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Conflicting puppy raising philosophies

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by Shanti Lall, Oct 6, 2018.

  1. Shanti Lall

    Shanti Lall Member Registered

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    Hi guys,

    I need some arbitration, please. My husband and I are at loggerheads about how to raise and train our puppy (a 19 week old labrador/springer spaniel/border collie mix).

    The training classes we've been going to, and a dog trainer friend all advise that we should not allow behaviours that we don't want to 'imprint'. So I am trying to set quite strict boundaries, e.g. using a house lead (to prevent her biting us/our clothes, counter surfing, etc.), not allowing her on the sofa (so she doesn't start to take ownership, and to protect her joints), using a long training line in the park (so she doesn't try to 'steal' children's balls, chase joggers, and to train recall).

    My husband disagrees with all this. For example he lets her play with his trainers, and disagrees when I argue that this will teach her that she can play with people's shoes. He lets her chew (some of) the furniture at home and disagrees when I argue that this will lead her to chew furniture elsewhere (she does try to chew tables in the pub). He doesn't like having her on the house line either, and lets her run free, off-lead in the park, even though he's come home freaked a couple of times when she's chased a jogger, or tried to steal a child's ball or found some food and not responded to his recall. He allows her to chew wood which splinters everywhere and play with small bits of plastic that she could swallow. He sees me as wanting him to 'torture' her with restrictions. Now matter how many times I quote sources/trainers, even training he's been to with me, he reverts to following his gut feelings which are to allow her as much freedom as possible. Recently we'd made some headway training her not to go on the sofa, but then her let her go on it for a day. The next two mornings she was on the sofa and when I said 'off', and tried to pull her off with the lead, she growled at me so fiercely I had to back off.

    I'm getting to my wits' end. We're in the process of booking a one-to-one consultation with a dog behaviourist for £250 but what's the point if my husband won't agree with anything she says?

    Does anyone here think he has a point? He thinks our puppy will just learn to behave better when she matures and there's no need to act like a sergeant major now. She is, to be fair, a lovely natured dog, and well behaved most of the time.

    Sorry for the long rant - any advice very much appreciated!
     
  2. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I'm pretty much with you. She may grow out of chewing trainers and furniture, but then again she may not. (You could possibly train her not to eat your trainers and only eat his ;)). This isn't limiting her freedom, because you can give her plenty of things she can chew instead.

    A dog who chases joggers and steals others' balls is a PITA - particularly the former. As dogs don't really have a concept of ownership other than what they have in their mouth at that moment, stealing balls is more 'ok', but only if you can then get the ball back, return it apologetically to its owner, and then put your dog on lead and/or go somewhere else.

    And a dog needs some sort of boundaries, so obedience becomes a habit. There's a great YouTube video called 'It's Yer Choice' on impulse control, which hones the dog's ability to pay attention to their owner rather than what they want to do, which might be worth a look.

    If you would like to be able to have your dog on the sofa in the long term, you don't need to worry about her claiming ownership. And her joints do need protecting, which may reason enough to ban her for now if you don't want her getting off on her own (we used to stick a load of cushions on the floor in front of the sofa). But if you want her to go on in the future and she's getting growly about getting off you do at some point need to train her to get off voluntarily rather than using her house lead. Teach this as a trick, a fun game, teaching both 'on' and 'off', with a better reward for 'off' than 'on'. Until she's perfected this, if she's on the sofa and you want her off, rather than coercing her, go and open and close the fridge door and call her, then give her a great treat. My dog gets off the sofa like a little lamb if asked, but would get seriously grumpy if I tried to pull or push him off.

    It's not about being like sergeant major so much as managing the dog's environment and distracting her from doing what you don't want her to do so that she can't/doesn't need to practise the unwanted behaviours. Putting shoes away is going to work far better than 'telling her off' when she does chew them.

    Good luck with convincing your OH!
     
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  3. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    Cancel the dog trainer you really dont need one.
    Just book OH in for deep ear cleaning so that he can actually hear what youre saying and then with a counsellor because he obviously has issues. Do you have any idea why he wont listen ?
    My own dear OH is a nightmare when it comes to training he still does the 'murphy, Murphy, MURPHY'! thing instead of using any commands but to give him respect he does have a medical excuse for his bloody mindedness..

    try cleaning away your shoes and leaving his best ones out for the dog, leave his dinner unattended and make sure the dog eats his steak, let the dog chew wood but make sure the splinters are where he walks barefoot.. Maybe training him will be easier if he feels the consequences.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
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  4. Rhythmpig

    Rhythmpig Active Member Registered

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    I look at it this way, both parties have to be reading off of the same page. Be it be a dog or a child,send out mixed messages...you'll get mixed up behaviour.
     
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  5. Shanti Lall

    Shanti Lall Member Registered

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    Thank you for your ideas and advice, Judy.
     
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  6. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    I kinda get both sides.. I agree we need training, absolutely, but then imo, there is the element of over control and over thinking that seems to happen these days, but in your case if you are trying to instill one kind of behavior and your husband is allowing another then that probably isn't going to work out well, maybe find a happy medium if possible that will be good for your pup?
     
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  7. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Shanti - I'm with you on this one because the issue here isn't just that your husband believes one thing and you believe another. Whatever it is he believes is the right method for raising the dog, he's not consistent with it anyway! Even if he had a leg to stand on, he doesn't seem to be doing anything but confusing matters by half-committing and half-not, whilst you're at least trying to get some cohesion on that matter, and you're even coming on here asking other people to try and help, which is commendable.

    With my pup I'm learning that, no, you can't control everything your dog does. But trying, as you're doing, is better than nothing. A lot better, because surely a dog that grows up knowing it can get away with anything is worse than one who is aware there might be consequences to its actions.

    If your husband agreed with you that your dog shouldn't go on the sofa (as it seems he did at first) then he should stick to the training plan for that particular thing. It seems unfair for him to engage in the training and then randomly decide to let her on the sofa for a whole day.

    Perhaps it would be a good idea to make a list of the few things (if there are any) that you and your husband do agree on e.g. that your dog running after joggers is a bad thing which needs to be corrected. Then, if he agrees with you that it is a bad thing, it is down in writing and you can agree what the course of action for that particular thing is and he has to stick with it. And if he goes back on it, well that just shows how exasperating he's being.

    (Sorry, I have way less patience for partners than I do for dogs....)
     
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  8. Shanti Lall

    Shanti Lall Member Registered

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    Thanks, Michelle. It's escalated since then, as Florrie has been 'trying to be the dominant one in the pack' according to a friend who's a very experienced owner and trainer. She's been growling and yesterday she bit me. We've booked a 1:2:1 session with one of our puppy class trainers. My husband has said he'll listen to her advice, whatever it is, as he was freaked when she bit me.
     
  9. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I'm sorry you got bitten. However, the 'dominance' myth has been thoroughly debunked, and attempts to 'put her in her place' can go really badly, so personally I would ignore your friend, however experienced she is. Have a read of these articles on Victoria Stilwell's website to get a more up-to-date picture: Debunking Common Dog Training Myths

    If you like, you could tell us what led up to the growling and biting and we may be able to give some advice. But I appreciate that you might not want to as most people here aren't trainers or behaviourists so are going on their own experience or research. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that your puppy class trainer is a positive trainer and knows their stuff. Good luck!
     
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  10. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Your puppy sounds really normal and full of beans: three very active and clever breeds in the mix.Our latest boy (THE WORKING SPANIEL FROM HELL!- official kennel name) has been all of this and more. We ignored bad behaviour (picked shoes if chewed, picked feet up when they were chewed etc) and rewarded good: being calm, sitting, taking things gently, coming back. Often he did none of these things. (Oh and put plasters on nip sites. My fingers were too sore to type one awful week- and I write for a living.) He's now two. He's calmed down, grown up and is lovely. Yes of course he grabbed my hair when I bent down to tie my laces today. He's a dog not a robot. I laughed. Try to be less anxious around him, don't argue too much over him and enjoy him while he's a puppy. I dread my boy getting middle-aged and stodgy. Oh and exercise is really king- Dr Walk cures a lot of ills. Best of luck. We've just done a stretch of the Thames Path with ours- every night in a strange cottage sleeping like a baby. Him not us.
     
  11. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .

    I can only heartily concur with @JudyN -
    dominance in relation to humans is a complete myth; just as the “Alpha wolf” fantasy was, both were based on early studies of captive wolves, who lived in randomly-assembled “packs”.

    A wild wolf-pack is a family, nothing more & certainly nothing less; young wolves who have graduated from several years of rearing their younger siblings & hunting under the tutelage of their parents, go walkabout & meet one another.
    Either of the 2 can decide this is not the mate for them, & keep looking - or they meet, court, & decide they will pair up. This isn’t a light decision; the bitch will be totally dependent on his hunting skills to keep her alive, late in pregnancy, when the only thing she can catch is rodents; the male will depend on her as a hunting partner to bring down big game, as a partner in defending their territory from other wolves as well as coyotes, & to devotedly rear their children.
    He will feed her when she is heavy in pup, or while their pups are neonates who consume her total attn; she will only leave them in those early days, alone in the den the parents dug together, to get herself a drink of water, or to void. Only after they are able to control their own core temps will she leave them for more than a few minutes at a time.

    If either of them is sick or injured, their mate will hunt, & bring them food; there are documented instances of wolves keeping a trapped adult fed for weeks, while they were helpless in a trap (typically a leghold steel trap, or sometimes fallen into a pit trap).

    Their first litter of pups will stay on to help rear the next, & help hunt to feed them; juveniles usually stay for 2 years with mom & dad before they leave to find a mate, & some will stay for 3 years, playing auntie or uncle to their younger sibs, patrolling the home territory, watching for intruders, babysitting for hours or days while their parents hunt widely.
    Most packs are 3 generations of the same family, sometimes 4: a widowed great-grandparent may stay on after losing their mate, & be a nearly full-time babysitter once the most recent pups are about 3 to 4-WO, freeing their granddottir to help hunt, & to be another belly carrying meat back from the kill, to feed the pups and any stay-at-home members of the family.

    Usually it’s the parents, who are the sole breeding pair, plus this year’s pups, plus the yearlings, the 2-YO pups, & maybe a couple of 3-YOs who haven’t decided to go off on their own, yet.

    It’s also possible for a young wolf who has just left their natal family to meet & pair with a widowed adult, whose mate died - shot, poisoned, injured irreparably in a hunt or while fighting with an intruding pack, traumatically injured by sheer accident, killed by an infection or a contagion... the new pair may join up with the widowed partner’s surviving pups, or strike out on their own & find a new territory to rear their own future litters.

    DOMINANCE has a very specific definition in animal behavior, & the very 1st defining criterion is that it occurs only between 2 individuals, it is not an attitude or a personality trait; 2nd, it is an EVENT, which only becomes a pattern (dominant individual, subordinate individual) if it happens consistently over many events between the same 2 animals; 3rd, it is an is intraspecies, not INTERspecies event (dog to dog, horse to horse, etc, not horse re dog, not dog re cat, & not nonhuman to human, either), & last but critically,
    dominance is about resources: who gets what, & resources are inherently limited.

    Individuals will fight over food, a treasured object (a toy, a bone, ...), for the chance to mate, & so on; they may fight over a high-value territory with lots of cover, food, & nearby water, as male robins do, in spring.
    THEY ARE NOT FIGHTING “FOR STATUS” - dominance displays which are mostly gestures & postures (as seen in dogs, owned or feral) & dominance displays that may become violent physical aggro, as seen in many wild species, are not about “bragging rights”; they are about preferred access to scarce resources.
    The bull elk who wins a fight with another bull will mate with many more cows; the cows will prefer him to an untested youngster or a loser. The prairie grouse cock who displays on the lek with the loudest boom & most-vigorous dance will be chosen by more hens.

    We humans are not contending with our dogs for their food, nor do we fight with our dogs over which of us will mate with another dog - at least, normal humans are not mating with dogs & creating dog / human hybrids. :rolleyes:

    We humans control every resource in our dogs’ lives; they are automatically dependent upon us, & cannot be “dominant” to us, by definition. It’s a complete misuse of the term.

    Moreover, dominance is not a character trait; NO DOG can be “a
    dominant dog”, as that implies that this individual is bizarrely ‘dominant’ to every living dog on Earth, a patently ridiculous idea.
    Dominance describes the outcome of an event; it is not an adjective describing a dog, except in relation to another particular dog, & over one specific instance, when those 2 dogs contended for a resource, & one lost. :shrug:

    Deference happens many, many times more often in dogs than dominance ever does -- but deferring nonviolently is not sexy, exciting, or as irresistibly romantic as the fantasy of “the wolf on the hearth rug”. :rolleyes:
    Every time a dog comes out of the water with the toy s/he just fetched, & another dog who was racing to get that toy drops back & watches, that’s classic deference. Every time a dog glances at another dog who is eating, or gnawing a bone, & gets a brief hard-eyed glare in response, & that dog then looks away, indicating s/he is relinquishing any interest, that is deference in action.

    Trainers who talk about “dominant dogs” or dogs dominating owners, or who preach using “dominance” to train one’s dog, are sadly ignorant of dog social behaviors, as well as ignorant of training itself. :(

    - terry

    .
     
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  12. Shanti Lall

    Shanti Lall Member Registered

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    Thank you, but she's too young for very much exercise yet. We don't want to bring on dysplasia or arthritis.
     
  13. Shanti Lall

    Shanti Lall Member Registered

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    Hi Judy,

    For the past week she's taken to aggressively resource guarding edible chews and the sofa or armchairs. She knows she's not allowed on the sofa and until a week ago would get down if told 'Off'. Sometimes she would get down if I came into the room, even without my saying anything. But then one day a week ago, she growled at me when she was eating an edible chew I'd given her and I walked near her. Then the next morning she growled at me when I told her to get off the sofa. (The day before, my husband had allowed her on it, possibly undoing weeks of us teaching her she's not allowed on it.) When I reached for her lead to gently pull her off, she snapped at me. A few days later she bit me: I'd just been holding her kong for her so she could suck some frozen banana and yoghurt from inside. I was stroking her and saying sweet nothings when her lip started to curl (although she didn't growl). I foolishly didn't jump back at this point and she suddenly lunged and bit my hand.

    This Monday we had a two-hour long 1:2:1 session with one of the trainers from our puppy class. She thinks Florrie needs more sleep and we should get a crate and put her in it to get her to sleep more. She felt Florrie's playing with the house lead is quite obsessive and that she needs more mental stimulation. She suggested we fed 50% of her kibble as treats given for training exercises and do more retrieval training. She also said that as Florrie was part of a litter of ten and the puppies were all fed from a single bowl, it's made her a resource guarder and so WE have to control all resources, making it clear that food, toys, rooms in the house, etc, are ours. This goes against my husband's reflexes certainly, but the trainer did work wonders with Florrie - just walked in and had her behaving perfectly, all the while with her tail wagging in enjoyment and a look of happy alertness, which makes us trust her judgements.

    We also took Florrie to the vet who said she is perfectly healthy. She thought the 1:2:1 training session was a good idea and we should do more of this. She said we have about two months before her behaviour is pretty much 'set'.

    At least we are united now in trying to be fairly strict and consistent with rules and boundaries. Our current mode is to be more assertive than previously but also work on counter conditioning to build trust around her food bowl and other objects she would guard. But right now we're at a loss when she does something like go on the bed and growl rather than get off (we haven't yet got a crate, and she plays manically with the house lead if we put it on her) as we're a little afraid of her biting, now, yet don't want to just let her do whatever she wants.
     
  14. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    This 'bring on dysplasia' belief is a bit of a myth and has very little hard science behind it. There was a study done in the US a while back which seemed to suggest a puppy allowed free play with litter mates and more activity generally (because it had been kept by its breeder and was with other dogs all day) grew more slowly than a domestically homed dog that had restrictive exercise but had healthier hips at adulthood. Obviously no dog of any age should be walked to exhaustion. But if a puppy has the energy to be attacking a sofa, it has the energy to have its lead on and walk around the block! And so much nocer for it than being put in a cage, say. There's no published evidence that early exercise can bring on arthritic conditions- though shock and injury to joints such as a fall onto a hard surface may do this.
     
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  15. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    @Shanti Lall, she sounds just like my dog. He was one of nine, and possibly the way he was raised before we had him had an effect. If he had a chew, he'd come and eat it by our feet, the n turn and growl at us because we were too near:mad:

    IMO (after a lot of different efforst with our dog), sometimes you can't 'fix' these issues - you can't turn a guardy dog into one who will willingly hand over their chews or who like to be petted while they're eating them. But what you can do is manage them, and help them be relaxed around food. I also don't believe that you can convince a dog that all resources belong to you - in a dog's brain, if they have it, or if they can steal it, it's theirs. You may be able to convince them that if they give you something they'll get something even better, though this didn't work with my dog - to his mind, if I was offering him a lamb steak in exchange for a plastic spoon he was chewing, the spoon must be so valuable he'd have to guard it extra hard.

    What you can do is help your dog feel secure when eating, and it sounds as if that's what you're doing with building trust around the food bowl. We stopped giving longer-lasting chews to our dog as we never knew where he would choose to eat them, and there was also a risk that we might not realise he had one and go to pet him.

    Dogs don't have 'morals' as such, so it's not so much that she knows it's wrong to get on the sofa, even if she's aware that there might be 'consequences', even if the consequences are you showing disapproval. You really need either to block her access to the sofa when you're not there, or find a way of getting her off without making her feel threatened - you want to get back to her hopping off happily in anticipation of a reward. And as this will be a work in progress, apart from 'sofa training sessions', I'd be using the 'calling "sausage" from the other end of the house' method - anything to stop her thinking 'Oh no, they want me off the sofa, must stand my ground'. Of course, in the long run you want a dog to get off the sofa not for bribery but because you ask her to (though if bribery does the job, don't knock it;)), but careful management so she doesn't have to fall into that suspicious frame of mind now will stop it becoming fixed, so she'll be easier to train.

    I wrote this post on resource guarding for another forum a while back: Resource guarding - Positively | Victoria Stilwell | Forum

    As always, this is just my opinion, and I'm sure you've already had lots of conflicting advice, so you need to decide what makes most sense to you and what you feel comfortable with. At least you have your OH on board now - make sure he doesn't start slipping again!
     
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  16. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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  17. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Yeah- there's that and one other I've seen- both pretty much the same results. And of course it's common sense. Puppies were born to be active and not born climb stairs!
     
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  18. Shalista

    Shalista Active Member Registered

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    I would consider it rude if someone started petting me and hugging me while i was eating so i dont do it to bax, that being said if he DOES have something he CANNOT have *cough* socks *cough* then i play the trading game.

    I honestly don't know if he's still super guardy or not cause i always just trade or let him keep it.
     
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  19. Shanti Lall

    Shanti Lall Member Registered

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    Yeah I get that. I don't think I was actually petting her while she was actually eating, but if the kong being in front of her on the floor counts as her eating, then I was.
     
  20. Shanti Lall

    Shanti Lall Member Registered

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