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Discussion Starter #1
After posting a thread on how long to let a new puppy acclimate to his surroundings, my wife and I headed down to the kennel to meet our new pet. Everything went well and we got to bring our new family member home with us.

Syrus is very friendly and seems to be fearless. Loud noises, passing cars, etc. aren't bothering him in the least bit. Depending on the noise (my wife's blow-dryer) will only make him stop and stare.

There are a couple of things that I see as being a problem and I'd like some advice on them.


Mounting
First, this puppy is neutered but will often try to mount your leg if it is easily accessible. Yesterday I was sitting outside on my step. My feet were on the ground infront of me, with my legs spread (normal male seated position). As Syrus got close he would wrap his front paws around my leg and try going to town on it. He tried this a few more times later on in the day. As soon as I feel his legs begin to grab, I tell him no, push him away, and ignore him.

This morning my wife was sitting on the living room floor with him watching TV when he tried it on her. She did the same, but rather than become submissive he growled at her. He did not show teeth.

Are we taking the correct action to prevent this from happening again?


Walking
While out for a walk yesterday, I kept Syrus on my right side with about 4' of leash. For 3/4 of our walk he did well and the leash never got tight. On occasion he would stop in his tracks and begin sniffing something (just about any sewage street vent that made noise as we walked past). I would let him check it out for a while then try to proceed with our walk. Calling him wouldn't break his attention but a couple of quick tugs on leash seemed to work (gentle snapping of my wrist so that the leash went tight then loose again).

On occasion he would try to get out infront of me as if he was pulling a sled. It was not just a matter of being ahead of me, he wanted to be directly infront of me. When this happened I would stop and wait for him to come back to my side. This often required that same quick snapping of the wrist to gently lead him into position.

I understand that this is him showing dominance. Should I instead quickly change direction so that he is suddenly behind me? Also, if I make a sudden change in direction and stops, how do I respond without dragging him along?


Playing
This animal is so full of energy it is amazing. For more than two hours yesterday, we played fetch in the yard. He never seemed to get bored and loved to chaise his air dog toy.

Because of the layout of my yard, I have a large hill in my backyard. To try and tire him out some more I would randomly toss the toy up the hill to make him climb to get it. After he wore me out, we headed back in the house. He took a small drink of water and went right into his crate to lay down.

During play I tried to make him settle before I would toss his toy again. He quickly got the message that I wouldn't throw the toy until he settled and sat down. This is great, but when he brings the toy back he will not release it. I tell him to release, when he does not I let go of the toy and wait for him to drop it. When he does I tell him "release" then pick it up from the ground. We then continue to play

The problem comes when I stop paying attention with the toy in my hand. I purposely walked away from him on a few occasions with the toy at my side. It seems he is willing to listen while he is infront of me, but when I walk away with the toy in reach, he goes after it. He got my hand more than the toy on two occasions. How do I train him that this type of play is not acceptable?


Mouthing:
Anytime my hand gets even close to his mouth, he gently chews on my fingers. I tell him no and take my hand away as soon as his gentle mouthing gets rougher. I understand that a dogs mouth is like our hands. They want to feel around and all, but is this acceptable or should he not be permitted to mouth hands?

I've tried the yelping when he gets rough but it doesn't seem to make much difference. Perhaps I'm not being loud enough when I do it?


The Good:
I would hate to end this thread on a negative note with my concerns, so lets take a quick look at Syrus' good qualities. He is extreme playful and loves to be in the yard with my wife and I. When it is time to come into the house, he goes into his crate all by himself to lay down.
During his first night in the crate, the only sound that came out of him was snoring. There was no whimpering or crying, I couldn't have asked for a better first night. When he tries to poop/pee in the house, quickly getting his attention stops him until we get outside for him to go. He has had 2 accidents in the house (1st one was while I had my back to him assembling his crate. 2nd was a few drops before I could get him to stop and take it outside). Outside of those two accidents he has been good with going out in the yard.

He is not interested in climbing onto the furniture and doesn't seem to mind being on the floor. For his first day in his new home, I think he is doing well and my wife and I are thrilled to have him.

Syrus' First Day Home
 

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Mounting...it has nothing to do with a gender behavior, it is just a dominance behavior. Even female dogs will do it. Just use correction.

walking...change direction. Turn and give a bit of a tug, you can wait a moment if that's what it takes him to notice, but then just keep moving.

Playing...to train "drop it" have some food rewards (try to use different ones than what you are using for potty reward), command "drop it", gently try to take the toy, when he gives it immediately exchange the food for the toy. Eventually you can phase out the food as he learns the command.

mouthing...correction and exchange for a chew toy...check out the stickies inthe training forum.

Also, set up a potty schedule instead of waiting for a signal. I can't tell what your schedule is looking like from your notes. But any dog that comes to my house as a foster or whatever, goes out every two hours at least, in the beginning. They will also need to go out about 10-30 minutes after the big gulp of water with play, upon awakening from the night crating or a long nap, 10-30 minutes after a meal...
 

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For the walking I would do changes of direction, but not quick, I would get his attention and then turn, I would also use a treat to lure him into following you in the beginning if he doesn't come just when you call. You can also stop and be a tree as soon as he gets ahead of you. Another thing that you can do is to keep some slack with you so that you can give him slack and start backing up (away from him) quickly, calling him in a happy voice so that he gets used to the fact that you can just "disappear" backwards and he'll stay with you better so that he's prepared for that to happen again.


Playing...I wouldn't even try to take the toy from him at this point. With my puppy I would always have two toys, one that I threw and then when he came back I would show him the toy I still had, which I threw once the puppy dropped the toy it brought back, then I'd pick it up. Now, however, my puppy knows recall, so I just wait for her to get the toy, call her to me, she runs to me, sits in front of me and drops the toy because in the beginning I would give her a treat each time she came back. Now she just drops the toy near me without me even calling her.

I think that rather than telling your puppy to not do something, you should give it something to do. Like sit or lay down and then you pick up the toy.

Mouthing...with my puppy we would say *OW* really loud, high pitched like a yelp and loud and then look at her with a really hurt expression and not interact with her for a few seconds. It was kind of funny, she went from nipping to nipping more gently and then to just mouthing or gumming us. We still do the ow thing if she mouths us at all, since strangers don't understand that she doesn't bite and we don't want her even mouthing other people.

She also knows a quick and sharp Ah Ah Ah means she needs to stop doing what she's doing.

Oh, and I definitely recommend getting enrolled in a Puppy Class ASAP, you'll learn a lot and the practice you need to do to keep up on your own will help you a lot!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the suggestions. I just happened to be paging through todays newspaper and saw that there is a Dog Training Club close to home and accepting enrollment for Beginners Obedience classes next month.

I hopped online and found their website and have sent in an email asking a couple of general questions as well as explaining Syrus' behavior towards other dogs (he gets extremely excited, regardless of the size of the other dog).

I would expect to hear back from them within the next few days. If everything checks out I'll be enrolled in the very next class come April 7th. The club appears to have been in operation since the 1940's. The class instructor has been a member of the club for 38 years and has been teaching for 29 years. She has also earned American & Canadian CD, CDX, UCD, UCDX, WFD, SSFD, CGC awards.

From the things I have read, this sounds like an excellent program to get myself and Syrus involved in. I'll keep this thread updated as to how my email correspondence goes.

Again, thanks for the advice.
-Walt
 

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How old is your pup? (The other thread said 6-8 months, I believe? In that thread you said GSD mix... only this pup doesn't look like he's got GSD in him. He's super cute, though!)

At any rate, the mounting and mouthing issues are both the pup's attempt to assert dominance. This is completely normal, considering the pup just came home with you. He's trying to find out his place in the "pack."

For mounting (or jumping up on you) I wouldn't push him off. Often, this just becomes a fun game for the pup. Walk towards him, which will throw him off balance and force him to stop mounting/jumping.

For mouthing, I personally would not let him chew on you at all. When puppies are younger, mouthing is pretty innocent but at this age, its an attempt at dominance. I would simply tell him "No bite!" or "No chew!" and then give him something (a toy) that he CAN chew on, then praise him when he starts to chew on that. I tried "the bite stops here" with my pup and it was a disaster. She only bit harder. If we yipped or said "ow" (and trust me, we were saying it loud enough to practically shatter eardrums) she just seemed to redouble her efforts.

Also, don't ever let the puppy walk ahead of you through doorways, etc. Even though it's slightly awkward (seems natural to open the door and let pup go through first), make him sit, you walk through, then he can follow. Similarly, don't let him try to block you from going anywhere. This is another sign of dominance.

I would also recommend hand feeding him his dinner sometimes. This discourages food aggression and shows him that you are in control. ;)

If Syrus is 6-8 months old, I'd go ahead and go with a beginners obedience class, because by then I don't know that a puppy class (more of a socialization class than actual obedience) would let him in.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
His paperwork says German Shepherd Mix, but I don't really see the breed either. When I look him in the face the first breed I think of is pittbull, but thats just an amateur guess.

Again, the paperwork estimates him as 6-8 months and the Kennel Coordinator guesses he is about 7 months judging by his puppy teeth and size.

The mouthing seems to be getting better. Yelping and saying "ow" didn't seem to be working. When I pull away he would seem a little confused them immediately move into romping around. Telling him "ah-ah" and pulling away slightly seems to be doing the trick (he transitions to licking).

He seems to be getting the routine. When it is time to go out, we head to the door and he sits awaiting me to put on his leash. I go out and call him through the door. From there he heads directly to a mat at the end of the porch and sits down until I walk off and call him. Going back in is the same routine.

My wife seems to be struggling with this a little more. She sees me going through the motions but doesn't seem to be applying them in the manner that I do. I make a big deal about him listening, pet and praise. She tells him he is a good boy but doesn't make as big a deal out of it, which is why i think he is more reluctant to listen to her (but I could be wrong).

I heard back from the class and the person I conversed with was very nice and sounded excited to help us out with training. I have the application sitting on my desk and plan on mailing it in to the club in the morning.

As soon as I read your note about getting in the way at times, I thought immediately of our walks. He is constantly getting under my feet and is very reluctant to move when he finds something interesting to sniff or check out. I've tried changing directions and trying to make him more aware of me, but its been a tough process. At times he simply refuses to continue walking when I change direction and that is leading to problems. I hate the idea of luring him in with food to continue our walk because I think he will get the impression all he has to do to get a treat is stop walking.

The biggest problem of all is when he sees another dog. There are alot of dogs in my area and he gets so hyper and tries pulling me to them to socialize. It takes alot of effort to get him to settle and continue. I'm really hoping that the classes can help in this area.

I hate to sound like there are so many negatives to the new pup. He has been coming along very well over the past few days and my wife and I enjoy having him. We just look forward to smoothing over some of his rougher points so that we can all enjoy our time together while walking.

Again, thanks for the advice
-Walt
 

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I think the obedience class will really help a lot. I know I am very much looking forward to when Luna and I go! Right now we're in puppy class, and that is helping, as well!

I have a similar problem with Luna & my husband. I provide most of her care, and am more of a "natural" when it comes to training/working with dogs. She was fairly quick to listen to me and start seeing me as the boss. With my husband, she seemed to think she didn't have to listen to him. What it took for her to start listening to him was for me to just back off for a couple of days and let him do most of the work with her. If she needed to be corrected on something, he was the one that did it, even though I was right there. Our training style is still slightly different, but the basics are the same and she's learning to respect and listen to both of us.
 

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I agree that he looks like a Pit. Don't worry too much about the dominance and the bad press that Pits get, most can be socialized to be sweet. However, he is a terrier mix and they tend to be independent and high energy, so you'll want to focus on these things. Go grab some books by Ian Dunbar for general training info, but here are some suggestions:

1. Dogs usually have their adult teeth by 6 months, and they are roughly 50% of adult weight at age 5 - 6 months. Pitbulls tend to have smaller teeth, and GSDs tend to have normal dog or wolf-like teeth (unless you have experience with wolves :).

2. Teach the dog Bite Inhibition (you're on the way) and try to Over-socialize him - I'll explain in a second. For Bite Inhibition, look at Sticky: The Bite Stops Here. It takes about 3 days for the dog to begin to get it.

3. Over-Socialize: Have some parties with about 10 people with the goal of getting the pup used to all kinds of people, especially kids and older folks. Take the dog to PetsMart, to dog parks, to Lowes and Home Depot to try to expose him to all kinds of situations and people.

Since he is 6 months old (?), I assume he has had all of his shots. (If he hasn't had all three Parvo and Distemper boosters, you need to keep him away from other dogs. You can call the Vet for advice. ) In no particular order, Find someone who has cats that are dog friendly and introduce them to your dog. Find someone who has small dogs and large dogs, and introduce him to the small dogs. And, find someone with well-trained pits or Labs, and let them play. It is better if you can find friendly dogs who are a little bigger than he is, so that he will learn manners.

4. I would bet that the forging ahead and the absolute stop when walking with the leash are just due to interest. He is not trying to lead you, but the view is better. And, the previous owner probably enjoyed having the dog pull, so the dog learned that "pull" means walk. The Training pro can teach you how to be a tree, when the pup pulls. It takes a lot of patience and it can take 30 days for the pup to re-learn to walk to the side.

As far as stopping to sniff, see if you can click your tongue and give him a treat to distract him and keep him moving....

5. High Energy: He needs a 30 - 45 min walk everyday. You'll see a drastic reduction in bad behavior after the walk. He also needs a large hard rubber chew toy to work off excess energy. If you want to go the extra mile, and get into better shape, jog with him twice a day for about 30 min. You'll start to get a sweeter disposition with plenty of exercise and socialization.

6. Mounting and Growling: Growling is not OK in this circumstance. It is OK during play, but not mounting. If he mounts & growls, I recommend a full nuke: tell him "No" (don't yell), and pick him up and put him into isolation/time-out, immediately. And, I mean physically lift him, if possible, so that he gets the message with no negotiation. Thirty seconds is fine... that's a long time to be alone, for a puppy. He may still mount, but I don't expect a growl.

On the other hand, he is an adolescent, and mounting is normal at that age. Not acceptable, but normal. In the big picture, getting a dog fixed will only guarantee that he can't father puppies. So there are two things to consider, if this is just sexual:
1. Once he grabs something or someone, you have to physically remove him, because it is difficult to get a dog to stop...
2. However, if you watch, it is fairly obvious when he gets that loving feeling and the amorous look. At that point you can prevent him from humping and with patience, he'll stop in a few weeks. If he knows "sit" then tell him to sit long before he can jump up, and keep on it. And you can't simply ignore him... you do have to re-direct him to sit, or go into another room, or play with a ball, or chew a Kong, etc.


- Hank Simon
 
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