- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Time for the Trainer!

March 23rd, 2010, 06:36 AM
Well, now Lola has decided to start snapping at us and caught me on my lip!! enough is enough, next Monday we start 7 weeks of training at the local vets.

Since the trainer told me to be more firm with her because she thinks she is alpha she has started being worse. I know it will take time but its made me really sad :(

March 23rd, 2010, 06:38 AM
:thumbs up Good for you for taking a proactive step!

March 23rd, 2010, 06:42 AM
*sigh*. I hate trainers that use words like "alpha" to describe behaviors.

I'm not trying to be negative, just keep in mind there are various reasons why she may be snapping. Either way, training classes are a good start.

As of right now, easiest thing to keep her from snapping at your face is to keep her away from your face. No reason she should be that close to it anyway. Don't pick her up (some dogs have issue with being picked up and this does not necessarily mean dominance issues. people almost never pick up large dogs, so why must we with small dogs?). Don't allow her to lay on furniture with you or on your lap or sleep in bed with you. These aren't punishments so much as just showing her where he place is and that she can't make those kind of decisions on her own anymore.

March 23rd, 2010, 03:27 PM
Good for you for taking training classes. Lots of people like to throw around the word "alpha" and "dominance" but that's a lot different than respect. Sounds like your dog doesn't RESPECT you and thus the snapping and biting. I started doing food exercises with my dog and umbilical cording him to me in house/yard. He never had a problem with snapping/biting me, but he didn't respect me enough to obey a command without me making him. Doing the above exercises made him WANT to please me. I hope the training sessions help you and your dog!

March 23rd, 2010, 07:24 PM
I found the words 'alpha' and 'dominant' to be very confusing for myself. Trying to be 'alpha' over the dog made me use an angry voice. But when I realized that I wasn't needing to be 'alpha', but I needed to be a *leader* instead, I became firmer but not angrier. It said everything about me, not about the dog. *I* determine what we're doing, not Bodhi. But I don't have to be angry about it. Just matter-of-fact. The umbillical training was the best thing for it. I decided it was time to move on (to the kitchen, to the living room, whatever), and what we were going to do (vacuum, do laundry, wash dishes, sit down, etc). She couldn't lie down if I wanted to go walk, and she couldn't go walk if I wanted to sit.

It didn't just change her mindset, it changed *mine*.

Other things we did - I decided when it was time for food, no food without some kind of 'trick' (sit, down, sit, down, stand, roll over, shake paw, down/stay, etc), and I made sure I had food when she didn't (I'd have lunch, and not give her any, no matter how much interest she had in my food). I go through the door first, I go up the stairs first, if she wants to go right, I go left (even if I turn around shortly after). I zig-zag across the street, or randomly walk back into the direction from which I came). If she wanted food, she didn't get any. If she wanted to go out, we didn't go. If she wanted to lie down, she couldn't because I'd hook her up and off we went. If she brought me a toy to invite me to play, I didn't. But then I'd randomly give her food, tell her to lie down, or invite her to play. I became unpredictable, and her attention turned to what I was doing, rather than what else was going on.

It was only a few days before she really got the message and started to pay attention. Without us prompting her, she'd start to wait for permission to get on the couch even though we hadn't been 'working' on her asking for permission.

I also made sure that I left her, even if I just went to the corner of the street and back again, or if it was her in the crate for 5 minutes while I had a shower or a cup of tea. Just because I could, no warning in advance, just 'oh, you're going in the crate', and 'oh, now you're coming out'. Oh, and all of this was matter of fact, not demanding or angry or 'bossy'. Just 'this is what you're going to do now'. Sometimes I'd gasp with 'horror' for her making a mistake, and she'd stop in her tracks and reconsider or self-correct.

Another little thing, that made a world of difference, was to speak *softly* to the point of whispering. I'd whisper a command, or whisper a 'good girl'. It helped *me* to break the idea of having to get 'loud' or 'bossy' to get my point across. And as time has gone by, I don't tell her all the time what I want. If she is going out, the door is simply not going to open until she's sitting. If she decides to lunge forward when the door is open, the door automatically shuts again until she sits in the same place where we started. If she's pulling to get to where SHE wants to be, I sometimes just stand still, waiting for her to sit and make eye contact with me to see what WE are going to do next, or I turn around and walk away from whatever it is that interests her.

Anyway, long post to share with you what the words 'alpha' and 'dominant' triggered for my own learning. The vast majority of dogs don't WANT to be a leader, and will wait for you to become one. And for me 'alpha' and 'dominant' triggered entirely inappropriate responses compared to 'leader' or 'the one who decides what comes next'. It's not about *asking* the dog to become 'submissive', or *asking* if you can become alpha, it's about just doing it, without fuss, without force. And umbillical and becoming unpredictable in what's next was wonderful for that.

By all means, the trainer will give you some great insights and ideas to help your Lola figure out her place. In the mean time, see what your own response is to the word "alpha", or to becoming the one who decides what's next.

March 23rd, 2010, 08:33 PM
Thank you SO much Marcha!! What a fab post! Yes you are right I think I started to shout, and maybe that is why she became worse. I did the umbilical today and it was great, no pees and poos in the wrong place and no traumatized kids with their pyjama pants pulled off :rolleyes:

I am going to put your suggestions into action and I think she will respond. :thankyou:

March 24th, 2010, 07:25 PM
Have you heard of NILIF? It means Nothing in Life is Free. It means Lola should earn her living. Lola does that by performing for you whenever you feel like it or she asks. You feel like giving her a treat? Lola has to sit first. Lola wants to play? She has to sit first. Lola wants to play bite? No go, she gets a time out. At a mere three months old I wouldn't presume to say she needs specialised training, or not, I don't see her. But I would be pretty surprised as she sounds like a normal puppy and puppies bite.

By the way, I said sit twice because at 3 months old I bet she doesn't know how to do much else. Remember, she is still very young.

I also abhor the words "alpha" and "dominance" but it does sound as if you need to learn how to act with a puppy. Classes will help you with that and they give you the opportunity to train under the huge distraction of other dogs. Good for you for realising you need the help of a trainer. Hopefully your trainer will mention NILIF. You can search for it too, there's lots here and on the internet.

My puppy would have bitten my lip too, if I had allowed it. He was a high energy little fireball and, honestly, I don't think I ever got a snuggle with him unless he was asleep. Until he learned bite inhibition I did not let my face get near his. He wasn't mean, he just thought kisses were bites. Dr. Ian Dunbar's lessons on bite inhibition might help you as well. You can read it here:;wap2

I'd also like to echo all the previous posts, good ideas there.