October 20th, 2010, 10:12 AM
I'm having a major problem with my 9 month old Aussie mix. I adopted her at 8 weeks. Have been through puppy training and used positive training with treats plus refusing to move any time she pulls on the leash. About 2 months ago she started occasionally going beserk on the leash where she would race wildly back and forth, jumping and growling. Haven't been able to pinpoint a trigger. Tried ignoring it and waiting until she stopped, then praising her when she was walking well again. As of last week, I can no longer walk her. Within 3 minutes of leaving on our walk she goes nuts. She has escalated to point where she is actually gnawing on my hands, leaving marks. If I hold her harness and pin her against my leg so she can't jump she stops, but she instantly starts up again. Done this many times. No improvement. Now, I want you to understand how long this goes on. She won't stop. I'm not talking about a few seconds. Last Friday I was almost in tears because I couldn't get her home. There's no way for me to transport her where she can't get her teeth on me. This morning same thing. I determined to walk close to the house and take her in immediately if there was a problem. She started up and I just ignored her and tried to walk her home (three houses down). She was hurting me. Just gnawing my arm with her teeth non-stop. Finally I just lost it and said "no!" and pushed her down on her side and pinned her for about 30 seconds. I did not hurt her or hit her, but I did put her on the ground. When I let her up she walked like dream. No more problem. I am torn. I'm not sure I feel good about that approach, but at the same time, it worked and I don't see how I can tolerate her EVER putting her teeth on anyone like that. There's a difference between play biting and biting and she was biting. Any suggestions?
October 20th, 2010, 10:19 AM
Pinning her to the ground is teaching her who's boss and that's you!!! I don't feel it's too harsh myself. See what the other doggie owners say. :dog:
October 20th, 2010, 10:45 AM
Aussies are known to have an incredible amount of energy...do you have a yard where you can get her to run some of it off before you go for walks? You might even want to consider bike riding with her at a steady pace for 5-10 minutes before walking. How about an agility class or something similar to help teach her to focus and get lots more needed exercise?
Without seeing her in action, it's impossible to tell if she's being aggressive with you. You might want to get the help of an experienced behaviorist who can see you interact and give you further suggestions.
Personally, I don't believe in pinning or alpha rolls because if it is indeed aggression she's displaying with you, you take the chance of escalating it.
October 20th, 2010, 11:26 AM
I am concerned that she needs more exercise. She gets (when she's behaving) a half hour walk/jog each morning and 10 minutes or so of backyard fetch in our medium to largish back yard. She can also go out throughout the day to play as she want. We've taught her to ring a bell hung by the back door when she wants to go out. As for whether or not she's aggressing, I don't think she's trying to attack me, but I do think she's trying to bully me. It's contradictory, though because she is normally a very submissive dog. It took her a long time to outgrow submissive peeing every time she met a new person. I want to note also, that while initially treat training worked very well and she knows several commands, we now seem to be at a point where whe will only work when she knows we have treats. Her attitude seems to be, "Show me the treat, and then we'll see". Except, for instance with her food. When we feed her, she runs to her bowl and sits. She waits while we fill it with the scoop and she will not eat it until we tell her "OK". Total respect there, perhaps because in that situation we have total control...
October 20th, 2010, 11:36 AM
It also sounds like she's starting adolescence and is testing to see how far she can push things.
You might want to try leash walking her in the yard so there's no distractions. Start from square one with basic leash manners.
If she gets too out of hand you can pop inside and teach her that her unwanted behaviour will lead to you leaving her and no more human interaction.
October 20th, 2010, 11:43 AM
If she's waiting for a bribe, then the technique of marker/reward training wasn't applied properly. If you get a chance, pick up a copy of "The Power Of Positive Dog Training" 2nd edition, by Pat Miller. It's easy to read and includes a training schedule I'm sure will help teach you how to apply the techniques appropriately. Would you be interested in attending more classes with her?
Aussies are working dogs bred and trained to work hours upon hours per day. You're definitely going to want to increase the exercise your girl is getting.
ETA: Leash walking is barely a warm up for high energy breeds. It's important to understand and know your breed.
October 20th, 2010, 03:03 PM
I have to agree with both the adolescent testing of limits (think teenage rebellion here) and not enough exercise/mental stimulation. This is a dog that needs a job or some sort of outlet. Can't add anything else to the sound advice already given except to hang on to your patience. Once properly trained these dogs make excellent and very rewarding companions. They take a lot of effort, but are very well worth every bity of it.
October 20th, 2010, 05:18 PM
Teenage rebellion. She's trying to see what will get her her way. She's also hyper-energised. Even if she goes nowhere, running back and forth at high speed and gnawing on you is super-fun and is draining her energy in small increments: therefore, it's rewarding in and of itself. You don't have to give a dog a treat or tell it it's good for it to be rewarded.
Honestly, I haven't looked up this issue, because I don't deal with it. All I can suggest is finding a way to interrupt this behaviour when it begins, immediately. Is she small enough to carry? Perhaps when she starts, you can pick her up and march her straight back into the house? If she's hurting you, try a simple leashloop muzzle. Get her inside, and crate her, so she doesn't get free reign to run wild and piddle on the floor. If you can't carry her, try putting yourself in her Path of Destruction.
I wouldn't suggest pinning her over and over again, as it can cause some major psychological issues in dogs. To be physically pinned to the ground, especially on the back, is a direct threat against their life. You're basically telling a dog you move bodily to the ground, "I am so angry with you, I am going to kill you." That's why you either get a dog that behaves afterwards ("I'm sorry, I'll stop, don't hurt me.") or a dog that becomes aggressive ("Think you can threaten me!" or, alternatively, "No no no, don't hurt me! I'm scared!").
October 20th, 2010, 09:20 PM
When I was showing my first cattle dog, back when I was young and active in other words, I would walk her 5 miles on her own as well as letting her have an hour twice a day running around with the other dogs. We also occassionally did road work, with me riding a small bike and her running beside me, on a leash. That was enough for a dog that wasn't hyperactive. Your girl needs more work for a start.
Next time take along a big soft toy, or something she likes to play with tucked under your jumper, and the minute she goes to bite you, give it to her. If she wants it, make her sit for it first. Praise her, let her carry it. Try and break that cycle of biting. Keep walking though. Walking decisively, don't give her time to think about play mauling you. My motto with animals has always been to not allow them to do things you don't want them doing. I will correct a dog firmly the first time it misbehaves, not when it's been doing it for ages and I've finally had enough. She sounds very playful but disrespectful with it. I use a harsh growling "Utt!!" sound (said quickly), staring them right in the eyes, to stop bad behaviour, you can tack on a "No" to reinforce, that seems to work with both my horses and dogs, but I say it and really mean it, and you must instantly follow with some quiet praise if they behave. Most learn quickly so this is rarely repeated. I have never dropped a dog, I think dogs can tell by your body language whether you are serious and in charge of the situation, but I also do not allow them to jump madly and grab at me. Old fashioned but I would jerk the dog down in a flash, then praise it of course. And, sorry if others disagree, I would jerk it down till it stopped that unruly behaviour. I have owned a hyper girl that couldn't keep her front feet on the ground but a combination of exercise and obedience training turned her into a great dog. This type of dog can be highly intelligent and just need firm guidance. Good luck, and I honestly wish I could be there to help you. I think you can use gentle methods with a gentle breed of dog, but some of the working dogs really need telling who is in charge, without being cruel to them.