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Hello I have a 7 month old yellow lab who is driving me insane lol how do you owners deal ?
 

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We have a 10 month old lab. She was the usual puppy craziness but calmed down for a while from about 5-7 months. At 7 months she went into adolescence and we nearly lost our minds. The best antidote is lots of exercise. We sometimes put her in daycare even when it's not necessary for a break and to tire her out. We train with her and stimulate her mind every day. We set limits on when and how play is initiated. Sometimes she is crazy when really she's overtired and doesn't know how to calm herself so in the crate she goes and she passes right out.

What behaviors are bothering you?
What is your dog's routine?
 

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He gets walked about 90 min a day and plays with other dogs. He just doesn't listen at all is like he went deaf . I do same thing put him in crate if it's too much . I guess is just normal at this age
 

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It is normal but you can make it more manageable. Is his 90 min of exercise walking on a leash or hard running? Over how many walks is the 90 mins spread? Believe it or not, this may not be enough. Maple gets a 1hr leash walk and a 1.5hr ball chase in the park and she still has energy to burn but it's better than it was with less exercise. As for not listening, he is testing the limits as a teenager would. That doesn't mean that one day he will just grow up and start listening again if he gets in the habit of ignoring you. Think of it in terms of reward and consequence from his point of view. When he listens, what does he get? Is it better than what he gets by not listening?
 

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A 3yo Lab is one of the best general dogs around ... but a Lab puppy can be one of the most evil creatures ever created - too intelligent, infinite energy, always hungry, indestructible, always wants to play ... and thinks everyone else is like that, too. ;-)

Note, that an 'overheated' Lab is not the same as a tired Lab. Here in the South, dogs can play and get hot [not dangerously over-heated] and stop until they cool off. But, we get the rare cool weather or snow, and watch them play non-stop for hours without getting tired.

I have an 80lb Lab mix and I've had lab mixes for more than 50 years:
1. I walked them for 30 min twice a day, rain or shine. I did this with older puppies and with 17yo seniors to provide consistency and a baseline.
2. I try to set a predictable schedule for training, exercise, play in early morning and late afternoon, when they are most active. In between they sleep.
3. For young adults or older pups, they may need some inbetween chase time or social time, so if I can take the dog shopping, I may do that ... Many hardware and pets stores allow dogs, and people love to see a friendly Lab. After my Labs ate their meals [personal preference - I feed twice a day, but it may be healthier to feed only once a day - same amount of total food] they may want 5 - 10 min. of chase or tug time... to deflate the zoomies.
4. I set up playdates. More and more researchers, such as Ian Dunbar, and recently Brian Hare, have suggested that an hour or two of wrestling may be very healthy, draining energy and replacing hunt activities. Although Labs are tough, rough&tumble players, my Labs have always been able to adapt to the general play style of the playmates. My current dog can play with puppies as well as 100lb dogs. For the non-Lab owners who have energetic dogs, Labs can sometimes serve as the energy release.
5. And, since you specially asked what other owners do, I try to set up a playdate every day. When I can get a two different playdates, Mikee sleeps well. But when I can get 3 playdates in one day .... he becomes just so gentle and mellow the next day ...
 

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My previous Lab-mix was neutered at 6mos ... When he was 8yo, he and a spayed female tried to teach everyone about the Birds & the Bees! ;-)
 

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Lol. Our field lab just calmed down in the past year or so. She just turned 8.
Yep I was thinking the same thing. We had a lab when I was a teenage and she was crazy until about 8 years old.
 

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I have a one year old lab mix and I feel your pain! But to echo what everyone else here has said, playtime with other dogs converts him into a much more easygoing mellow pup. We do 2-3 hours of walking every day + playdates or dog park. Just walking is not enough, even if it's a 2 or 3 hour hike. He really needs the social aspect of play.

I'm sorry if I'm hijacking this thread at all, but I was also about to post here about an adolescent lab mix, though my question is slightly different. My pup's personality has changed drastically in the last 2 months or so, and some of the ways are concerning. For example, he used to be super friendly with absolutely anyone. Recently, he is suspicious and barks at some people on the street. He has also decided that his favorite activity at the dog park is humping (though he is neutered). And, he used to love each and every dog he met, but now he is a bit more selective.

I'm wondering if anyone has links to resources about what to expect during this adolescent period? I've found lots of resources for what to expect during puppyhood, but not so much after they hit one year of age. I (incorrectly) thought that by now, he would be done with the bulk of his socialization and would have a more or less stable personality, but not so. I'd appreciate resources on what is normal during this time, as well as how to help him be the best dog he can be. I think this is related to the OP's topic, but if not, please let me know and I can create a new thread.

Thanks!
 

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I don't have a link handy, but Google for canine fear cycles, and the last one can be about 9 mos - 18 mos. With Labs, it is an exposure and socialization thing, to keep him interacting with dogs and people, and locations, so that he will work through it. I don't know that I've seen specific Lab resources, but I've been posting Lab 'experiences' in the Forum for about 10 years, some of it entertaining, some of it based on courses I took with Ian Dunbar, Turid Rugaas, and others; and some based on articles that I wrote for Lab specific publications.

Also, some dogs will 'change' personality around 10 mos, as they transition from adolescent to adult. With a Lab, I believe that most will return to a mellow state by the time they are 3yo... Many recover their extraverted confidence before then. Labs don't mature until about 3yo ... not 1yo ;-) ... Although they may be calmer and more mellow, Labs can continue 'adolescence' to age 8yo and beyond ... but with a stable, [enviable] companion personality.

When he barks at people on the street, does he still want to run to go say hello, but then gets a little skittish? If so, two things could be happening: first, the fear cycle that I mentioned above, and second, all dogs need glasses as they mature .... Their vision gets a little worse (just as people do). So, they see shapes, but may no longer recognize details - that's a well-known development. However, I don't think there has been research on a relationship between decreased vision acuity and skittishness with people. I know that my own Lab mixes begin to lose me in a crowd of people , recognizing me only after I move. Regardless of the cause, I think your dog will regain his 'no one is a stranger' personality [his default Lab character], as you keep exposing him to people, and continue to help him warm up to strangers. Also, he may be more friendly with people who also have dogs...

1. Humping - Try to teach him to Sit, and anticipate the humping, cuing the Sit before he can engage. You'll learn that look, and as you continue to break his cycle, he may begin to stop. Some Labs hump to initiate play, not as 'dominance" or aggression. He doesn't need to hump...

2. If he humps some dogs, they will react badly. Reducing his humping, may improve his interactions with other dogs .. If there are no other problems, I suggest continuing what you have been doing
 

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Ok, I did Google canine fear cycles and that was helpful! I will say that while I assume my dog is a lab mix, I frankly have no idea what he actually is, so this is all just guesswork for me.

What the documentation about the fear cycles doesn't really say is what the best way is for the human to react other than staying calm. I'll give a few examples: the other day we were hiking on a trail and suddenly a man came around the bend towards us. The man may have gotten a bit spooked by us and stopped dead in his tracks. Atlas started barking his head off, hackles raised. I was so embarrassed and the guy was petrified! I work downtown and go on lots of walks with him there, and since we are surrounded by people all the time, he doesn't pay most people any attention. However, just in the last week or so, he gets a bit spooked when he sees someone walking towards us in our neighborhood. I think it's partially because whereas downtown he is surrounded by people, in our neighborhood, we may pass just one or two people during a 30 minute walk so he really focuses on them. Today, a teenager was walking towards us, and Atlas just lay down on the ground, seemingly scared. When the teenager got close, Atlas lunged and licked his hand and wagged his tail, but then did a few loud parks just in case. Another example from today: we went to the hardware store and he got spooked by a lady he didn't realize was in the next aisle over. He barked his head off and wouldn't calm down. These are things he NEVER did previous, he was super confident and social and wanted to be everyone's friend.

So my question is: what do I do at those times he is barking loudly at someone and having a bad reaction? Do I try to quickly walk away? Do I try to wave treats in front of his nose and get him to sit? Do I ask the other person to get on his level and talk to him so he realizes they're not a threat? I'm just worried that I'm going to do the wrong thing, and that the wrong thing will cement this behavior instead of just letting be a growing pains issue that will go away.

On the humping, yes he is neutered. But when he is playing with other dogs (and especially when he is humping), he gets very selective hearing. He is completely oblivious to anything I say. And I agree with you on how he's using the humping....he very often does it with a dog that's not really into playing with him. Once he gets the dog engaged, then he backs off a bit on the humping. When other dogs correct him with the humping, he backs off. But when I do, he couldn't care less! This is the first dog I've had as an adolescent, so I'm learning quite a bit.
 

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Start with the humping - As long as he backs off and does not escalate when corrected, you're OK, just 'rude' ... possibly in 'danger' from the 'attacked' dog, but we'll go from there. If he does a play bow and a play bark when corrected, he's probably going in the correct direction. There is a 4yo Lab that humps my dog, and also a 1yo *female* [!] that humps him. (I've threatened the owners of those neutered dogs with a paternity suit is they get my neutered dog pregnant ;-) ). My dog is learning to snark and correct without escalating, and those dogs are learning [slowly] not to hump, as my dog 'anticipates' the hump. I don't know if you have the option of exposing your dog to more dogs that will correct him without trying to hurt him.

Aso, you can try to step in, saying "Don't hump" or "Sit!, snap on the leash, lead him to a timeout, and make him Sit for 30 seconds or so. The downside is that your presence may escalate things, or the other dog may follow y'all and try to play [which is a good thing!]. It sounds like he loves to play and that he needs to burn off energy through some rough & tumble, so keep him safe, and try to let him play more with dogs that safely correct him. It doesn't matter if they 'slap him around' as long as they don't chase after him when he disengages, and the don't escalate or try to actually bite him, only snap at him. Unfortunately, some other dogs may learn to hump from him to initiate play ... You don't want that either.

Barking - When he is excited, I will bet that waving treats will not calm him ... or he may take the treats and then continue barking ;-). Some suggestions:
1. Give the victim some treats (I use pieces of kibble!) and let Atlas take them from the victim, maybe asking the victim to train Atlas to Sit.
2. If Atlas barks at the stranger with treats, have the stranger toss the treats just over Atlas's head, so he has to turn for the treats. He may ignore the treats.
3. Body language - Ask the cooperative victim to remove his hat and sunglasses; NOT to bend down over Atlas or at his level; to stand still and talk with you calmly [if possible], while ignoring Atlas and not looking at Atlas, and let Atlas sniff him ... for a few minutes.
4. One suggestion that a world dog authority on aggression told me by email is that a non-aggressive dog in this fear cycle just needs a little more getting acquainted time. [The expert did not address the vision thing.] So, if the person can remain non-threatening and still while Atlas investigates for a few minutes, then Atlas will eventually relax and try to warm up to the person, then on 2nd or 3rd meeting, Atlas may learn to be friends with this person. So, if you have some dog friendly friends who will take instructions, ask them to try this with you. They cannot engage with Atlas in anyway, and at first [until you understand what Atlas is doing], they should go slowly if Atlas grows friendly... then repeat for 2 or 3 times.
5. With the teenager interaction, try to pay attention to the barks - Were they high alarm, or were they "we are still not yet friends, but you are not a threat" barks. A trend that I've noticed is that high alarm bark frequency may go down, while stranger-for-now barks will replace the alarm barks. Most research and trainers worry about the high alarm, so I haven't found resources that discuss the "stranger to friend" barks .... You may become the expert. ;-)
6. It sounds like the high alarm interactions are when individual people surprise Atlas. I don't know the solution, but a bunch of little things may help. Assume he cannot see the people [as I suggested in a previous post, whether or not accurate] and try to act accordingly.
Tell people he doesn't bite (as long as that is true) and ask them to help you train him to like strangers. And, explain #3 above.
See if Atlas is friendly when the other person has a friendly dog ... or if he barks then, also.
See what happens if you have a 'crowd' of 5 friends come up to him, as opposed to just one person. [Maybe he recognizes a crowd as safe?]
How does he react if you set up beforehand that a stranger appears, ignores the barking, and just keeps on walking without any attention or interaction?
When his hackles are up, rub them calmly to see if they will go down, then stand in front of him, and try to talk rationally (but loudly) to the people to clearly explain what you are doing, then talk more quietly and calmly, trying to interact without 'involving' Atlas.

So in some cases, when Atlas barks, ask people to just keep moving. In other cases, if Atlas is calm while crowds move by, have one friend set-up to hand Atlas a treat, and then keep going without any other interaction - a kind of drive-by good experience. And, set up some friends with dogs for the friends to interact with Atlas. As well as a group of friends at your house for a pizza party, where the friends follow step 3 to interact, otherwise ignoring Atlas. Keep all of this going for about 6 mos .... and maybe Atlas will re-engage ... in about 3 mos ? [I'm going through a similar situation, where my dog desperately loves his friends, or is surprised when he gets closer and recognizes that someone is not the friedn he thought ;-) ]
 

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Start with the humping - As long as he backs off and does not escalate when corrected, you're OK, just 'rude' ... possibly in 'danger' from the 'attacked' dog, but we'll go from there. If he does a play bow and a play bark when corrected, he's probably going in the correct direction. There is a 4yo Lab that humps my dog, and also a 1yo *female* [!] that humps him. (I've threatened the owners of those neutered dogs with a paternity suit is they get my neutered dog pregnant ;-) ). My dog is learning to snark and correct without escalating, and those dogs are learning [slowly] not to hump, as my dog 'anticipates' the hump. I don't know if you have the option of exposing your dog to more dogs that will correct him without trying to hurt him.

Aso, you can try to step in, saying "Don't hump" or "Sit!, snap on the leash, lead him to a timeout, and make him Sit for 30 seconds or so. The downside is that your presence may escalate things, or the other dog may follow y'all and try to play [which is a good thing!]. It sounds like he loves to play and that he needs to burn off energy through some rough & tumble, so keep him safe, and try to let him play more with dogs that safely correct him. It doesn't matter if they 'slap him around' as long as they don't chase after him when he disengages, and the don't escalate or try to actually bite him, only snap at him. Unfortunately, some other dogs may learn to hump from him to initiate play ... You don't want that either.
He definitely backs off when corrected. Sometimes, he'll just back off altogether and look for a different playmate or sometimes he'll do a play bow and get them to play with him. But as I said, corrections by other dogs are way more effective. I once tried to pry him off another dog when he was humping (he gets a really good grip!) and that escalated the situation; the other dog snarled and snapped and then Atlas started snarling back, which he normally doesn't do. So that makes me all the more hesitant to interfere. The problem is that some of Atlas' best playmates hump. They take turns doing it to each other, maybe a just a few seconds until the other dog squirms away or flips the other one over. They are super great playmates and I never have any concerns about them playing. But none of them get upset by it, so I think he is shocked at the dog park when he gets corrected by other dogs for this behavior. I can try to seek out playmates that do correct him, but his favorite buddies don't... I just don't know what to do at the dog park because my instinct is to let the other dog correct him (so I'm not escalating the situation), but some owners get so upset about the humping that I feel like they expect an intervention. How do other folks deal with this? I hope none of the owners of the other dogs threaten me with a paternity suit ;-)

Your suggestions about dealing with strangers is super helpful. Typically, if the other person is a dog person and is willing to take a few seconds to let Atlas come close and investigate, Atlas will nervously come over (still loud barking), sniff, slowly get closer and then as soon as he realizes the person is calm and not a threat, his tails starts going wild with happiness. If the person just walks past and Atlas doesn't get the opportunity to sniff and investigate them, then he sometimes barks loudly and goes bonkers. I guess that's the challenge - it's the people who aren't dog people and that won't take the time to help me get him comfortable that scare him. Like the guy on the hike that stood frozen at a distance; I'm sure if the guy had come over and let Atlas investigate, all would've been well. But since he kept his distance, Atlas kept barking and getting upset.

With the teenager interaction, try to pay attention to the barks - Were they high alarm, or were they "we are still not yet friends, but you are not a threat" barks. A trend that I've noticed is that high alarm bark frequency may go down, while stranger-for-now barks will replace the alarm barks. Most research and trainers worry about the high alarm, so I haven't found resources that discuss the "stranger to friend" barks .... You may become the expert. ;-)
I'm not sure I understand the difference, could you clarify?

Ask the cooperative victim to remove his hat and sunglasses; NOT to bend down over Atlas or at his level; to stand still and talk with you calmly [if possible], while ignoring Atlas and not looking at Atlas, and let Atlas sniff him ... for a few minutes.
Could you clarify why it's not good for the person to get on Atlas' level? I've noticed that he sometimes gets more scared if the person bends over him or raises a hand over him, but my thinking has been that if they get down on his level, that would help, no?

Thanks again for the great advice!
 

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I got a chance to raise these issues directly with Ian Dunbar [45 years of research and training - He really did write the books on training].

1. If necessary, one way to try to remove him is not from the back, but from the front by placing your hand down his chest to pry him off. As you've experienced, if you can catch him early, you may not want to interfere. The other dog correcting is the best bet in the specific situation. Dogs don't like to be humped because they don't want sex and they don't want to deal with a superior position in a fight. If the victim sees that Atlas is not going for sex or a fight, some dogs may play ... or even ignore him, letting him hump!!!! ... if Atlas is persistent. I agree to let the other dog correct him, and be ready to protect Atlas or break up a fight if needed. But, if it doesn't concern you significantly, Atlas will learn a variety of play styles. You can remove Atlas from dogs or owners who do not like the interaction. But, some owners think that it makes their dog mean, when your dog forces their dog to snark. According to Dunbar, a dog that learns to snark without escalating, becomes a much more confident and calmer dog, able to diffuse situations more effectively.

For example, a young female may be scared when first humped. Then, she learns to growl, snarl, bark, and snap. From those results, she learns to just snark. And, an older female will use a very quick snark, or will turn quickly to avoid the hump .... learned through experience. Males usually think humping is sex or fight, and when they learn a third option, they may begin to relax.

2. Atlas may have only one bark for now - the alarm bark, possibly with hackles raised, usually loud and sharp, possibly multiples. The non-threat bark can become an alarm, but it is closer to a woof that can escalate. The alarm bark is already escalated.

3. In general, dogs do not like strangers to stare at them, don't like sudden movements, may be head shy, don't like people to loom over them, or to get into their face, or down on their level (similar to getting in their face). All of those things can be a prelude to an attack. If you notice that Atlas is OK with a dog person getting on his level, then that's OK, but I don't suggest it with everyone.

4. I'm assuming you're OK with dog people, but others are a challenge. One approach is to say that Atlas is in training and to ask the person if he would help. [ Make sure that Atlas will sit for a stranger, will take a kibble treat from a stranger, and you might also teach him to catch a treat. Also, try to teach Atlas to shush! on cue, if possible - When he is barking, stick a very stinky treat under his nose, say Quiet! when he sniffs, then give him the treat. Dogs can't sniff and bark at the same time, however, a scared dog can refuse treats. Atlas needs to be calm enough to accept treats.]

Four Steps: Woof, Shush, Treat, Cue/Pet
1. Woof - Atlas sees the stranger and begins to bark
2. Shush - Ask Atlas to be Quiet! and ask the stranger to help, offering a few pieces of kibble and instructing to use only one at a time.
3. Treat - If Atlas and the person seem calm and predictable, the person can let Atlas take the treat or toss the treat to Atlas to catch. If either one is wary, then the person can toss the treat over Atlas's head to make Atlas back up to get the treat. Repeat this a few times.
4. Cue/Pet - Give the person another handful of kibble, again instructing only one at a time (not the entire handful!). And tell the person to ask Atlas to Sit, then toss him or hand him a treat. Continue to do this 5 times, then on the last time, allow Atlas to take the kibble from the persons hand, and let the person try to scratch Atlas UNDER his jaw, and NOT over his head. Then, give the person another handful of kibble and wait! Atlas may come up and nuzzle for more treats and attention.

Try this with dog friendly people or people that you know, so that you'll recognize Atlas's responses, before you try it with strangers. Then, do it with as many people, and even kids as you can, if Atlas can tolerate it. He should let you know fairly quickly if he doesn't like it ... But, Dunbar has been using this method with adult dogs for many decades. Let us know what happens.
 
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