Golden Retriever Dog Forums banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This is a 9 week ball of fluff gremlin :eek:

He already receives a lot of attention and progress has been made in reducing his excitement for food. Everything was going well until we taught him the game of tug. He really liked tug, and he quickly learned that a quick win is achieved by going for the hand controls the toy - ouch! We don't initiate tug anymore.. so he tugs everything, including me - ouch!

The pattern appears to be that he wants me to be in the kitchen, and his tugging seems designed to achieve that outcome. For example, if I am in the living room he will tug on the sofa because this prompts me to pick him up and put him down in the kitchen (puppy wins). He will find a makeshift toy, such as a shoe, and try to initiate a game of tug - if I don't care about what he has then he will drop it and try again with something else, such as my highly vulnerable and work critical MacBook charging cable (puppy wins).

I slide my fingers to his molars and open his jaw with the command "Drop", get the item away, and praise him - but this only changes his behaviour on individual items. The persisting behaviour of searching for a random thing to either tug directly, or bring to me for a ruthless game of tug, is a problem.

The behaviour is always worse after feeding. Caution, do not feed!

Ideas? :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,992 Posts
We teach tug along with random training through out the day. It comes hand in hand with "take" or "drop" or "give" or "bring it" and we make the puppies sit politely. This is a work in progress and a 9 week old isn't going to understand the rules. We use treats to help train the rules. Tug is so fun! But waving a treat to lure the puppy into a sit, and 95% of the time they drop the toy if you are holding on it. So then you can pair an automatic drop it by teaching the dog to sit during the game. I also don't really do "wins" or "losses" cause the tugging is just the intermission between rounds of fetch. And if you teach them "all done" means training or whatever is over, it'll be helpful with teaching them when to keep going and when it's time to change gears. My girl is 6 months old and she can get too excited during in tug (but she goes mouthy when she is overaroused and just drops the toy and goes straight for the arms and hands and fingers, etc), so we've started doing chew toy cuddles. Stop the game of tug, scoop up the puppy and a bone, settle puppy on lap or near me on the sofa, give chew toy, and allow both of us to sky down from the game.

The bringing things is a different story. My kitten accidently knocked the bitter apple spray off the table and Molly BROUGHT it to me. Like the irony of that being in her mouth had me rolling. But then two hours later she took my shoe out of the shoe organizer and brought it to me too. It's a retriever thing. I just say "Oh thank you! You're such a good retriever" and treat, remove the object and go about my day. I'd much rather she BRING me shenanigans than to have to chase her or god forbid her hide with it and me not even know she's up to nonsense.

Hang in there and do your best to be consistent. The training will pay off. It's just a huge adjustment in the beginning as you both learn how to communicate with each other and adjust to realistic expectations. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
waving a treat to lure the puppy into a sit, and 95% of the time they drop the toy
No chance of luring him away with a treat. Come close when he is thrashing his toy and 95% of the time he will drop the toy and grab your shirt, or your sock, and if you are lucky he will just go rabid with the cloth..

Tug is the only thing that seems to trigger his "zooms" and these last 12 hours! It's a really dangerous game. I have open wounds on almost every knuckle from when I have needed to pluck him from my legs. I also ended up in a predicament where my glasses fell off while trying to open a door with him in my arms; as my eyesight is poor I needed to bring myself to floor level in order to search for my spectacles using my hands, and I have discovered it is surprisingly scary to be temporarily disabled while a hyperactive dog charges at you with the intend of throwing you (maybe your neck?) around like a rag doll.

I have a puppy trainer. I have tried putting him outside to calm down (the puppy, not the trainer). He has discovered there is a connection between tugging me and being put out, but this is not bothering him - it's either part of his game, or it is his signal to potty (he is house trained). I have tried standing straight and crossing my arms but by that stage he is growling and my limp clothes are sufficiently entertaining.

Poor Murphy was supposed to be our therapy dog. He is ultra-cute when he is calm, playing fetch has no ill effects, he recalls very well, loves being touched all over, and he is now amongst the most polite of dogs while we prepare his food (I count that as a win). He follows many commands for a 9 week pup including stand, sit, walk (at my side with or without a leash - I count that as a win too), ... .; but mere seconds of tug unleashes an entirely different animal!

His trainer recommends we continue with tug, but my wife is now actually depressed about the change it triggers in our ball of fluff puppy - she is currently avoiding us both because she cannot deal with the effects of a wolf-summoning "game" and that is heartbreaking. Meanwhile my hands sting continuously from the artefacts created by sharp puppy teeth.

I was able to type all of this because he is currently innocently sleeping on my feet. I need help in the form of a technique that will bring him under full control while he is still small.

My assumption is that he needs more exercise, but his joints are only 9 weeks old and he is not yet vaccinated. It may be a moot point but I do not think he is actually biting. Sometimes he painfully grabs my hand, enough to cause teeth marks, but he has so far always released without drawing blood - the actually bloody wounds I carry stem from his head thrashing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
981 Posts
Keep working on training, daily! He sounds like he is named appropriately, but in time he will turn out to be a really good dog, if you train him well. I would suggest some leather gloves, when he nips and you don't pull back, it will change the rules...it might help! Good Luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I would suggest some leather gloves
Good idea, thanks.

Good Luck
I don't need luck, I need help!

In the closing hours of today, after putting Murphy to bed and taking a shower, I discovered Murphy outside my room despite the fact that this meant he somehow passed my 99cm high BabyDan stair barrier. Is this puppy at all natural? :(

(it appears he somehow opened it)
 

·
Super Moderator Leader
Joined
·
50,850 Posts
Do you have a crate?
Whenever you can't watch him such as when you want to take a shower or are going to be away from home, crating him would keep him confined and safe.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,089 Posts
He's a baby trying to figure out his world. There are sport trainers who would kill for the dog you describe! A dog that loves to tug is one that has a reinforcer other than food (this may eventually work in your favor). One thing that stood out to me is that it sounds like maybe you are giving him more freedom than a 9 week old should have. My puppies (up until age 4-6 months, or until I trust them not to get in trouble in the house if I'm not supervising 100% of the time) are in an ex-pen in the kitchen any time I am not directly interacting with them. If while I have them out to play or train my puppy gets ramped up or mouthy, then he is calmly returned to his pen. When he settles, he can come back out and we try again. Also, tug is only reinforcing if you tug back (assuming it's the tugging he enjoys and not just possession of the toy). If he wants to tug, then if he bites you, let go and end the game. Basic learning theory (negative punishment) = bad behavior makes a good thing go away. The idea is that you reduce his ability to engage in the behavior you don't like and reduce or eliminate any reinforcement associated with that behavior.

Above all, don't fuss too much about this behavior. Overall, he sounds like an awesome little pup and it sounds like you are doing a terrific job with his general training. As I said, he's a baby puppy trying to figure out his new world. There will be MANY challenges coming your way in the next couple of years (research "landshark phase" if you aren't already familiar with it!), but it's likely that with kind, consistent training, boundaries and a lot of patience, he will grow up to be an awesome pet.

Some resources for you:
  1. Google "Dog Tug Garrett" for some articles and pod-casts on tugging by Susan Garrett. She is a sport dog trainer who uses tug a lot as a reinforcer but I believe she has quite a few articles about how to teach tug, teach the tug release, etc. She also has a ton of good stuff on puppies, crate training, etc.
  2. Kidnapped From Planet Dog - Whole Dog Journal
  3. It's a Puppy, Not a Problem
  4. Life with Rune
 
  • Like
Reactions: Howler

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Do you have a crate?
Whenever you can't watch him such as when you want to take a shower or are going to be away from home, crating him would keep him confined and safe.
I have a 42" crate but Murphy is now accustomed to using that space for travel. I lift him in/out of the car, and he loads/unloads himself from the crate - its generally working and means we can all get going from inside our small garage (not enough space to open all car doors).

The whole of the downstairs of my house happens to be puppy proof, so I consider it confined and safe. The only thing he changed there was the houseplants because he was eating them.

On the shower/stair incident: I did not hear Murphy because I was in the shower, but apparently he cried and rattled the stair gate for ~15 minutes before overpowering the lock - its quite a complex mechanism so he must have been bending the whole metal frame. He was panting and thirsty when I discovered him on the wrong floor and had clearly exerted himself.

We are now working on a new command, "Bath", which is what we impose on him every time he walks into our bedroom. It is very tiring for us to keep washing and drying him, but he doesn't like it so hopefully he will learn to weigh up the pros/cons of trespassing. We are trying something similar with his biting/tugging, but he seems to be a slow learner on these fronts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
There are sport trainers who would kill for the dog you describe!
Interesting observation. He is actually descended from international and grand champions; probably not the right choice for a therapy dog :(

If he's not going to grow less demanding then we are in trouble..
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,089 Posts
If he's not going to grow less demanding then we are in trouble..
Don't despair! The forum is full of posts from folks who have dogs anywhere between puppies and two years old who were at their wits end with their dogs and most matured to be perfectly fine, loving pets. That said, if you can post your dog's registration number, one of our UK members might be able to see if he comes from high-drive lines that historically produce dogs that may need a "job" their whole lives. In the meantime, exercise, training, management and consistent boundaries will be your friends!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Howler

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
That said, if you can post your dog's registration number, one of our UK members might be able to see if he comes from high-drive lines that historically produce dogs that may need a "job" their whole lives.
I would prefer not to disclose details because I am ignorant of the security impacts, but please tell me more about this "job" thing.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,089 Posts
There is absolutely no "security" impact in sharing your dog's registration number, it's done here all the time. The only reason someone might not want to share it is if the breeder isn't reputable (e.g., didn't do the proper clearances on their breeding stock, is running a puppy mill, is a back yard breeder, has unethical business practices, etc.), in which case those will be called out in this public forum and may "get you in trouble" with your breeder (only you can decide whether you care). Another option would be to send it via private message to one of our UK members if someone wants to volunteer to check it out for you (American/AKC dogs can easily be checked by many of our members, but not all of us are familiar with equivalent databases in the UK). Then the discussion is only between you and that member. Totally up to you of course...

As far as needing a "job" - Goldens were originally bred to spend all day hunting with their owners, with corresponding levels of energy and stamina. Over the years, many breeders have focused more on breeding lower-key family pets. Breeders who focus on breeding dogs who excel at hunting, agility, competitive obedience, or other "jobs" tend to produce dogs who require more exercise and training than the average pet (or therapy) Golden typically requires. That said, it's not just reputable breeders of working dogs who produce dogs that would benefit from having a job. The dog in my Avatar came from a back yard breeder. He had an extended "land shark" phase and there was a period where he frustrated me enough that I was tempted to return him to his breeder. He grew up to be my "heart dog" and we had a very successful agility and rally career, but to his dying day the boy was intense and not a dog who would settle well in the house without a pretty significant dose of exercise.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
He is from a line of working dogs. My intention was always to give him plenty of exercise, but he is still too young to be fully vaccinated so he cannot yet go out, and I did not anticipate "tug" being his treat.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,089 Posts
There are tons of ways to exercise both his body and his mind even if he's not "out and about" yet. Basic manners training can do both for sure. Calling him back and forth between you and one or more family members would give him exercise and a foundation for a reliable come (keep him on a long line so he doesn't learn that come is an optional command). I'll give you some links to ideas, but there are likely many more online that can be found through a simple Google search.

Shaped by Dog with Susan Garrett (Susan Garrett podcasts on a wide variety of training topics)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Howler

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,992 Posts
One thing that stood out to me is that it sounds like maybe you are giving him more freedom than a 9 week old should have. My puppies (up until age 4-6 months, or until I trust them not to get in trouble in the house if I'm not supervising 100% of the time) are in an ex-pen in the kitchen any time I am not directly interacting with them. If while I have them out to play or train my puppy gets ramped up or mouthy, then he is calmly returned to his pen. When he settles, he can come back out and we try again.
I'm the same with my girls. Molly only had access to half the living room and the kitchen under supervision until this week when we opened the rest of the living room up (and we're only doing that cause she's almost 7 months old and hasn't had an accident is like 100 days so I think we're good on not having to scoop her 50 lb butt up and run for the door like we would have before she was potty trained). And if we're not watching her, she is in a crate. The only non-supervision time she gets is outside for the two minutes it takes me to find a jacket and put on shoes.

On the shower/stair incident: I did not hear Murphy because I was in the shower, but apparently he cried and rattled the stair gate for ~15 minutes before overpowering the lock - its quite a complex mechanism so he must have been bending the whole metal frame. He was panting and thirsty when I discovered him on the wrong floor and had clearly exerted himself.
FWIW - Molly accidently jimmied the lock on our baby gate. You have to lift the gate a little get the bar out of the 'lock' mechanism and it'll open. Well she was trying to crawl UNDER the gate and she accidently lifted the gate enough to push it open and then it was all "omg i'm free!" running around the bedroom.
We are now working on a new command, "Bath", which is what we impose on him every time he walks into our bedroom. It is very tiring for us to keep washing and drying him, but he doesn't like it so hopefully he will learn to weigh up the pros/cons of trespassing. We are trying something similar with his biting/tugging, but he seems to be a slow learner on these fronts.
IMO - that is setting yourself up for problems down the road. You don't want a dog that associates bath time (or any water time really) with punishment. Cause then you have a problem when you DO have to bathe the dog and you get those ridiculous videos of owners throwing their backs out dragging their dogs to the tub (or worse you create a fear reaction that a groomer has to deal with).

He is from a line of working dogs. My intention was always to give him plenty of exercise, but he is not yet vaccinated so cannot yet go out, and I did not anticipate "tug" being his treat.
A 9 week old doesn't understand the game or the rules. So the core of training at this age is teaching them rules by marking EXACTLY when they do the right thing and then rewarding them for it. Have you tried the food in the palm exercise? Puppy wants what is in the hand, but doesn't get it until they sit down and stop trying to get it. Then they are rewarded from your other hand. Eventually you build up to being able to have food in your open palm without the puppy lunging for it. This is impulse control. For me, this works hand-in-hand with other training. Sit. Down. Touch. Take it. Bring it. Drop/Give it. etc. If you find your puppy is lunging for your hand when you have food, get on the floor with them. Lana used to bite my hand in training when she went for the treat but my hand was too high so she was jumping for it and it was causing problems. As soon as I dropped my treat giving level, the biting went down dramatically. And don't be afraid to shove the treat in their mouth. Doing the "nothing in life is free" can be helpful for you too. The "NILIF" Dog Training Approach: Nothing In Life Is Free (dogmatters.com)

As an aside, you learn as you go with puppies. What works for one might not work for another. We used a little spray bottle with water in it to correct the kitten. Thought it would work on Molly. Nope. it just ramps her up. Like a gremlin. BUT what we've been doing it pairing it with the phrase "Party Foul!" b/c it does get her to stop whatever she's doing and redirects her to me. Granted it's all teeth and trying to eat the bottle but baby steps. Now when she's misbehaving if I yell "party foul" she comes to me expecting the water bottle (which is rewarding to her). Helps when I need her to stop chewing her sister's ear off. And it's 100% ok to put the puppy in 'time out' so you both can cool off and regroup (which is why crates are recommended, but xpens are helpful too). Basically you want to be able to put the puppy behind a barrier and give them the space to relax. Goodness knows when Molly was younger (and even some days right now) Mama needs a break. It's as much for your benefit as it is for the puppy's benefit. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
A 9 week old doesn't understand the game or the rules. So the core of training at this age is teaching them rules by marking EXACTLY when they do the right thing and then rewarding them for it. Have you tried the food in the palm exercise? Puppy wants what is in the hand, but doesn't get it until they sit down and stop trying to get it. Then they are rewarded from your other hand. Eventually you build up to being able to have food in your open palm without the puppy lunging for it.
That is all fine. He will complete his commands for a treat and he does not jump or bark. He is very well mannered at meal times and is able to sit and wait his turn. The problem is that, in his mind, tugging is more rewarding than any pea-sized treat. Problems start after meals when the value of pea-sized treats are further diminished.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,992 Posts
That is all fine. He will complete his commands for a treat and he does not jump or bark. He is very well mannered at meal times and is able to sit and wait his turn. The problem is that, in his mind, tugging is more rewarding than any pea-sized treat. Problems start after meals when the value of pea-sized treats are further diminished.
How much are you feeding at each meal? Cause we feed what I consider a full meal and I've never one had either of my goldens turn the nose up at a treat. So either they are eating too much dinner (unlikely) or you need to change your treat game. Even carrots get their full attention.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
How much are you feeding at each meal? Cause we feed what I consider a full meal and I've never one had either of my goldens turn the nose up at a treat. So either they are eating too much dinner (unlikely) or you need to change your treat game. Even carrots get their full attention.
It's not that he dislikes any kind of food - he will follow any command for a blueberry. I have not tested anything less tasty, but I imagine he would follow any command for a toilet paper spitball!

The problem is tug. Once tug starts his behaviour snowballs until he goes rabid and out of control. I can initially control the "game" by showing the toy, setting a command such as "Murphy, Sit" and then sharing the toy with him. It starts just like in youtube videos on puppy training!

After a very short time he becomes engrossed and completely ignores all commands, as well all food treats. He then charges at people with the toy in his mouth, or drops the toy creates a new makeshift toy on arrival. I am able to recover the "game" by taking back the toy and starting again, but each iteration is fiercer than the preceding one.

Today he jumped at me, dropped his toy, and tore a hole in my shirt under my arm. I ended the session by picking him up and locked him behind the barrier. While I was carrying him out of harms way my hands were out of reach of his snapping jaw and he was bashing the back of his head against my face. That is nothing like anything in youtube videos on puppy training!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Just an update: We have long hypothesised that his extreme interest in tugging stems from teething, and we have been trying out various chews for weeks - most are pointless and he either just eats them or doesn't like them.

WildFang cheese arrived today and appears more successful. In the short time he has had the cheese it has fully occupied him and he is now sleeping it off. Fingers crossed this is the answer..
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top