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-   -   Puppy "Temper Tantrums" (http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=71206)

serenamlambe June 30th, 2010 02:06 PM

Puppy "Temper Tantrums"
 
Once again, looking for some information and input from all you experienced dog owners out there.

Lately, I've noticed that Keely (our 2 pound, 10 week mixed breed puppy) has, well, what could be described as "temper tantrums."

Sometimes when we pick her up or hold her collar to attach the leash, she growls and occasionally will nip at us. Other times, she is perfectly calm when being picked up. I haven't really been able to determine exactly what causes her to get upset, but I'm assuming that sometimes she just doesn't want to be held? Unfortunately for her, I am the boss in this household! Hahaha. :D

We are going to puppy training classes with her and I will be mentioning this to the trainer when we go next time, but since class is canceled this week, I figured I would try to get some advice on here in the meantime.

We have been doing the "massages" with her every second day - holding a treat in front of her and then touching her ears, back, tail, etc. Trying to get her used to being picked up and handled. She seems to be doing better, but any other ideas or suggestions would be welcomed!

I'm trying just to stay calm when this happens and ignore it. But I'm not sure if this is the best response? Should I be correcting her in some way?

We have tried the 20 second time-out in the bathroom, as suggested by our trainer, but I will admit that we haven't been consistent with this because we wanted to ask the trainer again if this is the right response for this particular problem. It seems to calm her down, nonetheless.

Okay, this is getting long. Thanks in advance!

BenMax June 30th, 2010 02:32 PM

They don't understand time outs so forget that completely - it does not work.

Correct the pup when growls and nips. This is important to ensure that the pup understands that this is not acceptable. Correction however does not mean hitting or putting in a crate.

Hopefully LuckyPenny will sign on and assist you as she has extensive experience with puppies. I cannot as I am only adult oriented and my method will not be the same for puppies.

More advice I am certain will come from other members more puppy savvy. In the meantime - good luck and I will continue to read this thread to get pointers myself.:thumbs up

Rgeurts June 30th, 2010 03:29 PM

Oh!!! I need that kind of advice as well! Nanook is the same. He throws temper tantrums, runs in circles growling nd biting his tail and hind legs and sometimes on the end of the leash he will jump and spin in circles, snarling and biting. He's getting harder to keep away and has bitten me a few times :eek::eek:. He also bites badly when we play with him (I think he was taken away from his mother/siblings way too young). We started training but had to stop because of the seizures and now have no idea what the proper way to correct this behavior is. He's just over 50 pounds now at 4 months, so we need to do something! If you find out Serena, let me know lol. :shrug:

serenamlambe June 30th, 2010 03:34 PM

Looks like I asked a good question! Hahah. I know Keely was definitely taken from her Mom and siblings too early, so we might have that in common, Rgeurts. Maybe why we're having this same problem!

Hope to figure something out soon. It doesn't happen too often, but I want to fix it as soon as possible!

tenderfoot June 30th, 2010 07:34 PM

Ben Max - for not being puppy savvy you are right on with your response.

You should try to pick this pup up fairly frequently and in repetition. Mild complaining on the pups part can be ignored and she will learn it is a waste of her energy to complain. Nipping, growling and snarling will get a correction (don't go overboard though) and when she calms down then she gets released. She needs to learn that calmness wins - not tantrums.

Good that you are doing lots of massaging and hands-on work, but try not to bribe her every time. Treats are fine but don't rely on them as she can get to the point of only being good if there is a treat involved.

We aren't keen on 'time outs', they can calm a dog down in the moment but it is a slow way to teach, and she is not sitting there contemplating the behavior that got her into 'time out' like a child would. Better to simply give her an appropriate correction and go right back to what you were doing. She will start to see a pattern in your responses and LEARN what is permitted and what is not. You should always go back to the circumstances that created the behavior so that she is given repeated opportunties to make a better choice and when she does give her lots of soft, warm praise.

serenamlambe June 30th, 2010 07:57 PM

What would you suggest as an appropriate correction? Our trainer has suggested spraying water or shaking a pop can fill of pennies. Both are starting to lose their effectiveness, I have found!

tenderfoot July 1st, 2010 09:56 AM

The 'can shake' or the 'water squirt' can work in the moment but what is she learning? To respect the can or the water bottle - not you. And the handiness of either item is not realistic - are you going to carry those around forever? And as you said they lose their value over time.

If you are reaching for the collar and she gets super snarky - best to keep your hand on the collar and look her in the eyes and say 'quit' or 'easy' in a firm tone and wait for her to relax. If you let go of the collar you are teaching her that snarky behavior works and you will back off so she will do it more. The second she relaxes you should relax even more but keep your hand on the collar. Hook the leash on to the collar and start over but now you have the leash on so she can't get away. You need to touch her collar and hold it calmy many times. Go in with your hand and calmy hold the collar, if she reacts badly then give a quick correction and then wait for her to relax when she does then praise her and release the collar. But you have to do this repeatedly until she no longer reacts to having the collar touched. You can give the occassional treat when she is very good.

You should also be doing 'mouth massages' on her. You should be able to get a finger into her mouth and massage her gums and lips. You are showing her that her mouth has no power over you and you are desensitizing her to being touched in a sensitive area.

BenMax July 1st, 2010 10:05 AM

[QUOTE=tenderfoot;933058]You should also be doing 'mouth massages' on her. You should be able to get a finger into her mouth and massage her gums and lips. You are showing her that her mouth has no power over you and you are desensitizing her to being touched in a sensitive area.[/QUOTE]

Very interesting Tenderfoot. I have heard of this before. Is this considered T-Touch?

serenamlambe July 1st, 2010 10:55 AM

[QUOTE=tenderfoot;933058]The 'can shake' or the 'water squirt' can work in the moment but what is she learning? To respect the can or the water bottle - not you. And the handiness of either item is not realistic - are you going to carry those around forever? And as you said they lose their value over time.

If you are reaching for the collar and she gets snarky - best to keep your hand on the collar and look her in the eyes and say 'quit' or 'easy' in a sharp tone and wait for her to relax. If you let go of the collar you are teaching her that snarky behavior works and you will back off so she will do it more. The second she relaxes you should relax even more but keep your hand on the collar. Hook the leash on to the collar and start over but now you have the leash on so she can't get away. You need to touch her collar and hold it calmy many times. Go in with your hand and calmy hold the collar, if she reacts badly then give a quick correction and then wait for her to relax when she does then praise her and release the collar. But you have to do this repeatedly until she no longer reacts to having the collar touched. You can give the occassional treat when she is very good.

You should also be doing 'mouth massages' on her. You should be able to get a finger into her mouth and massage her gums and lips. You are showing her that her mouth has no power over you and you are desensitizing her to being touched in a sensitive area.[/QUOTE]

Thanks so much for the great advice! She's been doing better already. :) I was able to touch all over her face today with no growls and put her leash on her, as well.

The gum/teeth massage is a great idea. I've started brushing her teeth and this is one time when she gets particularly growly. She does calm down eventually, but it takes me being quite firm. Maybe if I do the teeth/gum massage a bit more, she'll get used to her mouth being touched.

luckypenny July 1st, 2010 02:35 PM

Puppies don't need physical corrections. Rather than punishing Keely for reacting to something she doesn't like, how about teaching her to like it so she doesn't react with her teeth at all? You want her to trust your hands...to trust you...not to see them/you as a threat. Most dogs aren't comfortable about hands in their faces, over their heads, on their necks. Teach her to enjoy it, not fear it.

You mention you do "massages" with her every second day. Instead, do it every day, 3, 4, 5, times a day lasting only 5-10 seconds each and gradually increase the amount of time every week. Do not hold treats out in front of her. Keep them in a pocket, treat bag clipped to your pants, or on a counter, somewhere out of her way but within easy reach for you. Treats/rewards are not bribes (and should never be used as such) if used correctly. They can be used to lure a new behavior (eg. sit) without physically manipulating a dog. Once the behavior is learned, treats are no longer used as lures but as reinforcers for a job well done.

- Touch her collar, treat/praise. Repeat randomly throughout the day several times over a couple of days.
- 2-3 days later, hold her collar for 2 seconds, treat/praise. Repeat randomly throughout the day several times over a couple of days.
- Hold collar for longer periods of time (as long as it takes you to get a leash on), treat/praise. Repeat......
- Pick her up, put her down immediately, treat/praise. Repeat...
- Hold her, gradually increasing time by 2-3 second increments, treat/praise. Repeat...

Use this method with everything new you'd like to teach her including massages, touching sensitive areas including the mouth, ears, feet, etc.

Within a short time, Keely will welcome you touching her collar and attaching her leash because she's learned to associate it with pleasure. Correcting her will only serve to teach her to not warn/protest...do you really want to extinguish warning signals? She may not bite/nip you in the future but what's to prevent her from doing so without warning so to a vet who touches her? Or worse yet, to a toddler? Wouldn't you rather she enjoy the process?

Eventually (as soon as she's learned the desired behavior), you can wean her off the treats, but don't eliminate them altogether. Variable reinforcement acts like an insurance plan to guarantee future desired behaviors. In the case of touching her collar/putting her leash on, going outside for walks/playtime will soon replace treats as the primary reinforcers. Same for massages...she may learn to look forward to touch so much that the process itself will become the reinforcer.

As for time outs...you instantly have to say "no" or "too bad," leave her where she is and walk away ignoring her for 2-3 minutes. It has to happen in the moment. Picking her up (something she already dislikes at this point) and taking her elsewhere takes too long. Being ignored by you and left on her own the instant she performs an undesired behavior is more effective than physically correcting her.

I know I mentioned this before but, you have some of the best training facilities in the country in Ottawa. If you're unable to attend with your dogs, at least try to sit in on a puppy class (most places allow you to do so for free) to get a idea of how, and why, marker/reward based training is a most effective method.

In addition, please take the time to read, After You Get Your Puppy by Ian Dunbar [url]http://www.dogstardaily.com/files/AFTER%20You%20Get%20Your%20Puppy.pdf[/url] and pick up a copy of Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor [url]http://www.dogwise.com/ItemDetails.cfm?ID=dtb116[/url] .


BenMax, to explain what TTouch is all about: [url]http://www.lindatellingtonjones.com/whatisTTouch.shtml[/url] There is a certified practitioner nearby you if you ever want to experience it "hands on" [url]http://www.ani-mo-tion.com/ttouch-e.htm[/url] .

serenamlambe July 1st, 2010 03:40 PM

Thanks for the advice, luckypenny. I will definitely follow your suggestions.

I have been doing touching exercises with her everyday, with and without treats. I use the term "massage" to describe a "full body" massage, I guess, that takes about 3 to 5 minutes. She's always quite good during these things. But yes, I have been briefly touching her collar, touching ears, picking her up, and rewarding her when she is good. I'll continue to do this.

Since she started protesting to being picked up/having her collar held, I've been trying to handle her a lot more. And I have noticed that she is becoming happier about it. She seems to approach me a lot more and wants to come up on the bed/couch with me. It might be that I am spending more time home now, too, as I am off on summer holidays.

And since she has been going on walks more, she is more keen to sit still for the leash to go on. She's quick to catch on! She's only growled once today - first when I picked her up this morning. But since then has been good about the touching.

As for the training classes, I will try to look into some other ones to sit in on. We're doing a class at PetSmart (only because it was the closest place to where we live and the only place we could walk to or take a cheap cab ride to) and it's based on positive reinforcement. We have been doing the marker/reward training, as far as I can tell. She has just mentioned the shake can or water bottle for corrections, along with a verbal correction. We haven't physically manipulated the dogs, but instead have used treats to help guide them to lie down or sit or whatnot. Hopefully we're doing the right things!

Again, thanks for the help :)

tenderfoot July 1st, 2010 05:33 PM

Food can be great to get things rolling but often a fearful dog is too scared too even look at food. The food can help to create a positive association to the holding of the collar, but it doesn't neccessarily change the dogs reactive nature when they are scared.

Dogs have a few choices when they are scared - fight, flight, or freeze. Your pup is choosing fight to stop you from holding her. You want her to learn to think instead. If she learns to stop and think through problems and look to you for advice then she will grow to become well adjusted and calm.

Remember it all comes down to love, trust and respect. She isn't trusting you when you go for her collar. Your calmness will help, repetition will help and teaching her that calmness (not fighting) will always win.

Correcting a puppy is perfectly natural and appropriate sometimes - the mother dog does it all the time. That is part of her routine for teaching a puppy bite inhibition, she will give several warnings and then say "enough". The mother always tries to use the least amount of energy at first and then increases gradually as the puppies behavior requires it. The puppy doesn't fear the mother for correcting her but learns to respect the mothers consistency. The key is that you use the right amount of energy when correcting - DO NOT scare the puppy but be clear. If you aren't clear then the puppy will simply blow you off and continue doing as she pleases.

You want to be able to build trust, and through repetition show your puppy that you don't have bad intentions, and you will love and praise her for staying calm and relaxed.


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