Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Help!! Constant Pawing At Me! Making me a miserable mommy!

ShaggyRudy
April 2nd, 2006, 07:30 PM
I need help! We've had our newly-adopted dog (mixed breed) for about 3 months now. We were told he's about 2 years old. You may have seen some of my previous posts when we first brought him home. Ok, I understand the need for much attention most of the time, the following us EVERYWHERE we walk, the jealousy of the attention we give our cats - I understand all of these things and we're dealing with them (hopefully). The one thing that we can't seem to change and that is literally driving me insane when my husband is away for more than one day on business - I CANNOT sit on our couch for more than 5 minutes at a time w/out our pooch pawing and pawing at me in order to get attention (at least I'm assuming this is why he does it). We used to think it was his way of telling us he needed to go outside, but soon figured out that much of the time he won't do anything at all once we get him outside. We give him things like kongs and toys to keep him busy. We play with him a lot when we get home from work (fetch outside, walk around the block, etc.) We've tried the same technique when we're sitting on the couch that we're using when he jumps up on us all the time - turn our back and ignore him. This is very hard to do when sitting in one spot, but we normally just turn our heads, or look up at the ceiling and ignore his pawing and whining until he walks away. However, this technique is failing for me lately. I absolutely cannot relax while at home. Not for even 2 minutes!! I have marks all over my arms from his hard pawing. When I ignore him, he just becomes more assertive (starts to try to get up ON the couch, growls, barks, etc.). I can't keep giving in to him each time because it will just get worse. I've tried to pet him and talk to him only some of the time, and ignore him at other times...nothing is working. I feel bad because I know it's frustrating me enough that it changes my whole attitude. Does anyone have any suggestions?? I'm desperate.

joeysmama
April 2nd, 2006, 07:58 PM
Our pup growls only when he wants attention. If we're on the couch he jumps up and growl and barks and nips for attention. And we foolishly gave in and started playing with him when he did it which only reinforced the behavior. One night last week I was trying to watch a movie with my daughter and spent the whole time on the floor throwing toys etc.

So now when he does this we get up and leave the room. It means going all the way upstairs since thats the only place he can't follow us--the only way we can remove ourselves from his view. But it seems to be working. I know we need to be consistent but he's getting the idea that growly, nippy behavior makes his humans go away.

I'm also trying to make a point of playing with him whenever I see him pick up a toy. I want him to learn to bring us a toy when he wants to play rather than what he's been doing. I think consistancy and patience are really key Good luck. I hope you can break the behavior. (I hope WE can too;) )

Lucky Rescue
April 2nd, 2006, 07:59 PM
We used to think it was his way of telling us he needed to go outside

You accidently reinforced his pawing at you by giving attention.:p

Just start over. Paw comes up, you say "ENOUGH!" or "Wait" or whatever command you wish. Dog should be startled enough to lower his paw, or hesitate. Then you praise.

My dog made demands too when I first got her and quickly learned that got her the opposite of what she wanted and stopped.

If you need to, put his leash on and put your foot on it to prevent the pawing.

Never attention when he paws. Praise, attention and even a treat when he stops!:)

ShaggyRudy
April 2nd, 2006, 08:08 PM
Thanks guys. I agree Lucky Rescue, but then we're faced with yet another issue. When he starts to bring his paw up, we say "No, Down" and he DOES listen to this. He'll stop and put his paw back on the floor. Then we praise him for listening. The only problem is - now he thinks that if he paws, or "attempts" to paw - the outcome is he'll hear a strong "no", then receive petting and attention. So, it really hasn't corrected or stopped anything. He does the same thing with growling. It's almost like he KNOWS he's not supposed to raise his paw, so instead - he replaces it with a growl. We say "NO GROWLING!", he stops....and waits intently for his praise for "stopping" the growling. It's a vicious circle :) ugh....

Lucky Rescue
April 2nd, 2006, 09:54 PM
You have to gradually increase the time between stopping the pawing and giving praise - a few seconds at first, then longer - until you no longer praise at all, but correct if the dog starts again.

With my dog, I did it until she learned not to bother me. I no longer praised her, but her reward was going for a walk or playing with her toys.

I wouldn't use words like "No" or "down" since NO is too vague for dogs, and DOWN is usually used as a command for the dog to lie down. In fact, if your dog has training, you could put him into a "down" when he starts pawing. A dog can't paw you when he's lying down!

I would use a special command for this problem, like "Off" or "Enough" that cannot be confused with anything else. Those are also words you can make sound very gruFFF!!:)

mhass1129
April 3rd, 2006, 09:09 AM
you know i'm very sympathetic to the comment about the scratches on the arms... I always beleived declawing to be a horrible, inhumane thing to do to cats, but I might just make an exception for Hunter at this point... just kidding :angel: . The things is, I can't move as fast as he wants me to. So I have to have him up (in the crate) everytime I eat or I'm doing something whee I can't give him undivided attention because he'll claw at me in my inner thighs and my legs sooooooo hard. I scream out in pain (because I am, not with the intention to startle him) and it makes no difference to him. He'll start doggy school 4/29/06 so he doesn't know ANY commands and we don't know how to teach him to stop. I'm exhausted of dealing with him in the past 3 weeks.... then I look into his face and I fall inlove all over again, put him on my lap, and take naps with him :rolleyes: And we play with him ALOT when he's out of the crate too.

maigrey
April 6th, 2006, 06:29 PM
To the original poster, another thing you can do is forsee where he's going to be and fill that space with your body, just keep your arms tucked in and body-block him from where he'd be when he claws up on you (and look away while you're doing it). And then, don't reinforce him stopping, but pet/praise/treat him when he's sitting down by himself playing. Don't praise him while he's near your or he's just gonna keep coming up to you. Establish a rule where affection comes at your choosing.

kayla
April 9th, 2006, 09:23 PM
Lots of good advice here. I would just add that I would put on an old THICK sweater or even two if it helps you ignore him, pain-free. And if he ever lies down on his own without pawing you first, give him tonnes of praise (I know you probably would like to use that moment to have some peace and quiet but it would help teach him that he doesn't just get praise for lying down after pawing you). In fact every time you see him lying down or sleeping I would go over and give him tonnes of praise and treats and belly rubs and everything else. You could also try walking out of the room every time he paws you.

tenderfoot
April 10th, 2006, 07:14 PM
Avoiding the situation or ignoring it is not working because you are not teaching or establishing any boundaries for yourself. Turning away empowers him! You are catering to his every whim and then letting him push you around and demand attention.
Take a stand and teach him 'off' or 'enough' or 'quit' I don't care if you say 'pizza' its the attitude you must emote to get your message across. There is absolutely no reason to praise him at this point - as you have experienced it is counter productive. When dogs draw personal boundaries with each other they don't turn around and praise the other for backing off. The release of pressure teaches the dog what is expected. I would only praise for good manners when he comes up to you and sits and waits for your attention NOT when he demands it.
You can either create a boundary around you that he is not permitted to enter without your permission, or allow him to be near you but not claw you. You need to create a flat hand with palms towards the dog. When he just looks like he is headed towards you - pop your hand towards him (pressure) and say 'off'. You want the energy in your hands to cause him to blink. Its kind of like playing ping pong with your flat hand. If he chooses to come into your space then he will make contact and it won't feel good. You ARE NOT going into his space, you are simply creating your own boundary. Be abrupt. Make your point clear. He should only challenge 3-5 times and then he will go lay down at a respectful distance from you. The second he backs away from you stop the pressure (release) and go back to reading or knitting or whatever you were doing. Be ready to meet his demands again because he might think it was a fluke and try again later. If you are consistent and he respects you then he will stop. Otherwise you are just buying into his insecurities and making them worse.
& no need for thick sweaters - you should be able to sit on your couch sans clothing and not have to worry about getting clawed.:D