Apologies in advance for the post length!
Our 20 week old puppy, Holly, has in general been getting much better lately. Some of you may remember a post a while back about her not sleeping throughout the entire night, when crated. That's stopped now, and she'l generally go into her crate when asked. Unfortunately...
She's played with often - all four of us work full time, but I work shifts, so there's usually someone around for her. She's crated throughout the night, from 11pm until around 8am, with a pee / food / play break at 6am. In her crate, she's completely content, unless people are in the room around her, which I understand. She just wants to be a part of the action.
Some problems remain though, and unfortunately, they're serious that enough that they're coming between the family. Mum has said in no uncertain terms that in the 3 months or so Holly has been with us, she's done nothing to enamour herself. As it is, problems that remain include:
- Chewing the kitchen; the teething has more or less stopped, and she's played with a lot.
- Running off to the back of the garden. There are trees there, and given the choice between giving something she shouldn't have back to us, or taking it behind the trees, she'll invariably choose the latter. This leads to problem number three;
- She only listens to dad. This, despite the fact I positively lavish attention on her, and try to set a good example.
She has stopped biting, in all but one case; if I sit with her on the ground - ie. at her level - she appears to try and 'dominate'. She bites my arm, not hard enough to hurt - and I'm sure she knows that - but in a 'I'm boss, and I'm not gonna let go' sort of way. She'll also jump at me, and in this situation, she is actually taller than me. Again, I'm sure she knows this. Any attempts to shake her off / tell her no, are treated as a game.
She's lying on the floor beside me now, quiet as a mouse. Yet the problems - which I'm sure everyone experiences - are such that mum refuses to believe she's a purebred, despite her papers / the vets say-so! I hope that doesn't sound elitist, but I think mum reckons she has the energy of another breed built in - say, a spaniel. Where mum is getting it wrong, is in comparing Holly to our old golden retriever - though I tell her they're chalk and cheese, two completely different breeds.
I realise this post sounds like a therapy session, and I'm not really comfortable revealing this much, but I really dont want Holly to go; for all her problems, she has a good nature. I just need to find a way of redirecting her energy.
Lots of pictures below.
Apologies for the quality; I'm no photographer!
I'd take an obed class -- you and Holly together -- to get some of the manners training she needs and to establish you as alpha.
She needs help with FRONT and NO BITE and OFF and a host of other things that a class can address for/with you.
I agree with Dan. She's a baby still at 5 months old, and a typical lab puppy. She needs training.
Good luck with her.
"Each is a creature of Earth and is entitled to reside on it with dignity"
What you are describing is pretty normal puppy behavior. Labs are very high energy dogs, and your mom's notion that the energy level indicates that she is not "purebred" is wrong-headed. I've known many very mellow mutts and just as many very high strung energetic purebred dogs. And visa versa. Animals have personalities, just like people. The puppy you are experiencing now may grow up (with the help of your training and guidance) to be a very well mannered adult dog. The difference is what level of effort you and your family are willing to invest.
Labs are particularly mouthy dogs and yes, your puppy is not really over teething. Many dogs have a need to chew something well into their second year. Are you providing her with appropriate chew items and directing her to them when she goes for the cabinetry? My year old Lab has never chewed on the cabinets or furniture as he has been directed to appropriate and acceptable chew items. You will be surprised how fast she will learn what she is allowed to do. Labs are very much people pleaser dogs.
When you are sitting on the floor playing with her she will use her mouth. This is pretty typical puppy play - what you might see her doing with other puppies. Try not to read dominance into it. If you do not like her playing that way---- don't get down to her level. My kids play with our Lab that way, I do not.
Her running to the trees to keep you from getting the item she has -- is a game for her. You need to work on recall training with her and you also need to resist the urge to chase her when she is trying to keep something away from you (that reinforces the fun part of playing the game for her).
I highly recommend that you find an obedience/puppy class for her, as you will also benefit from learning about your dog. Since you are concerned that she only listens to your dad, you should participate in the training sessions.
Honestly - there is nothing here that seems more than very typical puppy stuff.
Wow guys, thanks for all the info! I'll respond individually, so I don't miss anything:
dweck - thank you for the specific commands I should be addressing; and also, I think you're right about the obedience classes. Outside help can only be a good thing, I guess.
jzgrld - I was trying to make mum see that, but 'wood' and 'trees' spring to mind. I'll let her see that you all agree here that her age is the issue.
deezel - thanks! I'll work on recall, and yes, she does have plenty of chew toys, which is the strange thing. She also couldn't have been doing it for attention. Unfortunately, we had left her in the kitchen alone and uncrated for around ten minutes. Never again!
I suppose it's easy to read dominance into what may have just been over-zealous play. I just found it strange that it only ever happened while I was down at her level; as you say though, that's easily fixed.
Thanks again guys - I'll definately check out the obedience classes. I mentioned in another post that mum and dad had planned to send her on a week long residential course; I hope that's still an option. We're not 'hands-off' people, not at all, so I hope it doesn't come across like that.
I reread the section in my training book on the 'come' command earlier; it said the key is to use out-of-the-ordinary treats. Holly never got the hang of that command with us, though she did with dad. Having made an issue out of it, and spent an hour or so really going over it with her, she is making some massive progress with me - already! Her favourite bad habit, taking shoes up to the back of the garden, can now be stopped using 'come' once or twice. Tomorrow I'll work on that again, I think. It's funny how quick they can learn when they want to, I guess.
Out of interest; the mother came from a working farm; is there any possibility she is a field lab? Would that be on the papers? I'm not even sure what the difference is, save that I know they have a more working mentality, and aren't quite as comfortable in a family environment - a broad generalisation though that is.
"Field" and "bench or English" Labs refer only to body type. Field Labs love their humans every bit as much as bench style - they are all 'people dogs' who need interaction with their people. You may have gotten that idea from people who use their dogs only for hunting and do not allow them in the house or treat them as family. All Labs will blossom in a family environment.
Jackie, Champ, and Buddy
You mention sending the puppy to a residential training. What does that entail? If your family (at least one member) is not actively involved in working with the dog the training is not so effective. I know people send their dogs away for obedience training all the time, but IMHO, lots of times the problem with the dog is lack of understanding on the part of the owners. Sending the dog out to get "fixed" has limited value.
Amazon; my mistake! I see what you mean; some friends have field labs, and they're used as gundogs (though they are also allowed into the house). I misunderstood the term, I think.
Deezel; I don't think the term "fixed" is right. As I said, mum is at her wits end. Your point about the owner not understanding the dog is true, insofaras mum doesn't appreciate why Holly is the way she is. My dad and I do, and she responds well to my dad and, increasingly, to me. Residential wouldn't be my first choice, but if it's a decision between that or saying bye for good, I know which one I'll do. That said, I doubt it will come to that; I really went over the books today, and she made great progress in such a short time. Hopefully tomorrow will be similar.
One last piece of advice, as I believe you're well on the road to fixing this problem.
An hour of training a 5 month old dog on a recall is about 45 minutes too long. Keep the training sessions short and fun and always end on a good note!
First of all- Holly is a beautiful puppy!!
Second- so you know you are not alone- I'm including two threads, one I started, the other I responded to and wrote several little stories- about our 3 month old lab "Kallie" 's VERY precocious behavior.
We have her in puppy obedience classes now ("charm" school) and work with her every day. I think its a phase- looking forward to hearing how Allie is doing!!!