Guinness just turned 1 this week, and is really a great dog. We still have some issues, but it seems like in the last month, he's matured quite a bit. We have more and more "glimpses" of what kind of dog he'll be/is and we love it! It seems like all the training and hard work is paying off.
I still have some questions...
1. He's not trustworthy yet - he'll get into anything that he can...eating socks, rocks, poop, etc. I know it's typical, but I don't feel like we can trust him in a room while we're gone for any length of time, so we put him in his crate. How long will this continue? He loves his crate, but I feel guilty putting him in there all the time when I'm home. For example, if I have to put the kids to bed, in the crate he goes. He usually falls asleep and then I feel bad for waking him up! What a cycle!
2. He loves his crate...is there any reason to get rid of it anytime soon? Do some dogs use them their entire lives? This is my first dog, so I really don't know these things
3. We have a 4 year old and we're having some issues. He runs around with his toys like a kid does, but Guinness thinks he's playing. He'll jump onto his shoulders and knock him over. The dog will take commands from him like sit and down, verbal and non-verbal, but it seems like Guinness thinks he's a playtoy. Any thoughts?
One suggestion I thought of instantly when you said you didn't trust Guiness alone was to try putting him in an isolated room for a short period of time. Maybe start at 15 minutes, then half an hour, then an hour. Make sure he has plenty of toys to keep him occupied, as well as bones to chew on. Make sure their are soft and hard, tasty and non tasty so that anything he thinks sounds good to chew on is readily available and ok to chew on. Also, as you gradually move the time up, try putting things in there that he would get into. When you start this I would have him in an area that you can easily "peek" at him, so as to correct him as soon as he gets into the forbidden fruit. And make sure the things he would get into would not affect his health!
On the second topic of being in a kennel, it is entirely normal and yes, some dogs do use kennels their whole lives. And actually, it is wonderful that he loves being in his kennel. Try to apply the same techniques you did teaching him to love his kennel as teaching him to love being on his own.
And a lab that gets plenty of exercise is a less destructive lab! I noticed as soon I started playing fetch on a regular basis and took my dog swimming or for walks, all he wanted to do when he was inside is sleep! And he is only 8 months old!
It is wonderful that your dog takes commands from your toddler! I need advise on that! lol! Maybe teach your son to not let Guiness jump up on him the same way an adult would. Of course, he cannot knee him down, but he can physically stop his entire body, push Guiness off of him and say OFF, or NO, or DOWN! Your child has to be completely still and stern and make sure Guiness knows he is not fooling around.
Sorry for the long book, and good luck!
I think the crating issue has many layers, as mentioned above. Some dogs are destructive because they're bored and under exercised, some out of seperation anxiety, and some just 'cause they can. 8) Baloo's been crate-free during the day for about a month now, but I always make sure he's well exercised before hand.
My dogs still sleep in their crates at night, and always will. It provides them with their own comfy little bed, and prevents us from being woken up by 65 lbs of labby landing on top of us. :surprise: I think if it works well for you, go with it!
As far as your 4 year old is concerned, I would just teach a solid "leave it!" or "no jump!" and supervise their interactions (as any interaction between child and dog should be supervised) so as to be able to catch him before he does it. Learn to recognize the signs he's about to jump, and use your command then, before he even gets those feet off the ground. Timing is key.
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
I have a 8,5 and 3 year old and I have told them to turn around if she tries to jump on them or walk away if she is playing too rough. Also, when she takes their toys, I get her to "drop it" and redirect her to her toys. And I praise her quite a bit when she does it. I think also an age thing too as sometimes they see the kids more as litter mates. I definitely supervise them while outside.
You didn't say how much daily vigorous exercise Guiness is getting.
A Lab of that age can use about 60 minutes of playing fetch, making swimming retrieves, etc., every day. Walks or playing in the backyard rarely is enough. If you can't find a way of doing that, perhaps there's someone in your neighborhood with a friendly dog (another Lab is often best) so they can chase each other and play Bitey-Face for an hour in a fenced yard. There are all sorts of ways of doing it.
With enough daily vigorous exercise, most Labs become pretty docile.
Without it, they get easily bored and destructive.
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":