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Hi! I have a seven month old mutt. He's very active and vibrant, but the bigger he gets, the less manageable he's getting.

He just doesn't listen to anyone in the family. He still nips us when he doesn't get what he wants despite ignoring him or yelping, or even squirting him with water. He also doesn't follow commands if he doesn't want to.

If I have treats and a clicker, I can get him to listen to my every word, but as soon as the treats are gone, he's no longer interested. He no longer goes into his crate without a fight, he continually jumps up on us despite being told from day 1 that's a NO.

He's got his own charm, he really does, but he is very disobedient. I really need him to be better behaved by summer when we go on vacation and my sister watches him.

How can I get him to listen when we speak? How can I get him to really stop nipping for good? How can get him to stop jumping up?

We are in a dog obedience class right now, and it's okay, but it's really not addressing the root of the problem. I'm sure the solution may be second nature to some of you out there, so please tell me how to earn my dog's respect?
 

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It's not about respect. He doesn't understand what you want from him, how you want him to behave in certain situations. There is a disconnect somewhere in how you and he communicate. A trainer who specializes in household manners would be good. Or tell your current trainer about it and see if he/she can help you with that. If there's a basic puppy manners class available that might be the ticket.

Look up Kikopup on Youtube---I think she has some basic manners videos. And I heard Zak George is good too.
 

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I, personally, don't believe that dogs have a concept of respect. It's just too complex and abstract for dogs to fully grasp. I do believe dogs do what is reinforcing. So, to get your dog to do what you want, make it more reinforcing than doing what you don't want him to do.

For nipping, when he starts, ignore him - completely - walk away if necessary. Use a marker word (ouch or ow); often a high pitched yelp will get puppy more excited. When he's not nipping, give him attention, play, and be his best friend. Squirting him (or using other forms of punishment) has the possibility to get him more excited, make him scared of you, or make him fight back. None of those outcomes are desirable. Here's some great advice from HankSimon
Bite Inhibition: http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_6/features/Bite-Inhibition_16232-1.html

Bite Stops Here: http://www.cockersonline.co.uk/discuss/index.php?topic=64170.0;wap2

wrote the following for some other folks. Note the time and the apology:

The Bite Stops Here takes about 3 days to kick in, even then you only get a reduction of bloodletting, slowly resulting in bloodfree nipping, leading to mouthing, etc. Depending on the reaction of the pup, you don't have to use a Yelp!, you can say Ouch!!!, or Oops, where you want a marking word, to indicate when you are withdrawing attention.

Re-read the Sticky:the Bite Stops Here. perhaps you need to try a little longer. Read this tweak and note the 3 days and the apology....maybe, he ignored the Yelp!, because you ignored the apology. Instead of the Yelp, you can say Ouch! or Oops! Also, it seems to be more effective if you can leave him alone in a timeout ("abandoning him"), rather than putting him into a timeout in the crate. It seems to make the act of withdrawing attention more blatant.

Some Tweaks to Bite Inhibition (to get him to stop biting when he wants to play or otherwise):
1. When the pup bites, then yelp. It should sound about like what the pup does when you step on its paw... don't step on his paw for a sample :). When you yelp, the pup should startle briefly and stop nipping. (Look for the startle) Praise and pet. He'll bite.
2. When he bites the second time, Yelp. When he stops, praise and pet. He'll nip again, although it may be a little gentler. ...
3. When he bites a third time, Yelp (see a pattern?). But this time, turn your back for 15 - 30 secs. If he comes around and play bows or barks, then that is an apology. This is important. Accept it, praise and pet... and cringe in expectation of the next nip...
4. When he bites the 4th time, Yelp, then leave the area, placing him in a 2 min. time-out. It is better if you can leave, rather than moving him. Then, return and interact. (He's still hungry...)
5. When he nips the fifth time, yelp, and leave the area, stopping interaction for now.

You can modify the number of steps, but not what you do... for example, you can leave in a huff :), after the second nip or even the first, but you always have to provide a vocal marker, to give him something to react to. I still use a light yelp with my 11 yo when he lets teeth touch skin as I give him a treat. No pressure or harm, but I want him to appear very safe to everyone.

Pups need to sleep over night in order to learn their lessons. So, keep doing this for 3 days. By the third day, you should notice signficant Bite Inhibition. He may still nip, but it will be softer and he won't draw blood. And, he should be less aggressive, especially, if you notice the apology. Keep up the training and make sure that everyone yelps.... Very powerful method.

If you learn the technique, then you can apply the "yelp" to other circumstances, also. I believe that "yelp" is "Please don't do that, I don't like it." in dog communication. I currently use the yelp when my dog plays tug, then runs with the toy, when he fetches and keeps it out of reach or when he takes a treat too quickly....

Dogs will grab for tug toy and take along some skin. With good Bite Inhibition, as well as withdrawing attention, you can teach most dogs to slow down grabbing, while still being able to rip your arm out of the socket by pulling. My dog is polite and will return my arm to me, so that we can continue playing.
For jumping, you can ignore him when he jumps and reinforce polite greetings. This thread, new puppy and need help, has good suggestions on dealing with jumping.

For training and treats, keep treats in several locations around your house so that it's not obvious to him that it's "training time." When you ask him for a sit or down, magically produce a treat. If you use a treat bag, wear it even when you're not training so it doesn't become a cue that there are treats to be had. You might talk to your obedience instructor about when you should move to a variable interval reinforcement schedule. S/He may have that information built into the class and can give you advice based on your situation. Basically, once the dog responds to a cue 80% + of the time, you can start to reinforce randomly. Keep in mind that as you add difficulty (changing locations, increasing distractions, asking for longer duration, etc) you'll need to reinforce more often.

For the crate, search for "crate games." There's a post somewhere with details, but I can't seem to find it.

You may want to look into impulse control games like "doggy zen" and "it's yer choice" to help with general training and life issues. Also, make sure he's getting enough exercise.
 

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Here’s how I learned crate games at a seminar:

Have a whole lot of small treats, the dog’s regular dry food if they are reasonably food motivated. They’re going to get treats regularly for over an hour of training so nothing that will upset the dog’s stomach. You can make a trail mix of cheese and meat and dry food to make it more motivating. You may also start with the less exciting food but up it to a natural balance roll or meat or similar high value treats at the training goes on to keep their attention.

Have a collar on the dog and a leash handy and have room around the crate to open the door completely and to step back 5-10 feet from the crate’s open door.

Lure the dog into the crate with food held outside of the crate high and to the back (wire crate obviously). With the food hand, start treating one piece at a time every few seconds. Only treat if the dog is not pawing at the bars, he can sit or stand but not be trying to get out. With the other hand, shut the crate door, latch it and reopen it. Here’s where you need some coordination—repeatedly shut, latch and open the door with one hand while giving a treat at the back of the crate with the other hand when the door is OPEN. The dog will likely begin by looking back at the sound of the latch opening or trying to get out during the second the door is open but that’s where the treats at the back of the crate come into play.

Don’t let the dog out of the crate during this part of the training session.

Hold the door open a few seconds longer each opening up to maybe 6-8 seconds open. Open, close, latch, unlatch, open repeat. Repeat until when the door is opened, the dog is automatically looking to the upper back of the crate where the treats are coming from.

Then, graduate to doing the same repetitive open and close routine but now you reach in from the open door to give the treat. The key here is do NOT let the dog rush out the open door. What you are trying to teach is that staying calmly in the crate when the door is opened is a good thing. You can include a “stay” command if needed.
Repeat until the dog makes no move towards exiting the crate when the door is opened.

Now hook a leash onto the door so it can be closed without having to reach it directly. Get yummy treats ready at the upper back of the crate in one hand and hold the leash in the other. Open the crate door and start feeding treats at the back of the crate. If the dog tries to exit, you pull the door shut with the leash and get his attention back at the back of the crate with the food.
Repeat until you can go several minutes without the dog paying attention to the open door.

Then move back to the front of the crate and start off like you did with feeding a treat through the open door while opening/closing/latching/unlatching. But this time you take a step back away from the open door and then step back up before giving the treat. Be ready to shut the door quickly if the dog tries to exit the crate. Repeat at one step away until the dog stays sitting calmly, then 2 steps away. Then 3 steps away. Then add duration of standing there with the door open and the dog sitting inside it. If you can work up to 1-2 minutes at 3-4 steps away, you’re pretty solid at this stage.

Now put a leash on the door and repeat the previous step. This is to teach the dog that being leashed up does NOT mean fly out of the crate (or the car or the front door). This is a very good safety measure.

Finally, the dog gets to exit the crate. Have him leashed and say a command of your choice for exiting.
Then, sit down near the crate with the dog on a leash and very important—nothing of interest or any treats available to him nearby. Sit and wait for him to go back into the crate. It might take awhile but completely ignore him. The idea is that nothing fun is happening at all. When the dog fully enters the crate on his own, throw a party. Yay! Lots of treats, lots of praise. Then ask him to exit and repeat this. It is like “It’s your choice” for the dog. He can be out of the crate and bored or inside the crate and being given treats and praise.
 

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In what situation is he not following commands? He might be over threshold. For example, asking for a Sit in obedience class or in your kitchen, or during training time, is different than asking for a Sit while there is another dog walking by. Dogs don't just learn a command and that's that... Commands need to be retaught, sometimes from scratch, in every environment and every situation. Sometimes owners get confident when their dog behaves perfectly in one situation and assume that the dog 'knows' a command now. No such thing. And in fact, every time you ask for a behavior and don't get it, you are ruining that command more.
I am not saying that this is your situation, but just putting out a scenario that happens more often than not.

Look into NILF (Nothing in Life is Free). You might want to make him earn all of his kibble through small acceptable behaviors throughout the day... Such as dropping some rewards while he is calmly in his crate. Or any situation in which he is being 'good.' Make the rewards unpredictable so that he 'training time' is not just restricted to when you have treats and a clicker on hand. Building a dog that respects your rules and boundaries is more about consistency and teaching acceptable behaviors (ex. being calm, not jumping, where to be when people are eating, etc), NOT necessarily just teaching commands
 

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I believe that the best trainer was KikoPup on YouTube, but she didnt really explain it all that well.

With dogs, I dont believe you should treat all the time because you could accdentially misuse that reward-system and treat something that you didnt mean to... Thus, causing negative behaviors. Though what I've seen is whenever your dog is positively doing something - treat - click - then so forth. Moving towards a sit, click & treat! As long as your dog is not nipping/mouthing - click & treat! My dog's problem is licking. He licks constantly, so dont keep your hands or parts he can get to near him - just get up from your seat and walk away. Ignore. When you move back over to your dog and he isnt licking - click & treat!

So on and so forth!

KikoPup talked about 'conditioning' with the clicker sound, and also I agree but you gotta condition your dog towards everything else you want them to do. Like, if you want them to sit, you gotta condition them to move towards a sit. Moving their bottom towards the ground - but not too soon (so they dont misunderstand the reward, so this is tricky) click & treat.

And I suggest dont give him big pieces of treats, little tiny bites of chicken would work. Like lunchmeat or something would be better for the pup. How much does he weigh and do you have any pictures of him? Also, remember - please do NOT get frustrated with him no matter what. If you really want to train your dog to respect you, respect him back.

I gotta work on pretty much everything to make my dogs more obedient. Especially when we come home and they're super loud and annoying. I get they bark and we come home and they're excited it means they love us - but then we say no they dont listen, so I feel ya on that one when your dogs dont listen to you.

Just be careful with how and when you reward your dog and how much and what you give him. That's how I view it.
 

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At 7 months most puppies will have their times where they are too tired / too hyper / too anxious to mind their manners. That's just puppyhood for you. And a lot of the time any retaliation you do (pushing, squirting with water, etc) they simply see as some funny human version of rough-housing. Most successful approaches toward nipping and 'rudeness' (jumping up, pushing, etc) simply employ what well-balanced dogs already do to upstarts. Stiffen; withdraw (I fold my hands up high behind my back where the dog can't grab at them). Turn around if you want him to put his front feet back on the ground (they have to if they want to get up in front of you again), and praise him as soon as he does. If he persists with nipping, leave the room and shut the door! He is a puppy and you are setting the terms of play. Soon he will come to realize that the fun stops when the nipping starts.

I know some people work with bite inhibition but some puppies are just very, very chompy despite their best efforts and there's really no necessity to involve nipping in play. So unless the puppy makes an honest mistake (i.e. my fingers are in the way of something, etc), I do away with nipping altogether instead of trying to get them to remember how hard to bite all the time.
 
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