Hard to handle behavior

Posted by Roxanne-Marks
May 16, 2010
Problems: Counter surfing, food stealing, lunging at people entering the house.

We have a 7 Mo. old Yellow Lab/spaniel mix. He's neutered & an Alpha dog He is crate trained.
How can we correct these problems? We have tried methods that were recommened in the book & they don't seem to be working.HELP us please!!! We do use a shock collar, praise, treats, putting him in his crate, ignoring him Thank you, Rocky & Sy
Posted by kjd
May 16, 2010
Hi, Rocky & Sy.

Sounds as if you have a whole series of problems with your pup. At 7 months, he is still a puppy, more of an adolescent. Think of a teenager!

With all his lunging, is he getting enough exercise? He sounds like a dog full of energy. You might want to try to get rid of some of that through exercise (throw a ball for him to retrieve, take him biking).

Have you taken him to an obedience class? Look for one that teaches through positive methods and, please, get rid of the shock collar. You want your dog to love you, not fear you!

If you had a baby, you would baby-proof the house. While you are teaching him to be a gentleman, dog-proof the house. Block him from the kitchen. Use baby gates to block him from people entering the house. Don't leave food unattended or put it where he cannot reach it.

Introduce him to clicker training (you can use a word, rather than a click). Once he has the idea of the click (or word) meaning he has earned a treat, pick one behaviour you want to change -- just one. Then let us try and work on that.

Meanwhile, anytime he is doing something you like (lying quietly), give him the reward word and treat.

I know it seems impossible now, but taking the time now means having a fabulous companion once he is fully mature.

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
May 18, 2010
Hi Rocky and Sy,

Does your dog counter surf when you are present, or when you are gone?

It will be easier to correct this behavior when you are there. Does he respond to your "No" or "Uh-Uh" pretty well?

If not, you might want to start with a basic obedience training. By giving him structured obedience session using positive reinforcement everyday, he will learn what is OK and what is not OK. I don't think he understands your way of communicating with him. I think obedience training is the best way for your dog to read what you expect from him as well as establishing a strong bond between you and your dog.

Another quick method of correcting his counter-surfing is to make a situation that he would get scared when he counter surfs. I didn't fix the situation and it was a total coincidence when my foster dog tried to lick grease off our cast iron flying pan and the pan fell on the floor and made a big noise. Since then he stopped counter-surfing completely. You can fix same kind of situation. However, please note that with this method, it might fix this particular behavior of his counter-surfing but it does not mean that he learns what he should not do in and around the house per your instructions, just like a child would not touch a hot pot after burning his fingers but he would still touch a sharp knife until he cuts his fingers. I would rather want my child not to touch things because I told him not to touch, including cat litter box, or some detergents, etc. . But as kjd said it would be even better not to leave stuff he is not supposed to touch within his reach until he gets old enough to know he shouldn't.

However, I think a 7 mos old dog can and should learn his boundaries and limitations. And what makes difference in his learning capability is how much he pays attention to what you say, and that is all depending on how much he trusts you, in other words, what kind of relationship you have with your dog. Basic obedience is very essential. Good luck