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Ok guys, I just got a 1 year old pug-mix rescue from the pound. He's vetted, fixed, microchipped, etc...

My household consists of my wife and I and our 3 year old daughter. We just got him last Friday and so far he has been doing pretty good. I've been trying the whole Cesar Millan "leader of the pack" thing on him and he's staying in line most of the time.

He's very laid back and shows no signs of aggression whatsoever, even when my little girl picks at him (we're trying to teach her how to properly act towards a dog).

GOOD:
  • He's crate trained. He goes into his crate at night and doesn't give us any trouble. He comes out in the morning and does his business outside. No marking/peeing/pooping in the house.
  • Not aggressive, actually pretty friendly and affectionate.
  • Over all just pretty laid back. He lets me bathe him, he even let me hold him while riding my bike around the block.
BAD:
  • Comes running when he hears us preparing food, stays in your feet while you're doing anything with food.
  • Doesn't really want to eat his dog feed, he picks, but not much.
  • Steals food, the other night he got on my computer chair to reach a piece of pizza on my desk. On the plus side he didn't growl or snip at me when I snatched it from him while he was hiding in his kennel.
  • Tries to run out of the door when we open it. He already ran loose once when a friend showed up, luckily he just went to a neighbor's house and came to me when I called him.
  • Sits there looking pathetic when we're eating, stands on his hind legs and begs with his paws. It's cute but also annoying.
  • Tugs at leash, especially when we first go outside. I try to make him stay in the door until I walk out first then ask him to come out. It works better when we return than when we leave. At first he's just all excited and wants to tug, I have to snap the lead many times and say "AAHH!!!" before he starts to walk beside me.

All in all he's making pretty good progress. He jumps up on the couch when we ask, and most of the time he gets down when we ask him to. He's a little hesitant about getting in his crate but usually does without too much of a fuss. He's getting better about walking on a leash, but I think this will take some time and lots of correction.

So, any specific training regimens anyone suggest? All that I've been trying so far is to show him that I'm in charge and he does maintain a submissive posture 90% of the time and listens pretty well.

Thanks in advance for any/all help!
 

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First, don't do anything harsh to the dog ... unless you think it would be OK to do the same thing to your daughter. Cesar's methods are out dated, and there are faster, kinder, and more effective methods that people have been using since the 1980s. The two most common are Luring by Ian Dunbar or Clicker Training by many people, originally Karen Pryor. He sounds like a good dog that already wants to listen to you, so you don't have to establish who is boss... He already knows.

1. Teach him to Sit. Take about 10 min., every day, twice a day. Then, re- teach him to Sit in each room, and at each doorway.
2. After he understands Sit. Prepare the food, then stop what you're doing when he comes, and ask him to Sit at the doorway, or some spot that is out of the way. Give a tiny treat. Go back to preparing. When he gets up, stop, and say Fido, Sit... and keep it up gently, repeating, until he goes back and sits. If he sits somewhere else, then he is Not sitting where you want, so keep asking. Then praise and treat, when he sits.
3. The first day, it'll seem like a battle. The second day not as bad, and the third day, he'll try to comply... Be patient, but persistent.
4. Let him pick at his dog food, but don't feed him anything else.
5. When he tries to steal food, ask him to Sit, like in Step #2.
6. Running out the door - Put a long leash on him in the house. Ask him to Sit and begin to open the door. When he gets up, like in #2, repeat Fido, Sit. Work it slowly so that you can completely open the door with him sitting.... However, you will make some timing errors, so that's what the leash is for... Hold onto it is needed.
7. Never feed him when you are eating. When he begs, get up and ask him to sit somewhere that is good for you.... see #2.
8. Leash pulling - (no not Sit :) ) Google "loose Leash" and "silky Leash" Those are excellent videos.

Sounds like you have a very good, smart dog that was spoiled a bit. So you'll have to train him with a few rules and a little more appropriate behavior. He had old rules, so now you'll teach him new rules.... but gently with love... so that he'll remain sweet.

One potential difficulty with "Leader of the Pack" is that you can scare the dog, bully the dog, or confuse the dog. Then, he loses his laid back attitude, and may start to show aggression...

What I've written are only guidelines, not intended to be precise, black&White rules... but they should give you some ideas for a better approach that will work within a few days to a couple of weeks for most behaviors.

If you need help, teaching Sit, just ask...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, the Cesar Millan stuff is the only thing I kinda know off the top of my head and had no plans on using that stuff for more than a week or so, just to ensure he knows who's boss. However, I'm not rough with him per se, just assertive.

I've tried SIT a few times and he just looks at me like I'm stupid, I try gently pushing his little butt down to the floor but he will have none of that....so I can't teach him how to sit. If he won't do it in the first place how do you ever begin to associate that word with the act of sitting? lol
 

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Yeah, the Cesar Millan stuff is the only thing I kinda know off the top of my head and had no plans on using that stuff for more than a week or so, just to ensure he knows who's boss. However, I'm not rough with him per se, just assertive.

I've tried SIT a few times and he just looks at me like I'm stupid, I try gently pushing his little butt down to the floor but he will have none of that....so I can't teach him how to sit. If he won't do it in the first place how do you ever begin to associate that word with the act of sitting? lol
Training one way for a week and then switching to something else is pointless. You'll just confuse the dog. He knows you're in charge. You control the food, you control walks, you control play . . . trust me, he's not confused about who's the human. Check out these many, many, many articles debunking dominance theory. If you want to learn about dogs from TV, try It's Me or the Dog.

Pushing a dog's butt to the floor teaches the dog nothing. Please watch these youtube videos. They explain clicker training, which is very easy, very effective and wonderful for your relationship with your dog. Many of us here clicker train our dogs and we have well behaved dogs who are happy to obey and thrilled to learn more. (Including my dog, who was terrified of everything when I got him. Now, if he sees the clicker in my hand, he wags his tail and barks happily.)
 

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For sit: hold a treat near his nose, then lift it up, over his head, so he has to sit in order to look up at the treat. Depending on his personality or temperament, actually pushing his butt down might not work at all.

What are you feeding him?

And, he'll know you're in charge, so to speak, without you showing him who's boss. After all, you hold all things good: food, toys, cuddles, it all comes from you. So, you shouldn't need to worry about putting him in his place, he already knows. Any bad behavior is usually a result of being in a new environment, or just not knowing doggy manners yet. :)
 

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Well, I've made the mistake of treating a dog like a baby before and showering them with affection and letting them get away with things, tug on leashes, etc... and all I got in return was aggression, defiance, poop in my house, and lots of other nasty things.

So before even rescuing this little guy I was reading about the importance of a daily "pack walk" and making sure the dog knows you're the alpha of the pack so that he/she doesn't develop small dog syndrome.

Yeah, and as for the sitting thing I know that pushing his butt to the floor won't work....I simply tried to see if I even could and he wouldn't let me. I understand fully that he needs to do something of his own accord and then be rewarded, that dogs associate certain actions with pleasant rewards and that is the best way to train them.

I can tell you that by making sure of simple things like always walking through the door before him (to assert myself as pack leader) has made a fairly significant change already. So I'm not all for throwing the pack leader stuff completely to the wind, there is definitely something to it...however some of it is a bit harsher than I'd rather be with my dog ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
cool, thanks guys.

my little guy (Pugsley) ran out of the front door yesterday and we had to chase him all through the neighborhood, I wanted to beat the tar out of him...but I know that negative re-enforcement doesn't really help with dogs.

oh well, I'm building a gate on my front porch soon that should help with incidents like that.
 

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Well, I've made the mistake of treating a dog like a baby before and showering them with affection and letting them get away with things, tug on leashes, etc... and all I got in return was aggression, defiance, poop in my house, and lots of other nasty things.

So before even rescuing this little guy I was reading about the importance of a daily "pack walk" and making sure the dog knows you're the alpha of the pack so that he/she doesn't develop small dog syndrome.

Yeah, and as for the sitting thing I know that pushing his butt to the floor won't work....I simply tried to see if I even could and he wouldn't let me. I understand fully that he needs to do something of his own accord and then be rewarded, that dogs associate certain actions with pleasant rewards and that is the best way to train them.

I can tell you that by making sure of simple things like always walking through the door before him (to assert myself as pack leader) has made a fairly significant change already. So I'm not all for throwing the pack leader stuff completely to the wind, there is definitely something to it...however some of it is a bit harsher than I'd rather be with my dog ;)
Ok, I have 3 small dogs, and none of them have "small dog syndrome" as you say. BUT, I did not have to show them I was "alpha". As others have said, the alpha stuff has been debunked. The alpha theory, dominance theory, whatever you call it, was based on several flawed studies done on wolves. The authors of the studies have since admitted they made mistakes, and that the results of the studies are incorrect.

The things you've described that happened with other dogs in the past: letting them get away with things, tug on leashes, poop in the house, and other "nasty things" are basically bad dog manners, and sound like a dog that hasn't been taught manners. It has absolutely nothing to do with alpha theory or small dog syndrome.
You can easily train a dog to have manners and respond to you without showing him you are the alpha.

As far as as walking through the door, again, lots of that has to do with having manners. It may be semantics, a different name for some of the same behavior, or at least a different explanation for it. But, lots of the things you mention just require that a dog learns manners. Not because you are the alpha, the pack leader, dominant over him, whatever, but simply because it's the right thing to do. The danger is, when some people take the dominance thing too far, or are too stringent in their philosophy, so there isn't any wiggle room or room for joy and fun.

Sounds like you are far from that philosophy! :) I'm just saying, there is a lot of information pointing to the fact that it isn't necessary to be an alpha to your dog.
 

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The canis method says let the dog first offer the behavior you want to teach then click and treat. Say nothing, do nothing, just wait for it then treat. After he gets it then, when he starts to sit, say sit, when he sits, immediately click and reward. Timing is everything. My puppy got it so fast I couldn't believe it. He learned to sit, lay down, and roll over when he was 14 weeks old and it didn't take but about three days.
 

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Huh? Pushing the dog's butt to the ground does work, it's how dogs were trained before luring and shaping came along. It's how I taught my puppy to sit when I was a kid, and I believe most people still use that method. Although, the correct way to position the dog in a sit is by grabbing the back of the collar and moving your hand back and up, rocking the dog back in a sit. It's better than pushing on the hips until they buckle.

There is nothing wrong with using positioning as a training method. For most people who want nothing more than a well behaved pet dog, it's the easiest way. There is also the advantage that the dog learns to accept handling and being held much easier than a dog trained 100% hands off. The disadvantage is that you have to built speed and enthusiasm separately, but then most pet owners don't really care about that.

Not everyone wants to get into clicker training, it can seem intimidating and a lot of people just don't enjoy training dogs and don't want to learn all about learning theory. So positioning is a nice alternative for people who want to keep it simple.
 

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I personally have no preference for dominance theory or positive theory or Cesar's way. I think they are all different ways to work with dogs, I don't believe there is a "right" way and that's the "ONLY" way you can do things with your dog. Sometimes mixtures or a brand new method you develop while working with your dog works, and that's fine.

If you're gonna do Cesar's way then you have to remember to claim your space, and make sure the dog is constantly calm before you do anything. If you're gonna open the door then make sure to claim the space near the door by taking a step forward toward your dog and make him take a step back and sit.
You have to claim the food and the area where you are preparing the food, imagine an invisible gate and make the dog back up until it is in the place where you want it to be, and wait for it to calm down and relax. You can use noises, like BACK UP, but they aren't necessary the point is to be calm, and assertive never angry or frustrated, that doesn't help. That's my personal problem with dominance theory, they want you to use more angry energy, and that doesn't help.
As for feeding the favored method by people is a healthy dog won't starve itself to death, place the food down, give the dog 10-15 minutes to eat and whatever he doesn't eat put it back in the bag or put it away for next time, eventually he will eat because he's so hungry. No treats or anything in between meals, so he gets hungry if he doesn't finish his meals. If he finished his meal then go ahead and give him treats.
Stealing food you can refer to what I said about food above, you have to claim your food, and make sure he doesn't get it.
The begging will disappear when you ask him to relax while your preparing your food to eat and claim the food, and he stays behind the invisible gate.
Pulling on the leash usually happens when the dog is bored. Try keeping him on the side and jog with him. I've done that with higher energy dogs and once they burn off the initial BURST of energy, they chill out and then you can work on actually walking calmly. That's why on the Dog Whisperer show you see Cesar take dogs on roller blades so they burn off the first round of energy, so he can work with them on walking calmly and next to you once they are less excited.
Remember Cesar's motto, Exercise, discipline, affection in that order.
Burn off excess energy with exercise, training and stuff is discipline, and affection happens when the dog is calm submissive and doing what you want.

This is Cesar's way, I personally don't use much of these methods but since you want to try them, here they are for you.
The things I really like about Cesar's way is exercise, discipline, affection in that order, its a very simple way to get across a dog's needs, Calm assertive energy, and claiming your space, I think it's a great way to deal with certain issues like running out the door very quickly, and simple, without hurting the dog or requiring a lot of training.
 

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Huh? Pushing the dog's butt to the ground does work, it's how dogs were trained before luring and shaping came along. It's how I taught my puppy to sit when I was a kid, and I believe most people still use that method. Although, the correct way to position the dog in a sit is by grabbing the back of the collar and moving your hand back and up, rocking the dog back in a sit. It's better than pushing on the hips until they buckle.

There is nothing wrong with using positioning as a training method. For most people who want nothing more than a well behaved pet dog, it's the easiest way. There is also the advantage that the dog learns to accept handling and being held much easier than a dog trained 100% hands off. The disadvantage is that you have to built speed and enthusiasm separately, but then most pet owners don't really care about that.

Not everyone wants to get into clicker training, it can seem intimidating and a lot of people just don't enjoy training dogs and don't want to learn all about learning theory. So positioning is a nice alternative for people who want to keep it simple.
If you were referring to my post, I didn't say positioning for sit never works. I said, depending on the dog, it might not work at all. Might, not won't. The OP said it wouldn't work. But, I know for some, it can, just not all. Personally, I know it wouldn't work with my little guy, as it's difficult to get his butt actually on the floor, as you might with other dogs, as he's a mini dachshund, and the angling is a bit weird.
 
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Have a look at this blog post for an explanation of door behaviour

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