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Help! My dog is out of control!?

asked 2017-09-08 05:26:57 -0500

I am absolutely at my wit's end with my 18 month cross breed rescue dog. She is doing everything possible to be naughty: escaping, jumping on people, getting aggressive with our cats, too rough with other dogs and not coming when she is called. I have tried everything and when I get cross at her she thinks it's all a big game. She goes to agility and dog training and gets walked pretty much everyday. I love her so much but she is stressing me out. Help!

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answered 2017-09-10 13:24:21 -0500

She is not doing this to be naughty but simply does not know better. I do not know how long you have had her for or what her background is but disciplining her for not doing what she obviously doesnt know yet will not help. You need proper positive reinforcement training to teach her what you want her to do and that takes time, even more with an older dog who might not had any training prior to becoming your dog. To me it sounds like an untrained, energetic young dog who needs time, patience and structure.

I do beg you to stop smacking your dog, it will only teach her to fear you and not trust you. With any dogs but even more with rescue dogs, you need to first earn their trust and then as their human you must keep deserving their trust. Remember, you adopted her but she does not know you from a whole in the wall and if since she has been with you all she is getting from you is being disciplined because your expectations are unrealistic, and expecting a dog who has had no training to instantly know how she should behave is unrealistic, why would she want to work for you, listen to you? How can you expect her to know things she has probably never been taught? And do you think making her scared of you will help her learn anything?

I know this might sound harsh but I always get a little worked up when people talk about smacking dogs and unrealistic expectations.

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The only time I have smacked her is when she has jumped up at me after numerous times of turning away and given me a blood nose! She goes to obedience every week and agility. We have had her since she was 11 months old. She came to us pregnant with puppies which we kept and found good families.

Sophie P.'s profile image Sophie P.  ( 2017-09-12 00:34:23 -0500 ) edit

She also gets walked at least an hour a day. I don't have time for any more then that! Any kind of discipline doesn't bother her at all, she just wants attention even if its bad attention. I'm just getting a bit concerned she is going to hurt someone or one of my cats!

Sophie P.'s profile image Sophie P.  ( 2017-09-12 00:35:39 -0500 ) edit

Its not really a smack anyway, more a stern tap. She is very loyal and we have worked very hard on her training, so she should know better. I have lots of expereince with dogs but she is extra tricky!

Sophie P.'s profile image Sophie P.  ( 2017-09-12 05:48:07 -0500 ) edit
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answered 2017-10-05 20:07:30 -0500

I have a few tips that will help and also some questions for you.

What kind of breed do you think is crossed with him? We can use this to find some really challenging games or play that will stimulate his mind. Do you attend his training courses with him? What does he do there and who is handling him?

I would recommend with starting to rethink how you spend your time with him. Most commonly, he is not feeling engaged and stimulated mentally. It's good that you walk him 1 hour everyday, and that is a parameter we have to work with, so you should restructure how you spend that 1 hour.

For example, in the morning spend 5 minutes working on obedience training. No play, on a 4' leash with your choice of training collar, and get to business. The next 5 minutes spend playing vigorously with a confirmed stimulation. Return to the same obedience training for 2 more minutes and then finish off with 3 more minutes of play and affection. Always end on play and praise. Be consistent and crisp when switching back and fourth between training/play and use a cell phone timer for each part.

Repeat this 15 minute cycle 4 times a day such as morning, mid-morning, afternoon, evening. There is your 1 hour replacement of a boring walk. Dedicate yourself to this process and the dog for at least 2 weeks and you will start to see some drastic changes. You can't gain the trust overnight and it takes time and focused training to establish yourself as the Alpha.

In reference to the obedience training, let's go all the way back to the basics. Start with sit. Only work the one command until perfect. How perfect? The standard should be a demonstration of command-action 10 times in a row performed 3 days in a row. It will be hard, but do not cheat and try to work multiple commands simultaneously. After sit, then Stay followed by Come, Heel, etc.

Sit, Stay, Heel, Come is the core. After you have perfected those you can and should keep the training going for more advanced techniques. Energy in a dog is an awesome thing. Figure out how to harness it and use it for training. You need to be confident that you can give your dog a command in any situation and it will always "override" the energy and drive to "go" and listen to you.

I promise you your dog will adapt and grow to be very stimulated by all of this "work."

With all do respect, the "dog training" you mention in your post clearly can't be working with these results. I think your time (and hopefully not money) will be better spent following this method.

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answered 2017-09-11 19:03:20 -0500

Like Fannie, I agree that smacking a dog accomplishes nothing and is counter-productive to resolving problems.

Also, it sounds like the dog isn't getting walked enough. Each dog's needs vary based on medical condition, age, and breed. Most dogs I've known benefit from four thirty walks a day (2+ hours total). For a healthy, hearty breed puppy, that may easily be more. During these leashed walks, you need to consistently reinforce the basic commands that will be useful (such as Look at me, Leave It, Let's Go, etc.) and most dogs bond with their human during that time. Come is one of the commands that takes more time and patience. If you can't provide that, I'd suggest finding a walker who can meet your dog's needs. If you have to choose, giving up agility to make sure the dog received the necessary walks seems like a better use of resources. A dog that expels energy during regular walks is usually more rested/less apt to get into trouble at home.

Some dogs just don't get along well with cats. I'd suggest that if cats are present at home, that you create separate areas where the dog doesn't have to interact with cats, to set up a successful outcome.

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Thanks Deb. She has working dog in her so agility is really good for her. She gets about an hour each day (I don't have time for any more). It seems to be that she is super obedient on the lead and at obedience but the minute we go home she is back to feral!

Sophie P.'s profile image Sophie P.  ( 2017-09-12 00:37:16 -0500 ) edit

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