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"Hi Daniel, It is with great pleasure that I am writing this for Secrets to Dog Training.net. Secrets to Dog Training Training was great! We have a crossed breed Poodle/Terrier and training him is extremely important to us since we live in high rise apartment. Secrets to Dog Training's training methods are positive and very proactive. Sumo, our pup, is doing great! At only 5 months old he sits, lies down, heals, stays, and even comes most of the time. We can not expect too much at his age but he is getting better everyday. Secrets to Dog Training continues to provide support through email which we feel is a priceless resource."
-- Wayne & Sumo (USA)
I have found your book very beneficial, but I have two problems with my 16 week old Golden Retriever puppy. He is adorable in so many ways and we all love him, but we had a 16 year old Golden who died in April, so going from that to a puppy is fairly difficult to say the least. I have spent a lot of time with training, and taken him to puppy preschool which has reinforced the training that you advocate.
The problems that I (or should I say we) are having with him are that he will not stop biting and nipping. I have tried all the things that you and the breeder that I got him from have suggested, and although he is much better than he was, he is still biting and won’t stop when you say no. I have tried pebbles in a tin. He just looks at it and carries on. I have tried growling at him like a dog, yelping like another pup being hurt, you name it I have tried it. He just carries on. I give him masses of positive reinforcement all the time which he loves, but still he continues to bite.
He has even bitten me aggressively when I have tried to get something off him that he is not allowed to have. I have now started to hold him by the scruff of the neck when I do this so he can’t bite me, and that seems to work. I am getting desperate. He comes up to us for a pat and when you pat him he bites your hand.
He bites my kid’s socks; he bites our ears and my daughter’s long hair. He is relentless. I am desperate, as the family (son 13, daughter 16, and husband) are all complaining about him and getting frustrated with him. I know he is still a baby and has to learn correct behavior, but I would have thought that he would have got it by now!!! I probably should add here that my son is inclined to encourage him to bite because he likes to play with him, which is probably not helping.
The other problem, which really worries me, is that I have a Yorkshire Terrier who is 7 years old. She is very small for a Yorkie, and he wants to play with her all the time, but he constantly hurts her. He sits on her, bites her and altogether harasses her. This morning I let her out to the toilet first, and I actually thought she had come back inside, so let him out, and then this was this terrible squealing that went on and on. I rushed out and the poor little Yorkie was holding her paw up squealing. He had obviously bitten her, although I couldn’t find anything to speak of, but she was clearly distressed and hurting. I am concerned that if I am not around all the time he could innocently kill her. Help please! What can I do? By the way we live in New Zealand.
I really want to have a well behaved dog, and Ralph has all the potential to become that dog if we can get over these hurdles before the family lose the plot. He is also really naughty at taking things and running away with them and not coming back when called. I am sure that will change as I keep working with him consistently and he gets older. That is not so much of a worry as these other things.
Sorry to land so many issues on you, but I could really do with some help to get things right. Any help would be very much appreciated.
Thanks for your email. I think there a number of things that will help you in this situation. There are two very important things that I believe are crucial when raising a well behaved dog - obedience lessons and Alpha Techniques.
It’s great that Ralph has been to puppy preschool. One thing that I would recommend is that you continue obedience training at home. Have daily lessons with Ralph, for at least 10 minutes a day.
I also recommend that you read and begin using the Alpha Techniques as set out in the bonus book. If Ralph knows that you are in charge, and that he is at the bottom of the pack, he is more likely to listen to your commands, at all times. Also, in the wild, the bottom ranked dog would not try to nip or bite the Alpha! The Alpha techniques should teach him some respect and manners.
I think that any corrective training you try will be ineffective unless you can get your son to stop encouraging Ralph's biting behavior. Any corrections will only be undermined unless the entire family is being consistent with the training. You are doing all the right things as far as teaching him that his biting is inappropriate, but understandably, Ralph continues the behavior, because a member of the family is encouraging him. He doesn't actually realize what he is doing wrong if he is allowed to bite sometimes, and not other times. You said that your son is getting frustrated with Ralph, so explain that unless he works with the rest of the family to stop the behavior, the frustration will only continue. If each family member works consistently, soon you will have a much better behaved pet that will be a pleasure to play with.
However, one thing I would say is that you should avoid trying to take things from Ralph's mouth. This will often cause a dog to clamp down even harder, and in some, will cause an aggressive outburst as the dog tries to protect what he regards as his. Make sure that you include the Drop It command in your training, and use that command as a first step. If Ralph doesn't obey, try trading the object for another, more suitable toy, or for a food treat. When he drops the item, make sure his attention is elsewhere before removing it.
Ensure Ralph is getting enough exercise, and that he has a good supply of toys. Sturdy chew toys, with a food treat in the centre will often keep a dog occupied for hours!
Always praise any positive interactions between your two dogs. If Ralph becomes too rough, make sure that you reprimand him by squirting him with cold water, or shaking a can of pebbles. Ensure that your Yorkie has a safe place to retreat to if she needs it - a crate is ideal in this situation because she is smaller than Ralph, so can hide in much smaller spaces.
If you have to go out during the day, keep the dogs in separate areas of the house. You might also want to read the section in the main book titled "2 Dogs in the House".
I hope this helps Veronica. Good luck and please let me know how you progress.
Daniel Stevens and the Secrets to Dog Training Team
Things have definitely improved with Ralph. I am still struggling at times with him recognizing me as top dog, but the biting has stopped and he is also much better with our little Yorkie. I tell him to leave when he is around her and he sits and looks at me now, so I give him a treat, but not every time.
Altogether a big improvement. My son is still not helping things at times but that is a bit better also. Thanks for all the help.
I've been a professional dog trainer for well over 20 years, and in that time I've helped thousands of dog owners just like you to get the friendly, well behaved, slipper fetching, best pal they always wanted.
But it didn't start out that way. I've always loved dogs, some things never change. But when I first started my professional dog training career I relied on the so-called 'best practices' when it came to dog behavior training. It was only when I heard people tell me over and over again that they just weren't seeing results that I started to question the old accepted wisdom. So I started a journey, a quest to search out the best, most effective, techniques, tips, and tricks that really work.
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