Feeling alone, sleeping, driving, biting, jumping, chewing, guarding, bathing

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by NelsonTheLab, Dec 19, 2019.

  1. NelsonTheLab

    NelsonTheLab Registered Users

    Dec 19, 2019
    Hi all, my first post to The Labrador Forum!! First some info about us and our home set-up. My questions are in bold. I hope this isn't too much at once... I am welcome to feedback if it is!!

    SLEEPING - My husband and I are on day 7 (as of Dec 19, 2019) of having our little lovebug Nelson. He is 8 1/2 weeks old. It is our first time raising a puppy. I am at home, while my husband works M-F. Nelson is pretty much house trained by some stroke of luck (he sits quietly at the door of his pen to signal he needs to go potty) We have been almost perfect in responding instantly so he doesn't have the chance to get barky. We have a crate and exercise pen combo in the kitchen of our open concept basement suite. He has slept in our bed the last two nights with no accidents. Is it okay for his crate training to keep letting him sleep in our bed? He has naps in his pen or crate. He willingly walks into his crate often. All meals are in a kong in his crate.

    FEELING ALONE - On day 3 he was in his crate starting to nap, we had just taken him to potty. He looked up and saw us on the couch and started crying. We thought the best course of action was to let him cry and fall back to sleep. 20 PAINFUL minutes of constant crying later and I caved. He paused for a brief moment to drink some water so that's when I jumped in. He didn't need to use the toilet, had just eaten, played, and he had water available. He settled right away into my lap and went to sleep. My gut is telling me this event wasn't helpful because he is so little still. So I really need some advice on AT WHAT AGE to start letting him cry it out. I keep reading that up to 12 weeks puppies still have the "fear being alone because i'll die or get eaten" mentality... Can anyone confirm or deny this? Am I creating an anxious dog by being home all day and responding to his every need?

    DRIVING - We have an access cab tacoma (small back seats with the suicide doors). I built a platform ffor behind the drivers sear for him to have an appropriate amount of space to lay down. We were thinking to use a harness and a seatbelt type attachment to keep him safe. However, if I drive him alone, he gets super upset and it just isn't safe even if he is tethered. Any suggestions for how to make him LOVE driving?? as we plan to go on lots of longer trips when he is older. I am guessing crate will be the next logical step. But how to get him enjoying it in the car?

    PLAY JUMPING - He loves to jump up and opening his mouth on your face when wrestling. This can hurt. Is playing low on the ground with him and wrestling going to teach him to jump at people's faces? Or is it benign as he's playing and we can train to no-jump later on?

    BITING - He seems to LOVE biting clothes and hair. I say "ow"/"ouch"/"Owwwww", but he only understands about 50% of the time. Is there a way to stop him biting/liking to bite clothing? Or is this just a phase and keep doing the "ouch" technique?

    CHEWING - He isn't chewing his kong as much as he is licking it and rolling it to get the kibble out. He got super frustrated when I have him his lunch in a frozen kong, and I worried it would turn him off the chewing train, so I went back to non-frozen kibbles. Any insight into this?

    GUARDING? - Right from day 1, after a chase the toy type game, he takes his toys into a corner of the pen or into his crate and chews on it. He doesn't mind at all when you go in and take it away. In one play session he can end up with all his toys in the crate.. He doesn't guard his food. But this behaviour seems a bit odd to me.. Should we be concerned and intervene? Does this mean he isn't going to like to retrieve?! We WANT him to love playing fetch (who doesn't?!).

    BATHING - He loves the bath! What I did: I started him very slow by just playing in the bathroom and treating (with kibble). A couple hours later went back and I sat in the tub with him on the floor, and fed him kibbles. Next, had him in the tub with me, played with toys and fed kibbles. Next day, I repeated all of the above in one session and then I left tub and placed him in the tub with already about a cm of water. We played with toys and lured him towards the water. He was doing well, so I turned on the tap and kept playing and feeding. Couple hours later, I filled the tub with about 2 inches water and placed him it in. He was a bit confused, but we distracted him with kibbles and lots of vocal encouragement. No soap used yet, but hand spooned water onto his back while my husband played and fed kibble. He started to get anxious so I jumped into tub with him. He calmed down once sitting in my lap and being fed kibbles. Kept spooning water until he was sitting calmly for a moment. Took him out and celebrated with a fun play and towel dry. Next day I filled up the tub couple inches, got him inside, played, turned on the shower head and began showering him gently. He was happy to eat kibbles one by one slowly. I used soap on his back legs only (so as to not overwhelm him). Once rinsed we had another towel play celebration. Its been a couple days and when he comes into the bathroom, he jumps up on tub so as to get in!! Hope this gives some insight into getting puppy to love bath time!! Hoping to phase out so many kibbles, since he had his entire dinner/lunch each time.

    Thanks for reading!!! :)

  2. MontesMum

    MontesMum Registered Users

    Oct 21, 2019
    Hiya! Firstly Nelson is a fabulous Labrador name
    Thank you for your bathtime tips, I have to say we have never tried to bath Monte (he’s just turned 6 months old) i always say he’s a self-cleaning dog! With regards to your questions, in my limited experience (we have had Monte since he was 8 weeks old, our first puppy also, and we had a very rough ride - (maybe read some of my post on here!!) but most of what your asking I would apply the same principle of how you introduced bathtime, it’s all about slow steady introductions of new things, lots of treats and praise for the responses that you want, distraction from the responses that you don’t. Time. That’s what I’ve learned- stuff changes and improves.
    Sleeping - I will leave someone else to advise you on this. We crate trained and Monte is not allowed upstairs. He loves his crate now and sleeps all night there very happily. It took time. I would say just be consistent with what you want him to do. It sounds like he’s happy both in his crate and your bed, just think- will you be happy for a massive dog to be in your bed when he grows up?
    Feeling alone- we have a similar situation to you where I am home and hubby is out. I believe that Monte is less confident because he’s with me all the time. He whines and sits at the door if I leave the room. I am working on this now, but think I should have worked harder at the beginning to leave him for very short periods ( a few seconds, then minutes) at a time and leave him something tasty to occupy him, so that he doesn’t learn to cry when you aren’t there. I would start mini training sessions doing this multiple times a day as soon as you can. Only extend the time when Nelson is ready. We’ve worked a lot on confidence building for Monte and it involves doing simple things like encouraging him to go inside things or under things like cardboard boxes etc, investigating noisy things and using your bathtime training to help him learn new stuff is ok gradually.
    Car- we had many sad journeys with Monte hating the car. We worked hard on making the car a nice place to be. Treats, Kongs, fave toys and comfy mats etc. Crate or something they feel secure in seems best. And just go and sit the car. Don’t start the engine, just make it a nice place to be, then start the engine, then drive forwards just a bit. Take it slow. I know sometimes you have to just put them in and go because some journeys can’t be avoided, but keep working on it every day and eventually it improves. Monte was happy for 6 hours when we drove to Cornwall a month ago, and I thought that would never happen because it was a struggle to get him to the car without a big fuss let alone in it!
    Jumping- I’d stop all play and interaction the moment he starts jumping. Just turn and walk away silently. Jumping is a big problem if left unchecked. We still get it sometimes even with a zero tolerance approach but I think you have to start ASAP. We couldn’t play with Monte for ages, he just got too worked up and biting and leapy. We reintroduced it gradually by very very calm and slow in movement, keeping the toy low to the ground (toys on ropes are good) teaching ‘give’ in a very calm voice. Other than that no talking or noise as that winds them up more. I think the taking the toys and hoarding them is just a small puppy thing. Once he learns that it’s more fun when he brings it back to you because you’ll throw it or play with him, he will start to do it. It took us a few months.
    Biting- We struggled big time with bites. Partly my emotional state wasn’t helping. I believe if you remain calm and quiet, and just remove yourself or him to a different room, or behind a gate, then come back in and ignore him for a moment (no eye contact) that, over time helps. We tried all sorts (ouch, shouting, no, etc all made t worse) he’s a very mouthy dog and still puts his mouth on you when over excited or tired (although his bite inhibition is good now so it doesn’t hurt anymore) but still not acceptable so we still do the stop all interaction or leave the room thing. Same with jumping up.
    Chewing- make the kongs easy with soft food. We freeze fish mousse in them, as long as it breaks up easily they don’t get frustrated. But it’s not good to get them frustrated by stuff (we learned the hard way).
    Good luck and keep us posted with how you are getting on. Enjoy it. It does get easier even though some days it feels like you will never get it right.
  3. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

    Aug 25, 2018
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    Really think about where you want him to sleep when he is a full-grown, farting, dog-hair shedding, possibly dried mud-falling off, adult dog. Because if you raise him to think that the sleeping place is in bed with you, it's going to be very hard to change that in future without some serious training. Instead, have a smaller crate by your bed would be my suggestion - so he gets to sleep next to you these first few weeks - but not actually in the bed.

    Are you following a structured crate training protocol? It doesn't sound like it: https://thehappypuppysite.com/crate-training-a-puppy/

    I put my puppies on the front passenger seat of the car, with a harness and seat belt adaptor. If I have a passenger, the puppy rides on their lap. I do this until the pup is about 15-16 weeks - when they are then in the dog cage in the boot, introduced gradually. I can stroke or reassure the puppy whilst driving, I can sprinkle treats for them to eat, I can keep an eye on how they are feeling about the car closely...

    It is fine to play with him at ground-level, but try to play with toys - not wrestle just with hands and arms, or you will only teach him to bite you. Discourage jumping up, by doing as you are...

    There is no reliable way to consistently prevent this - but it will pass and you just need to weather it and not make it worse...

    Get a Toppl instead of a Kong. You can freeze wet or raw food in them and they are much easier whilst also being reinforcing and not frustrating for the puppy. Kongs or any food puzzle needs to be made to fit the needs of the puppy - too difficult and they will give up. Too easy and it will be over too fast.

    This isn't guarding. It's just taking something he wants, to enjoy it for himself. It may be the start of keep-away type behaviours, though. Try not to take toys off him - you can play tug with him, but allow him to win them. Feign a total lack of interest in possessing the toy yourself. If he offers it to you, play tug again with it - bringing you things, results in a tug game and he gets to have the thing too. Soon he will want to bring you everything...

    If you are throwing things to encourage retrieving happening, let him run after them and you can sit on the floor and 'cheer' him on for getting it - and pat your own legs to see if he will come to 'enjoy' the toy on your lap, instead of in his bed. But if he does come to you to 'enjoy' the toy, do not take it off him. Stroke him and praise him for having it and being with you, whilst he has it. Only after several minutes of this, when he starts to lose interest, can you throw it again. The alternative is to have a second toy which you throw once he's had the first one in your lap for a bit - that way you will avoid taking things off him as well.
    RandM likes this.
  4. NelsonTheLab

    NelsonTheLab Registered Users

    Dec 19, 2019
    Thank you both of you for the responses!! SO much great information that I have been able to apply over the last month.

    Nelson is doing very well. He's such a sweetheart!!

    He loves the car now, just falls asleep and chills out. Did a bit of the slower introducing him to it, but he seemed to decide he was all good after I posted this!! I took him for a ride in the front seat (just a short drive) after I read your post, and he sat there really well. I still prefer to have him in the crate behind the drivers seat, just for safety and peace of mind.

    He still sleeps on the bed with us, since we keep him clean (he gets a quick rinse off in the shower after being outside for a walk since the weather has been rainy). But, we're thinking on either moving to the crate or pen with a dog bed for bedtime.

    I have adapted our play to make sure a toy is being used and not just hands. It makes total sense!

    I kept going with the kongs, cause I didn't have anymore budget for dog toy things. But I put his food in it, and covered the opening with some peanut but and freeze it over night. So he has to lick the frozen peanut butter to get to the loose foods. It only takes him 5-8 minutes to finish, but it's great for the morning when i'm too tired to feed kibble by kibble.

    His fetch game has gotten better! It is so cool to see his learning :D

    Thank you again for the comments to help me out!!
  5. lucy@labforumHQ

    lucy@labforumHQ Administrator Forum Supporter

    Oct 14, 2013
    That's such great news, I'm so pleased to hear you are both doing so well!

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