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Puppy problems! Help!

katieg
April 20th, 2010, 10:46 AM
Hello everyone,
My name is Katie and I need your help! My boyfriend and I have a 6 month old Boston Terrier puppy named Rosa whom we absolutely love to death. But she has a few behavoiral issues that I would like to get some advice on. I'll put them in order of relevance and what I think are some of the biggest issues.

1. Socialization with People
Whenever someone new (not boyfriend or I) comes into the house she whines and barks and jumps up on them. She gets so excited that she starts nipping at their fingers. The same situation occurs EVERY TIME we pass someone on the street when we're going for a walk. What I try to do is get her to sit down before they say hi but I physically have to hold her bum down to make her stay. And even after we've done that, the minute I let go she launches herself at them. I was going to get her in some Obedience Classes but I feel like I can't seeing as there is no way she could concentrate with that many people in the room. She never bites hard but obviously it's an issue I'd like to deal with ASAP!

2. Biting
Rosa nips in two cases: when she gets really excited or when something's not going her way. For example when I bring her to her basket for a time out she'll nip at my hands because she's not happy about it. Again, she never bites hard but I want to cut off this behavoir as soon as possible.

3. Jumping on Counters/Table
The biting and socialization I think I know what I'm supposed to be doing. But this one I have no idea. Rosa loves to try and jump on the counter tops and the table to find stuff to chew. On the rare occasion that she gets something, she immediately runs under the couch because she knows she's not supposed to have it. Whenever I see her doing it I tell her to get off but the minute I turn around she does it again.

4. Barking
This one is not too much of an issue but worth asking about maybe. Whenever we're eating or when we're not paying enough attention to her. Rosa starts to bark and get down in the play position. I try to ignore her, because I think that's the best thing to do...but she gets herself so worked up she can't stop. It's especially bad when we're eating.

5. Constent Chewing
This is not a behavoir issue and I don't really mind it so much. But it drives my boyfriend crazy. Rosa has to be chewing something 24/7. Is this normal for a puppy her age? Will she grow out of it?

Any advice you can give me on any of these issues would be FANTASTIC! I'm in the process of doing some internet research as well. Thanks soooooo much!

~Katie and Rosa

MyBirdIsEvil
April 20th, 2010, 11:42 AM
Let me start with the easiest ones first.

Constant Chewing: Yes, that's normal for a 6 month old puppy. As long as she's chewing on something she's supposed to I'd be happy. Even some older dogs love to chew constantly, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as it's something they're allowed to chew.

Barking: She should be crated while you're eating. You may want to feed her her own dinner at the same time, that way she won't feel left out. It's not really fair to make her watch you eat because Boston Terriers tend to be VERY food motivated and also want to join into any activity, so you're just tempting her too much in this case.
As far as when you're not paying attention to her, this is a case of just ignore. The big thing here though is that she's an energetic puppy. She wants to join in with every activity you guys are doing. Since she likes to chew, and I'm guessing like treats, try getting her something to concentrate on to keep her occupied, like a toy that holds treats that she has to figure out how to get out, or a kong filled with something. Either way she needs something to concentrate on OTHER than you guys.

Jumping on counters and tables: She shouldn't have ACCESS to counters and tables while not supervised. This is simply true of ANY puppy. If she's able to get up on them and get stuff, then you need to:
Keep items that are tempting to her locked up. This is good for safety reasons anyway.
If there are things she's interested in you need to keep her NEAR YOU. You can do this by tethering her to you with a leash. This is a good way to teach manners anyway because she can't run off and do whatever she wants.

Biting: Does it seem aggressive or is she nipping playfully? I kind of suspect the latter. Are you picking her up to bring her to her basket? Don't do that. Do we pick up and carry large dogs? Nope. You don't need to do it with a smaller dog either. Keep a leash on her at all times and if you need to bring her somewhere use that to lead her. You also want to give her a treat when you put her in the basket. You shouldn't use a time out for punishment, it should only be used to allow her time to calm down. She shouldn't be stressed about going there.

Socialization with people: You're right that obedience classes with other dogs would likely be too much distraction for her. If you could get some one on one time with a trainer that would be better.
As far as her greeting people, she shouldn't be allowed to greet people on the street until she calms down. Right now she needs to learn to even pass people without getting too excited.
When people pass you can put her into a sit and allow them to pass. I know it's really hard to tell people "No you can't pet her" but it is necessary. Just tell them you're training right now and it's not appropriate for them to pet her.
It IS necessary to socialize her with people, but for one she doesn't seem to have an issue with new people as far as wanting to socialize with them, so it's more important to work on her getting overexcited right now than meeting tons of new people. You should be getting her to greet new people in a controlled environment indoors, because obviously new people on the street are just way overstimulating for her.
Keep working on her sit and other commands indoors with no outside stimulation for now. Then slowly move to working on it further and further away from her comfort zone. Once she's already out on her walk she's WAYYY too overstimulated to listen, so you need to work up to listening at that point by going slowly.

All and all it sounds like she's a normal puppy, so don't be worried. It will take awhile and a lot of vigilance to get the training down. I don't see any huge behavioral issues, just normal puppy behavior that needs to be corrected. :)

Stinkycat
April 20th, 2010, 01:42 PM
1. Socialization with People
Whenever someone new (not boyfriend or I) comes into the house she whines and barks and jumps up on them. She gets so excited that she starts nipping at their fingers. The same situation occurs EVERY TIME we pass someone on the street when we're going for a walk. What I try to do is get her to sit down before they say hi but I physically have to hold her bum down to make her stay. And even after we've done that, the minute I let go she launches herself at them. I was going to get her in some Obedience Classes but I feel like I can't seeing as there is no way she could concentrate with that many people in the room. She never bites hard but obviously it's an issue I'd like to deal with ASAP!
Mybirdisevil is correct. You need to sit her down the moment she starts getting excited. Put her in a sit until she calms a bit then bring her forward, she must realize if she's going crazy she doesn't get to see the person, if she's calm she gets to move forward! This technique has worked with our crazy border collie pup, it takes over a month of everyday training with EVERYONE, DO NOT break the routine! Just tell people that she jumps and you are training her, if they want to pet her she must sit to be pet, if she isnt' sitting, no pets.

2. Biting
Rosa nips in two cases: when she gets really excited or when something's not going her way. For example when I bring her to her basket for a time out she'll nip at my hands because she's not happy about it. Again, she never bites hard but I want to cut off this behavoir as soon as possible.
This is normal for a puppy, they explore everything by biting. Just when she bites say "no bites", in a firm tone, no need to yell. Then put your hand back and if she bites you again say "no bites" and walk away showing her you are displeased with her behavior.
3. Jumping on Counters/Table
The biting and socialization I think I know what I'm supposed to be doing. But this one I have no idea. Rosa loves to try and jump on the counter tops and the table to find stuff to chew. On the rare occasion that she gets something, she immediately runs under the couch because she knows she's not supposed to have it. Whenever I see her doing it I tell her to get off but the minute I turn around she does it again.
You need to be very firm with this behavior she is testing you and what she's allowed to get away with. When she's on the table make a loud clap with your hands or a quick sharp yell, it will startle her and she will start to realize that table = bad noise.

4. Barking
This one is not too much of an issue but worth asking about maybe. Whenever we're eating or when we're not paying enough attention to her. Rosa starts to bark and get down in the play position. I try to ignore her, because I think that's the best thing to do...but she gets herself so worked up she can't stop. It's especially bad when we're eating.
Quickly say NO NOISE. If she continues, put her in a down position and tell her to stay, when she gets up, put her back into a down position, you may have to do this 100 times before she gives in and falls asleep.
5. Constent Chewing
This is not a behavoir issue and I don't really mind it so much. But it drives my boyfriend crazy. Rosa has to be chewing something 24/7. Is this normal for a puppy her age? Will she grow out of it?
TOTALLY normal, get a wash cloth and soak it in chicken broth and roll it up kinda like a stick, put it in the freezer. Give it to her to chew on, it will soothe teething pups.

Any advice you can give me on any of these issues would be FANTASTIC! I'm in the process of doing some internet research as well. Thanks soooooo much!

Be consistent! do not let her get away with anything that you are training, tell your boyfriend this too.

katieg
April 20th, 2010, 03:00 PM
wow! Thanks so much for the quick response. I started keeping a leash on Rosa at all times and she's responding well so far. It's certainly helping with the reaching up on counters! I'm going to give this place a good clean today and make sure that there's nothing tempting on the counters.

I also bought her a few more chew toys (don't worry, she had plenty before) to occupy her a bit.

One more question:
Should I be using a harness or a collar. I've read in a few books that the harness is more comfortable for the dog (especially smaller dogs) but other material says that collars are better for training. Any opinions?

LavenderRott
April 20th, 2010, 03:09 PM
All my dogs wear collars all the time.

You need to find a good, positive dog training class and start going. Yes, your dog will probably have a hard time paying attention to you the first class or two. Once you "get in the groove" however, you will both benefit tremendously. You will also find that the things you learn in class - even if they seem completely unrelated - will help you immensely with the issues you are having in the house.

MyBirdIsEvil
April 20th, 2010, 03:33 PM
At 6 months a collar is fine. I would only use a harness on a young puppy that might hurt its neck pulling on leash, or on a dog that has throat issues.

Really, it's your preference and your dogs preference though. You can still train in a harness, and some dogs like them better. If your dog tends to lunge and choke itself on leash you can go with a harness at least temporarily.

With a collar all you need to remember is that a thinner collar is more harsh. A thicker collar will generally cause less choking problems. I don't use my flat collars for corrections much, so I use wide collars to prevent throat injury. I tend to use my hands and voice to get the dogs attention.

katieg
April 20th, 2010, 04:02 PM
Bought Rosa a collar and she's doing really well with it. Also signed her up for some obedience classes. I'll keep you guys updated! Thanks again for all the great tips!:thumbs up

Marcha
April 20th, 2010, 09:38 PM
Especially if your pup isn't listening, the classes will be great for you both. The instructor can step in and make suggestions right then and there. Sure, you might feel vulnerable, or perhaps embarrassed about her behaviour, but remember that that is exactly why you're there - to find better ways to communicate with your dog, and to show her your leadership.

So go for it, get her and yourself into those classes. Allow the trainer to make corrections and suggestions. Don't feel bad about them - embrace them! And remember that the majority of people coming to obedience classes are either there because they have a pup and are pro-active, or because they have an adult dog that needs reminders.

(oh, and I speak of experience of feeling embarrassed and vulnerable - and after the training I felt proud of the things we had accomplished!)

Mr.PupPups
April 22nd, 2010, 09:48 AM
Especially getting on the table and counter tops. Just get something that makes a loud noise. I have seen the high pitched beepers at the pet stores or you can make something that distracts her. When ever she does anything you dont want you use the distraction. You have to catch her in the act. THe first few times she may get spooked but it def works. You can use a coffee can with pennies. For the barking, I suggest a very humane bark collar. They have ones that just give a few warning beeps then a lite shock. If you dont like that,they have ones with citrinella spray. It is not cruel. You actually only have to use them maybe once or twice and they know when its on. I used one for years and kept it in the "off" position and just having it on worked every time. Good luck with lil Rosa :thumbs up