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wondering where to go from here

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Shadowrat, Nov 13, 2012.


  1. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    As some may remember, my 10 month old dobe developed a bad habit of jumping up and nipping arms, thighs etc when he turned 9 months, but ONLY when on lead.
    He never does this in the home, or when free running at the park, seems to be purely a lead issue. Prior to this, he was fine on lead. It seemed to coincide with the onset of adolesence.
    There is never any growling, any snarling or any 'aggressive' behaviours, it seems to be either an over stimulation/excitement thing, or sometimes a stress thing if he was unhappy and I wasn't picking up on it.

    I had such issues with this out of the blue behaviour that I couldn't lead walk him because it became a complete struggle. I've tried lots to try and curb this behaviour, I've waited for calm then treated and rewarded and tried to walk on (didn't work, he'd either not be interested in the food or calming down, or if he was, he'd start up again as soon as we walked on, and it is vitrtually impossible to endure this kind of thing; it hurts!)

    I tried stopping dead still when he started so he learned we weren't going anywhere while he did this. Didn't work, he'd just carry on, he wasn't phased by us not going anywhere, it didn't bother him.

    The only way I could control him when he did this was to hold his collar tight and virtually lift him off his front feet and walk him on. There was no other way. And I couldn't just stand there and let it happen.

    I tried tethering him to a nearby fence or similar and walking a few feet away, but this didn't work as he'd just go back to it each time I returned, and also relied on there being somewhere suitable to tether him as soon as it started, which wasn't often possible.

    I even tried a firm 'no' and a lead jerk to just try to get his attention, but that never made any difference when he was in that zone.

    In the end, the only way I could walk him on lead was with a dogmatic head collar and double ended lead. That seemed to prevent this behaviour, and was a bit of a godsend!
    You could tell sometimes that he still wanted to do it, but so far, no issues with that behaviour on the dogmatic.

    Im the one who primarily works with Dresden, particularly on lead.
    My husband doesn't lead walk him at the moment as he can't deal with that, so he is the one who takes him to the park for his off-lead runs, where he is always fine.

    But today, he took Dres out to the park, and when he got back, he didn't look happy.
    I asked what was wrong, and he said 'he bit me' and showed me a red mark on his arm.
    I asked what happened, and he said that he'd had a good run, and Jon was just walking him round, without the ball, to let him wind down before putting him on lead, as we always do.
    When he went to put the lead on him, Dresden began jumping and biting him, so he took his collar and held it tight to try and control him, and he slipped out of it and ran off.
    When he got it back on him, he leapt up and bit his upper arm. There is no blood, but Jon insists this is only because he had a thick hoodie and jacket on.
    In the end, he says he had no choice but to be physical with him, and grab him and drag him to the car, much to the filthy looks of some passers by.

    I know many don't approve of that, but seriously, when you have a large dog jumping up and biting you, who won't stop, what can you do?

    Jon was actually in tears about it.
    Ok, now, he is quite a sensitive person, things upset him easily. And I think he never really understood the times this has happened to me, and how upset I've been over it, because its never been him that was the target. He's not experienced this behaviour like I have, so I think it was a shock to him more than anything. But he's really upset by it, and is saying he will not take Dresden out if he is going to do this crap.

    I've told him it isn't personal (I think this is what gets Jon most, he sees himself doing all these nice things for the dog and can't understand why Dres does this to him when all he's trying to do is take him for a nice walk).
    I've told him its not personal, he's a dog, they don't have malice or grudges, and Dres probably forgot completely about it as soon as it had happened, so won't understand Jon being curt with him after the event.
    He does have a bit of a tendency to humanise dog thoughts.
    He even said 'if he's going to be like that, I just won't take him to the park, and he won't get his fun times'.
    I told him this wouldn't register with a dog; he isn't going to make the connection between something bad he did one day, and not getting a run the next day, its out of his head by that time. Thats a punishment that might work on a child, who can understand and reason a bit, but not a dog.

    Now Im upset because Jon is upset.
    Dresden is my dog, first and foremost, and Jon has been so supportive and really helped and embraced dog ownership. But he gets so hurt when these things happen.

    And while, to me, its something I've experienced from Dresden several times so it doesn't shock me, to Jon its still scary and new (though I do now think 'you see what I mean that time I came home in tears about it and you said it wasn't worth crying over? Different when the shoe is on the other foot!)

    So I now don't know what to do.
    This behaviour is by far his biggest issue, and I thought I'd cracked it with the dogmatic, because lead walks (the only time he'd do this) were possible once more, and without this behaviour, and I thought over time, he'd get out of that habit.

    But while I can deal with this, I understand dogs a little more, Im more used to how Dres can be as I spend more time with him, it is something that really apparently gets to Jon. And I don't want him in tears over our dog; having a dog is meant to be fun.

    So Im now wondering if I might have to get a behaviourist.

    I hate this behaviour, and I don't know how to stop it. I know how to stop it on walks: dogmatic yay!
    But the fact that he now did it at the park, where he NEVER has, tells me that this behaviour is still there, and still going to appear at any opportunity when the dogmatic isn't on.
    And I don't want this behaviour subdued or 'managed', I want it gone!

    In my view, a puppy shouldn't be doing this in a situation where he is having a nice run, having fun, and all someone is doing is trying to put his lead back on.
    Struggling, being resistant, even having to be carried to the car because he doesn't want to leave; thats all fine with me (though he has never done this) but the nipping to get his way? (which is all I can imagine it is; he didn't want to leave, so turned into a brat) isn't acceptable, to me.

    So do I need to bring in a behaviourist? Would that do any good at all? And where do I find one who is actually GOOD and has experience with dobes?
    I have to confess, I wouldn't be considering this option if it weren't for how upset Jon is.
    I can weather it, I have more of a 'he's a dog, he doesn't intend to be horrible, he just acts on instinct and split second decisions, and he's still a puppy, and an adolescent one at that! He'll learn in time' mindset. And the fact that there is no growling, no aggressive body language assures me that it is just over excitement or him just being a brat to get his way rather than aggression, which is good.

    But Jon takes it all very personally, and it really bothers him, and I don't want it to damage his relationship with Dresden.

    So Im considering a behaviourist, if only just to evaluate him and see the behaviour themselves. I might only need one session just for them to see it and say 'yep, thats what this is, heres what to do'.
    I don't know if its necessary, but at least I can say I've tried.

    But I need one who is experienced with dobes. He's a very different animal to a pug or a cavalier king charles! Or at least, one experienced with large working dogs.

    Where would I begin to look for such a person? Its something I've never had to think about before. Im in lowestoft, and I think my insurance covers a behaviourist.
     
  2. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    If you're not getting anywhere with the behaviour then maybe a behaviourist is the way to go. The APDT website may be a good place to start if nobody can recommend one in your area.

    As I say, I stopped the exact same behaviour in Rupert by simply tying him to something and walking out of reach when he started it. Yes, he started again as soon as I went back to him, I walked away and returned as many times as needed. And I purposely walked him places where there were plenty of things to tie him to until he'd completely stopped trying it.

    At least a behaviourist would be able to see his body language etc when he's doing this and may be able to help your OH not to take it personally. No matter what you say about Dres being a dog and all that you're not a professional and sometimes the same thing coming from someone who is makes all the difference.
     
  3. spaniel04

    spaniel04 PetForums Member

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    Have you tried stepping on the lead when he goes into silly mode? It works very well with boisterous spaniels leaping about at the end of the lead. I'll give them just enough lead to sit, lie down or stand quietly. Once the dog has done either one of those and has calmed down I carry on walking.:)
     
  4. hawksport

    hawksport Banned

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    He sounds just like mine. I spent half of the time in class trying to get him off my arm.
    I taught him a down, then taught him down means down whatever he is doing. Then I encouraged him to jump and practiced downing him mid jump
    He still tries now and again at nearly 10 years old but I can drop him down before he makes contact
     
  5. Leam1307

    Leam1307 PetForums Senior

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    deleted....
     
    #5 Leam1307, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  6. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    Thats actually amazingly reassuring coming from a dobe person (reassuring in that its not a totally abnormal behaviour).
    He does a brilliant down, it was one of the first things I taught him and he'll do it in the blink of an eye, even with the tiniest subtle hand signals but when he's in that 'zone' it is hard to get him to listen.

    But what you say makes a lot of sense, if I can encourage jumping then work on a solid down that is certainly worth a go! I will get on this.

    Since you know dobes, he is an Agador grandson (don't know if you know that dog, he recently passed), and my breeder tells me that Dresden's grandmother is bad for this behaviour, particularly after she has been worked and done the bite work, she gets really ramped up and nips. And she's 10 now, too.
    He told me it wasn't uncommon in the breed, and he's seen it a lot with shutzhund dobes, as well as in some Mals.

    He's otherwise a cracking dog, but this behaviour is trying. Particularly as it came on so suddenly and so dramatically, almost to the day he hit 9 months, when everything started going to pot!
    (he did do it occasionally when he was about 5 months, but it was infrequently, and only with very clear triggers, like seeing a cat fleeing, and he seemed to get over it pretty quick).

    But thanks for your advice. I think I will try this before going the behaviourist route, it might just do the trick.
    Maybe Im being optimistic in thinking I can remove this behaviour entirely, but to lessen it would help a lot.

    Jon and I had a chat and he seems to understand and accept that it wasn't anything personal or anything to get upset about. He seems a bit happier now.

    Sarah, yeah, maybe I didn't persevere enough with tying him to something. I'll definitely give it another good go, even if I have to do it 20 times!
     
  7. hawksport

    hawksport Banned

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    Got to go to work now, I'll read that when I get back
     
  8. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    He's had a vet check, and all is well. I also put the lead on him in the house or garden sometimes and just walk him around, and he is fine.
    He goes to the park in the car, and I put the lead on in the house beforehand, but he must sit and be calm before I'll do so.
    He's never done this at home. He also never does it when being put into the car, or when we get out to the park. I think because he knows something fun is happening, and he's good as gold.

    He has done it when leaving my mum's house before, on lead, because clearly he didn't want to go :rolleyes:
    He's also tried it at the beach when heading back to the car, and yesterday tried it a little about 20 feet from our front door after our walk, again, suggesting it is a response to something he doesn't want to do! (though there were loads of kids out in the school yard playing and making a racket as we walked by, so it might have been stress/over excitement too in that instance).
    My mum likens it to a child being told they have to leave somewhere fun and come home, and they might scream and throw a tantrum, and thats all he's doing.
    So in theory, as long as I don't give in when he does this and follow through with what we are supposed to be doing, he should learn that this doesn't work....eventually.

    Jon said this morning that he very nearly just let him off the lead when he was doing this, but thank god he didn't. That would have just reinforced to Dres that that behaviour worked to get him what he wanted!
     
  9. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

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    I would not walk him anywhere off lead.

    You need to break the cycle.

    Stay away from parks and off lead areas and just do road walking.

    Once he "forgets" then you can reintroduce him
     
  10. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    Thats exactly what I suggested to Jon today. And we both think its a good idea. The park is his absolute favourite place on earth, he adores it, he'll whine and cry in the car as soon as he clocks that we're going that way. But with that excitement comes hyper behaviour and a slipping of his manners. He also gets into the habit of thinking any time he's going out, its to go to the park, and when he realises he's not and its just a 'boring' lead walk, he gets stroppy. That might be half his problem.

    I think a good few weeks of just lead walking would do him a lot of good with regards to keeping him calm. I mean, loads of dogs don't get off lead runs, or can't go off lead for whatever reason, so he's not going to suffer for it.
    And once he grasps that his only 'out' time will be on lead, he might grow to like lead walks a lot more.

    He's been to the park at least 5 times a week for runs, since he was 14 weeks, so it'll take some adjusting, but I really feel it will be better in the long run.
     
  11. hawksport

    hawksport Banned

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    As he is from working lines have you thought about working him?
    The thing that makes a dog a good working dog is the very thing that can make the same dog pain in the a**e as a pet
     
  12. smokeybear

    smokeybear PetForums VIP

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    Both you and your other half appear to be out of your depth with this dog and the longer you allow this dog to practise this unacceptable behaviour the stronger,harder, faster and better he will become at it.

    Not sure if you need a behaviourist rather than a very good dog trainer.

    You need someone who is used to working with large, strong dogs; where do you live perhaps we can recommend someone?

    Most behaviourists will not see a dog without a vet referral.

    The place to look for behaviourists:

    APBC
    CAPBT
    UKRCB

    The places to look for dog trainers:

    APDT
    GODT
    Kennel Club list of training clubs

    Just an example.
     
  13. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

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    I don't know many dogs who get off lead runs. Most dogs I know are lead walked.

    Consider a back pack to intensify his walks and make him work a bit harder!
     
  14. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    Thanks.
    Though I don't feel out of my depth with him; in all other ways, he's a brilliant dog, and wonderfully trained, people often comment on how well his listens and does what I ask. Its just this one single issue that is the problem. And it only really started as he hit adolescence.
    I probably make him out to sound like a nightmare, but he really is a good dog, and I feel lucky when I read some other people's posts about their dogs that he is as good as he is!

    But Im saving your post for places to look for behaviourists, in case I ever do decide to go down that route in future.
     
  15. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    I do 'find it' games with him, he has a lot of interactive toys, I make him work for everything he wants, but Im open to ideas about what else I could do?

    He isn't a bad dog at all, very focused, very obedient to what he knows, very smart, beyond his months on many things, its just this one issue which I wish he'd get over. If he did, he'd be a brilliant dog!
     
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