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Discussion Starter #1
So my little puppy (just over three months, collie-lab-shep mix) is really assertive.

She is an amazing puppy. Potty training has been a breeze. She is super eager to please, so training has been great. But she is really independent and assertive. That is really just a nice way of saying that when she does not get her way she gets frustrated, snarly, lunges, and bites (I don't mean cute puppy nips). When she gets into one of these moods it is almost frightening. It takes a fair bit to snap her out of it. The vet has not been much help, and books say very little, our puppy trainer has seen it in action - found it very concerning but has not actually provided much in the way of how to curb this.

I was wondering if anyone else has gone through this, and if so any tips?

More info:
Situations that make her freak out - getting picked up when she doesn't feel like it. Being approached while under something. On the leash, she bites and pulls on it when we do not let her go where she wants to go. If she is in the middle of doing something, (like digging a hole in my lawn) and we pull her away from it to try and distract her.

What we are currently doing
With picking her up, trying make it a positive experience. Picking her up for no reason at all and give her tons of treats. Walking away and leaving her alone (I think this one is back firing). We do the same thing when she is under things. Make it positive by treating her when she is under things, getting her used to use touching her or coming near her.
When on the leash we are attempting to not move when she gets like that. And only start walking again when her teeth get off the leash. Sometimes though, she will come at us. (We then will turn away from her)

So our system is one of puppy good = rewards, puppy bad = Ignored...mostly. Some behaviour is impossible to ignore.

Hope this is enough info. I find that you get a lot more useful advice talking to normal people who have dogs and have gone through a variety of things.

Thanks!
 

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There are some things that treats and ignoring cannot fix. And this, in my opinion, sounds like one of them. I won't share my advice to you on this particular board, because I would surely get attacked myself, so if you're interested in what I have to say and what I would do, feel free to PM me. :) Otherwise, let me just sincerely say good luck and I hope you have success with however you decide to address this issue. :)
 

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Ok, it's NOT being independent and assertive, she's putting on a bluff due to fear.

Quit picking her up and trying to pull her out from under things, instead make it rewarding to come when called. I'd suggest http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB813 REALLY RELIABLE RECALL BOOKLET

Rev Up/Cool Down for her crazy moments to teach him to settle.

If she starts insisting on attention by barking and biting, turn your back and ignore her until she settles down, the worst thing you can do is give attention to such behavior as it rewards the behavior, even if the attention is negative.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Actually it does not appear to be fear. According to our trainer and the vet, she is not actually showing the body language of fear. (Of course I am trusting their word on this - I am trying to learn doggie body language but haha of course am not there yet!)

Rev Up/Cool Down for her crazy moments to teach him to settle.
Just read the rev up/ cool down. I can work on that too. But in situations where she is nutty does just stopping moving tell her to settle, or should there be a verbal or visual command along with it?
 

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For now, reward for calming down, then 'name' the action (settle or some other such command) Then read up on fading the lure (top of the training section).
 

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Actually it does not appear to be fear. According to our trainer and the vet, she is not actually showing the body language of fear. (Of course I am trusting their word on this - I am trying to learn doggie body language but haha of course am not there yet!)
Let's try another word....would you say she might feel threatened in those situations and needs to defend herself? That's still fear. It sounds like she has a high fight defense instead of flight defense.

The cure is to remove the threats/fears.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Let's try another word....would you say she might feel threatened in those situations and needs to defend herself? That's still fear. It sounds like she has a high fight defense instead of flight defense.

The cure is to remove the threats/fears.
I would compare it to a two year old (with teeth) throwing a temper tantrum in a grocery store because mommy wont let have a chocolate bar. That is the closest comparison. The trainer suggested she acts "offensively" not "defensively" (I am not going to lie...I am not 100% certain I understand what that means...but hopefully that will mean more to someone here)

Definitely more fight than flight in her. Actually there have not been any signs of flight at all (ARG with the exception of Canada Day and the neighborhood fireworks randomly going off at all hours - that made her want to run!)
 

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She doesnt wish to be picked up, that's an unpleasant experience for her, so she defends herself when you attempt to do it.

Look at it from HER perspective, you're 10" tall at the withers and weigh (maybe) 15#, this VERY large bi-ped (who's over 60" or 5 feet tall) keeps insisting on picking you up (probably with her hands under your stomach which leaves your feet dangling under you) and it makes you a little scared, you bark and try to bite to keep the bi-ped from picking you up, which at LEAST seems to delay the action. YOU JUST WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE.

Does it make a little more sense to you now? You need to gain her trust, encourage her to come to you by making it MORE rewarding than what ever else she's doing (she gets goodies OR some cool play time so the fun doesn't end when she's called away)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I read another thread about someone's dog getting really snarly in play with other dogs at the dog park. Members suggested not to worry, that that is the natural way the dog plays.

Stupid question...

Is it possibly that my Suuki has a really scary snarl and I overreact which causes her to freak out?

She uses that same scary snarl when by herself playing with her (fake) bones, kong, chewy toys, sticks and even the ball. She takes it too far for sure but is it possible I am overreacting which is causing a reaction from her?

(or am I just being overly hopeful again?)
 

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Biting you when you pick her up, try to get her to stop doing something or try to get her from under something isn't play, it's defensive. The snarling when she's playing with a toy is probably normal as it would be if she were playing with another dog. That's WHY you need to make it more benificial to her to do what YOU want without being forced to. It's still leadership, just a different kind. Teach the dog "leave It" for the digging using Doggy Zen it also teaches self control and is essential to teaching puppies manners.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
"Leave it" defiantly needs some work. It is a command she is really resisting. But we are working on it. (Since it is obviously important for many reasons)

When on the leash, she can get really growly. Last night I tried "Drop it" and then bribe with a treat (and sit - she always needs to be sitting for a treat - since that stopped her from jumping for the treat when littler). That went ok for a little bit, but then it seemed to turn into a game of Teeth on the leash, wait until mommy notices, Mommy says drop it, I sit and get a treat. So I decided to make it a little harder for her. And make her sit, lay down and get up then treat (hoping to distract her from remembering to chew on the leash). That worked well for a little bit too.
 

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Redirecting and 'chaining' behaviors will help her, be sure you give at least three commands before treating so she doesn't connect the biting of the leash to the treat. It really sounds like she's a bit bored too, for her walking try Loose Leash Walking Using Positive Reinforcers
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I got her a long retractable leash so she can run around. To be honest, I am terrified to let her off lease until her recall is more reliable. She is pretty good. But still not 100% if there is something better/cooler than me. (I know! What could be cooler than me?) I live in the city. At the cottage she gets to be a free range puppy. And she is really good at coming back when called. But...the city is scary.

But even when she is allowed to run around (on the retractable) and sniff everything she still wants the leash in her mouth.

Honestly - the chewing on the leash thing was something we should have dealt with earlier. But stupidly thought that she would realize how fun walking was and stop...dumb dumb dumb it made it worse.
 

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I'll be honest, I know a lot of dogs that walk with the leash in thier mouths, as long as they aren't fighting for control what's the difference (unless you plan to compete with her). My Angel will do it once in a while, and as long as she doesn't try to walk me I don't care.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
haha oh no she is fighting. Not merrily walking with in her mouth. There is growling, and shaking.

I think it is wanting to control the leash, and the walk...But a part of me wonders if she might be playing. Or really hates the way it feels.

Last night I noticed that whenever the leash rested or rubbed over her back, is when she attacks it. She seems to deliberately step over it so it goes between her front legs (and then tangles under her).

I tried bitter apple on the leash. (It worked on things she was chewing) but never made an impact with the leash.)

Ah...puppies! Gotta love them.
 

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The leash may well be play. I'd reward heavily for walking properly and DEAD STOP with no eye contact when she starts the tug o war with the leash. Also, stop using the retractable fora while, it allows too much 'play', use a 6' nylon leash and a no pull harness such as the Sensi or Easy Walk harnesses which has the hook at the chest to better control your dog. It could be more comfortable for her as well since it puts NO pressure on the throat, but works by causing the dog to get turned around when they pull therefore taking the self reward out of the pull.
 

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I recommend losing the flexi as well. They are only for fully trained dogs really. Because they have constant tension the dog never learns what a loose leash FEELS like. They also can be very dangerous if tangled up on you or another dog. A long line 15-20 feet (and ya it'll tangle up too, but not CUT anyone) is better for working on recall etc.

I also agree with what the other posters have said about the behaviours when being picked up and when under something as being fear based..and yes, not all fear based behaviours cause a "flight" response..some dogs with high fight drive will go AT what frightens them and if you think of it that under the table and up in the arms this dog is "cornered" and CANNOT get away, her only choice (in her mind) is to defend herself.

Now, the leash biting and tug game that ensues is NORMAL. Almost all puppies do it and your pup is only three months old so it will take time and repetition to work on this. They shake their head, growl and tug. It's FUN for them..lol. They are "killing the snake"! When I was working with my GSD client's pup we ended up teaching the pup to play tug with a tug toy (including release words) and used an old choke collar to create an extension on his lead to attach to his collar or harness, so when he DID bite the leash (he could scissor through it in no time) he got a mouthful of chain. That helped a LOT.

You can also take a toy she likes with you on the walk to entice her to go with you, to replace the leash "chewing" or to give her to carry (be aware you will be picking the toy up off the ground every time she finds something else interesting). Puppies put on the brakes a LOT, again this is normal. One week she won't want to go anywhere, the next she will be all over the place...90 percent of this is WOW I"M OUTSIDE...and then HOLY COW I"M OUTSIDE!!! Goes from interest to overwhelm in seconds.

Think also of the mix you have in her. Shepherds (mouthy, smart, high energy, demanding), Collie (border collie?)(Smart, high energy, DEMANDING) and Lab (Puppies til they are THREE, mouthy, chewing, jumping and smart..lol).

Clicker training, sufficient MENTAL exercise and physical exercise, good use of "time outs" and understanding of her needs will help. Definitely make her work for everything (see NILIF) And please work on your reactions to her behaviour. Stay calm and practice what YOU would do in the event of a "crazy" moment..this is as much about you as it is about her.

I also would not depend on your vet for behavioural assistance. If necessary get yourself a behaviourist or a more experienced positive trainer. If your trainer is not accustomed to this sort of behaviour it doesn't mean she's not a good trainer, but it does mean she is not equipped to deal with YOUR dog. It happens. I get referrals from other trainers who specialize in puppies but don't deal with "behaviour" issues so not everyone is ready, willing or able to deal with the puppies that don't fall into the "sweet little thing" mode.

Where in Canada are you? I'm in the Toronto area.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks!!!!!

We need to do more normal leash walks (6 foot leash) again. But we have been really struggling with ways to get her energy out - so that is where the retract came in. (haha as you noted with her breed mix - she is HIGH ENERGY and DEMANDING, that describes my Suuki) But I think we need "walks" for training and learning, and then use the retract for "fun play" where she can run around and get that energy out. So I will be sure to work on formal walks as well.

Eeeek oh oh and she seems to have finally grasped the full concept of fetch which has been great because she will run around for an hour, and I get to play with her!!!!!!

Is there a list of good mental games? We have been working on hide and seek but it still seems really over her head.

I am just outside the GTA, in Kitchener-Waterloo.
 

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Ha! I had a spidey sense you were a "local".

Have you tried clicker training at all? I highly recommend you find yourself a nice clicker (not the box type ones..personally I find them a pain..my fingers get stuck..lol) and a book like "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training"..I LOVE This book. I got it at petsmart but it is available online. It's by a lady named Pamela Dennison. I also recommend you check out the clickersolutions list on yahoo. She's a member, as are many well known trainers and behaviourists..(I'm on it, but not well known..at least not yet..lol) and is a great resource. If you want to learn about mental stimulation and control that is a great place to start.

You can also ask there about trainers in your area.

I will see what I can find out at my end. How far from Kitchener/Waterloo are you, and in what direction? Maybe we can find you a co-op or something that sells better food.
 
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