Is it too late for my baby?

Posted by LuvmyPitbull
Jul 15, 2011
Alice is a yr old and the only training she has had is from me (and a little from my ex-husband). This means it has been inconsistent and, at times, ineffective. She knows my ex is her Alpha but she thinks she is my Alpha (due to how much I baby her).
I have a Gentle Leader halter for her so she doesn't pull me around but if it weren't for that she'd drag me through the neighborhood. In fact she is such a good puller that when we hooked her to the trailer hitch on a Pickup she pulled the truck about 5ft trying to get to where we were.
She knows the commands and will perform them quickly for a treat. She will sit, lay, shake, etc for a treat then immeadiately runs off to do her own thing. I can't get her to sit and focus on anything.
She hasn't been socialized with other dogs or people very much either. She's not aggressive towards them just super excited and ready to play...this is the hardest time to get her attention and make her listen.

Is it too late to enroll in some sort of class? Can she still learn how to behave properly, calm down, and listen to ME (not just the Ex)?
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jul 15, 2011
Hi LuvmyPitbull,

The short answer is "No, it's not too late" but there are certain conditions, which are:

1. Be patient and consistent
2. Stop babying her

And the training is not only in the classrooms. You need to stick to what you learned at home, at the park, everywhere.

The purpose of those trainings is not only to teach your dog how to "sit" "down", etc. The real purpose is to teach them to pay attention to you, and do what you ask her to do, that includes "distance" "duration" and "distraction" to each command. For example, when you ask your dog to "sit", most of dogs "sit" right away especially if you offer a treat. But can you dog sit still even when you go answer the phone (distance and duration)? Can she "sit" still when the park where all the dogs are running around (distraction)? I am not talking about 10 minutes but at least she should be able to do for 15 seconds until you release her.

Training is a build up thing. Make it longer and longer, harder and harder, and it needs to be maintained. There is no end to it.

If you are committed to the above, yes! it's not too late so enroll her to classes and enjoy her more Good luck
Posted by LuvmyPitbull
Jul 15, 2011
Distance, Duration and Distraction are all a huge emphatic "NO!" What can I do to improve upon these things? I have a few other posts up in the behavior, health, and training forums as well...
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jul 16, 2011
Hey there,

If youre interested in classes, definitely enroll asap! The so called "socialization learning period" in dogs "closes" somewhere around 18 months, so you definitely still have time to get her to behave and listen well.

Classes are an excellent way to achieve your goals with re-training, because someone else is present who can identify mistakes and help you re-evaluate how to handle Alice.

Distance and duration will naturally be trained into Alice's way of thinking the more you work with her, in and outside of class. Dogs naturally listen well and respond to thorough, repeated training by listening even better. My own dog Jackson just picked up staying in a sit until I said it was ok to. Don't be disheartened, I'm sure you and Alice will sort out soon enough, just be persistant! Good luck with classes, please keep us updated!
Posted by LuvmyPitbull
Jul 29, 2011
So does that mean if she starts after 18 mo she will never learn how to act properly around other dogs/people?

Distance is getting better...I can take 2 steps but then she comes after me. I feel like that's progress though considering originally if I even acted like I was going to move she would jump up.

Distraction is still a huge barrier for her and I can't even begin to figure out how to address this one!

Duration is also still a problem. She will hold the command until she receives the treat then she will run off to another room to eat her treat. Is that expected? Is that the working definition of Duration--maintain until the treat is given[B][U] or [/U][/B]should it be maintain until I give the command to go?
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jul 30, 2011
Hi LuvmyPitbull,

I will try to answer your questions:

>So does that mean if she starts after 18 mo she will never learn how to act properly around other dogs/people?

It is not necessarily true but that window is very critical for socializing. When a puppy is still young they can easily get socialized but if a puppy spent first 1 year or so being isolated from other dogs and other people rather than the owner, it will be very hard for the puppy to feel comfortable around other dogs and people. Some puppies show fear aggression (one of my dogs is this case) and some get very timid or fearful (my current foster pup is this case). Once your dog gets socialized with all kinds of dogs and people (incl. all sorts of skin colors, men and women, kids and old people with canes/on a wheel chair, as well as people with sun-glasses, baseball cap, beard, you name it!

>Distance is getting better...I can take 2 steps but then she comes after me. I feel like that's progress though considering originally if I even acted like I was going to move she would jump up.

Good job! Each dog is different and learning speed is different so don't be discouraged. My dogs all are border collie mix (border collies are considered as the smartest breed of all) so they learn very quickly but my current foster dog hasn't even mastered "sit" after a week although he is an Aussie, another smart breed. The reason is he is so fearful and timid so he cannot concentrate in training since his antenna is always catching any move of the airand any subtle noise around him. In a way, he is distracted. So working on distraction of your puppy might be the first thing you might need to do. Just try to get her attention by throwing a tiny treat behind her. She will turn and go get the treat and she will turn right back to you once she realizes that treats are coming from you You can also bring a tiny treat between your eyes and see if she follows the treat and gives you an eye contact. As soon as she does, say "Yes!" and give her the treat. These are a couple of many other ways to keep your dog's attention.

>Duration is also still a problem. She will hold the command until she receives the treat then she will run off to another room to eat her treat. Is that expected?

Are you giving her a big treat like a milkbone? Treats should be really tiny, no bigger that the size of your pinky finger nail. Once she sits down at your command, say "Yes" and wait a few seconds before you give her a treat and releases her from the command (sit) by saying "all done" or "ok". You can make the time longer and longer. In fact, you can give her another command "Stay" instead of "Sit" if you want her to "stay still". Again, don't forget to release her in a few seconds, otherwise she is supposed to be "staying" until she feels like and it means breaking a command is OK for her.

>Is that the working definition of Duration--maintain until the treat is given or should it be maintain until I give the command to go?

Yes, it shoud be maintained until you release her from that particular command.

Hope this will help. Let us know how it goes. Good luck
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jul 31, 2011
Hey again!

Sorry! Didnt mean to give the impression that after 18 months a dogs learning ability is closed! Its not the case at all. As MHN suggested, the "socialization period" window is textbook defined as up to 18 months - but this just means that this is the time period when its easiest to expose dogs to new stimuli and training and typically get good responses from them, instead of shyness or stubbornness. As with all things, this definition doesn't work for every dog - some seem to become more timid at earlier or later ages, so the "window" doesn't apply across the board. And I would say its never fully closed at all! Again, you may just find that after this age(ish), your dog is a bit more uncertain of new things, but can be totally willing to accept them with a bit more time! Or, you may not run into any noticeable problems at all!

The take home message is that its good and important to try and expose your dog to as much as possible at as young an age as possible, so that they will not react badly later on to whatever (car washes, other loud dogs, screaming children, etc etc etc - the list is endless!). Obviously no one can expose their dog to EVERYTHING as a puppy, so sooner or later every dog owner comes up against something their dog just doesn't like. Training through this just takes dedication and patience - two traits you've already proven you have with your dog!

As far as duration and listening, I can't really add much onto what MHN said - its great advice. Duration of holding a command should be broken by you giving a stop/good dog/enough/ok command. And most dogs take time to get the idea of stay down pat - you just have to keep adding steps away from your dogs until its solid Just like you have been doing!

Keep working on it, and keep us updated! Sounds like youre going down the right track!
Posted by LuvmyPitbull
Aug 4, 2011
It's not that she's shy, timid, or scared of other people, dogs, noise etc...she is just super excited and immeadiately wants to run-up and play. Of course some people/animals can't handle a 60lb brick wall running at them or jumping on them and I have a hard time getting her attention especially at this point. I generally keep a spray bottle close by so if jumping begins I can spritz her & say "No" or "Down". Now there are some people around my apartments that she is warry of and may growl or bark at but I feel that is more due to her picking up on my apprehension of these people. To me, this is a good thing becuase it is her protecting me which I am grateful for!

She is great with kids, she does understand that these are little people and not for her to climb on...adults or older kids are another story. For example, my neice & nephew (5 & 6 yr olds) she will hand them a paw but will not jump, my mother/sis/father etc are much bigger and therefore, she thinks, should carry her around! LOL

For her treats I alternate between two...1 is a tiny biscuit made my Blue Buffalo and another is a lamb-based "training morsel". I noticed a better response with the training bits than with the tiny cookies but I worry that 1 little treat isn't "worth it" for her. Should I even be concerned with this? As far as eye contact, she will definately focus on the treat. She will give me an extremely quick glance (not even long enough for me to tell her "yes") but that is it.

I appreciate all the help and Alice is really coming along thanks to you guys!
Posted by KOPCaroline
Aug 6, 2011
Hey again,

Sounds like you're doing a great job with Alice, and sounds like she loves most new things! As you said, dogs are really good at picking up on their owners hesitations/reservations about other people/dogs, so its understandable that she gets a bit worked up. As long as you can tell her "enough" and she listens and stops growling or calms down, I wouldnt think this is a bad behaviour

As far as being treat focused, just work on not giving her the treat until she looks at you and loses a bit of focus on the treat. You can either keep it in view, or try putting the treat behind your back for a few seconds to make sure she stays still and will look you in the eye every time you say her name or say "pay attention" etc. Keep saying it until she keeps looking at you for longer and longer. This technique usually helps, its just a bit gradual so keep at it.

Keep having a great time with Alice - she sounds amazing! Let us know how things go!
Posted by LuvmyPitbull
Aug 9, 2011
Well, our walks have gotten a lot let's work on the Pet store!

I am having a huge issue with her at the pet store when other dogs are around. She will bark and whine to the point that it sounds like I'm torturing her! Plus she wears a Gentle Leader Halter so when she starts to pull and twist and yelp she may actually be hurting herself but she continues to do it. Once the other dogs are out of sight she will calm down but as soon as we turn the corner or get in line she freaks out again.

I can't get her to focus on me and calm down, and quite frankly I have had to just up and leave several times due to the embarrasment and not wanting her to hurt herself. It's like that scenario wehre you tell your kids if they don't act right in the store your going to take them home...well I have to take her home every time!

What should I do in this situation? Is leaving when she doesn't respond the correct move or do you think it makes no difference considering it's not like she understands we are there for her and having to leave without finishing our shopping? I don't want to use treats to get her attention in this case because I don't want her thinking I am rewarding the bad behavior...
Posted by Risa
Aug 10, 2011
Hello Luv my Pitbull!

I have the exact same issue inside the pet store with my beagle, Oscar :eek: ! Well, be lucky that your love for Alice is immense !

Btw, I suggest you could identify any type of treats or toys she likes? You could use extra awesome treats that Alice can get rarely! Try to get her attention from the other dogs (mostly when attack mode - tail straight) by calling her name and putting the treat in front of her nose (don't let her get it!) and make her look at you and tell her to sit, shake, turn around, or any other trick she knows to forget about the situation.

If this doesn't work, tug her hard, make the leash shorter, which will eventually make her come to you easily, depending on your strength though. If you feel like its extremely hard, praise her so well, telling her in body language, "Dude, this is the attitude I want, ignoring, then you'll get praise for it instead of 'NOOOO's"