feeding. Is it high energy food?
WE naturally raise the pitch of our voice when talking to dogs, try to avoid this, just nice quiet interaction.
The most important thing to remember is that PUPPIES BITE they all do it and they all its not anything you have done, it will pass and you will tell people to do exactly what you were going when your pup stops biting.
Look at the puppy survival thread on here. You will see we all have gone through those puppy months .
Yelping when my puppy bite just made it worse. He got a firm no, if he continued he then had a 5-10 minute timeout where he would be put behind a baby gate or in the crate and I would turn my back on him to know play had stopped. Also if he started to get a bit mouthy I would say no and then offer my hand and if he licked it he got a good boy to try and get him to associate teeth bad, licks ok.
You do not need to hit the dog and if you do I doubt he would even know what he has done wrong. The thing with stopping play is he then associated biting with no fun.
You mention he does not respond to treats. My dog is asked to sit and he knows I have a treat in my hand but it is in an enclosed hand and I don't open it until he stays sitting, no jumping or begging. If the dog does not sit you can move the treat (in enclosed fist) over his head/nose so he automatically moves to a sit position as he follows your hand. If he then moves his bottom or jumps up then he gets a firm 'ah ah'. No treat until he is sat with all paws on floor. Find a training group and they will show you how but you just need to be firm and consistent and they will respond.
You can train dogs of all ages so no you haven't left it too long but it does sound like you need to have someone show you how. Could you afford for a 1-1 hour training session, they aren't actually a lot of money and you will learn so much in a short time as really it's about teaching you how to teach your dog.
So you are right to ignore your DP on his 'training methods' but do find a trainer who can teach you how to train your dog.
It all sounds like totally normal puppy behaviour and he's still very young. You definitely do not need to be doing any kind of physical corrections.
I'd highly recommend having a read through all the relevant links on this list.
I'd also start working on his impulse control. As well as being great mental exercise it can have an immensely positive knock on effect with their behaviour as a whole. The 'It's Yer Choice' game is a great place to start.
I agree with finding a good local puppy class if you can but be sure to go along and watch a class before signing up to make sure they are using positive, force free methods. Definitely avoid any that allow the puppies to have communal play off lead together. Whilst a short play session between a couple of well-matched puppies at a time at the end of a training class is fine, letting them run riot together in a group is a recipe for both nervous puppies and bullies.
Please do not leave this pup alone with your partner if he thinks hitting dogs is acceptable .
All totally normal, you are not a bad owner! Try to work on one thing at a time and wait until her "gets" it before you moved on.
I did the yelping thing to stop her biting first, then I toilet trained, then I taught her to drop objects (important in my house in case she got hold of a toy belonging to DC) we started training classes at about 4 months to get her to sit, lay, stay etc. She's still no angel at 16 months but I can live with her behaviour (most of the time).
Dog ownership isn't always easy but it is rewarding.
Join Dog Training Advice and Support on FB. Awesome advice.
Puppies do bite. Something like 80% of puppy play is biting. There's great advice on that page. We were also told to get a big fluffy toy in each room. Keep it away from pup. When pup bites wave toy at floor level in figure of eight and toss away. When biting is over out it up high again.
Don't hit him. He's a baby. You hit him he may well end up scared of people and even biting.
Find a decent trainer to work with.
Walks should be VERY short at the moment. Think someone on here said 5 mins per month of age.
Puppies very easily get over stimulated.
Missed the bit about hitting, DO NOT hit a puppy, it will just teach him to be fearful, and fearful dogs can be more prone to bite.
Also when playing or stroking my pup if she bit, when I yelped I also stopped the play or stroking and ignored her until she calmed again, to reinforce the fact that nice calm non biting behavior results in more play / attention
Poor little puppy will learn nothing from being hit other than that your hands inflict pain. Would you smack a human baby because you it's behaviour wasn't what you wanted? Please ignore your DP.
As pp have said, all sounds like normal puppy behaviour. You need to find a good training class/one to one trainer to take him to otherwise you're just groping around in the dark as far as training goes.
You seriously need to get yourself to a good dog trainer. You know training is for life? Not six weeks and then you magically have a well behaved dog. It is a life long commitment to maintaining a working relationship with your dog and developing a dog that you trust and trusts you.
They are not born knowing what 'no' means. It's just a noise to him because he does not associate it with anything. You're better off just making a loud noise at him for all the understanding he has of it. And how do you think you have taught him to sit in four weeks? Did you wave a treat in front of his nose, gradually lifting it up so that his bum went down? And then when you'd mastered the action did you then start to say the word 'sit' so that he realised that the word meant the action? Have you ever trained a dog before? Sit can be done quite easily but usually only with consistent training methods. It can be tricky because you have to capture the moment exactly with the right behaviour and the immediate reward. You have to know that you've rewarded the right bit of behaviour. It's no good shouting and hitting and yelling 'sit' at the same time, all you've taught him is that sit means you're cross with him.
Please, please find yourself a good dog trainer. As previously stated, one who uses reward based training, although most people do nowadays. Someone who is actually accredited by some sort of official body preferably.
And for the love of god do not let your idiot fucking partner anywhere near him. He will undo all your efforts and make it even harder to train him and you may even end up with a dog that bites back in self defence.
I had a one to one trainer - two sessions at £40 a pop before we were able to begin puppy class. She gave me a lot of confidence. Read one of pippa mathison's books - happy puppy one I think it was.
I would shriek loudly and turn my back on my pupper when he nipped me - apparently that it was the dam and litter do - he didn't hurt but it needed nipping in the bud. He's usually look very sad. His bite inhibition is good now.
Having a puppy is hard - I did it a year ago and I say I will never do it again! I never wanted to get rid of him but I often had moments of 'wtf have I let myself in for'.
You definitely haven't left it too late - get thee to a training class and carry on working hard! Sometimes humans accidentally teach their dogs to do or not to things by accident, that's life. As long as you notice early, which you have, it can be solved. People often need to retrain older rescue dogs
As everyone said, find a good trainer who uses positive rewards and avoid any classes with puppy play or puppy party systems - these do not teach your dog to socialise correctly!
As for leaving it too late, the only thing with a time limit with dogs is socialisation (controlled, positive exposure to different experiences, people and animals) so all other training can take place anytime. Obviously it's easier when they are puppies so you can stop the formation of bad habits though.
For bite inhibition I believe the best method is a form of time out. All play, physical contact, talking to or looking at the dog stops as soon as there is unacceptable mouthing. If necessary remove yourself physically from the dog either by moving to another room and closing the door or placing it in a crate (as long as you aren't crate training in which case you only want a crate associated with positive relaxation, not isolation) and give the pup a time out of a minute or so. If when you enter again the biting restarts just repeat immediately. At first this might be tedious but soon the pup will get the idea that biting stops the fun and attention. Simply Ignore behaviour you don't want and praise what you do and be consistent.
As for walking on the lead, walks should be very short at the moment. You don't need to use treats to teach a dog to walk nicely on the lead. Treats are a reward, but the reward for walking well should be moving forward, being able to sniff that thing, getting to the park and playing. So if your dog pulls, stop moving forward (make sure your lead is short but loose, NOT and extender lead! I've known 3 dogs in 2 years get hit by cars because of these leads). You can also do a 180 but this technique needs to be done correctly to be effective (lead coming from under chin, quick turn and fast pace in opposite direction etc). Make sure you use attention and smiles etc as reward when the puppy is walking well especially when looking at you. A fast pace is best for teaching lead walking.
As for basic training it'd be very long and complicated to explain here so definitely find a good trainer and until you do it may be best to not try and teach commands like sit etc. As you could teach incorrect associations which will take longer to correct. But as a basic rule when first teaching a command don't say the word until they are doing what is is you want (heel, sit etc) and combine with rewards to create an association.
Don't hit a dog. Don't even 'Caesar Milan' a dog. It's dangerous and damaging. This is coming from a life long dog owner with a degree in zoology and 4 years working in dog training instruction. Good luck!
I say it again, take your dog to puppy class!
The Kennel Club has a puppy foundation class that is run through your local dog club. From there you can move onto the good citizens dog program wit a bronze, silver and gold award. It's a lot cheaper (in my area) than the other training classes offered by professionals.
The doggie club is full of people with an abundance of dog knowledge.
Thank you all so much for the replies - you have given me hope.
I have found a weekly puppy training class local to me, it's only £6 per session so will definitely take him to that this week - it's not until Friday unfortunately but until then I am going to put everything that has been suggested here into practise. I have clearly been making the mistake of thinking LONG walks would wear him out and calm him down but seems I have been doing the opposite.
As for treats I will make sure he only gets them once he has done what is expected rather than giving up and just giving them.
I have spoken to my DP and said he is to leave everything puppy related to me now. He isn't left along with the dog ever, I work from home so am here most of the time to oversee and by the time he gets back in the evenings I am putting DS to bed so no chance of me going out.
Thanks again all, I will also have a look at the Puppy Survival thread.
Good to see you've got an action plan OP and that your DP will not be training the dog. Even so, it might not be a bad idea to take him with you to puppy training. Some people are just ignorant or have been taught wrong training methods when they were younger. If he can see positive training in practice it might be the wake up call he needs.
Just for comparison my Whippet boy is doing great in many areas (I'm also a first time puppy owner) but I've tried a couple of times to clip a light lead to his collar and it's been a bit of a disaster. He starts puppy classes this week so I'm not even going to try again until then. I need expert help with some things and I'm not afraid to admit it
I have a 14 month old pug who was just awful for nipping. She would run at me and nip and this went on for weeks and I would just be in tears because not only did it hurt but I felt ganged up on. I found yelping no use at all as she just got more excited. I distracted with toys which helped loads. She has always loved fetch so I would spend ages throwing balls for her to bring back. Also training. Have you been teaching him to sit/lie down etc? Giving him something to focus on would really help. At times though none of this works. If you have tried this and he is still biting then for me at least it was because she was over tired. Hyped up and couldn't control herself. In this case I would put your little pup into a safe place (a crate is ideal and that is what I have used) with something to chew on and leave him for 5 minutes. He should be much calmer but if not repeat the process. If you are not crate training then leave the room for 5 or so minutes. Close the door and take a few deep breaths and try again. It will pass. Mine still goes through this at times but I just put her in her crate for 5 and she is fine.
Have you been to puppy classes at all? I found these helped. I now have a 10 week old Lhasa apso and am dreading going through all that nipping again but as I said it will pass
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