Can't get puppy back into the house

Posted by zipoutasite
Jul 16, 2009
I am really hoping someone can help me with this. I have a golden retriever puppy that I got at 5 months old and is now 7 months. I am currently working on "helping" him to learn who is the boss as he thinks it is him. He wakes us in the morning demanding food, has growled a couple of times when we take toys and although he is very bright and understood the commands after the first or second time of showing him, he continues to follow through when he feels like it. He is now getting "tough love" and gets no attention, no toys, nothing at all except bathroom breaks and food. The problem is that by the second time he goes outside for a bathroom break, he will do his business and then proceed to lay down. At this point he will not get up, will not come and won't even look at you. The only treat I can use is his food as he has intestinal problems at the moment and even the treats don't seem as tasty to him as the weeds outside. I tried using the can with pebbles to get his attention, but he is afraid of the can and will run. Each time he does this I end up having to actually pick him up and carry him inside the house where he at once gets a time out and the cycle of ignoring him begins again. Help! Help! Help!...I can't do this forever and he is now 50lbs...too much weight to be carrying into the house everyday!

I would appreciate any advice I can get on this issue.
Posted by arader
Jul 17, 2009
I had the exact same problem with our male golden at about the same age!! I went back through the posts and found the reply given. It helped some but he basically grew out of it since he found he could not win. We used a lead for a while when he went and just pulled him back in. Once in, we rewarded with tons of praise and lots of pets! there was a second reply that mentioned being sure he gets lots of exercise. Good luck!

HI there and thanks for the post.

I am glad you are working hard on the obedience and he is doing well most of the time. This is the most important part so well done.

I think the best way to get him to listen to you in the backyard is up to you but there are 2 major ways to do it.

1) Reprimand\
Leave his lead on him while he is in the back yard. Ask him to come to you if he sits or lies down growl at him (an AHHHH or GRRRRR works best) and tug on his lead. This will let him know that it is not okay.

If he looks or comes towards you praise him as much as you can and give him heaps of attention. If he ignores you still growl louder and tug a little bit harder.

BY praising him as he comes to you and reprimanding him when he misbehaves he will slowly learn what to do. You need to be very consistent whenever he does it you need to respond.

2) Ignore

The other option which requires even more patience by you is the ignore method. When he is not responding completely ignore him. Turn away, don't look, touch or talk to him.

The second he starts to look at you or come over praise him just like above.
You need to be very consistent.

Let me know which way you want to go and ask for help whenever you need it. You need to be very patient and i promise it will take time

Good luck

Posted by zipoutasite
Jul 17, 2009
Thanks for the advice! The only problem is that he is on a lead when in the yard and the growling and tugging really doesn't phase him, pulling doesn't work as he just pulls in the other direction, so I think I will try the ignore method to see if that helps. You are probably right about him eventually growing out of it and he is in his adolescent stage which only makes things more difficult.

I will try the different suggestions and keep you up to date on how it goes.
Thanks again!
Posted by KOPsarah
Jul 21, 2009
Hi zipoutasite, and thanks for your post.
I understand the difficulties you are having with showing your dog you are in charge. The best method for showing dogs they are the bottom of the pack is usually alpha dog training. Alpha dog training is based on how wild dog packs function and how dominant pack members show their dominance.

For a full description of alpha-dog training try our bonus book “Secrets to Becoming The Alpha Dog" will help you become the top dog and rule your roost. The key point however is that if you act like the pack leader your dog will see you as pack leader, however if you don’t you dog will feel it has to assume the role itself.

Remember that in a wild dog pack the dominant pack member controls :
-access to food
-access to favoured sleeping areas
-any interactions with lower pack members
-access to favoured items such as toys

In order to show your dog his position as bottom of the pack you and your whole family can take advantage of these keys points. For example

1) Your dog must be the last to eat at every meal and should never get treats from the table, these can be saved for training treats later.

2) Your dog should never walk through doors before you. A good way to practice this is to walk around the house and make them sit at each doorway and wait.

3) If your dog is lying in the hallway or anywhere you have to get past make them move. If you think they will snap leave a lead on them so you can move them whilst maintaining a bit of distance.

4) When you arrive home completely ignore the dog for 15 minutes. Don't look at them, talk to them or pat them. After this go to them and give them some quiet attention only as long as they are relaxed and calm.

5) You can also assert your dominance by not allowing access to beds and couches or by only bringing out favourite toys when you want to play and removing them when you are finished.

[B]I would not recommend completely ignoring your dog [/B]for days. This will confuse your dog as it will feel like it is not part of your pack at all, it will also be very difficult for your dog because dogs are very social creatures and rely on social interaction for their well-being. Also your attention is the thing your dog values most and for this reason it is an extremely powerful training tool. By ignoring your dog all day you are giving up this tool. As leader of the pack you decide when the dog gets attention so you can use this to tell the dog when it is behaving appropriately and when it is not. If your dog shows inappropriate behavior such as growling at your, trying to stand over you, barking etc immediately remove your attention by either leaving the room immediately or moving the dog to another room. Do this quietly and calmly. Leave your dog without attention for about 3 minutes. A three minute time out is highly effective because it is long enough that your dog will miss your attention but not so long that it forgets why it is being punished by its pack leader in this way. Once the three minutes is over give your attention back to the dog and carry on as if nothing has happened, remember the dog has had its punishment and now needs a chance to show its good behavior. Ask your dog to do a simple command such as sit or down and then praise it warmly and give it a treat.

This little exercise clearly shows your dog that when it is dominant or aggressive or otherwise misbehaved it will get ignored by the pack, however when it is good it will get all the things it wants, attention and food, so behaving well is its best option.

Keep your dog challenged
I would also not recommend keeping your dog with no access to toys. As above allowing your dog access to toys when it is behaving well and playing with it when you want to play, is another way of asserting your dominance so for this reason it is important your dog has toys. Also keeping your dog mentally and physically challenged will greatly reduce behavior problems in dogs of all ages but especially in the high energy teens months which your dog is approaching. Try to build up a collection of toys and rotate them so your dog does not get bored. Toys which can be stuffed with food and require the dog to work the food out slowly are especially valuable.

There are a number of other ways to keep your dog challenged too. Regular daily obedience training is a good routine - just five minutes a day spent rehashing familiar commands with your dog is an extremely effective way of reinforcing your authority and dominance while also keeping your dog mentally challenged. Be sure to use praise and/or treat immediately whenever your dog does something right.

Regular exercise is also very effective at improving your dog’s behavior and it can be both mentally and physically challenging. Quite walks, while not particularly physically challenging keep your dog mentally stimulated especially if you vary the walking environment to include new and interesting places. Free running your dog at the park or jogging with your healthy dog on lead can provide a great energy burning opportunity. Alternatively you can train many dogs to run on treadmills which is especially useful if you have reduced mobility or limited time and have a high energy dog.

Neutered or not
De-sexing animals often leads to a dramatic decrease in behavioral problems. It also greatly reduces the chances of a dog developing prostate or testicular cancer. If your dog has not been de-sexed, consult with your Veterinarian to discuss the pros and cons of the matter. Most dogs go through adolescence between 8-18 months of age and behavior changes are typical of this period. De-sexing should help resolve these issues by reducing hormone levels.

Getting your dog to come inside.
Practicing alpha training and obedience training with your dog should help reduce this problem a lot. Bonding with your dog by enjoying fun activities together (when he is behaving nicely) will really help improve your relationship with your new dog too.

If your dog continues to refuse to come inside use the ignoring bad behavior but rewarding good behavior technique from above. Make sure that whenever your dog moves towards the house or even gets up, you praise and reward him. If there is no reward for doing the right thing and he is being ignored either way there is no incentive for your dog so he is more likely to fail.

Get your dog used to going in and out of the house by playing little games with toys such as kicking a ball around in and out of your house doorway and having your dog chase it so your dog starts to associate coming in and out of the house with fun and games.

I really think you and your dog will see a big improvement in your relationship and your dogs behavior once you get in to this training. It will take a little work but the rewards will be huge.

All the best and let us know how you get on.
Posted by zipoutasite
Jul 21, 2009
Thank you KOPsarah for your reply. Yes, I am aware of the alpha dog training and one of the most frustrating things is when you think you are doing everything right and nothing changes. Then all of the sudden your dog begins to respond as if a little light bulb has gone off in his head and he suddenly realizes that if he is good he will be rewarded! This is exactly what has happened over the past couple of days and I have to say I am soooo relieved! Now when he does as told he is rewarded either with a treat or a game. I continue to feed him after I have eaten, move him if he is blocking an entrance or hallway, allow him to go through doorways after I have gone through(he even sits and waits for me to go through now) and give and take toys when I wish to play or not. He goes for walks everyday and is doing better with pulling. He has already regressed once and decided he wouldn't move to come into the house for which he got a short time out, so I know it will be 2 steps forward and one step back for a while, but thanks to everyone here I now have hope and feel much better about what I am doing. We will continue to work daily on all issues and practice, practice, practice!

Thanks again for all of your advice and help!