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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I have been working with our 4 month old for a couple of weeks now, and I can massage his gums, clip a few of his nails and touch him on his collar. He still mouths hard at times, but is getting decidedly better at being handled. This was done with clicker training.

The one thing he still won't let me do is restrain him. That is hold him around his body with my hands on his chest. He also does not like me turning him over or moving him. Please give me any tips/advice that you think might help. Also, any links to articles/ videos on this issue will be appreciated.
 

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Consistency and time. Just a little bit more each day. He'll get there if you stick with it.
 

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The one thing he still won't let me do is restrain him. That is hold him around his body with my hands on his chest. He also does not like me turning him over or moving him.
What does he do? Yelp/bark/wiggle/freak out? Or snarl/growl?

The consistency everyday advice was spot on.

I would add that try a 2-person, calm restrain where one person restrains and the other gives a high value treat (like roasted chicken!). Make sure you only treat when pup is calm. Keep the sessions short and build over time. Reward with play afterward.

You'll get there. Myah went through that, but we nipped it in the bud at about 4 months. It's a stage, but an important one. You'll get through it with daily work. Then later on, you'll forget about having gone through this! :p
 

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Thank you both! Yes, I am being consistent. Probably I am making the sessions too long. Trying to get him to submit to a whole exam at the same time.


What does he do? Yelp/bark/wiggle/freak out? Or snarl/growl?
Well his response is more aggressive than frightened. He wrinkles his muzzle, bares his teeth, a bit of a snarl and puts his mouth on my arm or hand. But the good thing is today I could hold his four legs and roll him a little bit. Then i say turn and he turns. He is calm up to that point. Then he turns back quickly and freaks out a bit.

As far as restraint goes, now when I put my arms around him he quickly slides down and he is calm but he is lying down and not sitting in front of me. I will try the 2 person approach with someone.

I hope someday he will submit to having his body handled out of trust and not just for the treats.

One thing that concerned me today is after the session was over and I got up, he came to me sniffing, I had placed the slice of meat I was treating him with on my lap for convenience, and he sniffed the spot on my pants and started to hump. I said no and he stopped right away. He wasn't touching me, just sniffing. Is this anything to be concerned about?
 

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I hope someday he will submit to having his body handled out of trust and not just for the treats.
At 4 months old I wouldn't worry about that yet. It takes time to build a relationship. :)

It's much easier to start working on handling desensitization when a puppy is smaller - with Dena it was an exercise in her puppy class, which she started when she was 16 weeks old, so it was a bit more challenging. With Keefer and Halo I started at home much sooner. With all three of them, I used a LOT of treats!

I agree that it's best to go slowly, with frequent short sessions. There's a digital download of Dr. Ian Dunbar's book After You Get Your Puppy that talks about handling. It's available on the DogStar Daily website: http://www.dogstardaily.com/files/downloads/AFTER_You_Get_Your_Puppy.pdf

You need to create an account in order to view it, but it's free and just takes a few minutes. There's a ton of great training articles on the site, so I'd highly recommend you sign up. This book was used as a textbook of sorts for the Sirius Puppy program developed by Dr. Dunbar, and were the puppy classes I took with Dena, Keefer, and Halo.

Here are a couple pictures of me in class with Halo:




As you can see, I've got her cradled on my lap, with one arm around her chest while I touch her ears, feet, tail, belly, and face while feeding her treats. It's important that you do not let the puppy go if s/he struggles, wait them out and mark and release as soon as they relax, even for a second.

From here, we worked on having the puppy on their side and gently rolling them over. We also did tons of work with collar grabs for a treat, so they don't learn to avoid a hand reaching for them. You can say something like "gotcha!" in a happy tone of voice as you hold the collar and feed a treat and then immediately let go. Make a game out of it so it's fun for him.

Halo was used as the demo dog by the trainer to demonstrate this:





As far as the humping, I only have experience with one male dog. Keefer isn't a huge humper, he did hump Dena when he was a puppy, and both he and Halo occasionally hump either other in play, but he's never done it to strange dogs or inanimate objects.
 

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Thanks Debbie! I love those pics of Halo cradled so comfortably in your lap! They are adorable.

With Frodo, once he started nipping I let the handling go for a while. Didn't realize at the time how important it was. Now I know I should have stuck it out and it would have helped both with the mouthing and with the bonding.


So I will never be able to do what you did with Halo, (he is just too big already) but yes, thank you for the links and advice. I will follow through on them.


PS: Can I steal Halo? She looks too mischievous and sweet at the same time!
 

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Does your puppy ever roll onto his back looking for belly rubs? Mind did this whenever I came out of the bathroom (lol, the great happy reunion when I opened the door) and I turned this into a routine. Then I moved that onto the bed (getting him to roll over on it) and slowly started gently pinning him - for less than half a second at first - not enough time for it to register and have him squirming.
 

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Hmm.. that's a good idea! Yes, he does roll over all the time! But I don't quite know how to transition this to doing it on a bed. For one thing I don't allow him on furniture. But I was thinking I should get him to hop on to the coffee table just so he gets comfortable with heights and ofcourse the table in the vet exam room.

I will try pinning him down for half a second when he rolls over just like you said.




Does your puppy ever roll onto his back looking for belly rubs? Mind did this whenever I came out of the bathroom (lol, the great happy reunion when I opened the door) and I turned this into a routine. Then I moved that onto the bed (getting him to roll over on it) and slowly started gently pinning him - for less than half a second at first - not enough time for it to register and have him squirming.
 

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With Frodo, once he started nipping I let the handling go for a while. Didn't realize at the time how important it was. Now I know I should have stuck it out and it would have helped both with the mouthing and with the bonding.
I'm really glad that some of the key things emphasized in our Sirius Puppy classes were bite inhibition, handling desensitization, and socialization such as meeting as many new people as possible. I might not have realized how important they were and spent as much time on them otherwise.

So I will never be able to do what you did with Halo, (he is just too big already) but yes, thank you for the links and advice. I will follow through on them.
Not necessarily, like I said, Dena was 16 weeks old before I started, and she was a pretty big puppy so it was a little harder to get her into my lap. The trainer actually had to show me how to do it. With Halo, or a similar age puppy, I could do it from a sitting position, with her standing in front of me, facing away. I'd wrap my right arm under her chest while scooping up her butt and tucking her tail under with my left hand while tipping her back into my lap. And she didn't always lay there so calmly, there were definitely times where she struggled, but I just held on firmly and waited her out. We practiced this a few times every day at home, in addition to in class. We practiced this exercise with other puppies in the class too, and it was hilarious to watch people with little dogs try to cradle Halo in their laps, lol.

With Dena, I had to do it from a kneeling position because she was too big and heavy to do it the other way, so I'd kneel behind her and grab her in the same way and basically fall backwards into a sit, holding her against me. A little awkward, but doable, especially if there was a wall behind me to lean against.

PS: Can I steal Halo? She looks too mischievous and sweet at the same time!
NO! :wub: She is :censored: on wheels, but she is also sweet, cuddly and affectionate. Halo is an evil genius, lol.
 

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Start easy, just hold your hand on his belly in one spot. The trick is to be gradual with it so they don't notice, lol. It worked for me that way. I did it on the bed because it was easier for me. I worked my way up to being able to roll right over him, holding my weight on my elbows. It turned out to be a great thing to teach him, because he ended up having to have his anal glands expressed a few times, and the vet said he visibly relaxed when I held him tightly for the procedure.

None of my business really, but I strongly suggest not teaching him to jump on the coffee table. Sometimes our pups will throw behaviors at us to get attention or approval. This could be a nightmare if you've got a table full of food or drinks, although maybe entertaining for your guests...jk, lol! How about making a jump for him outside, where things are more easily controlled?
 

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Thanks :), I will start doing that with him.

And you are right. In this case it was an unused coffee table lying in the garage, but I still should be careful about what I teach him is appropriate to jump on.

I actually have been thinking about getting a bit of agility equipment set up for him outside. Like a tunnel and hurdles to run over. So your suggestion is excellent! I made a wobbly surface for him using an old board and some left over pavers. So I can just use more pavers and create an elevated surface for him to stand on to get used to heights. :)


Start easy, just hold your hand on his belly in one spot. The trick is to be gradual with it so they don't notice, lol. It worked for me that way. I did it on the bed because it was easier for me. I worked my way up to being able to roll right over him, holding my weight on my elbows. It turned out to be a great thing to teach him, because he ended up having to have his anal glands expressed a few times, and the vet said he visibly relaxed when I held him tightly for the procedure.

None of my business really, but I strongly suggest not teaching him to jump on the coffee table. Sometimes our pups will throw behaviors at us to get attention or approval. This could be a nightmare if you've got a table full of food or drinks, although maybe entertaining for your guests...jk, lol! How about making a jump for him outside, where things are more easily controlled?
 

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Sounds like you're doing a great job with your pup.

The most important thing when desensitizing pups to handling, is timing. While you're doing your various manipulations, it's fairly normal for the pup to struggle or fight whatever you're doing. Key is NOT to let go while he's struggling, but wait until he relaxes for a moment, THEN let go. In this way, the pup learns that he gets what he wants by relaxing rather than struggling.
 

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Sounds like you're doing a great job with your pup.

The most important thing when desensitizing pups to handling, is timing. While you're doing your various manipulations, it's fairly normal for the pup to struggle or fight whatever you're doing. Key is NOT to let go while he's struggling, but wait until he relaxes for a moment, THEN let go. In this way, the pup learns that he gets what he wants by relaxing rather than struggling.
Thank you for that reminder!
 

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You've gotten great tips so far, I just wanted to add another huzzah to 'keep at it'!

When I brought home one of my girls at 11 weeks she was a terror. Couldn't clip nails, no restraining, no fingers in ears, and goodness forbid if she had to lay on her back... we kept at it every day and I didn't even notice how much she'd changed until I was dremeling her nails with her laying on her back lazily watching me on the grooming table at eight months. One day you'll be zoned out on the couch with a half-grown goober in your lap and realize you did an awesome job! :)

If you have a local kennel club or friendly vet office get other responsible and knowledgeable people to help as well. If you can get 100 people to stick their fingers in his ears, handle his paws, touch his testicles, open his mouth etc in a positive, trust-building way he'll be bomb-proof to boot. Bonus points!
 
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