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1018 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  MeanGreenZen
In November of last year, we adopted a lab mix (everyone has an opinion what the mix is-maybe sheppard or pit?) He was a year old and about to be put to sleep, and we wanted a large family dog. He had been left by a family whose home had been foreclosed on, and didn't show any signs of problems. Our vet checked him out and said he was excellent in both behavior and health.

After a few months of not knowing how to handle a big dog (he is our first), his behavior began changing. He started jumping, chewing, becoming very hyper and hard to control. We tried Petco training, which did nothing. We began to devote at least 2-4 hours a day with him, thinking maybe he just wasn't getting enough attention. We have a very large yard with plenty of room to roam, so we'd throw the ball outside (and get jumped on), we'd go for walks (and get dragged all over the place), petting, positive reinforcement, etc. We knew from our children that consistency was key, but it didn't seem to matter here--his behavior was just getting worse and we knew we were to blame. We tried kennel training him, but getting him into the kennel was impossible unless my husband was home-the dog is stronger than I am. Just about the only thing that DID work was that at night, we were adamant about him sleeping on his bed, and he would do so easily and throughout the night.

He gained thirty pounds, growing to be a 90lb. dog. At this time, I got pregnant and the jumping got dangerous. We tried a prong collar, which helped some, but still he was so big it was hard to even wrangle him with the collar. He chewed through the wiring to our AC unit in the backyard. We had to do something.

We were at our wits end,when a friend told us about a positive reinforcement "puppy school" that lasted for six weeks. I was leery, but it was held in very high regard, and I could not allow him to jump on me while pregnant. We took him, paid the VERY expensive fee, visited, attended classes with him, and he looked to be much better. When we got him home, we worked very hard to reinforce what we all had learned and for a little while everything was great, then problems started again. He can sit, walk on a leash, and until last week, was not jumping, but he was barking at everything, and began getting up and wondering around the house at night. The "stay" command works for about five minutes, then we fall asleep and get back up.

We were afraid he would chew something up or get into something he shouldn't so we were up all night, correcting him and putting him back on his bed. We've been doing this for two months and we are exhausted. We thought we still weren't spending enough time with him, so now we spend about five hours a day working with him. I don't mind the work, though it's exhausting, but it doesn't appear to be making a difference. What am I doing wrong??
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Why don't you kennel the dog at night? I would not continue to poison the down, sit or stay cues unless you are going to be able to release him before he will get up.

Also, what kind of work are you doing with this dog for five hours every day? What kind of physical and mental exercise is he getting?

As for bad behavior being stopped for good in one visit, I call B.S. :)
Crate Games is actually a DVD by Susan Garrett and you can buy it directly from her by going here: http://www.clickerdogs.com I have it, and also highly recommend following that program before you try crating this dog for any length of time with the crate door shut. In the meantime, definitely do as Elana suggested, throwing treats in and around the crate often and feeding meals in the crate. Feeding your dog his meals in interactive toys such as Kongs was another excellent suggestion of her's that you should follow. Wouldn't you know, Susan Garret also has a booklet called Ruff Love that is geared towards "problem" dogs that you might find helpful as it is like NILIF boot camp.

I suggest you read the Training Levels information found here: http://www.dragonflyllama.com which will help you build a longer stay, etc. Enrolling in a positive training class wouldn't be a bad idea, either. From the sound of it, your dog doesn't get out of his yard or neighborhood much. Have you considered doggy daycare? You're not doing a bad job, but I would stop worrying about being "pack leader" a la Cesar Millan, and instead focus on being a benevolent leader. I suggest you check out http://www.dogstardaily.com and http://www.clickertraining.com for more information on that.
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