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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

We have a wonderful seven-month old yellow lab, and he's been ours since he was about two months old. I have done all of his training and he is very good for me--be it not pulling on the leash, sitting, lying down, staying, fetching, or just going to the bathroom in a timely manner and not dilly dallying.

My wife is an extremely busy professional who did not have as much time for him when we got him. Now, he is older and bigger (about 70 lbs already!) and he constantly has his way with her when I am not here. If he can even hear me he is an angel, but the second I am gone he runs this place.

Really, I get that this is pretty normal... as he can only ever have one master. But he likes to roughhouse play more than anything. While he doesn't ever bite her, he gnaws on her hands and arms if she is trying to get him to do something he doesn't want to. He scratches her up pretty good. She's not at her wit's end with him--yet--and he is a sweet, pleasant dog almost all of the time. It's just when she tries to impose her will on him, he basically doesn't respect it at all.

I'm looking for any and all help and suggestions to make their relationship better. I can't be here all of the time, and he's still growing.
 

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Really, I get that this is pretty normal... as he can only ever have one master.
Absolutely NOT true! We have 3 dogs and all three treat us both as their masters. We shared in their training and commands, and made sure we were consistant with eachother.

He is being alpha dog over your wife, and that is not right and shouldn't be tolerated. That being said, I don't know how you would fix it at this point. :eek: Maybe she needs to take an obedience class with him. Just her, not you?
 

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Absolutely NOT true! We have 3 dogs and all three treat us both as their masters. We shared in their training and commands, and made sure we were consistant with eachother.

He is being alpha dog over your wife, and that is not right and shouldn't be tolerated. That being said, I don't know how you would fix it at this point. :eek: Maybe she needs to take an obedience class with him. Just her, not you?
I agree, Sammi knows the rules and commands no matter who says them! I also remember 7-9 months being quite the trial time with Sammi and she had to go back to " puppy boot camp" quite freq. Your wife has to start acting and being in charge, just as you are. An Obedience class for the 2 of them seems like a good idea- Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I appreciate your response, but you have to understand that (as I tell her) she is at least half of the problem in terms of (but not limited to): going against training the dog & I have done together, letting him do things she knows I don't, not taking time when he was younger to train him (despite my pleas to take advantage of his impressionable young age), etc etc. She hasn't taken the time to earn his respect.

I guess I was just wanting to make sure, based on our circumstances, that his behavior is normal.
 

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Yep, if she doesn't do the work, he won't listen to her! Thats pretty normal- to bad for both of them. I think it would be easier in the long run if she could or would take the time now! I would hate to see it get to the point where she would no longer want him, "because he doesn't mind" Hope it all works out! Good luck with this, sounds like you will have your hands full!
 

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My wife is an extremely busy professional who did not have as much time for him when we got him. Now, he is older and bigger (about 70 lbs already!) and he constantly has his way with her when I am not here.....
She's not at her wit's end with him.... It's just when she tries to impose her will on him, he basically doesn't respect it at all....I'm looking for any and all help and suggestions to make their relationship better. I can't be here all of the time, and he's still growing.
While I think your wife & Lab going to training sesssions would definitely help, for a busy professional the time and schedule demands may not be practical or feasible.

She might try the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) method of training and feeding. You can Google this and get various protocols and descriptions.

I used it with Puff when she was a pup and got very good results.

In brief, in my version, the dog is fed its usual meals by hand a few kibbles at a time. In order to get another bite of food, the dog obeys a command -- sit, stay, come, lie down, etc.

She can be flexible in this -- not all meals in a row have to be fed this way or be fed by your wife. She could do it randomly as her schedule permits. It takes only 15-20 minutes a meal. My hunch is that after about 3-5 meals, she'll notice a significant change. After doing this for about 10-15 meals over a 20 day span, there'll be even more change. Whenever your Lab's behavior slips a little -- as is normal and to be expected -- it's easy to restore by a few more NiLiF sessions.

Really, I get that this is pretty normal... as he can only ever have one master
Disagree




 

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Yep, if she doesn't do the work, he won't listen to her! Thats pretty normal- to bad for both of them. I think it would be easier in the long run if she could or would take the time now! I would hate to see it get to the point where she would no longer want him, "because he doesn't mind" Hope it all works out! Good luck with this, sounds like you will have your hands full!
I agree with Di. May I ask why she doesn't want anything to do with it? Did she not want him?

On a side note, what's his name and what color is he? :)
 

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He may be, more than anything, trying to get her attention! Negative attention is better than none, afterall. Most dogs WANT structure. Somehow you need to convey that to her. Anne
 

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What you are describing is a situation in which one of the humans in the household has chosen not to be a leader with the dog. He is too old to be mouthy, IMO - but if he is not getting consistent responses from both of you he is going to act up in this and other ways.

May I again suggest obedience - which will train her as much as the dog. Having a well trained dog is one of life's true pleasures - and having an undisciplined teenaged Lab can be a nightmare - which is why they get rehomed at this age.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
He is mouthy with all new visitors, though. When my friends come over it's just how he plays. I don't know what to do, really, because he doesn't do this with me at all... and he is never trying to hurt anyone. I've tried standing over him and saying NO and he stops but as soon as I am not around he knows he can get away with it again. I don't know... it's just his favorite way to play. The only reason he doesn't do this with me because he learned from an early age not to get rough with me. It's funny though, because he does not get mouthy at all with other dogs at the dog park. He just runs around with them, and we are just kind of like, I guess he thinks people are below dogs!

He is yellow and his name is Gus. He sits, lies down, fetches and stays and does everything I could want him to, and he's been doing it for months. It never took long with him. He's really, really smart. Maybe too smart.

As far as the method of giving him his meals slowly as a reward, I don't think that would work with him. He's the first lab I've ever seen where when we put out the food he doesn't just inhale it all without coming up for air. Most of the time he couldn't care less that it's out for him. He grazes on it for about 45 minutes or so, and will leave it entirely alone if both of us are doing something a couple of rooms away. He never likes to be left out of anything.

Despite how I am probably making him sound, he is a bigtime sweetheart. Which is why I really just want to get past this problem so that there aren't any more (for now at least!)
 

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He is mouthy with all new visitors, though. When my friends come over it's just how he plays. I don't know what to do, really, because he doesn't do this with me at all... and he is never trying to hurt anyone.
You are describing my 1-1/2 year old Golden Retriever. She is very mouthy in general (Goldens usually are), but when someone comes over she goes right for their hand. Veerrrryyyy gently, doesn't even clamp down, just gently puts their hand in her mouth. I'm trying to get her to stop doing this so I have to say "no bite" when I see she's trying to do it. So far, that works.

It sounds like Gus is a very smart boy!! :)
 

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He is mouthy with all new visitors, though. When my friends come over it's just how he plays. I don't know what to do, really, because he doesn't do this with me at all... and he is never trying to hurt anyone. I've tried standing over him and saying NO and he stops but as soon as I am not around he knows he can get away with it again. I don't know... it's just his favorite way to play. The only reason he doesn't do this with me because he learned from an early age not to get rough with me. It's funny though, because he does not get mouthy at all with other dogs at the dog park.

He just runs around with them, and we are just kind of like, I guess he thinks people are below dogs
All of this could be effectively dealt with in an obedience class. He is getting mixed messages. He should have an idea of what is expected of him all the time and what is acceptable behavior in his household - not what he can get away with when you are there or not. I don't think he thinks people are below dogs - dogs don't think like that - he is just taking advantage of a leadership vaccuum.

I suspect he has energy to burn and maybe is not getting enough exercise. He would probably be a calmer more compliant dog with a lot of exercise daily.

I suspect that your handling of him is very different than your wife's. I am sure he is confused.

If you were both in an obedience class you would learn how to consistently direct and work with the dog with the emphasis on consistency - one way. Since you have not responded to that idea from several suggestions, I guess you are not interested in pursuing obedience, huh?


There is no magic fix - he may grow out of it when he is 4 or 5 and settles down - he may not.
 

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As far as the method of giving him his meals slowly as a reward, I don't think that would work with him. He's the first lab I've ever seen where when we put out the food he doesn't just inhale it all without coming up for air. Most of the time he couldn't care less that it's out for him. He grazes on it for about 45 minutes or so, and will leave it entirely alone if both of us are doing something a couple of rooms away. He never likes to be left out of anything.
VERY easily solved.

Progressively cut rations by 1/4 every few days until you get immediate interest in the food.

I hope I'm awfully wrong on this but I'm getting an uneasy feeling that perhaps somehow Gus and his behavior maybe a pawn in an unspoken disagreement between you and your wife.

Hope not.

Gus will be the big loser.




 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My issue with the obedience is that everything they are going to tell me about it, I've already read on my own. I purchased two of **** Wolters' books (Gun Dog and Family Dog) as well as a more recent "progressive" published collection of various training methods. And it's not like he has issues with obeying me (at all). For seven months old, every other owner at the dog parks' jaws are on the ground when they watch the two of us with his bumper in the field.

Beyond this, right now, my wife works 80+ hour weeks at her job (doctor), and I am not going to burden her with another commitment right now. He is sweet with her and loving if he is not wanting to rough-house. We will just have to monitor how this changes as he grows up and she spends more time with me working with him. I can't imagine we are the first pet owners to not find it easy to handle our dog exactly the same way--and we probably won't be the last, either.

Truthfully, though, I am glad you brought up the exercise because it is what I thought could be a problem. He did not use to have these issues when he was in the crate less during the day, but my job's hours have picked up this spring and I've had less time and energy for him. I'll just have to find a way to make it now.

As far as the "unsettling feeling", I would save that for Dr. Phil, not this message board. My wife and I certainly have differences in regards to Gus, specifically how we handle problems with him... but at the end of the day the process of compromising and figuring out what we believe to be right has been satisfying for us. We're not bad people and we would never do something to harm him. He's a happy dog, well taken care of, and loved. Very loved. Maybe he isn't perfect, but oh well I guess. I really just wanted to get on here to make sure he wasn't the only dog in the world doing acting this rambunctious, and it sounds as though those fears have been alleviated.
 

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If you have the funding, you may want to look into either doggie day care or hiring a dog walker who can come and pick him up daily for a 2 mile walk or a combo of both. An underexercised teenaged Lab can become a giant paint in the ass in very short order.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
yes, I know this. But within two weeks my job (educator & coach) will die down for the next three months so I'll have plenty of time for him. The spring is really the only bad time for us, as my team is in season.

We have been looking into doggy day care 1-2 times per week, just because he loves the dog park and running around w/others so much. He responded really well to being off leash out there like that, so hopefully we can find a match and get it set up soon.
 

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Your wife can't spare 10-20 minutes a day interacting with your dog in the backyard performing basic obedience at all? Is she able to take a more active role in his care? Can she feed him, play a few minutes of fetch, do some tricks before dinnertime? It seems to me like he is only wanting her attention, just as BigBrownDog described.

Even a child who wants attention will do it in a negative way if it is successful. Plus, he is at teething age still, even though he has his adult teeth by now they are still setting so he will still be mouthy for awhile. Is there an appropriate chew toy your wife can redirect him to when he is mouthy on her hands? Everytime he is mouthy, she says "uh uh Gus" and redirects to an appropriate object. Praise when he takes it. It doesn't take long to do so and yes she may need to repeat it at the start but if you intervene it won't assist the situation either. This is something SHE needs to do with him... If my DH ignored our Lab due to a busy schedule my Lab would probably be similar, Labs can be very forceful when they require attention and if Gus has figured out that mouthing gets attention then he'll do it when he wants it. Our girl has learnt that bringing us toys and shoving them on our lap gets our attention....... I posted some pictures in the Lab Chat section just last week showing how she does this. They will continue with whatever is getting results.

Good Luck. Labradors are dogs that you need to make time for. You will reap the rewards tenfold in the future if you put in the time.
 

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You have been given lots of good suggestions and it sounds like you really understand what you are dealing with. So DW is either too busy, or doesn't want to do obedience classes for her to learn how to deal with Gus. I truly believe that the problem is not Gus, it is your wife.

Okay, accept that she won't get into the training and will never have Gus respond to her command wise. The issue you raised initially was the mouthing and scratching. Try working with your wife on those two items only. i.e. SHE cannot let him get away with it. She has to pull back, turn and ignore, maybe work on a down, or 'Park It' command. At least get the paws and jaw off your wife. It is up to her, you can't do it other than to coach her.

Regarding the same behavior with you guests, you have to educate your guests to turn away and ignore Gus when he does it, just like your wife. It sounds like Gus is a smart dog and will learn quickly, but the humans have to be willing to cooperate.
 

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I agree with all of the above advice. Your dog is being perfectly normal for the situation. Not all dogs might be like this, but it is not at all unusual. And really, the problem is more with your wife than the dog - not getting down on your wife - I really understand the situation - but it would be so much better for both your dog and your wife if she could work a little more with him and take some authority over him. I understand her work, and she probably just doens't want to have to deal with one more thing when she gets home - but he is a big dog, and will get bigger and stronger, and then his behavior could become dangerous just because of his size - not that he would try to hurt her - it just might happen inadvertenly. It would be invaluable if she could do just a litte "training" most nights - not even formal training, but give him his commands that he knows in a firm/friendly/ but autoritative voice, with a little reward of some sort. And more exercise will help, and he needs it, but it won't completely solve the problem with your wife - that perfectly understandible "normal" problem.
 
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