Monday, October 24, 2011

The Teenage Years

Vinson has entered another mode of challenging the rules and explosive energy - the puppy equivalent of a teenager testing the limits. He's also growing quite rapidly at the moment.

Some issues we're working on are:

  1. Jumping and biting at the leash on walks, twisting and tugging, etc. With this issue, we're taking the advice of the Pro's at The Seeing Eye and looking at it from the standpoint of reward. Vinson's "reward" in biting and tugging the leash is the game, the attention and interaction. To remove the reward, we tell him "no" and then stop in our tracks, not making eye contact and giving him no attention at all. As soon as he ceases the behavior, we give him big, happy praise and go on with the walk. The idea is that with repetition, eventually Vinson will make the connection the jumping and biting the leash means we don't get to go anywhere and he doesn't get any attention. The hardest part about this? Until Vinson "gets it", a lot of patience is required on walks - and a lot of time.
  2. Resistance barking: This behavior had stopped many months ago, but with Vinson's adolescent growth stage, it's back. He seems impressed with the volume he can put out now, and will occasionally use his bark to make his feelings known, whether it's to remove a cat from his bed or to resist a command we've given. We're working on this one through repeated correction and using the spray bottle when required.
  3. Compulsive behavior - spots on the floor: Just like the barking, the spots-on-the-floor issue is the return of a past problem of Vinson's. Small spots or patterns on floors draw his attention - even if they're just tiny blemishes. He will frantically "dig" and sniff at the spot as if he's about to unearth a pot of golden kibble. This one is a bit challenging - we correct the action, but are not sure what the cause is yet. Like a true show-stealer, Vinson decided to display this trick at last Friday's puppy club meeting!

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