Labradoodle & Goldendoodle Forum
I apologize for the length but hopefully the questions/answers will also help some other first time dog/doodle owners.
Cannoli is 16 weeks old and while he loves being outside I don’t love his behavior. I’m a first time dog owner so I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to allow him to do vs. what he shouldn’t be doing. I also don’t know where my expectations are unreasonable considering he’s just 16 weeks old and where they are completely reasonable. Below are a bunch of random thoughts and questions that I’d love any feedback on.
1) We do 90% of our walking in the street (no sidewalks in our area) and I let him stop every 3-5 minutes to sniff, explore and eliminate. I tell him he can “go ahead” to a grass area. When it’s time to continue the walk he generally listens and comes back to the street. Does this seem reasonable and/or recommended?
2) Cannoli loves to have his nose in the ground and is curious about EVERYTHING. He will stop for every leaf, twig, large stone, piece of garbage, etc. If we’re walking in the street and he decides he wants to grab a leaf he will generally try to get it. I just keep walking but he will keep trying and it often leads me to having to pull him for a second or two as it is either me stopping for him or him being pulled until he starts walking again.
3) If Cannoli wants to stop he will sit down anywhere and it is hard to get him motivated to move again without dragging him along. I bring treats along and try to get his attention focused on me which will generally work for a couple of seconds but then he just sits down again. The treats often feel more like bribes rather than rewards. Is it appropriate to grab his collar and make him start walking again so he isn’t “winning” by sitting and watching whatever catches his interest?
4) In my neighborhood there are a lot of people walking dogs and all Cannoli wants to do is stop and play with them. Often other owners will stop for a quick chat and introduction however they aren’t looking for a 30 minute playdate. Cannoli will get so excited to play with other dogs that he is jumping on them and crying that he can’t go fully at it. When it is time to resume our walk I need to pick him up as he is planted to the ground. I am so envious of the other dogs who just calmly walk on their way when introduction is over.
5) Anytime he is allowed in the grass his nose is planted in the ground. He is exploring, sniffing, chewing anything he can. This is regardless if we’re on a walk or on my yard. Luckily his digging isn’t too bad.
That is probably enough to start. Again I’m not fully sure on some of these things if it is fine to allow him to sniff and explore the ground as long as we’re not actively walking or if that should be discouraged. I also don’t know if much of this is to be expected since he’s a young puppy and will grow out of it or if this needs to be corrected ASAP. He also always seems to poop towards the beginning of the walk so everything I need to do is while holding a bag of dog poop which doesn’t make it easy.
He gets his third round of vaccinations early next week so I hope to enroll him in a training/socialization class which will hopefully help with his etiquette around other dogs but I hate being “that owner” who isn’t being respectful on walks. Once again thanks so much to this forum for all the great help and advice!
These are good questions. I can answer for my experience only. 1) sounds very reasonable to me. 2) and 3) this is absolutely normal. I see nothing wrong with a tug and a command to have him do what you want. I also wonder if they sit down because they are tired - how far have you walked when he sits. In my opinion 16 week old dogs shouldn't be walking that far - maybe I am wrong, but a block or two seems like plenty. 4) I think this is normal and you just need to work through it. The more he walks by other dogs, the easier it will be to do so. The more he stops by another dog then moves on, the easier it will be for him to do so. This is just socialization and learning.... 5) Absolutely normal. You just want to be very careful - scan the area yourself to see what he might be able to grab before you let him sniff. You want to be careful of other animal poop - ducks, rabbits, dogs, cats...... You don't want to let him drink from puddles or 'stale' water sources either. He can pick up parasites from the poop and water.
I firmly believe that when training your dog, you have to train her/him to what you want as an end result! We do a lot of camping and hiking with Myla so that is our main focus. Myla is now 8 years old and trained so very well for what we want. When we go for a walk (and she is mostly off leash) she has to stay on the same side of the road as we are. As soon as she starts to go to the other side of the road she is corrected immediately. If we encounter another dog, she is definitely not allowed to interact and this is one thing that is not negotiable for me. I don't care what dog is there, Myla has to keep walking with us without interacting. I know this is hard as so many people want their dogs to play, but Myla does not interact well with dogs on a leash and I really don't want to stop and play with other dogs. As far as sniffing and doing their thing, what we have always done for Myla is: "This is MY walk and we will go fast without sniffing for my workout" BUT on the way back, it is Myla's walk and she can stop and sniff as long as she wants. She has definitely figured it out because, as you know, doodles are so very smart!
I have 2 very different walkers. Oliver ALWAYS has his nose to the ground and gets carried away with smells, resulting with a sudden burst of pulling if I'm caught off guard. Ivy is a natural walker and I have never had pulling or excessive sniffing with her. I taught both dogs the "Leave it" command and they both know it well. I use "Leave it" for everything....people, dogs, leaves, bird poop, etc. I allow both dogs to walk in front of my as long as there is no pulling from Oliver and give several sniffing opportunities along the way. I think the key is spending the time to teach your pup what you want him or her to do or act. It takes time and patience but very well worth it. Both Oliver and Ivy are great off leash and we are fortunate to have a recreation area with walking tracks that we use as well. 16 weeks is still young for long walks so I would not expect him to walk to far but definitely teach him the "Leave it" command and lots of praise and treat rewards while he is learning :)
Thanks for all the replies. I think part of my issue/concern is that Cannoli was diagnosed with giardia a week and a half ago. I'm sure it was on one of his first walks and now I feel like every sniff is going to lead to him getting a parasite. I do my best to scope out areas before I let him go to the grass and sniff but it is so hard to see everything since I'm in the Chicago suburbs and there is so much mud and twigs on the grass that it is tough to know if there is something there that shouldn't be there.
I'm glad to hear that the excitement around other dogs and people (joggers especially) is normal for a pup of his age. I've switched to a front clip on his harness vs. the back one and that has helped with having him walking more and stopping less. I'm now able to gently nudge him along to get him going vs. pulling him along. He still will stop and sit if something distracting is going on but I'm trying to be more understanding of it and just letting him sit until the interesting stuff goes away and then we move on.
I don't think he's sitting and refusing to move b/c he's tired however I'll try and start noticing if that occurs more towards the end of the walk. We do go for long walks which I'm trying to cut back on. We were going for 20-25 minutes often but he never really seemed to be tired to me. He will happily run while I jog if I let him even after 25 minutes of walking. Now when I cut out running he will grab the leash in his mouth and ask that we run (he always has the end of his leash in his mouth as we're running).
I'm trying to ease up also on allowing him to occasionally pick up a leaf or twig in the street and walk with it in his mouth. I don't want to be too much of a drill sergeant with him and ignore the fact that he is still a very young puppy. It's so easy to get frustrated when things aren't going exactly as I expect them to.
Thanks again for all of the thoughts! Keep them coming.
It isn't advised to run with puppies under 8 months. But he will become great running partner for you.
I thought it was more like 2 years for large or giant breed dogs? Unsure if Cannoli is a standard doodle.
Checked on this, it's mostly for giant breed dogs. For any dog I think the thing is not to go too far too fast. Will likely wait until next year with Riley so she will be almost 2.
Awe! A puppy! A crazy wild little puppy! We love puppies...but oh oh such a challenge! You are on the right road with your little darlin'. However, like another member pointed out, puppies should not run until they get older due to the formation of the joints. Interesting information available online. I hired a trainer to come to the house and we used a prong, leaving the rubber tips on for safety. She had me walk a few steps at first and then treat. Eventually the steps were further before treating. I would have puppy sit when I stopped. I also would not let puppy keep stopping and sniffing ...if I am walking. Remember...you are in charge...you are the leader...puppy will try to get away with any behavior...it is our role to teach puppy how we want them to behave. Have fun! Enrolling in classes when the time is right is excellent. My first puppy I took to as many classes as I could...we did training for over 2 years...worth every penny!
We only run for 15-20 seconds at a time. I make sure that it is just quick bursts of not so fast running.
IMO, one should never "correct" a dog as others have suggested in this post. Pulling or tugging on a leash (though initially tempting) will only annoy a puppy. It does not teach him anything and will only encourage him to pull more (due to their natural instinct called oppositional reflex). I suggest you use a gentle leader. It reduces the reflex and gently guides your dog on where you want him to go.
Our 14 month Sam sniffs all the time too. We let him sniff a bit, then ask him to "heel" then reward him to wander again by using his release command. Teaching him to "leave it" and "let's go" (as Nancy recommended above) will also help.
It will get better with time. Cannoli is very young and just wants to explore his new world.
I'm a first-time dog owner myself. I constantly need to remind myself that these guys are young and we need to do better in managing our expectations.
The walking training that works pretty well for us uses positive reinforcement. Anytime Riley starts pulling we stop walking - she has to either sit or stop and look at us to continue when she gets her release command "okay". Either situation means she is no longer putting pressure on the leash before being allowed to resume. Her reward is that the walk continues. There is no command for the stopping, I just stop dead in my tracks and she is not allowed to move forward at all.
Since these days I am usually babywearing a young infant (come on stroller weather!) I can't have her pulling me all over the place. It's a work in progress (she pulls to greet people and dogs) but just walking down the street when no one is nearby she usually walks nicely.
Training next step is to have her sit and focus on me instead of passersby (while I step on leash so she can't jump) but for that one I need to remember to bring treats on our walk :p