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Thread: 2 Q's - How Harsh Can You Be when Training a Puppy? Why is One of My Pups So Snappy?

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    Default 2 Q's - How Harsh Can You Be when Training a Puppy? Why is One of My Pups So Snappy?

    Hey everyone

    So i have 2 questions, the first one is i have 2, 6 month old puppies and we take them to puppy school every sunday morning. Last sunday when teaching the puppies to heel and do a right a-bout turn and a walk back, the instructor took control of my pup and said i wasnt teaching him to heel properly, so he led the puppy and let the leash loose so the pup would walk ahead and then he yelled HEEL and whiped him back, all 4 feet pretty much came off the ground and a large yelp. After that my poor lil pup wouldnt stop shaking and there was no way he was going near that man again.
    Im worried if i am supposed to do this to my own puppies that they will not want to go near me either or want to go for walks. How harsh is "ok" for a puppy?


    my next question is, the same pup, when he play fights with his brother he starts to snap his jaw, he doesnt actually bite his brother he will just stand there snapping his teeth together as if to say "yeh look at my teeth" sometimes he will even just be looking around at the ground or up at the sky and he will start snapping. However, when he first went to puppy school he was hopeless with other dogs, very scared. Now he thinks his the king and he will bark and walk up to dogs 3 times the size of him and sniff and then do his little snappy thing.
    I always tell the people dont worry he wont actually bite your dog he just likes to bite his teeth together and people say "wow ive never known a dog to do that" so, im thinking his trying to say hey dont start a fight with me coz im the boss, but how do i stop this??

    thanks everyone, sorry about the amount of questions i post on here hehe

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    A reputable breeder would never sell 2 pups together, it is not an ideal situation. However you have what you have.

    So I would never allow an instructor to do what they did to your pup. If the pup isnt heeling properly it is because it doesnt understand what you want. Forcibly and impatiently jerking the dog into place is to my mind the sign of someone who doesnt understand how to use corrections or how to train a pup full stop.

    You need to practise every day for short periods of time. I personally use treats. I initially lure the pup to my side and then as he gets the idea and is in the right position I use either my voice or a clicker as a marker and give the pup a treat. Amazing how quickly they catch on.

    If you dont use treats you can use the lead and lots of praise and I am sure there is someone on the forum who trains like this who can give you advice on training appropriately with corrections.

    As to the other problem, you really need to do a lot of work with each dog on their own. I currently have 3 youngsters of the same age - not advisable, 2 of them are rescues and I spend a lot of time with one on one training. I also limit the time they spend playing together. This will come down the track when I have them each working well with me and focussed on me.

    With your fearful dog you need to work hard on obedience and heeling and take him out and about more on his own. Get him focussed on paying attention to you.

    Do not let him walk up to other dogs and do his bark snappy thing. Get him to sit at your side and watch you or walk by the other dogs watching you. The more you let him practise this bad behaviour the more entrenched it will become. How do you know he wont suddenly bite. He may meet another snappy dog and then what might happen?

    If he does this while playing with your other dog, stop him and give him time to chill out, or maybe do a little obedience routine with him.

  3. #3

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    Hi Spuddy, for your first question..a big fat NO.
    This is just my opinion, but i see puppy school/obedience classes as a chance for you to work with your pup in a distracting, controlled enviroment, rather than the main source of "school" with your pup.
    Have a look/read up on diffrent training methods, there are much better ways than yanking your pup around.
    A treat or toy works great, as KalaCreek said. Work on getting your pups interest focus on you, make it fun and rewarding and you will go far together, with your dog working happily with you rather than skulking along anticipating punishment.

    Do your training at home, small sessions once or twice a day, and incorporate training into play as well (Sit before ball, short heel before ball etc).
    Use puppy school to cement your training with distractions of other dogs, and advice, but dont let any instuctor tell you it has to be done that way.

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    Hi Spuddy

    I'm learning the hard way (a bit late for my puppy dog / evil hound) that there is a better way than yank and crank like your instructor is asking you to do. Yes puppy will learn but there may be unexpected fall out from training like this including the risk of neck injuries now or long term not to mention doing your dog's head in (already happening). You will need to defend yourself and your dogs from this instructor or find another one.

    So ideally you want to *reward* correct behaviour with loads of fun and treats, lots. And you do not want to *lure* correct behaviour (what I mostly did/do) ie don't have the treat in your hand and let the dog follow it round with his nose - that's luring, dog will not learn anything except how to follow the treat.

    One way is to have treats handy - but not in your hand ie in a zip lock snack bag in your pocket. Slap your thigh - where you want your dog to be and then give a treat... repeat, when dog is right with you when you slap your thigh, start adding "heel" to the mix though by now you might want to try a different cue word eg "with me", or "close".

    Train one puppy at a time, where it can't be distracted by the other one. Keep the sessions short, have lots of play / tug breaks or rewards as well. ie instead of treats (though they're best for heelwork), play tug or fetch if the dog does what you want.

    You definitely want to discourage the snappy behaviour - anything that looks scary can be misunderstood for really scary by a person or dog or it could just escalate one day to actual biting. The consequences either way are not going to be good. Several methods I suggest for starters...

    1. Separate the siblings as much as possible so this puppy cannot rehearse the behaviour. You may have to divide the dog run so they have separate space. They've been in competition in a life and death struggle for survival, with each other, since birth, you need to see if you can break this habit. Ie always have way more resources available than one dog can protect or use, or keep one dog crated/penned while the other is being trained or got your attention.

    2. if puppy snaps at any other dog, separate it - make a big distance and keep its focus on you with words, treats, silly actions - whatever works, any time it gets distracted or snaps at another dog - you need to be further away. Play with the distance as the behaviour improves.

    3. water pistol. if dog snaps, you call it to you or say "enough" nicely (not yelling) reward heaps praise and or treats, if it stops. Otherwise distract it with a jet of water, start with a near miss, then aim for the tail. And then praise heaps the second it stops snapping (ie is distracted by the water). I use these techniques to stop my dog barking (after I've checked that there is nothing that deserves barking at).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    Hi Spuddy

    So ideally you want to *reward* correct behaviour with loads of fun and treats, lots. And you do not want to *lure* correct behaviour (what I mostly did/do) ie don't have the treat in your hand and let the dog follow it round with his nose - that's luring, dog will not learn anything except how to follow the treat.

    One way is to have treats handy - but not in your hand ie in a zip lock snack bag in your pocket. Slap your thigh - where you want your dog to be and then give a treat... repeat, when dog is right with you when you slap your thigh, start adding "heel" to the mix though by now you might want to try a different cue word eg "with me", or "close".

    ).
    If you use luring correctly and seamlessly convert it to a reward it works very well. I usually find with heeling and young pups that you can use luring to show them what you want so they get the idea and very quickly turn it in to rewarding for the correct position and behaviour.

    The dogs I trial with in obedience were trained this way and have fabulous independent heels with great positioning. The treat in the hand is good because you can deliver the treat for the correct behaviour instantly, latest research has shown that the speed and timing of the reward is important rather than keep the dog waiting while you fiddle around for the reward. (From a Clean Run magazine). As the dog progesses and understands you can ask more and more before handing a treat.

    Same with training distance in agility. I use the lure to engage the send behaviour by throwing the toy or treat and quickly turn it in to a reward for the behaviour, so toy is thrown when behaviour is done. Very seamless and works very fast.

    Luring I agree doesnt help learning but used in the right way it definitely has its place.

    The other thing is to pair the treat with praise, so you are transferring value. My dogs now come running, heel etc and I dont need a treat - they are happy with praise. I do occasionally produce a treat if they do something really well like turn away from a roo or heel brilliantly among chaos and I think they always try extra hard with that hope in mind LOL.

    And as has been mentioned I also like to have reptoire of things they value so you can mix it up and they dont become too food focused - playing without a toy is a good one! just you and your pup.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 12-10-2010 at 06:49 PM.

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    Hi Kalacreek

    I agree.

    However, my dog still doesn't have a very good understanding of the word "sit" to the point where I think I'll have to use a new word for it.

    She's much better at drop, and the commands I taught by shaping and could not lure - like "tail worky" for "wag your tail" and "what you say" for "speak", she knows much better.

    Timing is everything and I've learned quite a bit about how to easy it is to get it wrong, eg charging the "clicker" or "yes" - ie you click then you treat but then there must be a gap so it's definitely click then treat and cannot be mistaken for treat then click which is what you get when you go click-treat-click-treat-click-treat-click etc.

    And yes the faster you can deliver the reward the better but a bridge like the click or "yes" or "good" helps especially when you're not close to the dog eg remote drops.

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    I love shaping and it is a very good way for a dog to learn. I usually start shaping first, before anything else, with a box or plank or something and get the dog to start interacting, they then start to understand that they will get rewarded for trying something and eventually this turns into what you are really looking for. I shape all my agility contacts. My dogs cant walk past a plank of wood without offering a 2 on 2 off position LOL

    Sometimes you can have what they call a poison cue. Through some training faux pas, sometimes unknown at the time (dont we all have those!) the dog wont or doesnt respond to a cue. It often then helps to change the word.

    For the sit, I will lure the dog into the sit by holding the food over the nose and back over the head when the dog sits give her the treat and make a big fuss. I have been lucky, most of my dogs catch on very quickly and are soon sitting for a reward, they do appear to realise what I am luring them to do.

    In terms of the drop at a distance. The best technique I have found for that is too proof in small increments of distance. By the time you are at distance the dog knows exactly what you want and wont expect a treat untill the exercise has finished and you have returned to them or relased them.

    In the end I expect a full obedience routine before my dog gets a reward, but it was incremental in getting there. I tend not to use the clicker for a chain of behaviours, but rather just to teach the individual behaviour

    When I train agility the moment my dog drives into the correct contact position on the AFrame for instance I am there with a reward. That will usually result in a fast drive which is what I am looking for. If I fiddled around, the dog would probably take more time to get there. Same with teaching a dog to send out, the reward replaces the lure once the dog is sending out, but the timing has to be quick so your dog is still moving away when you throw the reward. You dont want him turning back to you for a reward.

    With obedience as long as the event has been marked and you have a reasonably quick delivery it would be fine I suspect. I just find my dogs are drivier if the reward comes quickly.

    Each dog is different and in the end you have to go with what works best for you and your dog.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 12-11-2010 at 04:22 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spuddy View Post
    Hey everyone
    so he led the puppy and let the leash loose so the pup would walk ahead and then he yelled HEEL and whiped him back, all 4 feet pretty much came off the ground and a large yelp. After that my poor lil pup wouldnt stop shaking and there was no way he was going near that man again.
    Im worried if i am supposed to do this to my own puppies that they will not want to go near me either or want to go for walks. How harsh is "ok" for a puppy?
    Change the trainer. Such training, which is very aversive could make your pup do things out od fear, or refuse to do things in future, or be hesitant when told to do something you tell him. I believe you don't want your dog to feel uncomfortable and do thing like a robot. Dog should do requasted things with joy, not out of fear and he will not do them happily if he's whiped into a position or forced phisically which he finds uncomfortable ot threatening. Patience is necessary, some dogs get it sooner, some later.

    my next question is, the same pup, when he play fights with his brother he starts to snap his jaw, he doesnt actually bite his brother he will just stand there snapping his teeth together as if to say "yeh look at my teeth" sometimes he will even just be looking around at the ground or up at the sky and he will start snapping. However, when he first went to puppy school he was hopeless with other dogs, very scared. Now he thinks his the king and he will bark and walk up to dogs 3 times the size of him and sniff and then do his little snappy thing.
    Dogs use their mouth a lot when they communicate with one another. Through play they learn how to inhibit their bite when they're young. If they don't that is a problem, because more experienced dog, or a dog they interact will clearly let them know when they bite to hard and that may escalate into a fight. When my dogs play, teeth are allover the place. All you can see are their open jaws and you can hear a lot of different growling, mowning noises. When dogs get into a fight, believe it or not most bites are in the air, snapping around ones face rather than actually grabbing. Many times dogs just have wet fur around their necks and face without any open wounds, and scratches or eye injuries are accidents. Stable dogs will never fight to injure one another seriously. I am not saying that fights can't escalate to something much more serious.
    Your dog is not fighting, it's just his way of communicating and probably inviting for a play.
    Last edited by Fedra; 12-11-2010 at 09:11 PM.
    Respect and you shall be respected. Animal is always right.

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    I agree with that. I have 2, a male and female from the same litter (as well as their mother.) They are now 13 months old and behave exactly how Fedra has stated in the second part of her post.
    Last edited by Di_dee1; 12-12-2010 at 11:00 AM.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

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    What worried me slightly was that the dog was described as initially very fearfull and now walks up to other dogs and barks and is a bit snappy. My fear aggressive dog was like this except I didnt realise it for what it was untill it escalated big time, then I had a major problem to deal with.

    The other problem is the reaction that a dog allowed to go straight up to a strange dog may receive when he snaps and barks at them.

    My BC was also quite snappy as a pup but for her it was because she didnt like other dogs encroaching on her space in a dominant fashion and would make little snappy, clicky noises with her teeth, to let them know to back off.

    I would want to make sure what was really going on. I dont mind my pack having teethy play fights with each other.

    This however may or may not be quite different to what may be happening with the strange dog scenario.

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