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Please help me get motivated to train my dog!(5 Posts)
We have a five year old Bavarian Mountain Hound, who we've had from a puppy. We've all lived pretty harmoniously before although I don't think we've invested enough in dog training beyond puppy classes (DH doesn't agree and thinks it's fine, but moans when the poor dog behaves as he does because he's never been shown anything different!) he's a fairly high needs dog, and a nervous character as is typical of his breed but a great family pet. We were on a list for a puppy from a breeder for some time as DH wanted a scent hound for work although as it happens he doesn't work him (which I also think means we need to find him more of a job.)
Since our DD became a toddler I think he's become quite stressed as he seems uncertain of his place in the pack. They are always, always supervised, but although I don't think he enjoys her presence, he always follows her around and she in turn loves him and would cuddle and "play" with him if she were allowed (but we keep them separated as I don't think it's fair on him.). We have an open plan downstairs but have kept his bed tucked away somewhat so that she doesn't accidentally intimidate him rushing around and so he has a safe place to go to.
I'm always at home with him and he goes on two walks a day (except when it's really hot and then just mornings).
I feel that he isn't that happy, and I think the root cause is a lack of training. He loves attention and we try to give him plenty but when given just wants more and more until it's too much and he's sent away. I think he feels that we all have fun without him, and as much as I try to include him he gets so boisterous the fun ends. All this is of course our fault for not showing him what the boundaries are, although it didn't really seem a problem until we had a little one around.
DH thinks I'm imagining it but I can just tell he isn't quite right. He looks at us with an expression I can only describe as resentment! It reminds me of the look on the faces of cats in memes captioned with descriptions of their captors etc.
I must motivate myself to start training with everything and find him a proper job because I also think that apart from walks he is just bored. I did have one one-to-one training session a few months ago and understand the basics of conditioning etc it's just getting round to doing it (and keeping DD away!)
Please can someone help me motivate myself to help my hound be happier? It would be great to help him understand boundaries for attention, be more calm around strangers when lockdown finally allows visitors, and also to look at resource guarding. We're also planning to neuter him, if it will help.
He stays at doggy daycare overnight sometimes and they adore him (actually everyone who has looked after him repeatedly say what a wonderful dog he is) so it's not all bad, but it does feel a bit like having a resentful teenager around and like a responsible parent I want to help him!
If your dog is nervous you might be better not to neuter him. From what I've read neutering an already nervous dog can make them worse.
If you have a look at you tube there are lots of videos about scent training. We were taught the basics of it at a class we attended and now do it around the house/garden.
Our dog loves a ball too so now on walks I often throw it into fern/long grass and get him to find it which he loves.
We also recently bought the Buster activity mat to hide food in and give him some mental stimulation. You can add bits on to it too.
Zac George has some great you tube vids covering all aspects of training. Pick something you want to work on and do 2 Xs 5 mins a day. It can make a real difference. Once dog has mastered it keep practicing but add something else.
I think making sure your dog has enough walks is key too. We try and vary our walks so one day he will have a long sniffy kind of walk, the next maybe a shorter but lots of running. We try new places quite often too to try and give and keep it interesting.
As you've realised, you have a bored and restless dog on your hands. Working line dogs need something to keep their brains active or they get antsy and hard to live with. I'm not having a go at you at all, because I have made the same mistake with a different breed.
You could try scent work as the PP suggests: I think your dog would love it and it would key into all his genetic tendencies which in turn would fulfil him, make him happier and chill him out.
Also, if he has any retrieving instinct at all (I have no idea about mountain hounds other than their capacity to follow and old scent for bloody miles) you could try doing memory retrieves with him - drop a ball or similar on a with him watching, and then send him back for it. Start with a short distance of about 15' and a visible ball, and gradually build up the distance and complexity to as far as you feel is safe through the woods with an item he saw thrown into bushes but did not see land. If he gets this game you can have him charging around very happily and seeing you as the fount of all good things. If he isn't much of a retriever, though, you may just have to stick to scent work.
As for boundaries indoors, just be persistent, gentle and determined, and full of praise and rewards for any successes.
I really hope you manage to build a good relationship with your dog and make him happier. I've only met a few BMH and similar and they have been delightful dogs.
Scent dogs need work and entertainment or they do get bored. We have a beagle and he loves scent games - have you tried any of those with him?
There are all sorts - getting three cups, hiding treats in one and getting your dog to find the treat. Hiding a treat in a box full of paper/toys and getting him to find it. Put the dog in another room (or outside), hide a bunch of treats around the room, letting the dog in, and telling him to "find it".
You can also play games with him outside. If he eats dry food, scatter his biscuits in the grass for him to find - you'll kill two birds with one stone that way. Meal time, plus a good brain game/scent game to tire him out. We do this with my dog if it's too hot for a long walk as a way to tire him out.
You could also try basic trick training. Kikopup has some great videos for teaching basic tricks (high five, roll over, spin in a circle). - no, they're not especially USEFUL tricks but they will strengthen your bond and make your dog listen to you more. My dog LOVES being asked to do tricks (mainly because he gets a sausage afterwards ).
If he has issues with resource guarding I would address those with a behaviourist, especially as you have a small child around. For now, make sure he eats alone in a separate room away from DD and don't let her near him while he has chews or treats.
Neutering may make nervous behaviour worse so I would discuss it with your vet and behaviourist before making that decision - good luck!
Lots of good advice on here but would just add a short word re motivation.
Working with a dog on training is really rewarding, both for you and the dog.
Make it fun, don't look on it as something that is a chore to be got through but something that will be fun, an achievement that has the potential to build a bond with a dog like no other.
And keep it up. Even if you don't have a lot of time to spare you should be doing a bit of training everyday. Training is a lifelong thing and the more you train your dog the more your dog will be able and happy to learn.
A well trained dog is a joy and will be a fulfilled, happier, calmer animal and therefore easier and happier to live with. Conversely, an untrained dog doesn't understand what's required of it and will be under stimulated, restless, bored and definitely not so easy to live with.