Dominance issue with Muddy
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Thread: Dominance issue with Muddy

  1. #1
    cycler is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultDominance issue with Muddy

    Muddy is fine about 95% of the day, but, at times he tries to become a real instigator/dominant. He will snip/bite from behind, growl and in general try to run the roost. I always lay him on his side when he goes through this, and that will sometimes work, other times he goes to the penalty box (crate). We try to give him 2 one mile walks everyday, but, that is not always possible (weather). I realize this may be just the teething phase, but, it is unacceptable. I am running out of ideas, and would appreciate any suggestions/experiences anyone can share. Looks like puppy obedience school is next. Oh, he also gets yard exercise with the training dummy and sit, stay, and come commands. He just gets stubborn at times and it is quite a scene when he does.

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    kaznalf's Avatar
    kaznalf is offline Senior Member
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    How old is he? Depending on his age and when you say "walks" he may need more exercise. Labs usually need running and if he isnt trained to return to you I'd put him on a long line so he can run freely under control. Also google NILIF

  4. #3
    BigBrownDog is offline Senior Member
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    Again - the age is very important here. From what I recall - you got him not all that long ago - right? From a field breeder?

    He may simply be a higher energy Lab and he is in need of more burning off of this energy. Does he have the opportunity to play with other dogs? That would be ideal - some daycare maybe?

    Laying him on his side is not a great idea. I don't think it teaches a dog much besides that you are stronger.

    I would not read this behavior as "dominant". In reality - there are truly very few dogs that wish to exert dominance. Many will (in the absence of human leadership) behave badly - but genetically inclined "dominant" dog is a very, very rare thing.

    He sounds to me - more than anything - like an upstart teenager. Being consistent with your leadership, exercise and training is the best way to guide him through this phase in his development.
    Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.

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    cycler is offline Senior Member
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    Muddy is 4 1/2 months old. It's interesting, I typed this question when I got to work this morning, about 6:30am, and I gave it some thought, and I started thinking, yes, maybe he is just being an upstart "teenager". However, it is the little things that make me wonder. Like, he always tries to lay on our feet when he sits by us. But, perhaps I was a bit hasty in my calling it a dominance issue. Appreciate your comments, thoughts. Keep them coming.

  7. #5
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    Baloo317 is offline Senior Member
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    Not a dominance issue, this is a baby. He's trying to play with you in the only way pups know how - rough. Ever watch pups play together? It's a free-for-all of jumping, checking, biting etc.

    It's up to you to teach him that its not OK to play with humans that way, because if dogs aren't taught this how are they supposed to know? They play in the way that comes natural to them and is acceptable to other dogs. They don't know you're different until you give them that feedback.

    So stop play when he acts like that, and if he still won't quit put him in another room for awhile away from the family. He needs to learn that this behaviour stops play and interaction and is therefore ineffective for him. Reward him with attention and play when he is playing appropriately. Laying him on his side is completely pointless, you'll just confuse and upset him. He was just trying to play with you, therefore you need to teach him that behaviour like that (jumping, nipping, etc) doesn't start play, it stops it. He'll figure it out soon enough.

    He lays on your feet because he wants to be near you. No matter what you've heard from certain TV trainers, your dog isn't diabolically plotting a hostile takeover starting with your feet.
    Kate
    Baloo - 5 year old black lab
    Peanut - 7 year old minpin
    Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
    We're Superdogs!


  8. #6
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    I agree with all the others' comments.

    It also sounds to me that your Muddy needs more exercise. As for lying at or on your feet, that's somethng many dogs do and my Labs always have done -- I think foot odor is their equivalent to our Chanel #5

    A leashed walk is good exercise for an owner but rarely for a Lab. The generally accepted rule of thumb for amount of vigorous daily exercise (running off-leash, swimming, retrieving, etc.) is 5 minutes per month of Lab puppy age up to 12 months. You do need to monitor that by your puppy's behavior, though, rather than just watching the clock. E.g., my Puff seemed "hyper" or "wired" so I gave her 2 daily doses of that, about 8-12 hours between each dose. She's now 8 years old and gets by fine with a 2 mile walk early every morning with multiple off-leash retrieves. Takes about 40 minutes.

    For teaching retrieving, I'll copy/paste below a post I've frequently made.

    ================================================== ==============
    Many people assume that a Lab should retrieve automatically, without training.

    While SOME Labs do, probably the majority need some training to retrieve.

    Chasing after a moving object is native and instinctual for almost all dogs but the bringing it back to someone and giving it up is not, so that part of retrievi ng usually needs training.

    However, for many Labs, once they learn to retrieve, it's often the thing they most enjoy in life and they often have an endurance for fetching far greater than that of the arm of the person throwing the object.

    That's not bad because most Labs need a lot of daily vigorous exercise to be docile and civil. "Fetch" is a wonderful way of meeting most of those needs.

    However, a few Labs become too obsessed with retrieving and need to have limits imposed.

    And a very few get EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) and become weak and shaky; this is a genetic fault of a few Labs and was investigated by a consortium of US & Canadian Vet colleges. The Labrador Retriever Club's website has a section on this (behavior, symptoms, recommended treatment) if you're interested.

    Teaching to retrieve --

    For a puppy, if you have a blind hallway, you can start by rolling a ball or toy down the hall toward the blind end. The pup will run after it and has no choice but to come back to you. At that time, praise, and exchange a treat or a bit of kibble for the ball/toy along with more praise. (It's helpful to pre-measure your pup's next meal and use some of that kibble for treats. That's a help in not over-feeding.)

    Repeat 2-3 times. ALWAYS QUIT WHILE IT'S STILL FUN AND INTERESTING TO YOUR PUP/DOG.

    I didn't have a blind hallway and we used a 25 foot/8 m. kite string tied to a rubber toy dumbbell.

    We went out in the front yard and I'd throw it in first one direction, holding on to the bitter end (i.e., the non-toy end) of the line. Puff went after it and when she picked up the toy, I reeled back both Puff and the toy she was holding, praised her, and gave a treat in exchange for the toy. You might also say, "__(name)__, Give!" at the time you're offering the treat and getting the toy delivered to your hand. Then you'll be teaching another VERY useful command: ("Give!").

    I threw it in a different direction next time. Repeated as above
    .

    You do need to vary the directions you throw it and the locations you use because young dogs can easily (too easily) become site-specific in their learning.

    E.g., a woman 5-6 years ago on JL complained that her Lab would retrieve when she sat in a particular chair in her living room and threw a toy from there but would not retrieve any place else. When you vary the locations and directions it helps them easily learn to generalize.

    ALWAYS KEEP THE RETRIEVING FUN, NEVER WORK.

    If your pup's enthusiasm starts lagging after 5 trials, drop to 3 or 4 the next time you try it. If it lags after 3 trials, drop to one for awhile until the interest and enthusiasm builds up.

    If you train just before normal feeding time, your pup's motivation for food will be higher and pieces of kibble exchanged for the toy will have greater reward effect.

    As your pup learns to retrieve and enjoys it, you can gradually increase the # of trials.

    When you switch from fetching a toy to a training dummy, I prefer the 2" x 12" Lucky Dog (brand) vinyl training dummies. I've found them cheapest at gundogsupply.com's website -- a little less than $4 @.


    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

  9. #7
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    Trickster is offline Senior Member
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    For biting, I like to re-direct their focus with a 'WATCH ME!' command. Reward, then replace my arm with a suitable toy or chew.

    One more thing, please do not use the crate as a punishment ("penalty box"). The crate should be a safe haven, not for punishment use.

  10. #8
    BigBrownDog is offline Senior Member
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    I always equated a puppy or adult dog laying on my feet as a sign of affection. If you watch dogs who are close to each other rest - they often have a paw on the other one - or drape themself across their friend. Mine do this. It's not dominance.
    Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.

  11. #9
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    montoya's is offline Senior Member
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    it's not a dominance thing it a love thing. Muddy is probably in the terrible twos just being stubborn. this too shall pass, keep up the training and walks/runs and let him be as close to you as she wants. Meekah will jump on me and lay on top and lick my ears this is her way of bonding and loving me, my previous lab did this same thing and neither she nor Meekah was/is trying to be dominant.

    Meekah is pretty much over the biting stage, now more like mouthing ot biting but still wants something in her mouth, yes she is teething. but hey she is also doing doubles and is listening to me, so she can mouth fingers, toes, and toys all she wants.



  12. #10
    cycler is offline Senior Member
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    Still at work, it's been another long day. Reading your comments has re-focused me with this issue. I was getting a bit frustrated. Actually, it is not the laying on my feet that was bothering me, it was the agressive manner he would try to get his way by biting/nipping. Basically, I have to think more like a puppy, I suppose. As I said in the initial post, this is a sometimes thing, usually right after his evening meal, but he can be quite stubborn, again, more exercise is likely the key. We did take him to a wildlife management area Sunday, plenty of off leash time, and along with his evening mile, he was a lot better. Thanks again for your comments/support and Bob, I will print out your tips on retrieving.

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