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Does Your Puppy/Dog Ever Show Remorse? Yesterday was the first time my puppy seemed to express remorse. I read her expression/reaction as "OH CRAP! I DID SOMETHING BAD!"

My puppy, Cassie, is into her 5th month now. Most of the time, I think my verbal corrections are just taken as "nagging" and that she seems to tune me out. (especially when she is hyper and ignores the "off" command and my giving her a knee). I never seem to catch a moment to clearly reward her for complying with commands to not jump on me or to stop chewing on me.

Yesterday evening was the first time I actually noticed any reaction of remorse on her part. We had just come back from a 30-minute + walk around the neighborhood (for the most part, she was well behaved during the walk and received treats for following various commands). I prepared her dinner (dry food + rotisserie chicken chunks) I served it to her in the kitchen and then turned my back and left her for a minute, while I left the kitchen for a minute to give my cat her bowl of chicken.

When I came back a minute later, Cassie had knocked the chicken off the kitchen counter and onto the floor. Instead of "Leave It", I just spontaneously yelled "BAD DOG". What a reaction on her part. It was like "Oh CRAP, I'M IN TROUBLE NOW". I'd never received an obvious reaction of remorse before.

I know it's ultimately my fault for letting my guard down for even a minute, with the chicken. That was the first time I ever said "bad dog". I guess something about the tone of my voice caused her to react (and perhaps my expression). I've definitely been stern, when giving her the "off" and "leave it" commands over and over again. This is the first time I've gotten a quick halt with bad behavior and a reaction that indicated she was aware of her bad behavior.

I find it easy to give treats and positive reinforcement with commands like "sit", "down", "shake", "stay" and "heel". It hasn't been easy to appropriately reinforce "leave it" or "off", when she is hyper and won't comply. I can't reward her with treats or cheerful words or petting, if her behavior isn't reward worthy.

I'm left wondering if she has been tuning me out and just interpreting my "leave it" or "off" as nagging. Maybe I need to incorporate "bad dog" with the "leave it" and "off" commands.

Does your dog ever show signs that they know they did something wrong, after a verbal correction?
 

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Agree with Jax and WT. In addition, I would advise you to lose the treats. At 5 months, your puppy does not need a treat every time she obeys a basic command. 'Goood Girl!' is sufficient. If your corrections are repetitive, then yes, you are being a nag. It's like those parents who correct a child's behavior - "Don't do that. I told you not to do that. Don't make me come over there. I'm going to count to 10." You should say, "off!" or "Leave it!" one time. Leash your pup so she has no choice, but to comply.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I would advise you to lose the treats. At 5 months, your puppy does not need a treat every time she obeys a basic command. 'Goood Girl!' is sufficient. Leash your pup so she has no choice, but to comply.
Thanks. I'll start limiting the treats. I generally keep a 12" handle leash on her when we play in the yard. Are you advising to keep a leash on her during play time in the back yard?

That wasn't remorse. That was fear and uncertainty.
I stand corrected. You are right. I was thinking in human terms.

WateryTart said:
This and while you want to correct that, you only have about a second and a half to do it, and the correction should be done firmly but calmly. Anytime I lose my temper with my dog, I've already lost the battle.
Thanks for pointing that out. My first time with calling her a bad dog. Probably showed a lot of emotion on my face.
________________________________________________________________________________

I was thinking in human terms.

My reaction caused her to back away from the chicken and leave it alone. I don't want to make her fearful of me, but I want to get a better handle on the injuries she causes to me.

Still striving for a better result to constantly using the "leave it" and "off" commands without compliance and/or to stop that behavior all together. I sometimes try giving her a knee, but my knees aren't up to the task. I've started placing her in a "sit" when she jumps. I reward the "sits" with praise. Perhaps I just need to keep using the "sit" command, after the "off" command a bit longer.

Some of the worst recent injuries to me have occurred with the first jump/grasp of me. I'm trying to limit the number of cuts, punctures and bruises I received, several that have been rather significant. (two rather deep gouging injuries in the last week). Prior to those two wounds, I was thinking that I had made progress in that the overall number of bruises, cuts and punctures was dwindling and that the remaining wounds were minor. Perhaps I am making progress overall, but the two recent injuries were rather frustrating for me. There is some progress in that I'm not getting injured daily. I guess if the two injuries didn't happen last week, I'd possibly be celebrating.

Sometimes, the injuries happen when I least expect them. Last Thursday, I was preparing to take Cassie for a walk. I put her in her crate, while I got ready for the walk - for 10-15 minutes. She was calm when I put her in the crate. I didn't expect her to be so rowdy when I bent down to let her out of the crate and attempted to put her long leash on (and take the handle leash off). She was extremely excited and wouldn't comply with the "off command". She apparently had one nail that got missed during a recent nail trimming. The nail caught the edge of my lip and gouged out some skin (bled for about an hour).

A couple of days ago, while we were playing in the yard, she jumped up and grabbed my arm with her sharp teeth (first strike & didn't see it coming). Again, another deep and painful gouge. She continued to jump, so we ended the play session and she was put in her crate.

I'm trying to use positive reinforcement and stick wth it. I'll try it a bit longer. Hopefully, she will finish her teething in approx. another month and she will chew on me and other things less. I've been on the verge on maybe trying a shock collar at a low setting. I'll put it on the back burner for awhile longer.

I know every dog is a bit different. Just never had this degree of challenges with my prior 2 GSD's. Never had so many bruises, cuts and punctures to my arms, hands and lower legs (tough to recognize bite inhibition). Hopefully, the worst is close to being over. Actually, I'd much rather have counter thefts to deal with, than personal injuries.
 

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I do not agree that you need to phase out food rewards. You do need to be using food correctly--you can lure in order to teach a new behavior. But you should quickly change to not showing the food until AFTER the behavior occurs, so the dog does not become dependent on it.

The problem with the remorse word, is that it implies that the dog really understands the whole thing, understands that going up on the counter and knocking down the turkey was the problem. More likely that the dog understands that you were angry at her for eating the turkey on the kitchen floor, and the next time she smells something tasty on the counter I doubt it will deter her.

I just don't think dogs can think like that. The correction needs to come as the dog is just thinking about or just starting to do the counter surfing behavior so they can understand THAT is the issue. Someone else said--not sure if it was this thread, the intermittent huge reward of stealing something really great makes them really want to gamble and try again. Look how motivated the dog is to figure out when they can get away with stealing and you see just how effective positive reinforcement training is.

My approach is--figure out what the dog really wants and if you can give it to them, let them work for you to get it in a constructive way. Then they internalize that those really great things they want come through you through cooperation, NOT stolen when you aren't looking.

In order to get success with counter surfing you have to supervise...you simply can't have holes in the program for the dog to steal and get that huge payout for outsmarting you. And if they have self reinforced enough times, you may have to do a sting operation with an e collar at some point.
 

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Thanks. I'll start limiting the treats. I generally keep a 12" handle leash on her when we play in the yard. Are you advising to keep a leash on her during play time in the back yard?


I stand corrected. You are right. I was thinking in human terms.


Thanks for pointing that out. My first time with calling her a bad dog. Probably showed a lot of emotion on my face.
________________________________________________________________________________

I was thinking in human terms.

My reaction caused her to back away from the chicken and leave it alone. I don't want to make her fearful of me, but I want to get a better handle on the injuries she causes to me.

Still striving for a better result to constantly using the "leave it" and "off" commands without compliance and/or to stop that behavior all together. I sometimes try giving her a knee, but my knees aren't up to the task. I've started placing her in a "sit" when she jumps. I reward the "sits" with praise. Perhaps I just need to keep using the "sit" command, after the "off" command a bit longer.

Some of the worst recent injuries to me have occurred with the first jump/grasp of me. I'm trying to limit the number of cuts, punctures and bruises I received, several that have been rather significant. (two rather deep gouging injuries in the last week). Prior to those two wounds, I was thinking that I had made progress in that the overall number of bruises, cuts and punctures was dwindling and that the remaining wounds were minor. Perhaps I am making progress overall, but the two recent injuries were rather frustrating for me. There is some progress in that I'm not getting injured daily. I guess if the two injuries didn't happen last week, I'd possibly be celebrating.

Sometimes, the injuries happen when I least expect them. Last Thursday, I was preparing to take Cassie for a walk. I put her in her crate, while I got ready for the walk - for 10-15 minutes. She was calm when I put her in the crate. I didn't expect her to be so rowdy when I bent down to let her out of the crate and attempted to put her long leash on (and take the handle leash off). She was extremely excited and wouldn't comply with the "off command". She apparently had one nail that got missed during a recent nail trimming. The nail caught the edge of my lip and gouged out some skin (bled for about an hour).

A couple of days ago, while we were playing in the yard, she jumped up and grabbed my arm with her sharp teeth (first strike & didn't see it coming). Again, another deep and painful gouge. She continued to jump, so we ended the play session and she was put in her crate.

I'm trying to use positive reinforcement and stick wth it. I'll try it a bit longer. Hopefully, she will finish her teething in approx. another month and she will chew on me and other things less. I've been on the verge on maybe trying a shock collar at a low setting. I'll put it on the back burner for awhile longer.

I know every dog is a bit different. Just never had this degree of challenges with my prior 2 GSD's. Never had so many bruises, cuts and punctures to my arms, hands and lower legs (tough to recognize bite inhibition). Hopefully, the worst is close to being over. Actually, I'd much rather have counter thefts to deal with, than personal injuries.
I forget how old you said this pup is, but it does sound like you need to correct some of this nonsense and get this dog to be a little more careful with you. It does not have to be an angry outburst.

You can use positive reinforcement and still correct problem behavior, they aren't mutually exclusive. Do you have a trainer that can help you? Post your area and maybe someone knows someone. @Jax08 seems to be an encyclopedia of good trainers all over the place!
 

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My guy got the concept of the "leave it" command pretty quickly but it was the proofing of it that took time. He's older now and sometimes will take advantage of my absence if I have not told him to "Leave it". And nope he shows no remorse. But I can leave the kitchen with anything out as long as I look at him and say leave it before I leave the kitchen.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)


Thanks to everyone for you input. Collective minds can be very powerful. I appreciate the time you all took to reply. I'm in training, just like Cassie. Posting not only helps me vent, your input helps remind me where I need improvement, give me new ideas and helps me move forward with new enthusiasm.
. . . But I can leave the kitchen with anything out as long as I look at him and say leave it before I leave the kitchen.
As I keep working the problem, I'll aspire to that end result.

. . .Post your area and maybe someone knows someone. @Jax08 seems to be an encyclopedia of good trainers all over the place!
I'm in Orange County, California. We started an obedience class 2 weeks ago. It will resume after the New Year. I'm open to recommendations for additional sources for training.

I do not agree that you need to phase out food rewards. You do need to be using food correctly--you can lure in order to teach a new behavior. But you should quickly change to not showing the food until AFTER the behavior occurs, so the dog does not become dependent on it.

. . . The correction needs to come as the dog is just thinking about or just starting to do the counter surfing behavior so they can understand THAT is the issue. . .

My approach is--figure out what the dog really wants and if you can give it to them, let them work for you to get it in a constructive way. Then they internalize that those really great things they want come through you through cooperation, NOT stolen when you aren't looking.

In order to get success with counter surfing you have to supervise...you simply can't have holes in the program for the dog to steal and get that huge payout for outsmarting you. And if they have self reinforced enough times, you may have to do a sting operation with an e collar at some point.
Thanks for all your input. I won't likely totally phase out praising with treats, just achieve a better balance. I probably do need to reduce the amount of treats and remind myself that praise by itself can be valuable by itself.
 

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No but the leave it command and crate does really does come in hand. We have all lost our patience it happens. The crate is great for those type of days. They are all different my gsd Luna never attempted to steal food off the counter. Max my other gsd is a big food thief as wanted in three different homes lol! As a pup he was really intent on stealing food I kept a long lead on him often. One time I pulled yanked the long lead to hard when he was in mid air going after some food on the counter and he fell slamming on his hips screaming. I felt terrible but that did not stop him from trying to steal food. At training class we were told to bang pots in the counter that did not work well either. His counter surfing did come in handy do for nose works /scent detection though.

The thing that helped/helps manage max’s Food theiving best was/is “leave it- go in your spot , crate or tethered on regular length leash. if one of the kids leave the room and distracted and no one is there to tell max - leave it or otherwise yes he is a big opportunist. He will listen to leave it if you tell him “ leave it “ when a big pot roast is on the counter and leave the room but that is a conscious effort to leave the room with the words - leave it. Most of the time kids leave plates unsupervised with no thoughts or instructions when food is unattended. Most often I make sure I don’t set them up for failure and leave the Room with a big turkey in the counter with no instruction- kids another story. I had a big Christmas Eve party. You bet I had to keep my eye out as he looked like a shark circling the counter with all those with the massive amount of food on the counter and a big cooked honey ham at the end of the counter just calling his name- when everyone was busy in heavy conversation he would grab that ham if I was not there to say leave it. Giving him the ball kept his mouth busy and did help him fight his impulses. I did have to crate max once through the party as he did attempt to steal some ham was I was not around but all in all he did very well for himself and his food thief struggles.
 

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Yes but it doesn't even need a correction.. I can just ask the question... DID YOU DO THIS.... Her head will drop and she will walk away. Thats if she isn't already around the corner peaking out ... My last 3 girls HATE to be scolded and thank God I rarely ever have to.
 
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