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Just looking for some input with an issue I'm going through with Bandit, that just doesn't seem to be getting any better.

Bandit has some separation anxiety issues, and it's all pretty manageable except for the way he acts when I return from being gone.

Basically, as soon as he sees me, he starts jumping on me and biting - it may be just excitement and mouthing, but to me, it seems MUCH more frantic and anxious than that. I think the behavior has its roots in his separation anxiety, and I think he just lets loose with all that anxiety as soon as I return from being gone, like it's pent up all that time and he just explodes.

It doesn't matter if eI'm gone 10 minutes or 2 hours - the reaction is the same. He begins to whine frantically, jumps up and tries to wrap his front paws around my waist or torso, digs in and bites my arms repeatedly while whining and barking at me. He is relentless, and will jump at me repeatedly aiming for my hands and arms, and if he can't get to my arms he'll start on my ankles and feet. He hasn't broken the skin, but after an incident this evening that lasted about 5 minutes, my forearms are completely covered in swollen welts and bruises! He normally has great bite inhibition, but it goes way downhill during these "episodes".

I've always ignored him completely when he does this, turn my back and walk away. But, he runs around to face me and comes at me again, and every step I take it just gets worse. I'll fold my hands and keep my back to him the best I can, but he still whips around and ends up grabbing me regardless while I'm trying to leave the room.

I've also tried to preempt the episode with a "sit", which he usually complies, but as soon as I make any movement from the "sit" cue, he leaps up and starts all over again. He doesn't really have a solid "sit-stay" yet, but we're working on it. Once he starts it's almost impossible to get his attention. It's like he goes into another state, and the longer I ignore him, the more intense the behavior becomes.

What would you all suggest I do? It's very hard to manage this situation, not to mention painful. I'm not sure how to successfully interrupt the behavior - I had the idea to carry a toy around to shove in his mouth instead, but I'm wondering if that would really be a good long-term solution. Any advice would be great.
 

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I think you're doing a lot of things right. It would matter how much you've rehearsed entering and exiting and how many opportunities you've had to reward the dog for a new greeting behavior. The mouthing does sound very much like displaced excitement. Stuffing something in his mouth could effect extinction of the mouthing but you need some way to get the dog to calm down.

My initial thought would be a Manners Minder. Something you could remotely activate to get the dog's attention away from you and to a place where he could relax on a mat for a stay. But I'd also work a lot on Karen Overall's Protocol for Relaxation. It should be in the Doggy Zen Sticky.
 

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A critical part of any training from day one is teaching the dog two things...either it's Right or it's Wrong. Some people use the word, "YES"! for Right (or a clicker) and "UTTT" or "NO!" for Wrong (stop what you're doing). Slighter harsher tactics for the "Wrong!" are startle tactics like sharp handclaps, stomping your foot on the floor, slapping a wall, a shake can of pennies, spray bottles, sonic beanbags, etc.

It really sounds like he's never learned NO. That's an important lesson and at this stage I'd use any or all of the tactics mentioned above to teach him that.

When the indirect methods don't work (turning your back/walking away, etc) then go for the direct approach. Don't allow him into your personal space....invade HIS space first...make him back up. A quick 'bullrush' toward him should startle him and make him give ground...go ahead and look a little mean....bowl him over if you absolutely have to...make it unpleasant/uncomfortable for him. Use the startle techniques in combination with this 'invasion'.
 

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For the possible separation anxiety;
Do you excersize Bandit a lot? Like two 45 minute walks a day? Physical excersize can help keep him calm while your gone, and be less energized when you come back.

Do you give him interactive toys to keep him busy while your gone? Like stuffed Kongs?

Do you keep your arrivals and departures super calm and boring? Give him his stuffed kong 5 minutes before you leave and leave the house "matter -of-fact" like, so he doesnt get anxious before you leave. When you get home putter around the house for a few minutes before giving him any kind of attention (looking, talking, or touching).

Change up your leaving routines. If you grab your bag, then your keys and then leave every day, the dog recognizes that pattern and will begin to become anxious knowing that you are going to leave.

Get him used to being alone gradually. If he follows you into every room, start closing the door behind you so he cant go with. Ween him off of your constant attention while your home. If he comes up to you wanting loves, ignore him. When he gives up, then you can love him.

What is your leadership status with him? If he thinks himself as the leader of your household, that can cause anxiety for him, because its his job to tell you where to go and when to do it. So when you leave the house without his blessing...He's wondering where his pack went.

Jumping/biteing;
I think your doing everything right with that, but there is something else you can do to make it more effective. With him on a leash, have someone holding him inside by the door. You leave for 2 minutes (gradually working up the time the better he does). The person holding the leash should ask him to sit before you come back in. If he does you will begin to open the door to come in... if the dog breaks his sit... you will immediately shut the door and not come inside. The person holding his leash should ask him to sit again, and repeat. Likely this will take many sessions.

The idea is that you are helping him understand that by being excited and jumping makes you shut the door and leave. If he remains calm, or at least keeps all four on the floor without any biteing, you will come in BUT before you give him any attention (look, talk, touch) he must ramain calm. If you go to pet him and he starts his crazy antics again, do your usual turn and ignore. The benifit to having him leashed and a parter holding on to him is they can keep him controlled so he cant move around to get you again. If he "looses his mind" go back outside and start over.

(if you can't find someone to help you, you can do this same thing by tethering him to a heavy peice of furnature near the door. the idea is that you can get away from him to effectively give him that consequence for his bad behaviour. Your negative punishment (ignoring) will only work properly if you can actually ignore him. )

I hope this helps you. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Wow, you guys have given such good advice already! Thanks so much!

It would matter how much you've rehearsed entering and exiting and how many opportunities you've had to reward the dog for a new greeting behavior.
That's a great thought - I hadn't even considered actually rehearsing the scenarios that cause this situation to occur... (duh! moment over here :) ) Thanks for the great suggestion.

My initial thought would be a Manners Minder. Something you could remotely activate to get the dog's attention away from you and to a place where he could relax on a mat for a stay.
What a neat product! I haven't seen that before. That might actually be very helpful for his SA, give him something to occupy his mind while I'm gone, or to train him to be calm when I'm out of sight. Really might be worth picking up...

But I'd also work a lot on Karen Overall's Protocol for Relaxation. It should be in the Doggy Zen Sticky.
Another great suggestion. I had worked through the protocol with Willow last year, but didn't even think of applying it here. I think I'll go ahead and start it tomorrow - I think it would be a big help.

It really sounds like he's never learned NO. That's an important lesson and at this stage I'd use any or all of the tactics mentioned above to teach him that.
He does understand "No" in many, many different contexts (no, don't harass the cats; no, leave that food on the counter alone; no, don't chew on that shoe), but if I give him my "no" cue (a sharp "Eh!" or "Hey") during these situations, it just heightens his arousal even further.

When the indirect methods don't work (turning your back/walking away, etc) then go for the direct approach. Don't allow him into your personal space....invade HIS space first...make him back up. A quick 'bullrush' toward him should startle him and make him give ground...go ahead and look a little mean....bowl him over if you absolutely have to...make it unpleasant/uncomfortable for him. Use the startle techniques in combination with this 'invasion'.
This is an excellent management suggestion! I think it would surprise him and definitely help keep some space between us until I can get this better under control. Thanks for this great and simple idea.

Do you excersize Bandit a lot? Like two 45 minute walks a day? Physical excersize can help keep him calm while your gone, and be less energized when you come back.
Yep, we take a long (1 hour plus) hike daily through rugged terrain, plus he and Willow really help wear each other down too. He's not a very exercise-dependent dog like Willow is, but thank you for the suggestion, it's definitely part of the solution.

Do you give him interactive toys to keep him busy while your gone? Like stuffed Kongs?
Yep, I do when I'm going to be gone for an extended (15 minutes or more) period of time. The worst scenario is when I step out of the house for a moment to do a quick chore (i.e., letting the chickens out of their coop - 5 min tops), and when I return, he acts like I've been gone forever.

Do you keep your arrivals and departures super calm and boring? Give him his stuffed kong 5 minutes before you leave and leave the house "matter -of-fact" like, so he doesnt get anxious before you leave. When you get home putter around the house for a few minutes before giving him any kind of attention (looking, talking, or touching).
Very good thought - this is one of the most important things for managing SA, I think. I'm very careful to keep comings-and-goings low-key and quiet... I don't try to soothe or "baby talk" him when I leave or come home.

Get him used to being alone gradually. If he follows you into every room, start closing the door behind you so he cant go with. Ween him off of your constant attention while your home. If he comes up to you wanting loves, ignore him. When he gives up, then you can love him.
Thanks! We've been working on this recently. He's generally very, very good as long as he knows I haven't left the house.

What is your leadership status with him? If he thinks himself as the leader of your household, that can cause anxiety for him, because its his job to tell you where to go and when to do it. So when you leave the house without his blessing...He's wondering where his pack went.
Out of my whole group, Bandit would be the last one I'd use the term "leader of the pack" with. :) He is the "softest" of my dogs and definitely the one that tests me the least. He doesn't have a leadership bone in his body and is extremely obedient, patient and reliable. I do casual NILIF (is that an oxymoron :) ) with all my dogs and he is overall an extremely respectful pooch to live with.

I think your doing everything right with that, but there is something else you can do to make it more effective. With him on a leash, have someone holding him inside by the door. You leave for 2 minutes (gradually working up the time the better he does). The person holding the leash should ask him to sit before you come back in. If he does you will begin to open the door to come in... if the dog breaks his sit... you will immediately shut the door and not come inside. The person holding his leash should ask him to sit again, and repeat. Likely this will take many sessions.

The idea is that you are helping him understand that by being excited and jumping makes you shut the door and leave. If he remains calm, or at least keeps all four on the floor without any biteing, you will come in BUT before you give him any attention (look, talk, touch) he must ramain calm. If you go to pet him and he starts his crazy antics again, do your usual turn and ignore. The benifit to having him leashed and a parter holding on to him is they can keep him controlled so he cant move around to get you again. If he "looses his mind" go back outside and start over.

(if you can't find someone to help you, you can do this same thing by tethering him to a heavy peice of furnature near the door. the idea is that you can get away from him to effectively give him that consequence for his bad behaviour. Your negative punishment (ignoring) will only work properly if you can actually ignore him. )
Thanks for the ideas, I'm sure they will be helpful. I really appreciate the time you took to write this all up. :)
 

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I would back tie him to something he cannot pull lose from and walk out the door a few minutes and come back in, but out of range of him. When he starts his frantic jumping, turn your back. When he sits or at least stands calmly (its helpful to put a mirror up so you can see behind you) turn back around. When he starts jumping again, put your back to him. Practice leaving the room and coming back over and over again, with your time out of the room gradually increasing. Then I would also practice in different rooms of the house as well.
 

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Poca did the exact same thing, but she was a puppy when she did it. I was covered in bite marks, scratches and bruises for months, but she eventually grew out of it by around 6-8 months. I would not be so patient with a more mature animal like Bandit! We did many of the things folks have suggested here - they worked, thank goodness. Now Poca limits herself to snaking us and she'll jump on me if I invite her up but not otherwise. Hope the suggestions work. I can't imagine how it would feel to have an adult dog doing that to me - ouch!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That's interesting to hear that Poca had the same behavior - do you think it was related to some kind of separation anxiety as well, or were the circumstances different in your case?

The "bullrushing" and invading his space first have helped greatly to manage this while we work on rehearsing the right behavior. If I see him start to whine and get riled up, I just quickly march right into his space and get him to back up. The behavior ends immediately and we can proceed with a Sit, then praise and pets. It's made a big difference in the amount of bruising I'm having to endure on a daily basis. ;)

I can't imagine how it would feel to have an adult dog doing that to me - ouch!
Yep - definitely OUCH! Also, as an aside, Bandit has the LARGEST teeth out of all 3 of my dogs (and that's counting a wolfdog, which are known for having very large teeth). I mean, they're enormous for his size. Everyone comments on it if they see him chewing, or if he yawns. So, it just makes it that much more "fun" of a behavior to deal with. :rolleyes:;)
 

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A critical part .....
When the indirect methods don't work (turning your back/walking away, etc) then go for the direct approach. Don't allow him into your personal space....invade HIS space first...make him back up. A quick 'bullrush' toward him should startle him and make him give ground...go ahead and look a little mean....bowl him over if you absolutely have to...make it unpleasant/uncomfortable for him. Use the startle techniques in combination with this 'invasion'.
This sounds right to me. Sometimes we make things too complicated. If he rushes and jumps you say No and immediately give him a negative physical consequence of some sort (knee in the chest, bowl him over, whatever). He will get it and start showing more respect / control. Just be consistent (ie never let him jump on you even in other circumstances). If you act like a toy they will treat you like a toy.
 

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This sounds right to me. Sometimes we make things too complicated. If he rushes and jumps you say No and immediately give him a negative physical consequence of some sort (knee in the chest, bowl him over, whatever). He will get it and start showing more respect / control. Just be consistent (ie never let him jump on you even in other circumstances). If you act like a toy they will treat you like a toy.
Tooney did not suggest physical consequences, nor are physical consequences ever advisable on an internet forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
f he rushes and jumps you say No and immediately give him a negative physical consequence of some sort (knee in the chest, bowl him over, whatever). He will get it and start showing more respect / control.
Tooney was suggesting nothing of this sort, and I'm sure the OP would disagree with this method too.
Absolutely right CP. I believe there are better ways. There's a big difference between being proactive - firmly marching into his space, just as he's *thinking* about jumping; and being reactive - waiting until he is jumping and biting, then hitting or kneeing him or knocking him down.

I don't agree with what was posted at all. I wouldn't use those methods on any dog, much less Bandit. He was abused and is a very, very "soft" dog. He just about falls over himself if I use a stern tone of voice, let alone if I were to ever use a physical consequence! It would absolutely ruin him, and our relationship.

He will get it and start showing more respect / control. ... If you act like a toy they will treat you like a toy.
It's not really a respect/control issue at all, and certainly Bandit doesn't think of me as a toy. :) The issue is quite a bit more complex than this. But, thank you for taking the time to post, even if we interpreted Tooney's suggestion differently and happen to disagree somewhat.
 

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...bowl him over if you absolutely have to...make it unpleasant/uncomfortable for him.
How was Tooney going to 'bowl him over', by blowing on him?

Are you guys kidding me? A dog is running up to you, jumping all over you, mouthing you hard enough to bruise you and your afraid to physically knock him off you ? Another dog would do worse.

He just about falls over himself if I use a stern tone of voice,
Well in that case just say 'No' and he should stop immediately, no problem. If he is so respectful, then you should be able to stop him before he even gets to you by holding up your hand, making a noise, giving him a look etc. But I assume from your post none of this has worked.

A physical consequence doesn't mean hurting the dog; it means the lowest level of correction that will get the dogs attention in the way you need. If a 'No' or 'Off' suffices, great. If a stare or a hand clap works, great. Use what is needed. But here we have an excited dog who has got used to being physically all over its owner. It may need something more intense to get its attention. I am not saying to beat your dog, just snap him out of the behavior he is doing.

Note that by 'knee in the chest' I did not mean to crash your knee in his chest (ie strike him) but to immediately bring the knee of the leg he is jumping on up to knock him back off you.

There's always more than one way to solve a problem. However, IMHO you should start of by considering the most obvious / direct. It is about communication. Keep it simple. The closer the consequence (e.g. getting bowled over) follows the misbehaviour (jumping up), the better.

.... nor are physical consequences ever advisable on an internet forum.
Not sure what you mean by that. A leash correction is a physical consequence. Using your knee to push a puppy off you when he jumps up (something recommended I think even in the stickies here) is a physical consequence. A spray bottle is a physical consequence. Startling techniques (foot stamp etc) are also basically physical consequences.

There's a big difference between being proactive - firmly marching into his space, just as he's *thinking* about jumping; and being reactive - waiting until he is jumping and biting, then hitting or kneeing him or knocking him down.
The timing to 'march into his space' is a lot more problematic. If your doing it before he jumps its not clear he is going to make the connection, may just think your charging him for some other reason or just create confusion. Of course if you are doing it just as he jumps then he is already in your space and we are recommending basically the same thing: knock him off you.


It's not really a respect/control issue at all
I'm not saying the dog doesn't respect you, but he is not approaching you with respect in this excited state. He should be coming to you with head down slightly, ears back, tail wagging ........ excited, but respectful. Lots of other suggestions were made with respect to teaching the dog not to get so excited when you return, establish other routines for him etc etc. I've no problem with any of that ......... but to me teaching a dog not to jump up on me, ever, excited or not, is fundamental (and best done from day 1 as a pup) and worthwhile even if you buy 10 gizmos to distract him with when you walk in the door.

if I were to ever use a physical consequence! It would absolutely ruin him, and our relationship.
Well its your dog only you would be able to evaluate that. But dogs do accept physical corrections from each other and dogs do accept reasonable physical corrections from handlers. It is natural for them. They get it. Its only the humans that panic about it. And when your dog is jumping on you he is not in a fearful state of mind, he is excited. Personally, I think a dog not chewing on your arm would rather help your relationship.

But, thank you for taking the time to post, even if we interpreted Tooney's suggestion differently and happen to disagree somewhat.
Hey, I just throw out suggestions like anyone else if there was definitive answers we would just all buy that book and there would be nothing to discuss. Its your dog only you know best whats right for him and you. Good luck.
 

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The GSD, Memphis, that I work with had this issue as well...overexcitement tinged with anxiety. Shepherds and huskies are mouthy, snappy, air snappy dogs (mouth clacking)and this one was the perfect example..lol.
Cracker used to have anxiety jumping as well, she didn't snap, instead she would launch her forepaws right in your gut.

So I did several things:
1/ in the beginning, because he was in an anxious/excited state I worked on focusing him on something else by teaching him to target my hand when he was NOT anxious (so he could learn it) and did the tether and walk away when the jumping/air snapping and grabbing happened. The tether was the most important part (as suggested earlier, using another person..for me, he was tethered to a piece of furniture).

2/Once he started to be calmer (not totally calm, but at least in "thinking mode") I would immediately upon arrival say "touch" and have him target my hand. Low, high, a jump and touch or whatever. This gave him something to do with the build up of energy in his body and mind.

3/I had his owners play tug with him, play target games and do a modified protocol for relaxation. The dog has calmed down considerably.

For Cracker, who won't play tug with people (soft soft dog)...I worked on putting her jumping bean act on CUE so that we could give her an outlet occasionally but used it as a rewarding behaviour. I ignore her the first minute or so, and reward her four on the floor with an OKAY JUMP! So she can bounce around..the best part is she doesn't jump ON me, she just pogos for abit. Then she shakes off (gets rid of the anxiety) and we're off to do whatever.
 

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How was Tooney going to 'bowl him over', by blowing on him?
How about asking Tooney instead of assuming.

If he is so respectful, then you should be able to stop him before he even gets to you by holding up your hand, making a noise, giving him a look etc.
The dog isn't being disrespectful. The dog is behaving to an emotion he does not have control over. He can only learn to change his operant behavior when he is relaxed (below threshold) and can associate this new behavior with entering and exiting. You can physically punish the dog to stop mouthing and jumping, but this does not address the emotion problem, in fact it can exacerbate it.

Well its your dog only you would be able to evaluate that. But dogs do accept physical corrections from each other and dogs do accept reasonable physical corrections from handlers. It is natural for them.
It's also natural for them to resist and adapt to physical consequences. But nothing you've said here justifies the use of our physical consequences.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
2/Once he started to be calmer (not totally calm, but at least in "thinking mode") I would immediately upon arrival say "touch" and have him target my hand. Low, high, a jump and touch or whatever. This gave him something to do with the build up of energy in his body and mind.
This is a great idea! Bandit has a solid "touch" and loves to play targeting games. Thanks for the suggestion!
 

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When we use techniques like a bullrush or a hand held out like a stop sign to intercept the dog/make them stop there can be collision....the dogs nose can run into our outstretched hand...our bodies can collide on a bullrush. We are not intentionally using physical force but, if we do collide......so be it.....the dogs lack of self control caused the collision. Hopefully, it won't happen again and the dog will learn some restraint... none of us want to cause pain or injury.
 

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How about asking Tooney instead of assuming.
Tooney's response is there now. Sounds like physical contact to me. Oh my.

He can only learn to change his operant behavior when he is relaxed (below threshold)
Not true. Dogs can absolutely learn when they are excited, but the lesson needs to be of sufficient intensity.

and can associate this new behavior with entering and exiting.
I don't want him to associate 'don't jump on me' with just entering and exiting. I want that to be understood always everywhere.

Yes you can attack this by 'addressing the emotion problem' and teaching him not to get in that excited state when you come / go. But does that mean he will never get in that excited state in other circumstances, and jump on you then?

If the OP feels better about other methods, then great. But lets not pretend that what I am suggesting does not work. Its hardly novel.

But nothing you've said here justifies the use of our physical consequences.
A repeatedly bruised arm more than justifies it. The physical consequence we are talking about is less intense than what the dog is already doing to the human. Also, if the dog jumps on the wrong person one day either he or the person may get hurt. Its a behavior well worth stamping out.
 

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Sounds like physical contact to me. Oh my.
None that is intentional like you initially suggested, and backtracked out of.

Dogs can absolutely learn when they are excited, but the lesson needs to be of sufficient intensity.
I stated he could learn to change his operant behavior when he's below threshold. If you're unclear of what a threshold is, you'd understand that nothing I said excludes the possibility of learning when excited.

I don't want him to associate 'don't jump on me' with just entering and exiting. I want that to be understood always everywhere.
The OP's problem is when he returns home. There's nothing to suggest this problem occurs everywhere or for everything, but yes, you can approach each instance the same, be effective, and not use physical consequences. Behaviorists do it all the time.

But does that mean he will never get in that excited state in other circumstances, and jump on you then?
We don't know this to be a problem, but no, dogs do not generalize well...it would be the handler's responsibility to generalize the behavior everywhere.

But lets not pretend that what I am suggesting does not work. Its hardly novel.
Of course it's not novel, this still does not justify physical consequences.

A repeatedly bruised arm more than justifies it.
Not if a prudent handler can avoid practicing the behavior. It happens all the time.

The physical consequence we are talking about is less intense than what the dog is already doing to the human.
How would anyone be able to ascertain that from "knee in the chest" or "bowl him over"? There are good practices of physical consequences, and there are people being a part of the misapplication of good practices. You should not recommend physical consequences because you have no idea what part you play.

Also, if the dog jumps on the wrong person one day either he or the person may get hurt. Its a behavior well worth stamping out.
No one suggested allowing the behavior to continue, or for the OP to experiment with other people. You're being presumptuous for no reason.
 

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That's interesting to hear that Poca had the same behavior - do you think it was related to some kind of separation anxiety as well, or were the circumstances different in your case?

Yep - definitely OUCH! Also, as an aside, Bandit has the LARGEST teeth out of all 3 of my dogs (and that's counting a wolfdog, which are known for having very large teeth). I mean, they're enormous for his size. Everyone comments on it if they see him chewing, or if he yawns. So, it just makes it that much more "fun" of a behavior to deal with. :rolleyes:;)
Good question. I'm not sure. She certainly is an anxiety-prone dog. She improves all the time but she was such an over-the-top energy level dog that it was hard to figure out what was going on. She had a lot of things happening in her little puppy brain all at once!

RE those ginormous teeth...More to love, right? Just wish it was more of the fuzzy and less of the hard stuff!
 
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