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mouthing/barking/scared of other dogs

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Katieforian, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. Katieforian

    Katieforian PetForums Member

    Mar 18, 2011
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    Hi, im trying to iron out some of my 1 year old springer x cockers problems, and would be very grateful for any advise.

    Mouthing - He has always a nightmare for this, none of the usual techniques worked on him (stone/coins in a tin, yelping etc) we finally reduced his mouthing by standing up and ignoring him every time he did it, and from 6months old until recently he only ever did it when he was really excited. However in the last month he has started again and its getting worse the longer it goes on, he doesn't hurt at all but its very annoying and embarassing when theres visitors. I've tried standing up and ignoring him but it doesn't seem to work anymore, it makes him bark ALOT and jump up, i do carry on ignoring him during this but he just doesn't give up. Ive tried putting him in a 'time out' but as im pulling him out of the room he's mouthing at him hands to get away.
    Im not to sure which technique to use on him any more, no sound distracts him from it and he loves water (someone suggested to use a water pistol on him) so im assuming its either ignore him or 'time out' ? or is there anything else i can try?

    Barking - He's never been a barker until the last month or so, other than barking at cats in the garden (which i expect a bit) Most of his barking is him demanding, be it food, toys, attention, once again ive tried ignoring him and praising him when hes quiet but this can go on for 1/2 hour to an hour sometimes.

    Afried of other dogs - When he went on his first walk outside a big bullmastiff flipped him on his back in stigy nettles and growled at him, since then he's been scared of all dogs, big and small, he used to only have to see a dog in the distance and he'd run away yelping and crying. Thankfully he is better than that now, but if another dog does come up to him he either tries he hide behind me or rolls onto his back, he also urinates. I'd love him to have the confidence to play with other dogs but im not sure how to get him over it, ive tried ignoring him which didnt work and tried giving him high value treats when a dog is around him which didn't work as he wouldnt even take it off me.

    Vets - the vets is abit of a problem too, he'll wee all over the table and growl at the vet, he's never growled at anyone other than him, is this normal? all my previous dogs never cared about the vets so im abit lost on how to help the situation. I took treats last time but he wasn't interested in them and the vet basically told me it wouldn't work and it was a stupid idea.

    Sorry for such a long post,
    any help and ideas would be appressiated.
  2. Colette

    Colette PetForums VIP

    Jan 2, 2010
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    I would start off by saying continue as you are (standing up and ignoring him). the fact this makes him worse suggest an extinction burst - ie things get worse before they get better.
    Think of it like when the batteries go in your TV remote. You push the button (which usually works) and this time it doesn't. You push again. Nothing. So you keep pushing, harder and harder, until you finally accept you need new batteries - but only after fighting the remote first!

    There are two things you could try here;

    1) Wait it out. Very effective in the long term, but perhaps the most difficult to accomplish, as it can be infuriating, time consuming etc. Just remain still, don't move, don't speak, don't make eye contact etc. Wait as long as necessary until the dog calms down - at which point give a simple, well trained cue (eg sit) and praise quietly.

    2) The alternative is to make the removal of attention more pronounced. Rather than trying to put him out of the room (which you have said causes further problems) walk out yourself. Do not go back until the dog seems calm (ie not barking and jumping at the door). Move away from the door if necessary, maybe go upstairs.

    Solo was very mouthy with my mum, and frequently went for her trouser legs like a crocodile. Ignoring him in the usual way didn't help. So every time she simply walked out of the room (with the pup still hanging off her trousers if necessary) and closed the door behind her. When he stopped fussing, she went back in.


    The same two could be applied here, although if you are worried about your neighbours option 2 would probably be better.
    If his barking is a demad for something, make it quite clear that it won't work. Walk away and close the door behind you if he starts doing it. Do not go back until he has stopped.
    This should indicate fairly quickly that not only does barking fail to get him food or toys, it also causes him to lose any possible attention.

    It might also be worth teaching him "speak" and "quiet", I think there are a few threads on here with good links on how to do so.


    It is understandable for dogs to be afraid of the vets - they only ever go in there when something nasty is going to happen (needles etc), and the place must smell very strongly of sick and fearful dogs.

    It might be worth trying to desensitise him to the whole place. Trying to give treats when he is there is not going to work at this point, because he is already over threshold so is far too stressed to care about food.

    Instead, start much further out. For example, try just walking him past the vet surgery (without going in). Does he seem ok? If so, try rewarding him every time he simply walks past.
    the next step might be to walk him up to the front door (not going in), then simply turn and leave again. If this is ok, reward him at the door then leave.
    When you get to the stage that he is fine going to the vets, you can start to consider going in. Agai, keep it as simple as stress free as possible - open the door, walk in, say hi and walk straight back out. If he will accept treats, then reward him for entering the building, then leave again. If he won't accept treats inside, go back a step and build up again more slowly.

    The more he associates the vets with good things, the less fearful he will be.

    Another thing that might help is if you know any of the staff (the vet, receptionist, whoever) that might be willing to help. Would any of them be prepared to meet the dog outside in a neutral environment - eg on a walk? This could help him to associate the people as well as the place with pleasent experiences.

    I should emphasise that this sort of desensitisation should be very slow - never going faster than the dog can cope with. And whilst it is going on (over a period of weeks) the dog should not be exposed to the thing it fears - ie don't start trying to doing then take the dog for his jabs in the middle of it!

    As for other dogs - a similar principle applies; he won't take treats when he is over threshold, so instead you need to treat before he reacts, ie when he is far enough away that the other dogs don't bother him.
    That said, I would rather not give advice on dog-dog issues like this - you may be better off consulting a qualified behaviourist.
  3. Katieforian

    Katieforian PetForums Member

    Mar 18, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the great reply Colette :)
    Im not to sure if going out of the room would work to be honest as he already barks and jumps at doors if he is left in the room on his own even for a few minutes. He is a brilliant dog, great with kids, loving, very clever but he wants attention 24/7, he has an hour long walk a day, 30 minutes training doing tricks and we play fetch, tug and find it games during the day, is this enough for him? or does he actually have a reason for attention seeking? Being crossed with a working cocker and springer he is a very hyperactive dog.
    We did do 1-1 training at home with him when he was 4/5 months as he was such a live wire i felt lost on how to handle him, and it did work great, i think he must be hitting his teenage years :rolleyes::
    Thanks again, i'll definatly use your advise and tips!
    #3 Katieforian, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
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