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Puppy and older dog troubles ...... please help

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Hector's Mum, Apr 2, 2011.


  1. Hector's Mum

    Hector's Mum PetForums Newbie

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    We bought Hector home 4 weeks ago to join our 11 year old dog, Bob. Bob is a collie x flat coat and Hector is an Italian Spinone.

    I really need some advice with training ideas to help them get along better together. There are not at each other all the time at all, but when Hector goes towards Bob, Bob starts grumbling and then Hector starts barking (playfully with his front legs down and bum in the air) and then Bob starts barking (not so playfully with his teeth showing sometimes) and it goes on and on.

    To begin with I thought it was best to let them sort themselves out and for Bob to show Hector who's boss, but I don't think this is working. Hector will start biting Bob (playfully I hope, as a puppy would) and Bob really starts barking at him and a couple of times has just caught him on the nose :eek:

    Over the last 3-4 days, I have sat down on the floor with them, praising Bob all the time when Hector is near him and he usually just lays there letting Hector climb over him, then Hector will start biting him and Bob starts grumbling. What do I do at this stage, I've tried getting Hectors attention, but he is oblivious to me and then they start barking at each other!!!

    As much advice as you can give me would be great as I'm really stuck with this one. I should say that Bob only has 3 legs so is not as mobile as a 'normal' dog would be, but I'm not sure if this is a factor.

    THANK YOU :D
     
  2. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    You've said you praise Bob when Hectar is near him and he's calm, but what about the other way around?

    If you're not going to leave them to it and let Bob show Hectar whose boss, then you need to do it. You need to teach your puppy that it's not ok to bite your older dog, just as you're teaching your older dog that it's not ok to be negative to your puppy.
     
  3. Hector's Mum

    Hector's Mum PetForums Newbie

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    Very good point, I hadn't looked at it from that point of view. Thanks :001_smile:
     
  4. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    You probably need to limit the time Hector can molest Bob! I don't think trying to correct an excited playful puppy is a great idea, because you may well find that it stokes up the excitement, and staying calm and teaching a tricky pup calm behaviours works out well even where "corrections" are brushed off and ignored.

    Hector's not giving you attention, because he's got over-excited, so the trick is to avoid it getting to that point, but act earlier and engage him into a calmer activity.

    Hector needs to be taught what you do like him doing, and be rewarded for those calm behaviours, just as you're trying to reward Bob for being patient. Hector's a pup, wants to play, so I'd find some good toys something like the Kong Tennis on a rope, that he can bite and tug as a distraction.

    Bob is probably "correcting" Hector, long before the really grumbly stage, and it's being ignored. So I would try removing Hector, for very brief time out, when he's likely irritating Bob to reinforce Bob's discipline and avoid escalation to a higher level. Bob's an old dog, and he didn't get a say in having an exuberant puppy joining his cushy household, it's hardly surprising he's not in the mood for all the play etc.

    Can you find Hector some younger dogs who enjoy playing with him, at a group? It is not wrong for them to play wrestle, and nip at each other, and they learn to control it. Dr Iain Dunbar has written some great stuff explaining bite inhibition and why puppy nipping is important in development The Bite Stops Here by Dr Ian Dunbar and Puppies and play are virtually synonymous

    Play is best begun in short bursts, with a calming interruption after 15-30 seconds, older dogs who've played frequently as pups, learn to self limit - note the frequent brief pauses and turn taking in this play sequence 2 11 month old dogs playing, which is why they could be left to get on with it. Zoom Room Guide to Dog Play Gestures is helpful to see to.

    The Spinone's are large and can be vigorous, my dog played with a 6 month old one, but ignores him now, because I think he (probably) correclty perceives and injury risk with the larger, over exuberant 9 month old puppy. On other hand though, his somewhat smaller sister was acting much calmer, growing up with an older Spinone dog.

    I really do help you get progress on the calmness, because the owners of the one I mentioned, appear to have bitten off more than they can chew, risking dislocations and such, as he is a real handful and prone to sudden lunging.
     
    #4 RobD-BCactive, Apr 2, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  5. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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  6. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Have you ever seen the article on the levels of dog correction, as part of an explanation why Humans are awful at correcting dogs, because dogs are far more subtle?

    If you haven't I'll try and find it an post a link.

    There's a reason why there's an adult Lab bitch, at the best local puppy romp, who's called in to police that and even puppy classes if there's an unruly pup.
     
  7. Hector's Mum

    Hector's Mum PetForums Newbie

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    Once again, thanks for all the advice.

    I will start asap on the positive reinforcement for good behaviour towards Bob. I did wonder about removing Hector from the situation, but didn't know if just removing him wouldn't actually teach him not to do it (I hope that made sense!!!). I have been using clicker training with him, which he is very responsive to, but also good praise and treats work well also.

    Poor old Bob :rolleyes::
     
  8. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    I don't know the ins and outs of dog interaction theory - I've never had to go into it. All the dogs in my household growing up got along fine. We never had the question of whether to intervene or not.

    Just reading the post the reinforcement seemed one sided - so if the OP had already decided to get involved in the dog's interactions with one another then I thought the training should be more balanced. That's why I posted what I did.
     
  9. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    I'm sorry, I'm struggling finding the exact page I had in mind. I'll turn it up eventually. The thing is, when people try to stop a dog doing something, they tend to try a stern & loud (to doggy ears) "No!". You may have had something else in mind "You need to teach your puppy that it's not ok to bite your older dog", but unless you suggest how to teach that, the natural human response is a sharp verbal disciplinary correction, which tends to make the Owners seem emotionally unstable and unpredictable to the dog rather than trustworthy.

    (NO, DONT DO THAT! DOESN'T WORK)
    How to make dog training corrections

    If you compare the complexity of Info How to Properly Discipline Dogs then you may agree that it is expecting too much of non-experts to manage effectively.

    The basic problem is that what us Humans tend to do is get stern, and shout a "No!" which is about level 5 out of 7 for dog, equivalent to warning barking and rather high on the scale. Level 7 if I remember is an attack. They use behaviour like ignoring & blocking, to avoid escalation but communicate quietly objections to rude behaviours.

    The thing is some dogs are playing cricket and others enjoy plaing rugby, so just like in Human games and sports, play needs to be balanced and consent obtained, with everyone allowed to decline. It's not that "biting" is bad, just like rugby tackling someone is not always a "bad" behaviour, but can save your team or earn you a medal if done appropriately.
     
    #9 RobD-BCactive, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  10. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    You're really trying to manage his excitement, and help him learn to listen to the things Bob's communicating. The fun stops, if Bob's patience is pushed too far, rather than Bob being expected to be super tolerant of puppy-rampage.

    The Zoom Room play clip is good for helping spot what goes on, and help keep your pup out of trouble. It does seem like an awful lot of stuff to take in though!
     
    #10 RobD-BCactive, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  11. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    I agree just saying no won't help. But as I said previously, I've never had this problem before so I didn't want to suggest any strategies as i've never actually tried them out for this situation.

    Also, since the OP seems to have got the idea to reward the older dog when calm around the puppy, I assumed that this would be extended to rewarding the puppy when calm around the older dog. In full I did say "You need to teach your puppy that it's not ok to bite your older dog, just as you're teaching your older dog that it's not ok to be negative to your puppy". Hinting that the same method could be used for both dogs.

    But I take your point - I didn't suggest an actual strategy, but I had my reasons for not doing so.

    I'll leave it to people who have actually experienced this problem to help more directly.

    I just posted my 2 cents because I saw the problem described from a different point of view - which the OP appreciated. :)
     
    #11 Helbo, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  12. Rottiefan

    Rottiefan PetForums VIP

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    It's good that you have clicker trained Hector. You can, then, keep Hector on a lead, let him near Bob (without interacting) and click for calm behaviour, not focused on Bob. A few repetitions of this will hopefully get your pup's attention and allow Hector to walk past Bob without straining to interact. As soon as this is quite consistent, decrease the distance. Play games with Hector around Bob, as well as click for calm behaviour.

    Occasionally, for an added reward you can let Hector sniff Bob calmly, for no more than a few seconds, then take him away. If Hector gets over-excited, take him away for 30 seconds-1 minute and leave him isolated.

    The way I see it, you want Hector to learn that interacting with Bob is not that big a deal. Of course, calm interaction is good, but it's unlikely that he's going to be calm all the time, especially if you are around.

    As has been said, limit their time together. Supervise Hector whenever he's near, have a clicker and food bowl at hand, and reward any behaviour that is calm and disinterested in what Bob's doing.

    You can learn to do obedience training around Bob, maybe even some distance signals too, to teach Hector that there are far more interesting and reinforcing stimuli around than Bob.

    Number 1 objective, though: supervise their time together and don't let Hector have free reign of Bob with you not there. Maintenance and prevention needs to be strict to avoid any undesirable behaviours being practised, as you can be sure at Hector's age that he will do them if allowed! :D
     
  13. Hector's Mum

    Hector's Mum PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks everyone.

    I would say that 99% of time Hector ignores Bob, it's just those odd times that Hector seems to realise that Bob is there and wants to play. I have been keeping a very close eye on them though and have the clicker at hand when I can see that Hector is taking an interest in Bob. He gets clicked a praised for just looking and sniffing Bob, but as soon as he goes near his tail or back legs or goes down on his two front legs, the toys come out and he gets distracted. It seems to be working as I have not had to remove him at all. :D

    I just wish everyone in the house was singing from the same song sheet as me though!! Hubby brought me a cup of tea up in bed this morning and within a couple of minutes I could here the dogs barking at each other. I asked him where Hector was and he said in the living room with Bob!!!!!! I said we can't leave them together like that and he said 'you have to leave them to work it out' :mad: Yes, because that has been working!!!!!!!!

    Thanks again
     
  14. Rottiefan

    Rottiefan PetForums VIP

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    Yes, this is the problem with households, unfortunately. You need to get everyone doing the same routine though- it's imperative! :)
     
  15. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    The first bit's great. I guess Hubby will clean any house training accidents when the pup's unsupervised in living room? :D

    What happens if you wait to see how Bob responds to the play invite with the play bow? Ideally Hector listens to Bob's answer and accepts if he doesn't want to know, rather than clambering on him and such. Once Hector's calmed down and able to learn, what's on and what's not, then you ought to be able to intervene less and less, as Hubby hopes for.

    You really don't want them in the habit of barking at each other though. That would get so irritating so quickly. I guess they would have stopped already if they were going to, without some behavioural intervention "sorting it out themselves".
     
    #15 RobD-BCactive, Apr 4, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  16. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Point fully taken, I did hope you meant that, I still hope to find the article that was posted here in past on this though, I think you'ld enjoy it. :)

    I'm still pondering how one can "teach a negative though", like say a coach of a beginners junior football team wanting to cut out dangerous tackles. You could simply try punishing the players for bad tackles, tell them off if they kick, or lunge, 2 footed off ground; but that's likely to make them hesitate to tackle at all and they probably would resent the coach, and tackle badly when they're not supervised. To really do it, you need to teach good tackling technique, things like using 1 foot, stay on feet, time it etc etc Then practice, practice. Then if they learnt Rugby then there's new way to tackle, which is allowed in one context, but not in football.

    If you think about it, there's a lot more to it than simply "biting is not ok".
     
    #16 RobD-BCactive, Apr 4, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  17. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

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    I agree - and like I said. I haven't experienced this personally so I didn't want to suggest strategies or go into too much detail.
     
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