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Old August 29th, 2009, 12:28 PM
Robiguy Robiguy is offline
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Clingy, Needy Dog & Frustrated Owner

First, I apologize for this long post. However, I believe better suggestions would be given with a thorough, detailed explanation.

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. 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. 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. The trainer continued to work with them until the puppies left the ranch. All 6 puppies were housed together (a big dog run attatched to the entry way of a house--the puppies had free run to come and go in and out of the house as they pleased). Three of the puppies (all female) were adopted out by the time they were 6 months old. The three male puppies remained. Four days before we adopted "Pete" he was moved to a non-kill shelter where he and his remaining litter mates would have more exposure to potential adopters. Both the rescue owner and the shelter said the three young dogs made the transition with ease. We selected Pete because the other two male puppies acted highly submissive--very slinky and sulky around people. I would even say one of them was a potential fear biter... as he would slink down and then suddenly whip around at the person attending to him. Pete displayed none of these behaviors since we had known him. We would walk him at the animal rescue and he seemed to be a happy, well-adjusted dog.

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. 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.

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. He licks obsessively faces and hands. 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 will not just sit or lie quietly, even if he can see us. I know many people recommend that if a dog is clingy, not to give attention to the clingy behavior, push the dog away until the dog settles, and then give attention and praise. I get the theory and have had it work on other dogs. But not Pete. He just will not settle at all unless we completely ignore him--and I do mean completely. If we ignore him and he settles down and we give praise--either verbal or physical, he goes right back to his neurotic clinging and climbing.

I have tried getting him to focus on other things instead. When he becomes extra needy, I send him on a treat hunt in the room or work with him on tricks, rewarded with small treats--sit, lie down, shake. I thought he would become happier if he had a job to do. He has never been scolded during trick training time and we always try to make it a really fun affair (using the treats he loves and giving pets and pats). I have had to stop as he sulks, slinks, and becomes very guilty. He avoids making eye contact with me (or anybody that is trying to interact with him in this manner). Sometimes he'll suddenly flatten his body to the ground and run away like he's been hit. I know that where he came from he was never abused. This behavior seems to be getting worse and worse.

I should probably mention that whenever he is given physical attention of any kind, he becomes overly submissive and guilty. Never has he given a wag of his tail or a smiley face when he has been patted.

I do take him for several small walks each day and usually one long walk (he either jogs with me or goes for a bike ride). He is great on the leash and relaxes--no neurotic behaviors. He has had a few potty accidents in the house, but nothing consistent, and has not been spanked for those at all.

It does not appear that he enjoys doing much, however. He has no inclination to play fetch. He will take treats by hand, but if we try to give him a toy by hand, he will shrink away and run and hide. We have gotten him used to going for car rides (which he was terrified of at first). He has been consistently enjoying his car rides with us for about 6 weeks. All of a sudden a couple days ago, he refused to get into the car. He got panicky, flying around at the end of his leash, thrashing. Then he ran under the vehicle and hid. He eventually came out with much coaxing but had to be lifted into the car. Once inside he settled down. About two days later a similar thing happened but this time it was coming out of the vehicle. I had arrived at home and he just went ballistic--trying to force himself between the seat and door of the side opposite me.

It appears he cannot just relax around people. If somebody is in the room, he is literally climbing all over them. In the end, we have to remove him from the room. We try putting him in the backyard, but if he can see somebody, he barks and slams himself into the glass door. If we take him into a room where he cannot see anybody, he does settle really quickly and is largely not destructive.

I am getting very frustrated. I know there is always an adjustment period for a new dog--especially one coming from a rescue. I had thought, however, that we would see at least some progress by this point. We can do the same exercise with Pete just a few times or forty times in a row and he just doesn't seem to get any of it. I have previously trained three puppies how to be good, loving, family dogs with excellent manners--and they were wonderfully adjusted and very happy dogs. I know Pete didn't come from an abusive background and we have certainly never been mean to him. He just can't seem to let go of his neurosis. We are trying everything we know to do... but his neediness seems to only worsen, as does his guilty behavior. I would appreciate any help or suggestions.
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  #2  
Old August 29th, 2009, 02:21 PM
t.pettet t.pettet is offline
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Needy Dog

I think you need to find an experienced behaviourist who can do an unbiased evaluation, maybe your vet can suggest one.
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Old August 29th, 2009, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

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

Quote:
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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Old August 30th, 2009, 01:02 AM
Robiguy Robiguy is offline
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Thank You, Bailey

Thank you for taking the time to read my lengthy post and to offer observations and suggestions.

To my knowledge, the full litter--all 6 puppies--were removed from their mother at 6 weeks of age.

I see your point about volunteers not necessarily knowing how to adequately socialize pups.

If you were asking about pinning Pete to the ground to discourage the excessive jumping... My wife has done this with some kennel pups (about 6 months old) who had not been socialized and who were rather too aggressive in their play and greetings with people. One in particular responded well only after she pinned him to the ground and held him until he relaxed/submitted. She did this for 2-3 days and then the jumping behavior completely stopped.

We have tried doing the same with Pete. Asking for submission by pushing him to the ground (not angrily or with mean intent) and gently restraining him there until his physical energy settles. We would then slowly release the pressure, us being totally quiet and calm, retracting and distancing us from him by several feet. It would seem to work at having an immediate calming effect, but as soon as either we or he would innitiate any contact with him, the excessive jumping/climbing behavior begins again--yet with great enthusiasm.

I agree with Pete's climbing on people as him trying to be dominant and in control of the situation. I have to admit that while I try to remind everybody that interacts with Pete that this behavior is to be discouraged, there is some inconsistency. You bring up some excellent points. Fortunately there is a dog trainer center with several behaviorists just a block down the street. I will be seeking out their help and expertise. Thank you very much again.
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Old August 30th, 2009, 01:20 AM
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TeriM TeriM is offline
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Sounds like the behaviourist is a great idea .

Have you tried just turning around and standing still with your back to him until he settles? I have found that to be very effective with dogs that jump .
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Old August 30th, 2009, 01:24 PM
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Bailey_ Bailey_ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robiguy View Post
Thank you for taking the time to read my lengthy post and to offer observations and suggestions.

To my knowledge, the full litter--all 6 puppies--were removed from their mother at 6 weeks of age.

I see your point about volunteers not necessarily knowing how to adequately socialize pups.

If you were asking about pinning Pete to the ground to discourage the excessive jumping... My wife has done this with some kennel pups (about 6 months old) who had not been socialized and who were rather too aggressive in their play and greetings with people. One in particular responded well only after she pinned him to the ground and held him until he relaxed/submitted. She did this for 2-3 days and then the jumping behavior completely stopped.

We have tried doing the same with Pete. Asking for submission by pushing him to the ground (not angrily or with mean intent) and gently restraining him there until his physical energy settles. We would then slowly release the pressure, us being totally quiet and calm, retracting and distancing us from him by several feet. It would seem to work at having an immediate calming effect, but as soon as either we or he would innitiate any contact with him, the excessive jumping/climbing behavior begins again--yet with great enthusiasm.

I agree with Pete's climbing on people as him trying to be dominant and in control of the situation. I have to admit that while I try to remind everybody that interacts with Pete that this behavior is to be discouraged, there is some inconsistency. You bring up some excellent points. Fortunately there is a dog trainer center with several behaviorists just a block down the street. I will be seeking out their help and expertise. Thank you very much again.
Glad to hear it!! The only thing I can reccomend is for your family to do your own research about what training techniques and methods you believe in - and seek out one of the behaviorists that follow those. Many train differently and have variying opinions about how to rehabilitate a dog, so make sure their thoughts coincide with what YOU agree with.

If you yourself are noticing inconsistancy with training, most likely so does Pete - which is why anything you and your wife have tried to do with him has not essentially succeeded long-term.

The few points I could advise you to start doing while you seek out the help of a trainer would be to stop talking to Pete - unless you're giving him a command.
Try to put him on umbillical when you're having guests over, and that way you cut the chances of Pete attempting to climb or jump on them.
Absolutley DO NOT let him initiate any attention or cuddling, until your trainer tells you otherwise.

Ensure that any physical attention you do give him is *very* calm. (Don't talk to him while doing so, and massage his chest in slow circular motions - not his belly, but the area just below his neck.)

Keep us posted as to your experience with your trainer! I have no doubt in my mind that Pete is in the best possible home. It's obvious how much you care for him, and you have a good knowledge of animal behavior which is really important for Pete's current situation.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 04:56 AM
marta84 marta84 is offline
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I think it's over complicated

The dog associates attention with being told off and Lots of fuss, the way I understood it. Have you tried simply ignoring him? I mean, for example when he tries to sit on you/ your friend just stand up and turn around, ignore, no attention?
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Old March 16th, 2013, 07:38 AM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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Marta, bless your heart for trying to help, but this thread is three and a half years old.
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Old March 22nd, 2013, 11:06 AM
minmin12 minmin12 is offline
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Thumbs up Hi

I agree with all the people regarding a behaviourlist I have to with my puppy and he is 5 months old. I am unable to socialize him with people or other dogs as he goes cuckoo. You are 95 steps ahead of me trust in the behaviourlist these people are awesome
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