Struggling and it’s getting worse!

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by MontesMum, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. MontesMum

    MontesMum Registered Users

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    Hi all, (long post alert- thanks for reading!) I love this forum and had read it for years. It’s now my turn to ask for support. We got our fox red lab called Monte in August this year. He was just 8 weeks old. My husband and I have wanted a lab for years (I used to live with 5 gorgeous labs). We put it off for ages but when we learned we couldn’t have children we went ahead with research and got on a waiting list for our lad. Initially everything was fine, he settled in well- usual puppy stuff but Monte was a super star from word go with house training. We crate trained and although it took a while he now loves his crate. He got really sick when he was still tiny- we took him straight to the vet and got it sorted it was a tummy upset that the vet said wasn’t too bad just gave him rehydration stuff and probiotics, but from that moment he started doing loads of displacement behaviour and getting so anxious and wild. Also I then fell pregnant. I had no idea until a month ago, but I was an emotional wreck and found everything hard to cope with. It was a huge shock. I know have a crazy lab and a baby to cope with. I never wanted to compromise the life of my dog which I know inevitably happens when a new baby comes along- that’s why we waited so damn long to get a dog because I didn’t want this situation. Anyway, that’s the situation I now find myself in, and I will just have to get on with it. Anyway, sorry this is a long post..... I think at first we didn’t realise quite how to deal with Monte and his crazy outbursts (we now know he needs to go for quiet time in his crate before he gets to that stage). His biting got really bad. I have massive scars on my arms from where he launches full on attacks at me, my god it’s scary. That has got a little better. He is now 4 and half months old. However. He seems like he is so anxious and fearful all of the time. It’s not a case that we haven’t socialised him properly, he had a great start - carried him out to places like cafes and walks and car trips. All of which were fine but as he gets older he seems to be getting more and more scared of pretty much everything. Walking him or taking him out generally with me is becoming impossible. This is what happens when I go to take him for a 20 mins walk in a morning. I go at the quietest time I can to avoid too much stimulation...
    Get his harness - he runs off and hides. I have worked so hard on treating and making the harness a happy place . We got to a point where he would put his head through it but then the next day bam he decides he hates it again. Anyway, once it’s on. He freezes. I try to encourage him to the door, it takes ages, he backs away, and generally just doesn’t want to go out. I don’t force him out but sometimes you just have to go and so he gets lured with food- although sometimes he won’t take that either. The lead going on has same reaction as harness. Once he’s out he goes into manic mode. We had got loose lead walking down quite well a while ago- I could take him for a 15 min trundle and it was really good. Suddenly he now pays me zero attention, lunges at anything and everything, barks, spins round, forces himself through my legs and bites my thighs. Leaps in the air and bites my arms, legs back, whatever he can. I have worked 121 with a great trainer, trouble is, he behaves quite differently when she is there! He actually walks nicely for a bit. She has witnessed the leaping and craziness but he comes out of it as soon as I start walking calmly in a figure of eight, but when I’m on my own he will NOT walk in a figure of eight, he bites me, barks whines lunges. Just seems so anxious and unhappy. As of yesterday he also picks everything up off the floor. He can’t take one step without pulling to get a leaf, etc. The other problem is when my husband tries to walk him when I’m there he barks and leaps at me. It’s impossible to take him anywhere. I’m so upset. I’m at my wits end with him. He is a demanding, intelligent dog and I want to be able to take him out for long walks, runs and get his nose and brain working. That’s why I got a dog- to be with him and enjoy each other’s company. But he’s making my life hell. Is it because he senses I’m pregnant? And a bit more emotional than usual - is he picking up on it? In the house he’s better, but still does lots of displacement stuff and has hiccups which makes me think he’s not truly settled or nervous. We haven’t given him the full run of the house, but he has the garden and his area. He isn’t interested in his toys really, he just wants my attention. He was leaping at me if I didn’t pay him attention but I have worked through that and we are able to ignore him for a little while but generally that’s when he goes off and starts ripping up the rug or something that he knows I will redirect him from. He’s testing me on new things every day. I suppose I need to hear that this phase will pass, that I will be able to walk him without a physical fight and high blood pressure. I’m so scared that I’ll be a heavily pregnant woman with a big powerful boisterous lab pushing me around. He’s already 17.5kg and he’s only 4.5 months old. Please help!! Thank you
     
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  2. Edp

    Edp Registered Users

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    Hello, there is a lot going on here but if you read lots of older posts on here you will find you are not alone. I think the first year is such hard work most people whist in it question why are they doing this. However, if you stick at calm, patient training you will get through it. There are many on here more qualified than me but things that jump out are all the things you describe when he is out are normal, ignoring you, picking up everything , pulling. The world is an exciting place for him and currently more interesting than you. He is still very young and anything you have taught him is not proofed yet, also it’s a prime time for biting as their teeth start falling out about now. Remember he is still very much a baby with lots to learn. He needs to be trained around distractions, any amount of training at home goes out of the window when they get outside. Meg was a total nightmare outside from this age until she was about 1. It was only after many obedience classes, lots of frustrations and tears she became the best family dog I could wish for. It took time and patience. Can you get to some positive obedience classes ? They will also make you realise this is all very normal and you aren’t alone. The complicating factor is your pregnancy and only you can decide if you can commit to a dog and a baby. That’s a tough decision, but in the best interests of all of you it’s best to make it sooner rather than later. Good luck.
     
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  3. MontesMum

    MontesMum Registered Users

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    Thank you so much for your reply. Its such a comfort to read. It’s also good to know his behaviour is normal, I was beginning to think it’s me and he just hates me. I committed to him and I would hate to do anything to disrupt him. I’m just sad that circumstance has meant things won’t be as I had hoped. It doesn’t mean I can’t make it work though. We do go to positive classes, he’s just done his puppy foundation and just started bronze good citizens. It’s a lovely class but he terrorises everyone. He’s definitely the most wild there. It’s the same trainer who does the 121s with me so she knows him and does help move him away but my gosh it’s a battle. Thanks again, I just felt so alone in it all.
     
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  4. Sarah jane

    Sarah jane Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I feel so lucky with my pup. The worst thing he does is bite my mum too hard and hump her. The dog trainer says he's just exited. I hope your dog calms down. I have no advice to offer.

    I think my pup is also anxious of going out but will leave the house if I bribe him with food. I took him down the park last week and he loved it. I think it's the traffic in my area that he's scared of. He's getting better going out but doesn't get exited like most dogs when you get their lead out.

    Sorry I don't have any advice. I hope you the best with your pup.
     
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  5. J.D

    J.D Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Monte is a beautiful looking dog. He also looks like he will be a big adult dog!
    Although it would be a really difficult decision no one would blame you for thinking about rehoming him with an unexpected baby on the way. If you go down that route have a chat with his breeder and see if they will have him back first as they will be the best person to find him a new home.Alternatively you need to find a really good trainer and spend the next few months training him so he fits in with your new addition. Good luck and keep us posted.
     
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  6. Edp

    Edp Registered Users

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    Brilliant...hang on. When I went to classes there were 3 boisterous labs, a variety of other dogs but lots of what us lab owners called “robot” dogs. They were the small first cross poodle dogs that did everything perfect first time...where us lab owners just sat in awe whist our dogs pinged off the ceiling. However, Meg who was probably the most distracted lab in the room totally smashed her bronze and silver KC award on her first birthday...she has been awesome since. Stick with classes, even when you have a bad one..practice at home and focus on the family lab you will have when your new arrival comes alone. The relationship between my boys and dog is priceless. Keep popping by here and let us know how you are doing and we can empathise :)
     
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  7. 5labs

    5labs Registered Users

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    My honest thought (and I do appreciate that not everyone likes the direct approach), would be to let the puppy go and concentrate on your baby. Don't feel bad about considering this, I have helped to rehome quite a few dogs over the years and they adapt to a new home quickly, especially when they are young.
    As he is so young, it it likely that the breeder will take him back as they may well have a waiting list of homes they were happy with.
    I don't want to say "it's only a dog"; my dogs are my babies as I do not have children, but I think that you should be able to give your time and energy to your child and you could look into getting a dog when the child is older. Also bear in mind that anxiety during pregnany is not good for you or the baby.

    Again, this is just my thought and I hope noone is offended by this.
     
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  8. Athena

    Athena Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hugs from abroad :)

    Sounds like you're approaching your second trimester and *usually* women feel much better, often lots better. If this is the case, you can use this time to help the dog. If you are in position to employ the trainer on a more frequent basis, do so, and do so with a purpose. By this I mean draw up a list of items in order of priority and have the trainer work on this basis. If possible get the pup into a group class because it will reassure you about where your dog is in relation to other dogs.

    From what you say, aside from the leaping and jumping, near top of your list, and with the guidance of your trainer, I might try to figure out what kind of toys the pup could learn to enjoy.Try a Likimat with peanut butter or scatter kibble in a snuffle mat. Train the "place" cue onto a bed or pad or a piece of Vet bed, aka Pro fleece with rubber backing. This is washable and nearly chew-proof. Training, i.e. mental exercise, takes as much energy as physical stuff so train for several short periods a day. You could also try driving somewhere to walk the pup.

    The leaping and nipping is the worst. My older dog Johnny was a nightmare. Like you my arms were a mess. Every single shirt I owned had holes or was destroyed entirely. The first winter Johnny tore the entire sleeve out of my winter coat, and a well made one at that. For me what worked was time (he matured), various "tricks."

    The first was understanding. He wasn't *biting" me. However much it hurt, he was nipping. I learned this after being bitten by another dog, which required surgical reconstruction. If your pup is doing this, i.e. you need medical attention, then you have a different situation. If you have huge bruises, bloody scratches, and torn clothing the pup is nipping.

    My response had to be matter of fact. Screaming, yelling, getting visibly upset only made him work harder to make me insane.

    I learned about trigger stacking, which is simply one or more seemingly mundane things that launched my dog over the top. Johnny's triggers were/are going for a walk, my getting up from the sofa, meeting a dog off leash, not playing the game he expected,and transitions generally, especially when it was time to leave the field to go home. Once I recognized the triggers I learned to stop the behavior quickly, and over time, before it started. For example, before I got up from the sofa I would call him and have him sit. In the early days I would pet him and generally fuss over him and then grab the front of his collar gently so I could get up without him leaping and nipping. Johnny had a rock solid sit and this is what I would ask for to interrupt impending frenzy. You can do anything that will distract and refocus. And BTW being outside with all the interesting things is often a trigger

    For leaping and nipping on leash I stood on the leash until he stopped. Off leash was the biggest challenge but I learned if I stood calmly and asked for a sit with physical (hand) cue, eventually he sat, whereupon I praised him like mad and showered him with treats. In the house you could try using a leash and letting him explore another room or two. It might be he wants to be in the same room as you. Will he sit next to you and be brushed? Really anything where you're together calmly will be helpful. At one point I took to reading Johnny children's stories. Silly yes but I was pretty desperate.

    Keep a record. Nothing fancy but try to jot down what went well or badly each day so you can see your progress over time and change course as needed.

    Exercise was a challenge for me. More is not always best and it took a while until I found a good balance. Having another well socialized dog to play with was helpful. Ask around perhaps and try to arrange playdates - good practice for being a parent of a human too.

    On the other side of the ledger as it were, is your pup from a working line? Is it possible that he needs more mental and physical stimulation than the average pet lab? This is why keeping a record is so helpful because it will help you see if you're succeeding or not. Be prepared to see that progress is not linear. It's wave-like and you'll see back-sliding but overall you should be able to see progress. With that said, from what you say in many many ways you and the pup are doing fabulously. Both of my dogs had a fearful period around 4 and 5 months. It passed.

    If over the next few months you see no progress and you dread each day, then it's probably time to think about re-homing, preferably with the breeder. In the US there is a lot of interest in adult dogs but breeders have precious few. From what you say it sounds like you're not at this point yet, so try to hang in there. The odds are great that you'll come through the other side with a lovely dog.
     
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  9. MontesMum

    MontesMum Registered Users

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    My gosh I’m so lucky with all your replies, help and tips thank you so much. Monte is working line, he needs a lot of stimulation, which I’m so willing and eager to give him. I’m very happy to report that I went on a very successful 40 min walk with him and my trainer today - he was loose lead all the way!! no jumping, no reacting. This is because she got him eyes on her and is a brilliant trainer, I just have to have to confidence to replicate it on my own. Things are much better in the house the last few days, he seems more chilled out. Probably because I’m trying to relax a lot more and also think I am entering that second trimester (I’m so happy to see the back of the first one!!) it’s insane how much a dog reflects you isn’t it. Such a learning experience. Like I’ve said rehomimg him is my last resort, I want to work hard over these next few months and I have hope that although it won’t be linear, we will get to a point where we can all exist peacefully together. But if it’s best for him then I will do it, all I want is for him to have the best life possible. I will keep you posted, and thank you all again xx
     
  10. Sarah jane

    Sarah jane Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    It sounds like the best life possible will be with you and your family. Its apparent from your post that you care very much for him but if you have to rehome him I'm sure you'll find a good home.

    Good luck with him.
     
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  11. MontesMum

    MontesMum Registered Users

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    Hi Athena, thank you so much for your experience and such kind reply. I relate to everything you say. I’m very happy to say that Monte is responding well now that I feel more in control and have looked differently at his leaping and biting. I was feeling threatened by him, but now I’ve managed to view it as he’s just excited and nippy and have been able to stop it escalating. Our walks have been amazing. Yes they are still a full on challenge and I have to mentally prepare before I go out, but I can actually walk him!! We are currently on holiday in Cornwall together and it seems to be really suiting him. Never seen him so happy and relaxed. He travelled so well. He did dig up the flower bed and got a bulb in his mouth which we got out but he obviously bit it and he was up all night being very sick poor thing. He recovered well I’m happy to say. All in all, I see the light at the end of the winding tunnel . Xx
     
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