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Couple of questions first, do lab puppies forgive and forget? Do all lab puppies look you in the eyes.

So here's the deal, just got our puppy last Wednesday (5-9-07)! She is a great dog and loves other dogs. She is adjusting well and after the first night of crying all night has slept the whole night thru since! She has also basically potty trained herself in this first week. However, I have noticed from the get-go that she is sort of aloof with people and doesn't (hardly ever) look me in the eye. She is also pretty submissive. I have tried to keep this first week pretty lite-hearted trying to play a lot and teach while playing, I have done a small bit of formal training (simple commands, sit and come to be exact, with a little Heel while on a leash). I have tried to treat any mis-conduct with positivity, but have failed a few times times. Swat on the butt (upon catching her in the act of doing something, jerk or pull on the leash (when she doesn't want to walk), pinch on the nose (for biting, learned from this forum). Well anyway, it should be said that the amount of praise I give this dog for doing what I ask, far and I mean far out ways the punichment side of things.

But I still worry I have damaged this relationship already, if the dog won't look me in the eye I figure she is probably not paying attention nor wants too. Tonight after a poorly handled short (in time) leash walk, she wouldn't even look at me, granted she doesn't know her name that well, but even when I got down on her level, still seemed like she didn't want anything to do with me. It isn't only me, I notice her ignoring other family members as well.

What can I do to strengthen this relationship?

I have already resolved to "no more of the physical stuff mentioned above" until have a trainer teach me the proper way to handle the situations. I can tell this is very smart dog with a good personality (although easily upsettable) waiting to break through, I just don't want to be a person that hinders that any.

Any advice or support?

Bashing is fine too, but you won't possible top what I have already beat myself up on.

I am just really looking forward to this dog growing up in our family, yet want it trained to be a good member of the family. After tonight I feel like she doesn't like me and will hate me even more after I put her in her kennel for bed.

Thanks for your time.
JAJ
 

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Not sure if you are a human parent, but yes as human children are, these "kids" are even more forgiving, as long as it isnt a on going mis-treatment situation, which I am very sure it is not! We all make mistakes, thanks for learning from them. Now it is time for both of you to move on to a new and wonderful life :)!
 

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What can I do to strengthen this relationship?
Unfortunately it sounds as though you may have already damaged it. Puppies are very impressionable at that age so swatting her, jerking her leash and pinching her will not make her think highly of you. :-\

Please, no more punishments. They do not work and they will make your puppy fear you.

Moving on...I see that you have acknowledged the error of your ways which is great. To rebuild your relationship I would adopt a positive only training regime. Also, just spend lots of time with her, stroking, petting and rewarding.

Tonight after a poorly handled short (in time) leash walk, she wouldn't even look at me, granted she doesn't know her name that well, but even when I got down on her level, still seemed like she didn't want anything to do with me.
How old is your puppy? if you got her last Wednesday she must be only 8 or 9 weeks? if so, she is far too young for leash walking. For her own safety she should not be taken out on walks until she has completed her set of vaccinations. Even then leash walks should be very short.
 

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I won't comment on training methods right now, just want to say that some pups (and dogs too) don't look you in the eye very well. My older boy will gaze at me straight in the eye for hours if I am petting and loving on him, but my girl never did, and still doens't make eye contact well. (unless you have a treat, or she wants out, in which case she can stare at you for a long time). I always thought of it as a little submissive behavior. If I am petting her, she literally looks away from me with her whole head. She is also very sensitive to "critisicm" and I have to be careful with how I correct her. Your pup if very young, so keep everything positive and redirect behavior rather than too many "no's".
 

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Honestly, she's a female, and typically they seem a lot more "aloof" than males. BUT...everyone is right...NO LEASH WALKING OUTSIDE OF YOUR YARD until she's had a couple of more rounds of vaccinations.

Dogs are forgiving...and I don't think a nose pinch will be bad...leash pops should be for later on...and a swat on the butt isn't going to make her hate you. She may sulk for awhile but she'll get over itl.

People project their emotions on their dogs way too much. SHe's going to be fine.
 

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You need to sign up for a puppy class to learn about how dogs communicate. What you're taking as misconduct or hostility or aloofness is typical puppy (BABY) behavior. You would never hit, pinch, or swat a six month old human baby, so don't do it to your puppy.

Who is your vet clinic? They should have told you about a lot of this stuff when you brought her in. Furthermore, the vet clinic should also have told you no leash walking until FULLY (3rd set) vaccinated because of the parvo risk- which is high here. In the Saint Louis metro area, I recommend Barrett Station Vet Clinic (Mason and Manchester) and Webster Groves Vet Clinic (44 and Big Bend).

Webster Groves Vet Clinic does a puppy class in their clinic with their own clients. You may consider using them and doing their puppy class.

Kennelwood also has puppy classes. Www.kennelwood.com. I signed up early and took both of my dogs through it twice for the socialization benefits. They are very stringent about mopping the floor before and after, and checking all vaccines.
 

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Let me say this..when we brought Dakota home..I had visions of a happy squirming tail waqging, face licking lil puppy..wrong..he was subdued..didn't respond to us very well, we got him kind of young..long story..but it took weeks for him to seem happy to see us after we were out..or in the morning. I guess it was his age.
Anyway..I wouldn't try too much correction from the get go..let him learn to love and trust you..and use distraction to change his behavior..if he bites you..get a toy and put it in his mouth..when he does something good..lotsa praise..if he bites, well..mine would attack my feet and ankles every morning while I was getting stuff together in the kitchen..I finally moved him to the bathroom till I was finished. It will let up..if he's very young..he's missing his litter mates..he's confused..and he needs lots of love, and lots of toys..build a bond first then correct what needs to be corrected.
Good luck........... Jackie
 

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You could also just have a shy dog on your hands. It's only the 14th and 5 days is STILL not enough time for a puppy or adult to feel comfortable at home. Dogs live in the moment - forget about all that other stuff that has happened. You start over. From scratch. Use positive training methods (which your new trainer will teach you). If the dog misbehaves, give a firm no and pay no more attention to the dog for a couple of minutes. By turning your attention away after giving a stern command - they aren't getting attention that they wanted in the first place. You'll see that by not paying attention will make the dog come to you.

Start of introducing new things slowly. If it's an adult rescue, take it for short walks. Relearn loose leash walking (get rid of your 15ft leads, your flexi leash etc.) With my Sisters Shepherd, I used a 6 foot lead, held the leash behind my back (to give me strength) and held the leash in my left hand while she was on my right side. She learned that by pulling on the leash, she was pulling me. By the end of our 15 minute walk, she had mastered the loose leash walk. She learned it got her more freedom. You can use a nylon slip collar (like I do). It's less harsh than a choke, or prong collar and it still tightens a little as the dog walks but doesn't create the "choking" effects of the others.

If it's a puppy, I would introduce walking in the back yard first. You want to keep your new puppy away from "outside" dangers until they are fully vaccinated. Use training treats (hotdogs work wonders) and this would be a great time to work on heel and to teach the dog her name. Hold the treat in your hand as you walk - let the puppy sniff it and then draw it up to your chest. This will bring her focus on you and you can praise her and call her by her name. If she keeps focusing on you, give her a piece of the treat. If not, repeat and then treat.

Hope I've helped. We all make mistakes. We just need to forgive ourselves and move on. Put a smile on your face and a "song in your heart." Negativity or depression will NOT help your new friend.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks all for the responses, not to say that how I've handled a couple of situations was right, but the punishment I have mentioned was minimal at best. It was done in as non agressive of a way as I possibly could. I was not purposefully trying to break the dog's spirit, but still felt the way I handled things was incorrect. I appreciate all of the responses and agree I had them coming. I was obviously expecting too much too soon.

Many have asked about the dogs age, she will be 12 weeks this Friday. And is up to speed with her shots so far.

I already spend a great deal of time petting, stoking, praising, and playing with her. I just need to figure out how we can best understand each others needs!

Thanks and keep the comments coming.
JAJ
 

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Many have asked about the dogs age, she will be 12 weeks this Friday. And is up to speed with her shots so far.
Ah, ok. Still, you must make sure you are not overdoing the leash walking. It is easily done. Many people follow the '5 minute rule' -- 5 minutes of exercise per month of age. So for a 3 month old pup that is no more than 15 minutes of leash walking.
 

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Hello everyone. I'm Jim's wife and Ava's Mommy. First of all, this forum has been a wealth of information. Thanks to everyone for offering such great advice. I just want to say I think my husband is being much too hard on himself. By reading his initial post, it sounds like he's much more physical with Ava than he is!! He's read 2 books on training puppies and reads this forum up and down. He's very loving and totally attentive to all of our baby's needs. He's been the best Daddy ever (just like he is to our 2 human boys). :)

Actually we brought Ava to the Webster Groves' Vet, and no one said anything about not leash walking until a certain age. It didn't even come up in conversation. I guess unless you ask specifically about it, they might assume you know. I'm very happy to learn this as neither did I realize it was not safe to bring your new puppy out and about. I'm happy to have this resource and fellow Lab parents to rely on for info.

Ava is such a blessing and not to be partial, but is the smartest puppy in the world. I think she's just a bit shy. I'm sure soon her and Jim will be staring deeply into each others' eyes having serious heart-to-hearts! ha ha.

We'll keep checking in and reporting and gathering your wisdom.
Thanks all.

Signed,
Ava's Mommy (and Jim's biggest Fan)!!! :)
 

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I just want to say I think my husband is being much too hard on himself. By reading his initial post, it sounds like he's much more physical with Ava than he is!!
Understandable. It is easily done. It is much harder to "read" what people mean over the internet sometimes.

and no one said anything about not leash walking until a certain age. It didn't even come up in conversation.
From my experience many vets seem to be quite unknowledgable about exercise especially for individual breeds. They do deal with the medical side of pet ownership afterall. The reason much care must be taken in that first 18-24 months of life is to protect the growing joints. Exercise is important for healthy development but too much of it can be detrimental. Therefore it is wise to limit your puppy and stick roughly to something like the '5 minute rule'. Socialization is more crucial at this stage then actual exercise as puppies tend to exercise themselves just by running around the house and yard. Walks should be for mental stimulation and socialization.
 
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Just 2 more things to add to the great advice you have gotten so far. It will be several weeks before you have a puppy that is comfortable and at ease in your home. Be patient.

Eye to eye contact is, for a soft dog (which you may have from your description), pretty stressful. It is somewhat confrontational in dog language. Once she is more comfortable she may be OK with making eye contact with you. Don't expect all that much now and try not to read too much into her behavior at this early stage.
 

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Do you have other dogs? The reason I'm asking is... when I brought Remington home his focus is all about our other dogs. He rarely looks me in the eye. In fact for a long time I wondered if he even realized I was there.

I've had him about two months now and he is giving me more eye contact, and is showing me he likes to be with me by coming when called and sticking with me out in the field, etc.

Don't expect too much too soon. Enjoy them when they are little. They grow up way too fast.
 

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I wouldn't hit her, nothing positive can come from it but negative things can.
In doggie etiquette looking at another directly is bad manners and is a sign that you may be itching for a fight.
Olie
 

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You guys are a sweet couple!

I thought it sounded like a little self-flogging on Jim's part. I recognize self-flogging because I am very, very familiar with this process. :) He sounded a little like me. :D

Now...

It sounds like she is a bit shy. Or still a bit uncertain about her surroudings. I wouldn't pass too much judgement just yet. As others have said, just keep things positive and upbeat for now. Twelve weeks is so young...you have plenty of time for more formal training. Right now, a good thing to focus on would be getting her to come running to her name. Make this the most fun game ever!

You guys can sit on the floor, facing each other, at opposite ends of the room. One of you calls her, very excitedly and in a happy voice. When she comes, load her up with lots of praise. (You will have to gauge the amount of carrying on you do...if she's a little shy, you might not want to get too shrieky. :) ) Reward her with some tasty treats and lavish praise. Then, the other person calls her, and repeat the process.

It is true that eye contact is a sign of a challenge in doggie language. A lot of dogs have a lot of trouble with the attention game, because it takes a lot of confidence to look someone who is towering over you square in the eyes.

I remember when Angus was a puppy. For the longest time, his tail never wagged. I would praise him, make a huge deal over him, baby talk, playing with toys...nothing. No tail wagging whatsoever. I was really, seriously worried about it...it just didn't seem normal! I thought surely he must not like me very much.

:D

His tail rarely stops wagging now. ;)
 

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Hi gang...so sorry. I can't believe we didn't properly introduce Ava once she got home. Everyone, AVA...AVA...everyone!!! We may be partial, but we think she's the cutest puppy ever!! And smart too..the whole package...good thing we're spaying her. haha ;D

Thanks for all of the great posts. Wow, didn't know getting a Lab also socialized us so much. Love this forum. You all have great advice.

Thanks again.
Stacy


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