Saturday, January 31, 2009

Difficult Dogs & Puppies/Tired/Submissive Peeing

I wish that I could stop feeling so tired so much of the time. I wrote another post about our puppy a few days ago, but didn't have the energy or drive to proof read and post it. I may later, if I can get out of this gloomy mood. We'll see. The post was about how we have had project after project to do in relation to our new puppy.

The reason why I'm so tired, though, is because our new puppy, Shasta, has returned to his habit of not sleeping through the night. My husband, Ray, just recently built him a box out of Masonite for him to sleep in. He was sleeping in a card board box, but that wasn't working after awhile because he was beginning to eat the cardboard. I'm wondering if the Masonite bottom is not as comfortable for him as the cardboard was. He is restless at night and sometimes doesn't get to sleep until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

It really does seem that Shasta is mostly potty trained, yet he did pee in the house Yesterday. He tried to hide it under the table this time, which is a good sign because it shows that he is genuinely ashamed and knows he did wrong.

I didn't think that we had a problem with this thing called "Submissive Peeing", which is when a dog pees when the "Pack Leader" either arrives home, yells at him or her or is too rough with him or her. I didn't recognize this because apparently, even though I've probably been spending more time with Shasta than Ray has, I'm not the one that Shasta considers the Pack Leader. Though Shasta is difficult for either of us to control, he does appear to respond more at times to Ray's deeper, more masculine and authoritative voice, than to my more feminine, higher pitched voice. He doesn't pee when we arrive home, nor even when we yell at him, but Ray thinks he does it when he plays too rough with him. Apparently, he gets too excited and it scares him a little.

When I play with him and get him all excited by throwing the ball across the floor, Shasta handles this fine and doesn't pee, so I disregarded the "too excited" idea, yet I'm not the trigger. Ray is. Apparently, I'm not the pack leader according to Shasta. Figures. Our previous dog, Casper, favored me, but I guess I can't always be the one chosen. Oh well.

Interestingly, I thought I was going to write about feeling discouraged, but I wrote about the dog again instead. One day, I hope to be past all this puppy stuff and actually have a dog. Maybe one day I'll actually have a life again. Oh well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Impossible Dogs & Puppies/Play Biting & Jumping

When we arrived back from our trip, late Saturday afternoon, we actually decided not to pick up our dog from the boarding facility. This is when I realized how much I was enjoying our break from him. He is a Samoyed. We named him Shasta and he is the most difficult puppy that either my husband or I have ever owned. We were driving past the facility prior to 5:00 PM and could have picked Shasta up. If it had been our previous dog, Casper (a Samoyed Mix), we would have eagerly picked him up, but when my husband, Ray, suggested picking Shasta up, I told him that I was feeling very tired and needed a break from him. He agreed. The following day, we were both feeling sick, so we left Shasta at the boarding place until Monday afternoon. The first day, he was eager to see us, obnoxiously energetic and demanding of our constant attention.

Shasta has been a very difficult puppy for several reasons. He still play bites too hard, he needs two to three walks a day, he can be quite destructive, he wants to be with us constantly and he still, even to this day, is not yet potty trained.

When I first started this post, I thought I was going to tell you everything about our problems training Shasta, yet it appears that I have more to talk about than can be expressed in one post, so perhaps this is going to be another series. Shasta is getting better, but BOY, has this ever been a long hard struggle!!

Play Biting

There are several trains of thought on Play Biting. Some people say that a puppy should not be allowed to bite at all and others say that they just need to learn "Bite Control", which means that they need to learn not to bite too hard.

"Bite Control" is learned by watching the reaction of the victim. It was suggested that we just yell out "No Bite!", "Stop it!" or even just "Ouch!". With our previous dog, Casper, all that was required was the soft command "Easy". Shasta, however, is another matter. He doesn't respond to any matter of yelling. It is really hard to get him to quit. When he gets all excited, he doesn't seem to be able to help himself. He's gotten better, but is still bad at times.

"Don't bite at all"? I've read at least one comment on the subject that says that this isn't even possible. Play biting is just something that puppies do. This resource suggested that "Bite Control", needs to be established prior to 4 months of age. Oophs! Too late! He was 4 1/2 months old by the time I read that.

I've heard two ideas on trying to get the biting to actually stop. Some people say that all you have to do is hold the mouth closed and say "No Bite!". We tried this too no avail. Occasionally, he would bite softer for awhile, yet in a short time, the biting got hard again. Then I watched the vet use this approach. She held his mouth shut for what must have been a full minute and even lightly snapped his nose once in order to get his attention. She said that you have to keep holding him still until he calms down and stops struggling. This actually worked for her, so I concluded that I just wasn't holding the mouth shut long enough. In order to hold the mouth shut effectively, you have to get a hold of the back of the dogs neck and hold him still. The vet had the advantage of my husband, Ray, also holding the dog. When I tried to duplicate what the vet did, this is when the real battle began.

By 4 1/2 months old, Shasta was already big enough and strong enough to put up a big fight. He thought the whole thing was a game. He would jump up and bite my hands and arms and than jump away so that I couldn't grab his neck. This practice would occasionally rip my cloths, so I couldn't ever wear anything nice in his presence. Once I finally did grab him, I had to push him down to the ground and hold his mouth shut. It was a considerable struggle to do so. Once, I had to pin his head down to the ground with my arm around his neck and even so, he would struggle significantly before he would stop. You would think after all this, it would be enough, yet believe it or not, when he finally did calm down and I let go of him, he jumped up and bit me again, as if very eager and willing for round two in our "fun little dog fight". I was not having fun and you would think that he would know that by the very angry tone in my voice.

The other approach to the play biting problem is to ignore and turn your back to the dog. There were times in which this actually worked, yet even this did not stop the biting at the heels while walking away from him. After awhile, I had to ignore him every time he bit me and never pet him or touch him in any way until he licks my hand. Even this did not produce immediate results, but he has gotten better.


As to the jumping and biting, sometimes I focus more on the jumping than the biting and when he does jump, he gets a knee in his stomach.

In relation to the jumping, aside from the knee in the stomach, another approach is to step on the back paws. Shasta is usually at an angle, though, that makes this approach difficult. Some other approaches are to teach the dog to come and than sit, or to refuse to pet the dog unless he has all four feet on the ground.

I'm considering something else too. What I like is when Shasta stands next to me and leans against me so I can pet him. He doesn't do this near often enough, so what I'm considering doing now is adding this to his treat training routing. He already knows sit, stay, come and lay down. He won't do any of this without a treat, though. Whether than teaching him to come and sit, what I'd like to teach him is the command "Come Here", while emphasizing the word "Here" because it sounds sort of like "Heel". I've just barely started adding this to the training routine. He has to sit, stay, come and then I say "come Here", while patting my legs and when he doesn't respond, I pull him over into the desired position and pet him while saying "Good Boy!" and giving him his treat. Even this position is different than jumping. I'll let you know later whether or not this works.

Like I said before, when I first started this post, I thought I was going to tell you everything about our problems training Shasta, yet it appears that I have more to talk about than can be expressed in one post, so perhaps this is going to be another series. Shasta is getting better, but BOY, has this ever been a long hard struggle!!