Frustrated with puppy

Posted by jostre
Jan 7, 2008
Hello! We purchased a female golden retriever and brought her home when she was 8 weeks old. She is now 14 weeks. I have read sitstayfetch. But I am having a few problems that have me at my wits end!

A little basic information: She is some what free fed. I leave her food bowl out for her but I will only add food to it at certain times. I pick up the bowl, add her food to it, put some cracker on top, eat the crackers, then I make her sit stay while I put her bowl back on the floor. Then I release her to eat. She does not gulp her food down. She just nibbles as she wants. I am sure you are going to tell me to stop doing that and to be stricter with her food! Will she eventually learn that she needs to eat it straight away before twenty minutes is up. That is the only part that concerns me about this. I don't want to be starving her!! Anyway, she gets as much exercise as she will let me! See below my issues with walking her. We have a large back yard that runs and plays in. I try to have at least two training sessions a day about twenty minutes each. We are working on - Sit, Stay, Come, and retrieving.

Now for the issues!!!

BITING AND NIPPING. It is hard to reward her during training because as soon as I show her any affection she starts trying to bite me. She isn't growling or anything when she does it but it is obviously still something that has to stop. She also bites at my pants legs and robe as I walk. When she gets a hold of it she stops and pulls it. I have tried "yelping" at her to no avail. We always try to give her something she IS allowed to chew but she would much rather chew on us. My husband has almost gotten to the point he doesn't want to have anything to with her because she won't stop biting and it hurts really bad! We have also tried the isolation. When she misbehaves in any manner, (i.e. barking at me or biting etc.), I simply pick her up and put her in her kennel. I don't say anything, I am never angry when I do it. I leave her in there for a few minutes then bring her back out. If she starts making a fuss while she's in there, I leave her there until a few minutes PAST the time she has calmed down. When I bring her out she is fine until I try to resume any activity with her, then she starts biting again. I don’t know what to do, she just doesn’t seem to get it!

WALKING or shall we say NOT WALKING!
We are having serious problems trying to walk her around our neighborhood. She does not want to go where I go. Most of the time she just wants to go back home. Other times it’s to check out something that has attracted her attention. If I even so much as try to get her to go anywhere, oohhh boy. I have tried the random walking but she is has not even mastered the heal yet. When I tried the random walking it just became a battle of the wills for her. She planted her self and would not budge. She will pull back against the leash and thrash her head around and hop backwards. I don’t want to make walking a negative experience for her nor do I want to hurt her. The when she does this I only have two options; drag her forcefully where I want her to go or turn around and go home. I am not going to drag her soooo!! Anyway, I have tried bribery with treats, cooing, jumping up and down you name it, I look like a total idiot and she just sits there! If we put her in the car and take her somewhere else, she is much better. Sometimes it is hard to get her to move on when she has found something she wants to investigate longer than we do! But, I can coax her with a treat and all is well! Why can’t I do this at home. Now granted I have never tried to have a “structured” walk when we have taken her other places other than not letting her “inspect” something for too long! Otherwise, it just a free walk for all to enjoy. And when should we be able to start expecting her to heal? Obviously not until we correct these issues I know but after that, do you think it is too soon to expect her to be able to heal?

Let me just say first off – she is not aggressive at all when she is doing this. For some strange reason she will randomly go up to her water bowl and put one of her paws inside the bowl (with water in it) with the other paw she paws the sides at top rim of the bowl. She will scoot it around the floor and spill it everywhere. It is somewhat funny and cute but mostly very frustrating when I have to clean it up several times a day. Sometimes she even gets both paws in there and it’s just like digging. It is really strange. She will do the digging thing in her food bowl also. If I tell her NO, she just looks at me like I’m crazy or she will put herself in play posture. I have tried similar techniques to the biting issue like the isolation in her kennel, and I have tried ignoring it. Ignoring just doesn’t work, she will do it until the water is all over the floor and then just lay in the water on the floor or go do something else.

Anyway, these are the main things that drive me crazy on a daily basis and if i don't get some help soon I won't have any hair left from pulling it out or worse case scenario my husband has mentioned finding her a new home. I REALLY REALLY don't want to do that. I really love her. In the few occasions when she is behaving she is the most loving and sweet dog. I really want to make this work. I only work part time so I can arrange almost any schedule you want me to follow. Just PLEASE help us. I know this post is really long so I thank in advance for taking the time to read it all.
Posted by Todd
Jan 7, 2008
Hi there and thank you for your questions.

Okay i will try and answer this in the parts you laid out but forgive me if i seem to go off on tangents.

Firstly with the food. At this age i would prefer her to be able to graze as she seems to do. When she is around 6 months you should try to switch her to eating 'meals'. This means putting the bowl down, if she doesn't eat in 5 minutes take it away. Try the same an hour later if she doesn't eat then she misses that meal. Now this may seem harsh but dogs will not starve themselves. She will learn quickly if she doesn't eat she goes hungry and hunger is a very motivating tool. But at the same time she should not be going over 36 hours without food if she does then let her graze for a day then try again. But you have to try to make her eat meals otherwise things will get hard later on.

Okay now for some general information that you should use in all circumstances.
The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your her while she is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making her move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk her around the house on the leash, making her wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that she eats after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet her straightaway when you arrive home. Make her wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till she is sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

The next advice i would give you is to ensure that she is very obedient. Continue with the 20 minute training sessions that you have been having working on the 3 basic commands, sit, stay and come.

Now for the 3 problem areas.

Nipping -
This is the general edvice i give to people that are having issues with their dog and have tried other methods.

You have to let your puppy know that its biting is unacceptable. The best way to do this is by demonstrating yourself as the alpha dog by growling menacingly, the way an alpha dog would.

*Sit down with your puppy and hold out your hand. If the puppy bites growl sharply, say "AAHH" rather then "NO", and do not yell it, growl it; make it quite gutteral (even if this gives you a sore throat).

*Hold out your hand again, and if your puppy goes to bite it again, growl again but stand up suddenly at the same time. Walk away for a few minutes.

*Then come back and sit down to play again, hold out your hand once more. If the puppy goes to bite for a third time be ready for it and give the puppy a little thump on the nose and growl once more (thump hard enough for the puppy to actually feel it) with the hand you are holding out. Generally, I do not recommend you hit your puppy, however, in your particular case this may be the only thing that will get the message across.

*Hold out your hand again, and by then your puppy should be wary of your hand (be aware that the hand biting behavior is probably a habit by now).

Remember nipping is not cute so all visitors whould know what you are trying to train her and what they should do if she nips at them. Getting her to chew on something else is a great idea and works quite well. Try different toys and try and put something like peanut butter on them to help interest her.

Using the cage as you have been doing is a great way to teach her what is right and what is wrong so keep up with that

2) Not walking
Okay she is going to be a big dog so now is a great time to try her on a gentle leader or a halti. These are great for bog dogs as they remove their pulling power and give you more control. Most vets and pet stores will have them.
Now when you introduce her to it play with her with it (don't let her bite it) and feed her around it. You want to desensitise her to it first and make her think it is okay. Once she is fine with it put one strap around her neck (not the nose strap).
She will squirm and scratch and maybe vocalise but it DOESN'T hurt. Let her do this a bit but when it starts getting out of hand reprimand her with an AHHHHHHH or GRRRRRRRR and give her a sit command (she must be well trained at this stage). When she sits or relaxes reward her with praise, attention and treats.
After a few goes at this fully put the halti on her and do as above. Do this for a day. The next day try her walking, beware some people will think your dog is 'muzzled' but don't be put off.

Okay so for the walking. What i think you should do is walk her around your house or section. Reward her for good behaviour, you can even make treat trails around the yard to help her confidence and obedience.
try to focus on getting her to heal as described in SitStayFetch. If these don't work then move to this method (But only if they don't work)

When your dog starts to pull, you need to:

*Stop and give your dogs lead a few tugs, and growl the guttural growl, ("AAHH!" rather then "NO") then bring the dog back beside you.

*Start walking away again and hold a treat by your side (so that your dog knows it is there).

*Your dog should be following along side you, if shetries to jump for the treat ignore it (do not let your dog bite at your hand though).

*When your dog tires of that, and simply walks along beside you say "HEEL!" then reward your dog for walking beside you.

Repeat this over and over, then you should start to see the results. If you praise her as she comes towards you then she is being rewarded only for backing up (the very last action it performed). You need to reward your dog for walking freely beside you as you move off from the stand still.

After a few days of walking around the yard try her on the street. Always have her at your heel. If she starts spazzing out then reprimand her and make her sit. If she behaves reward her as usual.
Now a great idea is to walk her somewhere exciting whether this be a friends house with treats or where she can meet another dog. One good walk can change everything. If she keeps playing up make her sit, if she doesn't then completely ignore her. This means no eye contact, turning away and not talking to her. Let her do what she wants to until she calms down, then reward her if she sits and carry on. This can look very strange to others and take some time so pick a quiet area
Be patient with her walking and be consistent.

3) Digging water?

This does sound funny, and it probably was the first few times but maybe not now.
Okay i have some ideas. Firstly try and get her more excercise in your yard (until you can walk her) this may be chasing balls, chew toys or my favourite a digging pit. This is a great way to expend energy as well as give her that good digging feeling

Pits should not be in direct sunlight but neither should they be in a cold wet corner. A pit 3x6 feet and 2 feet deep is ideal. Let her watch and help build the pit as this will arouse her interest, teach her what the pit is and encourage her to use it. Give her lots of praise when she shows an interest in the pit. A command like "Dig in your pit" should be used when she goes near the pit, try buring her facourite toys or treats in the pit. When she finds the toys praise him, play with the toy, all the time repeating "Dig in your pit". Repeat this over and over. You can test to see if she understands by letting her out and telling him to "Dig in your pit", i she goes to her pit praise and reward her.
Once she starts using the pit you must keep encouraging her to use it, bury special treats in the pit and praise her whenever she shows an interest in the pit.

You need to combine this with reprimanding digging in her bowls. When she starts to dig in her bowl say GGRRRRRRR or AHHHHHHH very loudly, enough to frighten her. Then when she stops take her to her digging pit. If she shows interest you must encourage her with praise and reward.
The mix of reprimanding the wrong digging and encouraging the rigth digging will make things much easier.

She sounds like a wonderful dog and you are very committed. This is the most important thing and it is great to hear and see it. You should be very proud of yourself as an owner. Keep up the good work and give her some time.
The most important things to remember are patience, consistency, reprimand and reward, exercise, alpha and obedience. And most of all have fun, i know she is

Good Luck

Todd Field
Kingdom of Pets Team
Posted by Todd
Jan 7, 2008
Now i am sorry for making you read all that Best if you print it off and read it through a few times.
have fun