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Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Mags52, Jan 19, 2020.

  1. Mags52

    Mags52 New Member Registered

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    I am Mags. We have a 10 year old male miniature poodle (Boo) and a 6 year old cockapoo female (Poppy).
    We're struggling with extreme grumpiness in Boo whilst finding Poppy very easy to live with. Glad to be on this forum and looking forward to learning lots.
    Mags
     
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  3. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Has Boo had a vet MOT recently (including bloods as he is a senior) to rule out pain as a cause?
     
  4. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Welcome! Has Boo always been grumpy, or is this a recent development?
     
  5. Mags52

    Mags52 New Member Registered

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    Yes he has. He has a few health problems including spinal problems and the start of hip dysplasia. He is on pain medication and has had a lot of physio. We have taken very good care of him and followed all instructions for exercises and the vet assures us that he is no in pain now. Whenever we ask Boo to do anything he doesn't want to do (move off our seat, allow us to trim the hair around his feet, touch him anywhere except around his head and ears etc.) he growls and snarls but not every time. On two occasions he has snapped at me for just touching him accidentally. To be honest it's a bit like Russian roulette and after years of being dog owners we find ourselves a bit wary of him when he's at his worst. The vet thought this was caused by pain but he is no better after treatment.
    Our other concern is his treatment of the younger Cockapoo (Poppy). He won't let her eat without giving her some kind of (invisible to us) signal. She sits looking at her food and he growls if she approaches it. He humps her constantly and pushes her off seats or sits on her. She is an easy going dog and doesn't stand up to him. It's hard for us to find the right approach. Of course we don't want him to be in pain but at the same time we have to live with him and so does Poppy. I have the strangest sensation that he is controlling us.
    Boo is clever, very agile for his age and we walk them both twice daily and play training games almost every day. He knows lots of tricks and games and enjoys playing them.
    Any ideas would be much appreciated.
    Mags
     
  6. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I do wonder whether either some residual pain or the medication he's been on could be a factor - if you think there's a chance you'd have to talk to your vet about changing/upping his meds and monitoring his behaviour.

    You might be able to retrain getting off seats as a trick - train jumping up on the seat (if this is OK for his spine/hips) and off again in the same way you'd train a trick - use better rewards for getting off than on. Alternatively, train a really good recall in the house, so if you want him off your seat, you can call him from another room (the kitchen can work best, particularly if you open the fridge door before calling him ;) ) - you might want to use a different cue (I used 'SAUSAGES!' :D). This might be a useful cue for when he's pestering Poppy too.

    Are there any particular locations where he doesn't like to be touched, such as when he's on his bed, or is it anywhere? And are there any parts of his body where he's always fine with being touched, even if only briefly?
     
  7. Finsky

    Finsky Active Member Registered

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    Does Boo behave 'badly' when ever you turn your attention towards Poppy. I'm just wondering the possibility, that as he has been unwell and has received so much of your attention, that he is taking that now granted and feeling entitled (feeling bossy).:rolleyes: What you describe about the food bowl behaviour etc. makes me think of that possibility.
    Would you be able to separate the two for feeding times so it is you who is in control..giving the food on front of them and taking that opportunity of control off from him.
    Does he demand/ask to be petted?
    We tend to do it almost automatically..it is difficult, but could you try for few days and withhold touching him until he shows signs that he is short of that 'fix'? In meanwhile talk to him as normal so he is not feeling totally pushed out and pet your other one as normal...should he behave like he doesn't like you petting poppy, ignore that behaviour/him and do as your were doing...should he behave really bad, you could stand up, turn your back to him for a moment and as soon as he gets the message and calm down carry on what you were doing with Poppy and repeat this if necessary. But if he sits down and waiting his turn..then talk to him and offer him to come to your hand for petting but ask him to sit down first and then reward him with loving touch and few soft words.
    If he still growls at you then...it may well be down to sensitivity for touch or even if not..either case petting will stop again. If it is behavioural...repeating it (as if training) as often as and when necessary would eventually send the message he doesn't get loving touches if he doesn't behave.
    Does he growl only with you (family members)? Can somebody else pet/touch him without the noises?
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  8. Mags52

    Mags52 New Member Registered

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    This is really helpful - thank you. He has always behaved in this way towards Poppy and has always growled when we touch his feet or try to groom them. We had an older dog who died before we got Poppy and Boo humped him continuously as well and sometimes slept in his bed leaving the much bigger older dog to try to fold himself into Boo's little bed. I know that the dominance theory is considered old fashioned and incorrect but if this was a child, or indeed an adult, I would say that they were in the habit of dominating and manipulating everyone. As he's got older his behaviour has worsened. Before he was diagnosed with lumbar/sacral joint problems the vet suggested that we stop allowing the dogs on the sofa. He behaved much more appropriately when we took charge like that, however, once we found out he was in pain we allowed him back. Here's an example of behaviour that I think is inappropriate. I was sitting on the sofa using my laptop and he jumped up and snuggled in beside me. After a few minutes my elbow touched him (because I was typing) and he snarled at me. After the diagnosis I assumed I had hurt him accidentally but the touch was very light and, given his continued behaviour, I now think he was behaving badly.
    As for who he will growl at - he is worse with me, my partner (who is also a woman) gets it too but far less often and he behaves best with male friends. Growling is easier to ignore, snarling and snapping much harder. We've had him since he was a baby and he was such a tiny scrap I fear that we've let him away with far too much... as did our older dog who was a big softie.
    Having lived with him for 10 years and cared for him (and all our dogs) with great care I'm feeling a bit despairing about this. Poppy is so well behaved and easy to care for in comparison. It's a bit like having two children, one of whom behaves well and the other has tantrums and refuses to do anything they're asked. It's hard not to show preference isn't it? M
     
  9. DixD

    DixD Guest

    Dogs will perform actions, if they work. They are very logical. If growling and snapping gets him what he wants, then that’s what he’ll do. If work didn’t bring in a salary, or give personal satisfaction, people wouldn’t do so. If you knew letting Boo back on the sofa would elicit unwanted behaviour, why do it? The fact that he’s allowed back on suggests you were able to stop him before. If he has a nice, comfy bed, there is no need for him to be on the sofa. Our sighthound has a big soft bed next to the radiator. He loves it. The sofa, like treats, patting, verbal praise etc. Is a reward, and a high reward one, which he is deciding to have for himself.

    The sighthound with the bed by the radiator used to lie on the sofa because we allowed him up on it. He developed muscular problems, now gone. But, when he was sore, if you sat beside him, he jumped off. He seemed to have some sort of pain bubble that meant there was a distance where he felt you should be, where you would not inadvertently touch him. He avoided potential pain.

    Maybe poodles are like native ponies. Apparently, because they are intelligent, stubborn (and, I don’t know if this applies to Boo, or not, surprisingly sensitive, a bit like sighthounds!), good way to work with them to let them think something is all their idea, which is why I clicker train mine. So, it would be good to figure out how Boo would think staying off the sofa, etc., is a good idea!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2020
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  10. Finsky

    Finsky Active Member Registered

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    Dogs can have dominance streak, absolutely(or what ever word we want to use to describe it)! And what you have just described...what ever the reason,he does take the opportunity of behave in such a manner when he is allowed it. And although I don't have any kids of my own..just a fair bit younger sister and I can relate so many situations from our childhood and how we behaved to what I've experienced over the years with my dogs. We humans just communicate different ways to dogs. If you think of a litter of pups, mum is the one who teach/train the pups =is in charge (usually). They show the ropes how to behave...when they are adults and living with us, it is us who show the ropes what is excepted and allowed when living with us. But if those boundaries are not fully clear, we don't communicate correctly or if it is in the dog's nature to challenge and test those boundaries..well, they could well think to themselves and do as they see fit.
    Our dominance over dogs must not be about physical means or mentally making them fear us...but more of showing what is allowed and what not and direct them towards to the acceptable way.
    Although your chap is now elderly one and they can develop their funny habits as they get on...it is never too late nip it into bud and turn it around. By the sound of it...given right vibe, he knows how to behave ;) Some are just that more stubborn that if we don't keep expecting from them the right behaviour, they will return back to their old role and do as they feel.

    So many ways I could relate that with some humans too... :rolleyes:
    What if you have a go correcting it...don't worry about grooming as yet. If you correct his general bossiness, it might sort out some other related issues as well. One step at the time...first the food bowl and let him ponder what is going on. o_O:D Both of yours body language and actions speak louder than actual command words. ;)
    Who knows, he might be actually happy to 'retire' from his old job and settle down to be shown more calmer life.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
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  11. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    I'm not going to speculate on the reasons for his behaviour, other than as Judy suggested, residual pain or possibly the fear that something might cause pain: and to add that dogs are instinctively wary of their feet being damaged.

    But I did want to pick up on
    Never, ever ignore a growl. It is an important communication from a dog that he is unhappy and a request to make something stop or go away. Dogs give a series of signals that they are unhappy, but unfortunately most people don't recognise them because they can be quite subtle. To begin with there is often wide eyes, lip licking and yawning. There is also muscular tension in the body. Then the ones we sometimes do see - growl, snarl, nip then bite. If the early signals are not seen (or, in the dog's view, ignored) he won't bother with them because us stupid humans pay no attention anyway; so he may go straight to the bite. So it's important never to ignore a growl.

    I realise you mentioned touching him by accident and it wasn't deliberate but the above, along with maybe stopping him from using the sofa and feeding them separately may all be helpful.
     
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  12. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    The trouble with the 'dominance' term is that it is almost always used incorrectly with dogs, and following the old-style 'dominance' approach can lead to harm for the dog and the relationship. Properly used, it refers to a specific situation - it is NOT a personality trait. A dog who snarks when you want him to get off the sofa is no more dominant than a toddler who is throwing a wobbly about going to bed, or is clinging to your leg crying on their first day of school. So anything intended to 'reduce status' generally isn't going to work.

    My dog is like yours in that he used to get on the sofa with us, and then we'd only have to twitch and he'd have a 'moment' - he generally looked as surprised as we were when it happened. There was no reason for it at all - well there must have been, but nothing that made sense. You know when you're relaxed, and then something quite minor - say the phone ringing - can make you jump? I think it was like that, and his 'startle' reaction naturally included opening his mouth wide and going 'RRRRAAAAARRRGGHHHHH!!!' :D So, though he's allowed on a vacant sofa, we don't share.

    Also - if I tried to shift him off the sofa by ordering him off firmly or, worse, pulling/shoving him, I've no doubt he would snap. But after reward-based training, he will now pop off like a little lamb the moment I ask him. Often he'll pop off without being asked if one of us comes in the room because he knows we'll want to sit down. So again, this blows the 'dominance' stance out of the window. I would think of your dog as being defensive and uncomfortable with situations rather than trying to be bossy as such.

    I think bullying another dog is often just a sign of insecurity, and has nothing to do with dominance. A 'pack leader' (in a wolf pack - groups of dogs have a much more flexible structure) doesn't need to boss around or bully other dogs, they submit through choice. Think of the best human 'team leaders', bosses, teachers, etc. - the ones who bully and bluster are the ones who are really quite weak and insecure, and no one respects them.
     
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  13. DixD

    DixD Guest

    My toy dog gets a lot of privileges because he’s very polite. He used to growl, if brushed, but I always thought to myself “would I let a huge Rottweiler off with that type of behaviour, never mind anything stronger”. He doesn’t know he’s any different from a larger dog. So, it got sorted out there and then, before it progressed to something more volatile to deal with. If I occasionally cause him discomfort when grooming him, he may complain. The difference is you can tell it’s a complaint rather than an aggressive action.
     
  14. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    This is a case of 'know your dog' - with some dogs, if you 'insisted' (by whatever means) that they tolerate something they actively dislike (for whatever reason) - if you ignore their complaint - it's going to go badly. If they object more forcefully, so you insist more forcefully... where will it end? Insisting on compliance, trying to 'sort it out there and then' can, if misjudged with that particular dog, result in aggression.
     
  15. Mags52

    Mags52 New Member Registered

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    I expressed myself badly. I know it isn't a good idea to ignore a growl but we try to turn our backs on behaviour that is unwanted and reward what we do want so in that sense we're ignoring the behaviour. With Boo this is difficult because he is very jumpy, reactive and apparently much more difficult as he gets older. A grumble when being groomed was common place a few years ago and a bit of sausage when he calmed down was usually enough to remind him how it's meant to go but these days he reacts faster and in a more extreme way. All your responses have helped remind us that we can help him (and ourselves) with some more focused training. I remember a friend who had a border collie saying to me that having a clever dog isn't always a good thing. I'm starting to agree. :)
    Thanks folks.
     
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  16. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    One of my tips for grooming a slightly reluctant dog is to smear meat paste, wet dog food, peanut butter or squeezy cheese on your fridge door and let him lick it off while you groom. Then easy to wipe clean after.
     
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  17. Finsky

    Finsky Active Member Registered

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    LOL...never heard of that tip but it sounds brilliant. I just wonder why I never thought of it! One of these days I shall have to trial it with hubby's cheese spread and see if I get pup's nails clipped easier or if dogs and I get covered with it :D I might get bets on how many nails I did get done between two dogs and its owner. I might take turn of licking first before the dogs ;)
     
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  18. DixD

    DixD Guest

    @JudyN... if I cause my dog discomfort accidentally, and he grumbles, I always speak to him kindly, and give him a bit of a pat. He seems smart enough to recognise it’s a form of apology for causing him discomfort.When he growled at the beginning as a puppy, as I think I explained in a previous post, in order to prevent Littke Dog Syndrome, I went right back to the beginning. VERY short grooming sessions, lots of praise and rewards. He never growls now, and can’t wait to get his jackpot treat at the end. And, I recognise the grump for what it is, a doggy form of “ouch”, so no point in doing other than reassuring him.
     
  19. DixD

    DixD Guest

    I often think that, and one thing about poodles is they are one of the most intelligent breeds around. :D
     
  20. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Sorry @DixieD , I was posting in a rush (with my mind on the horrible drive to the dentist) and probably completely misinterpreted what you were saying!
     
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  21. DixD

    DixD Guest

    No problem. I didn’t clarify it very well. Hope the visit went better than expected. <3
     

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