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Old August 29th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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Bailey_ Bailey_ is offline
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Location: Edmonton, Alberta
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Three months ago, my wife and I adopted a 16 month old cattle dog mix. He is about 40 pounds. We have known him and his litter mates since they were six weeks old. These puppies were housed together at an animal rescue. He lived there for over a year.
My first question to you is about the mother of these puppies. Was she still with them when she was six weeks old? MANY behavioral issues are the result of a pup being away from it's mother at an early age - generally anything before 7 weeks. They aren't taught how to properly socialize, or communicate. Much is lost on a dog when they don't have their Mother to teach them proper manners and language right from an early state.

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He was given daily attention by one primary care giver who owns the rescue. Volunteers would come out each week to play with the puppies, walk them, and socialize them.
This is "good" to a point. Unfortunatley a lot of 'volunteers' don't know how to properly handle a puppy which can also cause a lot of issues. While it is very important for the puppies to recieve human interaction, this can also cause a lot of things to go wrong - especially if these puppies are getting mixed signals by different handlers, some who may know how to properly interact with a puppy and some who don't.

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They spent time with other dogs and also with horses, pigs, turkeys, ducks, chicken, goats, and sheep. They were spayed/neutered, received all their vaccinations, and an excellent diet. At about 2-3 months old, a dog trainer started coming by once a week for puppy obedience school. They all learned how to sit and to walk on a leash. The trainer had some problems discouraging them from jumping and climbing up on people.
Jumping and climbing are classic behaviors for puppies who have not been handled properly, as I mentioned. These behaviors are very easy to avoid at first, but once the puppy believes that this is a way to 'interact' with humans, it becomes a learned behavior and is harder to discourage, though certainly not impossible.

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Now that we have had him for a few months, we see that Pete is extremely clingy and needy, though fails to exhibit many of the other separation anxiety signs. Whenever a person walks into a room where he is, he becomes instantly over-stimulated. Sometimes he urinates, but not often. He jumps all over the person--sometimes nearly knocking them over (which is quite the feat for a 40# dog). We have tried a number of things to discourage this behavior (from holding him up in an up position until he asks to be let down, having him sit and wait until he calms [you can literally wait 10 minutes and he will still not settle] before giving him attention, having the person go out and come back in the room so we can practice his greeting, trying to get him to learn to go to his bed with a treat each time somebody comes in, gently pushing him down until all four paws hit the ground and then giving him attention, associating four paws on the ground with treats and a clicker). I can honestly say that none of that has worked. My wife and I are horse trainers and farriers. We aren't completely inexperienced with animals and undertand operant conditioning using both positive and negative reward. My wife also worked for a small animal vet and for a kennel for a number of years. She has never seen the like of his resistance to learning. After three months he still repeatedly jumps all over us and everyone else. After repetive (and I do mean repetitive, very patient) training sessions, we went to negative reinforcement. We tried pinning him to the ground and asking for submission. That didn't work.

What exactly happened?

The only thing that has somewhat discouraged the behavior is a sharp "No!" with a light swat on the butt (not hard or painful, more like a newspaper swat) or a loud clap of the hands. I can literally walk out the door, close it, come right back in and the behavior starts all over again--taking him about 10-15 minutes to stop jumping.

The reason it doesn't work when you leave the house and come right back in is because it isn't teaching him anything. He's just learning that you are effectivley leaving and returning, and he's responding to that. In his mind, jumping was never discouraged - it was a normal way for him to interact with humans. Often times, dogs will jump as a sense of control. (Any time he pushes the physical limits towards humans he's testing the boundaries set for him. Again, this could be a result of bad socialization from a very early age. And by bad, I don't mean "none".)

This is only part of his issue. Basically, whenever he is around a person (any person), he cannot help himself. He'll try to sit right on them. Even with his body pressed hard against that person, he'll then slowly start to climb on them. First with one paw, then two.
Dominance, or rather, Pete trying to control the interaction - and you're right, this needs to be discouraged immediatley.

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He licks obsessively faces and hands.
Usually a sign of submission, though technically it could be out of stress.

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If a person shows attention to another person or animal, he'll insert himself between the two people and begin his slow climb.
We have both tried constantly since we got him to discourage this behavior by gently pushing him away and then holding him there. He will not relax. If we release the hold, he will go instantly to his wriggling, jumping, out of control state and it begins all over again.
He's not being told anything, you're just physically pushing him away. If you want him to stop, his behavior NEEDS to be redirected and innterupted before he can even approach the person. Pushing him, will only naturally make him want to increase his attempts.


I am fairly sure that your dog is exhibiting all these behaviors because of his social structure from when he first came to a shelter.

Dogs that jump/mouth/climb and in general are fairly needy, while going into an avoidance/submission state when YOU initiate the socialization, are basically big warning signs that they don't understand or have ever been given rules as to how to properly socialize. It makes them insecure when they don't feel in control of the time/moments that you place the more-than-normal amount of attention on them, which is why he'd react the way he does during your treat training sessions.

Pete initiates and controls most of the attention he recieves all the time; good or bad, he's associating this with people rewarding him.

I highly suggest finding a behaviorist in your area who can meet Pete and come to your home and help you work through this. It may be too difficult to attempt on your own.
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"If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater. . . suggest that he wear a tail."

Bailey (Labradoodle)
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