Issues With Gilbert

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by Gracegeorgina, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. Gracegeorgina Experienced Member

    I'm not quite sure what to do with Gilbert atm... he basically ignores you, growls if you try to move him (and no, he's not in pain), hates attention but yet if you ignore him it isn't any better. If your affectionate with him he'll either ignore you or think he can just do what he wants and if you tell him off he refuses to look at you.. He's always been relatively difficult (he's only a year old) but we figured he was just going through his puppy stage. Just completely lost.
    MaryK likes this.

  2. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi Gracegeorgina

    I admit that I'm not entirely certain what you're asking for in your post. I'll respond to a few things here, please let me know what it is that you'd like thoughts or advice on.

    Handling exercises are a necessary here. Is he growling all the time that he's touched, or only in certain situations?

    I don't know what him thinking "he can just do what he wants" means.

    How are you telling him off? Refusal to make eye contact is a calming signal, something dogs do when they find a situation stressful.
    MaryK and jackienmutts like this.
  3. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I also read your post and had the same questions A & C had. I was also wondering ... you said he hated attention, but what kind of attention? Petting? eye contact? playing? cuddling? what kind of attention does he not like - or does he not like any kind of attention at all? What does he do if you pet him? How long can you pet him before he shows his displeasure (in whatever way he shows it)? When you want him moved, do you ever ask him to move? And then what does he do? Or do you just try to move him? And what do you do when he growls?

    You said he's "always been relatively difficult". What does that mean?

    Please try to be really specific in your thread, give loads of info, that way we can post some possible insights and maybe some specific suggestions to help out.
    Dogster and MaryK like this.
  4. Gracegeorgina Experienced Member

    He does not like being stroked or cuddled (he's a cairn and they are known for not being lapdogs but their nor usually this bad) and will growl at you if you do so. I mean, if he's sitting down you can stoke him but he'll go away within seconds. Moving him is an issue. There isn't really a problem with dogs coming on the sofa here so if I need to sit down and he's in my spot he does growl at you, just like he does when you try to cuddle him. You can either be firm with him and tell him off for what he does (just firmly tell him and no eye contact when it's nothing major but a little tap on the bottom for growling and snapping) but he will then completely ignore you but if you don't tell him off (let him stay where he wants, bark when he wants, run off....) then you have zero control. He's always been difficult in the sense that he's always whined, not come back when he's called (Cairns haver very bad recall, selective hearing). He sort of lives in his own little world which he allows us to live in to serve him and make his life easier, if that makes sense? Thank you for all the advice so far and I am happy to answer any more questions!
  5. JazzyandVeronica Experienced Member

    Do you do positive training with him; where you are upbeat and make it fun and he earns treats? I could be wrong but it sounds that as if overall he really hasn't been trained and is not accustomed to interacting with you.

    What have you trained him to do thus far and what methods have you used?

    I was going to suggest working on placement commands (teaching on, off and move) to address the issue of his moving when on the couch; but it seems like you are looking at a larger undertaking.
    MaryK likes this.
  6. MaryK Honored Member

    Everyone has covered all the questions. I just have one about the stroking.

    Do you stroke him on his head? Dogs do not really like being stroked on the top of their head, and although many don't react, some dogs do.

    Jazzy and Veronica, maybe starting with your suggestion of the placement commands, using positive reinforcement, could be a good way to start to get him to respond in a positive manner. Then work on the larger issue. One step at a time scenario rather than trying to tackle everything in one go.
  7. Gracegeorgina Experienced Member

    Yes he has been trained..as soon as I got him I started teaching him tricks and he got treats whenever he did something correctly (sit, hi-5..) and was trained to go out in public etc... he was never very cuddly but was still correctly behaved at the beginning .. he just stopped listening and interacting And it's not related to where you stroke him, he really just doesn't like being touched, cuddled is the worst. And he really has no respect for me, at all!
    MaryK likes this.
  8. southerngirl Honored Member

    Maybe you should focus on bonding with him. Are you still teaching him tricks? If not start back on that. Take him on walks with just him and not the other dogs. Sit in the floor with treats and touch him on his chest click and treat, once you feel that he is okay with this give him a little stroke click and treat. Keep slowly increasing how much you pet him. Hopefully this will make him associate petting with treats. I hope this helps.
    MaryK likes this.
  9. Gracegeorgina Experienced Member

    Southern girl, what your saying is what I know needs to be done... bond with him! I tried taking him out by himself a few weeks ago and as soon as I turned my back he just ran straight back home :( I want to bond with him but I just don't know how to...
    MaryK likes this.
  10. southerngirl Honored Member

    You say he ran back home, why not put him on a leash? Maybe find some books, videos and websites about bonding with your dog?
    MaryK likes this.
  11. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I agree with all that's been posted so far. I think you need to step waaay back with Gilbert, kind of start all over. Don't blame it all on his being a Cairn. A friend had one for 14 yrs and she was a total sweetheart - they're terriers, so yes, they've been bred to be independent little things and she def was, but she was still a major part of the family, loved attention, loved being the center of attention, etc. Has he always been trained with positive reinforcement? No judging if not - as lots of us on this forum are cross-over trainers. Is it possible he could have been handled roughly at some point, so that maybe he's not as trusting of people as you'd like? Just throwing out thoughts.

    Just from what you've written, I'd suggest stepping way back and starting over. Spend time with him, bond with him like you would with a new dog. Give him time and space, and no rough handling whatsoever. Don't move him. Ask him nicely and respectfully to "off Gilbert" - and pay him well for doing so. And practice, practice, practice. You have to earn dogs' respect, just as you have to earn peoples'. Dogs shouldn't have to respect us just for our mere presence in their world - unlike some tv personalities would have you believe.

    Let me ask you this - when Gilbert doesn't listen to you, what do you do? What are you asking him to do when he blows you off? And what are the results? Also, keep in mind, not all dogs do like to be cuddled. I have two German Shepherds. My girl is a real cuddler, and loves her cuddle time each night. My boy, altho he loves people and is very affectionate, is not the cuddler she is at all. He loves his pets and attention, but doesn't like all the hugging, etc. He tolerates it (he puts up with me cuz I think he knows I like it :LOL: but sometimes I can see him looking like "oh brother" - and as soon as I release him, he wanders off). Some dogs don't really like it - just as some people are way less affectionate than others. Think about it - dogs don't hug and cuddle each other like people do. Maybe he's just not a cuddler. We have to remember to always accept our dogs just as they are, not try to make them as we'd like them to be.

    Kathy Sdao has a book "Plenty In Life Is Free" - she stresses the need to constantly catch our dogs doing things RIGHT. Many years ago, I adopted a GS who had had a less than stellar beginning to life and came with loads of baggage. Our trainer suggested this very approach with her and it worked wonders. Kathy suggests measuring out the dog's kibble each day and using that (or a portion of it) throughout the day - that way you won't end up with a fat dog. Load your pockets with kibble each morning, and all throughout the day, every single time you see Gilbert doing something you like - whether it's laying on his bed, being quiet, looking at you, following you, sitting someplace, being calm, jumping off the couch on his own, etc etc etc ... the list is endless - toss him a piece of kibble from your pocket, no words needed. You're going to become the center of his world. This isn't going to happen over night, this needs to be ongoing. Don't do it for only a day or a week, do it every day. He's your dog forever - so make this an every day thing. She suggests 100 pieces of kibble, and catching them doing something right 100 times during the day - and this is not training sessions, that's different. Let Gilbert know he's doing something right. He sounds like a dog who's not happy - make Gilbert a happy dog and I bet lots of things turn around.

    For now, on the couch, instead of eliciting growls from him, or trying to move him, ask him to move, reward him when he does, and if he refuses, what would happen if you leashed him, then "encouraged" him to get off the couch that way (basically guiding him off)? And once off, reward him. Make all his behaviors fun for him, let him know there's something in life for him, besides just you all disagreeing and grumbling at each other. And - once he's off the couch, have a mat or bed that he then can directly go to, nearby (or maybe he has one already).

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