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Alpha dog & Training

January 25th, 2005, 11:52 AM
Ok, questions for those more experienced! :)

1. I think my little 8 month Bichon thinks she runs me and my husband. When we take her for a walk and we don't go 'her way' we have to practically 'drag' her to go the way 'we' want to go. ** Is this related to the Alpha dog syndrome and how do we higher ourselves in the pack so to speak? How do we get her to walk where 'WE' want to go?

2. Housetraining is going well, we are using a bell and have had three accidents in two weeks due to our error of not enough supervision. However, she is not really ringing the bell on her own, she will sniff under the door or hit the bell, or most often we notice her sniffing or being restless. With Ottawa winter (-40 yuck, :eek: ) We have a great pair of muttluks for her and a coat so that her feet don't freeze before she has a chance to go. The problem is, to make a long story long :rolleyes: , how do we reinforce the bell ringin when we have the following activities that need to be done prior to going outside. (this is the order we currently do it: notice behaviour or sniffing of door, pick her up - hit her paw on bell, "wanna go outside", open door (to condo stairs to outside), I put on my jacket, then we head to the stairs landing 'condo', then we put on her boots and coat, then my boots then we go out the outside condo door. Pffff ... so as you can see this is quite a production, is this the right order, if we put our jacket on she knows that we are leaving and will scratch/sniff/ring the bell so we figure this order is the best. // should we treat her/praise when she is sniffing in addition to when she 'goes' ...

3. When outside she has "hurry up" to pee downpat ... right on, this is the best suggestion EVER. However, she associates it with pee not poop so should I introduce a poop word ... funniest thing, she has hurry up so down that if I say 'hurry up' even after she has gone she will do a faky or try again ... I would love the same result with poop because I think she holds her poop a bit ... :confused:

3. We have moved to the 20min timeframe / twice a day at same time feeding for the last two weeks. She WILL NOT eat in the morning, and will only eat in the evening. She is an 8 month old Bichon and we feed her a half cup twice daily, should we raise this to 1 cup and only feed in evening or will she catch on to the twice a day? It has almost been two weeks and I don't want her to miss out on nutrition etc. ??

4. We have started dog basic training classes with her and this is going well although she seems 'to smart' for treat training compared to some of the other dogs ... she know what she has to do to get the treat ... how do we reinforce this without the treat ... this again is tied to the "alpha dog" syndrome.

Suggestions, on all of these points appreciated.

5. One more question, she had tons of energy, loves to run how and when do you introduce a dog into Agility? And how can we work on training with her more, but from a respect not treat standpoint? (she is too smart for the treat training it seems .... )

Ok, tiernan out. Look forward to hearing from some of you folks ...

PS - she is a rescue and we have had her since December 11th.

Lucky Rescue
January 25th, 2005, 02:21 PM
1 - Do not drag her when you go out. Ease the tension on the leash and call her to you in a happy voice. Praise when she follows you. Tightening the leash or dragging her will increase her resistance to it. With this cold weather, she simply may not want to go for walks.

2 - Since so much time passes between when she rings the bell and actually gets outside, she may lose track of the connection between bell and going out. You'll probably have better luck when the warmer weather comes, and she can go directly from bell to outside.

3 - Try another word or phrase. When she gets ready to poop, you might say something like "Go play" or whatever. Don't make it something you would be embarassed to say in front of anyone.:p

3 - 24 hours is a long time for a dog to go without food, especially such a little one. Maybe if you add some warm water to her morning meal she may eat it. It's possible that her anticipation of you leaving makes her nervous and not want to eat.

4 - Some dogs don't have a great interest in treats. If you do use treats, use something very special that she loves and use it ONLY for obedience work. Do not give a treat every time. Give them randomly - sometimes after 3 commands, or after just one. Gradually eliminate treats altogether. It's actually much better to train without treats.

None of this has anything to do with Alpha status. She is a puppy of unknown background and you've had her only a little over a month. The bell ringing and other things take time for puppies to learn so don't expect too much from her right now. Consistancy, training and patience are the keys to having a well-behaved and loving doggie.:)

January 25th, 2005, 03:04 PM
Another good method for the walking problem (#1) is to quickly and repeatedly give soft little tugs on the leash when you want them to go your way, stay closer, quit pulling, etc...basically not pull on the leash anytime. Also pick a command (I use 'close') and give it at the same time. When the dog comes your way heap on the praise. Try not to drag them at all, just stop and tug when necessary.

Dogs will tune out the constant pressure with them pulling or you dragging them, but little tugs annoy them and they tend to respond. The technique worked great for my dog. We started by walking on leash in the house...after several minues she got the hang of it.

January 25th, 2005, 03:53 PM
jjgeonerd - you have been watching the DVD again! Good advice - your hired!
3a - harder to force or fake a poo. Pooing on command is tougher. You can pee at the doctors when they ask you but could you imagine them requiring the other? Not so easy. Just reward her enthusiastically when you see her poo and give it a word - and see what happens over time.
3b - She doesn't have to eat twice a day. Once is just fine. Adding yogurt to her food can help too. I think 1 cup of food is too much for her - but she could be a big Bichon. You should always gage her feedings by feeling her ribs. You should be able to feel them but not see them (I know, hard to see anything with that coat), but you should not be able to feel the spine. If she is at a good weight then continue with what your feeding or is she a bit heavy and could lighten up on her food?
4 - We do not use treats in our program for rewards. We train based on love, trust and respect. The more you are respected as her leader the better she will be overall. Make sure she gives you eye contact before you: release her from commands, feed her, let her through a door/gate, pet her etc...
5 - I would get her on a good obedience program before you start agility. Agility is good exercise but can actually be harsh on their joints so take it slowly at first.

January 25th, 2005, 04:16 PM
Our Molly has been doing really good with her training. With the weather so cold I started using the words "gotta hurry" before we go out the door and she usually pees soon as we are outside then I use "do poops" and she sniffs around and usually goes quite quickly. I have given her lots of praise and hugs afterwards from the start ( no treats just "good girl" and hugs). She is a choc. lab and our longest outside stay for potty break last about 15 min. She always does both when we take her out. I do notice that she will take more time when I do not use "gotta hurry" and "do poops" when taking her out.

January 25th, 2005, 05:46 PM
Thanks everyone for great suggestions. The only thing is that I really don't know much about 'how' exactly to train a dog to listen to you without treats, yes I know it is based on respect and yadda yadda, but where do you start??? And how?

I don't know how or where to start this kind of training (w/out treats?). She will pee on command for me and shake (as long as I have her attention), but as for all other commands ??

January 25th, 2005, 08:15 PM
Check out the other thread for the beginning lesson.
I will add that having her on the leash in the house as much as possible is a great start as well. This creates a leader/follower relationship. Where ever you go she follows - no questions asked. If you go to sit and read for 20 minutes, then she is there learning patience. If you get up to go to the bathroom you can have her hold a stay just outside of the door. When you go to the kitchen she goes with you. Perhaps you ask her to down at the oven while you check the fridge. All jobs to keep her mind working and places you in the leadership role. Never once 'treating' her for her good manners - just praise and touch.