4 Months Old Puppy - The Turning Point

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by Annamarie Gebar, Sep 1, 2021.

  1. Annamarie Gebar

    Annamarie Gebar Registered Users

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    Many if you told me your dogs changed at 4 months old. That seemed like a lifetime away from where I was at when I read that. But, Sophie is now 17 weeks and she has DRASTICALLY changed (for the better!). I don't know if it's the age, or things I have been doing, or a combination of both, but my puppy is drastically different. She has almost stopped biting aside from certain things like when she has the Zoomies and I go to pick her up or try to unravel the leash from around her legs. She is actually LOVABLE and I can pet her all I want with no biting. I can put my hands up to her mouth and face with no biting. She actually enjoys chewing on Yak sticks more than my feet or hands. She seriously is like a different dog. She is able to spend a little more time outside if her crate just relaxing and chewing on her bones and toys and needs less attention, but she's not ready to be out all the time though. She is still getting into new things in the house (like a new rug I bought) so I'm having to teach her "leave it" with new things all the time. She's still horrible on walks and leash pulling, but she learned "off" in just 2 days and learned "with me" today after 3 sessions. I'm able to leave her for a few hours (something I only did once at 3 months and she had meltdown separation anxiety!), but for the last 2 weeks I give her a stuffed frozen toy and she excitedly goes in her crate and when I come back home, she's peacefully asleep or just chilling out in her crate with a toy. I haven't had a meltdown in over 3-4 weeks and I actually enjoy playing and interacting with my puppy.

    Hang in there everyone, it will get better! She's teething now and lost 4 baby teeth so I'm sure chewing will start to get worse but my puppy is manageable and I'm getting my life and my sanity back little by little.

    Anyone have advice for leash pullers? She has meltdown when I try to put a harness on her and I've tried 6 different kinds. So we are back just her collar. It's probably bad that I've let her pull for the 2 months I've had her, but I'm really trying hard to work on this. If anyone has tips - please let me know. How long did training your dog to leash walk properly take???
     
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  2. sarah@forumHQ

    sarah@forumHQ Moderator

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    What a great update! Thank you for sharing your progress with us - it makes SO much difference when you're struggling with a puppy, to know that you're not the first, or only, one.

    We've got a simple guide to teaching loose leash walking on our main site :)
     
  3. Noora

    Noora Registered Users

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    Thanks so much for giving us new puppy parents hope! This is exactly what I needed to hear today. It's been a tough four weeks with our 14wk old Nelli but I really hope 4 months really is the turning point for us too :)
     
  4. AnnaC

    AnnaC Registered Users

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    Great to hear. I think our puppies are similar ages, our girl was 4 months last Saturday and is doing pretty good too. Sleeping better most nights. Still a bit bitey at times as teeth have fallen out but generally a dote. Can pull on lead at times too and wants to make friends with every person or dog we meet out and about. She's a lovely girl and we're mad about her. Things have come along way since the early days of exhausted feeling completely overwhelmed
     
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  5. Puppy Newbie 85

    Puppy Newbie 85 Registered Users

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    Our guy drastically improved between 4 and 5 months for sure.

    He is now 6.5 months and he's actually a dream pup. We are still working on lead walking manners and he does still get a but jumpy on people when he's excited, but overall he is amazing. He is so chill in the house and has yet to chew anything that isn't his. I am writing this while WFH with him fast asleep on the chair behind me :)
     
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  6. Chris N

    Chris N Registered Users

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    Best advice I can offer is practice round the house/garden at every opportunity.

    Four months today. Yay.
     
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  7. NancyB

    NancyB Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    At 19 weeks Buster is just now walking very nicely on the leash at my side. He only pulls now when he sees another dog and/or people that he wants to greet - we're working on that too and it's getting better. It has taken about 5 weeks so far and I feel confident that we'll have all the pulling eliminated in another 2-3 weeks. I started training him on leash walking at about 13-14 weeks, started to see improvement after 3 weeks and there has been a huge improvement in the last 2 weeks. I practice with him 3-4 times a day for short sessions and the training classes have also helped - an intensive hour of practice once per week, and the instructor has pointed out areas where I need to change my technique or work on. Finding the training classes to be really beneficial.
     
  8. Chris N

    Chris N Registered Users

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    Thinking about it when I say every opportunity I don't just mean on the leash. It's about engagement with yourself. If they're watching you ghost half the time they shouldn't pull.

    It's worked with my other dogs.
     
  9. Annamarie Gebar

    Annamarie Gebar Registered Users

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    For your training did you just stop every time he pulled snd then start again when there was slack? Or did you do clicker training, treating etc? I realize some styles don’t work for all dogs but I fear I’ve let Sophie pull for 2 months snd this is going to be a hard habit to break.
     
  10. NancyB

    NancyB Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I use treats (often just part of his daily kibble, only use real treats when we have lots of distractions) and the word "yes" instead of a clicker. I'm certainly not an expert but so far my experience with Buster is that it's not too hard to "break the habit" - he will respond to new training really well as long as I'm consistent and do the new training often. Before I started the leash training, he pulled and went pretty much where he wanted. To start with, I had him sit by my side, said "yes" once he did (you could use the clicker instead) and gave him a treat, then walked 2 steps and stopped, marked it when he sits and reward with a treat. Walk 2 steps, stop, etc. Especially at the start, kept the sessions quite short (maybe 10min max, there is quite a bit of waiting at first) but did it at least 3 times a day. Once he got this, gradually started increasing from 2 steps to 3; then to 5-6 steps and for a bit longer sessions. If he started to pull, we stopped and I just waited until he came back to sit by my side. He got it pretty quickly. Then I started varying the number of steps at random as well as the speed that I walk (this was a fantastic tip from the instructor!). Now the only time he pulls is if he sees a dog (for sure) or a person (sometimes). When he sees a dog, I stop and wait until he comes back to my side. I'm working on trying to counteract - as soon as I see a dog (hopefully before he does), I do a quick turn around and go the other way. Some success but still a work in progress. I have been pretty diligent about training this at least 3 times a day, sometimes 4 times, every day - at 19 weeks, he is 38lbs and if he pulls I have to plant myself to hold him - once he is full grown, there is no way I will be strong enough to hold him back if he pulls, so it is absolutely critical.
     
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  11. Annamarie Gebar

    Annamarie Gebar Registered Users

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    Thank you, Nancy! I’m going to try this. Sophie is almost 32 lbs and right on the brink of where she’s getting pretty hard to hold back so I really need to start something ASAP. I’m going to try this starting tomorrow. I appreciate the help!

    mom a more positive note, Sophie hit a milestone today if being out of her playpen most of the day snd just hanging with me while I worked! I only have to put her in when I go out in the yard or garage, or to take me shower in the morning. I’ve never been able to have her loose. She was always into stuff snd biting me and everything in the room. Today she snoozed on her bed many times and self occupied with her toys, and I had several walks, training sessions and playtime every 2-3 hours. I’m hoping in a few weeks the playpen can be taken down! So happy to get past that horrible biting and uncontrollable phase! Glad to hear your pup is doing well too.
     
  12. NancyB

    NancyB Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Fantastic that Sophie is out of the playpen, that is a big milestone! Never had a playpen for Buster, but generally keep him confined to the small bedroom that is my office during the day while I'm working. I can still only let him out in the rest of the house for short periods with a leash on and very close supervision. Although his biting is much better, he still prefers to chew furniture, carpets, etc to any type of chew toy so that is still a big work in progress for us. Looking forward to the day when I'll be able to sit on the couch with him just resting happily near me....Good luck with the leash training, the first few times are the most frustrating and the best advice I got was to keep the first sessions very short so that I could make sure I stayed positive and ended on a positive note.
     
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  13. Annamarie Gebar

    Annamarie Gebar Registered Users

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    I had the same issue with chewing and I tried “leave it” and toy redirection and redirection never worked. “Leave it” works for me but requires weeks of repetition on the same item before she’d get it. And any new items introduced require the same effort. I bought a cheap area rug to use until she’s grown and I can bring my good one back out of hibernation, and for 3-4 days she started chewing on the corners and still today will try to chew on the little fibers and pull them loose.

    I did experiment with many chewier for her and the three game changers were a water Buffalo horn, a split elk antler and a Himalayan yak chew. I rotate them so she doesn’t get bored but she loves them and they keep her busy for hours and honestly she gets into less mischief when I give those to her. Keep in touch with a Buster’s progress please snd thanks for all the advice since I became a dog mom!
     
  14. NancyB

    NancyB Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Will look for those chews you suggested, maybe they will keep him busy! Will keep you posted :)
     
  15. Gone fishing

    Gone fishing Registered Users

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    For the pulling on the lead, I'd try not just stopping when she pulls, but turning her around and going back a few steps, then sit and wait a while before moving off again. I have been doing this the last few days and it has started to work. You need to be patient and consistent - as soon as you feel the lead go even slightly tight - stop, go back, sit, wait. (you might need to just keep doing this over and over... and over again!) I've been saying 'heel' constantly and all the time the lead is slack I'm giving her praise and the odd treat.

    I'm still to get this working when my pup sees another dog or person, so hopefully that bit will improve with time. I'm just trying to be consistent and try to stop the pulling with everyone she sees - it's tempting when it's someone that knows her to her just to let her go racing towards them, but I've started trying to get her to sit and wait before saying hello.

    If she pulls all the way to the park, she has just been rewarded for pulling when she gets there, so make sure she only gets there when she has started to improve. You need time when you're doing this so I would avoid taking her out when you are busy or need to be back home at a certain time.
     
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  16. Annamarie Gebar

    Annamarie Gebar Registered Users

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    Thank you for the advice! I’ll give it a try! With working from home it’s difficult to apply training techniques when I take her out to potty cuz it has to be fast, so I worry inconsistency of letting her pull on potty breaks but not on walks is going to hinder her progress. I’m getting a fence installed soon so that might help - formal walks would be the only time she’d have the leash on them and I could be more consistent! It’s the hardest thing to teach!
     
  17. singhtusharss469

    singhtusharss469 Registered Users

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    Thanks so much for giving us new puppy parents hope!
     

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