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Hi! My husband and I recently got a puppy, she is 19 weeks old. So far, she has been a GREAT puppy. We picked her because she is very calm, sweet and pretty submissive. We have only had her for a week. She is a lab mix, probably with mastiff, but she is not a huge girl, about 35 lbs at 19 weeks. We have two kids, aged 6 and 2, and she doesn't chase them or nip at them or anything. She does lick them, so we are teaching them to say, "no lick" when she tries to lick them, and this has been working. She listens pretty well for a puppy, and is even learning not to chase the cat. When she has chased the cat, ashe has respected his "hiss" and is very gentle with him.

We are not letting her on the furniture, and we are taking measures to make sure we remain the "alphas" in the house, like making her wait to eat, and making sure all the kids and adults go through a door before her. She knows the word "No" pretty well. She knows to take treats from our hands gently, and likes to play ball (sometimes). I spend time training her everyday, and she does pretty well, so long as I have the treats with me. She is great with all the neighborhood kids when they come to play with her. She is crate trained, and pretty well house broke.

Here is the problem I am having with her: she doesn't like to walk, when I put on her leash to take her on a short walk in the morning and at night, she doesn't want to go. Sometimes, she will decide to come along, but often it is like pulling teeth. I (right now) read not to force her, so I think I will start bringing treats along to encourage her instead of just tugging her down the road on occasion. When I am walking her in the early morning and evening, she is what I call "on alert" and seems edgy, maybe a little scared (but not submissive scared, KWIM). Her ears are pricked forward, and she keeps her head up. Sometimes, we will encounter a neighbor while on these walks, and when the person bends down to pet her and calls her, she will walk/run forward pretty submissively and give them some love and they will pet her. Today, while I was walking her she was pretty much on alert, but walking OK when one of my neighbors came out to go to work, Hoku (my dog) stood on alert and barked at her, raising her hackles.:( I tried to encourage her to approach my neighbor, but she refused, and my neighbor was in a rush to get to work, and is not a particular dog lover, so I didn't push the introduction. My neighbor was across the street.

I AM NOT CERTAIN what to do when she behaves this way! Do I reprimand her for acting in an aggressive manner? Do I try to reassure her ( I am afraid of inadvertentaly encouraging this her aggression)? Usually, I would ask the person to pet her, but I couldn't in this case, as my neighbor was clearly in a hurry to catch the bus. Also, when I walk her in the afternoons when all the kids and people are outside, she seems more relaxed, and is not "on alert."

I do not want an aggressive dog, and we picked her because her previous owner said she was the most laid back and sweet puppy ever (which has been true). She did say Hoku was bitten once at a dog park, and Hoku does seem a little unsure of unkown dogs. However, once she has overcome her initial fear, she has played well with the other dogs in our neighborhood.

Finally, it turns out her shots were not kept up to date, so we can't take her out and about too much until she has had all her boosters (which won't be for 4 weeks). So, I can't enroll her in a puppy/dog training class for at least another month either. Our vet said it is OK to walk her on our dead end street, and to let her play with the neighbor dogs who we know are vaccinated.

Anyways, any advice on how to deal with her little show of aggression (and to nip it in the bud) would be greatly appreciated.
 

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This isn't aggression....it's fear. Aggression is an outright intent to maim or kill. There is no barking or growling (the dog will not give a warning)...the dog will freeze in place, stare intently at the victim, the head will drop, the body will lower into a crouch and when the tail goes level the dog will attack.

You do not reprimand fear. The big part of this problem is that she feels she has to handle/confront strangers but, that's not her job....it's yours. Once she understands that you will handle these situations she will relax. You do that by stepping in front of her and the stranger...showing her that you're taking the lead and it also forces her to pay attention to you, not the stranger.

In the early stages, let the neighbor approach while Hoku is in a sit (sitting politely for petting/greeting and paying attention to you). If she's still too nervous for that scenario, work at building her confidence by having her sit at some distance. Give her treats...make the sight of a stranger a good thing ie; good things happen when strangers appear in the distance. Then, start working closer. Whenever she gets nervous stop at that distance and work on the calmness/confidence.

Dogs are highly social animals so, this isn't hard to overcome...it just takes alot of practice.
 

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I agree with Tooney. I always make a point of overtly greeting strangers, visitors, workmen, etc. in front of the dogs. THe dog will take its cues from you. If you're friendly, calm and speak in a welcoming voice, the dog should follow your lead. I find myself being very outgoing and friendly to people I never would have spoken to before. LOL It shows the dog that there's nothing to fear.

Work on teaching her "focus" or "look here" or whatever. So when you're out on a walk and you see a situation in which she might be afraid, you can ask her to look at you and praise her for it. She should always be looking to you to get your reaction to surroundings.
 

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This isn't aggression....it's fear. Aggression is an outright intent to maim or kill. There is no barking or growling (the dog will not give a warning)...the dog will freeze in place, stare intently at the victim, the head will drop, the body will lower into a crouch and when the tail goes level the dog will attack.

You do not reprimand fear. The big part of this problem is that she feels she has to handle/confront strangers but, that's not her job....it's yours. Once she understands that you will handle these situations she will relax. You do that by stepping in front of her and the stranger...showing her that you're taking the lead and it also forces her to pay attention to you, not the stranger.

In the early stages, let the neighbor approach while Hoku is in a sit (sitting politely for petting/greeting and paying attention to you). If she's still too nervous for that scenario, work at building her confidence by having her sit at some distance. Give her treats...make the sight of a stranger a good thing ie; good things happen when strangers appear in the distance. Then, start working closer. Whenever she gets nervous stop at that distance and work on the calmness/confidence.

Dogs are highly social animals so, this isn't hard to overcome...it just takes alot of practice.
Couldn't have said it better! She does not need to meet and greet every person. Think of it this way, do you go up to every person you pass on the street and give them a hug or shake their hand? And would you want them to do it to you? Of course not! Well neither does your dog. There's no reason for her to have to be pet by everyone you meet, especially if it makes her uncomfortable. Sometimes it's best for her to pay attention to you and ignore the other person.:)
 

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Re: How to react (posted also in another forum)

Do not force her and CERTAINLY do not reprimand her for this behavior. She is, from your description, likely exhibiting the very very early stages of Fear (and, with hackles raised, Fear Aggression).

Do not let me kid you.. this can and will escalate and can very quickly become a serious problem.

I would proceed with two things. If you can swing it, and even if you cannot, I would contact an Certified Animal Behaviorist to help you learn what to do, how to read your dog, and how to handle this. I would also strongly recommend you get the book, "The Cautious Canine" by Patricia McConnell. The book is about 20 pages and will give you specific instructions on how to deal with this. Book can be had from www.dogwise.com

IN THE MEAN TIME, stop worrying about being the alpha or who eats when and who goes thru the door first. Vary it and change it up. If it is convenient for the dog to go thru the door first, have her do it (this does not mean she shoudl nto be in a sit and wait until you tell her it is OK to go thru the door). If it is convenient for her to eat first, feed her first and then crate her. I would also suggest you might want to invoke NILIF (see stickie at top of the Dog Training forum). Try feeding her food to her a kibble at a time.. and have her do something for each kibble. This will excelerate her training and help prevent food aggression. It will also improve your relationship with the dog. If she does not do what you want, don't force her. Get up and take the food with you. After a minute or so return and start over with something she always will do.

I would also stop using aversives such as "no." Instead of the mind set of stopping an undesirable behavior, ask for a desirable behavior instead. IOW's what do you want her to do INSTEAD of what she is doing that you don't want her to do? Replace the undesirable with a desirable.

Considering this dog's fear reaction when walking, she is not only afraid of what is out there in the Big Scarey World, but she is not confident in you. I suspect it may come from this alpha business (dogs are not wolves, do not have a linear pack structure and do not need an alpha, inspite of TV shows stating something else to the contrary).

I would also try training her with Positive reinforcement. This will involve using a marker word or sound (clicker) for what you are teaching (or little slices of a behavior you are trying to build). It does not involve any sort of aversive (stern NO or collar correction or any other thing the dog might perceive as a threat). It does involve discipline by removing what the dog wants as opposed to a corrective intervention. You can learn more on this from a really good book, "The Complete Idiots Guide to Positive Dog training" by Pamela Dennison.

And, if you are out and your dog starts to alert on something, move back.. if this means crossing the street or turning around and walking the other way, do it. When she sees something (like a person) stop and reward her with treats as she is looking at the person but still too far away to show a reaction (from tail tucking to walking behind you etc.).

The point is to make the things she is concerned about or afraid of a good association. Food is a good association. More is in that Cautious Canine book.

Last but not least, get thee hence to a puppy class or a beginners obedience class. A positive reinforcment class would be best. This will help your dog to socialize.
 

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Your pup is about five months old...there is a "fear stage" at around six months in puppies and she may be experiencing the beginning of this. Socializing her and rewarding her for calm behaviour goes a long way towards getting her over the hump here.

Be aware that being unsure of something, even barking at it, is NOT aggression..but it is a signal to you to figure out what it is that is bothering her and finding a safe and low stress way of socializing her with whatever it is that triggers her discomfort so that she loses the need to fear it.

And please, do some research about dog behaviour in general. "The Culture Clash" is a good book to read, it's by Jean Donaldson, a behaviourist. Going through doors first and eating first is not going to show her you are a leader (though it is good puppy manners). You need more information, good information to learn how to work with your pup.
 

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We are not letting her on the furniture, and we are taking measures to make sure we remain the "alphas" in the house, like making her wait to eat, and making sure all the kids and adults go through a door before her. She knows the word "No" pretty well. She knows to take treats from our hands gently, and likes to play ball (sometimes). I spend time training her everyday, and she does pretty well, so long as I have the treats with me. She is great with all the neighborhood kids when they come to play with her. She is crate trained, and pretty well house broke.
I'd throw out all that "alpha" crap out the window. The stuff like making her wait to eat and going through the door stuff before her does not make you alpha. Have a look at this article, it will explain it a little bit better...
http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/2001/dominance.htm

To be "alpha," control the resources. I don't mean hokey stuff like not allowing dogs on beds or preceding them through doorways. I mean making resources contingent on behavior. Does the dog want to be fed. Great -- ask him to sit first. Does the dog want to go outside? Sit first. Dog want to greet people? Sit first. Want to play a game? Sit first. Or whatever. If you are proactive enough to control the things your dogs want, *you* are alpha by definition.
When you're done with that check out NILIF: http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm

And I would also check out Patricia McConnell's book "The Other End Of The Leash"
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone for the advice. We have been doing a lot (but not all) of the things suggested in NILF. We make her sit for treats and to greet people and to come in the house. The funny thing is, most of the time she shows absolutely no fear of people, we play outside and she aproaches, and is approached by, people all the time. She loves them.

I am going to do more of the NILF stuff, and I will be taking some tasty treats out on all my walks, to reward her for good behavior. I have also called a reputable dog training facility neardby, and we have an evaluation scheduled for Wednesday.

Thanks again,
Drea
 

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Dreaddog, when I read your post, I think all in all you are doing pretty well with that dog. I would certainly not 'throw all the alpha stuff out' as has been suggested. Some people have different (more trendy) theories about their relationships with dogs, but the alpha thing has been done for decades and is recommended by countless trainers etc. If YOU feel comfortable with it and it is working for YOU and YOUR dog then stick with it.

Some of the suggestions above related to the walks are maybe worth trying but don't go change your whole approach to your dog. Saying 'No' is perfectly OK and normal. LOL.

Don't give up on the walks; keep doing more and more of it. Remember to stay calm yourself and not anticipate bad behavior, the dog will pick up on your own body language. If she looks like she is about to start barking etc at strangers you need to refocus her ASAP, even before she starts if possible, and continue with the walk. You don't want her to get into her mind that a stranger represents a danger, and by barking etc she 'made it go away'. It become self-reinforcing.

Good luck.
 

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Dreaddog, when I read your post, I think all in all you are doing pretty well with that dog. I would certainly not 'throw all the alpha stuff out' as has been suggested. Some people have different (more trendy) theories about their relationships with dogs, but the alpha thing has been done for decades and is recommended by countless trainers etc. If YOU feel comfortable with it and it is working for YOU and YOUR dog then stick with it.
Yes, that's it. Go ahead and ignore everything that modern behaviorists have debunked about the whole "alpha" theory. What's the weather like in your world?
 

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Yes, that's it. Go ahead and ignore everything that modern behaviorists have debunked about the whole "alpha" theory. What's the weather like in your world?
Its sunny. My dog is happy at my feet being a good little follower. And the so-called "debunking" is your opinion not a fact. If you keep repeating it often enough, it may SEEM like a fact, but its not, just another theory.

My theory is people should read everything and do what works best for them and their dog, what they feel comfortable with. Anybody who is saying that there is a 'proven' right and wrong way for all dogs and people are full of it.

Its amusing to see threads where people promote NILF so hard and criticize dominance/pack leader stuff at the same time. For practical purposes there's not much difference.
 

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Peppy, must you always be contrary? Can you quote any books to substantiate your advice?

To the OP: I think most of the advice on here is quite sound. I have learned some useful tools on here...most of them on changing MY behavior with my dogs. I'm old(er) and it has been hard to change my habits. In time I think your dog will do just fine. Take what you have learned here, incorporate it in what you have been doing...no one has all the right answers. ;)
 

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Peppy, must you always be contrary?
There are a few topics I don't agree with the majority DF opinion on, and I think its good for there to be a diversity of opinion in a thread. People are free to take what they wish and discard the rest. Note that I was the one supporting the OP while some others were effectively trashing her methods. 'Pack leader' type approaches have helped millions of people train their dogs and if it is mostly working for this lady is it really wise to tell her to dump it?

In any case it is more constructive to say why you think what I said is wrong then to challenge my right to say it or dump on me.

Can you quote any books to substantiate your advice?
Lots of them if I was so inclined. You don't think there are books out there telling people to 'be the pack leader' etc? Hundreds of them. Just go to your library. Cesar Milan books for a start.
 

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You don't think there are books out there telling people to 'be the pack leader' etc? Hundreds of them. Just go to your library. Cesar Milan books for a start.
I personally don't like nor agree with Cesar Milan. He may be able to get away with what he does with dogs, but I doubt many others can. You just seem to start out by immediately trashing what others say, without concrete evidence to support your theory. You simply say "just go to your library..." but no specific titles for others to look for.

My personal opinion is to start out teaching the word No to my dogs. Some agree, others don't, but I don't put those down who don't. It's just my preferred method on one aspect of training. I praise/reward for good behavior. I also scold for bad behavior. It worked wonders on one dog I had; not so good on another. I don't want the perfect dog, just a well behaved one. Have my methods always worked...no, but I don't force them on others.

Anyone else disappointed this thread wasn't about ants???
Oh, and I thought it was just me! :eek:
 

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You just seem to start out by immediately trashing what others say, without concrete evidence to support your theory.
Actually I just gave my advice which was contrary to that of others, but that does not amount to trashing anybody. I also provided the same same amount of "evidence" (zero) as the others. You are the one personalizing things. In the interest of not boring others I'll respond no further to your assaults.
 

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Anyone else disappointed this thread wasn't about ants???
Ha. That's totally why I clicked on this thread...

About the whole alpha training vs. NILIF (etc.) debate that seems to hijack a significant number of threads on here:
I think you guys need to cool it. For one thing, peppy didn't "trash" anyone. It isn't useful to the poster or to anyone reading the thread to get so emotional about this issue. I've been meaning to say this for a while, and this seems as good an opportunity as any, so I'm writing it here. Some of you are seeing things is such a black and white way that it's preventing you from having a decent discussion.
In this instance, I think the poster's use of those "alpha" methods that she mentioned aren't really that important to the question that she poses. I mean, having people go through the door first is not what's making her dog fearful. So why focus on it?

I think TooneyDogs and FourIsCompany's responses were the most helpful, and I hope the poster follows that track.

As far as the never-ending alpha vs. anti-alpha debate goes, I think the best trainers are the ones who use a dynamic, flexible approach that incorporates elements of all different training styles. Personally, I don't particularly subscribe to the alpha school of thought, but that's just me. I think that certain people -- should I name names? -- need to be a little less tenacious about their particular method of choice.

There's no need to hijack threads all the time to argue about that. Focus instead on helpful advice.
 

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Its amusing to see threads where people promote NILF so hard and criticize dominance/pack leader stuff at the same time. For practical purposes there's not much difference.
NILIF is one of those "trendy" things that really good dog trainers (and horse trainers and parents) have used for years. It is actually the Premack Principal in use.. So now the business of having a kid eat their peas before they can have ice cream for dessert has a name.. from the man who did the experiments to study it.

The less probable behavior (dog sitting or eating the peas) is rewarded by the more probable behavior (going out the door or eating ice cream).

Nothing to do with alpha etc.

Meanwhile, the point of getting the OP's dog to be less reactive to strangers is to reduce the self rewarding behavior of barking and showing aggression on the leash. To extinguish this behavior, and create a more confident dog, rewards that exceed the fear are necessary. An associative link is made between seeing strangers and receiving a reward that the dog finds more important than the discomfort of being proximate to the stranger.

IF the dog is brought in too close, the level of discomfort around the stranger may escalate beyond the handlers ability to redirect the dog.. and the dog will bark etc,. which dogs find very self rewarding.. and as the stressing dog is moved further from the stressor it is possible for the dog to think his aggressive behavior caused the distance. Forcing the situation will also escalate the self rewarding response in the dog and not solve the problem.

Therefore, the object is to create an associative response between the thing the dog is uncomfortable with or fears and something the dog loves (like bits of steak). To have this work, the handler must be astute enough to recognize when the dog has crossed the threshold from mere interest to discomfort and/or fear. The object is to begin the positive association just prior to that threshold. As the association grows, the threshold will rise and, eventually, disappear altogether.

Funny thing is, I learned this sort of thing way before I read about it in any books when I was training horses. Just seems common sense. <shrug>
 

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Cantelope you are absolutely correct. This was not about style vs style. :( I got a little carried away...sorry. :eek: There are many people on here who know more about training than I do and there is some very good advice. The OP is smart enough to use what works and discard what doesn't.
 
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