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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First, thank you all on this forum who have helped me get through all these months. The support and encouragement I received here has been wonderful.

I was wondering if any of you guys can give me a heads up on what to expect from our now 5 month old puppy. Being first time owners I worried a lot (and expressed it in the forums here) but things have not been difficult at all. He is stubborn, there are days when we have good walks and days when he will refuse to move and just sit and watch our neighbor's horses. He is not always obedient, but he does obey alteast 80% of the time, even at a distance.

I would like to wait till he is atleast 8 months old before neutering him. What can I expect (so I can be prepared for handling it) during this time? I know that ideally I should wait till he is atleast 2 years old, but being first time dog owners I worry about being able to handle the growing strength and testosterone combination.

He is friendly with dogs in general, and most people. But I am worried about the dominance issue. How protective should I be as older male dogs do tend to be hostile/ aggressive toward him?

And lastly, I really need a referral for a good trainer in NJ to help me with the socialization aspect. I would prefer somebody who does not use a prong or pinch collar. He is very eager to meet other dogs. Yesterday at a get together, as I was opening the car door, he rushed out and ran before I could catch his leash because he saw another dog(which turned out to be hostile). I would like to train him to wait for my okay before he greeted and while on leash to approach a dog and ignore him if I just kept walking past.
 

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your pup is 5 months old. don't expect much. train and socialize consistently. you can train your dog not to door dash at home,
the car and the gate. older dogs know they can push your pup
around. set up some play dates with dogs that are his age or
with dogs that aren't aggressive towards him.
 

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You have socialized the puppy in the way that you consider puppy socialization to be done already (from the sounds of things.) Your puppy wanted to meet a strange dog, he wasn't hostile, but he got punished for it.

IMO you should now move on towards not socializing the dog by letting him meet other dogs, but by practicing engagement with your dog and training your dog to ignore other dogs and pay attention to you instead.

You should already be clued into why this is so: "How protective should I be as older male dogs do tend to be hostile/ aggressive toward him?"

Do not allow him to meet dogs you do not trust implicitly or you can easily have the opposite of your intended effect very very quickly. Save your money. Train him to ignore other dogs in favor of you, and then you will get what you really want.


"I would like to train him to wait for my okay before he greeted and while on leash to approach a dog and ignore him if I just kept walking past." Having him not able to interact with other dogs when he sees them and when he wants to, and having you be more fun than other dogs is what will achieve your intended effect.

There is no reason to just allow your dog to meet strange dogs. You shouldn't allow this to happen.

Also expect relapses in house training behavior from time to time. Just keep being consistent and stick with it if this happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks Bailiff, and doggiedad. You have given me food for thought. Just a couple of hours ago it struck me that I had made a huge mistake the past few days. I had our puppy in a situation where I got it to ignore other dogs and stay with me but did not bother to make up for it by playing or other engagement. I was chatting with people.

And today his behavior was terrible. He barked at running children(where as normally he would have just laid down and watched) and kept pulling hard to get close to them. He kept biting at the leash, my hand trying to get away.

I don't know what it would take to train him to be calm in all social situations.
 

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In a situation like that I would have been practicing long stays with treats. Then if you correct the dog he understands it was because he broke a long stay.

Puppies of that age (and dogs in general) need to be given tasks and assignments during idle time like that when nothing is happening. This is especially true of the high drive dogs otherwise they will go out of their way to find something to do.

Next time you think you will be in a situation like that take a pocket full of steak slices or some other high value reward and practice long downs and if you haven't practiced this sort of thing make sure you give rewards along the way for duration.

With this sort of thing you want to make sure you've practiced in several low distraction areas first ofc.

You'll also find that some dogs won't take food reward in a situation where strangers are around or kids are playing. That would be an indication your dog is under stress and you should take a step back and remove some of his stressors. You will know what they are because he will be focused on them and not you.

Eventually you can ratchet up the difficulty level and lower the rate at which you reward for the behavior. This will largely be up to you to feel out when it will be time for this, but expect hundreds of repetitions in many many different situations so that the dog generalizes the command (knows stay means stay everywhere). After that you can start correcting when he breaks the stay. Before that point you let him know you don't approve and guide him back on track.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
When you say correction, do you mean with a prong collar? I realize that I have no way of correcting our dog(except for saying no and leading him back to what it is I want him to do ) other than putting him in his playpen. I've tried staring at him, but this has no impact. Ofcourse, most probably my stare is not hard enough.
 

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If you haven't done long stays with him a stern no and leading him back to where he was should be enough. Or just a nope and then luring him back into position with a treat. Depends on how much experience hes had with it and what works. Prongs or even flat collar leash pops aren't used unless the dog is a bit older and you know 110% hes not doing what you want because you're being blown off.
 

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Hard stares are usually best used in combination with a verbal or physical correction. These don't have to be hard sometimes it is just hard enough to get his attention back on track (this many times is as simple and gentle as a hand on the shoulder). If I'm close enough to physically correct the dog with a little poke or pinch in the flank or neck to help get compliance I will go ahead and do this (when he knows exactly what he should be doing.)

A lot of this is going to depend on the temperament and hardness or softness of your dog. If your dog acts like you just punched it in the head for raising your voice on it then obviously you dial it back. If your dog takes a hard prong collar correction and looks at you like "what else you got?" then you gotta dial it up.

Have you tried doing long stays before? If not we should start by discussing how to motivate him and not how to correct.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Long stays would be only about 30 seconds while I walk away and come back, or call him. The other way I do which is much longer, is to just keep treating him for staying while I am sitting/standing next to him.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Oh, and I totally agree with not correcting until the command has been well established in practice.
 

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The other big thing is if you are correctly running him through groundwork, which is bootcamp style control of every aspect of his life (you should do this) you will find the dog respects you as pack leader and corrections can be much much less obvious. At that point you are more likely to be able to use hard stares or simple nopes or no's to get exactly what you want.

Once they see you as a respectable leader you don't have to do much to get exactly what you want because they want to please you. Any form of disapproval even subtle ones is able to cause a change in their behavior towards what you do want.

You can accomplish anything you want with a good solid groundwork routine. I've been letting my puppy sleep with me in bed since he was an 8-9 week old because he never gave me a reason not to. He didn't get off the bed at night, didn't want to soil where he slept so waited all night till he got taken out in the morning. I gave him as much freedom as I thought he could handle, while at the same time monitoring the **** out of him.

At the same time I will make sure that door is closed to the bedroom at night and he couldn't get off in the middle of the night and explore or get into trouble. I also would never leave him outside of his crate if I had to leave to do something and couldn't monitor him.

Anything he did I didn't like he knew it. Mouth a blanket? No. Mess with anything that isn't a "legal target?" No. Go out of rooms before me? No. Even all his games we play have structures and rules he has to obey.

The rules exist so that the dog has constant reminders about who is in charge. The rules you choose or choose to ignore are up to you. You can let dogs do things other people wouldn't, IE let them on the couch or bed or whatever, but always make sure they give up their space to you if you ask for it. This is a big one and maybe the single biggest way to show you are a leader is to maintain your own space as well as be able to ask for their space. A dog who doesn't respect you will not move for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
What is a good book/ material that will help me establish good groundwork/ habits? Now that the pup is 5 months old there are things I wish I had done differently right from the beginning because I know better now. Some of it is quite commonsense but not apparent. And some would come out of experience.

I do see what you say about the dog giving up their space if you ask, and how it is okay to let the puppy on the furniture or in your bed. I have thought about this but we are keeping things simple because of the kids.

About moving, sometimes when he lies down in a doorway or hallway, I have to pick up the leash and walk him or command go to place to make him move. Is this okay? I have never felt that he was guarding the space, merely settling down where he can be a part of all the people and activities happening in different rooms.

I do wonder about the puppy sleeping in our bedroom or outside the kids' bedrooms in its own bed. Right now he sleeps in a crate downstairs. Would it make for better behavior with the kids and closer to them if he slept with them?
 

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This is groundwork for puppies. Start here

http://leerburg.com/ebooks/puppygroundwork.pdf

This is for older dogs.

http://leerburg.com/pdf/packstructure.pdf

You can probably find more with stuff like Cesars way and that kinda thing. I know a lot of people don't approve of him, but you can't go wrong with his groundwork rules.

As to your question about the dog laying down in the hallway. That's natural. Dogs will often put themselves between you and an exit or commonly traveled passage way so they can keep an eye on where you go. In some cases they are doing this to defend you. As I write this the puppy is at my feet and the Labrador is in the doorway to this room in the hall. They are both sleeping but if I get up to leave there is no way either dog will miss it, and they will attempt to follow if I allow it.

You can deal with the passageway blocking in several ways. Step over him, or walk all the way up to him and give him a nudge and tell him to move. Never go around. If you nudge and he doesn't move then you want to be a bit more assertive about it but stay calm. If he growls or takes a shot at you then you have a problem, but if it happened to me I'd make him back down.

If you have to give a command to place and he listens that's fine. If he makes you use the leash every time then he might have learned that you are powerless without the leash (not true of course, but I've seen a basset do this.)

Where the dog sleeps won't help his behavior with the kids. How old are they? If they are older than 8 or 9 you should probably start teaching them how to act as leaders towards the puppy. A full grown trained attack dog will respect a 9 year old leader if that kid knows what he is doing, just like a large pitbull will allow a chihuahua to be pack leader if the dog was assertive enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks very much Bailiff.

My youngest is 10 and I have a 12 year old boy and a 14 year old girl..
 
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