Forum Replies Created
Yeah, I’m with Amber – if you’re tense or stressed the dog notices, so if you tense up when you see another dog or another person on the street, the dog will learn that other dogs/people are to be feared.
My dog totally failed out of obedience classes (he wanted to meet the other dogs SO MUCH, he kept barking and wouldn’t listen to me) so now we’re doing private lessons and I’m trying to find him some friends to hang with. I don’t know, socialization is hard . . . I guess you just have to keep trying your dog with different playmates until you can find one who’ll tell your dog to back off when he’s being rude or rough.
yeah, this is a really serious problem – talk to a trainer and/or behaviourist. My dog had a similar/not identical problem, where he was jumping up and biting me and tearing at my clothes when he got overexcited. He thought he was being playful, but I was covered in bruises and lost some nice sweaters to his teeth. I consulted with a trainer and a behaviourist (am still consulting, still doing obedience classes, etc) and it’s gotten much better.
Some short-term stop-gaps that might help: on his walks, try him on a gentle leader or a halti head halter. They’re recommended for dogs who are developing aggression because they allow you to control the dog’s head – this is how I got my dog to stop jumping up and nipping/biting during walks. They’re not a solution, but they can put you back in control while you get your dog trained.
The other thing to consider is that dogs who growl/bark/bite at everyone EXCEPT their owners/families often think that they’re in charge, and are trying to protect you/mark you as their possession. This is often why small dogs are such jerks, and are only nice to one person; no one ever trained them to know that they weren’t the head of the house. Thinking they’re in charge is bad for you and bad for the dog – you aren’t in control, and the dog feels more anxiety and worry because it’s his job to protect everyone. Here is a good article on getting back in control:
I found it really helpful.
oh! also! have you tried Bitter Apple? You spray it on furniture, shoes, whatever, and it deters the dog from chewing (it tastes gross). There are rare dogs who actually like the taste, but most really hate it. It worked for me! Now my dog will try to chew on something that’s been sprayed just out of principle – I can chew on this if I want to! look at me, I’m being bad! – but then he gets this grossed out look on his face, like, ugh, and if I don’t pay attention to him he stops right away.
Another vote for Nylabones! My dog loves his, and they last for months. Whenever I catch him chewing on something he shouldn’t, I distract him (usually moving quickly and loudly to another room so he’s interested to follow me) and interest him in his bone instead. Then I praise and pet him for chewing his bone.
If your dog really likes to destroy stuff, you could also try giving her stuff to destroy – I give mine paper egg cartons with a bit of peanut butter smeared inside, paper towel rolls, etc., and he loves tearing them apart. I also – and this is such a cheap option – give him sticks. He loved chewing on my wood furniture, so I started giving him dead sticks from outside; he loves them and will work to get them (I make him sit, down, wait, whatever) and then he’ll chew them to bits. Those options make a mess, but it really helps him get his destructive energy out.
Also, totally get yourself a black Kong or two. My favourite trick right now is to use it to give him part of his dinner – so I feed him most of his dinner in his bowl, but the other half a cup or so goes in his Kong along with something wet and especially tasty – pumpkin or canned dog food or a bit of peanut butter – mixed in and on either end. I push and push with my thumb until the Kong’s as full as can be. Then I freeze the whole thing for a few hours. The frozen Kong lets him work out his chews and also gives him some mental stimulation as he figures out how to get the food out. This generally takes him an hour or more – and gives me a nice break!
I have a 7 month old who’s similar in that he’s very hyper, and that sometimes (especially on walks) it can be hard to get him to focus – he’ll even turn down his favourite treats if he’s busy watching a squirrel or wants to eat some sidewalk trash. What I’ve found to be a HUGE help is clicker training – if he sits and then wiggles away before you can give him food and reward his behaviour, the clicker will help you keep up with him. I really recommend reading some articles (there are lots about clicker training) before starting, but the gist of it is, you “load” the clicker by going click-treat click-treat click-treat many times over a few days, until your dog knows that a click means a reward. Then you can start using the clicker to “mark” the good behaviour – so the moment he hear the click, he thinks, TREAT! That way you can click the moment he sits, the moment he’s walking nicely by your side, the moment he looks up at you for direction. Seriously it’s made a big difference in my guy after only a few weeks – now he works for the click rather than for the treat. The important thing is to never ever click without treating: the click is a promise of a reward.
The other thing I’ve found that really helps is always having a variety of treats; my guy gets bored really easily and loves new things. So I used to go out with just Zuke’s training treats or just jerky . . . now I go out with little bits of cheese, little bits of hot dog, Zuke’s, jerky, even a squeeze tube full of pumpkin sometimes (he loooooves pumpkin). That way he never knows what he’s going to get, and it keeps him interested and more focused on me. I take my clicker too, and when he’s doing the right thing it’s click-reward click-reward click-reward over and over, and no clicks for running ahead or pulling or barking at people. I do click-reward him for NOT barking at people, NOT chasing squirrels, etc. Now when he sees a squirrel or a person he wants to go up to, he’ll pull a bit and then sit down and stare at them – which isn’t perfect, but is certainly better than barking and jumping at them! So I click-reward him for having a little impulse control. Small steps!
The other thing to remember is that your puppy is a puppy – he doesn’t have much of an attention span yet. Just keep being patient, make sure you reinforce the good behaviour and don’t reinforce the bad behaviour, and you’ll get there. Pitties tend to be REALLY smart, so if you reward a bad behaviour (with attention etc.) even once it can have terrible consequences (I have found!). But by the same token, they will learn quickly if you’re consistent and patient.
Yeah, I tried the Kong brand frisbee and was really surprised by how flimsy it turned out to be – my dog had it in tiny pieces after two throws. He loves to chew and loves to take things apart, so if you have some amazing pit bull who doesn’t like those things you might be okay, but otherwise I’d say don’t waste the money.