Please help me to not despair

(12 Posts)
UnaccountablyUncountable Sat 04-Jul-20 14:23:30

We have a miniature poodle (female), just under 5 months old. We've had her from 8 weeks, and have all fallen madly in love with her (DH, two teenage DSes, DD, 10).
However, we went into lockdown just after we got her (so socialisation disrupted), and also had employment issues, illness, and significant bereavement to deal with in the last 3 months. All of these things mean that I've not been as "on it" with training as I'd planned to be (and would otherwise have been).

I feel like I've well and truly mucked things up, and getting despondent.

The positives:
- She is affectionate, loving, funny, and generally lovely most of the time. Everyone in the family loves her.
- She's toilet trained.
- She can do a few basic commands (sit; paw; wait) and a couple less reliably (fetch; come here)
- She'll often walk to heel.

And the bits I'm struggling with:
- The biggest one - she still bites. She's mostly grown out of it with me, DH and our sons (teenagers), but she goes for DD (10) in a way that's playful but also perhaps wanting to dominate? She grabs DD's clothing and drags it, growling. She also barks at DD. DD adores her, and gets quite upset. To be fair, it's a few weeks since she last broke the skin, but she's still prone to these behaviours.
- She growls when you try to take something off her which she shouldn't have. Once, when DH took something off her, she nipped his hand and drew blood.
- We haven't crate trained her. She sleeps - generally very well, to be fair - at DH's feet (he has to sleep downstairs at the moment anyway, for various reasons).
- Any sound at night and she's up and barking (temporarily - she settles when the sound stops).
- She takes quite a while to stop barking at new people. Since it's been allowed, we've been gradually introducing her to both adults and children, and she is now getting quite a lot better. But I worry that lockdown (which spanned her greatest socialisation period) may have really hampered her.
- DH and I can no longer trim her fur - she now tries to play and snap at the scissors/clippers too much. We're willing to pay, but I'm scared no one will be able to groom her as she's too hyperactive and can nip. Have a "puppy appointment" with a groomer next week.

Now that they've started again, I've enrolled her in training, and we've got a few things going on with DD (trying to get DDog to respect her, basically, by getting DD to do basic training, be the one to give her food, etc).

I'm feeling overwhelmed by it all. Are we going to end up with a nightmare dog?

TIA

OP’s posts: |
vanillandhoney Sat 04-Jul-20 14:57:08

Phew, there's a lot going on here but I assure you, it's solvable smile

The biggest one - she still bites. She's mostly grown out of it with me, DH and our sons (teenagers), but she goes for DD (10) in a way that's playful but also perhaps wanting to dominate? She grabs DD's clothing and drags it, growling. She also barks at DD. DD adores her, and gets quite upset. To be fair, it's a few weeks since she last broke the skin, but she's still prone to these behaviours.

She's so, so young still. Mine didn't stop mouthing/biting until he was about 9-10 months old. Honestly, you have so much time! But your dog doesn't want to dominate your DD - she's just a dog. I imagine her behaviour is an attempt at play/attention but obviously it's not the right way to go about it. Get your DD to fold her arms and turn away every single time. No shouting, no eye contact, just fold her arms and ignore. If she's calm/well behaved, then you can reward smile

-She growls when you try to take something off her which she shouldn't have. Once, when DH took something off her, she nipped his hand and drew blood.

Resource guarding. Please don't try and grab things off a dog that guards, it won't end well. It can be solved with a behaviourist but in the meantime, teach her to drop the item for some food. Get the dog to come to you for something yummy (chicken, cheese, sausage) and then you can safely retrieve the item once she's in another room. Your DH got bitten because he ignored the warning signs - some dogs will let you take anything, but yours obviously isn't that kind of dog - please get a behaviourist in to deal with this.

-We haven't crate trained her. She sleeps - generally very well, to be fair - at DH's feet (he has to sleep downstairs at the moment anyway, for various reasons).

Not a problem. My dog is 2.5 and has never slept in a crate. So long as you're all happy with the arrangement, it really doesn't matter if she's not crate trained, I promise.

Any sound at night and she's up and barking (temporarily - she settles when the sound stops).

Normal, but obviously annoying! What do you do when she does this?

She takes quite a while to stop barking at new people. Since it's been allowed, we've been gradually introducing her to both adults and children, and she is now getting quite a lot better. But I worry that lockdown (which spanned her greatest socialisation period) may have really hampered her.

Just keep doing what you're doing and you'll get there. Lots of slow, gentle introductions, lots of rewards, and pay attention to her body language so you can remove her from the situation if she she's unhappy.

- DH and I can no longer trim her fur - she now tries to play and snap at the scissors/clippers too much. We're willing to pay, but I'm scared no one will be able to groom her as she's too hyperactive and can nip. Have a "puppy appointment" with a groomer next week.

Get a groomer in until she's a bit older. You need to desensitise dogs to grooming and this is best done by a professional imo. With time you should be able to do it yourself - try to spend time touching her ears, feet etc. and rewarding her for staying calm.

Honestly - 99% of this is totally normal puppy behaviour - it just feels very overwhelming at the time! My dog had me in tears numerous times when he was younger - and all the behaviour I worried about no longer exists. Just put the work in, take her to training and be consistent and you'll be rewarded ten times over. Honestly, please don't worry! flowers

UnaccountablyUncountable Sat 04-Jul-20 15:11:40

Oh @vanillandhoney - I can't thank you enough for this reply. It's so kind of you to respond in so much helpful detail, and to be so calming.
Thank you thank you flowers

OP’s posts: |
vanillandhoney Sat 04-Jul-20 15:24:51

You're so welcome @UnaccountablyUncountable - honestly, it will be fine. You wouldn't be posting on here if you weren't a good owner! smile

Maybe join one of the puppy threads and speak to some other puppy owners - it might reassure you a little bit! I don't think there's anyone on here who didn't struggle with their puppy at one point. Mine was a bugger for mouthing and barking (typical for his breed, but didn't make it any easier) and I remember telling him I was going to send him to Beagle Welfare if he didn't shut up - more than once grin

He's two now and currently sprawled under his blanket snoring. He's absolutely fine - despite all the stress and worry, he's fine, and your dog will be too flowers

Wolfiefan Sat 04-Jul-20 15:35:52

You haven’t mucked anything up!
1. She does indeed just want to play. It’s not about dominance (which has been completely debunked.) it’s about being a baby and not having learnt manners yet!
2.YY to resource guarding. My pup is prone to this. I switch stuff for something of higher value.
3. If you’ve managed without a crate then you absolutely don’t have to use one. It’s useful for a dog to be used to being confined for being at the vet, in a car etc. But it’s not compulsory.
4. Barking? She’s alerting you.
5. Don’t panic! Avoid forcing her to approach new people. Let her view them from a distance and as no threat. My older dog took AGES to relax around people she didn’t know.
6. My pup is 8 months and still tries to chew me if I do her claws etc. blush I do one and then give her a treat. A licky mat or stuffed Kong can also help.
The very fact you see (totally normal and small) problems and want to work to fix it means you’re doing a good job and won’t have a nightmare dog. All puppies are bloody nightmares at times. grin

StillMedusa Sun 05-Jul-20 00:23:18

Mine's 13 m now and doesn't like strangers coming in..or at the door. We just take it very slow...warn them that she will bark and she eventually relaxes. (I also ply her with treats, but away from the guest )

Never crated..I don't like them and don't see a need ..if she is ever injured or stuck at the vets she will be utterly miserable crate or no crate. Ours slept downstairs til she was 6 months then had free reign and generally flops in our bedroom.

Guarding... don't take. Swap but don't make a huge issue of it. And prevent! Don't leave things lying around that she shouldn't have access to.. it is far easier to prevent issues this way! Teach the kids not to leave stuff lying around smile

Biting.. yeah they aren't called land sharks for no reason. But they DO grow out of it. Mine drew blood a few times as a puppy with her razor teeth... she hasn't now for months..it just stopped as she matured.

Barking.. well she's doing her job....

She sounds a totally typical puppy.. cute but designed to drive you mad smile

RolandBark Sun 05-Jul-20 00:58:14

Such great advice here already, so I will just add that the Facebook group called Dog Training Advice and Support UK is absolutely brilliant. There are advice units which cover all the things you raise, and you can post for specific advice. Their ethos is reward led, force free and fear free and the admins are all dog trainers. There is also advice on how to find reputable behaviourists and trainers, if you need additional support. I am a first time dog owner with a 14 week old pup and their resources have helped me so much (and reassured me during the many moments of puppy regret and anxiety grin) Good luck, OP flowers

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StillMedusa Sun 05-Jul-20 01:23:13

I second Rolandbarks post... the FB group is an amazing source of help!

UnaccountablyUncountable Sun 05-Jul-20 17:16:17

@Wolfiefan, @RolandBark, @StillMedusa and @vanillandhoney - I could kiss you all. You're lucky it's still lock down. Thank you more than I can say... flowers

OP’s posts: |
muckandnettles Sun 05-Jul-20 18:12:09

I would also recommend the FB page Pandemic Puppy Raising as it is full of good advice and kind people helping each other.

Wolfiefan Sun 05-Jul-20 18:12:40

Bless you OP. Puppies are HARD!! That group is ace. Really really worth checking it out. Good luck.

Mollymalone123 Sun 05-Jul-20 23:30:42

She is still a v young puppy and poodles are a very bright breed.As others have said you have time on your side and there are a lot of resources you can use too. Puppies are hard work but you will get there!

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