March 31st, 2006, 10:09 AM
Matty is now ~ 10 months old and over the last couple months his behaviour's regressed. I hope it's because he's in the rebellious stage.
Last night for example, we got home, fed him, played fetch with him for about 1.5 hrs, took him out for a walk, and then came home. He's dead tired when we got home, and was literally catching his breath after the ~ 2 hrs of exercise / play / walk.
We got back home, and initially he just walks around the house, and then all of a sudden he goes bersek and starts running around the house at full speed. Since he hasn't done anything wrong yet I let him run around. He then grabs my shoes and starts running around with my shoe. I told him to stop and let go, but at this point he didn't respond to any command at all. Eventually I cornerd him, grabbed the shoes from his mouth and asked him to sit and down, and he did that while complaining (barking). Just when I wanted to praise him for 'down' he jumps up again, starts running around the house, jumps up on the sofa, grabs a cushion and starts running around the house again ... I eventually stopped him, told him no, did a few "come" "sit" "down" "stay"'s and praised and treated him afterwards, and he calmed down a bit.
Later on at night, we're watching TV and he'd jumped up to the countertop. I'd correct him, and after a few minutes he'd come and grab the remote off the sofa. I'd have to correct him by telling him no, and giving him his toy to chew on. He'd do that for a minute, and then get up and try to bite the magazines. I'd tell him "leave it", and then he'd come and bark at us, go over to my wife and nip on her leg. I'd tell him no, give him his toy again to chew on, and praise him when he did, but then he'd come back, went to the foyer and grab my keys off the cabinet ... on and on and on.
So for the 2 hrs we got home I don't think I've sat down for over 3 minutes. I'd have to constantly get up, correct him, sit back down, and then have to correct him again.
And that's my typical day for the last couple months. Matty's never exactly been an 'angel' but the last 2 months it's been tough to enjoy time with him.
Other than the fact we've not been able to sit down and relax when we're at home, Matty's also been destructive and left a few serious scratches / holes on drywalls and hardwood floor all over the house.
The last couple weeks my wife's been telling me she's had enough, she's close to having a nervous breakdown, and asked me to consider giving Matty away.
I tell her Matty's in the 'rebellious stage' of a dog, just like when human go through the teenager stage. I tell her that he'd be a lot better when he's over this stage.
So that's basically where Matty's at. I mean, Matty's not my first dog nor my wife's, but he's been BY FAR the most stubborn and toughest dog to train. And I thought Labs are generally obedient and kind.
Anyways, while any kind of mental support would definitely help at this stage I also have a few questions for the experts on this board ...
1. I assume Matty's behaviour and his regression has a lot to do with his 'rebellious stage' at 9 months. When do dogs in general (or labs specifically) get over this stage? I know every dog is different but I'm just trying to get an idea.
2. I know 'tired dogs are good dogs', and I've followed the recommendations by many here to increase the exercise for Matty. These days I play fetch with Matty for ~ 45 minutes in the morning before I go to work, and another 1-1.5 hrs + walk when we get home. That's as much exercise we can possibly give him as a working couple. Most of the times after the exercise Matty would be dead-tired, but somehow he doesn't become a 'good dog'. He has a short temper when he gets tired, quite easily he'd goes bersek and runs around the house. If I isolate him and put him in the washroom he actually lays down and sleeps! But if we let him back out he'd be back at it again. He basically doesn't want to sleep when we're around, even though he's actually tired and sleepy, which might explain for the reason of his temper after exercise. Is that normal?
3. To go a bit off-topic, while playing fetch, sometimes Matty gets distracted quite easily once he's traced down the kong. If anything distracts him on his way back, whether it be another family member, a sound, or something on the ground he'd quite easily drop his kong and chase after other stuffs. At least the "Come" command still works fairly well so unless there's TOO much distractions (like kids around in the park) he'd still come back on command. I'd then have to go back and grab the kong myself. Is there anyway to keep him focused and undistracted? I do give him treats when he fetches the kong and come back.
4. We used to crate Matty when we're not at home, and he's scratched down a few drywalls most probably because of boredom. So this past week we've been experiencing with letting him walk around in the enclosed living room when we're out. The first night he destroyed a door mat, the second night he chewed off a few stems from a plant, the 3rd night he dragged his water pan across the room and got water all over the place. These are things he wouldn't normally do when we're at home, and we leave him home for only ~ 1 hr in these 'experiements', and we do it after ~ 1.5-2hrs of exercise so he's tired when we leave the house. My question is 1. Why would he do these things that he wouldn't even attempt when we're at home? 2. Does that mean Matty is not ready to be un-crated yet when we're not home?
I'd HATE to give Matty away but at the same time I do see my wife's getting all stressed out because of his behaviour. Everyday we get home from work now it's not a place where we can rest and relax, but instead we get more stressed out trying to train Matty. We've been as patient and loving and consistent as we possibly can, but I'm just not seeing any light from the end of the tunnel. My wife's agreed she'd give Matty a few more months to see if he gets better after getting over this stage.
Any opinions / comments are welcome!
March 31st, 2006, 10:43 AM
2. I know 'tired dogs are good dogs'...... generally, yes. However, my dog also gets "over tired" on occassion and acts much like a 2 yr old in desperate need of a nap. I know he's overtired when he won't listen to me, gets into everything, and acts like a brat after HOURS of exercise... I usually put him in a down/stay when he gets like this - it helps to settle him down, then he quickly falls asleep.
3. Is there anyway to keep him focused and undistracted? If there is, please tell me. Honestly, I think alot of it is age.
4. Does that mean Matty is not ready to be un-crated yet when we're not home? I think so. Freedom is EARNED. I'd go back to the crate.
I'd HATE to give Matty away.... we'd all HATE to hear that too.. you're doing VERY VERY WELL, keep at it! If your wife needs a break, you could kennel Matty for a weekend away... just an idea for you to de-stress. Labs are handfulls in general, and a 9-10mth old is a FEW handfulls! You're doing so well, you'll get though it! (you can always "vent" here, we all understand your frustration)
March 31st, 2006, 11:02 AM
Thanks for the support ... it's been tough and frustrating ... honestly, I don't know how much longer I can keep up with this neither.
my dog also gets "over tired" on occassion and acts much like a 2 yr old in desperate need of a nap. I know he's overtired when he won't listen to me, gets into everything, and acts like a brat after HOURS of exercise... I usually put him in a down/stay when he gets like this - it helps to settle him down, then he quickly falls asleep.Yes I think he is 'over-tired'. When he's in that 'bersek mode' he's out of control. Commands don't work until I corner him and he's got nowhere else to go. I do ask him to "down" and praise him like crazy when he settles down ... he just wouldn't go to bed though. As tired as he might be, Matty never goes to sleep when we're around. I think I haven't seen him asleep since he's 2 months old ... and I never crate him when we're at home, even though I think he's tired and should sleep, so maybe I should start doing that?
If there is, please tell me. Honestly, I think alot of it is age.Thanks ... I guess I just have to wait then.
I always wonder if I' should be praising and rewarding him though. The scenario is I ask him to 'fetch' the kong, he goes after it, but then gets distracted on his way back and doesn't come back, until I ask him to "Come", in which case 9 times out of 10 he'll come back to me. So I praise him and reward him because he's "Come" when I ask him to, but then, at the same time he also failed to 'fetch' the kong ... should I be rewarding him?
Another question I've always wanted to ask. When I ask him to "Come", when he's not distracted he'd come back immediately. When he's distracted though, he'd take his time, and I might have to remind him several times before he comes back. Should I reward him when he does finally come back? What I do now is if he takes his time in coming back, I don't treat him, but I do say "good come". I send him off immediately after this, and before he can get distracted again I ask him to 'Come' again, and this time when he comes back immediately I reward him. Am I doing the right thing?
I think so. Freedom is EARNED. I'd go back to the crate.I agree. It's just Matty's 70 lbs now (and still growing!) so even though I've got the biggest crate possible there's very little space inside. He has enough space to lay down and sleep inside and that's pretty much it. I feel bad for crating him when we're not home, but then he gets destructive when he's out ... I guess we'll give him another try in a month or so.
we'd all HATE to hear that too.. you're doing VERY VERY WELL, keep at it! If your wife needs a break, you could kennel Matty for a weekend away... just an idea for you to de-stress. Labs are handfulls in general, and a 9-10mth old is a FEW handfulls! You're doing so well, you'll get though it! (you can always "vent" here, we all understand your frustration)Yes I generally feel better after venting ... :p
Sigh ... I can't begin to describe how frustrating and stressful it's been. I've had a beagle, my wife's had a cocker spaniel, a german sheppard, a collie mix, so we both though we knew what to expect with another puppy but Matty definitely gave us more than we could handle. :(
Sending Matty away for a wkend is a good idea ... it is expeneisve but for a weekend of peace and rest may be worth it.
In hindsight, I should've got another breed ... we got a lab because we figured it's a "short-hair version of golden" ... our mistake, and now we're stuck with a very high energy dog.
Hopefully Matty can turn around soon enough ... I don't know how much longer my wife can stand him.
March 31st, 2006, 11:28 AM
... and I never crate him when we're at home, even though I think he's tired and should sleep, so maybe I should start doing that?
I crate my dog when I'm home, but usually it's when I can't watch him - i.e., mopping floors.. it's not for long, 30 min or so ... but this way he knows the crate is not just for when I leave the house.
I also have a special blanket on a chair for my dog - he knows it's HIS spot, so when he's out of control (being a brat) I send him to his spot for a down/stay. Does matty have a speical spot all his own (not including the crate)? you could designate a mat, an old towel on the floor, etc.. When he lays on it, treat/praise, if he gets up "oooops, back on your mat"... just an idea.
When he's distracted though, he'd take his time, and I might have to remind him several times before he comes back. Should I reward him when he does finally come back?
you don't want matty to learn that 10x you yell "come" he needs to come. You want him to learn to come on the 1st call. I would NOT reward if it Matty came to you when he felt like it. However, if he came for the first call, I'd reward him like he won the olympics. You could also go back to teaching this on a very long training lead, you could reel him in if he chooses to ignore you. Give yourself a pat on the back for 9 times out of 10 though, I think that's outstanding!
He has enough space to lay down and sleep inside and that's pretty much it. I feel bad for crating him when we're not home, but then he gets destructive when he's out ...
then for his safety you should crate him when not home. don't feel bad, you're keeping your home and your dog safe. he doesn't need enough room for a party, just enough to lay comfortably and turn around.
and now we're stuck with a very high energy dog.
I think with all the effort you consistantly put in to Matty, you'll end up with a lovely lab
March 31st, 2006, 11:50 AM
I also have a special blanket on a chair for my dog - he knows it's HIS spot, so when he's out of control (being a brat) I send him to his spot for a down/stay.Well when Matty's out of control, he won't even do a down/stay :) but that's a good idea
Does matty have a speical spot all his own (not including the crate)? you could designate a mat, an old towel on the floor, etc.. When he lays on it, treat/praise, if he gets up "oooops, back on your mat"... just an idea.That's a good idea. We have a mat at the backyard door where we ask him to down and stay whenever we eat at the dining table. We don't ask him to go / stay there any other time ... and maybe I can ask him to do that when he's out of control so he's used to staying on that mat as well.
you don't want matty to learn that 10x you yell "come" he needs to come. You want him to learn to come on the 1st call. I would NOT reward if it Matty came to you when he felt like it. However, if he came for the first call, I'd reward him like he won the olympics. You could also go back to teaching this on a very long training lead, you could reel him in if he chooses to ignore you. Give yourself a pat on the back for 9 times out of 10 though, I think that's outstanding!To Matty's credit, he actually is quite attached to us when we take him out for a walk. Being a pup, he likes to explore the world when we take him out. He'd wander around for a few steps, but then he'd constantly turn back to check where we are.
Sometimes I'd hide behind cars / fences on the street and he'd come back and start looking for me. When he finally finds me I'd praise him like crazy. So this kindda comes natural to him, unlike the beagle I had. Toby (the beagle) is 9 yrs old now and I still am not confident to let him go off-leash in the park just because I know he'd always follow his nose instead of me.
We did train Matty A LOT on the come command, and we never scolded / punished him once after he comes back, regardless of what he's done prior. But to "come" seems natural to Matty.
I still practice the "Come" command on a LONG leash, but it's the odd times when I let him go off-leash and I ask him to come back, and he doesn't, then it gets tricky. He's off-leash, so I can't pull him back / "leash-remind" him. I also won't scold him cos he's off-leash and last thing I want is for him to run away from me into danger. So I'd quietly walk back to him to get hold of his leash, but that's usually when he'd come back to me. So the question is, in that case, do I praise him when he comes back? I mean, he did come back to me, but that's after wandering around for a while after my initial command.
then for his safety you should crate him when not home. don't feel bad, you're keeping your home and your dog safe. he doesn't need enough room for a party, just enough to lay comfortably and turn around.That's comforting to know.
I think with all the effort you consistantly put in to Matty, you'll end up with a lovely labI sure hope so. In hindsight, I should've asked for opinions on this board prior to choosing a lab. I do love Matty, but it's tough to when he's not being obedient for 90% of the times these days :(
March 31st, 2006, 12:20 PM
we have a supposedly 21/2 yr old airedale that sounds exactly like your dog. this isn't our first airedale but he has been more trying. when he is bouncing off walls we have to calm him down by having him sit or lie down and patting him. he will then fall asleep for a bit. even within a breed some are calmer than others. with our first airedale the breeder said 1 dog bounced off walls, the other was totally laid back and our buddy was a combination, so you never know.
March 31st, 2006, 12:31 PM
I'm sorry you are having a tough time!!
Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with Matty going beserk:p ! The way you described it, sounds like zoomies to me - all dogs get them at any age but of course, puppies get them most often! Of couse, Matty needs to know what's appropriate to carry around in his mouth but zoomies are in fact normal! When Dodger goes into zoomy mode, I just try to stay out of the way - he thinks the house is his private racetrack!!
Perhaps Matty is from a working line of labs?? It sounds like he is in serious need of some regular training - in other words, he needs a purpose/job. Labs can be very high-strung and exciteable - many don't settle down for years (especially if they don't have consistent training early on - which you couldn't control since he's a rescue!). In any case, most dogs don't really calm down until 2 years old but usually you have to wait until they are around 3-4 for the maturity level to catch up! Has Matty been to obedience training? I think that training would be a better outlet for his energy - instead of just running/playing at the park...
Not all dogs are naturaly retrievers - even one's that are bred for that purpose may never enjoy fetching. But more than anything Matty is young and since dog's live in the moment, it's hard to expect a youngster to be a perfect retriever! I would take the kong away from Matty while he is still wanting to fetch - basically before he has the chance to drop it on the retrieve!
I don't believe in crate training so I cannot offer any advice...it certainly sounds like Matty does need the safety/security of his crate.
With regards to come - you already know that your dog is perfect whenever he comes to you. If you catch him, I would lead him back to where you originally called him from. If my dog ignores me, he loses his off-leash privileges so we do on-leash training instead.
Good luck and hang in there!! I remember when Dodger was the biggest pest out there...He was a terror and then, almost overnight all the training paid off - I'd say he was about 16 months when everything seemed to finally sink in!
March 31st, 2006, 01:31 PM
almost overnight all the training paid offThanks, and that's music to my ears. :) I'm just waiting and praying for that magic moment ... it does exist. I was astonished when my beagle finally learned not to pee/ poo inside the house (That was his biggest obstacle). I thought he was never going to get it, and then he went from 0 to 100% almost overnight. Same with Matty's barking problem. He used to bark so bad that not only we couldn't sleep, but we began to fear it'd bother our neighbours, but then overnight he just got it.
Zoomie / going bersek - yes, I understand all dogs do it. Toby still does it even though he's 9 ... (but maybe only once a year ... he's been following a 'minimum effort maximum comfort' motto these days ;) ) and I don't have a problem with Matty turning our house into a personal race track, as long as he doesn't do other inappropriate things in between, like grabbing my shoes, a remote, a cushion, or jumping off me. I'm just surprised he usually goes bersek when he's tired.
Great advice to stop the fetching exercise when he's beginning to lose interest ... that said, I do want to tire him down. I can run with him, but that'll tire me before it tires him down. :) Fetching is the easiest ... until he loses interest I guess.
Yes, Matty was in an obedience class. He did ok in the obedience class, and the instructor said he's 'ready' for the intermediate level stuffs.
I don't know if Matty has any working dog bloodline in him. (I thought all labs are 'working dogs' anyways?) He is very focused and reasonably obedient when you play with him / ask him to do something (look for some hidden items, play fetch, hide + seek etc) ... it's the other times when he's left on his own that he gets into trouble.
It's been VERY, VERY tough and I think if I know he'll turn around at 1.5 I can hang on till then ... not sure if my wife can though :(
Oh yeah, before I forget, a couple more questions:
1. Like most dogs he likes to lay down and let us pat / scratch him. However, whenever he's on his back he begins to get mouthy. He's actually not being agressive with us, but just like to nip our hand / arm that's patting him. I'd always firmly say "No" and stop patting him and stand up when he does that. But as soon as I start again he'll be doing the same thing ... everytime someone touches him he opens his mouth and begins to get mouthy. It's A LOT worse with other ppl too. Is there anything else I can do except what I'm already doing to teach him not to nip?
2. From time to times Matty DOES get agressive. Usually when he's in a hyper mode (which is like 80% of the times these days) and you ask him to do something he doesn't like. Say, I ask him to "down" and "stay" when we eat. Or when I ask him to "Sit" and he doesn't listen, and I have to physically make him sit. He'd usually complain (bark) and other times he'd actually try to bite my finger. He isn't exactly "biting to injure", so it's more like a nip than a real bite, but it's definitely an act of complaint to my command / action. When that happens I firmly say "No!" and I'd isolate him to calm him down if we're inside the house, or step down on his leash (to keep him from jumping) cross my arms and look into the sky until he calms down and lay down.
Is there anything else I can do to deal with this agressive behavior? Or is what I'm doing enough?
This again, started when he's ~ 9 months old. In the past he'd disobey commands too but when I corrected him he wouldn't ever fight back.
March 31st, 2006, 01:48 PM
re: the nipping & complaining, etc...
This is what I like to call (and my trainer frequently calls) the IDIOT STAGE. 8-10mths... they seem to forget training, go a little cukoo, and really test their boundaries (and your limits). I think this nipping/agression/complaining is Matty's way of challenging you & pushing the boundaries. Keep being firm (yet loving & consistant) and he'll realize he's not the boss.
I think you're doing it all right, praise & reward the good stuff, correcting the bad stuff, continuing to be firm... it will pay off. My dog went through it too (still has his moments) but he's 1 yr now, and is MUCH better.
March 31st, 2006, 02:34 PM
My dog does zoomies every single time he comes in from outside - even if its just a pee break in the backyard (he is nuts!) :p
Their are working lines for almost any dog, which are the one's who are going to be the most high-energy, intense and drivey. Then there are show/pet line's that are not specifically bred for the breed's traditional "job" - instead the focus might be on conformation/appearance or a dog that can adapt to family/city life (doesn't need to work constantly!)
It's not just about physically tiring out a dog - it is my honest opinion that 30 minutes of obedience training is more exhausting than an hour long on-leash walk. But aside from tiring the dog out, it also strengthens the bond and your role as alpha. Training and working together is the key to all problems! If I had the choice between training or letting my dog run loose at the dog park, I choose training - there are just so many benefits to it! Don't get me wrong - dog's need to play but training should be just as fun for both of you!!
I know you are doing the best you can and you've already been doing a great job. But I think Matty needs more structure. Almost all dogs would benefit from the Nothing In Life Is Free program (NILIF); this is similar, db7 posted it:
Leading The Dance - Building A Better Relationship
Leading The Dance is designed as a problem-solving tool. Some of the items will be used for the rest of the dog's life - we particularly suggest the feeding regimen, possession, and the roadwork. Other items will be done only until the dog understands his position in society. When he graduates, release him from the items one at a time over a period of several weeks, watching for him to go back to his old ways. Many people do Leading The Dance one month in six as a preventative measure. If there is any part of Leading The Dance that is liable to get you bitten while you're doing it, DON'T DO IT and GET HELP from a competent trainer!
1. Umbilical cord - As much as possible when you are at home, keep the dog on leash and with you. Put a 6 foot leash on the dog, and attach the other end of the leash to a sturdy belt around your waist. Ignore the dog and go about your business. Having to constantly watch what you do and where you go will not only bond the dog to you, but will help make you important in his eyes.
2. Eye contact x 2 - twice a day, sit down with the dog sitting between your knees, and use a command such as Watch Me, or make funny noises, or tap the dog's nose and then your own, or whatever you have to do to get eye contact.
3. Obedience x 2 - Twice a day, run quickly through an obedience session using whatever the dog knows how to do, Sit, Down, Come, Stay, Heel, repeat as needed. Train for a couple of minutes each session. Do NOT touch the dog to praise him.
4. Feed x 2 - When food is left down for the dog to eat ad lib, the dog owns the food. Ownership is what dominance is all about, so we must take possession of the food. Feed the dog twice a day, in a confined area such as a crate or the bathroom. Use a Feeding Ritual. Ask him if he's hungry, ask him to help find his dish, to help find the food, ask him again if he's hungry, tell him to go to his area or get in his crate, give him the food. As soon as he's finished, or as soon as he turns away from his food, or if he doesn't begin eating immediately, take the dish away, throw away the food, and clean the dish. If the dog is not successful at eating (doesn't eat his whole meal), give him half the regular amount at his next meal, until he is cleaning the bottom of the dish. A successful meal means he gets more at his next meal, until he is eating the amount that will keep him in optimum condition. The food must be high-quality and low-bulk. Water should be freely available all day. Give no treats in the food or by hand. Dogs love rituals and you are teaching his body to get ready to eat when he hears the beginning of the ritual.
5. Possession is 9/10 of the Law - At least once a day, handle the dog. Repeat the words These are my ears! This is my paw! This is my muzzle! This is my tail! as you handle him. If he fusses, go slower. It's important that the dog has a positive experience - that he comes to see that you will be handling him and it's of no concern to him. When he is completely relaxed and accepts your ownership, say OK and release him. If your dog will not allow you to handle him like this without getting angry or getting away, DO NOT do this exercise. Do the rest of the exercises and use the clicker to teach the dog to allow this handling later.
6. Long Down-Stay - Do one 30-minute Down-Stay every day. You can watch TV but the dog must be in plain sight and you must be aware of him. He can roll over, go to sleep, and look annoyed or bored, but he cannot get up or walk away.
7. I'm-The-Mommy Down - At least once a day, just because you felt like it, tell the dog to lie down. When he does, use your voice only to tell him he did a good job, say Okay, and walk away.
8. Bosshood Is In The Eye Of The Beholder - Consider life from the dog's point of view. He sleeps where he wants, he eats when he wants, he leads you around. Any wonder he gets the impression that he's the Boss? Don't allow him to go through doors ahead of you. Don't allow him to go up or down stairs ahead of you. Don't allow him to lead you down hallways. Always position him or yourself so you are leading and he is following. If he's lying down, don't walk around him. Put your feet on the floor and shuffle right through him (note you don't kick the dog, merely push him gently out of the way) - make him think about where you are and what you're doing. When he orders you to let him out, take charge of going outside. Build a ritual around the door. Focus his attention on you: Do you want to go out? Sit! When he sits, you go to the door. Want to go out? Sit. Down. Sit. Stay. Then open the door and order him out: Okay, go outside! You change the situation so you are in charge of it. Keep the dog on the floor. Not on the couch, not on the chair, not halfway up the stairs surveying his domain, not in your lap, not on the car seat. On the floor. Don't leave the dog loose in the house or yard when you're not home. Free run of the house when the Boss isn't home allows the dog to feel powerful and in charge. Don't allow the dog to sleep on your bed, or on a child's bed. Dogs recognize the bed as a throne for the Boss. If he sleeps away from you, however, he will think that you own the bedroom, but he owns the rest of the house. The dog should sleep in your bedroom. If you can't have him sleeping in your bedroom (allergies, for instance), confine him to his crate.
9. Work Off Energy - Roadwork the dog 4 days a week. Start small, but work up to a mile for small dogs, 2 miles for medium dogs, and 3 miles for large dogs. Many problems will disappear with no more effort than roadworking. You can jog with the dog, or ride a bike, or longe him with a Flexilead, or use a motorised trike, or lend him to a jogger who's afraid of being mugged.
10. Busy Hands Are Happy Hands - If you want to pet the dog, he must first do pushups - Sit, Down, Sit, Down, Sit, Down, Sit, Down - then you can pet him for a count of 5 only. He never gets petted because he wants to be or because he demands it, only because you want to and he earns it. Then you pet him for only a moment, and turn away with him wanting more.
11. My Game, My Rules - Give the dog only one toy. If he wants to chase the toy, bring it to you and let you have it, throw it again. If he won't chase it, or won't give it to you, turn your back and walk away. He has two choices, he can play with you and the toy, or he can play with the toy alone. Do not, under any circumstances, play tug-of-war. When you can get the toy without chasing him or playing tug, pick it up and put it away.
12. Eliminate Hormones - Have problem dogs neutered. Some problems will solve themselves with no more effort than this. Not only will the dog be healthier and easier to live with, but your life will be made simpler.
March 31st, 2006, 03:39 PM
Thanks Lissa. Very interesting and very good read. I'll definitely try it with Matty.
Yes I agree tiring him down doesn't only mean physically, but also mentally.
Some of the stuffs in that article, I'm already doing ... which is why I don't think Matty is dominant but thinks he's the "Alpha", but he's definitely trying his limit now he's 10 months old.
Things I've been doing since he's a pup include:
1. Feeding ritual. Always ask him to sit, down, stay before I put food in his bowl. Then I'd go away from the bowl and ask him to "Come" to me first. When he does, and sits down beside me I'll release him and he can have his food. It's part of his daily feeding routine.
2. Feeding ritual Part II - Every day I'll pat him and touch his head, muzzle, tail ... when he's eating. Every other day I'll take away his food while he's eating, ask him to sit, down and hand before I give the food back to him.
3. Bosshood - we always make sure we exit / enter the door before Matty does, and we constantly take toys from him and ask him to hand / down before we give it back to him.
4. Bosshood II - when I play with Matty I always ask him to bring me the toy first. If he doesn't he doesn't get to play. When I take him out for a walk I always ask him to sit / stay and put the leash on. If he doesn't stay I go aboutt my business and he doesn't get to go out.
5. Hormones - Matty is neutered.
6. Long down-stay - honestly, I don't know ANY dog that can do a 30minute down-stay. Of all the dogs I've had, Matty is the one who can do the LONGEST stay. He can do a stay throughout our dinner, which is ~ 20 minutes. He used to be very good with this, but from ~ 9 mths on he'd whine (bark) when I tell him to dinner-down (he knows it's going to be a long one) and would get up 4-5 times in the first 5 minutes. I'd have to bring him back and do it once again ... which sucks cos it also means I have to get up and get him while I'm trying to have dinner. Nevertheless I've been doing it and his result varies from day to day. Last night for example, he got up twice and I had to get him back, but afterwards did 'sorta' stayed throughout the rest of dinner. I said 'sorta' because he's pushing his limit and crawls while staying down when I ask him to 'down-stay' ... if he doesn't move out of the doormat area I tend to let him. But if he moves out of the doormat area then I gotta get up and get him again.
The tieing the dog to your belt area is fresh and I should try it ... though that probably means I can do even less with him leashed to my belt all the times. It's worth a try though.
I don't think the 'limiting the dog to 1 toy' thing will work. I have a hard enough time getting him to play HIS toys and not mine when we're at home ...
but all in all a very good read. It'll be fridge material tonight and we'll try it in the coming weeks.
March 31st, 2006, 11:11 PM
I have been back and forth in this room reading and re-reading this thread. I am finally convinced that we have "Clones" of the same Lab that were born on different dates (May 9, 2005) for Laci. I am sitting back and taking everything in. I thought maybe it was something I did or have been doing wrong and even blamed it on a problem that she has (still not sure). We had a Golden that we really had no problem with and when she died, the kids decided on a Lab for us. Thank you for asking all these questions as I felt embarrassed :o and have thought of myself as a Bad Mommy :sad:
April 1st, 2006, 11:33 AM
NaNa8 - you shouldn't feel embarassed! There is no shame in needing some help and your are NOT a bad Mum!! I hope you and Laci will find some part of this thread useful!! Good luck to you as well!!
April 1st, 2006, 11:41 PM
Just a little update on the first couple days of following some of the advices in the 'leading the dance' exercises.
The 'umbilical cord' exercise seems to be the most interesting. I leashed Matty and tied him to my waist. Matty was frustrated after a while when he was basically dragged around the house, and responded with jumping / biting + pulling on the leash / barking at me. I stepped on the leash and pulled on it so that he couldn't jump up. As for the barking, I just crossed my arms and ignored him. He struggled hard, but eventually when he found out there's not much he could do to get him out of the situation he sat down, and as I continued to ignore him he lied down.
At this point I release my foot and ask him to do a few sit/ down/ sit/ down/ hand ... just to show him who's the boss.
And he'd start jumping / barking / pulling on leash again. So I do the same thing, and we go through this cycle 3-4 more times until he finally settles down and would sit / down without complaint (barking). It definitely feels like he was challenging me as the 'top dog' in the pack, and eventully lost his battle.
Once that's been settled, I can now drag him all over the house and he'd just follow me. :)
Now, when my wife tried to do the same thing his response was much stronger. It takes a lot less for him to start 'complaining', and at times he'd even jump up and try to nip my wife's finger. My wife would also have to repeat this 'cycle' a few more times until he 'gives in' ... but even that only last a little while. Half and hour later he's 'protesting' again.
My guess is all along in his mind he recognized me as the 'top dog' in the household, but considers himself 'equal' or even 'higher' than my wife. Which is why when we're trying to convince him we're higher rank than him in the family, I have a much easier time than my wife.
Nevertheless, after a few hours of these 'struggles' Matty was basically exhausted, and for the first time in MONTHS he fell asleep during a down-stay. :)
The only tricky thing with the umbilical exercise, for all those who're trying, is you gotta watch when your dog needs to go pee and when he wants to drink water. Cos when you're dragging him around, he can't really tell you if he needs to go and he can't get to water freely neither.
Other than the umbilical cord exercise, we also did the "handling" exercise and tried a lot more "down" exercises. These exercises tire his mind and was another reason why he's very tired at the end of the day.
I don't think Matty ever considered himself the alpha of the household, but these exercises definitely re-assures him that he's the lowest rank in the family. Though he's fighting back now, I think after a few more weeks of these he'll be convinced.
The only question and concern I have, is he seems to be fighting back quite vigorously, especially when my wife's showing him who's the boss. We're not being physical with him, as all we're doing is stepping on the leash and keep him from jumping. There're occasions when he tried to jump up and nip my wife though. I don't think he was biting to injure, but more of a nip to test his limit. Still, I'm concerned if this gets turned into a physical confrontation and push him into the agressive side.
Also, when Matty is 'over-tired' he seems to have an even shorter temper. But then when he's chewing / pulling on the leash I have no choice but to stop him, whether he's over-tired or not.
btw Matty does NOT have a habit of biting on leash when we go out for walks.
NaNa8 - Matty was also born in May 2005! But May 20 instead. In hindsight I wonder if I should've got a golden instead, but then just as another poster said it's not just the breed but the individual dog as well. I think most goldens are less energetic and more obedient, that said I've seen a fair share of goldens that are just as hyper in puppy class, and a neighbour of mine had a golden who didn't behave even when he's 4 ... sigh. I'm just hoping all our hardwork will payoff eventually.
April 2nd, 2006, 07:28 AM
... sigh. I'm just hoping all our hardwork will payoff eventually.
It will! :thumbs up
April 2nd, 2006, 07:49 AM
I'm glad that it is sorta working with Matty. Things will often get slightly worse before they get better!
I would start using a negative reinforcement word, I use "AH!" when my dog is misbehaving.
I wonder if using a head collar on Matty would help (especially your wife). Have him tied to you normally on his collar or harness but perhaps having a small leash attached to his head collar for when he tries to nip, will give you more control. It is easy for a dog to get injured with a head collar so you can't snap his head back but I think it could be useful. It may also help when you are trying to stop him for chewing the leash since you have direct control over his head...
April 2nd, 2006, 09:55 AM
I agree with the statement that all dogs are different. The problems with Matty are very similar to the ones I have with Laci. She tests me more than my husband. I realize the mistakes I made when she was younger. I had a feeling that there was something wrong with her and I eased up on the discipline and my husband stopped altogether. At the point that we did that, Laci became the "Alpha". The main problem that I have is the biting/nipping that she does when she doesn't get her own way or wants attention form us. We use a gentle leader when we walk her and she does less pulling with it. Glad to hear that it is working with the leashing of Matty to you :thumbs up
April 4th, 2006, 09:13 AM
After a few days of practising the 'umbilical cord' exercise (tieing Matty to myself even when we're at home) I'm beginning to question if it's a good idea.
Matty had not bite on his leash for a long time but since I started tieing him to myself inside the house he's started biting the leash again ... probably because he hates being dragged around the house and is trying to get rid of the leash.
It's got to a point now even when I walk him, when I try to 'leash-remind' him he'd be irritated very easily, start biting on the leash and start pulling on the leash. He wouldn't do any of these before.
And everytime he bites on the leash I do the 'push leash towards his mouth' exercise to get him to spit out the leash.
Another result of the umbilical exercise is he's started jumping at me a lot as well. Everytime he does that, indoor or outdoor, I'd step down on the leash so he can't jump up, and cross my arms and look up into the sky until he calms down, but he'd struggle very hard, bite the leash, and eventually even if he DOWNS as soon as I release him he starts jumping again. After a few times he'd actually start growling, which he never did before.
I understand sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, and if that's what these exercises are doing then I don't mind.
But I'm worried if I'm pushing Matty into the agressive side. He never growled before, and would never try to nip/bite myself or my wife when we're scoulding him before, and never fought back as vigorous before.
Just yesterday when we're in the park and he started jumping I stepped on the leash again but he kept struggling and biting the leash and kept pulling back on the leash, and he stared at me like he's ready to fight me anytime. I repeated the 'step on leash' exercise for ~ 20 minutes in the park (good thing nobody else was in the park or else they'd think Matty's a beast) until he finally gave up and wouldn't jump anymore. Even after I had to keep him on a short leash and he was pulling on it all the times.
He also seems to be second-guessing every command I give now, and has a much shorter temper than before. It's disappointing and frustrating I have to 'battle' with him this way every day now. It's also very tiring both physically and mentally.
Is this normal? I mean, I don't think Matty considered himself the 'alpha' before I started all these exercises so not like I'm trying to break down his ego or something. He was extremely naughty but not dominating or agressive at all ... but I got a feeling the more I push him now with all these exercises, the more I bring out his agressive die. I'm just worried.
April 4th, 2006, 09:30 AM
"Playing, attention, food, walks, going in and out of the door, going for a ride in the car, going to the dog park. Anything and everything that your dog wants comes from you. If he's been getting most of these things for free there is no real reason for him to respect your leadership or your ownership of these things. Again, a timid dog is going to be stressed by this situation, a pushy dog is going to be difficult to handle."
This is from this site: http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm
Are there any obedience commands that Matty will listen to instantly?
I would seriously consider a head halter (halti, gentle leader). Also, maybe spraying bitter apple on his leash will stop him from chewing it. Usually I do not like using training aids but it sounds like Matty is particularly challenging. He is sounding so "out of control" that I wonder if he should have a vet and a behaviourist evaluate him!?
What is Matty being fed? If it isn't a high quality diet or if the food is meant for performance dogs, it can have a big impact on their temperment!
Have you considered clicker training? It may help Matty since he seems to get frustrated - perhaps it is because he is unsure about what you want. With a clicker you are marking/capturing the exact behaviour you want to praise for.
I wish I could come through the screen and see what you are dealing with so I can be more help! It is so hard to gage what you are dealing with on-line!
April 4th, 2006, 10:08 AM
Yes I can put bitter apple on the leash but that doesn't change his attitude.
Matty is naughty (extremely) and way too playful even when he shouldn't be playing, but is not a diobedient or agressive or dominating dog at all.
Until recently I put the 'umbilical cord' on him that is.
Normally Matty would respond to all obedient commands: come, down, sit, stay, hand, wave, etc etc etc. And yes, he would normally follow any of these commands instantly.
It's just after I put him on the umbilical cord and drag him around the house, he doesn't like it and easily gets irritated.
If he's irritated he has a short temper, and would second guess every command. He would also bark and complain if asked to do certain things, and just refuse to do it. For example, when he's irritated, I will ask him to sit, and down, and he will sit but won't down. He'll bark at me while I continue to ask him to 'down'. Eventully he'd do it.
He DEFINITELY knows what I want him to do. He has no problem understanding the command. His problem is he doesn't FOLLOW the command after he's been dragged around the house. Sorry but I don't believe in clicker training. I honestly don't think that's the problem neither. I don't think he has a problem hearing or understanding the command, and I've always marked every command he followed with a "Good boy!" praise.
The food isn't the problem neither ... I'm feeding him Ekunuba which is the highest quality (well, definitely one of the priciest :( ) food in the pet store ... we tried other brands before but Matty has a particularly weak and sensitive stomach and would have diahrrea easily on low quality food. :(
April 4th, 2006, 10:53 AM
Yes I can put bitter apple on the leash but that doesn't change his attitude.
I know it will not change his attitude but if it did stop him from leash biting it would give you are your wife a chance at getting his attention.
If he's irritated he has a short temper, and would second guess every command. He would also bark and complain if asked to do certain things, and just refuse to do it. For example, when he's irritated, I will ask him to sit, and down, and he will sit but won't down. He'll bark at me while I continue to ask him to 'down'. Eventully he'd do it.
He is testing you by not listening, if you keep waiting him out he should realize that he has no choice in the matter.
I feel like you are looking for a guarantee that something will work. I can't say for sure that this umbilical will work because that is not the only issue here. Matty needs more structure in every aspect not just when he is being "dragged around".
His problem is he doesn't FOLLOW the command after he's been dragged around the house.
That right there tells me that he doesn't want to do something and thinks he has the right to make that decision - which means he thinks he is in charge..
[The food isn't the problem neither ... I'm feeding him Ekunuba which is the highest quality (well, definitely one of the priciest
Commercial diets are a hot subject and I do not wish to argue but Eukanuba is not a high quality food. High quality to me is Solid Gold, Wellness, Go Natural, Innova etc...
April 4th, 2006, 11:14 AM
I haven't read all the posts for this thread but I just finished a book you might be interested in. It's called "Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog" by John Grogan. They had a lab that was absolutely crazy and wild by any breed's standards.
I don't know how true this is, but according to Grogan, the sire of the litter was a little crazy too and he states some behaviour is genetic. Did you meet the parents of your pup? Maybe one of them was hyperactive and a little uncontrollable too... it might explain a few things.
He also read up on ADHD and thinks the dog had every classical symptom of this condition. I don't know what they are, but certainly it's something you can discuss with your vet if your dog doesn't seem to calm down as he grows out of his puppy stages. Anyhow, good luck with your dog. I really don't have any advice, I just thought the book was really interesting.
April 4th, 2006, 01:48 PM
hehe I was thinking of Marley...
I think matty is acting pretty typically for his age and breed. All of our labs have gone through a really bratty stage ... my advice? Don't be the first to give up!!
You have to be quicker, more stubborn, more persistant, smarter than him. This IS a test!
And btw, I would definitely look at switching foods. Euk is a terrible food IMO. Do a search for the Whole Dog Journal list of recommended foods. If he is sensitive, there is a range of good allergy foods out there too... again, see the feeding forum for that.
Good luck with everything. You have some great advice here from Lissa and others.
April 4th, 2006, 02:30 PM
I think matty is acting pretty typically for his age and breed. All of our labs have gone through a really bratty stage ... my advice? Don't be the first to give up!!Seems like you've had plenty of experience with labs ... can you tell me when does this bratty stage usually end? 1 yr? 1.5? 2 yrs?
Anyways I did mentioned it to the vet one time how extra-hyper Matty was, and she told us Matty's not being "extra" hyper ... he's just being a typical lab. ;) She has a 12 yrs old Lab herself.