Help! My sweet,calm 5 month old puppy is out of control! - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 12-03-2010, 05:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help! My sweet,calm 5 month old puppy is out of control!

I have had Shepherds in the past but it's been awhile since having a pup and I didn't have small children then.
I have a 5 month old female that I started training basic sit, down, stay and come at about 8 weeks old, she's been doing fine.
I did clicker train her and used treats, something that I never did before and had mixed feelings about the treats
Anyway we have a nice acre lot with our home sitting in the middle of the lot and it's all fenced off. She also spends time in a large crate in our laundry area off and on during the day and at nighttime.
My main problem is that she is no longer responding to me; coming when called, telling her no, and lying down when there is no treats in hand. She also is becoming a huge pest with my boys ages 6 and 4 are outside trying to play. She is jumping, running circles, licking thier face and nipping at hands and ankles for attention. She is now bigger and today we got a good scratch close to an eye. She is also being a huge pest to my Pug dog. She is always trying to stand over him and when he moves she nips him like crazy sometimes it can get ugly. I try and not strongly react but be firm with my commands.
At first I was able to control this behavior but it's not working anymore and seems to be getting worse.
I do train her a few times a day and we play fetch to burn off some energy but it can be a challenge as well and sometimes I have to ignore her to get her to return the toy back to me.
I have tried using the NILIF training for the past few days by making her sit (this seems to be the only thing I can get her to do) before letting her out and back in, petting, eating........
I did read that some people put the dog up and ignore them for a while before starting this training. Do you think that this would be helpful for us?
I know that these developing months can be very formative and I don't want to make matters worse.
Should I just put her up with the boys are outside?
And suggestions would be appreciated
Thanks,
Kako's mom
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Old 12-03-2010, 05:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Does she get a walk every day? A good long walk helps a lot.
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I do walk her but not daily. I'm going to try that. I already started and took her and they boys for a good walk. She seems a bit humbled out of her yard and is stimulated by the different sights and sounds.
Hoping it well help.
I'm up for any suggestions
Thanks for your advice.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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She's coming into her teenage years! Haha, but don't worry too much...you do need to try to keep a handle on it but she will grow out of the stubbornness.

I agree that you should have been hesitant about the treats, from puppy hood I trained Rambo (also five months as of last week) using only praise and holding his favorite toys hostage. I want him to respond because he WANTS to respond because he knows it pleases me, and because thats the "order" of things--not simply because there may or may not be a treat.

The problem with treats is that as you ween them out--especially once you stop altogether, sometimes command response will also become extinct. since you're already using treats, the best way to make sure these responses don't become extinct is to randomly award treats. Sometimes there is one, sometimes there's not...then the dog is less able to choose if she wants a treat (always having one allows her to decide the boys running around is more tempting, never having one lends to the "theres nothing in it for me" thinking, randomizing the award should almost ALWAYS work)

As for the nipping at the boys and stuff, this does need to be taken care of. I personally would deal with a situation like that with an electric collar. If you've been against them before don't be turned off right away. These ARE effective training devices that have a right and a wrong way to use them.

Rambo knows all his commands, but with distractions around sometimes it's like im not even there! A very low setting (get one that has a dial you can quickly turn up and down) is enough to very quickly get his attention. He went through a stage where he was becoming very dog aggressive at the park, I'm not exaggerating, in ONE day we were able to eliminate that. He greets dogs eagerly now, not aggressively, but no more nipping/barking.

Note that I'm not taking the time to go into detail on the correct way to use the collar, etc, because that's too much for this post, but if interested there is tons of info on it.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Oh and I forgot to mention, make sure you have the boys working with her on commands as well--daily they should be working with her just like you do on the basics. Have them use the same "randomly assigned" treat tactic if you find that to help.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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if she is only five months i think you still need treats to make it effective, my GSD is 7 months and i tried not using treats and he stopped responding, so im using them again every other time and it works very well.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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She needs more mental stimulation. Running, jumping being a pest is what puppies do. I would get her into a group training class and lay tracks with her meals so she can work her mind some.
She should get all her meals from your hand(or your family) by working for it in one way or another.
Walks are boring for the most part, GSD's need to do more than that.
I would ramp up the NILIF and be consistant with it. If your boys are old enough to understand, all family members should work on that. The pup should know that the boys aren't littermates and by them practicing NILIF too, she will see that they are her leader. When she is ramped up on the kids, let her know she "won the crate" and happily take her there for a chill out.
I would hold off on the e-collar for a bit, there are other ways to teach her that the kids are to be respected.
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Old 12-04-2010, 01:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr89 View Post
I agree that you should have been hesitant about the treats, from puppy hood I trained Rambo (also five months as of last week) using only praise and holding his favorite toys hostage. I want him to respond because he WANTS to respond because he knows it pleases me, and because thats the "order" of things--not simply because there may or may not be a treat.

The problem with treats is that as you ween them out--especially once you stop altogether, sometimes command response will also become extinct. since you're already using treats, the best way to make sure these responses don't become extinct is to randomly award treats. Sometimes there is one, sometimes there's not...then the dog is less able to choose if she wants a treat (always having one allows her to decide the boys running around is more tempting, never having one lends to the "theres nothing in it for me" thinking, randomizing the award should almost ALWAYS work)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with using food rewards in training, and if done properly you will not to always need to have treats handy for your dog to comply. That's one of those myths that just won't die.

The rate of reinforcement should be very high at the beginning of training each behavior, then as it becomes reliable you can start to move to a variable reinforcement schedule. Think of a slot machine - we stay engaged because we never know when we'll get a reward or how big it will be. Variable reinforcement can actually make a behavior stronger because the dog tries harder and harder to get a reward, knowing at some point they're going to hit that jackpot. That can also work against you - if she sometimes gets attention for bad behavior such as jumping on you, she's going to keep trying it until it works again because there's a history of it working for her in the past. Imagine if a slot machine paid out every single time, and always the same amount - that would be pretty boring and predictable, wouldn't it? And then suddenly it stopped and you got nothing at all. Why would you continue to play?

For behaviors that are solid, (sit?), and fully generalized to all situations (will she sit in front of you toe to toe AND at your side, up close AND at a distance, indoors AND outdoors, when you're standing or in a chair or sitting on the floor, with your back turned, when she's in the car or at the vet's office?) you should be on a variable reinforcement schedule, and then you can start to eventually phase out food rewards for that behavior. A happy "good girl!" would be sufficient at that point. I like to pair praise with whatever other reward I'm using (food or toys), and continue that as the rate of reinforcement drops.

If her sit is perfect and immediate in the house but falls apart outdoors, then the rate of reinforcement should still be very high when you're training her outside until her compliance matches that of when you're working with her in the house. Don't even think about rewarding her variably or phasing out treats entirely for that command until you're at that point.

Any time you change the picture for her by adding distance, duration, or distractions, you are making it much more challenging, and for her, it's entirely new. Dogs learn situationally and don't generalize well - YOU may know that "sit" means for her to always plant her butt on the floor/ground no matter where she is or what she was doing previously and no matter where you are in relation to her, but I guarantee you that unless you've trained it that way, in a variety of different situations, she does not yet understand that. And until she does, she's going to need a little extra help from you by upping the reinforcement under those circumstances. When I'm training a new puppy one thing I like to do is work in a different room every day - the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, the entry, hallways, the bedroom, the garage, and yes - even the bathroom! I'll sit on the office floor to train, on the couch in the living room or a chair at the breakfast table.

As Onyx'girl said, up the NILIF, be consistent, and make sure that everyone is on board with the program. You want her to understand that if she wants something she ALWAYS has to do something for you first, no exceptions.

Quote:
I did read that some people put the dog up and ignore them for a while before starting this training. Do you think that this would be helpful for us?
I think you're referring to Social Isolation, but you don't actually put the dog away - it's not physical isolation, the dog just becomes invisible. I have done this once before and it worked extremely well, but it's very hard to do and I don't think you really need it. Would your kids even be capable of completely ignoring her and pretending she doesn't exist - no looking at her, no talking to her, no touching her, no interacting with her in any way? Even pushing her away if she jumps on them or telling her "no!" is attention, which is reinforcing the behavior. I did it for two days with Cassidy who we didn't get until she was a week or two younger than your girl is now. She had no manners and no training and was already a big puppy who could jump on the furniture. She did not take me seriously and thought we were playing whenever I tried to get her to do anything.

I do use timeouts when puppies get so wound up that they stop listening to me and won't calm down - it's like putting an overtired and cranky toddler down for a nap. Everybody gets a little break. Try to think of everything she does that you don't like, and how she's being reinforced for it, and then change that. Think of everything she does that you like and want her to do more of, and how you can reinforce that. Make good behavior work for her to get what she wants and bad behavior stop working. Manage her environment so she has less opportunity to practice bad behavior and get reinforced for it. If you know she goes over the top and gets out of control when everybody is outside together, your kids and the other dog, then don't take them all out together or put her on leash. The more she's allowed to do this, the more firmly entrenched the behavior will become and the harder to get rid of.

Don't expect her to come when called when she's outside unless she ALWAYS comes to you immediately in the house - put her on a long line outside so she isn't able to blow you off, and do a lot more work on your recall in less distracting places. I like to call the puppy and then run backwards a few feet, rewarding with happy praise and a treat. I usually work off leash in the house, but you could put her on leash if that works better. Make chasing you the most fun game, not playing keep away and having you chase her.

Work on self control around food and toys - sitting calmly with eye contact is what makes it happen for her. Keep treats on you at all times, catch her in the act of doing things you like, then mark and reward her for it. The more she's rewarded for any behavior, the more she's going to offer it up. This is called "capturing", and a clicker works very well with this technique. You don't give any commands, you just reward the good things she's already doing. I do a ton of capturing with a new puppy - every time she looks at me, click/treat. Every time she comes to me, click/treat. Every time she lays down, click/treat. Build the behavior you WANT, don't just try to get rid of the behavior you DON'T want. Acknowledge her when she's calmly laying on the floor chewing a bone or playing with a toy: "Good girl, chew your bone!" BE FUN!!!
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Cassidy gave some excellent advice. It sounds like you might need to work on her training more outside and work on distance, distractions, etc. Just remember do not try to work on all of them at once. Work on distance first then when good at it work on distractions. Many times people try to add everything at one time and it just becomes confusing to the dog. And treats work well, my boy is 1 yr and he responds well without treats. You will know when the time is right to give them up.
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I agree, that was some great advice Cassidy...I'm going to take some of that advice myself if I do say so
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