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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a cute 9 month old, 40 lb pit bull, lab mix. She's good most of the time, but when she's bad she's really bad. Mostly this centers on the demand for attention. It comes out of the blue she will start jumping up or head down growling and barking (not deep growling, but a bit more playful). She gets into a frenzy where she will nip at you and bark. Then she will start running around you growling and nipping if you walk towards her. She won't calm down if you reach out to pet her she will continue to growl bark and nip. She never bites, she just nips. I think it starts playful and then she gets overly excited. If I come to try and subdue her and calm her down she will avoid me and run away. It's very annoying and somewhat disturbing. She has always been a high energy dog. I take her on two walks a day. She's ok on the leash but needs lots of corrections. She is somewhat possessive of me as I work from home and she's always underfoot, waits outside the bathroom till I come out etc. She was a shelter rescue and I think spent about 4 months total in the shelter. She was returned by the first adopters after 2 months. I never got a reason, but I can imagine it was for the excited aggressive/dominant behavior.

When I do get her calmed down she can usually sit and relax for a long time, seemingly expended of her excess energy. I have tried all kinds of ways to avoid this power struggle we have, but she doesn't seem to accept me or my girlfriend as her dominants.
 

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What you're describing doesn't sound like it has much to do with dominance or aggression. My dog is very much like yours, but he is very far from an Alpha type. The technical term for this behavior is "pesty".

I'd guess your pup needs more to do.
 

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What training have you done so far? She is in her teenage months right now, trying to decide who's in charge. I suggest to work in more training. (every day, at least 15 min., but preferable more if you can. Not all at once, but through out the day) Also, you might want to try "NILIF". You can find it in a sticky at the top of the training page. Also, increase walking time. Sobaka (my Bernese Mt. Dog) has to be taken on three 15 - 30 minute walks a day to be calm. It sounds like she is trying to get out extra energy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I guess pesty is a good term. She's extremely demanding of attention, jumps on people, licking at first and then starts mouthing, and finally gets into a frensy and starts biting and nipping. The sounds that come out of her mouth are the ones that are disturbing. When she's in one of these frenzies she is a constant growl "Ruurrrrow Rurrrow Rurrow" and nipping. To someone that doesn't know her it sounds scary. And once she sees that the person is pulling back from her or trying to push her back, she just gets more exited and louder. It does get a bit scary sometimes and does seem like she's trying to dominate the person. She doesn't get away with as much from me as I do know how to subdue her and calm her down. My girlfriend is a lot less successful at this and sometimes ends up with multiple bruises from her nips, or her paws as she jumps on her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
What training have you done so far? She is in her teenage months right now, trying to decide who's in charge. I suggest to work in more training. (every day, at least 15 min., but preferable more if you can. Not all at once, but through out the day) Also, you might want to try "NILIF". You can find it in a sticky at the top of the training page. Also, increase walking time. Sobaka (my Bernese Mt. Dog) has to be taken on three 15 - 30 minute walks a day to be calm. It sounds like she is trying to get out extra energy.
Most of our training has consisted of potty training (unsuccessful) and leash training. I'm not sure how to train her to stop the jumping and nipping and growling, that's why I'm posting here:). I'll read the NILIF stuff.

As for the potty training it's bad. She absolutely refuses to go potty outside. She is constantly distracted, sniffing, barking or eating grass. We don't have a fenced in yard, so I have to have her on a leash when taking her out. I consistantly take her out 3 times a day, we stand on the grass and she just wanders around. The MINUTE we get back inside, when I'm not paying attention, she goes in the back room and poops. I clean it, I spray it, I wash it. When I block her access the the back room she just goes in the front room. I've tried leashing her to my chair and taking her out when she seems uncomfortable, and obviously has to go. She won't go if I am watching. Maybe that's the whole problem.

I'm not sure which is worse, the potty training or the constant pesty agression or demand for attention.

Also, in addition to the other stuff, just one thing to add. Try putting her in a crate to calm her down when she gets like this.
She doesn't have a crate and I can't afford one right now. I do sometimes put her behind a door gate in the hallway to the Kitchen. This keeps her confined to a 5'x5' area. She barks, tries to knock down the gate, then calms down about 15 minutes later.
 

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Are you certain about her breed mix? Because she almost sounds like some herding dog might in there somewhere. Do you have any pictures?

Thinking of it as a power struggle is a big mistake. I would advise instead of thinking of it in terms of you not being aware of how to properly meet this dog's needs. It's not a blame thing, but a taking responsibility thing, because you can be pretty sure that she's doing the very best she can with what she has. You just need to learn how to better meet her needs so she'll feel more stable and balanced.

I would start with getting a no-pull harness (leash attaches in front of the chest, not on the back) and getting the pressure of the collar off her neck during walks. Also, it sounds to me as though your dog needs more exercise than 2 walks a day. How long are these walks? Unless they're an hour or so each, it's probably not enough for a dog this age and activity level. She needs to RUN and CHASE (Frisbee or balls) for up to an hour per day.

I strongly suggest starting NILIF (link to follow). And I'm adding a few links you might find helpful.

NILIF
Who's In Charge Here?

Reducing Reactive Dog Behavior

Living with a High Prey Drive Dog

More exercise is going to be your BEST friend, I think. :) Good luck to you and let us know how it's going.

Edit: Get a crate and start over with Potty training.
 

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Pesty/pushy/assertive dogs often get labeled as dominant because dogs are expected to naturally respect our personal space and wish to not be gnawed on--or so it is thought. Add an excitable nature and pent up energy into the mix, and you you get an escalation of behavior. Pups who don't have well defined behavior limits, get more persistent when their demands for attention aren't satisfied. The real problem is that the pup's need for attention can't be satisfied by acceding to her demands. She doesn't know what she needs, so you have to step up and teach her. Punishing her can create fear, and fear definitely won't make it better.

Physical exercise (as if there were enough hours in a day), obedience training, and games that cause her to solve problems, are the way to deal with the annoying behavior.
 

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The "crate" will be fine. Next time she starts, put her in there. Do it before she gets to the level you described. By training, I meant sit, down, etc. This will help quite a bit.

As to the potty. The problem you have, is you can't let her out of your sight until you are sure she is potty trained.

Try this: Take her out to the bathroom when you get up. For the post, I'm just going to say 7 a.m. If she does nothing, put her in her "crate". 5 minutes later, take her out aging. If she does nothing, put her back, and repeat until she goes out side. When she does, praise her like she just invented the dog biscuit.

Let's say that she went at 7:15. Take her out at 8:00, and follow what you did at 7

say she goes at 8:10. Take her out at 9:00. Do this through out the day. When ever you can not watch her. She needs to be in her "crate". It will be a hugh time consuming pain at first, but she will soon get the idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Are you certain about her breed mix? Because she almost sounds like some herding dog might in there somewhere. Do you have any pictures?

Thinking of it as a power struggle is a big mistake. I would advise instead of thinking of it in terms of you not being aware of how to properly meet this dog's needs. It's not a blame thing, but a taking responsibility thing, because you can be pretty sure that she's doing the very best she can with what she has. You just need to learn how to better meet her needs so she'll feel more stable and balanced.

I would start with getting a no-pull harness (leash attaches in front of the chest, not on the back) and getting the pressure of the collar off her neck during walks. Also, it sounds to me as though your dog needs more exercise than 2 walks a day. How long are these walks? Unless they're an hour or so each, it's probably not enough for a dog this age and activity level. She needs to RUN and CHASE (Frisbee or balls) for up to an hour per day.

I strongly suggest starting NILIF (link to follow). And I'm adding a few links you might find helpful.

NILIF
Who's In Charge Here?

Reducing Reactive Dog Behavior

Living with a High Prey Drive Dog

More exercise is going to be your BEST friend, I think. :) Good luck to you and let us know how it's going.

Edit: Get a crate and start over with Potty training.
Here is a picture I have taken today with my phone. Not great quality, but you can get an idea.

I will get her a crate soon. Thanks for the advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Very cute!
Great advice on the potty training. I'll definitely give it a shot. I guess I could stand to loose a few pounds. Longer walks more frequently. Any problems with dogs running beside a bike? That would wear her out.
 

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I'd limit road work until she is fully grown. Running on pavement is tough on the joints of a growing dog. If you have someplace to let her swim, you can get better exercise in much less time. With my pup, I found that 30 minutes on the treadmill (at an easy trot) burned more energy than an hour of chasing a ball. He really pours it on after a ball. The treadmill requires mental focus from him, and that seemed to exhaust him more than the barely significant amount of exercise he was doing.
 

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First of all, in reading this description of the barking and nipping.. your dog is trying to engage you in PLAY. "Com' on.. lets go.. chase me and tlets PLAY.. I need to run run run...."

When you say you walk her 2X a day, how far do you go? This age dog needs a LOT of play and a LOT of walking. We are talking committment to miles and hours.. not a half hour in the morning and another 1/2 hour at night.

As to training, there are stickies at the top on Clicker training. When you Clicker train, you are not tellling the dog what to do, you are marking (click) and rewarding what you want (usually in slices which add up to an entire behavior, such as sitting or lie down). Clicker training is a GREAT way to not only train what you want, but to wear the dog out. Mental stimulation can tire a dog out as good as long walks (tho with this breed mix you may need to do both anyway).

With the potty training, your dog cannot ever be out of your sight. You need to put the dog on a schedule. It is possible that a previous owner abused or hurt or scared the dog when he went in the house in front of them. When this happens the dog does not understand it is BAD to poop or pee in the house.. he learns it is BAD to Poop or Pee in front of anyone! So, off he goes to the other room where it is "safe" to poop or pee.

I suggest you tether this dog to you. Take him out to potty on a schedule. If he does not go, bring him in and repeat in 15 minutes. Keep him with you. Eventually he will go.. nature has to take it course. WHEN he goes outside give him treats and act like he has just pee'd platinum or pooped gold. Make it a BIG HUGE HAPPY DEAL! If he poops inside AND you Catch him in the Act, QUICKLY get him out and reward him for finishing up. If you find poop.. nature's miracle and a scrubbing and do nothing to the dog.. he won't know or connect (even if you rub his nose in it.. that is just mean and archaic and scares the dog).

When you take him out to potty, be all business. Keep talking to a minimum and do not look at him directly.

IF you walk a LOT and train a LOT and work with this dog, who is BTW a cool looking dog, you will have a very wonderful and useful companion. It is up to you!

PS: If you bike with your dog, be sure she is very very very good on a leash. You can get badly hurt if she runs after something, runs in front of you suddenly (and then she can get hurt too) or behind you suddenly. Personally I prefer biking with a dog that is very well trained and I do not use a leash on. It is much safer for both and way more fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
First of all, in reading this description of the barking and nipping.. your dog is trying to engage you in PLAY. "Com' on.. lets go.. chase me and tlets PLAY.. I need to run run run...."

When you say you walk her 2X a day, how far do you go? This age dog needs a LOT of play and a LOT of walking. We are talking committment to miles and hours.. not a half hour in the morning and another 1/2 hour at night.

As to training, there are stickies at the top on Clicker training. When you Clicker train, you are not tellling the dog what to do, you are marking (click) and rewarding what you want (usually in slices which add up to an entire behavior, such as sitting or lie down). Clicker training is a GREAT way to not only train what you want, but to wear the dog out. Mental stimulation can tire a dog out as good as long walks (tho with this breed mix you may need to do both anyway).

With the potty training, your dog cannot ever be out of your sight. You need to put the dog on a schedule. It is possible that a previous owner abused or hurt or scared the dog when he went in the house in front of them. When this happens the dog does not understand it is BAD to poop or pee in the house.. he learns it is BAD to Poop or Pee in front of anyone! So, off he goes to the other room where it is "safe" to poop or pee.

I suggest you tether this dog to you. Take him out to potty on a schedule. If he does not go, bring him in and repeat in 15 minutes. Keep him with you. Eventually he will go.. nature has to take it course. WHEN he goes outside give him treats and act like he has just pee'd platinum or pooped gold. Make it a BIG HUGE HAPPY DEAL! If he poops inside AND you Catch him in the Act, QUICKLY get him out and reward him for finishing up. If you find poop.. nature's miracle and a scrubbing and do nothing to the dog.. he won't know or connect (even if you rub his nose in it.. that is just mean and archaic and scares the dog).

When you take him out to potty, be all business. Keep talking to a minimum and do not look at him directly.

IF you walk a LOT and train a LOT and work with this dog, who is BTW a cool looking dog, you will have a very wonderful and useful companion. It is up to you!

PS: If you bike with your dog, be sure she is very very very good on a leash. You can get badly hurt if she runs after something, runs in front of you suddenly (and then she can get hurt too) or behind you suddenly. Personally I prefer biking with a dog that is very well trained and I do not use a leash on. It is much safer for both and way more fun!
First of all thanks for all the great advice yesterday. I want to report some good success.

I tried the suggestion about potty training. Last evening we took Ashira on a very long 1hr + walk after she ate dinner. She did not go potty, so I brought her in, put her in her "crate" for a few minutes and then took her out to go again. Nothing. We did this all night ever 10 or 15 minutes. Finally at 11pm I was tired of waiting, so I gave her a fresh bowl of dog food. Finally at 11:15pm, she went both kinds of potty outside. We praised her and cheered and had a little party when she was done. It had been 6 days from the last time she went outside.

I'll keep walking her more and keeping her occupied. Thanks again for your help.

By the way does anyone do any obstacle training with their dogs? I think she would be great at that kind of thing. She needs a job. That will calm her down.

P.S also, she went outside again this morning! Yay!
 

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If you are talking about Agility training when talking about Obstacle Training, Tooney does this I think. I started it but due to illness last spring did not complete the class (I was sick, not the dog.. yeah.. I am always the problem.. just ask the dog and the cats will agree).

Agility work requires focus first and it also requires basic obedience. This means the dog paying attention to you in all sorts of situations and places. It is, IMO, the most difficult part of training for anything.

Since last year, I have taught Atka "Over" (jumps) and to follow my hand.. "hop up" and "lie down" for the table exercise and she LOVES the tunnel (but I do not have one to practice with). I have not done any weave poles and don't have them at home to start her on. I also don't REALLY knwo how to train a dog for this obstacle. I have built a very low teeter..

I would suggest you post this as a separate question on a new thread. You will get responses.
 

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My 9 mo old lab mix is pretty pushy with play also. If she tries to initiate play I won't play with her unless she does something for me. I'll have her do a "watch me" and then a "sit stay". Those activites usually calm her down and then we can play on my terms.
 
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