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1019 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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Can you maybe baby gate him in the bathroom? He sounds like he's getting bored during the day. Have you tried a kong with PB? or other alone activities?
We have tried the baby gate, he's so heavy he eventually pushes them down (and has taken out drywall). Is this just usual puppy behavior that he will grow out of?? If it's just a matter of containing him until he matures, I can find a way but if this is abnormal than I'd like to find a training solution. There is a company in Dallas where I live called DFW Dog Whisperers that says they specialize in these things and can stop bad behavior for good in one visit--is that baloney?
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. :)

I have tried moving the kennel in, but he goes CRAZY and wakes the whole house up, he won't go near it. I have not tried putting his bed inside and leaving the door open, though. We don't have room in our bedroom for the kennel so it's in our office...how do I coax him in there and away from us at night?

Our schedule is this: when we wake up, I pet him, water and feed him, and then once he's eaten and evacuated his tummy, I throw the ball or frisbee--working on getting him not to jump and to sit, which he does well. We do this for about an hour. I do leave a kong and chewies out there, but he has no interest. I've tried PB in the Kong, frozen PB, liver treats, etc. Is there another active toy that would be better?

At my kid's naptime, I let him in and try to get him to find a place in the house to relax in, always staying where he can see me, and speaking soothingly to him. I pet him and just try to let him know we love him. If he stays, he gets a treat, but most days he just gets back up and runs around.

At night, we do a loooong family walk, work on his commands, include him in family time (we have two very little children) and then play catch again and bring him inside for petting. I can't imagine giving him any more attention.

I want him to have a happy life, but we need some balance here, or at least to make some headway. I can try coaxing him into the kennel...I just don't know if it will work.
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Whenever a dog fails a command, the owner/handler has asked for too much too soon.

IOW's if you ask for a stay and the dog breaks it in 5 minutes, then he is only capable of a three minute stay. If the breaks his sit command in 2 minutes, then you need to move back to 1 minute.

A dog in a cue should not decide when to stop doing that cue until the handler gives him a release word.

I agree with PP's, what ARE you doing for 5 hours a day with this dog? Formal Training sessions are 15 minutes TOPS and 2x a day is usually enough. The rest of time use NILIF (nothing in life is Free.. see stickie at top of dog training forum).

I would get a Crate. Yes. It has to be large but so it goes. Big enough for the dog to stand in, turn around in and lie down in. Get this book "Crate Games" from www.dogwise.com and crate train him. At night, he is in the crate and you are sleeping.

For jumping up, when he goes to jump (and you can usually tell when a dog is about to get light on the front and jump up) lean toward him and do a little cha cha into his space. Most dogs find this intimidating and back off. If you do it EVERY time, he will likely back off.. all 90 pounds of him. You could also add the word "YES!" emphatically and give him a food reward for keeping all 4 on the floor.

What is an IOW? Sorry, I am new to this. I have been trying to break up the stay command into small increments and increase them as he gets better, but we seem to have hit a plateau at 5 minutes, 30 seconds if he can't see me.

I will read the sticky. It's mostly not working on training, it's just attention and activity. I don't know much, but I saw on The Dog Whisperer (don't laugh at me) that happy, well behaved dogs get plenty of activity. We walk, throw the ball, the frisbee, go for a swim, anything to give him structured play (that's what parents call it, I don't know what the dog terms are.) I read that chewing/jumping can be from lack of attention so I am trying to give him attention.

I love the big guy and I want him to be happy, I've tried to assert myself as "pack leader" but I do find him intimidating-he weighs 20 lbs less than me and I'm five months pregnant! I didn't rescue him for him to be unhappy, am I doing a bad job??
IOW's is In Other Words.

Please drop the Dog Whisperer as your info source. You need to have parameters as a trainer..

While you are playing with your dog, also use cues for things. for instance, when the dog returns with the ball, have him sit b4 you throw it again etc.

Jumping up is to get attention. Problem is, you give attention when the dog jumps up and you have taught him he can get attention for jumping up!

The point is to give attention for sitting down and keeping 4 on the floor. Attention needs to be earned, not given for no reason at all.

PP's has given some great links.

Thank you all for your advice. As I said, I am a TOTAL novice here and just trying to find something that works. I will use the resources you've given me and try a fresh strategy. I hope it didn't sound like I was complaining, I am so happy to have given our sweet pup a new life, I just need to find a groove for us both.

Thanks again!
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