Okay Guys . . . Ask Suggested, Need Advice. Zeus The Wonderlab Can Be A Grump

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by passion4pups, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. passion4pups Active Member

    Okay, as suggested in my dog introductions, I'm looking for ideas and suggestions to my labs occasional issues with my oldest daughter. He does not like her giving him commands and taking part in any of the leadership/master role in some of the lesser enjoyed aspects of being a dog. Such as being ordered to go outside when he doesn't want to, having frontline applied by her, cleaning of his ears, by her, or releasing of his toys or treats to her.
    Zeus was purchased by my husbands ex-wife as a pup . She was on her third marriage, and hubby 3 was very abusive to the boys (my step sons) and their pup. To this day Zeus becomes extremely agitated when a belt is pulled out or off the pants, becomes extremely verbal and agitated when my other two dogs play gets really rough, AND gets agitated when play wrestling out rough housing between humans gets too out of hand for him. he plain does NOT like any type of strife in his life.
    between 16 -18 months of age Ex-wife was going to get rid of Zeus. He was too wild, he didn't listen to her, he chewed on everything . . . and all those generic excuses. The boys begged their dad to help, and Zeus came here. I think Zeus knows my hubs saved him . . . the bond between those two is so strong it's almost perfect.
    Now in my grooming exp. I had learned most labs I came across were high strung, under trained, blockheads!! Zeus was the exception . . . I loved him almost immediately. And I think he loved me as well.
    Anyhow, integration of the two households was done . . Zeus thinking he was human had to learn a lot of dog behavior and it was touch and go on signals . . a few times there was some foggy dog signals and misreading , but eventually all worked out.
    My Akita and Zeus mixed well, adding our third the Standard Poo was easy and the missing puzzle piece.
    Occasionally when my 17 year old tries to help me out by helping apply Frontline. Helping to hold Zeus so I can clean ears. (oh my does he hate this) Or if he has happened to sneak something out of the garbage or off the table he DOES NOT want to release it. Certain toys he seems particularly possessive of as well. Now most times if it is hubby or me he will obey on first command, or even second . . but with my 17year old . . NOPE. Unless he is going to receive something pleasant he will stare her down, stand his ground and sometimes even threaten to bite (usually making a snapping motion towards a hand or wrist, I have never seen him lunge or jump)
    She is the kindest, most gentle soul. Never aggressive towards him or any of the dogs, but also not very assertive . . I personally think he has accepted dad and I as leaders and thinks of 17 year old as a lesser pack member . . . but am open to suggestions. (even though changing this situation will get tough with her leaving for college in 2 weeks)

  2. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Sounds like Zeus did have a rough start - so glad he got out of that situation. First, you said " Zeus thinking he was human had to learn a lot of dog behavior and it was touch and go on signals . . a few times there was some foggy dog signals and misreading , but eventually all worked out." I can pretty much guarantee you Zeus never thought he was human. Possibly under-socialized, mistreated, any number of things, yes - but thinking he was human, no. As for your 17 yr old having difficulties with him - not sure why, but of course it will be a slow process, there's no magic with dogs.

    Since your 17 yr old will be leaving for college in 2 weeks, you're right, not a whole lot will change. But - I'd start with maybe having her start working daily on a "leave it" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEeS2dPpPtA with Zeus, maybe doing a few sessions daily. If he knows other things, maybe once a "leave it" session is finished, then throw in a few other things (down, spin, roll-over). Seeing her as the "giver of treats" may cast her in a whole new light. When it comes to releasing something he's snatched from the garbage, you say that he'll obey you or your hubby on the first or second command - but not her, he'll stare her down unless he's going to receive something pleasant. Honestly, he should receive something pleasant. Nothing wrong with that at all. Dogs are opportunists - and if they can snatch something, they will. You're taking something of high value from him, so trade him for it, or reward him for giving it to you - there is just nothing wrong with that at all. After all, it may save his life one day. Sure - he shouldn't snatch stuff - but that's a whole other behavior. The thing is, once he has, you now want it from him. And grabbing it from him because you can, can damage your relationship with him. Asking him to trade you his prize (for something out of his cookie jar or the fridge) is a much better idea (trust me, it's irked me a few times, but I do it every time - and mine have even given me a fresh-caught bird YUCK!). Let her start building a relationship with him - because right now, it doesn't sound like she has one, at all.

    You say he's possessive of certain toys - what does he do? And you also say when he has something he shouldn't, he sometimes makes a snapping motion towards a hand or wrist. What do you do when he does this? I'm wondering what his "consequences" have been in the past? This is concerning - mostly because of your wording. You've said "he will obey on the first command or even second" - or else, what? I bet I know what used to happen to him (in his first home). This is a dog who used to worry about resources (and old habits and concerns die hard). Back to what I said above - this dog needs to learn a solid "leave it" and learn to trade UP for things. No more "obeying" commands. Maybe I'm misreading your post, lots can be misunderstood, left out, and/or misread. But there needs to be lots of mutual trust and respect. Not sure there is.

    As for standing for Frontline - what does he get for it? Sometimes something as simple as a treat works wonders. "Stand", "wait" (Frontline applied), good boy!!!!, and a treat. Also, could she be bending over the front of him? Maybe he doesn't like being bent over from the front (head shy?)? Many dogs don't - and rightfully so. Just something to think about. Maybe she's bending over from the front and needs to be more on the side. Don't know, am just trying to think and toss out ideas.

    I'm sure others will chime in also. I do think having your daughter doing small trick sessions with him (starting with "leave it") daily, using good high-value treats will start to change their relationship.
  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Great advice Jackie! I agree, it's so difficult to really know what's going on in someone else's home. There's a lot going on for Zeus. Just wondering, how long has Zeus been with you?
    MaryK likes this.
  4. MaryK Honored Member

    Great post Jackie!(y) I am wondering why you're using 'pack leader' etc. that's very much old school training and the man who started the 'pack leader' and 'alpha dog' syndrome did so way back in the 70's and has since apologized on video (I have the video) for starting something which he, and others, have proven to be totally incorrect.

    So please, forget the 'pack leader/alpha dog' thinking. Positive Reinforcement Training, proven scientifically to work, is based on mutual trust and gently persuading the dog to acquire manners which are acceptable and needed to live with us as our companions. This is done by the 'reward' system. Click/treat the moment the dog gives you the right move, i.e. sit or give or leave it.

    Nowadays good dog training schools do not use the word 'obedience' at all. But use the word Training instead, which is what we aim to do, train our dogs to understand, accept and be able to live peaceable in our world.

    It's not a matter of your daughter being 'assertive', and I'm sure she would feel much more comfortable with having to persuade, using the P+ teaching method, rather than having to be something she's not - assertive.

    I too had the same though re Frontline. It's not natural for dogs to like anyone leaning over their heads. In fact dogs don't as a rule enjoy even being patted on their heads, that's something they 'learn to accept', because they cannot clearly see 'up' and it's a threatening move for them. Jackie has given you very good advice on that score, make sure you or your daughter is on the SIDE of Zeus not 'learning over his head'.

    I will not add more, as Jackie has really covered your issues extremely well.
  5. threenorns Well-Known Member

    the old-school "pack leader" mentality still holds but not the way it used to - dogs still live in packs, packs still have a hierarchy, they still look to a leader but it must be a *leader*, not a *driver*. someone who coordinates life in the house so it functions like a well-oiled machine and who takes reponsibility for when things go wrong, not like some barbarian king pitching a tantrum bec his slightest whim hasn't been indulged and nothing that goes wrong is ever his fault.

    it could be that your daughter hasn't got a clearly-defined purpose for being in the house. in a pack, every member has a function and a set of duties. the pack doesn't tolerate lazy hangers-on and it could be that your dog sees your daughter as being a bit of extraneous baggage thus has no respect for her.

    your daughter needs to step up her game. she doesn't need to be authoritative but she needs to be firm, calm, and assertive: "this is what is going to happen - i'm sorry you don't like it, but it needs to be done and we're doing it."
    brodys_mom likes this.
  6. MaryK Honored Member

    I am going to contradict you threenorns. Study the latest and most scientific teachings on dog behavior, be it wild or domestic, and the 'pack leader' theory as been totally discredited by top people. This is definitely 'old school' teaching, maybe wrapped up in a different package but still old school!!!!!

    Wild dogs, and we have them here, do not have pack leaders, neither do wolves - where that first started. Wolves have a breeding pair but NO pack leader. They have a very good social system, pity humans did have it, where they exchange roles, look after the young and hunt etc.

    You daughter does not need to be more assertive, Zeus has already had 'assertive' people around him and he WILL explode one day if you daughter adopts that attitude. Pardon me for being very forthright, but the safety of both your daughter and Zeus is at stake and when it comes to safety, I will speak my mind.

    Your daughter needs to work with BONDING with Zeus, via POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINING!!!!!!!!! Not having the 'bad luck do it or else' manner.

    She doesn't need 'a clearly defined purpose for being in the house'. She's there, that's enough. Are you going to have visitors use the same method, letting Zeus know 'their role' in the house.

    Zeus has been traumatized by people. Could be your daughter has some resemblance, i.e. voice, looks, smell to those people and Zeus is wary of her. I had a rescue GS who HATED anyone wearing a peak cap (such as police) he'd been badly treated by a man who wore a 'paper boys cap' - so to him ANYONE wearing a cap resembling that was 'fair game'. I did achieve a result, in that he accepted caps, after a lot of re-training using P+ - definitely NOT by being assertive, that would have tipped him totally over the top!

    Jackie's advice is EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!! She's had a wealth of experience re-training a HIGHLY REACTIVE GS, and if you check on the off topic forum, you'll see her post Makena's Big Day Out! It's taken her literally years to get to that point, but now Makena is grand. I'm not saying it will take years to re-train Zeus to being good friends with your daughter but you do need to take it step by step and allow Zeus to be REWARDED.

    Dogs LOVE rewards, and this is one of the reasons why P + training is highly successful in the long term!

    Some methods, such as the 'take it of leave' assertive method may bring SHORT TERM REWARDS but the dog will, more often than not without any warning at all, suddenly attack!
  7. southerngirl Honored Member

    I really think that your daughter should build a relationship with Zeus like I said in the other thread. And Jakienmutts gave great advice.:)
    brodys_mom, MaryK and jackienmutts like this.
  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Honestly, following this advice the way it's written, can get your daughter bitten. It does sound authoritative. To me, Zeus sounds like a dog who is having difficulties *for some reason* and is giving lots of signals as such. He's growling, he's snapping, he's hard-staring, he's refusing to move. But he's not biting. Yet. He's doing everythinghe can not to bite. Most of the time, a dog will tell you, give you signals, that he's uncomfortable in or with a situation. He'll refuse to budge, he'll air-snap, he'll snap (like Zeus, at hands), he'll growl, he'll raise his lips. Clear dog language that he/she is uncomfortable and wishes whatever behavior is occurring to stop, someone to back-off, go away, etc. If it continues, the next step most likely is a bite. Instructing someone to continue on with an attitude of "sorry you don't like it, but we're doing it anyway" is just asking for big trouble. It's telling Zeus "I don't care what you want, or how you're feeling, I'm in charge, you don't matter". And it's going to shut Zeus up, and shut Zeus down. He just may stop growling, it doesn't matter anyway, no one's gonna listen, no one cares. I'm tired of trying to tell them, just bite.

    Mary is right - this pack leader/dominance theory stuff went out years ago, regardless of what some tv show personalities might hawk. Science has proven otherwise. Sure, in some cases it works - for a while. The thing is, what often can also happen, is it backfires horrifically. Try to push a dog in distress with that attitude, who is speaking to you so clearly, and you're likely to wind up with a bloody (or missing) finger, hand, arm, or face.

    What happened to building a relationhip based on mutual respect? This is a positive reinforcement forum, and training methods are to be based on such - not force. When people come here for advice and suggestions, the last thing I'd ever suggest would be to tell someone being growled and snapped at by a large dog to force the dog to do something. However, I'd love to teach them how to begin to build a new relationship with that dog, step by step, based on a new mutual respect and trust. There are most often no easy answers. But simple steps can start the journey.
  9. threenorns Well-Known Member

    when i have to give dandy or my daughter medication, there is no negotiating. they HAVE to take it. there is no option. it's not even a "mutual respect" thing - if your child says she is asserting her "right" not to take the antibiotics would you respect her wishes and throw it out? that is a complete parenting fail.

    i will take as long as i need to but the medication will go on/down/in/whichever.

    there's a big difference between "you WILL take this, dammit" along with the usual crap routine of pinning them and shoving it to the back of the throat, etc, and being calm, firm, and patient - "take the medication and you will get your treat but you won't get your treat until you take your medication, i don't care if we have to sit here and breathe at each other all day."

    some things - when it comes to dog ownership or parenting - are simply non-negotiable.

    now, if the dog is THAT much of a problem, the most responsible thing is simply not to have the daughter dosing him. she needs to start way back at square one and the ppl in the house he does respect need to be actively working with her.
  10. MaryK Honored Member

    Absolutely right Jackie!!!!!!!!(y) Backing up what you've said about what happens when a dog is ignored, a little way back on this forum is a video of a T.V. Personality actually being bitten, quite badly, by a dog named Honey who gave warning sign after warning sign that she was distressed, fearful and really didn't want to bite. However, after the personality kept pushing and pushing her with the 'do it or leave it tough' attitude Honey bit, hard on the arm! And he had the nerve to say 'I didn't see that coming" No? Poor Honey gave more warning signals, like Zeus, than would a lot of dogs and her signals were ignored, so she took the 'last resort' biting! How else is a dog supposed to convey to a person it doesn't want to bite but isn't happy with what's happening?

    This is a Positive Reinforcement Forum and only those training methods are used and advocated here - for a very good reason - THEY WORK and are safe too!

    Google and there are plenty more videos of what happens when a dog's warning signals are ignored - not a pretty sight - but people ask for it. Then the dog is blamed!

    No dog should be FORCED into obeying! Jackie has explained it so well it would be rhetorical for me to repeat it all.

    Take heed of her words, she know well what she's talking about and the last thing you need is for Zeus to be pushed over the top.
    jackienmutts likes this.
  11. threenorns Well-Known Member

    WHY does everybody assume i'm talking about "forcing" the dog?

    has nobody else here ever had to get a kid to take medication she doesn't want? cause the impression i'm getting is that ppl here think there is only two ways to do things - the "wrong" way, which is to clamp the kid between the legs, plug the nose, put the meds in, and cover her mouth - and the "right" way, which seems to be to "respect" the child's wishes not to take it, then spend days and weeks talking about the virtues of taking the medication until the child decides to do it herself.

    what is wrong with calm, reasonable implacability?

    as i said, some things are simply not negotiable and if the dog objects to the daughter's presence that much, then she shouldn't be giving him the medication.
  12. threenorns Well-Known Member

    okay, i'm done with the fluffy pink clouds here.
  13. MaryK Honored Member

    With giving a dog medication, there are ways to get the dog to take it which DO NOT entail a 'stand off'. I've just recently been through that with my late dog Ra Kismet. As his crossing is still upsetting to me, I'm not going to dwell on it, suffice to say he DID NOT like having medicine (it had a rotten taste), but we managed it all with dignity, quickly and without as I've said a 'stand off' , which wouldn't have been possible anyway, as he needed it on a regular basis throughout the day. He got a heap of treats and was happy all the time, no heavy breathing in each others faces, nothing like that at all.

    Responsibility of whether Zeus should be around the daughter is actually up to the lady concerned. However, if the situation is that bad, then both needed to be watched carefully and Zeus (along with the daughter) need to be trained with mutual respect. Otherwise it's a 'time bomb in waiting' situation.
  14. southerngirl Honored Member

    I just want to say dogs are not kids and kids are not dogs. They learn differently than one another. If my nephew pushes his brother while they were playing he will get fused at and put in the corner or time out, but for Missy I would say "Ow" loudly and stop playing. I really don't think they should be compared when it comes to training.
  15. MaryK Honored Member

    Absolutely RIGHT Danielle, kids are not dogs and dogs are not kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (y)(y) Something everyone should remember in their training!
    brodys_mom and jackienmutts like this.
  16. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Wow - this certainly has taken an ugly turn! First, where was giving medication even discussed? I must have missed something somewhere. Checked back and couldn't find anywhere where the daughter having to give Zeus meds was discussed anywhere!! And suddenly, this has become an issues of him requiring meds, and a matter of life or death. It's sadly no wonder the original poster hasn't come back.

    Of course, if Zeus required meds, and the daughter were the only one available to give them, then something quick must be thought of. But I still believe having her get "assertive" with a dog baring his teeth is the wrong move and is setting her up to be bitten. That's not the case tho - as far as I could see. Perhaps someone could enlighten me, if I've missed something.

    As it is, the daughter is leaving for college in two weeks, so not sure how much would be accomplished. And not sure the poster will even be back. I think - if it were my daughter and I wasn't sure how to proceed - I'd ask her to step back and not have a lot of interactions with the dog that weren't acceptable to both her and the dog. Just keep peace in the family for the next two weeks, and figure it out before she got home for any length of time.

    And Danielle, I agree with you - dogs aren't kids, and kids aren't dogs. We need to keep that in mind when training. The one thing we do need to keep in mind when dealing with both tho, is that their feelings should always be respected.
    MaryK, brodys_mom and southerngirl like this.
  17. brody_smom Experienced Member

    The daughter was applying Frontline on Zeus. Threenorns was using giving meds as an example of a time when compliance was not negotiable

    I agree, Jackie, the op has gone quiet. I hope she was not put off by the tone of this discussion. I think we all need to take the time to re-read our own posts as well as the one we are responding to. Once it's out there, you can't take it back, so let's watch our words. We are all here for the same purpose, to improve our relationships with our dogs and become better trainers. Let's not let our zeal get in the way of helping others do the same.
    southerngirl likes this.
  18. passion4pups Active Member

    WOW. I never meant for my post to get so volatile.
    Let me clarify that obviously I used the wrong wording yet again. Zeus, because of his history does not get any type of forceful negative reinforcement. There is no rough handling or yelling kicking screaming going on. I don't even like when Rowdy (hubs) wrestles with him, because sometimes it gets really rough and you can hear in Zeus' play growls and howls (he does not bark, he howls and yodels) that he has crossed a point and gotten scared.
    I will not ask my daughter to be more assertive, because you are all right . . . I do not want her to get bit. Since the first incident with the frontline and her standing over him (thank you all for pointing that out some times even the simplest things are overlooked.) I now apply all meds . . both topical frontline, ear and anything else that may come along. Even though treats and praise do not make it a "pleasant" event. If I go to the hiding spot of the month . . which I have to change regularly because they are wise to which closet or spot I am going to and all take off running in 3 different directions. Zeus always knows what's about to happen and while he is not lunging and snarling at me . . he will not come to me willingly either . . even if I have goodies in my hand. It just becomes a stand off (don't read tht wrong, I am not usually standing , but sitting on the floor waiting) . . no love and attention until he comes to me for a treat and his meds . I must be one of the few who claims it takes hours sometimes to get 3 dogs frontlined!!
    As far as Zeus "thinking he was human" again . . wrong wording on my part. He was/is very un-socialized. He does not seem to receive and or send good signals. Which makes socializing him now a careful and slow process. Even in my own house with my akita whom he has been living with for over3 years now he still "seems" to by-pass or ignore certain posturing given to him by Griffon and I have to keep a very watchful eye and call Griffon to me before something bad happens. (Griffon thankfully gives very clear signals when play has gone too far and he's done, sometimes Zeus still will continue with his onslaughts of play either not realizing what Griff has said or not caring . . I don't which is the case to be honest) Because Griff is a big and powerful dog, even in his older age, I will not let them "work it out on their own " (which is another old school term, but the only one I can think of) , and knowing Griff responds to me 100% of the time . . I usually end the play by calling Griff to me.
    As far as leader of the pack terminology being old school, Your right it is to a point. BUT it is still being used as reference in learning some basic dog behavior in training classes. How do I know this . . because Wolf hierarchy and pack mentality were just taught to me. Did I go to a reputable school . . I thought so. Am I a certified trainer? Well I will have a certificate in a few weeks , BUT NO I am not going to run right out and hang a sign and start diagnosing behavior problems the day after I receive it. I still plan on shadowing a few reputable trainers in the area to get some "hands on" experience first before I consider myself an actual trainer. These classes actually referenced all types of training methods and also stated that each trainer adopts the methods that are right or most comfortable to them to use in the types of training they are doing. I was given a multitude of DVDs and books by various trainers . . some using negative reinforcement to the T . . in One of my first videos on Puppies . . the trainer in it (and I just tried to search for it and can't find it for the trainers name when I came to this part of the video I took it out and let it become a toy for the 2 year old) SHE actually rubbed a puppies nose in the spot on the carpet after an accident. Now I know that's old school , I would never do I, nor would I ever suggest anyone else do it, and my exam books actually stated it was wrong . . yet it is still out there . . How I interpreted it . . . A reference to how far training has come.
    In Jackie's original post response to mine . .she seemed to jump on my use of the word "obey" . Again wrong terminology I guess. What happens to Zeus if he does not "obey" or do as I asked of him . . which I think really are the same meaning aren't Or is there yet a better phrase I am suppose to use?
    To answer your question . . in most cases we come to a mutual agreement, if it does not seem to be working out that way , I pick my battles. Is it something I need him to respond to me for because his health or safety are at risk, or is it something I can let go for now and reference back to later when working on our basic obedience? I do not push him, force him But I won't leave it be and give up either if it is something that is dangerous to him. One incident with a dead rabbit he did not want to "leave it" (which he usually responds to 90 % of the time) I was not going to allow him to eat it either. We stood and stared at each other for what seemed like hours (which was actually only about 4 -8 minutes) I could not reach for the carcass without him snarling , so did not attempt again, but stood there, staring , not allowing him to run to another part of the yard . . I was even offering your "trade up" option with a thick piece or dried venison . .In his mind I guess the rabbit was better. What made him finally drop it, was it the treat or me standing there waiting for him to "leave it" I have no idea, but he did finally drop it , get his treat , and take to a private area of the yard.
    BUT I won't "trade up" and give him something yummy for digging in the garbage. Case specific would be the incident I was posting about was when hubs let a chicken carcass sit right on top where he could easily get it before we could finish up clean up and get the garbage out . . anyhow . . Zeus got the carcass, and yes I was responding to him before he had a chance to start chomping . . Not only because sometimes chicken bones can be dangerous (though mostly dried ones , not freshly cooked) But because my dogs don't get prepared "human food" , and a greasy fatty chicken would send his digestive system into major upset if e got something of that caliber.) In this same situation I body blocked his exit, asked him over and over to drop it, waited, made loud noises, maybe I even stomped my foot at this point I can't remember, each time he thought to drop to the floor and just start eating in front of me but I will not "trade up" for him doing something that was wrong. He is quick to associate things and I' sorry , but I won't give him a treat or trade up for getting into the garbage that is not a behavior I want.
    Now don't any of you get me wrong . . Zeus does not act out like this often, these issues he seems to have are not a daily or weekly occurrence. Except for the 2 year old all of us in the house are VERY aware that Zeus is a "bruised" dog and we are careful with the way we deal with him.
    You are right Jackie, this is a slow going process. One I have been dealing with since I moved in a little over three years ago. We have made progress so my original intent in posting was not to have people assume I am forcing him into going over the edge or putting him in a position to fail . . I am not ,and will not. It is so easy for others to interpret what I have written the wrong way. I only wanted confirmation that what I have been doing up to this point is correct or to see if others had more creative ways of dealing with it . . and even in this case have people point out the obvious that was simply overlooked. I did not mean to create a "holy war" so to speak, among the different types of people and the methods they choose to use. Also Just because someone types their advice does not mean I am going to follow it blindly either. I only wanted to see what other options are out there.
    Thank you, EVERYONE ,for your thoughts , advice and opinions. All were/are appreciated.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  19. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I'm so glad to see you haven't been put off by the brouhaha! Things can get that way around here. It's kind of like our dogs when they get into a bit of a tussle. It sounds a lot worse than it is! It's only because the forum members care so much and are passionate about their dogs and passing on wisdom they have gained through years of working through some difficult issues. I have joined a number of Yahoo! groups on dog training, and the members there are silent. This forum is incredibly active, so things can heat up pretty quickly if there is any kind of difference of opinion.
    southerngirl likes this.

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