Any dog experts out there?


#1

We visited a friend last night who was pet sitting for her sister, a 4 year old beautiful black lab. The dog is very gentle, but there was one HUGE problem. This dog whined and carried on until someone would play with it. In fact, it played to the point of exhaustion where it literally would collapse panting and yet still whine and cry to play more. The big game is frisbee or ball throwing and again, it is a retriever, but this was insane! They took the dog on a few walks, but this dog could not calm down.
I thought it might just be separation anxiety, but my friend said the dog is always like this. While we were eating, the dog basically paced around the table from person to person trying to get attention for play.
I told my friend maybe we should just try to ignore the dog, but I think I hurt my friend's feelings. It did seem like every time my friend told the dog to go lie down, the dog only got that it was getting attention and wanted to play.
I have always had dogs, I have the sweetest little spaniel now, and he loves to play, but not non stop.
Does anyone have any ideas about this odd behavior?


#2

I am the opposite of a dog expert (I fear and try to avoid them -the larger ones that is- and they, presumably sensing it, hate me), but anecdotally I'll say this hyperactive behavior reminds me a lot of my grandmother's dog, which is also a black lab. She got him as a puppy and hoped he would calm down as he got older, but he never did. Fortunately she is very fit for her age, but it actually worries me because if she was no longer able to handle the dog I think she would have a very hard time recognizing and acting on the need to get rid of it.

On the other hand I had a neighbor/teacher growing up who had a very mellow chocolate lab.


#3

The dog is not in a good state of mind. Someone needs to show the dog what being calm means. Has it had any obedience training? Dogs are mostly followers and a submissive dog will be looking for a leader, and if no pack leader can be found, then the dog must be the pack leader but a submissive dog feels anxious in that role, kind of like if the front desk receptionist was suddenly promoted to the position of CEO.

I would suggest that they work on obedience with the dog. It needs to understand commands and be able to follow them, before it can accept limits like “that’s enough for now.” The dog is only making itself more and more anxious by the “play” that is more and more frantic.

I have gotten a lot of very helpful information from watching “The Dog Whisperer,” Cesar Milan. He really understands a dog’s inner workings and does not try to make them into little humans but treats them like the animals they are. It looks like magic because so many people do mess up their dogs with their own neuroses…but it’s really simple. I love the way he reminds the owners that their dogs do not have a memory of what has happened before this moment, so you can always start from where you are and improve upon it.

But I would work on “down-stay” with that dog, many times a day. Edited to add, the dog also needs other entertainments it can play with/work on by itself, like chew toys, Kongs filled with treats, etc. It also may need longer walks, like 2-3 miles at a time. Labs are actually WORKING dogs, which we forget. They are happiest when they are doing retrieving and are trained to do their job well. Give a Lab a job and he will be a happy boy. Let him do nothing all day and he will go crazy.


#4

Sounds like the dog is getting exercise Juliane said lots of good stuff. My lab mix is a little like that. I think you were right to ignore the bad behavior like that but it doesn't sound like your friend is ready for that.
I wait for my dog to be "calm submissive" before I engage with him.
I would recommend the "Dog Whisperer" too kind of like I would recommend supernanny to parents to at least recognize the problem and solution.


#5

I agree whole-heartedly with Julianne. I am a big fan of Cesar Millan. His techniques and insights have helped me immensely in keeping control of my pack of 4 dogs.
One thing that your friend needs to keep in mind is that play is not exercise. It more properly falls in the category that Cesar would call affection.
My German Shepherd Dog loves to play fetch, and she can go all day when she wants to. She just ends up getting more and more wound up, though, because she's excited to play. When she's in that state, I stop the game. I cannot allow her to get that wound up. Instead, I make sure she gets structured exercise. I have a treadmill that I bought just for her. She knows when she is very wound up that she can release that energy on the treadmill, so she will actually go to it and stand on it, waiting for me to turn it on. LOL! (She is a smart dog!) We also go out for long walks/runs. I have a recumbent tricycle and she has a harness (all the dogs have harnesses for the bike rides). I get her "dressed" and off we go for a couple of miles. All the dogs love going for these runs, but the GSD especially benefits from it. Her physical composure changes subtly, but the cues are enough for me to know when she has switched from the crazy state of mind to the calm state. If I am negligent in exercising her regularly, she pays for it by being crazy-dog. She doesn't like it any more than I do.
I would highly recommend that your friend begin a real exercise regimen with this dog. She is doing him a terrible disservice by allowing him to continue in a crazy state of mind. He needs to go for long walks at a quick pace every single day. If she has a bike, even better, because it lets him jog beside her. He will be able to get into a calm state of mind much quicker by trotting beside her because he won't be able to stop and read the "pee-mail" every 2 steps. She can also use the dog's natural retrieval instincts by teaching him to find and retrieve objects. But that would come after she has helped him regain control of himself. Right now, he is out of his mind with either boredom, anxiety, stress or some combination of all of these. A good dog trainer can help her get started with basic obedience (the discipline part of Cesar's "exercise, discipline and affection" credo). But before she can even begin to teach him anything, she has to get him in a calm state of mind so he can actually learn.


#6

I agree with Julianne as well! I'm a dog lover, of all shapes and sizes.

Sounds like they have reinforced the whining by giving in and playing. My dogs don't get attention unless I instigate it. Whining, jumping, and begging get them nowhere, and they know that, so they don't even try anymore.

I have worked with many stubborn, anxious, and high energy dogs. I've had success with my border collie mix (high energy, anxious, neurotic!), a Mastiff mix (stubborn and dominant) and a rottweiler puppy (stubborn, dominant). The stubborn ones are actually easy, once they know expectations it's easier for them to want to please. Dominant dogs are also not as difficult as the anxious ones... they have a few screws loose :)

The border collie mix, Dolly, has been a challenge with training and overall behavior. She requires not just walks, but runs! And she has to be psychologically exercised as well, because she's very smart. We play games where I hide toys and she goes hunting for them, I make her practice obedience almost every day, and I teach her a new skill every chance I get. The mental challenges are what works the best for a anxious dog, it calms them considerably.

Your friend may need to rethink her doggy strategies :shrug: Feeding the behavior by giving into it only makes it worse. The dog know thinks that if it consistently whines, it gets play time. An annoying cycle for owners and guests alike, and I'm sure the dog doesn't enjoy being so nervy all the time!


#7

It's the same as feeding a dog from the table. The minute you do that, they learn that begging works and they will never stop until the begging no longer works and you respond differently. Giving in to whining, scratching, etc. is merely being a permissive parent and teaching the dog exactly the opposite of what you want, which is a calm, obedient and relaxed dog!


#8

Oh my gosh, that is so gross… I can’t STAND it when people do that, even with little dogs! Dogs and dinner, do not mix… my step grandfather used to let his little dogs eat off of his plate. I remember thinking how icky it was, even when I was a little kid.


#9

I think it is a little unfair to judge the dog when his owner isn't around and when it is being watched by someone else. That's not normal circumstances for the dog and of course the dog is not going to be on his best behavior.

I don't doubt that he could use more exercise, obedience and more structured play. But not knowing the dog's history it really could be separation anxiety. Dogs who are secure don't play until exhausted and beg for more. He might be a rescue dog that was neglected he might just be a neurotic dog around strangers.


#10

[quote="StarFireKK, post:9, topic:248855"]
I think it is a little unfair to judge the dog when his owner isn't around and when it is being watched by someone else. That's not normal circumstances for the dog and of course the dog is not going to be on his best behavior.

I don't doubt that he could use more exercise, obedience and more structured play. But not knowing the dog's history it really could be separation anxiety. Dogs who are secure don't play until exhausted and beg for more. He might be a rescue dog that was neglected he might just be a neurotic dog around strangers.

[/quote]

Don't worry, we aren't hurting the dog's feelings!! ;)

No, seriously, the OP said her friend told her the dog is ALWAYS like that. Whether or not it's a rescue, the dog deserves to live a more comfortable, calm, and structured life. That takes training and consistency, which a lot of dog owners unfortunately cannot manage.

I've met SO many hyper Labs and Goldens...and they are the ones who get stuck in a backyard all day with not enough exercise and contact with humans. Really, for me it comes down to what the breed is supposed to do, which in this case is work with a hunter in the field. The best examples of Labs and Goldens are the ones who are trained to retrieve! But owners who don't hunt or do that kind of obedience training can still get a positive effect by regular obedience and structured exercise.


#11

Lots of good advice already...

These owners are obviously very fond of their dog, but as has been pointed out, unable at the moment to really 'think dog'. For this reason, I would actually steer well clear of suggesting they follow CM's methods. There is a real danger with this sort of approach that wrongly applied, or misinterpreted, or poorly timed, these methods can and have resulted in physical and psychological damage to many dogs. This happens when someone with little experience 'buys the book' or 'sees the tv show' and then slavishly follows, or tries to follow. what they have seen - without actually looking closely at their own dog and their own situation.

I agree that working dogs need a routine and boundaries though :thumbsup: What I tend to do is give my dogs an 'on / off' switch! By that, I mean, until I use a key phrase - it has to be the same one each time, for example, "Helloooo" but allways delivered in an upbeat was and full of enthusiasm - the dog accepts he / she isn't going to get any attention from me - positive or negative until it hears this key word. I try to stretch my dogs by giving them things to do - my dogs both work anyway; one in working trials and one as a gundog. When the interaction is over, I say ,'that'll do" in a calm, soft voice and walk away. It takes a while, but of you are absolutely consistent, it will work.

This method is good too, because it means you can take control of when you interact with your dog and manipulate the time so that it is quality time, when you are in a good and positive frame of mind and not trying to get through a pile of ironing, or watching something on the cooker!

As far as books go, I much prefer Jean Donaldson's 'The Culture Clash' because it is written in a more conversational style and is structured enough for a complete novice to follow, but is still a cracking read and far more intelligently written than any of the 'celebrity' trainers' books that I've seen.

I'm not knocking CM completely - I agree with much of what he says about exercise, but I have also seen him use methods that anyone using on a shoot would be shot for :rolleyes:


#12

Whatever behavior the dog is doing, you do just need to teach the dog to knock it off.

My dog will sulk in the basment if she dosn't get enough attention. While I don't like it she's out of my way and so I let her.

I only sometimes agree with "Dog Whisperer" only in that dogs will get away with what you let them. I don't buy any of that "nervous dog" stuff. It's the human.


#13

The consensus in the veterinary behaviorist community is that Cesar Milan’s dog training tactics are outdated and can actually be very harmful. I highly recommend Dr. Sophia Yin.

This dog sounds as though he is seeking attention. He has learned that the inappropriate behaviors he is exhibiting will get the attention he craves. Training is definitely in order, with the help of a veterinary behaviorist or certified trainer that uses positive techniques rather than punishment and/or dominance techniques. There may also be other underlying medical or behavioral problems that need to be addressed.


#14

That dog is showing a lot of insecurity. It needs structure and obedience training. Obedience training will teach the dog who is the boss and will actually give more security to the dog. It’s the same as a child. A child needs love, discipline and structure to feel secure.


#15

[quote="purplesunshine, post:12, topic:248855"]
Whatever behavior the dog is doing, you do just need to teach the dog to knock it off.

My dog will sulk in the basment if she dosn't get enough attention. While I don't like it she's out of my way and so I let her.

I only sometimes agree with "Dog Whisperer" only in that dogs will get away with what you let them. I don't buy any of that "nervous dog" stuff. It's the human.

[/quote]

LOL.... I beg to differ... my dog is a nervous mess. When I have stress from various things, sometimes I'm not even aware of how bad it is... but Dolly knows! She gets so stressed out, she develops stress colitis and has explosive diarrhea for about a week.

We got a new puppy, an she was so excited to have a companion, she developed stress colitis again and the vet just laughed and said "you have a neurotic one here, eh? At least she doesn't eat your furniture".

She is a very nervous dog. Exercise and mental challenges like training are the only things that work to keep her from dissolving into an oozing pile of anxiety.

And PS - scolding makes a nervy dog worse! there are specific behavior tactics you have to employ to teach them how to tone it down. I don't adhere to any one training method or famous trainer... my favorite model is good old Pavlov! Ring a bell, and she salivates :p It's called classic conditioning.


#16

There can be nervous dogs. My BIL has a very nervous, neurotic black lab. However, she was a rescue dog and an abused dog. She is on meds for her neurosis.


#17

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