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 Post subject: growling on leash at other people
PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:53 am 
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I have an adorable 4 mo. cocker who is doing so well in all other aspects of training and growing up, but I'm struggling in one area. He acts like a vicious guard dog on his lead. Of course he is beautiful so when I take him for walks everyone wants to come up to him and pet him. My plan had been to have him sit when people approach, but now as soon as anyone bends down even remotely near him he growls fiercely and tries to nip! It's awful especially with children! He will let my three children pet him on lead. Any ideas on how to correct this? What do I do when he does this? I want a pleasant and well mannered dog.


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 Post subject: Re: growling on leash at other people
PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:56 am 
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It sounds like you just need to socialize the puppy more. My puppy was a bit snappy the first week we got her (at 9 weeks) when we took her to her first vet visit. Our vet recommended breaking these negative qualities as soon as possible and we enrolled her in puppy training. And she is now a really well socialized dog (both with people and other dogs). I would recommend the same for you all to take the puppy through puppy training classes. Our trainer gave us the homework of having our puppy meet 100 people. We didn't keep track of it but we made sure to always introduce her to new people, from inviting people over to our place or walking her around the pet store, neighborhood where she was meeting more people.


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 Post subject: Re: growling on leash at other people
PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 5:05 am 
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The other day I took him up to school and he did a little better. I made sure to tell the kids to let him sniff them first. I guess I wasn't as specific in my question, so here's another one. How do I act\respond when I'm socializing him? That's what I'm attempting to do and I feel like maybe I'm behaving in some way that could be wrong? When he growls and tries to nip on the lead how should I correct him? I've tried getting down and petting him along with the kids. That's all I can think to do.


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 Post subject: Re: growling on leash at other people
PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:48 pm 
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Well, I have a few suggestions... first of all, the more matter-of-fact you can be about new situations, the better things are likely to go with your pup, as they really do take lots of cues from their people. If you are tense and anticipating trouble, the pup will sense that and likely not respond in a positive way.

Second, be careful that you are not rewarding negative behaviors, i.e. petting/coddling when he's been naughty. Slight withdrawal on your part is far more effective, then when he seeks you, have him sit before you pet him, i.e. he earned that positive attention by doing what you asked. Then you can both move on. I would continue to be down close petting him with the kids, as you need to protect them and him both.

Last, keeping the lead high and out of reach- hold it straight up, the shorter the better- of a nipping puppy is a real art and one that you'll want to master sooner rather than later, as buying new leashes is both annoying and expensive. Keeping good control of the leash, and using a short, clipped "No!" when he goes for it should work. One, he'll out-grow the desire to bite it in half and two, he'll learn to respect your connection, because that is what the leash represents.

Good luck, and enjoy! They grow up so fast.

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Chris
Mom to
Cricket, home 1-29-2012 - 3-29-2017, 5 yrs, 2 mo of Love
Sophie, 10-22-2015, home 9/19/15-
---------------------------------------
Maggie Mae: home 9/1/2014 - 3/31/2015, 7 mo of Love
Feather: 3/23/1994 - 11/17/2011, 17 yrs, 8 mo of Love


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 Post subject: Re: growling on leash at other people
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:20 am 
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Hi!

Congratulations on your pup! Enjoy this time ...they grow so fast! That's the good new and the bad LOL.. This is a stage and he will out grow it.. but you have to work with him. Obedience classes are an excellent way to go. I'd highly recommend and good puppy class or clicker class. Cockers respond best to positive reinforcement so be careful about the training methods of the class you choose.

You have a couple things going on here... first off he's a baby. He's teething, has poor manners, and is excitable. Not a good combo when an Interactive Squeaky Toy - AKA new people - want to greet him. Your Cocker is inadvertently getting rewarded for growling and nipping.... think about it... he lunges ... those IST's react... Mom reacts ... pup enjoys getting people to react... what FUN for puppy.

How is his behavior when off leash at home? Does he lunge and nip at your hands and feet? Does he jump up on you or does he run away when you go to pet him? This leash behavior is probably also going on off leash too but because he's confined he's reacting more when on leash. So you need to deal with the behavior both on and off leash... in other words be consistent.

Most Cockers are food driven... some like toys. Use what works for your pup. Always have them with you in abundance. My dog is a foodie.... so I became a human Pez dispenser. What you want is to have the dog looking to you for clues for good behavior. To do that treat good behavior. Practice in the house...call his name if he looks at you... Treat. Call him, if he comes.. Treat. Ask him to sit, if he sits... Treat. Every behavior you see, that you like... Treat! Now when you walk with your dog outside and he starts going towards something, call his name... if he looks at you... Treat. If he comes... Treat. Ask him to sit and he does.... Treat.

There are dogs that simply don't like to be pet. My Chesapeake is one. I call her my cat in a dog suit. She's been like this from day one. I don't force it. When people want to greet her I tell them they are welcome to try. She won't bite but she also won't stand still. She goes back and forth like a cat. She is the friendliest, aloof dog I've ever seen. Only rarely will she like a person enough to stand and allow them to pet her.

You should be in control of who pets your dog and when that is permitted to happen. So if they ask... you tell them that your pup is in training and if they are willing to help by following your directions - and if the puppy cooperates - then they will be permitted to pet him. Don't allow them to come running up to him. Use a low calm voice. Tell them to let him get a chance to calm down... in the meantime you are keeping his attention with treats. YOU are the only one who treats him at this point. If he growls or nips ... get his attention... call his name if he looks at you... Treat. Call him, if he comes.. Treat. Ask him to sit, if he sits... Treat. LOL. If that isn't working take him away from the source of his reward. Walk away to the point where he calms down... then slowly edge closer again. This will take time and patience. (http://www.amazon.com/PetSafe-Lickety-1 ... B005CUU25G is a good treat to use to keep their attention while walking)

Just a note about children..... most are untrained. In other words be prepared to repeatively tell them how to touch/approach your dog. If they continue to ignore your instructions you will need to step up and protect your pup from them. I've been known to tell kids, that I know are a problem, that they need to have a parent with them to touch my dog. (I especially do this at stores where I don't know the kids). Most of the time their parents don't take the time to come and supervise their kids ... that's fine with me ... but they don't touch my dog!

Watch your dog. If he is getting too rambunctious, take him away. And last... it's easy to enjoy watching the interaction of your puppy with others... but try to leave while things are still going well. Don't push it. End on a positive note.

A final note... this is only one way to train... if it works GREAT... if it doesn't work for your dog ...keep trying. Don't be afraid to seek professional help if needed. And seriously consider a puppy class! Good luck!

_________________
Lisa R

Chesapeake NF, AX, AXJ (CGC)
4/20/10

The road to MACH is full of jumps and weaves....

Competing in Master Agility
Double Q's - 1
MACH Points -71
MX Q's - 2
MJX Q's - 2
(edited 12/16)


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 Post subject: Re: growling on leash at other people
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:07 am 
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Great advice from both Lisa and Chris! I can't add anything, except that I didn't know about the Lickity treats so I've been using regular kibble as training treats in order to avoid the high calorie dog treats and messing up Jennie's nutrition. I'll be trying the Lickity. It sounds much easier to carry than a pocket full of loose kibble. :lol3

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Susan

Mom to Jennie, born 4/24/2014, Gotcha Day 6/20/2014
Gone, but not forgotten: Honey, Punkin, Lady, Dusty and Chief


"If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers


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 Post subject: Re: growling on leash at other people
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 5:46 pm 
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I am not sure from your post whether your pup is just nipping as in puppy biting from excitement, or whether he is actually being serious about it. From your description though it sounds like he isn't happy about people petting him.

Great advice there from Lisa R. General control as others have suggested is good and important (using positive reward based training, not force), but I would also get other people to give him treats. For now, I wouldn't want them to give him treats directly from their hands as that would mean they would need to get in his face, which is the last thing you want. But I'd want them to just drop treats on the ground in front of him, but otherwise ignore him. Once you can see that he anticipates the treats and goes towards people, then I would get them to give him the treats directly provided that his body language is relaxed and he approached them, and not the other way round.

If you don't nip this in the bud now by socialising him (controlled) lots and by getting him to make good associations with other people, then it could be a problem as an adult dog. It won't rectify itself.

As others have quite correctly pointed out, make sure that people don't approach him if he is not happy about it. Growling at them is telling you and them that he is not happy with it, so you need to respect that but address the underlying problem by treat training.

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BSc, Canine Behaviour and Training, APDT UK & Pet Professional Guild

Mum to Flash (Saluki), Jesse (American Cocker Spaniel), Skye (English Cocker Spaniel) and Blake (Saluki Lurcher). RIP Troy and Dylan!


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