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Unread 10-20-2006, 08:07 AM   #1
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Question 14 week Lab/Kelpie cross behaviour extremes

Hey all,
Great forum, I've already found some great advice here that I'll be using with Zephyr (Zeph) my gf's and myselves 14wk old male choco lab/kelpie cross. Zeph is my first dog, pretty much ever and I'm trying very hard not to let the little bugger down! Any fault is definitely not his, but his trainer's!

My issue is that in the past week Zeph has gone from doing pretty good at everything to being a complete little s#&t in the matter of about a week!!

We've been to puppy preschool (we're in Australia; was a 4 week course); even before we went Zeph was reliably sitting, dropping and staying for about 1/2 minute (we're working on that one still ) He's a completely outside dog. For those not familiar with Kelpies (I think they're pretty Aussie and not around too many other places), pretty much the same as Border Collie's but possibly even more active and with the same intelligence.

I've been training via positive reinforcement, luckily he seems to have inherited the lab appetite. He's also very very affectionate so treating either works well. As another post has said I've also been training as much as possible, not being negative, but really trying to reward good behaviour (although Zeph thinks training is playing which is great!).

Anyway issues are;
* walking on a lead - i first took him for a walk prior to him being vaccinated properly (which I know wasn't good) but he walked perfectly, no straining, pretty content to follow me around. Since his second vacc, every time we go walking he's straining at the lead every time we go near a tree/pole/shrub/something interesting. I've been treating him every time he behaves properly for a small amount of time but he's not taking to that all that well when I try increasing the duration. He's done this pretty consistently for the past week regardless of what I've done. My next step is a halter lead at this stage.
* destructo-dog - in the last week he's started ripping up the backdoor mat (no interest shown for the last 3 weeks), pulling clothes off the line, and ripping/shredding the gauze/flyscreen off the screen door. My thoughts are he's bored BUT He has tonnes of toys (which he only plays with 2 or 3) and we play for an hour in the morning (includes a 1/2 walk) and for an hour in the evening. My GF is home during the day most days and will have a few 1/2 hour bouts of play with him. I'm at a loss on this one.
* psycho-angry-barking dog - after playing if I sit down he's started to come up to me and go nuts barking, snarling and lunging at me. I ignore him and he'll keep at it for 5 minutes or so. As he breaks off snarling he'll whimper and then sit and look at me (doggy temper tantrum?). Once he stops for a minute or two I'll say Gday to him and start playing with him again. This one worries me the most as he's normally the most easy-going dog, the snarling etc is completely out of character for him.
* hole digging - not too fussed on this one, but I'll try the poop in the hole idea and see what that does
* coming/recall - in the backyard is just about perfect; only time I have an issue is when he's really really really interested in next door's dogs. Outside the yard I have a lot of trouble getting his attention, once I get it he's repsonding better and better to the command but only if i have his attention to start with. How do I get him to generalise the command? i'm thinking of a long line and slowly letting it out and practicing the comes. Any thoughts?
* excitement round people/dogs - once he gets near people/dogs he gets so excited he doesn't respond well at all to any of the things we've practiced - how do you encourage getting him to look to you rather than launching straight into play?

Apologies about the long post - trying to get as much info down as I can - I realise most of it is situational.
He went to the vet only 2 weeks ago and nothing environmental has changed that much.

Any help/thoughts/insights would be much appreciated as I'm pretty confused at the sudden changes
Cheers

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Unread 10-20-2006, 09:14 AM   #2
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Hello and welcome

Your little bundle of fluff sounds like a perfectly normal puppy - not sure if this is helpful or not!
I'll try and give you my opinions on some of the points you've raised....

Walking on a lead - when you set off, have a fairly short lead so that it's long enough to keep pup where you want him. As soon as that lead goes tight, stop dead in your tracks until he relaxes and the lead goes loose. Hopefully he'll plonk his bum down and look at you for the next command. Continue like this consistently, lead tight, stop. When he's walking nicely, tell him and treat him. Decide on your keywords and stick to them - for instance my dogs know heel (walk to my heel) close (stay close - offlead command) and 'with me' which means I'm off, watch this space and follow me.
You might feel as though you look odd, stopping every 2 steps or so and then going again. But it works, I lead trained a 9 yr old rottie using this method in about 3 days...

Destruct-dog LOL he's probably teething. Use some bitter apple on the door frame, mats etc (anything you don't want him to eat!) and soak a rope tuggy in beef stock, freeze and let him chew on that. Kongs are good for teething too, stuff it with lots of tasties, he's food motivated so that should keep him occupied for a while (don't forget to reduce his daily feed to take into account what's gone into the kong or you'll have a kelpie x elephant in no time)

psycho-dog - sounds like he's trying to initiate a play session. Does he do the play 'bow' where the front legs are down and the bum's right up? You're doing exactly the correct thing by ignoring him till he calms down. Play is the same as everything else - not his decision to make.

Hole digging - good luck! You're braver than me putting poop in the hole. mine would see that as an extra treat! Dogs are not out off by smells such as that - it will probably encourage him....The best option I've ever heard for this was to build the dog a digging area (sand pit or similar) then it's just a case of directing him to there to dig. I've never been able to stop mine digging.

Recall - do the long line thing. While he's still this young it's the best time to get the recall solid. With regards to the next door dog - you have to make yourself more interesting to your pup. try crinkling paper (biscuit wrapper), crouching on the floor inspecting a spot of dirt, shouting what's this with a treat in your hand. If none of those work you could progress to a bottle filled with stones - give your command, if he doesn't respond crash it down behind him to break his concentration and pull on the line along with your command again. ALways treat a recall - it's the most important command a dog can know IMHO.

Excitement around other people - I would use time out for this - if he won't listen then remove him from the room and wait till he calms down. Let him in again, and repeat as necessary.....

At 14 weeks he will learn very quickly. I once read somewhere (i'd love to remember where!) that it takes 12 successive trys to teach a dog a new command. So for instance sit. If you can get him to sit 12 times in a row with a treat, then theoretically he should have learned that command. Screw up once, back to the beginning of the 12.....I've never counted so don't know how true it is.

Hope that helps - I'm sure loads of other suggestions will come your way. Keep us posted how he's getting on, and please please please put some pics up - we LOVE puppies!!

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Unread 10-20-2006, 07:13 PM   #3
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Hi MrsRottie,

First, your Rotties look gorgeous. My GF's mum has a 12-13yold rottie who unfortunately is on his last legs - he's one of the most placid beautiful dogs I've ever met - except for when I was play-threatening my GF one day - he told me in no incertain terms to back off (jaw at my hamstring). Then started to play wth me again straight after, very cute dog.

Re the walking on a lead; I'll try that; I'd stopped using it in favour of suddenly changing direction, but I thikn I may have confused him a bit.

Re destructo-dog - The rope toy is already in the freezer! With the Kong's we've got him one of the smaller ones- do you literally just fill it up? We're very careful with how much we feed him; he's got more of the kelpie body than the lab and shows weight very easily (and gets cranky too)

Re psycho dog - sometimes he'll bow when he's going nuts, other times he's in a proper sit while he does it. Good to know we're on the right track with this one!

Hole digging - yep a kids pit/pool was on our list already, looks like we might just bring it forward a bit

Recall good to know as well.

It's funny - they all seem like such huge things until you get on the forums here and realise - hey; he's just a puppy still! Makes you feel a bit better!

Pics will be posted as soon as I get to a PC where i can resize them; they're too big at the mo.

He does learn extremely quick - my issue is making sure he learns the right things!

Thanks heaps MrsRottie

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Unread 10-21-2006, 09:07 AM   #4
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Welcome to Dogforum.org.

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Unread 10-21-2006, 09:51 PM   #5
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I'm also in Australia, and have a cross Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog/Kelpie.

They are the most energentic of dogs.

To your problems.

I have used the put a couple of poops in the hole - cover with sand and place a brick over the whole lot - worked for me.

Recall - ie come here when I call you - a dried liver treat worked really well, as well as a long lead.

The best thing I learnt was to use the "look at me command".

I showed a larger sized piece of the liver treat, then held it between my eyebrows while saying "look at me". She loved to look at me, because she got the treat!

I can now use that command to get her attention off whatever else is distracting her.

The ideal would be able to go to a training school. Costs a fair bit I know, but it trains you to be able to train your dog.

Mine is still very far from perfect, but I do see improvements every week.

I wish you very good luck, and very happy puppy/dog ownership.

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Unread 10-23-2006, 08:38 AM   #6
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So pleased to hear that things are going well - you're very welcome for the help, that's what we're here for!!

And thanks for the doggy compliment, I'll tell them when get home from work today, they'll be thrilled

Look at Me is a fantastic command - and quite easy to teach too

Kong fillings - google it, there's websites out there devoted to kong recipes.

Keep us posted!!

Last edited by MrsRottie; 10-23-2006 at 08:40 AM..

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Unread 10-27-2006, 12:50 PM   #7
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Hello, you've had some great advice here and it's always good to start as you mean to go on but 14 weeks is still very young. If it's anything to go by I have a chocolate lab and they can be SO hard to train - I've actually found that her intelligence can work against me! Your pup sounds like its doing really well and is waaaay better behaved than my choc lab was at that age. I have a yellow lab who's only a couple of weeks older than your babe so we are going through the teething stage too - I feel your pain! lol...

I'm not actually going to add anything I don't think because MrsRottie left you some really good advice that I would agree with. I suppose the only thing I would add is the Psycho-dog is something they ALL go through and I find using 'time-out' the best method for calming them down. We have a baby gate across our kitchen and I just pop them in there, only for a few minutes and they calm right down, it's just like a child getting a bit hyperactive! Oh, and the growling I'm almost certain is just play growling and not aggression at all.

Good luck with the pup, you sound like you're doing a great job anyway

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Unread 11-02-2006, 10:17 AM   #8
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Thanks from me as well, this is all useful information for my 13 week old SCWT.

My only problem is, it is hard to ignore a puppy when he keeps following you and biting at your pant leg. I will occasionally put him in his kennel just to calm down, but I don't want to associate it with a punishment. Usually he will calm down and roll around on his back in what looks like a very uncomfortable pose.

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Unread 11-25-2006, 05:36 PM   #9
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Hey guys,

Just thought i'd post an update

Zeph is getting there!! (About 20 wks old now)

'Come' is now reasonably reliable and when he see's another dog/person while we're out (trying) to walk he'll sit when I tell him and squirm and whimper (but stay sitting) until I give him an 'ok' to say hello to the person/dog. The whimper is a happy thing - he really loves saying gday to other dogs and people. He does get very excited though, so I'm trying to get him to calm down a bit during the meeting stage just in case for kids etc.

Destructo-dog is abating although he has his outbursts still We've resigned ourselves to it and give him old towels etc he can rip to shreds - he lost his first few teeth a week or so back so we figure that's what's causing it.

He doesn't grab stuff off the line anymore as we've 'adjusted' our pegging style and the line is wound wayyy up high

Hole digging he only does occassionally now and I'm pretty sure its whenever his nails start getting a bit long which is great.

Angry barking has disappeared completely after ignoring/walking away from play until he stops it; I won't say it was a total dominance thing he was trying, but I think there were elements in it. luckily he knows he's still the bottom of the food chain

i am still having major issues walking on a lead however.

On a straight lead he strains, pulls etc quite hard now that he's got some bulk. I tried stopping, and also changing direction for about 2 weeks but none of it had any affect.

We moved him to a halter where he was wonderful for about 3 weeks, but progressively started doing 'nose-dives' and trying to pull the halti off. It's now got to the stage where he won't walk at all with it on (treats or no) and just tries to spend all his time trying to get the halti off. As soon as he sees it or the lead now he starts walking away from me, completely disinterested.

In the meantime he's been fetching like a god - I've been trying to use it as exercise due to less walks.

Any ideas guys?
Any advice guys?

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Unread 11-26-2006, 06:28 PM   #10
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If you want to carry on using the halter you will need to practice a bit of 'counter-conditioning'. Before you try to use it on a walk again, you need to get to the stage where he sees it come out and thinks 'yipee', not 'oh no'. You can do this fairly easily by pairing the presence of the halter with food. If you visit this site and download the clip by Jean Donaldson she shows you how to do this step by step:

http://dufferschultz.com/

Alternatively (or even as well) you can start to work on your loose leash walking in a very non-distracting environment. One reason why this behaviour is so hard to achieve is that we tend to skip this step and go straight to a walk full of distractions. When we teach the pup to 'sit' or 'down' we teach it at home where nothing better is happening, then gradually we proof it by moving from the house, to the garden, to out on a walk, to puppy training etc. It can be helpful to take the same approach with walking on a lead. Pop the lead on and walk round your living room or up and down the hall. Reward for loose leash and keep the session very short (2-3 minutes). You can also so the same off lead, just encourage the pup into position by your left side, and reward. When this is perfect, after a number of sessions, take it to another room in the house, or the garden. When that is perfect go for a tiny walk up the road and back (5 mins max) where it is not very exciting. Work up until you are ready to deal with other dogs, people, cats, etc. Don't forget to set yourself up for success by wearing your pup out a bit before a leash walking training session (ie play ball or similar).

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