Fed up with my hard headed dog

posted 3 years ago in Pets
Post # 3
672 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

@FutureMrsphD:  I’m sorry you are having a hard time with your pup! I dont have any advice but I’m commenting to follow. Been wondering about this myself. I have a friend who sent her dog to a doggy boot camp in NH and it seemed to work for her but she’s the only one I know who has ever done something like this!

Post # 4
259 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Bumpity bump bump bump…I need to get my dog controlled a bit too.  1 year old PitBack who is afraid of crates…..please pray for me lol

Post # 5
1349 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2012

@FutureMrsphD:  My sister sent her dog to one!  It worked wonders for her.  I would seriously consider it.  

Post # 6
6980 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

What kind of things are you specifically trying to train?

Post # 7
2593 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

I would recommend trying a trainer or behaviorist to work with you and the dog privately in your own home first.  That way they can observe you working with the dog and suggest things that may work better for training this particular dog.  If training isn’t working because you’re doing X, and you send him away to a trainer that does Y, but then the dog returns home and you’re still doing X, then you could be in the same position you’re in now.  

Post # 8
825 posts
Busy bee

Checkout http://www.michigandogtrainer.com/

He is a great trainer that we’re actually saving up money to work with. He works in Plymoth halfway between Ann Arbor and Detroit. He does in-home training and board and train and comes highly recommended by our local vet and shelters.

Post # 10
8678 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

The only huge issue I could see is that if you “send him away”, he won’t see you as an alpha. You can give a dog commands he knows all day long, but unless he sees you as his superior, he isn’t going to care.

I have a hard headed lab. He is very smart and very determined, he is very aggressive (In the “I’m going to become the alpha, you’ll be the beta) and you need to be very stern with him. Zero tolerance is what worked for him — If I saw him disobey a command or act poorly, he was reprimanded and I forced him to obey. If he jumped on someone, he got a (very loud, very stern) “OFF!” If he continued, he was forced into place and re-told the command.

Dogs are pack animals, and most of the problems I see when it comes to training is the dog doesn’t respect the trainer. This is usually easily fixed either by tone of voice or by direct eye contact (My dog used to stare you down. If my husband or I look him directly in the eye, he will look away every time as a show of submission.)

I’m by far an expert, but I have been through hell and back with my lab, and I can only testify to what worked for us. My dog turned 2 in June and they go through their “terrible twos” at roughly a year, year and a half old. Then it doesn’t matter if you’re a grizzley bear, they’re going to do whatever the hell they want. It does pass, it took Orion about 4-5 months to get over his and now he listens beautifully.


He obviously wants me to chase him

We had this problem with Orion. It’s a dominance thing. He wants you to come to him. He needs to learn that this isn’t the pecking order. You are big boss, and if you ask an order of him, you expect him to do it. We broke this habit with Orion easily — If he ran off with something and didn’t come back, we left. Simply left, acted completely disinterested. This disarms him and replaces his, “Ha! Now you need to come get it!” with “Wait… where’d you go? Why aren’t you listening to me?” Sounds like you need to work on drop it/leave it. It’s best done on a leash so he can’t run off from you. If he does, he gets pulled back and corrected.

Post # 12
6980 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I would also recommend having someone come into your home. That way the person can observe you interacting with the dog, and give advice that is applicable to your exact situation. 

When you train, are you working with food rewards? Toys?

These are what I would do – I am not a behaviorist but I have done quite a bit of training with my dogs-

When he mouths, I would immediately give a firm NO!, and if he doesn’t respond, a firm TIME OUT! and put him in a doggy-safe room for 10 minutes (I don’t like using a crate for punishment, that should be a happy place). If he likes being part of the action, he should quickly learn that mouth-on-skin means the fun stops. This worked amazingly well for my corgis, who are known for being mouthy and nippy.

When people are coming over, I’d keep him on a leash and step on it so he is unable to jump up. Have your guests ignore him at first, and once he’s calmer, let them pet and give him treats. Only when he’s calm would I stop off the leash. This will probably take some time.

Running away with stuff – personally I don’t think this is a dominance thing so much as a game for him. Mom is chasing me! Weee!!! I would do the ignore as another poster suggested, or the “trade up” method in which you offer him a toy or piece of food in exchange for the item. I’d also practice his “drop it”.

I’d also implement NILF (nothing in life is free). You can google it for tons of info, but basically you make him work for everything. Make him sit before he eats, do a down before going outside, whatever. He will learn that you are in charge.

Post # 13
825 posts
Busy bee

Adolescence is hard for dog owners. Puppies are so, so, so cute and then they often turn into monsters from 6 months-2 years. At this point consistence is key, also practicing Nothing in Life is Free (commonly referred to as NILIF). Until you get him in a training program, make him sit for everything: to get his food, to go outside, if he wants you to throw a toy. These a resources and you should not give them away for free — your dog should default to a position, either sit or down, to say ‘please’.

As for the running away with stuff. Just don’t chase him. When you have him calm with something, trade him for something much better to train the ‘drop it’ command. You have a tennis ball? I have hot dogs. You have a tug toy? I have steak.

Post # 14
2696 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

My question would be: How much exercise does he get?

A tired dog is a happy dog + a happy owner.

I know our dog, for the first 2 years was a menace if he wasn’t allowed to run off leash a few hours a day to burn off energy. He was MUCH more enjoyable and easy to train if I made sure he was getting enough exercise. He’s an English Setter, and like your dog, a hunting breed, which requires a ton of stimulation and exercise. A bored dox gets into trouble and puts his energy in naughty things!

Before anything, please make sure he’s getting a lot of daily exercise. As much as I hated going out in a snowstorm to take him for a run, I did it, because I hated a destructive, obnoxious dog more!

Post # 15
135 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I second the behaviorist in your own home.  My mom adopted a yellow lab when he was eight months old.  Apparently this must be a common age for people to give up their dogs, because she already had a black lab who she adopted when he was about 9 or 10 months old.  Anyways, the yellow lab, Teddy, had all kinds of issues after she brought him home.  No self-control, jumping on people, eating everything in sight, being reactive to other dogs and men, food aggression, the list goes on. 

Teddy is now six and is still his own brand of special, but he has made huge progress due to my mom working very hard with him on obedience and working with about four behaviorists over the years.  A behaviorist may suggest simple things that you haven’t thought of.  Training isnt always easy and will take time, but please do not give up on him.  We’ve learned that his behavior is usually centered around the fact that he is a very nervous, insecure dog.  He wants to be an alpha, but literally everything scares him.  He behaves much better when we follow the behaviorist’s recommendations of correcting his behavior in ways that make him feel more secure. (I.e, The problem of him being reactive to other dogs while on leash: we learned that he only does this when other dogs stare at him, which is aggressive behavior in dogs.  To change this, we use a gentle leader and keep him right by our sides, directing his attention away from other dogs and back to us when needed, which helps him feel much calmer and less defensive.  –Side note, Mr. S’s dog is one of those dogs that stares at other dogs, and we basically do the same correction with him to stop him from doing it.).

If you need a laugh, here is a short list of just a few of the many things Teddy has eaten since she’s had him:

  • Not one, but two vegan faux-leather belts (all of them except for the buckles)
  • Both of our wallets (including ID, credit card, and cash)
  • Nearly every single tomato on my mom’s tomato plants for the past three years — despite the fact that she put a fence around them, he’s very determined
  • One of my clay Christmas ornaments (which was on the back of the kitchen counter, wrapped in tissue, inside a box, tied with ribbon and inside a gift bag….)
  • Mouse poison that was in a box inside a grocery bag on the counter, and was also supposed to be kid and pet resistant –that ended up in a fun night at the ER vet
  • Whole avocados (which are supposed to be toxic to dogs but had no effect on him whatsoever)
  • Christmas ornaments off of the tree
  • Three left shoes from different pairs
  • Just the tips of the toes of socks
  • A check register
  • A million pieces of mail
  • Just the laces out of a pair of shoes
  • Dog poop!!  So gross!

Post # 16
65 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@Miss Apricot:  I 2nd this.  Find a behaviorist in your area to come out to your house to work with you & your dog. We worked with a behaviorist and it was as much about training us as it was the dog.  It’s better for him to learn while in his home setting.  I know our dog doesn’t generalize well so what he learned while away he probably wouldn’t follow as well at home (for example he’s learning to roll over but right now he really can only do it in the kitchen).  It’s helpful for the trainer to see your home setting and to help you set up a training program that will work.  We had a friend send their dog away, he was good for a little while when he came back but eventually he reverted back to his old ways. 

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