Puppy behavior

From reading the posts of others I guess most of these are normal puppy behaviors, but still, I'm looking for reassurance. I have my my 12 week old puppy in a basic puppy class. In the first class we learned "sit" and "down" both of which she can do successfully for treats. Second class we started working on leash walking. I don't think my puppy (zoey) is understanding what I want from her. I realize that basenjis aren't the easiest to train and I don't care about having a perfectly behaved dog, but leash walking is pretty important to me.

Also, a problem I'm having is nipping… How do I discourage this behavior? I know they say to yelp and then turn away but she will continue to nip even after you turn your back to her. It's playful behavior but she goes crazy! She attacks my daughters clothes...while she's wearing them!

I promised her breeder that I'd try to show her. Ive never shown a dog before so it's all new to me, but I can't imagine having her ready to walk on a leash and do the "pose" show dogs are supposed to do by 6 months of age!

I know this is a lot of issues...I figured I'd put them all in one post.

All help is welcomed.

@Lisa67:

From reading the posts of others I guess most of these are normal puppy behaviors, but still, I'm looking for reassurance. I have my my 12 week old puppy in a basic puppy class. In the first class we learned "sit" and "down" both of which she can do successfully for treats. Second class we started working on leash walking. I don't think my puppy (zoey) is understanding what I want from her. I realize that basenjis aren't the easiest to train and I don't care about having a perfectly behaved dog, but leash walking is pretty important to me.

Are you working with the leash at home? I think puppy class can be an awfully distracting place to work on new behaviours. At home, you could lure her or target her to walk at your side. Once she has an idea of what you want, it will be easier to maintain the behaviour with the distractions of class.

@Lisa67:

Also, a problem I'm having is nipping… How do I discourage this behavior? I know they say to yelp and then turn away but she will continue to nip even after you turn your back to her. It's playful behavior but she goes crazy! She attacks my daughters clothes...while she's wearing them!

I know the perceived wisdom is to ignore the behaviour or yelp and quite playing with her. Sometimes that doesn't work. Personally I would restrain the pup…...gently......until she stops it. Then let her go. It may take a few repetitions before she starts to get the message. Do not let her go if she is struggling! Hold her until she is quiet, praise her for being good, then release her (her reward for being quiet). Same principal as not letting them out of a crate when they are fussing. My friend who breeds large breed dogs starts this early with her pups. She teaches them that if they are being held, they will not be released until they are quiet and passive. Makes for nicely mannered dogs down the road when they could easily use their strength to break away from you. They don't, because the puppy training sticks!

Have fun with the showing! I showed one of mine because the breeder wanted her finished. At the time I lived in Northern Ontario, she wasn't socialized because we didn't see many other dogs, and I had no opportunity or desire to do handling classes. She was a riot. I was an inexperienced handler, and she spent all her time either chasing the dog ahead or turning to look at the one behind. She still won, however. 🙂
Despite her bad manners, at the Sighthound specialty she took Best of Opposite when she was a senior puppy, beating 5 champions, including another bitch belonging to her breeder who had taken Puppy in Show the previous year! Her daddy went BOB and her half brother Best of Winners. It was a great day for her breeder. 🙂

We are working on it at home. The trainer has me starting with her on my side in a sitting position, then using treats, leading her so the leash is loose. She demonstrated on a huge swiss mountain dog and it looked easy…but with a little puppy I'm walking all hunched over to give her the treats. I think that if she could figure out what I want from her, she would do it.

I think that your suggestion of restraining her when she nips makes a lot more sense than ignoring her. What we are doing now only seems to make her go more crazy. Fortunately, she doesn't nip hard, but I think it's a behavior that should be discouraged.

Are you still showing your dog? I have been to exactly one dog show and that was last week. It was fun to watch. Funny story about your puppy!

No, that was back in 1983! No more showing since I finished that girl. Have you investigated clicker training and targetting? Using a target might help you with the loose leash walking. Also, with a clicker it would be easier to gradually lengthen the time you require her to walk properly before being reinforced with a reward. I think puppy class is a mixed blessing. Good for them to get the socialization and yes, they need to work with distractions, but it's a lot for them to take in at first. Basenjis are also not the easiest breed to work with, because they don't really have that inbred instinct to try to please you. Other things in their environment may be far more interesting to them than you are!

I agree about the puppy class. Good for socialization but way to distracting (although I must say, I think she's doing the best in the class, LOL). I've looked at clicker training. I'm barely coordinated enough to carry the treats and walk the puppy. I don't think I could master the clicker too. The trainer suggested using the word "yes" in place of the clicker. Same concept I guess. What is targetting? A method?

Another behavior that I'm not crazy about is that every time I walk toward her, either to pet her or take her outside, she darts in the other direction, trying to get away from me. I think she associated me comming toward her with going out in the cold to pee. I'm trying spend more time going to her to pet her and give her a treat.

Lisa,

A good introduction to clicker training, along with some great advice on games to play that help you and the dog get used to it is the book "When Pigs Fly" by Jane Killion… very informative and easy read, with plenty of great advice on training "hard to train" dogs. I got it on my iPad for $9.99, but I think it's also available from DogWise for about $15 for a hard copy!

=Nate

You are going to get lots of different suggestions. I for one disagree with restraining the pup. Pups nip…that is how they got their littermates attention. Ignore is a way during play to get them to stop, but remember they have the attention span of a nat.... 2 seconds and then they forget what it was they were not suppose to do. So it is a constant thing. They really do get the idea of not nipping using the yelp/ignore method. At least all the pups I have had it did. It just doesn't happen overnight.
When teaching to walk on a lead, I take them out and use the command Lets Go and start to walk, the instant that I get the right behavior I praise and then continue on. If the incorrect behavior, use a word correction (if jumping and nipping) like "off". And remember it is going to take time.... and lots of patience.
Instead of walking towards her, call her to you to pet/treat or if time to go out. Don't always have the same end results when you did (meaning don't also take her out when she does come)... same with walking towards her, walk towards her, speak to her and then walk right by....

Targetting involves rewarding the pup for touching a "target", which can be a stick or a ruler or your hand…..whatever you like. Easily taught with a clicker and can be taught without. Then you can invoke "target" while holding the object.....stick, ruler, hand.....where you want the pup's nose to be. Reward when she touches the target. You can then use it to indicate where you want her to walk.

Yes, do try to walk up to her frequently just to pat or reward her, or give her a nice massage, so that she associates your approach with good things, not just going outside which she currently finds unpleasant. Sometimes, take her right to the door as if you are going out, but then just treat or pet her and release her. (with hard to catch horses, it's wise to catch them just to give a treat, then release them. So they never know when it is work or just a treat) Of course, call her to you but not if you think she isn't going to come because she doesn't want to go out. You don't want to mess up your recall this way.

I am going to respectfully disagree with Tanza about restraint. I know many on this board don't agree with it. Certainly there are other things you can try instead......distraction is good if it works, ignoring is good if it works......but bottom line, it is unacceptable for a pup to nip and if she doesn't learn this while she is young it can turn into a biting dog later on. Her litter mates would bite her back, but of course you don't want to hurt her, only teach her that nipping has an undesirable result, be that being ignored or being restrained. When she ceases the undesirable behaviour, the fun comes back. I find some pups/dogs get so carried away playing, they get rough and need some sort of "time out" to settle down and become reasonable again. (if it sounds like little kids, yeah, it is. As with young children, you sometimes just need to remove them from the situation and keep them quiet until they regain control of themselves) It goes without saying that nothing rewarding should ever come from nipping or biting. Reward the calm behaviour you desire. 🙂

Littermates STOP play when bitten to hard, they yelp/scream, hence ignore. Restraint as in hold/pinning/rolling a puppy leads to confrontation in which the human rarely wins.

What part of NY are you in? I used to live in Newburg and had trainers in the Hudson Valley that were good for teaching conformation.

@tanza:

Littermates STOP play when bitten to hard, they yelp/scream, hence ignore. Restraint as in hold/pinning/rolling a puppy leads to confrontation in which the human rarely wins.

That has not been my experience, However I agree that it's best to use "ignore" as a starting point. But ignoring a pup that doesn't cease and desist with the nipping isn't a good idea, IMO. If the pup continues to nip at you, it is finding something reinforcing in the action. I don't wish to be looked on as an animated chew toy! Gentle restraint has always worked for me, and I release the pup as soon as it is quiet. The result, in all cases I have experienced, is that the pup learns to relax, as that immediately gains her what she wants. If the nipping resumes, I repeat, but it doesn't usually take many times for the pup to learn what leads to cessation of play and what doesn't. I do use a warning word, such as "ouch", before the restraint, and find that soon that is all it takes.

If yelping gets your puppy excited, then try different sounds. My current ~12 wk puppy doesn't respond as well to a high pitched yelp sound like my last puppy, it just gets him more excited. So now I breathe in and make an exclamatory shocked sound like "OMG, I can't believe you just did that, I'm so upset" I have no way of describing it other than that, lol. I also turn my head away, chin up, with an upset look on my face. And play close attention to what you are doing while she is continuing to nip. I've found if I have my hand above my pup's head at times, that turns him into shark mode, so I don't do that if he is excited. It takes time, I wish it was faster but she will learn if you continue. My other dogs have great bite inhibition so I'm going to assume what I did worked. Only comment I will make about the "pinning the puppy approach" is that it won't teach the puppy how to control his bite pressure as he is chomping down on your skin, so from that perspective it's not an approach I would want to use. You goal is not to just stop the nipping you are also trying to teach bite inhibition at the same time.

Regarding showing, you don't have to start right at 6 mo. That is just as early as you can do it for points. Take more time if you need it to get started. I highly recommend the book "Positive Training for Show Dogs" http://www.positivetrainingforshowdogs.com/

Also, if a pup nips hard 3 times and isn't paying attention to your exclamation of pain and ignoring them then it is time for a time out. Put them in their crate or exercise pen usually it means they are over tired and once they have a moment to calm down they will fall asleep. If they aren't over tired then they are probably over stimulated so the time out will help them get themselves back under control.

My two puppy boys are 8 weeks old and they ignore each others' signals that they are biting too hard when they are over tired. Usually if we put one to bed then put the other to bed they will go to sleep.

There are many different ways to train loose leash walking. I like training it in a class with distractions and for my baby puppies that is really where they learn what a leash is. I took my boys to class for the first time this week and the only thing we worked on was loose leash. We started just standing in place and click/treat for loose leash. Then we would like a step and when the puppy followed we click/treat again when the leash is loose. The boys were walking pretty good with me and my husband for most of the class. I also like using a long line for loose leash, it really seems to help them understand that being near me is the behavior I want since they have the choice to go quite a distance from me but are only get a click/treat if they are close enough for me to touch them. Make sure you are using really yummy treats in class, it helps you to compete with the distractions. Many people bring kibble or other so-so treats that the dogs are happy working for at home but can't compete with the excitement of class.

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