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confused about how to handle unwanted puppy behaviour & tips please for eye contact

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by MungoPungo, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. MungoPungo

    MungoPungo New Member Registered

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    Hi,
    I’ve just brought a new puppy home. I have had a dog before and did get her reasonably well trained eventually, so I’m not entirely inexperienced. However, I would say my dog-training skills have much room for impromneg and I’m trying to learn as much as I can and do a much better job earlier on with my new puppy. So I will really appreciate advice.
    I’ve been watching a lot of positive training dog trainers on YouTube. They say to not say “no” when a dog is doing something you don’t want but distract them away from whatever it is. I’m a bit confused by this because it feels like I will be giving her a nice reward (eg her favourite toy or a play with me) for having done something bad (eg chew my table leg). Her bad habits atm are running after my feet biting my socks and trouser legs (I try to stand still and bear the pain and then distract her with something else) and chewing my wooden furniture legs (we have plenty of teething toys lying around)
    I know she is only very young (8 ½ weeks) but I also know that starting off doing the right thing with training really helps. I don’t want to get cross with her as I’m bonding.
    So my question is, how is the distraction with some other enticement not rewarding the bad behaviour. She’s too young to be asked to do something else because she hasn’t learnt anything yet.

    Oh and that’s another thing, any advice on getting them to focus on your face. I’m following Kikopup’s advice on that but it’s not working. Have also tried Robert Cabral’s advice of having some cheese in your mouth and spitting it out at them when they look at you. Problem is she is just disinclined to ever look directly at me. She’s a very confident dog so it’s not timidity. And she’s very bonded with me already, I can tell. Just can’t seem to get any direct eye contact. Any tips most welcome
     
  2. MungoPungo

    MungoPungo New Member Registered

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    It’s me again, I’d just like to add one more thing. Id like to avoid the getting cross “no” route because, as I said she is quite confident so that has its pluses (eg she’s not easily phased by things) but it also has its drawbacks which is that I suspect she is quite headstrong and I think the “no” approach and getting me cross will escalate as she gets older in her puppy years until we get into a battle of wills. I really want to avoid that as that’s what happened with my old dog and for a while it spoilt my enjoyment of her because I was often just so frustrated.
    So any advice on how to get them to stop behaviour you don’t want will be much appreciated.
     
  3. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    You can say 'no' to a dog (or uh-oh, stop that, or other words of choice) but only after they have learned the rules. Right now she cant distinguish between chewing on a table leg (bad) and chew toy (good). To her, its just a thing to chew, she has no awareness of value. So, when you distract her with play, it's not a reward for her doing what she shouldn't, rather think of it as breaking the act of her doing something you don't want. There's lots of evidence if you want to get involved with the science that (children originally) and dogs learn faster and learn stronger that good things happen for good behaviour. So rewarding what you do want her to do (leave the table leg and chew on this toy instead) rather than punishing her for what you don't want want will be a faster way of training.

    Getting her to look at you - I have never heard that spitting cheese can help! Do you have a clicker? Because that would be a great way to teach this. Much as I am a huge Kikopup fan, I haven't seen her methods for this so forgive me if she uses this and I'm repeating what you know (but do tell me because it would be nice to hear if our ideas match :) ). A clicker is like a snapshot of the exact moment your dog gives the behaviour you are looking for. So in the split second she looks at you, you click. This affirms to the dog that she has given what you want and a reward for doing so is coming. To learn to click, I suggest watching a tv programme and whenever the characters say a certain word, click. That will fine tune your timing. Then charge your clicker with your puppy. Click and simultaneously deliver a tasty reward. Repeat five times. Do this about five times in the day (so 5 × 5) and by then your puppy will have learned that click equals treat. The next day, say her name if she knows it, or make a sound - as her head turns to look at you, click. Then reward. After she is getting this consistently you can drop the click (because a click is always followed by a reward) and reward without the click. And then downgrade the reward to an ear rub, then a "good girl" etc. Because when you are out walking and she is offlead, you will want her to keep checking in on you with a look back but you can't carry a rucksack full of treats every walk! :p

    Finally, remember it's early days. Don't raise your expectations of her, or of yourself, too high. Relax and enjoy her.

    Ps - I am doing this on my phone so bear with me if I have got convoluted - it's a teeny screen to see all I've written.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
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  4. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    It's very early days, so relax about things like eye contact. She has so much to learn about the world, and about humans, and hasn't yet bonded with you. By building a positive relationship where she learns to look to you for help, guidance, and whatever she needs, you'll soon have that connection that will make her more inclined to look you in the eye.

    Don't think of distractions so much as rewarding a behaviour, but stopping it, which will stop it becoming habit. In theory, even if she twigged that biting your trouser leg got a reward, she'd end up putting her mouth on you trouser leg for a moment and then looking to you for the reward, which isn't such a bad thing. In fact anything that doesn't teach her that ripping your socks - and feet - to pieces is a whole load of fun is good!

    As far as you can, though, try to pre-empt the behaviour - carry a toy with you at all times and shove it in her mouth whenever she gets that look in her eye.

    You can also try using a timeout. Every time she bites your feet/clothes/furniture, either pop her in another room behind a stairgate, or (if it's you she's chewing) remove yourself from her and go behind a stairgate. I prefer stairgates to closed doors as the dog is less likely to freak at being suddenly all alone. Don't say anything at all. You literally only need to leave her in timeout for 5-10 seconds - any longer and she'll either get upset, or go and find something else to chew, and won't remember what she was doing just before the fun stopped. Then let her back in, and when she goes straight back to your feet (which she will), remove her/yourself again. She might go into timeout 30 times in 20 minutes, and you'll be exhausted, but eventually she will go back to your feet... and hesitate. If she hesitates long enough for you to praise her and stick a tug toy in her mouth, then go for it!

    You do have to be absolutely consistent on this (along with anyone else in the household) and it does take time... and she may well get worse again when she's teething. But have faith, it does work!

    Once she's a bit older, have a look at the It's Yer Choice video on Youtube for impulse control. Remember that even when she knows she's not 'meant' to bite your feet, she may lack the self-control to stop herself, and that video will help her develop those skills.

    I found that teaching 'wait' while holding up a finger was great for stopping my dog in his tracks when he was about to do something I didn't want him to do - I could then direct him to do something else instead (which might just be come to me for a reward for stopping). A 'wait' on its own, or a 'no', wouldn't give him any idea what he should do, so he'd probably just go back to what he was planning on doing. I'm afraid, though, I can't remember how I trained it... it just sort of evolved :oops:

    Battles of wills are never good, and if the dog is determined then all you can do is shout louder, and punish harder. You don't want to stop the dog doing what it wants to do - your job is to get it to genuinely want to do what you want it to do. I am quite happy to use bribery, corruption and manipulation to make my dog want to do what I want him to do, even if that means he will get on the sofa purely because he knows he'll get a treat when I ask him to get off it ;)

    Also, try to reward her for 'not being naughty', and doing anything you want her to do even if you didn't ask for it. So often, what we want a puppy to do most is settle down on her bed and have a snooze but when they do that they tend to be ignored (they never get ignored when they're chewing on the remote control!). So a bit of praise and treats won't go amiss then.

    Enjoy your pup, and don't forget she's a baby:)
     
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  5. Ari_RR

    Ari_RR Well-Known Member Registered

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    My 2 cents - distractions are great, but best is to distract before she does something unwanted.
    So, the trick really is to be able to see her getting "that look" before jumping on the counter, or stealing the socks, or whatever it is that's unwanted.
    So, keep watching, observing, and soon enough you will be able to predict and distract prior, and it will be magical :)

    Every time she practices unwanted behavior - she gets better at it, and closer to forming a habit.
    Every time she is redirected to something else instead - she steps further away from forming a habit.
     
  6. MungoPungo

    MungoPungo New Member Registered

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    Oh thank you SO much everyone for your help advice. It all makes such a lot of sense. She’s too young for it to be a reward as such. I thought so, but just wasn’t sure and so wanted to check with some experienced doggie people. I know from past experience that you can think you’re doing 5he right thing when actually you’re not and it makes matters a whole lot worse, so I’m trying to check this time what I am doing is ok before it gets too engrained or problematic. Didn’t have the internet when my previous dog was a puppy so was making it up as I went along, (though we did do 6 weeks puppy training classes, but they don’t teach you everything). This forum is invaluable.

    I have started carrying a toy around with me now, in addition to the treats, and watching her carefully for that “look”. And it’s working well.

    And I can see what you mean, Joanne, about it won’t be rewarding bad behaviour because she doesn’t know it is bad, she’s too young.

    Kikopup uses “clicker” training, though I’ve decided to use the word “yes” instead as I know my husband won’t use or carry a clicker and also I expect I sometimes won’t have it on me when I need it. The positive dog trainers (Gwen Bailey, Kikopup and Zak George) all say to start early in with new pup to get them to focus on your face, but my little love is just too interested in everything else. We’ll get there.

    A have a small pop-up play pen I got cheap from a charity shop I could put her in very briefly for just a few seconds which might make her have a negative but not harsh consequence, and she could still see me through it. I haven’t used it for anything else yet, so it wouldn’t be creating a negative association, with her crate or anything more long term as I think she’ll outgrow the pen in no time.

    That’s such good advice form you all. Thank you so much. I think that is such a good idea about rewarding good behaviour which might easily go unnoticed, like her just lying down calmly. I was so busy with young kids with my previous dog I never did that, but I am trying to remember to do that with this puppy and I think it’s going to help her be happy to be calmer and do the right thing.
     
  7. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    My favourite puppy book is The Puppy Primer by Patricia McConnell. It goes into a lot of detail about a lot of different issues - if you look at it on Amazon you can see the contents list to give you an idea.
     
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  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Glad we could help. I suggested a clicker because the sound is consistent every time but any sound will do, a 'yes' in a particular tone will do just as well. I have to say I'm not crazy about Zac George, his body language is too much in my view but he isn't awful. There is a new book that is getting some great reviews - Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy. I read the extract and it seems good, it might be worth a look if you want more reading.

    And just to add, we accept payment for advice in the form of puppy photos!
     
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  9. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Oh, and to add - popping her in a pen isn't a punishment with negative connotations, it's just a 'shhh, let's chill in here for a minute and calm down' thing.
     
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  10. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .


    Given that she’s just 8.5-WO, i am also going to jump in & recommend VERY limited access to the house. :)
    She’s obviously not yet housetrained [she won’t have working sphincters hooked up to her bladder & bowel until she’s 12-WO, approx a month from now, AND she still needs to learn what “full” feels like, & build muscle tone & neural fluency].

    Stair gates, baby gates, closed doors, etc, can all keep her out of areas U do not want her to roam unsupervised [which is basically anywhere that U are not, & anywhere that is carpeted or absorbent].
    Wearing a pup on a waist-leash is great for infant training - give the pup a long-lasting chewie or a stuffed frozen Kong as busywork, whenever U stop for a few minutes [sitting or standing].

    As a 2-MO infant, re her voiding, she’s on automatic:
    when she’s full, SHE EMPTIES. // This is not under her entire control - she can choose, to a degree, *where* she voids in the moment [e-g, on the absorbent carpet vs on the splashy tile surface...], but when she’s gotta go, SHE CANNOT STOP IT.
    So restricting her to a very limited area within the house, which is easy-clean & waterproof, is important - as well as scheduling her for every-Three-Hour potty trips, from getting up in the morning until she [& U all] go to bed, at night.

    The rule for toilet trip schedules is that any pup can only wait this long, MAX, between scheduled potty trips:
    (Age in months) + 1 = Max # of hours between scheduled potty trips.

    Ergo, when she’s 12-WO which is 3-MO, she will be able to wait NO MORE THAN 4 HOURS MAX, between scheduled toilet trips. :)

    The other necessity is “triggered toilet trips”. Triggers include:
    - waking from sleep [whether a nap or a night’s rest]
    - eating a meal / a large drink of water [pressure from stomach contents]
    - after active play
    - any exciting event [a visitor arrives, the kids come downstairs for brekkie, a new toy...]

    So... if U meet a friendly adult dog while walking Ur pup, & said dog & owner would like to meet her, she *will* probly need to pee immediately after the meet-&-greet. // Allow time for these triggered toilet trips, whether U are at home or abroad - walking a pup thus takes longer than walking a dog, not only cuz their legs are shorter, plus they are distractable, but the need to pee [or even poop] pops up unexpectedly. :D

    Tip:
    Always carry multiple baggies when walking a pup [or even a dog] in case of diarrhea, an extra stool provoked by excitement, & so on. Having extras that U don’t need is way preferable to needing JUST ONE MORE, & not having it with U. :oops: Oops.

    - congratulations on the new arrival,
    Terry, waving across the pond. :)

    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  11. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    And to give to other dog walkers who have, for whatever reason, got caught short. One day, you will be that person!
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  12. Poodlepal

    Poodlepal New Member Registered

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    You have had some excellent advice already :) The only thing I would add is that when you are focusing on trying to reward eye contact... which is a great thing to be teaching right now..... try not to expect anything more than a quick glance for now. Once your puppy responds to her name or a tongue click or squishy noise with a quick look which you mark and reward, you will find that over time you can slow down how quickly you mark the behaviour.... so that she offer a gaze for 2 then 3 then 5seconds etc before you mark and reward.
    Your puppy is already looking at you it's just she can not maintain eye contact yet. That will come when she has more understanding of what is being rewarded, that's built simply with reinforcement history and because she will be more able to focus her attention as she develops concentration skills.
    Ì am really impressed at how determined you are to learn from previous dogs and not repeat things that you felt were not good for your relationship.
    Kikopup, Emily Larlham, is an amazing trainer of dogs but also a very clear teacher of people. Even though it feels like what your copying from her video isn't working.... It maybe simply that your expecting a little too much too soon.
    Ì don't know whether you can add video clips to posts (I'm a new member here :) ) but if you are still struggling with eye contact and you can post a video clip I would be happy to have a look and see if there is anything I or someone else can suggest to help you move forward.
    This is a great community. I am so pleased to have found you all!
     
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