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Benson
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Benson (now 17 weeks) has been doing brilliantly with play and training, he is getting plenty of time with us and we consistently use the same words, same training approach and he really is a bit of a star (mostly!). When he jumps us, we turn our back on him and as soon as he sits (usually straight away), we reward with lots of "well done's" and a piece of kibble. So far so good. Three times now however, (twice with me & once with my partner), he has suddenly changed. His pupils dilate (eyes look black) and become squarish in shape and he jumps up frenetically, biting at our clothes, arms, back of legs. Turning our backs just means bitten legs/trousers. I have managed to stop this twice now, with throwing kibble behind him which directs him away from me. The second occasion (in town!) I had to physically carry him to my car and bundle him into his crate, all the time talking calmly to him (to no effect - torn clothing on that occasion). He did it this morning with my partner, who said he was a little 'bitey' this morning when he came out of his crate (he's usually gentle as a lamb). Then just down the lane (we are very rural), he leapt at Peter etc etc. He's been 'edgy' all day, but I've carefully monitored his facial expression and averted any escalation with 'hunt the kibble in the grass'. This is quite different from the zoomies which I know and are ok. It's directed at us and almost out of the blue. Any thoughts, understanding, advice, experience of this shared would be so very helpful. Thank you, Anne
 

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Of course, we cant see him so really can only give generic advice. Of course a dog can have mental problems, just as humans. But at 17 weeks that is very unlikely. Remember, he is still very much a baby. Biting is a very Labrador thing, and something which to a greater or lessor extent all Labradors go through. Below is something I wrote on the subject a while back.

I think it’s important that you understand whats happening. What you describe is so normal for Labrador puppies! Part of the problem is that they are so much a social breed, they love everybody and want to be with them. They want to play, and they want to involve their “human” in their game. And of course dogs cant play cards or computer games. Puppies are pre-programmed at birth to play “War Games.” This is equipping them for their future in the wild, catching their food and defending themselves and their pack. Puppies, and many other creatures in the wild will practise and hone their skills on each other. I’m so lucky in that I have a private wood that I can walk in and often in spring I’ve stood and watched Fox cubs playing these war games. They have no intention of hurting each other, just have a lovely game.

But then onto domestic dogs, and thats where things all go wrong. We take our puppy out of the nest and away from his siblings at around 8 weeks old, just about the time when the pups are beginning to get active, starting to think about things other than eating and sleeping. So his natural actions now would be to play his war games, but he has no siblings to play those games with! So effectively you are the surrogate sibling! In the wild this is where he would start to learn bite inhibition. As a baby he would have no idea that biting hurts! How could he? So he nips his sibling a bit hard, brother says, “Oye! Pack it in! If you are going to play rough I’m off!” In other words he walks off and leaves his brother. Brother soon works out that biting too hard hurts and finishes the game. Particularly if it’s him that gets bitten too hard! So the pups start to learn to control their biting.

This is where the theory of “Time out” came from. It’s us trying to replicate what would happen with puppies naturally in the wild. “That hurt! I’m not playing anymore!” So you stand up, turn your back on the pup, get your hands up high so there is nothing for the pup to take hold of. But you have probably noticed that things are worse in the evening. Just like children, they can lose a certain amount of self control when they get tired. All day you are busy so they spend a large part of the time sleeping, but in the evening, when you want to sit quiet, resting from the day they want to play. And as they get tired so the play gets rougher. I have always made a point of popping my pups into their crate at about 7pm for an hour, so they get use to having an hours sleep in the evening, and I get a chance to recharge my batteries. Interestingly this has built a habit which has continued for all of my dogs lives. Every evening they put themselves to bed and we all have a rest.

Why do they single out one particular person? Because they think that person is nice, so they want to play, and play in the only way they know. So really, much as you dont want it, it's really a compliment! Your puppy feels happy and confident with you.

I know puppies are hard work, and the alligators can make your hands really sore, but believe me, it does get better. Yes my dogs still love to involve me in their games, but it’s now lovely. Amy takes hold of my wrist so gently and leads me to where she wants to go, or Chloe will take hold of one finger to involve me in her war games, but oh so gently. Somehow you never notice things getting better because it is a slow change in pressure. But one day you realise your hands are no longer sore and you cant remember the last time you told him to pack it in. Given time they become the most wonderful of creatures.
 

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What food is he on? What he eats can have a direct influence on behaviour.

When I got my first Labrador puppy she was such an easy pup and grew up into a lovely young adult, that I went back to the same breeder and got a half sister. I thought, being close relatives, they would be fairly similar. I couldn't have been more wrong. Tau had me tearing my hair out, I looked like I self harmed and she just literally used to run rings around me in the living room. She finally mellowed when she matured at three years of age, and having had her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter now, although there are similarities there are also differences. Also, having had a couple of litters I can tell you pups play rough, the noises they make are absolutely spine chilling when they get going.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Of course, we cant see him so really can only give generic advice. Of course a dog can have mental problems, just as humans. But at 17 weeks that is very unlikely. Remember, he is still very much a baby. Biting is a very Labrador thing, and something which to a greater or lessor extent all Labradors go through. Below is something I wrote on the subject a while back.

I think it’s important that you understand whats happening. What you describe is so normal for Labrador puppies! Part of the problem is that they are so much a social breed, they love everybody and want to be with them. They want to play, and they want to involve their “human” in their game. And of course dogs cant play cards or computer games. Puppies are pre-programmed at birth to play “War Games.” This is equipping them for their future in the wild, catching their food and defending themselves and their pack. Puppies, and many other creatures in the wild will practise and hone their skills on each other. I’m so lucky in that I have a private wood that I can walk in and often in spring I’ve stood and watched Fox cubs playing these war games. They have no intention of hurting each other, just have a lovely game.

But then onto domestic dogs, and thats where things all go wrong. We take our puppy out of the nest and away from his siblings at around 8 weeks old, just about the time when the pups are beginning to get active, starting to think about things other than eating and sleeping. So his natural actions now would be to play his war games, but he has no siblings to play those games with! So effectively you are the surrogate sibling! In the wild this is where he would start to learn bite inhibition. As a baby he would have no idea that biting hurts! How could he? So he nips his sibling a bit hard, brother says, “Oye! Pack it in! If you are going to play rough I’m off!” In other words he walks off and leaves his brother. Brother soon works out that biting too hard hurts and finishes the game. Particularly if it’s him that gets bitten too hard! So the pups start to learn to control their biting.

This is where the theory of “Time out” came from. It’s us trying to replicate what would happen with puppies naturally in the wild. “That hurt! I’m not playing anymore!” So you stand up, turn your back on the pup, get your hands up high so there is nothing for the pup to take hold of. But you have probably noticed that things are worse in the evening. Just like children, they can lose a certain amount of self control when they get tired. All day you are busy so they spend a large part of the time sleeping, but in the evening, when you want to sit quiet, resting from the day they want to play. And as they get tired so the play gets rougher. I have always made a point of popping my pups into their crate at about 7pm for an hour, so they get use to having an hours sleep in the evening, and I get a chance to recharge my batteries. Interestingly this has built a habit which has continued for all of my dogs lives. Every evening they put themselves to bed and we all have a rest.

Why do they single out one particular person? Because they think that person is nice, so they want to play, and play in the only way they know. So really, much as you dont want it, it's really a compliment! Your puppy feels happy and confident with you.

I know puppies are hard work, and the alligators can make your hands really sore, but believe me, it does get better. Yes my dogs still love to involve me in their games, but it’s now lovely. Amy takes hold of my wrist so gently and leads me to where she wants to go, or Chloe will take hold of one finger to involve me in her war games, but oh so gently. Somehow you never notice things getting better because it is a slow change in pressure. But one day you realise your hands are no longer sore and you cant remember the last time you told him to pack it in. Given time they become the most wonderful of creatures.
Many thanks John - I am taking heart that I have managed to 'read' his facial expression on two occasions now when he has looked strained and pupils dilating, and have headed of this behaviour with gentle kibble hunting. We have had a lovely day today - lovely walk where he sniffed to his hearts content and sat quietly watching the grazing sheep. Then post sleep, we played, trained and chewed, after an hour and a half, I popped him in his crate and he settled immediately. I will persevere. Your experienced encouragement is very much appreciated though, thank you once again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What food is he on? What he eats can have a direct influence on behaviour.

When I got my first Labrador puppy she was such an easy pup and grew up into a lovely young adult, that I went back to the same breeder and got a half sister. I thought, being close relatives, they would be fairly similar. I couldn't have been more wrong. Tau had me tearing my hair out, I looked like I self harmed and she just literally used to run rings around me in the living room. She finally mellowed when she matured at three years of age, and having had her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter now, although there are similarities there are also differences. Also, having had a couple of litters I can tell you pups play rough, the noises they make are absolutely spine chilling when they get going.
Many thanks for responding. You've clearly had a wide and varied experience. As a first time dog owner, I am having to really build my confidence (and make sure he doesn't pick up any apprehension in me). Benson is on Skinners Field and Trial puppy kibble with a small supplement of Forthglade wet puppy food. (apologies if I should not have named a brand, other brands are available!). The same as the breeder fed him. There are various treats he has, but I haven't really varied these. However, what he snuffles up on his morning walk is another matter altogether - mostly horse manure though, and again, this is his daily snuffle 'treat' (despite my best efforts to 'leave it'!!!).

I was very careful with him yesterday, after his morning outburst and watched his face carefully. He was without doubt a bit of a grouchy tired boy, but I didn't over stretch him and we even had a successful recall training session on the long lead on the local town green (lots of helpful distractions). Today, he lolluped out of bed as a gentle soul, and has remained so to this point. As I said to JohnW, I will really pay attention to when this happens and do my best to avert/stop the onslaught. He needs to learn it is not ok, doing it as a puppy is one thing, as a full grown adult, something entirely different.
 

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They get like toddlers when they're over tired, and have what you would equate to a tantrum but it's an overly giddy fit with a puppy and their teeth can come out at that point, it's not real aggression as such, just pushing their limits when they're tired.

Skinners isn't bad, a lot of people with working bred Labradors use it. Forthglade is also fine, I use this with my girls when they have kibble and a bit of wet mixed in. I would watch the treats, things like Bakers bacon sizzlers are loaded with rubbish, mine only get either biscuit treats or natural treats like sausages which I use for some training.

Another thing to watch is over walking them at this age, they need very little in the way of on lead walking except for training manners on lead. What happens if you walk them too much is they build up stamina which means they don't necessarily settle down as quickly as they might otherwise do. I concentrate on training basics up until about 9 months of age, and then start more walking and training at the same time. Training wears them out mentally which helps them settle down more quickly when they are tired and need to have a snooze. You're absolutely right that he needs to learn that the jumping and nipping is not ok, so definitely stop any interaction with him at all when that happens, even pushing them away is positive to a Labrador, any sort of physical contact is what they crave so stop any interaction, if needs be leave a trailing lead on him and pop him in a room where he can calm down without doing any damage.
 

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I like Skinners as a company, they plough a lot of money back into dogs in sponsorship of (particularly) working gundog events. Field Trials, Working Tests and the like. Although I dont normally feed it, a friend is concessionaire for another brand of working gundog food, which I buy at very favourable price, I did win a sack in a gundog working test one day, and and my dogs liked it and seemed to do well on it. As a point of interest, foods sold as working dog foods are rated at zero VAT which helps to keep the price down.

Tarimoor said about not over exercising. This was something I wrote on a vet's page, when he named me as the "Inventor" of the 5 Minute Rule.

Let me tell you about the 5 minute rule, and how it came into being. There has always been the question about how much exercise a puppy needs, balancing muscle development against the risks of joint damage. Going back probably 30 years one of the first general dog forums was Champdogs and at the time I was posting on there. (Champdogs is still in being, though I’ve not posted on there for nigh on 20 years.) I also used to go on an American working gundog site, and the question of exercise also came up on there, and one person wrote, “I give 5 minutes exercise for every month of age.” And I thought, “What an elegant solution!” steadily increasing exercise as muscle develops, developing the muscles in a controlled way. Next time the question arose on Champdogs I quoted it calling it “The 5 minute rule” So I never invented the idea, but I did coin the phrase.

But what does that entail? When a puppy is trotting around the garden it can stop at any time, crash out and sleep. There is nothing wildly exciting in the garden, nothing it’s not seen a hundred times before. So the pup is not over stimulated, no reason why it should not stop for a rest. That is NOT part of the 5 minutes per month.

But now look at going out for a walk. The lead goes on and you and your pup start walking. However tired the pup gets it has no choice but to keep going for as long as you do. Add to that the adrenalin rush, he’s out in the big wide world, new sights and sounds, new scents to sniff, he wont even be thinking about feeling tired, a puppy in new surroundings is likely to continue on long after it should stop. So don’t rely on pup telling you it’s tired because it won’t. It’s YOUR responsibility to take charge, to control the situation.

To me, particularly in the early days the exercise period is also the training period, and that training includes heel training, obviously, and also sit stays. But while the dog is sitting quietly it’s not exercising, so thats not part of the 5 minutes. Also I like to sit on a seat in the park, or maybe a fallen tree, with my pup sitting or laying beside me watching the world pass by. It’s still training, it’s training patience! Something young pups are not endowed with, so all good practise, but again it’s not physically tiring so not part of the 5 minutes. We none of us want our dogs to be hooligans, but during the walk it’s likely I’ll meet other dog walkers so we will stop for a chat, another great training opportunity, We can talk with my pup sitting quietly beside me, so again it’s not doing anything so again it’s not part of the 5 minutes. This also gives me time to sum up the other person’s dog and decide whether it’s going to be ok to allow them to have a little hoolie. (But of course that IS part of the 5 minutes!) Keep the training light, make it fun and your pup wont even realise that it is training. All in all, for a 3 month old puppy I would be looking at 15 minutes of exercise, but that 15 minutes will probably take me between 30 and 45 minutes!

And that was the 5 minute rule, envisaged by me when I coined the phrase all those years ago. It was never meant to be a hard and fast regimented rule, just guidelines to give the inexperienced owner something to work to. You can probably do this twice a day with no ill effects, providing there is a decent resting period, and if you happen to do a little much in the morning, then cut the afternoon walk down a little to balance it off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
They get like toddlers when they're over tired, and have what you would equate to a tantrum but it's an overly giddy fit with a puppy and their teeth can come out at that point, it's not real aggression as such, just pushing their limits when they're tired.

Skinners isn't bad, a lot of people with working bred Labradors use it. Forthglade is also fine, I use this with my girls when they have kibble and a bit of wet mixed in. I would watch the treats, things like Bakers bacon sizzlers are loaded with rubbish, mine only get either biscuit treats or natural treats like sausages which I use for some training.

Another thing to watch is over walking them at this age, they need very little in the way of on lead walking except for training manners on lead. What happens if you walk them too much is they build up stamina which means they don't necessarily settle down as quickly as they might otherwise do. I concentrate on training basics up until about 9 months of age, and then start more walking and training at the same time. Training wears them out mentally which helps them settle down more quickly when they are tired and need to have a snooze. You're absolutely right that he needs to learn that the jumping and nipping is not ok, so definitely stop any interaction with him at all when that happens, even pushing them away is positive to a Labrador, any sort of physical contact is what they crave so stop any interaction, if needs be leave a trailing lead on him and pop him in a room where he can calm down without doing any damage.
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I sort of know that it's not aggression (if he was really biting me, there would be blood!). I can see the stress on his face. Again, yesterday evening, there was a point when I thought 'this could go horribly wrong', so, armed with kibble, I did the snuffle rug with him in the long grass (in our garden). Worked a treat, sanity was restored and I was able to calm him right down so that when he went into his crate, he just plonked down into snooze land.
Re the treats, I weigh out part of his daily kibble allowance into a separate treat pot, with a small amount of extras, which are all healthy options, no 'bad' stuff. And carrots too, frozen - he loves them. Thank you again for your support. Anne
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I like Skinners as a company, they plough a lot of money back into dogs in sponsorship of (particularly) working gundog events. Field Trials, Working Tests and the like. Although I dont normally feed it, a friend is concessionaire for another brand of working gundog food, which I buy at very favourable price, I did win a sack in a gundog working test one day, and and my dogs liked it and seemed to do well on it. As a point of interest, foods sold as working dog foods are rated at zero VAT which helps to keep the price down.

Tarimoor said about not over exercising. This was something I wrote on a vet's page, when he named me as the "Inventor" of the 5 Minute Rule.

Let me tell you about the 5 minute rule, and how it came into being. There has always been the question about how much exercise a puppy needs, balancing muscle development against the risks of joint damage. Going back probably 30 years one of the first general dog forums was Champdogs and at the time I was posting on there. (Champdogs is still in being, though I’ve not posted on there for nigh on 20 years.) I also used to go on an American working gundog site, and the question of exercise also came up on there, and one person wrote, “I give 5 minutes exercise for every month of age.” And I thought, “What an elegant solution!” steadily increasing exercise as muscle develops, developing the muscles in a controlled way. Next time the question arose on Champdogs I quoted it calling it “The 5 minute rule” So I never invented the idea, but I did coin the phrase.

But what does that entail? When a puppy is trotting around the garden it can stop at any time, crash out and sleep. There is nothing wildly exciting in the garden, nothing it’s not seen a hundred times before. So the pup is not over stimulated, no reason why it should not stop for a rest. That is NOT part of the 5 minutes per month.

But now look at going out for a walk. The lead goes on and you and your pup start walking. However tired the pup gets it has no choice but to keep going for as long as you do. Add to that the adrenalin rush, he’s out in the big wide world, new sights and sounds, new scents to sniff, he wont even be thinking about feeling tired, a puppy in new surroundings is likely to continue on long after it should stop. So don’t rely on pup telling you it’s tired because it won’t. It’s YOUR responsibility to take charge, to control the situation.

To me, particularly in the early days the exercise period is also the training period, and that training includes heel training, obviously, and also sit stays. But while the dog is sitting quietly it’s not exercising, so thats not part of the 5 minutes. Also I like to sit on a seat in the park, or maybe a fallen tree, with my pup sitting or laying beside me watching the world pass by. It’s still training, it’s training patience! Something young pups are not endowed with, so all good practise, but again it’s not physically tiring so not part of the 5 minutes. We none of us want our dogs to be hooligans, but during the walk it’s likely I’ll meet other dog walkers so we will stop for a chat, another great training opportunity, We can talk with my pup sitting quietly beside me, so again it’s not doing anything so again it’s not part of the 5 minutes. This also gives me time to sum up the other person’s dog and decide whether it’s going to be ok to allow them to have a little hoolie. (But of course that IS part of the 5 minutes!) Keep the training light, make it fun and your pup wont even realise that it is training. All in all, for a 3 month old puppy I would be looking at 15 minutes of exercise, but that 15 minutes will probably take me between 30 and 45 minutes!

And that was the 5 minute rule, envisaged by me when I coined the phrase all those years ago. It was never meant to be a hard and fast regimented rule, just guidelines to give the inexperienced owner something to work to. You can probably do this twice a day with no ill effects, providing there is a decent resting period, and if you happen to do a little much in the morning, then cut the afternoon walk down a little to balance it off.
Thank you John, that is good to know about Skinners. Re the 5 minute rule - so helpful, I know about the rule and have been worrying that we are doing too much with him. However, when you detailed the reality of your walk (30 - 45 mins with all the chatting, sitting, stopping for a good sniff etc) I felt a lot better. We are actually out about half an hour in the morning and that includes a short run across a small field (he runs, but it is a bimble run, not the manic dash of the zoomie), sitting on a seat (or two), watching the sheep (he went through a field of sheep this morning and ignored them completely! Apart from their poop of course), and chatting (me) with a neighbour. So all in all, we are probably not overdoing it too much. But I will absolutely keep an eye on it.
We just got back from the village hall coffee morning, where he met two more dogs (both black Labs) and all went well. I was a little apprehensive as I thought it would be too busy, but is wasn't and everyone was very friendly and helpful with him there. He is now sparked out!
Your thoughts (and those of Tarimoor) are really appreciated. Thank you. Anne
 

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The calling in at the coffee morning was so useful. It's mentally tiring but without the muscle tiredness. Here is another little thought for you on this theme which might help. I file these old posts away, because they come in useful so often.

SOCIALISING:- That much misunderstood word!

What do people think of in human terms, when talking about socialising? Going out to the pub or clubbing, a wine or beer or two, dancing and chatting up the opposite sex!! So is it surprising that people, when talking of socialising a puppy think along the same lines? But really, that is not what canine socialising should be all about. Socialising is simply the wrong word for what we should be doing. Familiarising is a far better word, learning to meet and deal with all things the pup is going to come across in later life. Uncontrolled playing is not what should be happening, this is simply training your pup to be a hooligan! We want to be the centre of our dog’s life, not running off to play with every dog he sees, where the play becomes the focus and we become an afterthought.

Almost all people love to see a puppy, but few people like to see muddy paw prints on their nice clean clothes just as they are going out shopping. But they are their worst enemies, making a fuss of the puppy one day then complaining about muddy paws the next, and you go from, “That woman with the lovely Labrador puppy!” one day, to “That woman with the uncontrollable dog!” the next. Better for you to take control from the start, it’s your puppy and your responsibility. When people say to me, “Oh it’s all right, I don’t mind.” my answer is, but the next person might. Teach your pup to meet and greet with all four feet on the ground, then to sit quietly beside you while you chat about the weather or old Mrs so and so at number 46. Aim to be “The lady with that lovely calm Labrador!” That does not just happen, that comes with training. Exactly the same applies when meeting another dog. Dont stop all playing, but limit it and BE IN CHARGE! It finishes when you say. A minutes hoolie which finishes with you calling your dog too you, praising it for coming and then walking away together gives a wonderful feeling to both humans and dog. Remember what I’ve said so many times on these posts of mine, “Everything is a training opportunity!” Aim to be the place where your pup’s fun comes from, not other people and dogs.

Following on a little, I often talk about thinking about dogs in the wild. The nearest equivalent, behaviour wise, in the UK are fox cubs. I’ve often sat in my truck in the middle of the wood watching them play. But really. In this case there is no comparison between wild and domestic dogs. A wild pup will play, but really, only with it’s own littermates. Strangers would be chased off by the sire or dam. But the play period would not last long before leaving “home” and finding food becomes the priority. The pup would be forced to grow up and become an adult very quickly. Domestic dogs do not have the same priorities. Food is supplied without any work needed on the part of the dog. literally the dog does not need to even think! We do it for them. Domestic dogs have become the Peter Pan of the canine world, so don’t wait for them to become adult because in comparison with the wild canine, it aint gonna happen. Thats one reason why training is so important!

We all have different lives, do different things and want different things from our dogs. So even before we get our pup really we should be sitting down and thinking about what we want from our pup, and how best to get it. I work my dogs so they need to be familiar with livestock, sheep and cattle, birds, hare and deer. So I need to make a conscious effort to take my pup to places where she is going to meet them, so I’m able to teach her to leave them alone. Possibly if you love hiking then the same situation applies. Maybe if you live in a big city your pup might need to travel on buses and trains. As I said, think about your lifestyle and decide what your pup needs to know about. Maybe now you can see why I said that “Socialising” is the wrong word, and “Familiarising” is a so much better word. I saw a picture on here a while back, two dog walkers meeting, one says to the other, “You’re so lucky having such a well behaved dog!” and the other saying, “It’s strange, but the more I train the luckier I get.” You get out what you put in, and I don’t mean walking long distances, it’s all about quality, not quantity.
 

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With Ada we had to walk a fine line between getting her engaged and interested and getting her excitement levels dialled up to 100 where she'd become a horrible bitey jumpy monster! This was different to the overtired puppy biting we had when she was younger and was worst around 5-7 months.

Careful management was key, but I did end up leaving a jumper in the garden with her attached to the sleeves on more than one occasion whilst I sought refuge inside!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The calling in at the coffee morning was so useful. It's mentally tiring but without the muscle tiredness. Here is another little thought for you on this theme which might help. I file these old posts away, because they come in useful so often.

SOCIALISING:- That much misunderstood word!

What do people think of in human terms, when talking about socialising? Going out to the pub or clubbing, a wine or beer or two, dancing and chatting up the opposite sex!! So is it surprising that people, when talking of socialising a puppy think along the same lines? But really, that is not what canine socialising should be all about. Socialising is simply the wrong word for what we should be doing. Familiarising is a far better word, learning to meet and deal with all things the pup is going to come across in later life. Uncontrolled playing is not what should be happening, this is simply training your pup to be a hooligan! We want to be the centre of our dog’s life, not running off to play with every dog he sees, where the play becomes the focus and we become an afterthought.

Almost all people love to see a puppy, but few people like to see muddy paw prints on their nice clean clothes just as they are going out shopping. But they are their worst enemies, making a fuss of the puppy one day then complaining about muddy paws the next, and you go from, “That woman with the lovely Labrador puppy!” one day, to “That woman with the uncontrollable dog!” the next. Better for you to take control from the start, it’s your puppy and your responsibility. When people say to me, “Oh it’s all right, I don’t mind.” my answer is, but the next person might. Teach your pup to meet and greet with all four feet on the ground, then to sit quietly beside you while you chat about the weather or old Mrs so and so at number 46. Aim to be “The lady with that lovely calm Labrador!” That does not just happen, that comes with training. Exactly the same applies when meeting another dog. Dont stop all playing, but limit it and BE IN CHARGE! It finishes when you say. A minutes hoolie which finishes with you calling your dog too you, praising it for coming and then walking away together gives a wonderful feeling to both humans and dog. Remember what I’ve said so many times on these posts of mine, “Everything is a training opportunity!” Aim to be the place where your pup’s fun comes from, not other people and dogs.

Following on a little, I often talk about thinking about dogs in the wild. The nearest equivalent, behaviour wise, in the UK are fox cubs. I’ve often sat in my truck in the middle of the wood watching them play. But really. In this case there is no comparison between wild and domestic dogs. A wild pup will play, but really, only with it’s own littermates. Strangers would be chased off by the sire or dam. But the play period would not last long before leaving “home” and finding food becomes the priority. The pup would be forced to grow up and become an adult very quickly. Domestic dogs do not have the same priorities. Food is supplied without any work needed on the part of the dog. literally the dog does not need to even think! We do it for them. Domestic dogs have become the Peter Pan of the canine world, so don’t wait for them to become adult because in comparison with the wild canine, it aint gonna happen. Thats one reason why training is so important!

We all have different lives, do different things and want different things from our dogs. So even before we get our pup really we should be sitting down and thinking about what we want from our pup, and how best to get it. I work my dogs so they need to be familiar with livestock, sheep and cattle, birds, hare and deer. So I need to make a conscious effort to take my pup to places where she is going to meet them, so I’m able to teach her to leave them alone. Possibly if you love hiking then the same situation applies. Maybe if you live in a big city your pup might need to travel on buses and trains. As I said, think about your lifestyle and decide what your pup needs to know about. Maybe now you can see why I said that “Socialising” is the wrong word, and “Familiarising” is a so much better word. I saw a picture on here a while back, two dog walkers meeting, one says to the other, “You’re so lucky having such a well behaved dog!” and the other saying, “It’s strange, but the more I train the luckier I get.” You get out what you put in, and I don’t mean walking long distances, it’s all about quality, not quantity.
Another helpful 'filed post' John. Thank you for this. You've given me food for thought on two points; the attention of others (my need to ramp up the four paws on the ground - AND limit the number of people who 'love a puppy') and for Benson, the amount of time I let him romp with other dogs. The come back to me is a work in progress.
Yesterday afternoon we took him to our favourite grave yard (I know, sounds odd, but it's beautiful and overlooks a field of sheep), he was on the training lead happily not pulling and mooching around while we sat and contemplated life. After a few minutes I thought, he's quiet - popped my head around the side of the church to see and empty harness and Benson happily wandering off! Some enthusiastic recall on my part, aided by treats, and he came back - phew!
Thanks again, Anne
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
With Ada we had to walk a fine line between getting her engaged and interested and getting her excitement levels dialled up to 100 where she'd become a horrible bitey jumpy monster! This was different to the overtired puppy biting we had when she was younger and was worst around 5-7 months.

Careful management was key, but I did end up leaving a jumper in the garden with her attached to the sleeves on more than one occasion whilst I sought refuge inside!
So reassuring Ebygomm! A horrible biting jumpy monster says it all. And your post made me laugh! Careful management of mood and behaviour is the way forward. Thank you! Anne
 

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I would be wary of putting a harness on a puppy in particular, there are some studies that show putting any harness on a dog alters the gait, which isn't good for a developing skeletal system. I use flat collars and a lead or just a slip lead from pups being young xx
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I would be wary of putting a harness on a puppy in particular, there are some studies that show putting any harness on a dog alters the gait, which isn't good for a developing skeletal system. I use flat collars and a lead or just a slip lead from pups being young xx
Yes, I'm aware of those studies too. We started with a slip lead (advised) which was just ghastly due to his pulling. Sought advice from our trainer and she suggested Ruffwear harnesses which allow full movement of his legs and shoulders. He actually pulls much less now (due to training I think (hope!) rather than the harness). I'm going to look at the PerfectFit harnesses which apparently are good for the escapologist - which he is becoming! I do plan to go back to the flat collar and lead though at some point - maybe sooner rather than later. There is such mixed Information about collars versus harnesses in terms of neck muscle/structure problems and gait development (respectively). I most definitely will avoid the 'bar across the chest' harnesses though.
 

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I'm surprised a trainer has recommended a harness if I'm honest, the very first thing I was told with my first puppy was no head collars or harnesses, just a flat collar and lead; and then, as I've got more into the gundog training I've used slip leads more and more, even with a flat collar on, which I use when we're in public places where they have a collar and ID tag. But then I was still learning myself how to train a pup/dog back then, these days I don't generally go to a puppy trainer as such, but I do take advantage of other, more experienced trainers than me and go to training sessions to improve the handling of my dogs. Most recently I spent two days training with a lovely lady called Joy Venturi Rose, who has been breeding and training up dual purpose Labradors for a number of decades now, and is incredibly successful, something not many breeders can claim as they tend to focus on either the show or working side. Most of my puppy training is done off lead at first, teaching them to want to be with me, and that's not with treats but just interacting with them, and that's something you learn more of as you become more experienced with dog handling. Even now, when I see one of my pups they just want to sit on my knee, they remember my 'pup, pup, pup, pup, pup' call, and I even start them on a recall whistle when I feed them, although that isn't always carried on successfully when they go to new homes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm surprised a trainer has recommended a harness if I'm honest, the very first thing I was told with my first puppy was no head collars or harnesses, just a flat collar and lead; and then, as I've got more into the gundog training I've used slip leads more and more, even with a flat collar on, which I use when we're in public places where they have a collar and ID tag. But then I was still learning myself how to train a pup/dog back then, these days I don't generally go to a puppy trainer as such, but I do take advantage of other, more experienced trainers than me and go to training sessions to improve the handling of my dogs. Most recently I spent two days training with a lovely lady called Joy Venturi Rose, who has been breeding and training up dual purpose Labradors for a number of decades now, and is incredibly successful, something not many breeders can claim as they tend to focus on either the show or working side. Most of my puppy training is done off lead at first, teaching them to want to be with me, and that's not with treats but just interacting with them, and that's something you learn more of as you become more experienced with dog handling. Even now, when I see one of my pups they just want to sit on my knee, they remember my 'pup, pup, pup, pup, pup' call, and I even start them on a recall whistle when I feed them, although that isn't always carried on successfully when they go to new homes.
I will definitely be going back to the flat collar when Benson has stopped the pulling. My morning walk was probably about 80% non-pulling (so much more enjoyable for both of us!). And when he does pull, it is rarely the 'lunging' pull of a few weeks ago, so getting there! In the meantime, we're working on recall, with a whistle, which is making progress too. Difficult to know which choices to make sometimes. But your thoughts and advice are much appreciated, as we find our way through the puppy training maelstrom. No doubt I'll have further queries as the weeks go on! Many thanks, Anne
 

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We've happily used a perfect fit harness since Ada was around 14 weeks. Both the trainer we went to puppy class with and our gundog trainer recommended them. Be prepared to be randomly stopped by men and told how you will never get them to walk nicely with a harness, you should use slip/choke/half choke etc. Learn to ignore and not engage!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
We've happily used a perfect fit harness since Ada was around 14 weeks. Both the trainer we went to puppy class with and our gundog trainer recommended them. Be prepared to be randomly stopped by men and told how you will never get them to walk nicely with a harness, you should use slip/choke/half choke etc. Learn to ignore and not engage!
Hmnnn - the juries are clearly out on this one. There appear to be pros & cons on both sides. Thoughts and experience of noted and appreciated! Thank you, Anne
 

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Harnesses are the produce of slick marketing. Think about it for a moment. So many are advertised as helping with dogs pulling, but the dog does not read the label and say, "We dont pull when wearing these!" If it does help at all it can only be that it inflicts pain if the dog does pull. Exactly the same as it blames collars for doing. There is no other way it can work! Collars have been in use for hundreds of years. There are collars in the Kennel Club museum from the 1700's. Collars used properly will not harm any dog, fact. The whole point is to train your dog to walk on a loose lead. If you do it will not matter one iota what you use. I have a photo of my mother walking her dog with a collar and lead a hundred years ago, and I have never used anything other that collar and lead or slip lead during my going on 70 years in dogs.
 
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