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Hello! This is my first post. I found this site while trying to find information on my situation; I am hoping I'll get some good ideas here.

I will try to make this as short as I can.

I've had a Shih Tzu for almost 5 years. We wanted to get a larger breed dog for our children (we have three -- ages 7, 3, and 7 months). My husband had his heart set on a Lab. After viewing ads for breeders out of our price range and not having much luck with shelters (they didn't like my current dog not being spayed), we found a lovely Black Lab/Weim puppy in the paper.

My Shih Tzu, though, would have NONE of her. The pup wanted to play, but she was too big (I think) for my little dog, and she would basically tell off the new dog if she got close, otherwise she'd go elsewhere when the pup was around. We had started walking on a leash (she pulls so it's not going as well as I had hoped) and basic commands (sit is a challenge, lol).

I happened upon a posting on craigslist for a Lab puppy about the same age as mine. The pup was abandoned, no one had claimed her, and the person who found her couldn't keep her. When I went to meet the dog, I discovered that she was a mix as well, probably a Pitador. She was energetic and affectionate, so I pushed my apprehensions aside (I considered them irrational fears about pits) and brought her home as a playmate for my first lab mix.

There is where my issues really began.

The pups get along and play OK. The Pitador will dominate the Labmariner pup quite a bit. She's even given her a few lacerations on her legs. I've never had dogs actually hurt one another before. The Labmariner will submit all the time by showing her belly; when one walks away from the game, the other will chase, and basically be obessed with playing with each other.

The Pitador is hyper -- always jumping on us, the furniture, the kids. She knocks my son down if we aren't careful. She wants to play constantly, barking at us when we aren't paying attention to her. She's VERY smart -- learned sit almost instantly and has figured out how to open the screen door to let herself in the house. Crate training for both is going OK.

Walking her though is impossible. She pulls, bucks, wraps herself around my leg(s). She's so strong, I have a hard time holding on to her. Correction doesn't seem to work. I'm trying to pack walk but I have to keep the dogs separate otherwise they play. Obedience training is non-existent. I had this plan to train one (or both) as a type of service dog for my son, who has Autism, but I gave up that hope already (I've not had the Pitador for a month yet). I can rub her belly, gently tug her ears and tail, but she won't roll over for me like the Labmariner does all the time. They both are already tall enough to get to my kitchen counters on their back legs. The Labmariner will nip a little like a puppy, but the Pitador's "nip" is rougher and it makes me nervous.

I don't know what to do at this point. She's a really nice dog overall, but I'm afraid I can't handle her, and she does scare me a little. Should I try to rehome her, or is there some training I'm missing? She will respond to commands, but it has to be repeated or she only stops for a matter of seconds.

Help! Thanks.
 

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Wow...That is a lot to deal with....three dogs and three kids and dealing with every day life as well?
I would probably suggest a trainer, if you can afford it. Training three dogs is a lot, especially if you've never dealt with some of the behavior problems before. You need professional advice to steer you in the right direction. I could suggest a thousand things right now, but, you seriously need all the help from the whole family. (those who are capable)

I begin with:
WALKS WALKS WALKS WALK WALKS
I can't say that enough. Exercise them...especially since they are young. They are going to need a lot of it! Maybe even consider getting a bike so you can keep them at a jogging pace for some time. I would suggest starting the exercise regiment with one dog at a time. Get each accustomed to walking nicely, no pulling or going berserk or anything and comfortable with the bike, if you do decide on that. This is probably going to take the longest...getting each dog trained to behave on walks. You will get frustrated, but try to keep calm and keep at it. It WILL pay off in the end, if you know what you are doing.

Also, DO NOT get scared of your dog. This will not help anything. It'll only make things worse. Be strong and firm, let them know that you mean business. This can be done! But, honestly, I would seriously suggest professional advice and help.
Good luck!
 

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Too hi-energy pups, the same age...walk 'em separately & train 'em separately. So they don't get focused on each other.
And they absolutely must get training, or they will make your life miserable.
Protect Labmariner from Pitador.
Not only strong and firm, you also have to keep your cool. If you are excited, angry, frustrated, or anything other than calm, no matter what words you use, you will just elevate the excitement level. And the dogs will react to your state of mind, you can't fool 'em by just *acting* calm, you have to *be* calm.
And nip the nipping in the bud, bud.

Good luck.
 

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I've left my notes below. I hope they help.

P.S. I refer to the them as "lab" and "pit" pup even though I know they are mixes - it is easier to type.

I've had a Shih Tzu for almost 5 years. We wanted to get a larger breed dog for our children (we have three -- ages 7, 3, and 7 months). My husband had his heart set on a Lab. After viewing ads for breeders out of our price range and not having much luck with shelters (they didn't like my current dog not being spayed), we found a lovely Black Lab/Weim puppy in the paper.
- Labradors are often not breed well and are extremely common leading to temperament and health issues. Poor breeding often lends itself to training difficulties, poor temperaments that you are seeing manifest itself now.
- Labs and Weims are both very high energy breeds. My lab mix from childhood didn't slow down until he was 9. He is almost 14 and still out and about on my parents' retired ranch.
- Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. As the owner of a high-energy-very-destructive-if-not-exercised-difficult-to-train dog (Siberian Husky) I can say from experience that exercise will greatly assist almost all behaviors. It will not train the dog but will make it easier.

My Shih Tzu, though, would have NONE of her. The pup wanted to play, but she was too big (I think) for my little dog, and she would basically tell off the new dog if she got close, otherwise she'd go elsewhere when the pup was around.
- A lab is extremely high energy. A lab puppy might as well be the spokesperson in the stead of the energizer bunny on espresso shots.
- It is not the size it is the mannerisms. A lab puppy has few "dog manners", little ability to use body language and even poorer skills reading dog body language. The pup was probably overwhelming due to it's sheer energy and clumsiness. It is part of puppyhood and it is extremely common for a grown dog to put a puppy it in it's place. All pups' "puppy licenses" that let them be obnoxious eventually expire with all dogs and the pup will get put in it's place by just about every adult dog it is obnoxious with.
- The lab pup will have the ability to injury the smaller dog - supervise any interactions.
We had started walking on a leash (she pulls so it's not going as well as I had hoped) and basic commands (sit is a challenge, lol).

I happened upon a posting on craigslist for a Lab puppy about the same age as mine. The pup was abandoned, no one had claimed her, and the person who found her couldn't keep her. When I went to meet the dog, I discovered that she was a mix as well, probably a Pitador. She was energetic and affectionate, so I pushed my apprehensions aside (I considered them irrational fears about pits) and brought her home as a playmate for my first lab mix.
- You were right that fearing the dog solely based on breed without first knowing the dog is irrational. Each dog should be judged by the individual dog's actions not pre-judged by breed.
- Problems can come when you combine dogs. You didn't check to see if any of the dogs would be compatible personality wise, in size or in play styles. Looking for a playmate for your dog would definitely involve finding a dog of compatible play style. That being said the dog is already with you so - moving on.
- This dog is also found and most likely poorly bred. It will most likely gave poor breeding predisposing it to poor temperament and poor health. This should be kept in mind while planning your training, your savings for future health problems/vet bills and understanding the dog's behavior.
[/QUOTE]


There is where my issues really began.

The pups get along and play OK. The Pitador will dominate the Labmariner pup quite a bit. She's even given her a few lacerations on her legs. I've never had dogs actually hurt one another before. The Labmariner will submit all the time by showing her belly; when one walks away from the game, the other will chase, and basically be obessed with playing with each other.
- Separate them. Now. Neither puppy is good at reading body languages and are large, clumsy and rough.
- The lacerations could be accidental (claws scraped the lab, bit harder than intending to) or a puppy's disregard of the signals of the other puppy's. Part of this is "puppyness" and you must management the environment to safeguard both pups.
- You must step in and stop the game if one of them is done or before the game gets out of control. You must manage the environment.
- The pit (and the lab to a lesser extent) needs a lesson (or a bunch of lessons) in dog body language. Enroll in pup preschool now. Find as many adult dogs (larger than the pup would be better) to interact with. They will only let the pup have so much leeway before putting it in it's place. There may be growling, snarling, teeth associated with this but a well socialized adult dog will have bite inhibition and it will be all noise and no blood.
- Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.

The Pitador is hyper -- always jumping on us, the furniture, the kids. She knocks my son down if we aren't careful.
- Jumping should not be tolerated. You have small children and it is dangerous. Attach a leash to her collar and let her drag it so you can always gain control of her.
- Find a "punishment" for jumping. Punishment is a strong word and what you are aiming to do is provide the dog absolutely no reward for the behavior. The dog does the behavior with a purpose in mind (it is fun, it gets your attention even if it is negative attention, etc) and goal is to take away whatever the dog is striving to achieve for the behavior you don't want. If the dog wants your attention - you remove your attention until the dog provides a behavior you want. If he finds it fun then you remove the fun by placing her in another room that is lonely and boring for a very short time. Do not use physical punishment (hitting, smacking, yelling). An example of what to try may be an immediate (and short - so the dog remembers why it is in timeout) timeout in a room (or any place extremely boring). The timeout should just be long enough for the pup to see it is alone and bored and then be allowed out again. Or turn your back and ignore the jumping with no words, no looks, no nothing. The dog might as well be jumping on the wall you are so boring. Once the dog has "four on the floor" you reward lavishly.
- Reward behavior you want even if it seems to be no behavior at all. Behavior goes well beyond sit. Calm behavior (laying around, sitting calmly, etc) is what you want and so reward her for it.
- Smart dogs excel at clicker training. It is easy and reaps rewards.

She wants to play constantly, barking at us when we aren't paying attention to her. She's VERY smart -- learned sit almost instantly and has figured out how to open the screen door to let herself in the house. Crate training for both is going OK.
- Smart, high energy dogs find trouble easily. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.
- Puzzle toys such as kongs, strong chews (antlers, raw meaty bones) will help redirect her energy onto more positive things
- Reward any behavior she exhibits you want. If she is chewing her bone and not your shoe reward. If she acts calmly when you walk into a room - reward. This where clicker training comes in handy. You wear a treat bag constantly and carry a clicker (many treat bags have a pocket for one) at all times. You see the behavior you want and you click and treat.
- When I was teaching my Sibe how to behave after rescuing her - her dinner was fed entirely through treats throughout the day. I measured it out at the beginning of the day and treated her constantly throughout the day. I also added a few different types of treats to the bag so their would be difference in the bag and not the same old boring thing.
- Any behavior you want to drive home strongly and that is very important you may want to use a very high value treat such as hot dog or chicken. Chicken livers are cheap as dirt - buy some and bake 'em. They are cheaper than purchased dog treats and have only one ingredient and so are healthier.
- That being said you must find what rewards your dog. It may not be treats. It may be toys. It may be attention (my Sierra learned shake and high five from attention only). It may be a mix. Sierra is attention and food while Misty is only food and very, very occasionally attention for something she already knows.
- Treat anything the dog wants as a reward. Misty must sit and wait for dinner. I don't treat her once she has performed what I asked her to. I let her dinner do that. She must also sit and wait before going out the door for the walk. I don't treat for that either. I let the walk be the reward as she loves her walks.

Walking her though is impossible. She pulls, bucks, wraps herself around my leg(s). She's so strong, I have a hard time holding on to her. Correction doesn't seem to work. I'm trying to pack walk but I have to keep the dogs separate otherwise they play.
- Walk them separately until they know how to walk well on the leash on their own consistently.
- Get a no-pull harness. I use a premier no pull harness. The leash attaches in the front of the chest and turns the dog another direction. There are other models of no-pull harnesses and it may take a bit of experimenting to find what works for your dogs.
- Train silky leash (youtube it). In the mean time you can employ standing completely still until the leash is lax or turning and walking in the other direction.
Obedience training is non-existent. I had this plan to train one (or both) as a type of service dog for my son, who has Autism, but I gave up that hope already (I've not had the Pitador for a month yet). I can rub her belly, gently tug her ears and tail, but she won't roll over for me like the Labmariner does all the time.
- The training is your fault. You must train them. Dogs don't train themselves they merely learn what gets them what they want.
- A service dog may be a rescue but it is evaluating very thoroughly before it is placed in a training program for being a service dog. It is not merely picked out in hopes it will work out. Both your dogs may turn out to be good service dog material or neither may be. Chances are neither will be service dog material but both could be good family dog material (that is up to you training them to be). There is a small chance they can be service dogs but the method you used to find them stacks the deck against you.
- A dog allowing you to tug it's ears, paws, etc means the dog is tolerant which is a must in a household with children and you should reward the dog for being tolerant. Rolling over means nothing in training besides the dog may be a more passive spirit, may be easier to train "play dead" but has nothing to do with being willing to be more obedient without further evaluating the dog. Without a very good foundation now - neither will turn out to be a service dog.

They both are already tall enough to get to my kitchen counters on their back legs.
- Get a baby gate and block them out of the kitchen
- Cook on the back burners so the pups can't get the food and you don't have to treat burned paws.
- Train them not to jump. It isn't easy (I have a counter surfer). I have found the easiest way to prevent it is to eliminate any reason to jump on the counter by putting away anything should would want before I walk away. If she jumps while I am standing there she is out of the kitchen and blocked out with a baby gate for a short time out (she wants to be in the kitchen with us so not being with us is a lack of reward to her). When she sits calmly and not a second before she is allowed back in. If she jumps out she goes again. Dog training takes a ton of patience.

The Labmariner will nip a little like a puppy, but the Pitador's "nip" is rougher and it makes me nervous.
- Read "The Bite Stops Here" sticky on the training subforum here.
- Pups have different levels of bite inhibition given to them by their moms and litters. Depending on how much interaction the pup had with it's mother and if it even had the chance to stay with it's mother up to 8 weeks old the level will vary. A singleton pup often has poor bite inhibition as it has no littermates to learn from. You must teach bite inhibition. All pups bite and nip. Some harder than others.

I don't know what to do at this point. She's a really nice dog overall, but I'm afraid I can't handle her, and she does scare me a little.
- She is a puppy. She is not going to be perfect. Far from it. That is why so many people regret getting puppies and there is a crazy high amount of "buyer's remorse" associated with puppies. You are not alone - many have gone through this (just about every pit/lab owner as she sounds very typical of the mix)

Should I try to rehome her
That is only a call you can make. No one can tell you having never met you or the dogs. You have three kids, two very, very high energy puppies and an older third dog to manage. You may really have bitten off more than you can chew. If you do decide to rehome her go through a no-kill breed specific rescue.

Is there some training I'm missing?
Yes. Tons. You haven't even had her a month through so that isn't all your fault. Training takes time - especially in a high energy pup and alot of times a month isn't long enough.

She will respond to commands, but it has to be repeated or she only stops for a matter of seconds.
- Say a command once and only once. Do not reward until the commands is done.
- Don't set the bar to high. You cannot expect a high energy pup to maintain it's composure in a sit for very long at all. The difference is what the dog does after she decides not to sit any longer. My dog has learned jumping gets a time out. So she stands, wags her tail and walks in a circle. We don't remove her for that but she doesn't jump. You slowly extend the time the dog must stay seated to be rewarded and it will vary through each animal. Misty has basic obedience and that's it. She doesn't excel in training. My other dog is a wonder in training. She learned multiple new tricks in an afternoon. She learned shake by shaping a behavior. She offers behaviors until she gets the reward. Misty just gives up. Each dog is different.

A few additional notes:

- Exercise
- Consider daycare for the dogs. A good daycare will match the puppies with dogs of similar play styles to prevent mishaps. My Misty goes in the "wild child" room at daycare. If you don't want to do it on a regular basis consider it as an every once in a while thing to give yourself a break
- Put them in daycare or board them for a day or two while you puppy proof your home (baby gates to keep the kids and dogs separate, leashes - no flexis - to keep always on their collars, a functional way to keep the dogs all seperate, etc) and make a training plan.
- Do make a training plan. Decide what is the most important thing for them to be trained on. Make a list in the order of things you want trained (not nipping may be top of the list while "shake" may be towards the bottom). Make a list for each dog. Post them where you can see them.
- Establish how you will train each thing on your list. Assure each person that may interact with dogs is aware of the decided methods and uses them. Any person that does not will undermine the dogs' training by confusing them, not training or rewarding a behavior you don't want.

Good Luck and may you be blessed with patience. It takes a ton of patience to train one dog - let alone two.
We are here for you with whatever questions you may have in the future on anything dog.
 

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Wow. Thank you all for your insights. It's a lot to digest.

I grew up with collies (my mom was a breeder) and obedience trained one on my own, but I see now that maybe I got lucky, or just had more time when I was eight. :) I've only owned two Shih Tzus on my own (the one prior to this one was 13 when she had to be put down due to health issues; I had her from 6 months on) and other than simple training (stay off the furniture, etc.) I didn't have to do too much with either one of them.

I have had no prior experience with any of these breeds. I had called myself researching thoroughly but maybe not. My husband had a lab when he was a child, but he really has no experience with dogs, either.

Being as these pups didn't monetarily cost a lot, and I only wanted pets, not breeding stock, I wasn't as concerned with their breeding lines. With the Labmariner, I only met the Lab mother, and she was very sweet and calm. The neighbor's Weim had broke out of the electric fence :). Obviously, I didn't meet the Pitador's parents, and I didn't worry about that since I would not have at a shelter, either.

I will need to look into doggie daycare. I know there are a couple of facilities in town. Obedience class are hard to find. The one I found had already started when I got the first pup, and I've not found another class yet.

I do have a clicker, but I thought it was more to get their attention in correction. Hmm.

The Pitador does get "time outs" in her crate when she gets out of hand. I've also learned that one at a time is better than both in the house, though when they play they do tire each other out. Well, the Lab gets tired and wants to cuddle anyway. The Pit could keep playing. :)

I could go on, but I will stop here. Thanks again.
 

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Wow is right ! That was quite the epic response, from Charis. I have to admit that I didn't read through it thoroughly, but from what I saw they've covered ALL of the bases, and covered them well too. Nice going ! :)


I do have a clicker, but I thought it was more to get their attention in correction. Hmm.
Clickers are not meant to gain attention. Rather, they are used to 'mark' a moment in time or pinpoint a specific behaviour, followed by a reward for each click performed. It basically allows the handler to easily communicate to the dog >>> "YES ! ... THAT behaviour is the one that I wanted from you".

There is a sticky near the top of the training forum mainpage for a 'free clicker course', and it says the course is suited for beginners. I do understand that you have your plate REALLY full at present, but if you're interested and you can find the time and energy lol, then you might want to check that out.
 

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Wow is right ! That was quite the epic response, from Charis. I have to admit that I didn't read through it thoroughly, but from what I saw they've covered ALL of the bases, and covered them well too. Nice going ! :)




Clickers are not meant to gain attention. Rather, they are used to 'mark' a moment in time or pinpoint a specific behaviour, followed by a reward for each click performed. It basically allows the handler to easily communicate to the dog >>> "YES ! ... THAT behaviour is the one that I wanted from you".

There is a sticky near the top of the training forum mainpage for a 'free clicker course', and it says the course is suited for beginners. I do understand that you have your plate REALLY full at present, but if you're interested and you can find the time and energy lol, then you might want to check that out.
Agreed. Clickers are exactly like this. I also view it as giving me time to get the treat out of the bag because the behavior I want has already been marked.

And thanks! Glad y'all like it...
Charis, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn! Great post!
Thanks. It was my flip night last night so I had time.
 
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