Puppy behaviour-can someone explain please, am I walking him too far?

(33 Posts)
Spotty528 Wed 18-Dec-19 13:19:41

He’s a 15 week old terrier/spaniel mix. There’s a field a 10 minute walk from us. He was great going, met a few dogs along the way, had about 20mins off lead in the field just mooching about. The 10 minute walk back was a nightmare. He locked his legs and wouldn’t walk, then started sprinting. We met a 13 year old terrier and pup started barking and growling at him (not baring teeth more like the growling he does when he’s ragging his favourite toy about). Then he tried to chase a 4X4!

Thank god for my pocket full of chicken! He’s fallen straight to sleep on my knee now.

Was this overstimulation? Like a toddler who’s behaviour goes out the window when they’re tired?

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Bobstergirl Wed 18-Dec-19 13:42:02

I would not be walking so far but using the time for more specific socialisation.

Watching cars from a distance and rewarding the calm behaviour
Absolutely getting him focusing on you with chicken
Watching dogs from a distance and again rewarding calm behaviour
Introduce to dogs you know up closer but watch your dogs reaction all meetings need to be calm and stress free.

CornishPorsche Wed 18-Dec-19 13:53:52

40mins for a 15 week old pup is too much.
The rule of thumb is a max of 5mins of walking per month of age, so he should be walking for around 15-20mins max, so half of what he has now.

It's supposed to be linked to their growth and damage to hips etc. It also doesn't include playing at home or running about in the house, just outdoors walks, on and off lead. The times carry on until they are fully grown.

He could have been combination of knackered and over stimulated, so some household games to teach him things would go further for his development than a long walk.

What are you doing with regard to socialising him?

Spotty528 Wed 18-Dec-19 14:00:12

Thankyou for the replies. Our training classes don’t start until January so socialising so far has been the dogs we meet when out and about, children and dogs on the school run, cars, walking briefly through the town centre, a cafe, watching the cats from the bypass bridge.

I’m feeling out of my depth after that walk and it was going so well. I’ll drive to the field next time.

Any suggestions of what I should be doing at home? He knows sit but can’t manage it for long, he can settle in his bed while we’re eating our meals, he’s got good recall off lead with a whistle.

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CornishPorsche Wed 18-Dec-19 14:17:45

Just repetition really. I still do it with my 4yo mutt! Short bursts of half a dozen repeats will be better than timing it. Lots of practice.

Is he on any dry food? I hand feed by using her meal as training treats, and split the rest between several toy food dispensers

CornishPorsche Wed 18-Dec-19 14:19:15

We have many different toys and rollers. One example is:

fetch.co.uk/kong-replay-treat-dispensing-dog-toy-large-461856011

Spotty528 Wed 18-Dec-19 14:24:19

I’ve been using turkey mince, little bits of chicken and cheese for training.

I’ve felt like we were doing well but the growling and barking at the old terrier has worried me that I’m not socialising him enough.

I’ll do 5 minutes outside school today and I’ll walk him through the small town park tomorrow.

He really hasn’t had any opportunity to play with other dogs. We’ve been meeting dogs on walks but it’s a quick sniff and then the other owner leaves.

There’s no puppy meet ups around here (we are a very small town) and I don’t know any dog owners to ask. We do know the family he came from-would it be a bad idea to take him back there to play with his brother and mum? They live on a farm.

He has got a vet check tomorrow so that’s another chance to socialise him.

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CornishPorsche Wed 18-Dec-19 14:30:34

Have a chat with the vet about socialising, but on lead barking can be trained. Have a look on Facebook for the Naughty But Nice Dog Owners page. There are some great training resources linked at the top of their page.

Bobstergirl Wed 18-Dec-19 14:32:55

Your puppy meet ups sound good - I would only be allowing quick sniff and walk on.

I personally wouldn't him take back to play (havoc) with his littermates.

Just get him out and about and observing life smile

Spotty528 Wed 18-Dec-19 14:33:32

Great thankyou, I’ll do that.

The dog was distance away and being old, just standing and starting at us and not moving. The owner was chatting to me (we were about 20ft apart). Could it have been that pup was getting frustrated that he wasn’t getting any kind of reaction from the terrier or able to go over to meet him?

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Bobstergirl Wed 18-Dec-19 14:53:31

A very still dog can be quite intimidating to some dogs. Your puppy was probably a bit frightened by the still body language. I would not worry too much just keep all interactions light hearted and short.

Spotty528 Wed 18-Dec-19 15:34:48

Thankyou that’s reassuring. He was stood still like a statue just staring intently at him and when he walked he moved very very slowly. The owner kept her distance so I didn’t let pup go over which is when he started growling/biting. That combined with me walking him for too long probably didn’t help.

We’ve just done the school run and he was very excited but I kept bringing his attention back to me with a treat and he didn’t bark even when we walked past a dog tied up and barking. Feel better that we’ve ended the day (ish) on a positive note.

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Spotty528 Thu 19-Dec-19 11:56:41

Took him today, we only walked for 20mins and the same thing happened, after 5mins running around off lead he started barking and growling-at a lady walking past this time. I put him on the lead, made him sit and he did calm down but it’s worrying me.

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Ihaventgottimeforthis Thu 19-Dec-19 12:01:39

It'll be ok, he's still very young. Has he had any stressful experiences? Been rushed by a dog or anything? Sounds like you're doing the right thing - distract, calm and reward the good behaviour.
Repetition and patience!

Spotty528 Thu 19-Dec-19 12:39:56

Thankyou, we’ve never had a puppy before so I don’t know what’s ‘normal’ and I am a worrier, I’m worried he’s got an aggressive streak and I also don’t understand why it’s happening. Is it over excitement? He’s great going (wherever we’re going). He walked for 5 mins on the lead today then started mooching about off lead, then running around super fast, chasing the wind then he started getting barky and went to bite my wellies so I stood still, got him to sit, treat, on the lead then it was on the walk back to the car that he barked and growled at the lady. Is there anything else I should/shouldn’t be doing? I don’t want to make it worse.

No he’s never had a bad experience this has just started this week since he’s been going off lead more.

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FuriousFlannels Thu 19-Dec-19 13:01:48

This puppy would appear to be telling you, in very clear terms, that he is not happy in some situations. You would do well to listen to him, imo.

Socialisation is not making him have several encounters he is nervous about in the hope he gets used to them. It's giving him a wide range of positive (or neutral) experiences to help form a good (or neutral) opinion of things/people/animals he will encounter throughout his life.

Right now he is having stressful experiences and learning that growling, barking, lunging is one way to get them to stop. Please don't let him learn this any more. Spaniels, especially, can easily be oerwhelmed with heavy handed socialisation and it is then a long, hard and upsetting journey to get them back on track.

As he is almost out of the socilialisation window anyway I think you would do as well to massively slow down and reduce his exposure to things and go at his pace.

For me that would mean limiting walks right now to very short periods of time that you know he can enjoy and cope with. For example, perhaps only taking him outside the front door and having a little play or training session on the front lawn (for e.g.). When he shows you he is actively enjoying that, then start to venture down the street. Slowly build up to a fuller length walk - only ever increasing the time and duration when you can see he is 100% happy with the stage he is at.

If you have to pass a dog, do it at a distance he is comfortable with. If he reacts then he is too close.

Remember that what he can cope with will reduce the longer is is kept at a stressed level - so he may cope with things better after 1 min of walk than after 20 mins of walk. Similarly, he will cope with things better if his day is otherwise stressfree than on days that are a bit stressful alrady.

At such a young age he should be easy to turn around but please go at his pace. Better spend a long time now getting it right that have to spend time and energy when he is older and the behaviour more ingrained/escalated.

CornishPorsche Thu 19-Dec-19 13:06:02

He's part terrier - they are often bad tempered little shits.... But can also be trained not to be.

Keep him on the lead, don't let him off - he doesn't need it right now anyway. Use lead walking as a training opportunity.

lovelycuppateas Thu 19-Dec-19 13:13:01

Was about to write exactly what FuriousFlannels said. It sounds like your pup is a bit freaked out/scared/overwhelmed by the situations he's finding himself in, but it sounds like he's loving playing with you, and this is maybe what you can concentrate on, just introducing him slowly at first to people that you know. They absolutely still learn about socialisation after that "window" is closed, so don't feel you have to do everything at once - the most important thing is to try to avoid negative experiences right now.

Spotty528 Thu 19-Dec-19 13:53:11

Thankyou for the replies. So it sounds like I need to cut the length of his walks right down. Back to 5/10 mins. He loves being off lead but I’ll cut that right down to a couple of minutes too, with Christmas next week that won’t be difficult.

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Spotty528 Thu 19-Dec-19 14:12:23

He loves being off lead, he mooches about, has a good sniff, doesn’t go very far, the switch in him comes after he’s been off lead a while. He starts running faster, getting more excited and that’s when he’s barked/growled at the dog and then the lady.

So in that situation is it that he’s maybe having a system over load? If I cut it right down to 2-3 mins off lead. Stop before that switch in him.

Gosh puppies are such a huge responsibility, I’ve been doing everything so carefully with him.

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squee123 Thu 19-Dec-19 14:16:55

Have you searched Facebook for local dog groups? Most towns seem to have one. Ours often have posts from people looking for puppy playmates and they get lots of responses

FuriousFlannels Thu 19-Dec-19 14:17:59

So in that situation is it that he’s maybe having a system over load? If I cut it right down to 2-3 mins off lead. Stop before that switch in him.

That is exactly what I would do.

Gosh puppies are such a huge responsibility, I’ve been doing everything so carefully with him.

They are - but at least 75% of the job is just arranging their environment and lives so they never have a chance or reason to do the things you don't want them to. It's less about trianing and more about forming good habits.

At the end of the day, it's the puppy that decides what he is going to do in any scenario so the only answer is to watch him carefully and be prepared to tweak what you are doing to work with the dog you have.

Clymene Thu 19-Dec-19 14:20:11

It sounds like he's going over threshold and being flooded (https://eileenanddogs.com/blog/2015/09/16/flooding-dog-training/ - have a read of this)

If this is your first dog, I would do a bit of reading around dog body language because you should be able to spot the signs when he's getting overwhelmed.

To be honest at that age, he might find the school run a bit much - it's loud and I assume lots of people are cooing over him?

I'd ditch that for now and just take him on calm walks (drive to the field and drive back) and see if that brings him back down

Spotty528 Thu 19-Dec-19 14:29:26

He was great on the school run, obviously excited by all the children/cars etc but no barking/growling just happy wagging when they made a fuss of him.

He had the vets this morning. Again he was brilliant, excited but perfectly happy for the vet to examine him etc.

This has happened every time when he’s been off lead. The first few times we let him off he absolutely loved it, the freedom and space to sniff around and run fast. Because he enjoyed it so much I’ve let him off every day this week and that’s when this issues come up. Nothing has scared him during his off lead time (it’s just been the 2 of us in a field) but he starts to run faster, get more excited and then it’s been on the walk back that he’s growled/barked (although today he started barking/biting my welly).

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Spotty528 Thu 19-Dec-19 14:34:37

Clymene could you repost that link please?

Just had a very brief read of ‘threshold’ in puppies in mentions them getting the ‘zoomies’ and this is absolutely what he does. Starts running really fast first. So it sounds like an adrenaline rush type of thing.

I do as suggested and cut right down on the amount of time he’s off lead/out.

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