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Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question

Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18946
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My dog is 9 months old. It's a Labrador/afghan shepherd mix.

Customer Question

My dog is 9 months old. It's a Labrador/afghan shepherd mix. She came to me unplanned at 4 weeks. Attempts of returning her to the mother/litter failed.no one in the household interacts with her except me. She listens to me 60-70% of the time but doesn't listen to anyone else. She had become quite unmanageable in between, jumping and play biting intensively.she also had started resource guarding. Iny first attempt at giving her food in several helping she got crazed enough to gash me.after 5 to 6 weeks of work she knows her mat, she knows to lay low, majority of the time. I also had crate trained her since she was a small pup. recently I tried re homing her with folks I know love interacting with their dogs. They have an older dog that she was getting on with fine. They got another puppy 3-4 dua after she had been there. She got aggressive with the puppy. She even attacked her twice, in one struggle snapping at the new owner. She is now back with me. She is still snapping. Not at me but with other members of the household. She is fine and playful but will suddenly snap. She is shamed after the event when I scold her. To my ovservation, she also checked her bite but I am worried as she grows up, what if she hurts someone really bad. What should I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
JaCustomer,
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
She seems to me to be a dominant female and one that needs a lot of training. I'm not sure how much obedience training you have done with her but it is obvious that she needs extensive training in obedience and it can not just be you doing the training. You might do the initial teaching of commands but everyone has to participate in working her on the commands so she will see them as over her and her boss as well. Dogs that think they are the boss will feel more than justified in reprimanding members of the household by snapping at them ,
So to get your dog to acknowledge not only you but other household members as the boss, you will need daily training sessions in obedience. This works because a dog that obeys your command even if for a treat becomes just a little more submissive to that person each time. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html
Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm
http://www.cairnrescue.com/docs/NILIF.pdf
I can give you some tips for play biting of the hands and jumping as well until you have her listening to your commands the first time every time. Now there are some dogs that just don't seem to get the message. Dogs that are taken away from their mothers too early are deprived of the time with their siblings and other dogs which helps them learn that biting can hurt so they need to be careful. Now there is a method for stubborn biters but it should be used as a last resort. You can stop mouthing and biting hard by going the opposite direction. Instead of taking your hand out of her mouth, put it further in the mouth. DO NOT do this meanly (not that you would). Do not do it quickly or shove it in too far, just move it further in enough that it makes her uncomfortable so that she pulls her mouth away from your hand. SHe will learn that putting her mouth on your hand results in the hand going further in and possibly triggering a gag reflex which she will not find pleasant. I'v found that this methods works on the most stubborn puppies.
Biting ankles
Some experts will suggest crating him any time he exhibits the ankle biting behavior so he learns it is unacceptable.
For nipping at the pants legs, you need to adopt an exaggerated walk with you heals coming up on the back swing. In you walk in this manner, when the dog gets too close to your feet, they will end up getting the shock of a heel coming up and possibly catching them in the jaw or chest. Since you or the person are just walking, it will surprise them. It usually only takes a few times before they stop jumping on the backs of your legs or biting them. Of course, this will also involve having all visitors do this while the dog is in training. I think you will find most people willing to help.
.
If you have someone he tries to do this to on a regular basis, this person could be elected to help with training allowing you to work with him several times a day when you know he would normally do it. Once he stops ankle biting, reward him with tasty treats and praise. For each person he doesn't do this to, reward him. He will learn that strangers mean treats and are a good thing and that should help stop the biting.
Jumps on people
I recommend some long leashed walks and formal obedience training with daily practice. This will aid in curing both problems as you can command your dog to sit or lie down instead of jumping and/or "stealing" items. All visitors will need to be informed that the dog is in training and is not to be petted, talked to or otherwise shown any attention until you give permission, which you will not do unless the dog is sitting for adults or laying down for children. Then they should be calm as well when showing the dog attention.
Your dog is not too old to learn and you will find that an obedience-trained dog is a pleasure to have.
If you need some hints on how to train your dog in basic commands the following sites will come in handy.
http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/teaching-your-dog-to-sit
http://www.luckydogs.info/pdf/Teaching-the-basic-commands.pdf
The following site is helpful. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html
Until your dog is obedience trained, there is a method I've used for over 15 years and is very effective and not cruel for a dog that jumps on people. It cures even the most stubborn large dog. However, everyone in the family will have to be consistent until he learns it is not acceptable.
What you will be doing is putting one knee up to waist level any time you see the dog start to jump up. Put it up before the dog is close to you, so she sees it. YOU DO NOT KNEE THE DOG. Instead you put your knee up long before she reaches you and she jumps onto your knee generally hitting himself in the chest as a result. Since your knee is up and you aren't moving when it happens, she does not interpret it as something you are doing. At the same time you need to say in a low toned firm voice, NO JUMP. She'll learn that when she jumps, she ends up hitting her chest and will associate NO JUMP with that feeling and learn to not jump on people. She may still dance around on her hind legs, but they do usually learn not to touch the person. Again, I want to stress that the knee should not be used to hit the dog, but instead let the dog run into the knee.
Your dog may try and come at you from the side, but just shift position until she learns that she can't jump. You should also start teaching her that she will not get petted or get treats or affection or even talked to unless she is calm and she works for them by sitting or laying down.
They also make a no jump harness that you can see here that can stop jumping.
http://www.petsmart.com/dog/harnesses/top-paw-sporn-no-jump-dog-harness-zid36-19395/cat-36-catid-100082
FOr the biting, you need to immediately stop playing anytime she play bites. She needs to know that play biting with humans stops all play. Now there are some dogs that just don't seem to get the message. Dogs that are taken away from their mothers too early are deprived of the time with their siblings and other dogs which helps them learn that biting can hurt so they need to be careful. Now there is a method for stubborn biters but it should be used as a last resort. You can stop mouthing and biting hard by going the opposite direction. Instead of taking your hand out of her mouth, put it further in the mouth. DO NOT do this meanly (not that you would). Do not do it quickly or shove it in too far, just move it further in enough that it makes her uncomfortable so that she pulls her mouth away from your hand. SHe will learn that putting her mouth on your hand results in the hand going further in and possibly triggering a gag reflex which she will not find pleasant. I'v found that this methods works on the most stubborn dogs as long as it is play biting.
It is important you start this as soon as possible since this should have been done long before now. If she isn't brought under control, then she is liable to reprimand someone with a bite and end up being deemed a dangerous animal which you don't want.
Unfortunately, if she hasn't been socialized around other dogs growing up, then she doesn't know how to treat puppies or even other adult dogs. It is normal though for older dogs to reprimand younger dogs but if she was aggressive, then she would be best in a household without younger dogs at least until she is more under control.
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks so much Jane. This was helpful. However, a few more specifics:

a. I can only give my dog a few hours of roaming in my room/yard under my supervision. Mostly, she is in the yard, unsupervised. In fact, as I mentioned there is no human interaction till either I come back or the dog walker comes- who comes in between to take her out and do basic commands training with her during the afternoon.

b. While I understand what you shared about dominance and the obedience training by everyone is now something we have done and it definitely makes sense to do that, now that you mention it. I just wanted to share that she is a very nervous dog, the word a trainer I met in the park where I often take her to exercise/train was 'shy' and advised me to 'give her confidence'. I must mention that the trainer was not her trainer but just interacted with her, by chance, while he was also there with his dogs. I would be grateful if I can get some tips for dealing with stress and fear/nervousness. Before the rehoming I was using a clicker and she responded really well. However, with the new owners she reportedly went berserk at the sound of the clicker. I have not sued it since her return, do you think it can/should be reintroduced? Also, in the reintroduction should I start from scratch in associating the sound and treat?

c. In one of the NILF articles you shared (thanks for sharing them) it said aggression can become a learned behavior. I am afraid that might happen because she is,also, a nervous dog who is now repeated the growling and snapping enough times to realise that with strangers/otherpeople it does work to get them to step back. My question is with work,would she be able to forget that?

d. Finally, just by means of sharing as you respond to the above she is a dog which is food compliant, if you will. She does modify behaviour for treats and also is totally disciplined when its meal times.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
She only needs two sessions on obedience training each day. Unfortunately, if other members of the household are unwilling or able to to participate in training with her, then she is unlikely to ever see them as the boss. I'm sure any trainer you have talked to will tell you the same thing. She either will not respect them as the boss or she won't trsut them if the aggression is fear based because they haven't proved to her through training what they really want from her. Since she is so food oriented, if they are using tasty hot dog slivers as treats when they work with her, they shouldn't have any problems with her snapping at her.
People have to learn how to use a clicker. A clicker is supposed to mark desired behavior and you can learn clicker trainer on the following page.
http://www.clickerlessons.com/
If someone was using t he clicker inappropriately, that might confuse her and even scare her depending on the circumstances. If you were using it correctly, you should be able to reintroduce it without a problem though I would start at the beginning to be sure she is still associating the clicker with desired behavior and the treat.
Aggression can definitely be a learned behavior. It is one reason why I am not a big fan of dog parks though I think they are good for some issues. Dogs are very opportunistic. If they learn they can control people with growls and snaps, they will use that to control them. Can that be reduced with training? Yes it can be reduced and you can teach her that it no longer works to intimidate people but that is going to require a lot of training and any new owners should work with her before they take her so that she will see before she is alone with them that growling will not intimidate them. The new owners will need to be strong willed and not scared of her. Initially, you could have her wear a basket muzzle so they are not scared of her biting them. Once she realizes she doesn't scare them (which she shouldn't with the muzzle on), she won't try to control them in that manner. Each time the tactic doesn't work for her, it is less likely she will try that the next time. It does make it harder the next time you try to find her a home.
The fact that she if food oriented is a plus and have everyone use that fact to help her learn the behavior you want. A single hot dog can be cut paper thing to make quite a few treats. I can get 30 treats from a hot dog for a large dog and even more for a small dog by cutting each slice in half or fourths. I actually owned a dog who learned that growls caused people to back up and he did indeed attempt to control strangers in that manner. We worked with him extensively bringing multiple people around him when he was muzzled and letting them work with him on his commands. We also taught him the quiet command and if he attempted to growl or otherwise vocalize at people we used that since he would stop in order to earn the treat. Usually we use quiet for barking but it can be used to control other vocalization as well. The same technique to stop barking can be used to stop growling.
Now it can be dangerous to teach a dog to never growl if they are a biter because in the right circumstances they will not give any warning and just bite. So if you decide to use a quiet command, have others work with him on that as well so he learns it doesn't intimidate. Here is instructions for the speak and quiet commands.
http://www.dogskool.com/web/news/summer2002/page3.html

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