Forums Live Q&A Questions stealing items, towel attacks, jumping, and improving our walks

  • stealing items, towel attacks, jumping, and improving our walks

  • ThreeHounds

    March 5, 2023 at 11:32 am

    For the Q&A:

    Oliver (now 7 months old, 68 pounds) is getting better all the time, but of course developing new behaviors we need to modify…

    1. One thing he loves to do is snatch things and run away. I can get things back using the “drop” command, but I’d REALLY like to prevent the behavior to begin with. I think this is becoming a chained behavior… we learned at class to say “drop” then drop treats between our feet. Pup drops the item and comes over to get the treats. Yes, this works, but he is a little too willing to give up his prizes. I think he sees this as a game and actively looks for stuff to take. He took my husband’s prescription glasses and scratched the lenses doing this. I think he does this to get attention sometimes.

    2. He thinks towels mean fun and games. He attacks towels. How can I desensitize him to towels? It’s pretty inconvenient when it’s raining and he comes in sopping wet, then attacks the towel as we try to dry him off. We’ve never played with him with towels.

    3. He is intensely curious and always wants to see what I have when I’m carrying something. He jumps at me to get a better look. What I’ve done with other dogs is turn around, but this escalates the jumping with Oliver and makes him more determined. He’s very smart and he seems to say, “I see through your ploy! You have moved the thing I want to see! Haha, I know where it is!” So then, since my hands are full, I bring up my knee to discourage the jumping. Again, this makes him try harder. I need him to understand that he should not do this, and that I’m not playing an increasingly challenging game of keepaway with him.

    4. When we go on walks, we often end up going on “stands.” Oliver is fascinated by every single thing. He likes to stand and space out. If there is something he’s working through then I’m fine with it–we saw a guy with a backpack today, and that was a new thing. So I was fine with Oliver standing there and watching until he passed by us. But sometimes Oliver just stands there for no apparent reason.

    5. The other extreme is when we go on “drags.” He’ll try to drag me into various yards so he can get a better look at something. Our trainer in class said to go in the opposite direction when he does this, so that’s what I do. It solves the problem for the moment, but there is always something else. We end up zig-zagging down the street, with me juggling the pup and looking for oncoming cars. I’ve also tried just stopping when he pulls. But there is a lot of pulling… I tried walking 10 steps and stopping. Yes, Oliver was pulling. I tried walking 5 steps and stopping. Yup, he was pulling. So I tried ONE STEP and stopping–pulling… Oliver is absolutely perfect in the boring backyard, so (in theory) he knows how to walk on lead. He is just so easily distracted. For reference, we’ve only been doing neighborhood walks for a couple of weeks. We play the game of tossing the treat and walking slowly over to it, and Oliver also does this perfectly.

    One major win for us–I am not using a muzzle on him to prevent him from picking up stuff on walks. Everyone told me to get a muzzle. I have a muzzle that fits him, but we don’t need it so much now. Part of it is his increasing maturity, and part of it is that the world is really interesting and he’d rather look at what’s going on than grub around in the gutter. If he grabs anything, it’s usually leaves and pinecones.

  • ThreeHounds

    March 15, 2023 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks again for addressing my questions! So, some more info:

    1. I’ve started using your “don’t touch food” training to try to get Oliver to leave things alone on tables. We do continue to puppy proof, but sometimes it’s easy to set something down like glasses for “just a minute.” And Oliver lies in wait for these lapses! He also waits for times when we aren’t right on top of him so we can grab him. A common time for him to take things is when I’m making dinner. I see him dancing around the living room out of the corner of my eye, with his tail wagging furiously and I know he has something. Maybe this is just puppyish behavior that will go away on its own.

    2. I will try distracting him with other behaviors with the towel. Other dogs I’ve had have attacked towels, and it does seem to just go away with time.

    3. I think this probably goes along with #2–I just need to give him an incompatible behavior so he doesn’t jump on me.

    4. I will try to get a video of his space-outs. Sometimes, I think it might be birds or something I’m not aware of. One day, he was frightened by someone who passed very close to him on a bike. The next day, it took about 10 minutes to get past the spot where that happened. He kept staring down the street like he expected the bike to reappear at any moment. I think sometimes it’s the memory of scary events.

    5. I will finish the loose-leash walking course. Good to know that there are ideas in there for fixing the “ping pong” problem. I think I’m about halfway through it. He pulls VERY hard sometimes, and hitting the end of the lead with a lot of force is starting to cause some chronic issues with my shoulder. I’ve always walked dogs on Gentle Leaders, which (like the prong collar you mention) instantly fixes the pulling problem. I’m trying to avoid aversive methods with this puppy.

    Final note on aversive training, also mentioned in the same Zoom meeting–so this works well with SOME dogs. I’ve had two big issues with using aversive training with my personal pets. One dog I have became excessively fearful, which I think was a result. Another past dog became very combative. We were ALWAYS in a war of wills. Everything that she had any control over became a struggle. Oliver has a lovely spirit and I know he would fall into the second category with aversive training. So, I am trying to use positive methods as much as possible!

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