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Hello all;

We recently (almost three weeks now) got a purebred male Bichon Frise from a breeder. He is 10 months old. The breeder told us that she had initially intended to keep him as a show dog but she decided to let him go because she felt he is not "aggressive" enough! Our initial reaction to that was "perfect" for us!!!

Let me start with a preface - we choose a Bichon Frise because we have three kids, 11, 8 and 3 Yr. old (boy, girl, girl) and after doing some research we believed Bichons are very playful, very "family" oriented and that they love kids!

Now back to our Bichon - he is not aggressive at all! He almost NEVER barks - to the point that my wife an I at first thought he was mute!!! :confused: But he proved us wrong after the second time that we crated him for the night! :p

I think it is first important for me to lay out what his relationship is with our family: I am his favorite, my wife is second ,my son, with some cation, is the third, and as for my two girls, he is fearful of them, YES, that is right, FEARFUL!!.

Clearly we are having several issues:

First, and I would say this is our MAJOR concern right now, is that he is VERY shy and constantly in state of alertness and caution. His initial reaction is to back off and run away. He does not bark at strangers and runs away all the time. Worst of all he is VERY, VERY afraid of my 8 and 3 year old daughters. My 8 Year old is the gentlest soul on earth and yet he runs as if she is about to behead him. If I attempt to hold him to let my daughter to pet him he will fight his way out my arms with all his mighty. If she does in fact get close to him, he will not take any treats from her whatsoever. We have also had an occasion where my wife held him for my daughter to pet him and he has pissed on my wife, our assumption, from fear!!! This is impacting my daughters, specially the 8 year old, as they are feeling rejected!!!

Second, he is NOT playful at all! We have yet to find a toy that he likes! He has not, to date, played with any of his toys! As I mentioned, he is so concerned and in a constant state of being worried of his surroundings that he does not play with anyone or anything. The only time I have gotten him to do some fetching is when I am all alone with him and he is sure that no one else is around!

Third, housebreaking attempts have also proven to be fatal thus far. In majority of times, almost 90%, when we take him for a walk he does nothing but almost immediately after we bring him back home he goes!!!:eek: We can't understand that! He does love the idea of getting out o fthe house for his walk but lately, after I take him for his walk, as soon as we get close to the house he refuses to walk toward the house. In fact for the past couple of days I have had to pick him up and take him inside!! :(

Fourth, we have gotten him a few beds and have placed them in several location of the house but he refuses to lay on them. He will sniff it, walk on it but then you will find him sitting next to it as opose to sitting on top of it!! :confused:

So we desperatly need some help and insight here as to what may be going on and what it is we need to do to take care of these issues, particulairly the first issue, before our view for him turns from the joy to one of sorrow and grief!:(

Thank you in advance!
 

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Well a shy fearful bichon is definitely not what they are supposed to be but I do believe your problems are solvable with some work.

For fearfulness: For a few days try to get your girls to leave him alone. Let him come to them, it will more than likely happen one day out of the blue. When he does, try to have them stand still and let him sniff. He may walk away but will come back. You could also try having them give him really good treats. I mean pure meat, cheese, bacon whatever! Doesn't have to be much, but if all they're offering him are dry treats it may not be enough incentive. You could also try leaving something that smells like him in his crate overnight so he gets used to the smell.

Accidents: Are you crate training when you can't watch him? Get him on a schedule of feeding, he should have to go about 20-30 minutes after he eats or drinks (conservative figure, you can go longer as he gets better). Take him out to do his business and give him 10 minutes. If he doesn't crate him or tie him to you for 15 then try again. He may have been housebroken before, but in a new place he probably hasn't generalized. Also try not to mix walks and peeing/pooing. This way when you need him to go, ie in cold weather or rain, he will go right away not wait for his walk.

Beds: I wouldn't worry about that for now. Once he gets close to you he'll probably want to be on your lap. Getting him to wait/lay on a bed is a training thing.

Toys: Once he's not shy I'm sure he'll start to play. Right now he's just too scared to really think about it.

Really he might just need more time. Not all dogs adjust quickly. If he didn't come from a place with children or wasn't well socialized this could be causing the problems. Since he's older it may take some time to try to get him to the outgoing place you want him to be.
 

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You have some serious issues with your dog, but not being able to see how he interacts with your family makes me cautious about my reply. The dog is obviously not comfortable around your home or your girls. And we have to wonder why this is taking place, since you have had him since he was very young. A Bichon is usually a happy little dog, loves life, etc. My recommendation is that you find a dog behaviorist in your area, who will come out to your home and observe the dog interacting with your family. I have a little Cavalier, who doesn't like small children, but if I hold her, she will let them pet her. I have been training dogs for over 25 years and haven't met your situation - so I'm stumped. You need a professional and right away.
 

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My apology - I thought you had the dog since it was a puppy - but you have only had him 3 weeks - and obviously the dog was not properly socialized and had little experience with the outside world. My advice still stands about the behaviorist and your situation reminds me of my my dog - got her at 2 years old - never been on a leash, in a car, near children, etc. She was afraid of everything. I have had her now for 2 years and she has made remarkable progress - but you do need someone who knows how to handle shy dogs to help you.
 

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Hello all;

We recently (almost three weeks now) got a purebred male Bichon Frise from a breeder. He is 10 months old. The breeder told us that she had initially intended to keep him as a show dog but she decided to let him go because she felt he is not "aggressive" enough! Our initial reaction to that was "perfect" for us!!!
I am sure the breeder didn't mean "aggressive" as in mean, and bitey. She meant "aggressive" as in willing to show off, not afraid. Kinda like if I were to say "the business man was very aggressive in his quest to be a CEO" obviously I don't mean the business man hits and attacks people.
 

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How long has he lived with you? For some dogs it takes quite a while to adjust, especially if he's already 10 months old and has never known any place other than the breeder's house. Give him time alone, give him a crate for him to feel safe in and don't push him. Don't try to take him out all the time and cuddle him, force him to play, etc. It may take a few weeks for a new dog to warm up to the family, especially kids. It's important not to force the people on him, especially your daughters and he will approach them on his own time.
 

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Your dog sounds like he is terrified!...Poor baby!
As far as your kids feeling rejected that shouldn't be the issue here...You should let the dog come to them at his comfort & NEVER hold him & force him to let them pet him...The kids will need to be taught to respect him & his space & that he is not a toy for their entertainment....You should have them offer him tasty treats at an arms length & let the dog choose if he comes close enough to take them or not...This may take some time but, if you don't let him warm up on his terms, you are going to end up with a dog you can't keep with children...Chances are he never interacted with children at the breeders or had bad interactions with them.
This is crucial as, what you described, is the makings of fear bites waiting to happen...How will your kids feel then?:(
I wouldn't worry at all about him not wanting to use his bed right now or play with toys...He is obviously freaked out & whether he uses a bed or not or is playful should be the LEAST of your worries!
Crate train for potty training.
Good luck.
 

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This is a tough situation in the sense that he is not what you expected. But this unfortunately is not common. All dogs, even within a breed have different characteristics and personalities. It really sounds like the breeder did not do enough early socialization with your boy. This puts you at a disadvantage but it is not necessarily a lost cause.

I am going to go one step further than the others regarding the kids treating the dog. I don't think that trying to get a dog to approach for a treat is a good idea..even if the treat is a high value treat the dog still may feel "forced" into going to get it and this is not good for him at all. I understand your kids feeling rejected, of course they are disappointed, but it is important for the safety and well being of both the kids and the dog to work on this slowly and let them "get to know" each other on the dog's terms.

What this means is having the kids DROP high value treats near the dog as they walk by or as they are sitting watching tv or whatever. All training and handling should be done by the parents in the beginning until you have some consistent behaviours going and then you can ask the older kids to "help" by asking for and rewarding the sits etc, again without infringing on the dog's "threshold space". Once he starts to trust the kids more you can build on this.

Dealing with fear takes time and patience, but I think you may find that fearful dogs DO bond well after some good classical conditioning.

If you don't think you can do this (hopefully with the help of a good behaviourist) then you may want to think about returning the dog to the breeder, for his good and for yours. If you and your family are up for it it can be a worthwhile endeavor.

Check out www.fearfuldogs.com for some great advice and information on desensitization and training methods etc.

You also need to give him more time to settle in, three weeks is not long and he is still likely not showing all of his personality yet (for good or bad) so make no assumptions and go slowly.

HIs crate and housetraining go hand in hand, but if he's never been trained to go outside it will be a challenge. Speak to the breeder about what methods she uses for her dogs...potty pads? Litter training? If he's never had the opportunity to go on grass or cement he will not KNOW to do it. He needs to relearn a lot of stuff if she didn't do these things and please remember that this is not his fault and sounds like these behaviours may very likely be due to mistakes the breeder has made during his prime socialization periods.

Good luck.
 

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Dropping the treats...EXCELLENT advise Cracker!...I wouldn't have thought of that but it makes perfect sense as a prelude for the kids being able to hand the dog a treat!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you all for your posts and sorry to get back to you all so late in the game! I had read your posts immediately but never had time to reply, the Tax season is killing me.

Let me first say something about the breeder. Though we don't really know her personally, she seems to be a true professional with a strong passion for what she is doing. Here is the breeder's website: Gemstone Bichone Frises. We did not feel that she is breeding pups "as a business", if you know what I mean. We also found out that Jeter, our pup, has a very strong family line of Champs. In fact, as I mention before, she had originally chosen him to show but then decided to show his sister instead and she did in fact won the Westminster show just a few weeks ago!

The breeder had about 6 or 7 Bichons which we assumed they are all hers. The breeder had trained all her dogs to go on the dogie pads. There was also a dogie door to the outside next to the pads. So the dogs would either go on the pad or would run outside! So if I understand it correctly, Jeter was not really housebroken to that sense of the word.

She instructed us to do the following. Give him a small area (we have given him half of our mud room - no worries, its always clean :) ). The area we have given him is about 15 feet long by 3.5 feet wide. Inside this area we have placed his crate and a bed. The area is gated off from the rest of the house but he can observe us at times when we pass by so he does not feel trapped.

On most occasions we do allow him to come out of his area and inside the house but with th understanding that we can keep an eye on him and try to make sure he is right next to us. This way we can ensure he does not "make" without us knowing. But I must admit we have not been 100% successfully and we have had one too many accidents. :( But if we do put him in his area and close the gate, he is not very happy and tries very hard to get out and inside the house!!

The breeder next instructed us to ONLY crate him at nights for sleeping. She told us that we should NOT use the crate to housebreak him since he is no longer a pup! If we do that then he may see the crate as punishment as appose to "safe heaven". By the way, as is, he still does not like to be crated even for the night and tries very hard to run away and get out! For housebreaking, next, she instructed us to take him out every so often, like every two hours and every time he "makes" to treat him with a small piece of chicken. She did warn us to NEVER give him the chicken for ANY other purpose!

At first it was difficult but as time is passing by, he jumps on the idea to go outside and he has somewhat learned, at least when he walks with me or my wife, that every time he makes he will get the chicken and he does in fact look for it. But we still have had times where he will "go" in the house!! So question is how do we train him to understand "OUTSIDE ONLY"!!

As for my daughters, we have already told the girls to let him be and even try to ignore him. My 8 year old understands, but not happy, and my 3 year old says "why???" :rolleyes: She is going to make it tough!

We are seriously considering hiring a dog behaviorist but are stumbling on how to locate one who is "reputable". Any help on that would be greatly appreciated!

Best regards and look forward to your posts!! :)
 

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Well, I see you problem. It's really simple.

Your dog is fearful because you named him after a Yankee. If you named him after a Red Sox, then he would be much more happy. :) Maybe Jacoby, Nomar or something like that. You know something that one would be proud of hearing. (I'm kidding of course... or am I?) :D

In all seriousness, I think Cracker gave you some really good advice in terms working with the dog and kids. Another idea I would do is make sure the kids feed him. They don't have to get close, but make sure the pup sees the kids are the one puttung the food down. Also, have the kids mix the food with their hands (even if it's just dry food). That way, when the dog is eating, he smells the kids, and associates that smell with his needs and becomes more familiar with them. This worked really well for my sister when she got a new pup that wasn't all to anxious to be petted by them.

Just remember, it's a slow process, but you'll get there... as soon as you change it's name. :)
 

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Okay, sounds like your breeder has it kind of on the ball..good job.

BUT.
For housetraining purposes (as he is NOT housetrained..ie only goes outside) you do need to back up..age has nothing to do with this right now. Anyone who has taken an older rescue in that is not housetrained is told to go back to 'puppy housebreaking" and gradually build up. Keep a chart as to when he has accidents to see if there is a pattern/timing issue on your part. You may just be waiting a bit too long at certain times of the day. He is still a puppy btw and smaller breeds often take longer to fully housetrain AND to learn to hold their bladders longer. Do you still provide a pad for him? If not you have to be more frequent on his outside trips...learning the difference between outside and inside takes time and repetition. Do you scold or punish him for any accidents? This can also make it harder to train.

The mudroom space is a good idea if you don't want to crate him (but be prepared if it doesn't work, crating him more frequently may be necessary..more on that later). but fifteen feet long is too much. Not small enough. What you need is a space that is big enough for his crate, his dishes and about two or three feet extra. Period. You CAN put a puppy pad down there if it helps and you know you cannot make schedule at that time. By limiting the space he will be more hesitant to "make" near his sleeping and eating quarters. This is why crates are so handy for this.

Okay..onto crates. Crates can still be a safe haven even if used frequently, in fact, the logic is that he will feel SAFER confined than not. In order to do this you must not use the crate for punishment purposes and it must be a place of "good things'. Teaching him to crate up using yummy rewards and making sure he always has something to chew/work on when he's in there is half the battle. Stuffed kongs are great, bully sticks can be good (supervised) etc. The more you make his crate a great place the easier the overnights will be too right now all you are teaching him is that when he is in the crate you all shut off the lights and leave, inadvertent teaching of course, but that is how dogs learn things...that being said, being he's only been with you three weeks, I would have put the crate in the bedroom with me in the beginning rather than far away from me in the house..but that's just me..lol.

If you get him to be really comfortable in his crate (google Susan Garrett's "Crate Games" DVD for a great way to do this)...eventually his crate can go "on the move" in the house, allowing him to be around the kids more but feel SAFE about it and also be more comfortable when he goes to the groomer or has to stay at the vet and also makes car trips safer and less stressful.

All just tweaks to what you are already doing.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, I see you problem. It's really simple.

Your dog is fearful because you named him after a Yankee. If you named him after a Red Sox, then he would be much more happy. :) Maybe Jacoby, Nomar or something like that. You know something that one would be proud of hearing. (I'm kidding of course... or am I?) :D

In all seriousness, I think Cracker gave you some really good advice in terms working with the dog and kids. Another idea I would do is make sure the kids feed him. They don't have to get close, but make sure the pup sees the kids are the one puttung the food down. Also, have the kids mix the food with their hands (even if it's just dry food). That way, when the dog is eating, he smells the kids, and associates that smell with his needs and becomes more familiar with them. This worked really well for my sister when she got a new pup that wasn't all to anxious to be petted by them.

Just remember, it's a slow process, but you'll get there... as soon as you change it's name. :)
LOL!!!

So you know I am originaly from Boston and more a Red Sox fan than anything else. But I do not have anything gainst the Yankees either, just not a fan!! :)

The truth is we did not pick the name. The breeder was a Yankee fan and she had picked the name and we decided to keep it for now as we had enough going on and name changing can maybe wait!!

Thanks for the advice though! The interesting thing is that before I had even posted this thread, I had asked my girls to put the food for him while he is still in his "area", so he sees it too. But now I will also ask her to move the food around with her hand, THANKS!
 

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Oh I almost forgot...regarding your first posts:
Play will happen when he feels comfortable and safe..that may take a while.

The bed thing is not unusual, especially if he hasn't had one before or he is still unsure of this surroundings. Work on the housetraining and settling in and then come back and we can discuss how to teach him to "go to bed" on cue.
 

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Okay, sounds like your breeder has it kind of on the ball..good job.

BUT.
For housetraining purposes (as he is NOT housetrained..ie only goes outside) you do need to back up..age has nothing to do with this right now. Anyone who has taken an older rescue in that is not housetrained is told to go back to 'puppy housebreaking" and gradually build up. Keep a chart as to when he has accidents to see if there is a pattern/timing issue on your part. You may just be waiting a bit too long at certain times of the day. He is still a puppy btw and smaller breeds often take longer to fully housetrain AND to learn to hold their bladders longer. Do you still provide a pad for him? If not you have to be more frequent on his outside trips...learning the difference between outside and inside takes time and repetition. Do you scold or punish him for any accidents? This can also make it harder to train.
Well at the very beginning we were placing the pads but then the Vet told us that we are confusing him. So about 1.5 weeks ago we stopped putting the pads!

As for punishing, we never punished him when he did NOT make it in front of us (though one time my wife did get mad and after showing him what he has done, did in fact yell and lock him up in his area). Two or three times we did yell and lock him up when he made in front of us but we will now stop doing that as well.

...........

Okay..onto crates. Crates can still be a safe haven even if used frequently, in fact, the logic is that he will feel SAFER confined than not. In order to do this you must not use the crate for punishment purposes and it must be a place of "good things'. Teaching him to crate up using yummy rewards and making sure he always has something to chew/work on when he's in there is half the battle. Stuffed kongs are great, bully sticks can be good (supervised) etc. The more you make his crate a great place the easier the overnights will be too right now all you are teaching him is that when he is in the crate you all shut off the lights and leave, inadvertent teaching of course, but that is how dogs learn things...that being said, being he's only been with you three weeks, I would have put the crate in the bedroom with me in the beginning rather than far away from me in the house..but that's just me..lol.
We have tried putting things in his crate but he does not care for them. In fact, as I mentioned in my thread, he does not lke any of his toys. The only thing I have found out he REALLY likes is tree branches. In fact the only thing that gets him excited and gets him to play fetch is when i use a tree branch but I was told taht is a "BAD" idea! By the way, what is a "stuffed kong"?

He simply just wants to get out of the crate!!

If you get him to be really comfortable in his crate (google Susan Garrett's "Crate Games" DVD for a great way to do this)...eventually his crate can go "on the move" in the house, allowing him to be around the kids more but feel SAFE about it and also be more comfortable when he goes to the groomer or has to stay at the vet and also makes car trips safer and less stressful.

All just tweaks to what you are already doing.

Good luck.
I will try to locate the DVD!! Sounds great. Thanks.
 

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Well at the very beginning we were placing the pads but then the Vet told us that we are confusing him. So about 1.5 weeks ago we stopped putting the pads!
Your vet is right BUT it may be MORE confusing for him as he had it before and now does not..if that makes any sense. I personally do not like starting out with pee pads for this very issue...but think about all the changes that have gone on for this guy in the last month. Gone from the home he knew, from his "dog pack", from his previous routine AND he's a nervous dog. The less you change in the beginning the calmer the dog. It needs to be a process.

As for punishing, we never punished him when he did NOT make it in front of us (though one time my wife did get mad and after showing him what he has done, did in fact yell and lock him up in his area). Two or three times we did yell and lock him up when he made in front of us but we will now stop doing that as well.
Good. Punishing for accidents only creates a dog that puts YOU plus urine/stool as "BAD"..not the act itself. Which in turn CAN teach the dog to hide when he goes OR to not want to make when you are there at all, which makes training very difficult and rewarding when he DOES go in the right place virtually impossible.


We have tried putting things in his crate but he does not care for them. In fact, as I mentioned in my thread, he does not lke any of his toys. The only thing I have found out he REALLY likes is tree branches. In fact the only thing that gets him excited and gets him to play fetch is when i use a tree branch but I was told taht is a "BAD" idea! By the way, what is a "stuffed kong"?
Yeah, sticks can cause issues if they EAT them. but if he just fetches with it and chews and spits it out I would allow him to have them SUPERVISED.

Toys in the crate (especially a dog that is not comfortable enough to play) is not going to work...BUT a FOOD TOY is a different story. KOngs are great because they are stuffable..by stuffable I mean put some kibble in it, a few pieces of yummy treat and some peanut butter and then freeze it. Keep a few on hand in the freezer and put one in the crate with him for a couple of minutes at first (door open) and see if he'll lick and work at it to get the food out. This is classical conditioning (good things come when I'm in my crate! YUMM)..if you do get the DVD (which I highly recommend) you will be teaching him to get in and out of the crate on cue, lie calmly in the crate on cue and just basically make the crate a rewarding place to be, with our without you.

You may also think about feeding him in his crate for meals as well to see how that goes. It's pavlov's dog all over again....crate=food. Food is a prime motivator for most dogs. Use it to your advantage.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I just tried a quick search and I can't locate that DVD!! Anyone knows where I could get one or does anyone have a used copy they want to sell?
 

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We should just phone each other..lol. You can tell I have a day off..too much computer time for me!

Check out www.dogwise.com One of the best places for dvds, training supplies and books etc out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Your vet is right BUT it may be MORE confusing for him as he had it before and now does not..if that makes any sense. I personally do not like starting out with pee pads for this very issue...but think about all the changes that have gone on for this guy in the last month. Gone from the home he knew, from his "dog pack", from his previous routine AND he's a nervous dog. The less you change in the beginning the calmer the dog. It needs to be a process.
So we should strat putting the pads down? But even with the pads down his aim was not 100%!! :p

........if he just fetches with it and chews and spits it out I would allow him....
Well he fetches a few times but then he runs away and tries to chew and eat it too!!

.................

Kongs are great because they are stuffable..by stuffable I mean put some kibble in it, a few pieces of yummy treat and some peanut butter and then freeze it. Keep a few on hand in the freezer and put one in the crate with him for a couple of minutes at first (door open) and see if he'll lick and work at it to get the food out. This is classical conditioning (good things come when I'm in my crate! YUMM)...........
Well the breeder made sure to tell us exactly wha and how much to feed him. Water is available ALL THE TIME! She instructed us to only feed him once a day, about 3/4 cup, and no more. She also said NO TREATS except maybe some Cheerios!! So Cheerios is the ONLY thing we have been using for treat and not much, just here and there, as a reward for when he listens to my commands or for my kids.

You may also think about feeding him in his crate for meals as well to see how that goes. It's pavlov's dog all over again....crate=food. Food is a prime motivator for most dogs. Use it to your advantage.
In fact that is exactly what we have been doing. When I decided that my daughter should be the only one to feed him, I told her to put it inside his crate. She puts the food on the edge though so he only has to stick his head inside the crate, not his entire body! Should we place it deeper inside?
 

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So we should strat putting the pads down? But even with the pads down his aim was not 100%!! :p
Not 100 percent like he drips off the edge or that he pees in a totally different area? If he's TRYING to get the pad, I would put the pad back out..if he's not then continue what you were doing and just more frequent with potty trips.

Well he fetches a few times but then he runs away and tries to chew and eat it too!!
Figure out how many times he will bring it back to you and then end the game before he gets a chance to go chew. This keeps the game "interesting" and active with YOU involved. Good for relationship building.

Well the breeder made sure to tell us exactly wha and how much to feed him. Water is available ALL THE TIME! She instructed us to only feed him once a day, about 3/4 cup, and no more. She also said NO TREATS except maybe some Cheerios!! So Cheerios is the ONLY thing we have been using for treat and not much, just here and there, as a reward for when he listens to my commands or for my kids.
Cheerios can be awesome treats IF THE DOG LIKES THEM. From a training point of view and getting over his fear you have to understand that food is the language of learning in many cases...restricting treats (good healthy treats btw) is not the way for a dog to learn to like his home, learn his cues or get over his fears.

Your breeder is worried about overfeeding (which is good) as many people especially with the "cute" dogs give too much too soon and for no reason. But using food rewards for training sessions and for classical conditioning is very important. The trick is to either use his kibble for the Easy stuff by putting his 3/4 cup in a jar each day, taking a couple of for mini training sessions and then giving the rest at meal time or to reduce his daily ration by the amount of training calories you give him from the other rewards. This way he can be rewarded for learning but it doesn't make him into bubba bichon. Treats are NOT BAD if used responsibly and ALL training goes better, faster and is more FUN if there are rewards involved. Dogs need to be paid for their work, just like we do.


In fact that is exactly what we have been doing. When I decided that my daughter should be the only one to feed him, I told her to put it inside his crate. She puts the food on the edge though so he only has to stick his head inside the crate, not his entire body! Should we place it deeper inside?
Since Jeter is unsure of the girl..I would have him on a leash away from the crate while he watches your daughter put the food in and YES further back so that he has to go IN is better. Don't close the crate, just make sure that he has to enter, not just hang over the edge to eat. Eventually you will be able to get him to crate up and THEN put the food in as a reward for going in..you will see how to do that when you get the DVD.
 
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