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Am I Being A 'control Freak' With My Dog?


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My last dog (a crossbred) was so easy to train and very well behaved. We got to Advanced in dog school in no time at all, she was good at agility and we also did a few school fete displays etc. I felt like I was quite strict with her but she was great with it, she was very tuned in to me..

Our new lab puppy is now 11 months old........and she drives me crazy! We've been going to dog school, we use treats, she is exercised every day. But she always jumps up at people that come near, she always pulls on the lead (okay,not all the time but quite it's very embarrassing when you 'burst' into the vets, who by the way is her best friend ever!) she will sit and drop but seems to have to think about it for a bit first, recall is on her terms, alot of what happens depends on if there is a treat or not. We have her inside at night with us and she won't stay on her mat, she runs off with the tea towels and whatever else she can get in her mouth. (OH won't use a crate.)

Don't get me wrong, I love her to bits!! I do love that she is so different from our old doggy, but I am just wondering how much of it is "puppy behaviour" (as I am often told) or how much is not being well trained on our behalf!

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My last dog (a crossbred) was so easy to train and very well behaved. We got to Advanced in dog school in no time at all, she was good at agility and we also did a few school fete displays etc. I felt like I was quite strict with her but she was great with it, she was very tuned in to me..

Our new lab puppy is now 11 months old........and she drives me crazy! We've been going to dog school, we use treats, she is exercised every day. But she always jumps up at people that come near, she always pulls on the lead (okay,not all the time but quite it's very embarrassing when you 'burst' into the vets, who by the way is her best friend ever!) she will sit and drop but seems to have to think about it for a bit first, recall is on her terms, alot of what happens depends on if there is a treat or not. We have her inside at night with us and she won't stay on her mat, she runs off with the tea towels and whatever else she can get in her mouth. (OH won't use a crate.)

Don't get me wrong, I love her to bits!! I do love that she is so different from our old doggy, but I am just wondering how much of it is "puppy behaviour" (as I am often told) or how much is not being well trained on our behalf!

It does sound like a puppy- that thinks it knows how to beat the rules. I think NILIF is a very good start.

Perhaps you could look at some youtube videos on how to do some retrieve training with your pup. It sounds like she has a heap of instinct so you might have more luck going with it and then using what you learn to put in more rules.

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Thanks you! Yes...I think she think she knows how to beat the rules. When she has something she shouldn't, she just runs around and around and you can't get near her, it's all a big game. Was most embarrassing when the item in question was a friend's favourite straw hat!

I suppose I feel like I am always 'on her case' so to speak, always talking sternly to her or I'm always at her to behave....and she is always laughing, thinking it's all good fun. It is worse when people say "oh but she's only a puppy'...sure, but she's a very big puppy too.

I have heard of the NILIF, so will check that out alot more. One thing I won't do is pay her any attention until she is sitting and she is starting to learn that. And she certainly loves to retrieve! :)

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Thanks you! Yes...I think she think she knows how to beat the rules. When she has something she shouldn't, she just runs around and around and you can't get near her, it's all a big game. Was most embarrassing when the item in question was a friend's favourite straw hat!

I suppose I feel like I am always 'on her case' so to speak, always talking sternly to her or I'm always at her to behave....and she is always laughing, thinking it's all good fun. It is worse when people say "oh but she's only a puppy'...sure, but she's a very big puppy too.

I have heard of the NILIF, so will check that out alot more. One thing I won't do is pay her any attention until she is sitting and she is starting to learn that. And she certainly loves to retrieve! :)

The important thing with NILIF is to understand that your have to really try and look for opportunities for your dog to succeed. It sounds like you have gone into a spiral of her being naughty and you running around telling her that she is being naughty. Now you have to change the way you think and go around looking for an opportunity reward her!

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LOl!

It IS a big game !! And you play it well :)

You run and say/call out things, and have no way of reinforcing the commands- so they are totally a waste of breath .

I am always 'on her case' so to speak, always talking sternly to her or I'm always at her to behave....and she is always laughing, thinking it's all good fun.

because those words/commands have no value - they have not been reinforced;they have not been learned ..so they mean nothing to your dog .

if she loves running with things .. then teach her to 'give' :) She loves food? Ok.. then doing 'swaps' should be easy .

Have her on leash - start off with some treats ..and a toy/towel that isn't her favourite thing to steal ... wave it around ..and when she takes it - immediately show her a treat and say 'give', or 'swap'. She will, most likely drop the object, to take her treat ..which you give her immediately she drops the object .tell her how breathtakingly smart she is , and repeat a few more times ... end the lesson by letting her play with whatever teh toy is . Do that a couple of times a day .

I am older and fat and unfit , and can not be bothered running after pups/dogs, so all ours learn this as babies - and they will bring me bones, or toys or stolen items (most times) ..to do a 'swap' ..MUCH easier :)

Edited by persephone
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Thanks you! Yes...I think she think she knows how to beat the rules. When she has something she shouldn't, she just runs around and around and you can't get near her, it's all a big game. Was most embarrassing when the item in question was a friend's favourite straw hat!

Try putting a light line on your dog around the house. When she has something in her mouth use the line to bring her to you and praise her when she gets there. Gently take the item from her mouth and praise again. When she starts accepting this put the behavior on command. So now say 'fido come' and then praise when she comes. Then put the 'give' on command, I use 'thank you' and then praise.

Use the line to enforce the behavior and never give the command unless the line is on the dog. Keep the line on until she is reliable.

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You could teach her to bring things to you on command, that way you can easily get items off her. I would start this as a separate exercise with a different object (one that she is allowed to have) and I would use clicker training to teach it :) Certainly I would swap forbidden items with food to start with.

I would also teach recall separately

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I think the hardest thing I have found is that with my old dog, she was MY dog. My ex-husband didn't have much to do with her at all when it came to training, exercise, feeding etc.

This time around my new hubby, well..he is a big softie. His family had working labs in England when he was growing up so it's a bit of a return to his childhood I think, having another one and he is the one that takes her out every day. He is perhaps not so strict or consistent with her though.

We use treats to get her to return "stolen items" which she is happy to do, once she's finished running about having a fine old time. We say "Ta" and she will drop it for us and we reward her..... but time to be more consistent and stricted about her training. Nothing worse than doggy with no manners! :)

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Hunny, if it's any consolation my dogs get away with murder with Mr TSD but my Dally competes in obedience and agility and my working Springer (oh I understand the random stuff in mouth!) is not far off competing in retrieving, obedience and agility. They know exactly who holds the key to all their fun and runs the show - the cats me :laugh:

ETA: If your other half won't let you use a crate then invest in a baby gate. My Springer has a particular penchant for shoes, socks, tea towels, kitchen sponges and CAT TOYS :thumbsup: The baby gate keeps the dogs confined to the living area which is kept completely clear of anything tempting. She will still bench surf if Mr TSD leaves the sponges and tea towels lying around (common :rofl:) but that's then his mess to clean up ;) The only issue is with one of the cats who brings all of his toys over the baby gate so we will throw them for him. It's a mad house!!!

Edited by The Spotted Devil
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Every dog is different even littermates are different. My sister and I both got a whippet from the same people yet there completely different, Missy my whippet is great with obedience where Misty my sisters whippet isn't so great. Misty on the other hand is more stocky then my Missy, Misty is also more affectant then Missy. Missy is more hypo wanting to run around and play where Misty is a couch potato.

Also the same with Buddy my male golden and Shelley my female golden. Buddy was so much easier to train like he knew what to do before I even said it. Shelley on the other hand was more diffcult and took more time to teach her, Shelley still has sloopy sits,drops her heel is horrible have to keep correcting her, The obedience trainers have said I'll probably never get her out of her sloopy sits/drops. The obedience trainers also said she wouldn't make a good obedience dog cause of this. Missy my whippet will make a great obedience dog as she does sit,drop and heel great with hardly no corrections needed.

Most of my training is NILIF (nothing in life is free)when I feed my dogs I put them in sit and say wait then I put there bowl down return to the dog wait a few seconds then say ok. I also call them to me out of the blue so they learn to come when called, I don't just call them when I want them or need to do something with them. I also do short training with my dogs each day eg heel,sit,drop,come,sit/stay but I do mix it up so its not the same everyday. I am the one that feeds/walks and trains my dogs, They will listen to others in the family but with sorten things they will only obey me.

With the stealing and runing away with things I have found grabbing one of there squeeky toys and playing with it acting like I am having fun and runing around with it, This normally gets them to drop what they have got and want to join in with what I am doing. I do not stop as soon as she/he has droped the item I continue to play with my dog while someone else picks up the item. Missy my whippet loves shoes and by saying NO and grabbing one of her toys squeeky it then throwing it works great with her as she loves to run. The trigger is to find what your dog loves and use it to reward the behaviour you love and want from your dog.

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Hunny, I know exactly what you are talking about. We have had Labs in the past and they were nice, laid back, easy dogs. We've had Dobies (lots of fun), and cattle dogs (love them to death). We also got landed with a dingo cross who was a difficult dog to start with. After learning to train her, she became my "special" dog; knew what I wanted from her before I asked it. Anyhow with age and the loss of a cattle dog (still have one) we decided our next dog should be an "easy" dog, so we decided to go back to the Labs. WELL!!! I've never had a more difficult dog!!! She has taken more work than all our other dogs put together - Know what you mean about bursting into the Vets to visit her best friend. But take heart. She is now almost 4 years old and is beginning to quieten down. Yes, it has taken that long. The vet told me it would. But she has her CD title and various agility titles, ADM being one of them, so be patient, be consistent and laugh a lot. You will get there.

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She is now almost 4 years old and is beginning to quieten down. Yes, it has taken that long. The vet told me it would

They are not all like that ;) I have worked with many labs around 18 mths who were as steady and mature as anyone could want :)

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Hunny - I hear you. My yougest lab is exactly the same age. Yes alot of it is still "puppy". My girl is a really bad chewer and takes things off benches. She cannot be trusted alone. As someone else mentioned you need to help her succeed so while she is in this stage don't leave things lying around for her to take.

I would suggest you teach her "Leave it". Then when you can see her going to pick something up she should not you can use this command. This had really worked for me.

It sounds like your puppy is testing you to work out if she really needs to listen ;) . Stick to your guns. We went through this stage not long ago (and still are to come extent). You should see the look on my pups face when she realises she is not going to get what she wants - not happy. However I do explain to her nicely "you must do what I say" :laugh:

Another thing to remember is labs can be silly and jumpy. When I get home from work my girl jumps around however she knows I will not talk to her until she is sitting calmly. So sometimes when I get home I do not pat her for 5 or 10 minutes.

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She is now almost 4 years old and is beginning to quieten down. Yes, it has taken that long. The vet told me it would

They are not all like that ;) I have worked with many labs around 18 mths who were as steady and mature as anyone could want :)

I agree they are not all like that. My girl now 3.5 years old has always been a calm dog, since she was a young puppy. My current pup is not too silly and will have settled by the time she is 18 months old.

I do hear stories though of some labs taking years to settle.

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I know how you feel Hunny :) My dog is nearly 1 now and he still has bouts of idiocy. It can take him 2 or 3 goes to do what he's meant to do to get what he wants (We ignore him in the meantime).

One thing that has taken a while to teach and we're still going with is when people come over. I keep him on a leash until he calms down, being calm is the only way he is going to get attention from the person. You have to be very strict with the person who wants to pat him too :laugh:

I know what I'm doing is working because he spent Christmas surrounded by about 30+ people and was fantastic. He was excited at the start, but waiting it out with him paid off.

Consistency and maybe a new approach to how you react to his behaviour is the way to go... Just keep going and think positive.

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Thank you Everyone!! I feel so much better hearing your stories, you have given me hope! :laugh:

I like the idea of keeping her on a leash with new people around. It will be interesting as we've got friends coming to stay today with two boys, 14 and 12. They are busting to play with her and we're hoping they will all wear each other out.

She really is such a good natured dog, but I must also stop comparing her to my old dog who really was so easy. Dog school starts soon (I keep her 'pass' in beginners on the fridge just to prove to everyone that she really has been!) so am looking forward to that. I use a choker collar on her, which I know some people don't agree with, but it seems to be the best way for us. I have tried the halti, with much embarrassement....she just kept laying down and expecting treats to get back up again. :o

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I have tried the halti, with much embarrassement....she just kept laying down

Your dog was just showing you how very uncomfortable and unhappy she felt.... haltis need to be gradually introduced, before starting any real work in them .They can make dogs feel very odd for a while.. they are a very restricting tool ..

Chain collars ( they should never choke a dog) are a useful tool, providing the user has been trained how to properly use them ..it's all in the timing ...and a good understanding of the tiny changes in a dog's body language enables them to be used in conjunction with lots of verbal praise/instruction.

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