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My Golden Retriever Puppy is an Absolute Menace

1531 Views 17 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Kendra Shearin
Hi all, I’m new here. I’ve spent many a late night hour deep diving into posts and advice on this forum, so thank you to all you strangers who share here. You have brought me a lot of solace, and a lot of laughs (and tips).

Rusty came home three weeks ago, and he is 11 weeks old.

Rusty is a menace.

Rusty is a big boy, and he has trouble controlling his body when he runs around indoors. His paws need constant stimulation, and that often results in large scratch marks across my entire body.

Rusty chews up everything in sight (yard and house were heading towards total destruction status after week 1) and is a kleptomaniac with socks and underwear. Yesterday, while on a walk, I found a piece of my underwear torn up in a yard 10 houses down from mine. He must have carried it hidden in his mouth during another walk and secretly dropped it there(?!). Poor neighbor probably thought something very not okay happened in the night on their lawn.

Rusty eats extremely fast, I didn’t have time to sit down for my own breakfast our first week with him. I don’t have much time for anything non-Rusty right now.

Socially, Rusty is… interesting. With humans who are strangers, he lunges and playfully nips at their body. With other dogs, he hides under my legs and whimpers. With me, he can’t be left to do anything independently.

About 5-10 times a day, Rusty looks up at me as if he possessed and lunges forward and latches onto my clothing or body and clamps his shark teeth down. I fight back tears and try hard not to scream out and rile him up further. I spent the first week and a half reasoning with my boyfriend that Rusty will surely “grow out of it” and that “positive affirmation is the only way to handle biting”. I had a long hard (crying) look in the mirror day 10 - after a particularly bad night walk where Rusty bit me three times and I was bleeding -and in a bout of self pity, I decided I was a failure as a mother and crumbled into the bath to nurse my wounds.

Rusty doesn’t crash, he would continue running around 24 hours if left to his own devices. Cute late night cuddling on the couch with my little fluff ball son? Yeah right.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably shaking your head right about now. If you’re not, you should be.

Rusty is a puppy. And puppies are often menaces.

Yeah, he’s a big boy. Rusty has the cutest big bear paws. He loves using them to scratch at new surfaces and hold down toys or sticks. It’s my responsibility to help guide him and his big paws towards the right places and things, and away from the wrong. He’s an inquisitive baby boy learning how to move, he’s incredibly athletic, and it’s amazing watching him figure out how to climb and jump (he falls a lot, I panic that he’s hurt, but he gets right up with his tail wagging and on to the next adventure).

I have now designated a comfy and open “place” in the house that’s his. I am gently yet assuredly moving him back to there whenever he needs it while inside. Sometimes meaning 50 times a day. Yeah, I don’t take my eyes off of him now when he’s out of the crate. He always gets a treat when he lands in his place. Lil baby boy gets a small treat whenever he so much as lays down by himself calmly.

To prevent major destruction, and to help him figure out boundaries, I now have him on a leash at all times (inside too, even when he’s just sitting with a Kong or walking around on his own - the leash drags behind him). He hated it for a day, he forgot the leash existed the next day. Now he loves when I put it on when he gets out of his crate, because he sits as I do it and he gets a treat. Oh how toddler brains work.

On that note, it seems that with Rusty’s bigger than average body, comes a bigger than average brain. Yes, he chews, he steals, he hides things. But none of this is malicious. Goldens are so smart, it’s actually insanely cool to be around when they’re puppies.

He knows how to open my clothing drawers, sort through them with his nose to locate my socks and underwear, and then hide them elsewhere. For now, this just means I have a puppy who loves puzzles and needs challenges to replicate that kind of excitement. Daily. Which is a great thing.

Forget the 20 little squeaky and cute fluffy puppy toys I ordered for him before his arrival. I’ve now replaced them with a variety of puzzle toys that require him to problem solve to find food and treats. He loves kong-type chew toys, and I’m upping daily training a lot to replace some of the unstructured roaming time (he gets bored fast). Bring on hide and seek and anything that requires him to use his nose or fetch. I can’t wait to see him in action retrieving as a bigger dog.

Yeah, Rusty could set the world record for fastest eater. The boy likes his food! Can’t blame him. However, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Rusty now has to earn his food.

He likes it better this way, and I like it better this way.

He spends 10 minutes (argh, now it’s more like 5 since he figured the puzzle feeder out so fast) getting half his meal from a puzzle. Then the other half comes from focused training and our walks together. A bonus perk is that the second I put the puzzle down, I can sprint to the kitchen and scarf down some food and a coffee so I’m not as grouchy as I was his first week here.

Yeah, Rusty needs my help socially. Just as I sure as h*** needed help socially during my adolescence. It’s my job to read his body language, react appropriately, and adjust socialization time to make sure I am exposing him to the right people / sounds/ places / other dogs, at the right times, and with the right approach. Will I do this perfectly? No way. But I know he will work with me and help me to help him. He’s such a loving and friendly pup, he needs my focused attention and patience as he explores the world.

As for the shark teeth. Ah, the infamous baby shark teeth. They are not fun. No skirting around that. After my self-pity bath, I put some ointment on the bites and reminded myself that I should NOT feel scared or out of control of Rusty, and that I am not a terrible mother. He deserves an upbringing full of love. I want nothing more than to give him that. But I can’t give him that if I’m allowing him to lunge and bite at me, and not teaching him that such behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

Personally, it’s now a hard no for me. No replacing a skin bite with a toy, no turning my back only to feel the teeth dig into my calf, no cowering in pure terror when it’s dark out and he has zoomies at 9pm and decides to come barreling, no putting my hands gently on his snout only to release and get bit again (he sees that as a game, not his fault!). It’s now - and will moving forward continue to be - a stern but calm “NO BITE” and immediate 20-30 second time out where I leave his sight.

When he’s calm and out from that break, we quickly transition to a command he knows well (sit) and of course an immediate treat celebrating his calmness and positive behavior. I am already sensing a shift in his behavior on this front. And no, he does not act scared of me after his time out, he wags his tail and seems excited to do a command that he feels confident in.

I am not a dog trainer, nor an expert. But personally I have to lay down some hard lines in the sand with Rusty. No biting is one of them. I do this not to punish him, but to guide him and set us on course for a healthy, loving and functioning relationship as a dog and dog owner.


Finally, it appears I have a golden baby that can’t self soothe yet. Is that his fault? Of course not. Is that even a fault!? No! Selfishly, of course we all dream of laying on the couch after a day of nonstop training and feeding and walking and cleaning (and repeating) only to have our worn out sleepy nugget curl into sleep on our chest.

Some of you jerks get that, and yeah I’m very jealous (just kidding, about the jerk part). Some get a puppy with a smaller bladder, meaning you’re up multiple times in the night as a zombie heading out to the yard. I got a dog that from night one could sleep in the crate from 11pm to 6:30am and has a total of 3 indoor accidents (my fault). I count my blessings there. Sleep deprived golden puppy parents, please call me a jerk right now in your heads. We all need an outlet 😂.

Yeah, so my Rusty doesn’t self soothe. I have to adjust to that appropriately. I have a new set nap schedule every day. He doesn’t seem tired, but I put him down and hope for the best.

Call me crazy, but I caved and got a little $30 camera I put looking down at his crate. I watched it for the first time the other night.

My worry dissipated immediately.

He collapsed into sleep right after the lights were turned off, nuzzling into his little bear toy I thought he hated and curling into an adorable fluff ball with his tongue half out. I sat on the couch and watched it as he turned onto his back, his paws sticking up, and I teared up. I have such a sweet, cuddly boy. He just isn’t ready yet to be like that with me. I know one day he will be.

Here is Rusty sleeping like a baby and my boyfriend probably yelling at me around midnight last night to go to bed and stop crying watching the puppy camera:
Vertebrate Felidae Carnivore Pet supply Mammal


The moral of the story here? There are solutions to every challenge my little rascal throws at me. He’s not actually throwing anything at me (other than his body), he’s just being a puppy. Many of the solutions are exhausting, require compromise and adjustments, and are going to take a lot of diligence and repetition to actually stick. What an exciting adventure.

My golden puppy is an absolute menace. And I love him. I wish you all the very very best with your own pups ❤

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Hi all, I’m new here. I’ve spent many a late night hour deep diving into posts and advice on this forum, so thank you to all you strangers who share here. You have brought me a lot of solace, and a lot of laughs (and tips).

Rusty came home three weeks ago, and he is 11 weeks old.

Rusty is a menace.

Rusty is a big boy, and he has trouble controlling his body when he runs around indoors. His paws need constant stimulation, and that often results in large scratch marks across my entire body...
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What a great post! I wish you and Rusty much happiness!
Oh my gosh I feel like a fan girl right now. I’ve read so many of your comments on other posts regarding puppy training and addressing common challenges for goldens. You are such a great writer and clearly so knowledgeable with the breed. Thanks for taking all the time to help people on here!!
 

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you are a fantastic writer and just had me in tears laughing at my desk so thank you for that.. lol..

How much off lead play time does he get in a day? Sounds like he needs to be able to burn some serious energy off. Leash walking will do none of that..
Rusty makes me laugh cry every day without fail!

You are so right about the energy and off leash being the only real way to meet his needs there. I let him play off leash 2x per day.

He is off leash outside in the yard for 30 mins after breakfast. We finish up his eating with training outside then he does fetch and zoomies/ rolling around and sprinting and tumbling for 30. In the afternoon we walk to a nearby baseball field and do 45- 1 hour (dependent on how much grass he’s eating up, if he’s truly running around and playing we stay 1 hour+ out there).

I keep him on leash once it’s dark when we are outside, just given his proclivity to lunge at me more at night. Do you think I should try to get more off leash time in? Open to any suggestions. He's my first golden.
 

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I keep him on leash once it’s dark when we are outside, just given his proclivity to lunge at me more at night. Do you think I should try to get more off leash time in? Open to any suggestions. He's my first golden.
I am pretty new to Goldens, I am on number 2.. my older boy is 3 and my new boy is 5 months. Both pretty high energy but nothing near as you have described. I would say yes to more off leash play time. Will he chase after a ball with you? Just try to find some ways to keep him both physically and mentally stimulated. He sounds tougher than the normal average puppy golden. From my experience, goldens can be tough puppies but once older they are the best dogs. Hang in there... They start to calm down around 3 😝
 

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Rusty is a lucky guy with an owner determined to stick it out through the puppy days. Puppies are fun and I'm always relieved when they're not puppies anymore.

I'd suggest dropping $100 on Connie Cleveland's Performance Puppy Primer, even if you don't plan to do any kind of performance events with your puppy. It has tons of great age-appropriate training activities, with a big focus on developing retrieving skills. Your puppy needs more than those little puzzles. He needs brain and body exercise. Building a retrieving foundation will give you a way to exercise him even if you don't have access to a big open area where you can let him run off leash everyday.

Also, be ultra-vigilant about the socks and underwear. If he goes beyond shredding and starts swallowing, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in vet bills for a blockage and possibly a dead puppy. I own one of those swallowers and spent more than $7k in vet bills before he was a year old.

Looking forward to updates.
 

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Rusty is a lucky guy with an owner determined to stick it out through the puppy days. Puppies are fun and I'm always relieved when they're not puppies anymore.

I'd suggest dropping $100 on Connie Cleveland's Performance Puppy Primer, even if you don't plan to do any kind of performance events with your puppy. It has tons of great age-appropriate training activities, with a big focus on developing retrieving skills. Your puppy needs more than those little puzzles. He needs brain and body exercise. Building a retrieving foundation will give you a way to exercise him even if you don't have access to a big open area where you can let him run off leash everyday.

Also, be ultra-vigilant about the socks and underwear. If he goes beyond shredding and starts swallowing, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in vet bills for a blockage and possibly a dead puppy. I own one of those swallowers and spent more than $7k in vet bills before he was a year old.

Looking forward to updates.
Heard loud and clear on the socks / underwear. He’s getting very good with the “leave it” command. He’s a fast learner (I didn’t focus enough on all his great qualities in the post!) But it’s also on me right now to make sure I keep spaces puppy proofed (including my bedroom). $7k in vet bills. Woof. These dogs empty bank accounts.

Excuse me while I rush to buy your recommendation. Rusty is about to wake up from a nap and he is expecting me to pick up my activity / training game asap.
 

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Ohmygod - that is NOT where I thought your post was going to go. I felt ill when I read "my puppy is a menace" and I am so glad I kept reading! Puppies are definitely a lot of work - hard work - and it can be really tiring at times (when you wrote, "I don’t have much time for anything non-Rusty right now," I was like, welcome to puppyhood!) - but it is also SO rewarding, as I think you are experiencing, too. It sounds like you are doing great and approaching all the challenges and joys of a new puppy with the right mindset. Here's what I have learned with having raised just two puppies... it just gets better and better every day. And going through it all and figuring it out together makes your bond so strong. :)
 

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Ohmygod - that is NOT where I thought your post was going to go. I felt ill when I read "my puppy is a menace" and I am so glad I kept reading! Puppies are definitely a lot of work - hard work - and it can be really tiring at times (when you wrote, "I don’t have much time for anything non-Rusty right now," I was like, welcome to puppyhood!) - but it is also SO rewarding, as I think you are experiencing, too. It sounds like you are doing great and approaching all the challenges and joys of a new puppy with the right mindset. Here's what I have learned with having raised just two puppies... it just gets better and better every day. And going through it all and figuring it out together makes your bond so strong. :)
thank you for the words of encouragement! I know they grow up so fast so I’m trying to enjoy the small progressions every day and stay light hearted about the moments when it feels overwhelming or like rusty (and I) are back tracking.

Your dogs are adorable ❤
 

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Also, be ultra-vigilant about the socks and underwear. If he goes beyond shredding and starts swallowing, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in vet bills for a blockage and possibly a dead puppy. I own one of those swallowers and spent more than $7k in vet bills before he was a year old.
Heard loud and clear on the socks / underwear. He’s getting very good with the “leave it” command. He’s a fast learner (I didn’t focus enough on all his great qualities in the post!) But it’s also on me right now to make sure I keep spaces puppy proofed (including my bedroom). $7k in vet bills. Woof. These dogs empty bank accounts.

Excuse me while I rush to buy your recommendation. Rusty is about to wake up from a nap and he is expecting me to pick up my activity / training game asap.
I have one of those dogs who is absolutely bananas for socks, slippers, shoes, clothing items, etc. She's two years old and it's only gotten more intense. She has now learned how to TAKE OFF MY SLIPPERS while I'm still wearing them. Luckily, she isn't a chewer/swallower, she just wags her butt so loudly and then brings you the present she stole. I really leaned into it and have her retrieve things I drop, and when I come home from work, she carries my lunch box to the kitchen for me.

And let me tell you those wild puppies can sometimes be the cuddliest ones! My Molly is a tornado until she wants affection and then nothing will stop her from climbing into your lap and just faceplanting into your chest and frog legging across your lap. Every night when I get home, she hops up on our ottoman and I give her kisses and head/neck rubs and she just shove her face into my chest and nibbles on my t-shirt/blouse while huffing in happiness. If she doesn't get those 5 minutes of affection she huffs. We trade off one dog after another, it's like a little receiving line. Haha!

On the note about swallowing stuff... I highly suggest pet insurance. My Lana is recovering after a 5-inch antler was surgically removed from her stomach. She just swallowed the whole thing. Never thought it was possible since we're careful about throwing the short antlers away but dang my girl was like, "Slurp!"
 

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Hi all, I’m new here. I’ve spent many a late night hour deep diving into posts and advice on this forum, so thank you to all you strangers who share here. You have brought me a lot of solace, and a lot of laughs (and tips).

Rusty came home three weeks ago, and he is 11 weeks old.

Rusty is a menace.

Rusty is a big boy, and he has trouble controlling his body when he runs around indoors. His paws need constant stimulation, and that often results in large scratch marks across my entire body.

Rusty chews up everything in sight (yard and house were heading towards total destruction status after week 1) and is a kleptomaniac with socks and underwear. Yesterday, while on a walk, I found a piece of my underwear torn up in a yard 10 houses down from mine. He must have carried it hidden in his mouth during another walk and secretly dropped it there(?!). Poor neighbor probably thought something very not okay happened in the night on their lawn.

Rusty eats extremely fast, I didn’t have time to sit down for my own breakfast our first week with him. I don’t have much time for anything non-Rusty right now.

Socially, Rusty is… interesting. With humans who are strangers, he lunges and playfully nips at their body. With other dogs, he hides under my legs and whimpers. With me, he can’t be left to do anything independently.

About 5-10 times a day, Rusty looks up at me as if he possessed and lunges forward and latches onto my clothing or body and clamps his shark teeth down. I fight back tears and try hard not to scream out and rile him up further. I spent the first week and a half reasoning with my boyfriend that Rusty will surely “grow out of it” and that “positive affirmation is the only way to handle biting”. I had a long hard (crying) look in the mirror day 10 - after a particularly bad night walk where Rusty bit me three times and I was bleeding -and in a bout of self pity, I decided I was a failure as a mother and crumbled into the bath to nurse my wounds.

Rusty doesn’t crash, he would continue running around 24 hours if left to his own devices. Cute late night cuddling on the couch with my little fluff ball son? Yeah right.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably shaking your head right about now. If you’re not, you should be.

Rusty is a puppy. And puppies are often menaces.

Yeah, he’s a big boy. Rusty has the cutest big bear paws. He loves using them to scratch at new surfaces and hold down toys or sticks. It’s my responsibility to help guide him and his big paws towards the right places and things, and away from the wrong. He’s an inquisitive baby boy learning how to move, he’s incredibly athletic, and it’s amazing watching him figure out how to climb and jump (he falls a lot, I panic that he’s hurt, but he gets right up with his tail wagging and on to the next adventure).

I have now designated a comfy and open “place” in the house that’s his. I am gently yet assuredly moving him back to there whenever he needs it while inside. Sometimes meaning 50 times a day. Yeah, I don’t take my eyes off of him now when he’s out of the crate. He always gets a treat when he lands in his place. Lil baby boy gets a small treat whenever he so much as lays down by himself calmly.

To prevent major destruction, and to help him figure out boundaries, I now have him on a leash at all times (inside too, even when he’s just sitting with a Kong or walking around on his own - the leash drags behind him). He hated it for a day, he forgot the leash existed the next day. Now he loves when I put it on when he gets out of his crate, because he sits as I do it and he gets a treat. Oh how toddler brains work.

On that note, it seems that with Rusty’s bigger than average body, comes a bigger than average brain. Yes, he chews, he steals, he hides things. But none of this is malicious. Goldens are so smart, it’s actually insanely cool to be around when they’re puppies.

He knows how to open my clothing drawers, sort through them with his nose to locate my socks and underwear, and then hide them elsewhere. For now, this just means I have a puppy who loves puzzles and needs challenges to replicate that kind of excitement. Daily. Which is a great thing.

Forget the 20 little squeaky and cute fluffy puppy toys I ordered for him before his arrival. I’ve now replaced them with a variety of puzzle toys that require him to problem solve to find food and treats. He loves kong-type chew toys, and I’m upping daily training a lot to replace some of the unstructured roaming time (he gets bored fast). Bring on hide and seek and anything that requires him to use his nose or fetch. I can’t wait to see him in action retrieving as a bigger dog.

Yeah, Rusty could set the world record for fastest eater. The boy likes his food! Can’t blame him. However, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Rusty now has to earn his food.

He likes it better this way, and I like it better this way.

He spends 10 minutes (argh, now it’s more like 5 since he figured the puzzle feeder out so fast) getting half his meal from a puzzle. Then the other half comes from focused training and our walks together. A bonus perk is that the second I put the puzzle down, I can sprint to the kitchen and scarf down some food and a coffee so I’m not as grouchy as I was his first week here.

Yeah, Rusty needs my help socially. Just as I sure as h*** needed help socially during my adolescence. It’s my job to read his body language, react appropriately, and adjust socialization time to make sure I am exposing him to the right people / sounds/ places / other dogs, at the right times, and with the right approach. Will I do this perfectly? No way. But I know he will work with me and help me to help him. He’s such a loving and friendly pup, he needs my focused attention and patience as he explores the world.

As for the shark teeth. Ah, the infamous baby shark teeth. They are not fun. No skirting around that. After my self-pity bath, I put some ointment on the bites and reminded myself that I should NOT feel scared or out of control of Rusty, and that I am not a terrible mother. He deserves an upbringing full of love. I want nothing more than to give him that. But I can’t give him that if I’m allowing him to lunge and bite at me, and not teaching him that such behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

Personally, it’s now a hard no for me. No replacing a skin bite with a toy, no turning my back only to feel the teeth dig into my calf, no cowering in pure terror when it’s dark out and he has zoomies at 9pm and decides to come barreling, no putting my hands gently on his snout only to release and get bit again (he sees that as a game, not his fault!). It’s now - and will moving forward continue to be - a stern but calm “NO BITE” and immediate 20-30 second time out where I leave his sight.

When he’s calm and out from that break, we quickly transition to a command he knows well (sit) and of course an immediate treat celebrating his calmness and positive behavior. I am already sensing a shift in his behavior on this front. And no, he does not act scared of me after his time out, he wags his tail and seems excited to do a command that he feels confident in.

I am not a dog trainer, nor an expert. But personally I have to lay down some hard lines in the sand with Rusty. No biting is one of them. I do this not to punish him, but to guide him and set us on course for a healthy, loving and functioning relationship as a dog and dog owner.


Finally, it appears I have a golden baby that can’t self soothe yet. Is that his fault? Of course not. Is that even a fault!? No! Selfishly, of course we all dream of laying on the couch after a day of nonstop training and feeding and walking and cleaning (and repeating) only to have our worn out sleepy nugget curl into sleep on our chest.

Some of you jerks get that, and yeah I’m very jealous (just kidding, about the jerk part). Some get a puppy with a smaller bladder, meaning you’re up multiple times in the night as a zombie heading out to the yard. I got a dog that from night one could sleep in the crate from 11pm to 6:30am and has a total of 3 indoor accidents (my fault). I count my blessings there. Sleep deprived golden puppy parents, please call me a jerk right now in your heads. We all need an outlet 😂.

Yeah, so my Rusty doesn’t self soothe. I have to adjust to that appropriately. I have a new set nap schedule every day. He doesn’t seem tired, but I put him down and hope for the best.

Call me crazy, but I caved and got a little $30 camera I put looking down at his crate. I watched it for the first time the other night.

My worry dissipated immediately.

He collapsed into sleep right after the lights were turned off, nuzzling into his little bear toy I thought he hated and curling into an adorable fluff ball with his tongue half out. I sat on the couch and watched it as he turned onto his back, his paws sticking up, and I teared up. I have such a sweet, cuddly boy. He just isn’t ready yet to be like that with me. I know one day he will be.

Here is Rusty sleeping like a baby and my boyfriend probably yelling at me around midnight last night to go to bed and stop crying watching the puppy camera:
View attachment 899415

The moral of the story here? There are solutions to every challenge my little rascal throws at me. He’s not actually throwing anything at me (other than his body), he’s just being a puppy. Many of the solutions are exhausting, require compromise and adjustments, and are going to take a lot of diligence and repetition to actually stick. What an exciting adventure.

My golden puppy is an absolute menace. And I love him. I wish you all the very very best with your own pups ❤
Seven words: Your puppy needs to learn impulse control!

Study Sheila Judd's YouTube channel Dreamgaits. You will be amazed by the results of her dog training skills!

And please, do not believe the lie that your puppy will "get better with time". Take the time to educate yourself so you know what work you need to put in.


Positive reinforcement only advocates, before you badmouth a balanced dog trainer, please consider: "Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance. " - Albert Einstein

I'm not talking about investigation by reading what this and that scientist or behaviorist has to say; I'm talking about investigating by testing the methods of a balanced dog trainer for yourself and determining what works for you and your dog. In my opinion, the proof is in Sheila's videos. No amount of "scientific evidence" for positive reinforcement only is going to convince me if what I'm seeing is completely different. There are plenty of people that try to sound brilliant while explaining away the obvious.
 

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Study Sheila Judd's YouTube channel Dreamgaits. You will be amazed by the results of her dog training skills!
I was uncomfortable watching the body language of the dog on the table in the first video. IMHO that is not the kind of outcome someone should want from their training, and if this trainer views it as a training "success", it would put me off her methods somewhat. I also had a look at her YouTube channel as you suggested and she lost me completely with the video stating that choke chains are the "only" way to teach a dog not to pull on leash. That is, to be kind, hogwash. It, and her many references to "hierarchy", are based on long-debunked theories of dog training. IMHO her approach isn't "balanced" because it doesn't seem to take the dog into account very much, if at all.

Whatever method you use, training shouldn't undermine the dog. There are countless ways to teach a dog how to do stuff, and how to achieve impulse control, without bullying it.

I don't know if you read the OP's post through to the end, but it seems to me that she's doing a great job.
 

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I was uncomfortable watching the body language of the dog on the table in the first video. IMHO that is not the kind of outcome someone should want from their training, and if this trainer views it as a training "success", it would put me off her methods somewhat. I also had a look at her YouTube channel as you suggested and she lost me completely with the video stating that choke chains are the "only" way to teach a dog not to pull on leash. That is, to be kind, hogwash. It, and her many references to "hierarchy", are based on long-debunked theories of dog training. IMHO her approach isn't "balanced" because it doesn't seem to take the dog into account very much, if at all.

Whatever method you use, training shouldn't undermine the dog. There are countless ways to teach a dog how to do stuff, and how to achieve impulse control, without bullying it.

I don't know if you read the OP's post through to the end, but it seems to me that she's doing a great job.
I'm definitely not an advocate for bullying a dog. However, I believe it is NORMAL for a dog to act somewhat afraid when he's being corrected. The distinction that needs to be made is, "Am I HURTING this dog?"

I dog sit for a family that has two dogs- a 10-year old female GSD mix and a 4-month old female black Labradoodle. The puppy is still learning boundaries, and while her older sister is patient with her for the most part, every so often I will see the GSD mix discipline the puppy for getting in her face and not respecting her space. Usually the way the older dog disciplines the younger one is with a bark, a growl, and a few rapid snaps at the puppy.

The puppy responds by immediately flattening herself out on the ground or rolling onto her back. However, she doesn't remain terrified of her older sister and her older sister doesn't stay mad at her. The puppy wasn't hurt, but she was startled enough to cease being pushy. Correction is administered quickly, then everybody moves on.

Notice how these dogs behave around Sheila. Do they appear scared of her?

 

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I believe it is NORMAL for a dog to act somewhat afraid when he's being corrected.
I'm sorry, but I absolutely disagree with this. It is NOT normal. If you administer corrections that the dog is afraid of, you're establishing a system where the dog becomes increasingly unwilling to try new things because of that fear. Fear-inducing corrections have a negative effect: they actually make a dog less trainable over time. If you haven't read Susan Friedman's work on animal training, you might want to start there. A correction should signal to the dog that it has done something you don't want it to do, that is all. It should be followed by an indication of what you do want it to do. If the dog is afraid of the correction, it will be much less receptive to the desired behaviour.

(...) Usually the way the older dog disciplines the younger one is with a bark, a growl, and a few rapid snaps at the puppy.

The puppy responds by immediately flattening herself out on the ground or rolling onto her back. However, she doesn't remain terrified of her older sister and her older sister doesn't stay mad at her. The puppy wasn't hurt, but she was startled enough to cease being pushy. Correction is administered quickly, then everybody moves on.
Yes, but this is a dog administering a correction, not a human. This whole thing of humans trying to act like dogs was derived from the so-called "alpha theory" of dog training, where a trainer would administer physical corrections and roll the dog onto its back in the belief that the dog would understand better because that is what another dog would have done in the same circumstances. However, even the guy who proposed this theory - Rudolph Schenkel - has long since admitted that it was based on faulty science, and the whole alpha/dominance/hierarchy approach to dog training has long since been debunked because it causes stress in the dog and damages its trust in the human. Humans are not dogs and shouldn't be behaving like dogs.

Notice how these dogs behave around Sheila. Do they appear scared of her?
Actually, if you watch them, some of them do display behaviours that suggest anxiety (pacing, whining, licking lips). The dog on the table in the first video of your earlier post looks extremely anxious and stressed. I would be very sad if my dogs reacted like this to my training. Training can and should be fun for the dog as well.

To address the last video you posted, on the use of a choke chain to teach a dog not to pull. I hardly know where to start - there's so much I disagree with. First, anyone who claims that a given method is the "only" way to train a given behaviour is by definition wrong. There's always more than one way. Second, she states that this "only" way of teaching a dog not to pull can't be used on dogs under about 9 months of age, and should never be used on puppies. So her method seems to involve letting the dog learn to pull on leash for the first nine months of its life, and then administering corrections to stop the bad behaviour that has become ingrained precisely because her method is too harsh/punitive/potentially damaging to use on a puppy. Where's the logic in that? Far better, I would have thought, to use another less aversive method - and there are plenty of them out there - to teach the puppy not to pull during the first nine months of its life. Which is what most good training schools these days would advocate for.

Also, she justifies her use of the choke chain by the fact that choke chains are used in the conformation ring, and the dogs there don't misbehave so it must be because of the chain. That, quite frankly, is specious at best as an argument. Pet dog owners aren't conformation handlers. A large percentage of dogs in conformation rings are handled by professionals who aren't the dog's owner so the type of relationship they have with the dog is completely different. The conformation ring is a workplace for show dogs; they go in there to do a job for which they've been trained, and the collar is part of that job. If you put that collar in the hands of someone who doesn't understand how to use it - i.e. in the hands of 99% of pet dog owners - you're not going to get show dog behaviour from the dog, you're going to get anxiety and stress and distrust because an uneducated user will use the choke chain as an aversive punishment instead of an aversive stimulus. There's a world of difference.

There are plenty of studies out there showing that dogs learn more quickly and develop better relationships with their humans if there's less negativity in their training because they enjoy the training more and are more enthusiastic about trying new things precisely because they aren't afraid of being punished if they "get it wrong". In my world, if my dog doesn't behave as I want him to, it's because I haven't taught him properly. To punish him would be ridiculous because it's not his fault.

Anyway. I suspect we're not going to agree on this, so I'll leave it at that!

To the OP of this thread: keep doing what you're doing and you'll be just fine. And please, keep us updated. I love your sense of humour and look forward to reading more of your adventures.
 

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Hi all, I’m new here. I’ve spent many a late night hour deep diving into posts and advice on this forum, so thank you to all you strangers who share here. You have brought me a lot of solace, and a lot of laughs (and tips).

Rusty came home three weeks ago, and he is 11 weeks old.

Rusty is a menace.

Rusty is a big boy, and he has trouble controlling his body when he runs around indoors. His paws need constant stimulation, and that often results in large scratch marks across my entire body.

Rusty chews up everything in sight (yard and house were heading towards total destruction status after week 1) and is a kleptomaniac with socks and underwear. Yesterday, while on a walk, I found a piece of my underwear torn up in a yard 10 houses down from mine. He must have carried it hidden in his mouth during another walk and secretly dropped it there(?!). Poor neighbor probably thought something very not okay happened in the night on their lawn.

Rusty eats extremely fast, I didn’t have time to sit down for my own breakfast our first week with him. I don’t have much time for anything non-Rusty right now.

Socially, Rusty is… interesting. With humans who are strangers, he lunges and playfully nips at their body. With other dogs, he hides under my legs and whimpers. With me, he can’t be left to do anything independently.

About 5-10 times a day, Rusty looks up at me as if he possessed and lunges forward and latches onto my clothing or body and clamps his shark teeth down. I fight back tears and try hard not to scream out and rile him up further. I spent the first week and a half reasoning with my boyfriend that Rusty will surely “grow out of it” and that “positive affirmation is the only way to handle biting”. I had a long hard (crying) look in the mirror day 10 - after a particularly bad night walk where Rusty bit me three times and I was bleeding -and in a bout of self pity, I decided I was a failure as a mother and crumbled into the bath to nurse my wounds.

Rusty doesn’t crash, he would continue running around 24 hours if left to his own devices. Cute late night cuddling on the couch with my little fluff ball son? Yeah right.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably shaking your head right about now. If you’re not, you should be.

Rusty is a puppy. And puppies are often menaces.

Yeah, he’s a big boy. Rusty has the cutest big bear paws. He loves using them to scratch at new surfaces and hold down toys or sticks. It’s my responsibility to help guide him and his big paws towards the right places and things, and away from the wrong. He’s an inquisitive baby boy learning how to move, he’s incredibly athletic, and it’s amazing watching him figure out how to climb and jump (he falls a lot, I panic that he’s hurt, but he gets right up with his tail wagging and on to the next adventure).

I have now designated a comfy and open “place” in the house that’s his. I am gently yet assuredly moving him back to there whenever he needs it while inside. Sometimes meaning 50 times a day. Yeah, I don’t take my eyes off of him now when he’s out of the crate. He always gets a treat when he lands in his place. Lil baby boy gets a small treat whenever he so much as lays down by himself calmly.

To prevent major destruction, and to help him figure out boundaries, I now have him on a leash at all times (inside too, even when he’s just sitting with a Kong or walking around on his own - the leash drags behind him). He hated it for a day, he forgot the leash existed the next day. Now he loves when I put it on when he gets out of his crate, because he sits as I do it and he gets a treat. Oh how toddler brains work.

On that note, it seems that with Rusty’s bigger than average body, comes a bigger than average brain. Yes, he chews, he steals, he hides things. But none of this is malicious. Goldens are so smart, it’s actually insanely cool to be around when they’re puppies.

He knows how to open my clothing drawers, sort through them with his nose to locate my socks and underwear, and then hide them elsewhere. For now, this just means I have a puppy who loves puzzles and needs challenges to replicate that kind of excitement. Daily. Which is a great thing.

Forget the 20 little squeaky and cute fluffy puppy toys I ordered for him before his arrival. I’ve now replaced them with a variety of puzzle toys that require him to problem solve to find food and treats. He loves kong-type chew toys, and I’m upping daily training a lot to replace some of the unstructured roaming time (he gets bored fast). Bring on hide and seek and anything that requires him to use his nose or fetch. I can’t wait to see him in action retrieving as a bigger dog.

Yeah, Rusty could set the world record for fastest eater. The boy likes his food! Can’t blame him. However, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Rusty now has to earn his food.

He likes it better this way, and I like it better this way.

He spends 10 minutes (argh, now it’s more like 5 since he figured the puzzle feeder out so fast) getting half his meal from a puzzle. Then the other half comes from focused training and our walks together. A bonus perk is that the second I put the puzzle down, I can sprint to the kitchen and scarf down some food and a coffee so I’m not as grouchy as I was his first week here.

Yeah, Rusty needs my help socially. Just as I sure as h*** needed help socially during my adolescence. It’s my job to read his body language, react appropriately, and adjust socialization time to make sure I am exposing him to the right people / sounds/ places / other dogs, at the right times, and with the right approach. Will I do this perfectly? No way. But I know he will work with me and help me to help him. He’s such a loving and friendly pup, he needs my focused attention and patience as he explores the world.

As for the shark teeth. Ah, the infamous baby shark teeth. They are not fun. No skirting around that. After my self-pity bath, I put some ointment on the bites and reminded myself that I should NOT feel scared or out of control of Rusty, and that I am not a terrible mother. He deserves an upbringing full of love. I want nothing more than to give him that. But I can’t give him that if I’m allowing him to lunge and bite at me, and not teaching him that such behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

Personally, it’s now a hard no for me. No replacing a skin bite with a toy, no turning my back only to feel the teeth dig into my calf, no cowering in pure terror when it’s dark out and he has zoomies at 9pm and decides to come barreling, no putting my hands gently on his snout only to release and get bit again (he sees that as a game, not his fault!). It’s now - and will moving forward continue to be - a stern but calm “NO BITE” and immediate 20-30 second time out where I leave his sight.

When he’s calm and out from that break, we quickly transition to a command he knows well (sit) and of course an immediate treat celebrating his calmness and positive behavior. I am already sensing a shift in his behavior on this front. And no, he does not act scared of me after his time out, he wags his tail and seems excited to do a command that he feels confident in.

I am not a dog trainer, nor an expert. But personally I have to lay down some hard lines in the sand with Rusty. No biting is one of them. I do this not to punish him, but to guide him and set us on course for a healthy, loving and functioning relationship as a dog and dog owner.


Finally, it appears I have a golden baby that can’t self soothe yet. Is that his fault? Of course not. Is that even a fault!? No! Selfishly, of course we all dream of laying on the couch after a day of nonstop training and feeding and walking and cleaning (and repeating) only to have our worn out sleepy nugget curl into sleep on our chest.

Some of you jerks get that, and yeah I’m very jealous (just kidding, about the jerk part). Some get a puppy with a smaller bladder, meaning you’re up multiple times in the night as a zombie heading out to the yard. I got a dog that from night one could sleep in the crate from 11pm to 6:30am and has a total of 3 indoor accidents (my fault). I count my blessings there. Sleep deprived golden puppy parents, please call me a jerk right now in your heads. We all need an outlet 😂.

Yeah, so my Rusty doesn’t self soothe. I have to adjust to that appropriately. I have a new set nap schedule every day. He doesn’t seem tired, but I put him down and hope for the best.

Call me crazy, but I caved and got a little $30 camera I put looking down at his crate. I watched it for the first time the other night.

My worry dissipated immediately.

He collapsed into sleep right after the lights were turned off, nuzzling into his little bear toy I thought he hated and curling into an adorable fluff ball with his tongue half out. I sat on the couch and watched it as he turned onto his back, his paws sticking up, and I teared up. I have such a sweet, cuddly boy. He just isn’t ready yet to be like that with me. I know one day he will be.

Here is Rusty sleeping like a baby and my boyfriend probably yelling at me around midnight last night to go to bed and stop crying watching the puppy camera:
View attachment 899415

The moral of the story here? There are solutions to every challenge my little rascal throws at me. He’s not actually throwing anything at me (other than his body), he’s just being a puppy. Many of the solutions are exhausting, require compromise and adjustments, and are going to take a lot of diligence and repetition to actually stick. What an exciting adventure.

My golden puppy is an absolute menace. And I love him. I wish you all the very very best with your own pups ❤
I had one just like that and he ended up being the most amazing dog ever. Hang in there 💕
 
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