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Behaviour/dominance theory etc

(91 Posts)
Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 08:17:15

Have 6 year old dog.
Got puppy 7 weeks ago.
Expected no issues. Has been horrendous ever since.
Finally bit that bullet and had behaviourist in last week. V expensive but I was desperate for help.

I've been told problem is my dog who thinks she is pack leader. That if she gets chance she will kill the puppy so i must keep them separate. That she's dangerous to have around my children. That all the things I thought were her being affectionate are dominance and need to be stopped.

I'm so upset. Am trying to put all the suggestions into place and teach her to behave better but she's so unhappy. She has barely got out of her bed every day. When we go for a walk it's such a palaver to go out "correctly" that it's half hour till we get out of the door. Doing mealtimes "properly" means me getting the kids up at 6am so they are fed before the animals and the puppy is hysterical by the time she gets some food.

I feel I have been doing everything "wrong", yet never realised. I thought I just had a happy, bouncy dog who loved us all. But now I have a house of shut doors, a puppy I can't housetrain because she can't get to the garden, and my children terrified to go near the dog sad

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BiteyShark Sun 18-Mar-18 08:56:35

What happened when you got the puppy? I only have one dog but from what I have read on here it isn't unusual for the older dog to take a while to get used to the puppy and keeping them separate and making sure the older dog isn't 'pestered' by the puppy isn't unusual.

If the stuff that the behaviourist gave you to do isn't working for you then any chance you could ask someone else for help as I don't believe there is only one way of correcting behaviour.

Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 09:00:52

I had a post on here.

Basically we introduced them in garden and our dog went for the puppy. Lunging and snarling. Totally out of character. Ever since she has growled everytime she is near the puppy. So we have to keep them apart sad

Everyone said it would maybe be a few weeks and they'd be ok, but at the moment it seems worse.

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Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 09:02:43

I'm sure the behaviourist stuff would work, I've got advice from someone else which seems to be more or less the same stuff. But I feel really down at keeping our dog shut away from us and worried about it all.

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Whatdoiladymcbeth Sun 18-Mar-18 09:04:15

Your behaviourist seems old school. All that you must eat first etc to prove dominance has largely been disproved and is based on wolves rather than domestic dogs.

Personally, I would look for another behaviourist who used positive reinforcement. Especially as it seems to have had such a bad impact on the older dog.

If you gave us more details, for example breed and behaviours, we may be able to make suggestions.

Hoppinggreen Sun 18-Mar-18 09:07:42

Although I agree that Dominance theory is outdated and largely rubbish I think that dogs (and children) are happier when their boundaries are defined
Also, dogs DO need to know where they stand in the house. My dog behaves very differently with my youngest and did try to dominate him in a way he didn’t with the rest of us. He happily gives up items to me, DH and dd but not DS and on occasion has growled as DS if he approaches when he has a bone . We have worked on this ( with advice form a trainer), with DS feeding and playing with him to establish a bond and they are fine now - DS was off school poorly last week and Ddog spent a lot of time lying on his feet.
Dogs will jockey for position I think and it can take time for a dog to accept an other one into its house. Look online for advice or contact the Dogs Trust training school

BiteyShark Sun 18-Mar-18 09:12:49

It does sound miserable for everyone so can understand why you feel down.

Is there anyone to help? Could someone take the older dog out or go to daycare so you can spend time toilet training etc the puppy then when older dog comes back she will be hopefully more chilled and tired and you can spend time with her?

Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 09:13:05

She's a cocker. The problems I have that I didn't think were problems are that she will lean on me if I'm sitting down, gets overexcited when people come to the door (but if ignored stops after a few minutes), will sit on my space on the sofa if I get off for a few minutes. What I do know was a problem is she would growl if my children tried to get her off the sofa (she is quite touch sensitive) but would do so for a biscuit. She does pull on the lead, again that's a bit of an issue. She would swipe food if she got a chance (plate on floor etc) but she's always hungry due to the prescription food she's on.

I didn't think we had any problems with her before puppy. We have a cat who she shares a bed with and coexists with happily. She's sociable with other dogs although never really one for charging round with them. She likes to be everyone's friend.

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Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 09:15:48

Yes I can see she needs boundaries, and her manners are a bit off. That is entirely my fault as she's pretty much a low maintenance hassle free dog and so I've let her get away with things maybe.

I walk her before school and after school. She's never that bothered about a walk. Nobody else to help and dog walkers were either fully booked or horrendously expensive!

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BiteyShark Sun 18-Mar-18 09:19:55

I have a cocker, they pull on the lead because they are a hunting dog and have head down to zigzag to pick up scents. You can train that out of them but it's harder than with other breeds.

Mine leans on me and will move into my space if I move. But we can move him with no treats involved and he wouldn't growl so yes that sounds like a problem to fix.

I think the majority of dogs would attempt to eat food left on the floor. Mine won't take things off a plate when I am eating next to him but I wouldn't dream of expecting him not to have a go if I left the room.

The growling, sofa guarding and issues with the puppy need addressing but I wouldn't get hung up on some of the other 'issues'

BiteyShark Sun 18-Mar-18 09:24:13

My cocker is not bothered with traditional walks but what he does love is off lead ball chasing and other mental stimulation. I can help with suggestions for stimulating games for a cocker which might help tire her out more which could help with her behaviour generally but I am aware you are feeling overwhelmed right now so just shout if you think that might help.

Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 09:28:19

She doesn't mind walks, but isn't keen on rain (hates puddles) or mud. And that's all it is here at the moment. Well we have snow today, she doesn't like that either!!

She can't do fetch or ball stuff (just looks at us like we have lost the plot), but other stuff would be good. She's obviously very unhappy at the moment.

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Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 09:29:52

Her recall is shocking. I've had two dog sitters in the past try and solve it who have given up. She can almost be trusted but if a rabbit or something goes past she's off and won't come back. We have a fair size garden she could run round if she chose but she likes to Potter.

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usainbolt Sun 18-Mar-18 09:30:46

O my the advice you have been given is rubbish and getting your kids up to eat before the dog will do nothing to sort out the behaviour you have mentioned.
Try to get to see an IMDT trainer or APDT trainer. The issues you discuss are not behavioural issues but training issues. The advantage being trainers will be cheaper than behaviourists!

A lot of puppy training is management. So rather than fuss about getting kids up early and being the boss in the house, put food out of reach from her until she learns it is not for her.

Shut the door so she can not get on the sofa - if she does do as you are doing and reward her for being on the flooor do not grab her collar and pull her off.

If you do not like her leaning on you get a dog mat and feed her when she is sitting on the mat - move your legs if she leans on you and put a treat on the mat.

Re pulling on the lead there are lots of training methods to help with this and a rl trainer will see what works for you as a team.She sounds like a pretty normal puppy to me.

Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 09:33:12

No it's not the puppy with the issues! She's virtually perfect apart from being a Velcro dog.

The problems are with our older dog.

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Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 09:34:42

I can see a lot of the problems are not getting a second dog when she was younger. But a divorce, house move to a very small house and garden, child being very ill, another house move, meant it had to be put on hold till now. But with hindsight maybe she's just too old to accept change.

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BiteyShark Sun 18-Mar-18 09:38:52

They absolutely love hunting as it's their thing and the best bit is you can do this inside when the weather is rubbish.

I use training treats but you could use kibble. Shut her in a room and just put very small piles hidden around the house. Put a small pile just outside the room she is in so when you open the door you can give her a command (we use 'find it) and show her the pile of treats. Then keep using the command so she hunts all the others out. Mine will often look at me when he can't find them to check that there are others in the room so it really does help as you end up working together to hunt them all out.

You can also do this with toys or balls. I rub my hands over balls so it has my smell on them and he has to hunt them out.

With balls does she chase them at all? I dribble two balls around the kitchen with my feet and he tries to do the same with them. Use two balls so there is no guarding as when she gets one you get the other, then she will be more interested in that one and it goes on and on.

Have you looked at agility at all? I have just started with my cocker and we are still only working on the techniques but most of them can be done indoors or the garden and again will help with her looking to you for direction.

There games absolutely tire him out mentally so might be worth finding the games that suit her so she will more chilled and relaxed and you will also feel like you are both having fun.

Coloursthatweremyjoy Sun 18-Mar-18 09:41:04

I think the advice you have been given is awful and quite outraged. I would second the idea of getting a trainer instead of a behaviourist. We had an excellent trainer, lots of "it's not the dog, it's you". He was right.

usainbolt Sun 18-Mar-18 09:56:34

So your problem is the older dog not liking the puppy?

Have the puppy on a lead around the other dog and fed the older dog treats very soon puppy = good things.

Walk the dogs together but side by side so the older dog can get used to the puppy.

Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 10:25:06

Not allowed to walk dogs together. Or give dog treats.

The pattern if they meet is this. Puppy runs to dog unless I physically restrain her. She jumps up and tries to lick dogs mouth and runs under her belly. Then will sit in front of her tail wagging.
Dog will growl. The growling starts as she approaches and will notch up a level or two until I intervene.
BUT she growls the same at the cat. Always has. (She's actually always growled/grumbled a lot). Cat tries to steal her food, she growls (but let's him). Cat climbs all over her when she's sleeping (she growls but 30 seconds later they are curled up asleep). She has never hurt the cat, but he was here first.

I have got her to not growl at the puppy previously. If I stand a few steps away with a piece of bacon or similar she will sit perfectly quietly and then within seconds the puppy gets bored and wanders off to play with something else. But apparently that's not the right thing to do? I was thinking puppy is annoying but it's worth it for bacon....but maybe that's not how their minds work? Or maybe I should have eaten the bacon first?

Yesterday I got her to eat some little pieces of cheese around the puppy's playpen (but treats are supposed to be banned so not ideal) and she didn't growl at all, just ate and then sat near the puppy for a while. But I'm at a loss whether that's actually bad to do and making things worse.

It doesn't help that puppy wants contact all the time, so I'm pulled in two directions and find myself having to carry her a lot (bad) so I can actually do dinner etc.

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Hoppinggreen Sun 18-Mar-18 10:36:50

Why are treats banned?
Treats are important in training ( or a ball or whatever the dog really wants).
When we were having issues with DDog resource guarding all the techniques our Dogs Trust trainer showed us were treat based
As someone else has said you need to reinforce puppy= good things happening

Boynamedsue Sun 18-Mar-18 10:40:47

I'm sure this isn't what you want to hear as you've paid a lot for it but IMHO you've been given very bad advice.

Everything you have been told to do is enforcing the idea to your dog that puppy = bad. She needs to see the new puppy as a good thing. And all that eating first, dominance crap has been proven to be just that, crap.

If you can I'd try and get advice from a different trainer. Someone who actually understands dogs.

Good luck, I hope it all works out for you.

usainbolt Sun 18-Mar-18 10:46:05

Simple really - if treats and walking together are banned you will not solve the problem.

Strawberryshortcake40 Sun 18-Mar-18 10:47:42

The eating first thing isn't right?

I have been eating breakfast for this and I don't even like breakfast! Especially not at 6am.

I can't get my children to eat then (ever tried to get a child with an eating disorder to eat quickly and calmly? Not happening so breakfast times have been horrendous this week).

So I can stop that? Because frankly it was much calmer to get the animals fed and sorted then do the packed lunches and let the dc eat breakfast when they were dressed (and hungry!).

I do feed dog before puppy (cat first as always!!!)

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Bubble2bubble Sun 18-Mar-18 10:49:50

That's really upsetting and you have truly been given awful advice. As others have said, please look for a trainer who uses positive reinforcement - their advice will actually be sustainable longterm, without the current rigmarole you are going through.

In the meantime has anyone suggested a stairgate? It means noone is shut away and the dogs can get used to each other without any harm coming to the puppy.

We got a pup when our existing dogs were 5-6 - it was a couple of weeks before they accepted him, and they were quite snappy but at no time did I think they were going to kill him.

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