Today I brought home a nice 2yo Brittney from an animal shelter. Looks to be a pure breed. The dog is very gentle and loving but has absolutely no manners. Knows NO commands. Won't come when called and often just ignores me. I'm not experienced with dog psychology but it seems like just when I should be trying to show love & gaining his trust I'm instead constantly correcting him.
At this point I don't know if I should let him get away with some of his bad habits until we have that mutual love & respect or if I should set down all those limits and not let him get away with anything.
It's also very hard giving him the exercise he needs when I can't let him off the leash. How do I deal with that problem? I have 4 acres but no fences.
You really shouldn't let him get away with too much. Since he is still young and its a new begining you should show your alfa right away, or else he'll walk all over you. Discipline then love. And if hes really kigh enery take him and exercise him, so that he is tired, then start training him. I mean don't sweat the small stuff, only the things you know you will never be able to handle ex. biting, jumping up at people, ect. Best of luck with him by thw way. Oh and have you ever watched Cesar Millan'The Dog Whisperer'? It's a great show and his training really does give great results. :) As for exercising him, try a tredmill if you have one or try swimming if its warm weather around you. And possibly just really long walks.
Shelties: Not enough words to describe how much I love them.
Can't say I agree with much of that-especially that "alpha" crap.
Brittanys are very sensitive dogs, and they really aren't hard to work with if exercised enough (although that is key). They normally respond very well to voice tone.
Do you have somewhere safe you can let him run unleashed? You might also try putting him on a 25' - 50' lead and playing catch with him with a frisbee or other favorite toy in the yard. That will actually tire him out a lot quicker than a walk. I can walk my brittanys for 3 miles, and they're still ready to go!
Well the 'alfa crap' works pretty we for my family and many other families. Though I don't know Brittany breed as well as you but I own Shelties, also a 'sensative' breed. But I understand what your saying.
***Edited By: shelties=love on 8/3/2009 11:49:05 AM*** Reason: spelling
Shelties: Not enough words to describe how much I love them.
Really I would not call most of what Milan does "training" I would call it fixing...maybe. He does not show a person, at least on his tv show how to train a pup, he shows them how he thinks you should fix the dog you screwed up, and every case, especially now are pretty extreme, usually aggressive dogs.
There are some great trainers out there though, Stanley Coren is one that comes to mind.
If you have ever had a puppy, think of your rescue that way. Go back in time, and treat him like he is only a couple months old. He is really learning things for the first time, and you have respect the fact he may not know what you are asking. I do agree with the long leash, you can even consider a long line used for horses. let him run and play. when you ask him to come, pull him in. I also don't believe in petsmarts method of training. I believe you have to show a dog what you want to make them understand. I also like Victoria Stillwell(sp?). I think she is an excellent trainer. Take your new baby to some obediance, and learn some basics. Time and patience, it will all work out in the end.
Well, here's the thing about all the "alpha" nonsense. That is mostly based on a study of wolves done back in the 1940's. Problem is, they used unrelated wolves (NOT a family pack) and they were kept in captivity-not their natural habitat. So since then, it has been concluded that the information from this study is basically not valid.
The Monks of New Skete popularized the alpha roll, based on this study. Job Michael Evans has since said that he wishes he had never written about it. In fact, I believe he has gone so far as to say that if you can do an alpha roll to a dog-he doesn't need it. And any dog that needs it will bite your face if you try!
And as for Cesar Milan-he has been consistently criticized by many well respected dog trainers. '
I don't really feel the need to "dominate" my dogs. Our relationship is based on love and trust-not dominance.
Well I feel I have not done a very good job in the past--either with dogs or my own children. In hindsight I feel part of the blame is by not being consistent. Handling issues differently each time on a case-by-case basis; trying to be flexible and understanding instead of firmly showing leadership & guidance. The alpha model might not be relevant with what we know (or think we know) today of pet psychology but at least it sets a path to follow to achieve your goals and a mindset to use in getting there. I DO believe this is preferable to a wishy-washy approach of trying to be too forgiving & understanding. That approach isn't working too well on the last couple generations of children so why should it work well with a dog? I don't feel there's a big difference in the tactics involved.
Previous generations have been criticized for being too regimented and quick with the lash--and I'm talking about children AND pets. But compared to lazy disrespectful ambition-less kids & pets I see now, I'll take the old-school methods.
I suspect that like with most things in life, moderation is the key. Beating a dog to get him to bend to your will isn't going to work, but the sweet-talking training method won't work either.
"I suspect that like with most things in life, moderation is the key. Beating a dog to get him to bend to your will isn't going to work, but the sweet-talking training method won't work either."
I respectfully disagree. It WILL work IF you are consistent. If you allow a behavior one time, and then DON'T allow a behavior the next time...no wonder the dog is confused!
For example, you can't allow a dog to jump on you when you have your old clothes on, but then get mad when he jumps on you and gets you dirty just before leaving for work. You can't give him a worn out shoe to chew on, and then get mad when he chews your good shoes. Consistency is key.
Did you check out the link I provided? It has wonderful information-I truly think you would find it most helpful. It is simple and to the point. (And it works.)
I enrolled in obedience class with my first dog about 20 years ago and I was impressed with how the instructor could take a "hopeless" dog from its owner & in about 5 minutes time & a couple laps around the warehouse have that dog heel/sit/stay perfectly and without ever raising her voice. Whats more when the dog was returned to the owner it continued to toe the line (at least for the rest of the session). I'm sure that trainer would consider herself to be a sweet-talker rather than an iron fist but there was no denying her authority over the class and the dogs. I respectfully suggest that she subtly asserted her authority over an unruly animal without needing to resort to physical strength. I also suggest that it was unlikely anyone else in that class could have gotten the same results just by mimicking her words & actions and that's where the book tactics fail us inexperienced amateurs.
No I'm actually saying that whether they're aware of it or not even the sweet-talkers are taking a leadership role and willing the dog to change.
A funny little story your comment reminded me of: Yesterday (Monday--Day 2 of rescue dog in our home) my wife went to work at the Salvation Army. She meets all kinds of people there...She's leaving through the front entrance and just outside is a lady holding a little fur ball of a dog in her arm so my wife starts up a conversation with this stranger. Mentions we have a brand new rescue dog at home & mentions the dog pulls hard on the leash. WELL this lady just happens to be a "dog whisperer" and proceeds to inform my wife that the reason the dog is pulling on the leash is that my wife has issues with people taking advantage of her and jerking her around. This dog--and I guess this "dog whisperer"--through their amazing insight--had SO quickly sized up the owner's shortcomings.
So forget my post...I now need to address my wife's issues so she can better live up to the expectations of our psychic genius dog.
Some people take the ONLY positive reinforcement approach with children too. It seems to be the new fad. Its exactly why every time i go out to dinner I usually have to listen to wild children running and jumping around their tables while I eat my dinner.
Positive reinforcement is a great tool, but not punishing for poor behavior usually just makes things harder. Some dogs only need to see that you are displeased. Others need to be yelled at, or scared by something like throw chains or cans... Spray bottles work well too. Its usually not a good idea to strike the dog, but on occasions I've found a light smack to the snout can be effective when all else fails (might not be a good idea for larger aggressive dogs though).
The problem with using ONLY positive reinforcement is that some dogs (and most children) learn that nothing will really happen to them if they don't obey.
That being said, I think its probably a good idea to start with positive reinforcement methods and only introduce negative consequences after you know the dog is purposely ignoring commands that it understands. At the very least, it will teach the dog that a failure to listen to you will make you angry and in some way will make it uncomfortable for the dog. The dog will make a stronger effort to listen if it understands the consequences of not listening.
***Edited By: agentsmith on 8/5/2009 4:29:28 PM*** Reason: reword
Say whatever you will, but negative consequences are a fact of life for just about every living being on the planet. Dogs deal with it in the wild, and people deal with it in their lives too on a daily basis.
Its a noble idea to try and make everything positive for your kids or your dog, but in my opinion it just more "new age" garbage that doesn't really work well for most people. You might argue that people don't put in enough time or work hard enough at it... but to me that just shows that its less effective than using negative consequences here and there.
I'm all for positive reinforcement. I think it should be the primary source of training. Either way, the dog needs to think twice about voluntarily disobeying you. Almost every intelligent animal will take the path of least resistance. Its pretty much a law of nature. *Some* moderate resistance applied at the right times will certainly help.
First of all, since you just acquired the dog a couple of days ago,I would let him become familiar with you and his new surroundings for a couple of weeks. Do you know anything about his previous history? If the dog has never been taught anything, you will have to start at the beginning, as illusionminis mentioned. Start with getting him used to a collar and harness, or leash. (if he has no idea how to walk on a leash) If the dog has been abused, you will have to take that into consideration also, and bear it in mind if you don't know his history. Brittany Spaniels are lovely smart dogs, but just like any other dog they need training,and gentle but consistant training in this case, because you have a 2 year old. (not saying you would'nt be gentle and consistant with a pup, because you would). I would sign him up for obedience classes, just like any other dog, and start from scratch. If you have 4 acres, I would definitely think about fencing a good large area off, if finances allow. There is nothing like the freedom of a large yard for a dog to play in, and he can go out there when ever he wants to, if you install a doggy door in your house. I wish you luck with him, and I'm sure he will learn quickly,he just needs to be shown how to act.
Fences are out of the question--both financially and aesthestically. And rather than build a kennel alongside the garage, which would be safe but pretty restrictive I installed a 100' trolley line from the house to a tree. Gives him some room to run, shade & lots to look at. Seems to be working out well for him & us as we can now be outside with the dog w/o always hanging on to a leash.
He does know some commands I'm finding out--he just chooses to ignore them unless he knows he'll get a treat. No treat, no comprendo. Had to suspend his 'orientation' for a couple days as we had company--including 3 small kids. This kept the dog excited and set me back a little in the training. He's getting much better on walks. Tried a Halti--interesting--sort of like big game fishing the way he pulls, tosses his head and then lays down refusing to move (this forum needs a "eyeroll" smilie!!).
Fortunately the one big redeeming factor all along is his sweet temperament. I can tolerate his playing dumb much easier than if he were just plain beligerant or mean.
People are using the words dominance and aggression interchangably and they are not the same. Dominance means to be in control of the surroundings and make the decisions for the "pack." That is no different than a parent/child relationship. My mother didn't abuse me and I still knew she was in charge. If I did things wrong I got punished and things I did right were complimented. Other examples would be boss/employee, police officer/citizen. It's authority, not abuse.
The first thing you want to do with a dog when you bring it home is take him for a long walk before you even bring him inside your home. You are essentially taking him from a small kennel to a large one (your home.) The walk gives him some excercise and if it is done correctly with the dog walking beside you then it begins the bonding process.
Treat training instills a "what's in it for me?" attitude in a dog. When they are puppies, their mother doesn't give them extra milk if they are good. She shows them love. And when they do something wrong, she growls and sometimes nips them. This gives them a clear understanding of what she wants them to do.
We need to do the same. A clear yes or no without a "bribe" involved. And don't get me wrong, my dogs get plenty of treats, but never for doing something that i asked them to do. And in cases of severe fear or aggression I also use treats to establish a relationship and get the dog under control before immediately beginning the weaning process off of the treats.
I mean think about it, if they always get paid for doing something they should just do because they were told to do it, why would they continue to do it if the incentive is no longer there.
Do you pay kids to do their chores, or simply tell them what is their responsibility to do, and expect them to do it? And when they don't, then the consequences come into play.
And a dogs past experience is irrelavant to their training with you. It is helpful to know what triggers certain responses but the dog is not thinking about the past. It would just know that certain things may elicit a fear response, or an aggressive respose etc.
For example, a dog that was beaten with a broom now cowers whe he sees one in his new home. He is not "remembering" his previous owner hitting him with a broom. He just knows that a broom equals pain.
Now if you change that scenario to a child. Yes, absolutley that child will be traumatized by that experience, but not necessarily be afraid of a broom standing agaist a wall. The kid would understand that a broom standing against a wall is not a threat. And their new parents do not hit them with it, so there would be any worry of that happening in the future.
Dogs don't live in the past or the future. They are just in the present. Which is why if we are to teach them things, they need a negative when they do wrong, followed by an immediate positive when they are now doing right. You can't come home to a mess on the floor or a chewed up couch and yell at them. As far as they would be concerned, they just got in trouble because you came home.
Rescue dogs often come with a lot of problems, and the intial homecomeing to the new house is critical in how your relationship is going to be with the dog. If you are a weak leader, the dog will not follow. And by weak, I mean unclear, I do not ever advocate hitting a dog for any reason at all. Aggression begets aggression.
I had the opportunity to train a very goofy year old lab that was from a rescue. A year or so later, her owner called me up in tears. She had rescued another year old lab to have a friend for Lola. The new dog, Honey was a train wreck. These are the owner's own words to the rescue group from where she adopted the dog : "Hi, Yeah I knew when my Dad called that it wasn't your doing and that it was the foster families doing. I must say this wasn't anything mild by any means. When I speak of her to others everyone says it take time to adjust and when I say it had nothing to do with adjusting at all. She is an abused dog, she has defiantly been beaten and miss treated. When I had family over to see her they were shocked to see what we had on our hands. She was having panic and anxiety attacks panting severely and screaming. She shook and quivered and would not make eye contact and would turn her face to hind in the couch pillows. She did not move off my couch for 11 hours. She woke me at 8:30 am screaming in panic because she was scared to move. We had to carry her through the house to take her outdoors. I had to bring her water to the couch to make sure she would drink. I refused to leave her outside in the cold in a strange yard not knowing if she would dig or climb her way out of my yard. When you put her on the floor she would drag herself to 1 little front door mat as she shook and screamed and peed. I was shocked and helpless not knowing what in the world I should do. In tears I called my trainer who helped with Lola at 11:00 at night to ask her what to do she said not to carry her make her walk so we tried. She came to my house the next day and was in complete shock to see what I was faced with. She evaluated her and stated this was a very severe case and that there would be no way she could come an hour a day at $45 a visit and be able to correct this problem in anytime fast. Honey was completely stressed out which broke my heart and my trainers. She offered to take her for 3 days to start and she would work with her as much as possible along with the help of her 3 dogs as leaders to Honey. They have taught her how to play and wag her tail and working on building her confidence. She had no spirit in her no sparkle in her eyes. She was a very depressed dog. With the help of my trainer and her dogs she plays and holds her tail up and wags. She has a personality and is walking on the tile. She does have her moments of showing fear, but I know how to handle her when she does it. She still will not go into the kitchen to eat her food or water and have to bring it to the living room but we are working on the kitchen fear. So please don't think it was just a matter of her getting used to us. If it wasn't for my trainer saving her she would have been pushed back to another shelter and adopted and brought back again. I couldn't allow this poor mistreated dog to go another day of her short life this way. I had to get her help. It coasted me $50 a day to have her with my trainer and that was a price I was willing to pay to try to help Honey in anyway. The training cost more that she did with the donation. So please know that I am here to help her have the best life she can. I know most would not do that for a dog you didn't even bond with yet. I also feel Bo could have and should have tried to help her or explain the extent of her condition. I was not notified of how sever her issues were. If I had know I would have thought it was to much for me to handle, but once I set my mind I follow through to the end. I will keep you posted on her status and will send you the check as soon as we know for sure."
Now she did keep the dog. And in the three days I had her, we transformed her from a pathetic anxiety ridden shell of a dog into a happy playful confident young dog. She has occasional fearful moments which her owner knows how to handle and they last simply that, just moments. The dog looks to her "leader" to see if she should be afraid or not, which is what a dog should do.
I would also like to point out that I actually did not (although I had planned to) use treats with that dog. She didn't care about food or toys or anything. She had no spark in her eye and it just broke your heart to look at her.
All that we did, is show her the leadership that she needed to know that everything was all right and she didn't have to worry about anything.
We are there to take care of our dogs, but often we "tell" them that they are there to take care of us. They do not understand a human world and therefore they logically cannot be put in charge of it.
Imagine a profession you know nothing about, and tomorrow you are the new supervisor. It would be extremely anxious for you, and that is what a dog goes through everyday when they are in charge of a house.
Training is essential first, then you can spoil them all you want. If I die I would love to come back as one of my dogs, they really do have the life.
They key is that when you give them something that they view it as a gift from their pack leader and not something they demanded and you gave them.
How many people's dogs know exactly where the cookie jar is in the kitchen and start carrying on when you go in to get yourself a drink? They are commanding you to give them a cookie. Many times they will get it.
My dogs are my kids too. I talk to them, they all have "voices" and they are well taken care of. But if I want to sit on the couch and they are on it, one "off" from me and they are down on the floor. They understand it is "my" couch that I can reclaim at any time. They are welcome to use it when I am not, or come up on my lap if I invite them too.
The pack leader owns everything and decides when and if to share. You can share everything or nothing, that is up to the indivdual. My dogs participate in almost all aspects of our lives. We even take them on vacations with us sometimes.