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I am a rubbish dog owner and I need help.(17 Posts)
I have a mixed breed dog who is a year old and I am honestly at a loss as to what to do to get some parts of his behaviour under control.
First the good things, he is a lovely dog, he is soft and affectionate, house trained, sleeps all night in the kitchen, happily let's us bath him, completely adorable if it werent for a couple of things.
1. He is easily distracted while out, so as soon as he sees other dogs or people, cats or squirrels, he doesnt listen to anything we say, wont even respond to his name. We keep him on a lead at all times although we always hoped we could teach him good recall, alas this has not happened and this means he is always on lead.
He pulls on the lead though whenever he sees another dog or a person, not in an aggressive way but more because he wants to greet everyone.
We do not proceed when he is pulling, instead we turn him in the opposite direction and pull him away. This has not diminished his PULLING though.
2. He bloody barks in the garden when I let him out. I worry it is annoying my neighbours and do what I can to bring him back in but it is a large garden and he basically ignores me until I find I am chasing him around the garden, with him barking and jumping around. I feel so useless.
I know barking is his only way of telling me what he wants but I dont understand what he is trying to convey to me.
He barks at the fence, in the middle of the garden too, at the birds, a leaf blowing around the garden, any noise, neighbours making noise, lawnmowers, strimmers, the gentle breeze on a spring morning, he just barks at everything.
I have taught him the speak command in order to teach him the quiet command but he doesnt stop barking long enough to reward him the quiet command.
He doesnt bark all of the time but when he does, it is virtually impossible to stop him.
It has now gotten to the point that he can only go into the garden on a harness and lead so I can bring him in when he starts barking, but I didnt imagine having a dog would mean every moment in the garden would be so regimented!
I imagined lazy days in the garden with him enjoying the space, exploring, not confined to a harness and lead forever. I feel terrible for my neighbours having to listen to his deep barking, which he still does while on lead, but at least I can easily get him back in the house then, and for my dog that the only time he gets to be outside is when he is harnessed up and walked around on a lead, although he still barks and pulls in the garden. It is breaking my heart to see him so confined when we have a large garden and large green areas where we live.
We have been trying for almost a year to gently train him to be quiet and not to pull, so clearly we are completely failing at this. He doesnt tend to bark much in the house or on walks, but the garden is a whole different ballgame.
Can anyone give me simple to understand techniques to train him not to be so easily distracted and pull on the lead so hard and so he doesnt bark at everything in the garden?
I taught my dog to bark on command which has helped a lot with his barking.
Some dogs just can't be trusted off lead. If I'm walking mine somewhere that isn't secure, he's on a 50ft lead so he gets a run and I still have control.
He's only a year old - he's a teenager. If you keep putting the hard work he will mature into a well behaved dog.
When my dog was being a NIGHTMARE at 16 months my trainer told me by the time he was three he would calm down. I burst into tears. He is now three - and by no means perfect - but MUCH calmer.
The lead pulling - I found what worked was a perfect fit harness and constantly stopping every time he pulled. It was a total pain in the arse but he's mostly good now.
Barking in the garden - I still haven't sorted that one I'm afraid...
He's one, so he's bang in the middle of the teenage phase. It is really hard - mine had me in tears numerous times at that age! He's two now and the different in him is amazing. A lot of his behaviour will be hormonal rather than you doing something wrong. I know that doesn't make it any easier though.
When ours barked and ignored us in the garden, he was no longer allowed out on hs own. We did what you did and just kept him on his lead. It's not a phase that lasts forever, I promise. Keep up with the training and eventually he'll come out of the other side and it should have sunk in!
Have you been to classes with him at all?
Oh a bit of a cheat for calm garden time especially when the weather's nice is I give him his breakfast and dinner out there scattered. He has an air dried raw food which is like kibble in that its small pieces (i.e. not wet food) I throw it spread out across the whole lawn and he has a lovely bark free time scenting it and googling it up.
With a big prey drive, it is difficult to stop them pulling or get them back off lead. Work on the recall in the garden. No dog is perfect at it, I believe, but my current dog is pretty darn good unless there is a squirrel in the offing. She will come back every time though not always when I want her to if she is chasing something. If you can get the recall in the garden working every time, you might soon be able to try a bit of off lead walking as long as you are absolutely nowhere near a busy road. You will have to get up your courage. Ultimately, most dogs want to be with their owners and will come back to where they left you. I think that once they have worn themselves out a bit with off lead running, they are quite well behaved. Lead pulling - I found best thing is to just stop (someone has said already) and not move anywhere until the dog stops pulling - might take some minutes before it dawns on them that nothing is happening and they usually then stop and look at you (result!). You need to break his attention from whatever he is pulling towards. Once he is still, you can move on. Slow and boring but it does work. Do you let him greet other dogs on lead, obviously with other owner's approval (even if he is initially pulling)? He might calm down a bit if he is allowed to actually meet them briefly.
Now is an excellent time to get behavioural help. Many behaviourists are doing video consultations. (Bit cheaper than face to face). I would contact , get a plan and use some time over the next few weeks to train some different behaviours.
IMDT APDT trainers would be a good place to start
Thank you for all of your advice. I appreciate it all and have taken notes.
Teenage dogs are arses..just like human teens!
Mine's 10 months and after being a near perfect puppy, with beautiful manners, perfect recall etc, she is now pretty much sticking her middle claw up at me, being ridiculously over enthusiastic with other dogs, and if she sees something chaseable..bye bye recall.
I've gone back to using a long line if I think there is any risk of her running, back to having super high value treats when we are out and reinforcing all the basics daily.
I'm hopeful she'll be back to super pup by the time she's 2 (and spayed!)
Ddawg (bt) adores hunting for bits tossed around the garden. Sometimes bits of kibble. Sometimes scraps from the table. Sometimes its chopped to very small. But the dog adores the sense of purpose and the hunt.
For lead walking, my puppy trainer puts a handful of treats in her left pocket for easy access. Then takes the lead in her right hand and puts dog on left side, with a treat in the left hand. Then you lead dog by the nose with a treat, taking a few steps and giving them the treat when they walk nicely beside you, and telling them they’re a good dog when they do it well. Gradually you start spacing out the treats and saying ‘heel’ when they’re doing it. Mine will now walk past another dog with this method without using the lead, but I still have to watch for his particular puppy friends or he’s off. Lockdown is going to be good for forcing me to train him not to go up to every other dog!
I don’t know about barking as mine isn’t bad for that, but I think she’d tell you to distract him by playing games with him while outside, like the scattering food others have suggested or throwing something for him to fetch, or doing hide and seek, or making him an agility course! Then when he’s tired mentally from playing he should calm down.
What about a long tether for the garden too? He can run around without you having to hold him, but if he’s being too noisy you can reel him in on the line?
What breed is he?
Some dogs are just more of a handful than others. I have one perfectly behaved dog and one that we’ve only just started to be able to leave out in the bedroom when we’re out without her destroying things at age 4 😬
Nice that you led with the positives, OP. It sounds like your dog is shaping up beautifully.
We have our second puller. Never solved the first one tbh. But a good harness helps. And of a/he has good recall go for as many off lead walks as possible. This suited my last and present dog v well.
The barking? Hmmmm... mine is a little problematic like that but we have no neighbours so don't worry!
I don't know if you can stop barking....some dogs love to bark!
Thank you for all of your advice. It has given me some great suggestions and made me feel like I'm perhaps not as rubbish as I first thought.
When he pulls, we dont go any further and turn around and this seems to be helping.
I have begun scattering some kibble in the garden for him to sniff out and he is enjoying doing this and we are throwing a tennis ball for him in the garden which he is enjoying.
He loves his walk every day and pulls more at the beginning of the walk so I'm putting that down to his excitement at going on a walk but we are still encouraging him not to pull.
Once at the park, he is on a long leash and enjoys sniffing around.
With the social distancing at present, I have found there arent that many dog walkers at one time over the park, so he isnt as distracted as he was and I have noticed he is pulling a lot less which I am praising him for.
It has been really lovely to hear all of your messages of support.
For the poster who asked which breed he is, he is a mixed breed, part king charles, part poodle and part bichon frise. I'm not sure if these breeds are more prone to barking or whether my dog just likes the sound of his own voice .
I read threads on here about barking dogs upsetting neighbours and I really dont want to cause any issues with my neighbours, so I am perhaps more anxious about it because of the risk of upsetting my neighbours. He rarely barks for longer than 10 minutes because I will bring him in. 10 minutes is the longest in case I am leaping out of the shower. Most of the time, it is less than 5 minutes but I know that when a dog barks, it can feel like it has gone on for a lot longer than it actually has.
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