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1 year old suddenly has new bad habits

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by MacsMom, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. MacsMom

    MacsMom Puppy

    Hi Everyone - hoping I can get some insight and advice..

    My 1 year old Pit Bull Terrier rescue - who has always required a lot of time and attention (as most dogs do) seems to have suddenly developed some new habits that are _not_ awesome...to say the least. There are a few individual things, but they all definitely seem to be related:

    They are, as follows:

    1. Tugging at my sleeve:
    * Especially prevalent when either A) he thinks I may be leaving the house and / or B) I have gotten up from the couch when "he" was not ready (i.e. grabbing a snack or answering a call during couch / tv time)
    * This becomes even more of a problem when he misses my sleeve, or grabs too much sleeve, and gets my skin. He's never even punctured - he doesn't bite hard - but obviously that is not the point. This becomes even more of a concern when I consider that he could easily do this to a guest (but seems, thus far, to only do it to me.)

    2. Pawing:
    The pawing is out of control. Always when he wants my attention and where it used to be an "on occasion" thing a few months ago - it seems / feels constant now. It's mostly when I work from home and am on my laptop and he's basically saying "ahhhhh no, I don't think so, pay attention to ME"

    2. Having a mini "pit fit" during the return loop of his nighttime walk:
    * Every night we do a 10 minute walk to the park - usually at the park for about 45 mins to an hour - and then do about a 20 minute walk home. There are a few landmarks or points in the walk that he is familiar with and recognizes as a sign that he is returning home / walk is over. Unfortunately for me this is either A) right outside of a glass front restaurant with outside seating on a very busy corner - or B) in the MIDDLE of the street (in crosswalk) of a major road in our city.
    *The fit consists of him jumping vertically - and man, can he get air - and nipping at my shirt / arm. Again, I know his bite, and he's not trying to *bite* this is him having the equivalent of a 3 year olds temper tantrum.

    3. The newest and arguably most annoying thing is also the most frustrating - ripping up the heavy duty plastic "floor" of his crate. He only does it during time out (when he is in time out for one of the above mentioned traits) and I kNOW he does it because it's crazy loud and annoying. But it's also dangerous and I worry he will cut himself or ingest one of the plastic pieces.

    Finally - before everyone jumps all over me:
    A) He gets both the proper amount of alone time and people time
    B) he is exercised EVERY day and gets enough exercise every day (meaning by night time after his walk and dinner he usually is pooped and passes out.)
    C) I do train him - I only reward good behavior - I utilize time-outs and he obeys other commands (i.e. he will sit when he is all jumpy and excited when i come home, he "goes to his mat" when I tell him to and right now - while he is actually in time out - he is quietly staring at me because he is learning that barking and tearing at the plastic floor are NOT going to get him out. He also has learned not to grab food off the table, and not to beg (though he does seem to beg with my partner, but wouldn't dare with me.) I mention this to show that A) I understand how to properly train a dog - I KNOW I have obviously made some mistakes (putting up with pawing early on when I should have nipped it in the bud right away, and allowing him to grab hold of my cuff when he was a pup because having your puppy drag you to a chair to cuddle is pretty freaking cute - believe me I am paying the price and I understand this all goes back to being my fault)

    So, I beg you, instead of judging me and blaming me - please share any helpful advice / tips. My partner is just about ready to get him a zap collar and I REALLY do not want to do that.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. MsAcer

    MsAcer Good Dog

    How long have you had him.
    How much exercise does he get? Exactly.
    Have you worked with a trainer or just trained him yourself?
    He mostly sounds bored and spoiled. Now that he's a big boy maybe check out our sticky on "NILF". It's like your sassy 6 year old human child is now 18 and pulling the same crap. Time to have a talk and set some new ground rules.
  3. MacsMom

    MacsMom Puppy

    We rescued him at about 6 months, and have had him 6.5 months.

    He's a late sleeper, so he gets a little exercise during the afternoon (ball or chase) and then a long session in the evening 1hr and a half, to 2 hours depending. Longer on weekends (we go the beach, play dates with other dogs, hiking etc)

    No trainer (yet) - that's definitely on the list of options. And I have definitely been working on NILF with him.

    I think, ultimately, you're right. He is spoiled x 10. He seems to always want my attention, so removing myself from him when he is pawing or nipping is starting to seem like it "might" be working... time will tell.

    Thanks for your response!
  4. omgrobyn

    omgrobyn GRCH Dog

    I'd try mixing up the walks on your way home too. Even if it's just going around the block a couple of times before you finally go in.

    Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2
  5. monkeys23

    monkeys23 GRCH Dog

    1. I would teach him to go get and carry a toy when he is feeling grabby. My shepherd loves to pack around her West Paw Bumi toy and we tug a lot with it too. It is a pretty normal behavior for a high drive dog, it just needs redirected into an appropriate behavior.

    2. This is going to be really tough to patiently extinguish, especially when the extinction burst happens. You need to remove all attention from him. Don't look at him and no verbal corrections. Because attention, even negative = reinforcement and he sounds like a pushyenough dog that it would exacerbate the issue rather than help. JMO from what you've described.
    In addition to ignoring the bad, reinforce the good and build those skills. You already have a foundation in matwork so expand it. Randomly reinforce that mat/settle behavior while he is doing it. So either treat if you want to keep it calm, but also intersperse with release from mat (whatever your release word is) to play some tug games with you and do a few behaviors which could be anything from sit pretty to working on obedience exercises.
    You should get the book Control Unleashed it will give you ideas for various games.

    3. You could teach him to run beside a bike so he is worked harder, but he will acclimate to it fast. ;) It sounds like he needs a mental job bigtime. What I do with my husky is have her interact with various things on our walks.... basically doggie parkour and it both gives her much greater satisfaction as far as physical/mental workout as well as being really f'ing fun for both of us. She used to throw huge verbal hissy fits when she was younger and basically she was telling me she was frustrated and wanting more work... which I've given her and its a lot more fun for both of us. You can do a lot of creative stuff with various landscaping features lol. And sometimes I take treats and toys and we run through various exercises around distractions which is essential to any dog. Go different places, don't always do the same walk... and always be thinking hmm what could we do with this such and such.

    4. Give him an approriate toy to self entertain with in there. Feed his meals out of food toys that will work his brain because obviously he needs the mental stimulation.

    I think he sounds like an awesome candidate for Agility and Nosework. You should look into what is in your area! :)

    Some helpful resources:




    For ideas on handy life skills you can work on reinforcing generously... I really like her idea (she talks about it in her little book Plenty in Life is Free which I would strongly suggest reading) for counting out 50 or so treats every morning and having a goal of using them to reinforce various desired behaviors each day. Kind of gives you a required allotment for reinforcing the good and the bad just tends to fall by the wayside and extinguish naturally when great training happens. Things to think about! :)

    If you don't have nosework in your area there are ongoing online classes here: Fenzi Dog Sports Academy
    My dogs and I do the IPO classes with Shade and it is really fun!

    I've heard that Silvia Trkman's agility foundations online class is really top notch from quite a few individuals. I work with an actual trainer in my area so I have no need. :)
  6. MacsMom

    MacsMom Puppy

    Monkeys23... Thank you SO much. I have only read through your email - not yet had the opportunity to check out all the links and video, but I am thrilled to have really valuable insight as well as your tips and "more info" suggestions. This is a HUGE help and I really appreciate it! Looking forward to checking out everything you've sent!

    Thanks again so much!
  7. monkeys23

    monkeys23 GRCH Dog

    Your welcome! :)
    I see I forgot to link to Kathy Sdao's book "Plenty in Life is Free", but it is easy to search by the title/author!

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