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How to get 5 mo old's attention when bad

I have a very rambunctious 5 month old Tibetan Terrier with a personality that is challenging to figure out. Since we brought him home at 10 weeks old, it seemed naturally ingrained in him to sit very politely when asked and he quickly learned to shake paws and high five.

While learning the sit, shake, and high five has been a breeze, getting his attention when he is being naughty is an ongoing nightmare. This is mostly a problem when he starts to get a bit rough (but not aggressive) with our 12 year old Lhasa. We were able to quite easily teach him to keep a toy in his mouth when he rough-houses, but now that he is getting stronger and bigger, we need him to be gentler when asked.

And the "asking" is the problem. He becomes totally deaf when he is in the zone. It's nothing but constant yelling of his name and "no" in my house (95% husband perpetrated) which stresses me out and has never worked anyway. While he seems to like learning the tricks, he does not possess much of a people pleasing attitude, hence our confusion over what internally motivates him. Provided that he is not in a bonkers phase, when called, he usually remains in place with a defiant look on his face that seems to ask "what's in it for me if I come over there."

We have tried rewarding him with praise and affection when he halts the bad behavior on command but he goes back to it before we even get to the end of "good boy." Praise and affection don't appear to motivate him at all.

Would appreciate any advice and sharing of experiences from anyone who has had a dog like this.
 

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Re: How to get 5 mo old's attention when bad

Have you tried using small food treats as rewards? Very few dogs will be sufficiently motivated by praise and affection alone. Try incorporating a high rate of reinforcement during the learning stage (ie: one treat for every one behavior successfully performed), and then after that you can gradually reduce it to a random schedule (ie: treat for every third behavior, then every fifth, then every second, sixth, fourth, tenth etc ).

I would also encourage both you and your husband to stop using the dog's name, unless something pleasant happens after it's use, each and every time. And stop using the word no, as you've discovered it has no significance to dogs and usually little effect on altering behavior unless it has been paired with some type of punishment that follows.
 

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Re: How to get 5 mo old's attention when bad

The yelling won't be of any help. Similarly, dogs don't just know that "No" means "stop what you're doing". Instead of teaching them what not to do, its much faster to teach them what you DO want instead (which is sounds like you've already started on, by teaching your new pup to grab a toy in his mouth instead of mouthing your older dog, which is great!)

I fixed this problem through these steps:
1) Physically intervene as soon as your younger dog is being too rough. By "physically intervene", I mean simply to remove him from the presence of your older dog so that your younger dog can't jump all over him. Give him a short break until he has calmed down a bit, or try doing a couple rounds of basic obedience commands. If your pup is anything like mine, it might help for him to drag a leash round the house for a while, so he's easier to catch. You'll probably have to actually move to separate them until your pup has a firm understanding of the positive interrupter (below). If you notice the younger dog running towards your older dog in a boistrous manner, try to intervene before she has the chance to jump on your older dog - body blocking or stepping between the two dogs works pretty well.

2) Teach a positive interrupter. This is some kind of cue that simply means "stop what you're doing and turn your focus to me". You start by just rewarding whenever the sound is made, similar to loading a clicker if you're doing clicker training, and then once the dog realises that noise means food is going to be coming you start asking for another behavior (come, sit, whatever), and reward for that instead. It is important that you ask for the other behavior(s) in between or you'll just be reinforcing the bad behavior. I would avoid using cues he already knows, or his name. Kikopup's youtube video about positive interrupters is really good, I think. The think I like about positive interrupters is that they can apply to literally every situation in which your dog might be getting into trouble - they're simply used to get your dog's attention.

3) Rewarding for appropriate interactions. (I only used praise for this part because my older dog food guards, and thankfully my younger dog responds pretty well to praise). When your younger dog is acting appropriately around your older dog - i.e., is near the older dog but not jumping on them - throw a party and act like she's being the BEST dog in the world!

It will take time, and it is annoying and frustrating, but with patience and consistency you'll get there.
 

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Re: How to get 5 mo old's attention when bad

Positive interruptors for sure!!!

I think gingerkid gave lots of good advice. My first go to is always teaching a positive interruptor because I watch some dogs who are SUPER sensitive to physical manipulation (i.e. it'll end in a bite). It's going to be super useful for when you want to stop any unwanted behavior and redirect :)
 

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Re: How to get 5 mo old's attention when bad

I usually use time outs. I give my cease and desist cue, dogs carry on, so I give it again and if they still don't listen someone goes into a crate or another room to settle for a few minutes. Eventually they put together the cue with settling down but it takes a while.
 

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Re: How to get 5 mo old's attention when bad

I'll get up and put a lead on and reward them for coming with me. They have to learn when too much is too much. Best way to teach them is when you see it going that direction, get up slip a lead on and have them come with you and move on to another activity. One time and you completely finished it ( on that round) lol... pups go right back at it until they learn from doing every you show him how to do it and leave no opportunity to ignore you. takes times but stick with it.. find a command word to pair with your actions to the event... OK, rest, your done, too much, what ever word(s) that come naturally to you and are comfortable for you and goes with how you feel about it's time to cut it off...
 
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