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It appears Ozzy thinks he's top dog...

Mgue
October 6th, 2008, 11:45 PM
Today, Ozzy was play biting & I said "no biting" but he kept doing it. So I used a tip I just learned in obediance class for establishing dominance over a misbehaving pup. They said put the dog between your legs, facing forward and pick them up off the floor, just hanging there. Apparently it's so boring for them and they feel like only the biggest most powerful leader could put them in a situation like that. When you let them down, they should be submissive and if not, repeat.

Well I've done this before when my fiance was around and it didn't make Ozzy submissive but it didn't make him mad either. Today when I did it, I was alone in the house.

As soon as I put him down, he got really aggressive. Ozzy started barking very loudly & repeatedly (he never barks unless he's playing) and growling and even baring his teeth at me. He made little lunges toward me (not a full lunge, but a back-off type lunge). If I stepped toward him, he went back but kept barking & growling. If I stepped away from him, he stepped toward me. I said "no" and clapped my hands and everything else I normally do that gets him to stop doing stuff he shouldn't be doing, but it all made him worse.

I was very scared, and quickly called someone for advice. As soon as I got on the phone, he stopped and started playing with his toys. The person I talked to is a dog owner and they thought maybe he was just playing, or maybe he's acting out because he's bored (he didn't get any outside exercise because it was raining all day). But I wasn't convinced.

Then I was watching the Dog Whisperer and there was a similar situation - the dog was exerting dominance over the human toward his food, toys, bed, etc. I paused the show and decided to test Ozzy right away while Cesar's tips were still fresh in my mind.

I got some treats which Ozzy loves, and I made him do several sits, downs, stays, etc. and gave him treats after each one. I recently taught him not to take a treat that I put on the floor until I say OK. So to test him, I put the treat down and said "off". But then I stood up and stood above/in front of the treat (between him & the treat). This was to claim the treat as mine, according to Cesar Milan.

Well Ozzy immediately reacted the same way - barking, growling, generally being aggressive. He's never done this until today. This reinforced what I thought happened earlier - when I tried to play top dog by picking him up, Ozzy challenged me.

So this time, I stayed calm, stayed in front of the treat, did the "cch" noise. Ozzy paced around me & the treat and I kept it up. Then when he was good & close, I did that check Cesar does where you use your foot to tap the dog's butt. Right away Ozzy was stunned, he looked at me surprised and slunk off. He kept pacing the area, but not in an aggressive way. He stopped barking and growling, just paced, sat, stared at the treat, like he didn't know what to do.

After a while I took a step back so the treat was more exposed, and I said "cch" everytime he came close. When he appeared calm and not trying to get the treat anymore, I picked it up and made him come, sit, down and then gave it to him. I did this a couple more times. He didn't bark or growl those times, just tried to get at the treat and I said "cch" and he paced and stared at the treat. When he was calm, I made him sit, down and then I gave it to him.

So tell me what you think? Do you agree Ozzy was playing top dog? Do you think I did the right thing trying to show dominance? What can you suggest I keep doing to reinforce my status?

TeriM
October 7th, 2008, 01:43 AM
How old is your puppy? I think he is only 3-4 months ????

I think that you might be getting a bit to caught up in the "asserting your authority" thing. Sounds like his behaviour is fairly typical puppy and would be better served with a short "time out" instead of this "hanging" technique :frustrated:. You need to be careful to establish boundaries but need to remember that he is just a baby and you shouldn't scare him.

A good technique for when he is play biting is to sharply "yipe" or say a loud "ouch". This is very similar to the reaction another dog would make if he played to rough. If he stops then praise heavily and try to redirect with a toy. If he comes back again then Yipe againg and stand up and walk away and ignore him for a few moments. If the behaviour still persists and he is crate trained then a short time out when he is really excited is the best thing. Be sure to escort him calmly and without anger to his crate so he doesn't associate it with negative feelings.

bendyfoot
October 7th, 2008, 11:18 AM
Hard to say from the descriptions what's going on here...I know my own 4 month old pup can get into a fit of bouncing, circling, and some barking (she's not a very vocal dog generally) when she's in a high-energy play mode. If you were using a loud, excited voice and clapping and generally being worked up it could easily feed into that excitement.

I'd be curious to know if your pup was acting the same way on a day that he'd been well-exercised. What happens while you're holding the pup off the ground? Is he biting at your hands and struggling wildly or calmly hanging or struggling a little?

If my pup was trying to play bite I would probably say "no bite" and then stand up and walk away from him and ignore him until he calmed down. If he was REALLY worked up a short crate time-out would also be a good idea. I use the time outs when our pup is a bit too keyed up and harassing the other dogs in the house. She settles right away and usually ends up taking a nap.

If you want to work on your "leader" relationship, I'd be doing regular (2x/day) short (3 minutes) on-leash basic obedience training and also practicing umbillical in the house. But this IS a pup, and training should be fun and positive. Just curious...is sounds from your post like you were sitting down when working on the obedience stuff (you stood up to try the "my treat" thing)...I would not be sitting down, I'd be expecting my pup to look up and keep an eye on me. I'd also be using treats sparingly if he already understands the commands. Treats are good tools for initially generating the behaviour you want, but ultimately the "reward" for obeying should be a word of praise and a pat IMO.

AmericanBullMom
October 7th, 2008, 11:39 AM
I have never heard of this "hanging" thing that you are talking about, nor has my friend who is an obediance trainer at the SPCA. This seems like a sure way to get bitten, and to give your dog a serious head rush!
* I do :D at the thought of trying this on my 80lb American Bulldog*

From your previous threads, I have gathered that Ozzy is still pretty young, and at this age he is just starting to learn who HE is, and is probably testing boundaries.

In the instance where he is barking and "lunging" I would simply stop all that I was doing turn my back on him and walk away. Dogs LOVE attention, they crave it, and he is probably just looking to get a reaction from you. I like the idea of the time outs. BUT BE SURE YOU DO NOT USE HIS CRATE AS A TIME OUT. Crates are not meant to be bad places....
What I did with Patrón was tie the leash to my belt loop and he had to follow me, all over the house. He had to sit quietly while I prepared dinner, he had to lay next to me while watching tv, in essence I showed him that I was boss.

I like Caeser Millan a lot, but the whole treat thing, seems to me, like you are almost teasing your dog. You are MAKING an instance for your YOUNG dog to get upset at. Puppies have basically two thing on their minds, eat, and play. I always reward for GOOD behavior, turn my back on the bad.

This is all in MY opinion... I took my dog to obediance classes and this is what I learned there.

bendyfoot
October 7th, 2008, 11:52 AM
I have never heard of this "hanging" thing that you are talking about, nor has my friend who is an obediance trainer at the SPCA. This seems like a sure way to get bitten, and to give your dog a serious head rush!
* I do :D at the thought of trying this on my 80lb American Bulldog*

.

I think you're visualizing it wrong...basically you put one hand under the chest and the other under the belly and lift straight up so the feet lift off the floor but the pup is still level. You can also just lift the front end off the ground and leave the back feet touching the floor. The idea is that a pup with a very dominant personality will thrash and fight and bite to get put down, while a very submissive dog will just hang there...an "average" pup will wiggle a bit but won't be too worked up about it one way or the other. It's supposed to be a way to assess the instinctive personality of a puppy. Not sure I totally buy into it...our very dominant dog has no problem being picked up while our uber-submisive one growls and stiffens and makes it clear she wants down.

bendyfoot
October 7th, 2008, 11:55 AM
Oh, and I wanted to add that I think that sometimes it's necessary to "set up" a dog/pup in order to teach the behaviour you want...but ONLY if the dog already has the other skills needed to get the desireable behaviour. If you put a treat on the floor in front a completely untrained, off-leash dog and said "leave it" or "sit", you're asking for trouble. If you have a dog on-leash who knows how to sit...you can easily correct the dog to teach the "leave it" command and redirect with a sit, which he already knows how to do.

AmericanBullMom
October 7th, 2008, 01:39 PM
I think you're visualizing it wrong...basically you put one hand under the chest and the other under the belly and lift straight up so the feet lift off the floor but the pup is still level. You can also just lift the front end off the ground and leave the back feet touching the floor. The idea is that a pup with a very dominant personality will thrash and fight and bite to get put down, while a very submissive dog will just hang there...an "average" pup will wiggle a bit but won't be too worked up about it one way or the other. It's supposed to be a way to assess the instinctive personality of a puppy. Not sure I totally buy into it...our very dominant dog has no problem being picked up while our uber-submisive one growls and stiffens and makes it clear she wants down.

Ah I get it now... i was thinking like holding the dog upside down... Was a little confused... :sorry: Blonde I am....lol

Mgue
October 7th, 2008, 06:43 PM
Thanks for all of the advice! This has been really helpful! There were some questions asked so let me try to answer, as it might help generate more help...

Yes Ozzy is 18 weeks old, he's a rescue so I'm not sure what happened to him before - maybe nothing.

I'm 100% positive that the energy during these fits was definitely not play, it was very aggressive and challenging.

Ozzy has growled at me a few times before, but nothing like this. Perhaps it was because he didn't get exercise, but there's going to be days where that's the case and I can't have him acting like that (it gets to -35 in Wpg or colder). Would he do it if he'd been sufficiently exercised? I don't know.

In trying to keep my "leader" role, today I have been using the NILF theory, and a couple of times Ozzy has ignored me, walked away, and a couple of times he's leaned back on his haunches and did a silent bark baring teeth. Eventually he does what I want (e.g. sit) but it does feel like he is challenging me. He does NOT do this with my fiance.

Umbilical cord - I've heard of doing this. How long do you do it for each day? Does this really teach them you're top dog? He already follows me around like a lost soul...

Today, I've been getting him to do sit/down, etc without treats and he is reluctant and sometimes refuses. He ALWAYS does it for a treat. This concerns me that he is reacting to the food, rather than my leadership. Normal for a pup perhaps?

Normally he responds very well to "ouch" or "no biting" but it seems lately he IS testing his boundaries. I've never used his crate for punishment. And when he runs into his crate to "escape" when he's done something wrong, I don't try to remove him since I want him to feel that is his safe place.

Yesterday when I put him in the "hanging" position (thanks to bendyfoot for clarifying what I meant), he just hung there, wriggled a bit, but that's it. As soon as I put him down, he flipped. That makes me think he's challenging my attempt to dominate him. Maybe I shouldn't use that position but it's what the obediance trainers suggested we try. They also suggested hand-feeding, no tug of war, and making sure I go through all the doors before he does (working on that).

I've read a bit on dominant dogs - not sure if these traits also apply to pups. But things like bumping into you, invading your space, sitting on your feet or putting a paw on you, etc are all signs the dog is dominating. Ozzy does all of those things with me - not my fiance.

I understand he's a puppy and just learning and I'm trying to keep training positive with him for sure. However, I also don't want to dismiss this kind of aggression because I think it's important to nip it in the bud so it does not become an issue later. Plus being a rescue and possibly mistreated in the past, I feel it's important to establish early on who's boss around here.

Thanks again for ALL your comments - I accept constructive criticism no problem. Keep it coming! I really appreciate the support!

bendyfoot
October 8th, 2008, 09:37 AM
I'll come back to say more later, but it's clear to me that if this behaviour is only happening with you and not your fiancee, then this is clearly a dominance issue that only you will be able to "fix"/address.

bendyfoot
October 8th, 2008, 11:44 AM
Ozzy has growled at me a few times before, but nothing like this. Perhaps it was because he didn't get exercise, but there's going to be days where that's the case and I can't have him acting like that (it gets to -35 in Wpg or colder). Would he do it if he'd been sufficiently exercised? I don't know.


In trying to keep my "leader" role, today I have been using the NILF theory, and a couple of times Ozzy has ignored me, walked away, and a couple of times he's leaned back on his haunches and did a silent bark baring teeth.

Umbillical will help solve this...he can NOT walk away or ignore you since he is attached to you, and you also have the leash to correct/direct the behaviour.

Eventually he does what I want (e.g. sit) but it does feel like he is challenging me.

Be certain that you are only giving a command ONCE and no more, and expecting follow through EVERY SINGLE TIME, even if it means putting the dog into the desired position (ie sit) using your hand on his rump and pulling up on the leash. And big "good boy!" when he acheives it.

He does NOT do this with my fiance.

Big red flag that this is about handler error (you) and not so much the pup. I understand this, because this was me...my partner is alpha to the dogs no matter what she does, it's just her personality...I have to really REALLY work to maintain that role with the dogs. It drives me nuts, but there it is...it just means that you (and I) have to work harder.

Umbilical cord - I've heard of doing this. How long do you do it for each day? Does this really teach them you're top dog? He already follows me around like a lost soul...

All the time while you're at home. ALL the time, except while he's in his crate, while he's eating, or while you're actively playing or working on obedience. Do it while you're watching TV, making dinner (put him in the crate while you're eating, taking a shower, etc.). He's following you around right now because he feels like it, and because it's more interesting than lying still, and because maybe you'll give him a treat or a pat when he wants it....not because he's "following" you.

What it makes them do is watch you...what you're doing, where you're moving, etc. You don't talk to them or pull on the leash (no, "come on, Ozzy, we're going over here now"), just move. If he's lying in your way, walk right through him (ie bump into him), make him move out of your way. This claims your space, makes him watch your movements and makes him respond to your movements and YOUR desires. You can turn it into more of a game outside, by running around the yard using trees and bushes and things as challenging obstacles. Yes, it works.

Today, I've been getting him to do sit/down, etc without treats and he is reluctant and sometimes refuses.

Don't give him the option to be reluctant or refuse. Dont' try to make him do a million repetitions of a "sit" all in one training session, try maybe three or five times (it gets boring otherwise), but do them 100%: Give a command, and if he doesn't do it in about 1/2 a second, MAKE him do it (he should be on a leash while you're training until he is totally reliable), then praise. As soon as you let him think there's a choice in the matter, you've lost control. A lot of talking/pleading/warning is not helpful. Most of the communication is via body language anyways, so chatter won't get you too far...keep it to simple one-word commands and praise.

He ALWAYS does it for a treat. This concerns me that he is reacting to the food, rather than my leadership. Normal for a pup perhaps?

Nope, our four month old does not get treats except when she is first learning a command (like the first half dozen times, and the treat is used to lure her into position. Once she "gets" it, treats are pretty much gone, only gets them occasionally (like once out of every 20-30 commands), she just gets praise and lovin' for a job well done.

Normally he responds very well to "ouch" or "no biting" but it seems lately he IS testing his boundaries.

Normal, it's what puppies do. The trick is to be CONSISTENT about the boundaries ALL the time, because he's going to test them a million times over until he decides you mean it. Make sure you DO mean it, EVERY TIME, or in his mind rules will always be meant to be broken

I've never used his crate for punishment. And when he runs into his crate to "escape" when he's done something wrong, I don't try to remove him since I want him to feel that is his safe place.

Hmmm...I have mixed feeling about this. The crate should be a safe haven, but he also shouldn't be allowed to run off to avoid you when it suits him. If he's on umbillical then he can't run off. What does he do "wrong" that makes him run, and how are you responding or reacting prior to his running?

Yesterday when I put him in the "hanging" position (thanks to bendyfoot for clarifying what I meant), he just hung there, wriggled a bit, but that's it. As soon as I put him down, he flipped. That makes me think he's challenging my attempt to dominate him. Maybe I shouldn't use that position but it's what the obediance trainers suggested we try.

This exercise is probably not all that useful for your pup. I'd skip it.

They also suggested hand-feeding,

This is not a bad idea. I'd be making him work for it first, though (i.e. a "sit")

no tug of war,

I personally don't buy into the idea that this game makes dogs aggressive/dominant. It's a normal game pretty much all dogs play. What CAN make them think they're dominant is if you allow them to decide when the game starts and ends....letting them pull the toy away from you and then you chase them yelling "give that back" is not helpful. A good healthy game of tug initiated by you, followed by an "out" command (or "trade" for another toy) is fine IMO, and a good way to blow off some steam.

and making sure I go through all the doors before he does (working on that).

Again, I'm not so sure this is a big deal. If the dog is bowling you over or knocking into you when you go in, or won't "wait" if you have an armful of groceries and need some extra space, then work on it. If I don't want the dogs in front of me I use "wait" then "ok" when I'm ready for them to pass.

I've read a bit on dominant dogs - not sure if these traits also apply to pups. But things like bumping into you, invading your space, sitting on your feet or putting a paw on you, etc are all signs the dog is dominating. Ozzy does all of those things with me - not my fiance.

So, since he's displaying attempts to control you and not your fiancee, then you need to work with this pup pretty much exclusively. If I were you, I'd take on the role of his primary "giver"...giver of food, walks, play time, training. I'd have him tied to you for umbillical. I'd be asking my financee to largely ignore the pup so he can't turn to Daddy for help ("oh poor me, mean mummy is making me DO stuff!!!").

I understand he's a puppy and just learning and I'm trying to keep training positive with him for sure. However, I also don't want to dismiss this kind of aggression because I think it's important to nip it in the bud so it does not become an issue later. Plus being a rescue and possibly mistreated in the past, I feel it's important to establish early on who's boss around here.

Thanks again for ALL your comments - I accept constructive criticism no problem. Keep it coming! I really appreciate the support!


I think what you really have here is not an "aggressive" dog but a dog who is naturally making sure that a leader is in place when you two are alone. When your fiancee is there, it's him. You're not providing clear leadership, so he's acting like the leader...chosing what to do, when to do it, and bossing you around or scolding you when you're doing something he doesn't like.