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Hi, my name is Ken, I have a year-old Sproodle.  I'm here to get tips on behavior. 

His name is Vinny, he's a big one, 80 lbs.  I did get to see the parents, they were very big too.  We got him last February, and since that time, we've been working on obedience, which was successful, except for several behaviors that just won't get better.

When we have visitors, he jumps and jumps and jumps, and then pees on them.  He refuses to settle down.  We've tried everything found on youtube for jumping.  Part of the problem is, we don't get many visitors.  He loves other people and other dogs as well.

Complicating this, is his severe car sickness.  He gets really sick, including vertigo where it takes hours for him to get back to normal and stop vomiting and heaving.  We've tried meds, which don't work, so we basically don't take him anywhere in the car.  The vet said to wait a few more months before trying again.

I need tips on stopping the jumping and over-excited peeing, and tips for car sickness.  He has the floppy Spaniel ears, which probably complicate the car sickness.  He was 10 months old in the pic.  We only do minimal grooming, he has flat waves, he gets brushed daily.  Thanks for sharing any tips you might have.  We're an older couple and need to feel safe that he won't knock us down, so we have to stop the jumping.  He's a powerful dog and walks well with a prong collar, we really had no choice on that either.  The prongs are rubber tipped and after one walk, he requires no corrections at all.

We tried the prong collar for visitors, it didn't make a difference.  We've had 2 trainers, they both recommended an electronic collar, which we feel is abusive and refuse to use one of those on him.

Ken and Vinny

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  • Hi Ken,

    Sounds like you need better training and the other trainers failed you.  Although I wouldn't consider an electronic collar as abusive if it's used correctly.  Sounds like they were suggesting it as a stronger way to correct unwanted behavior which I don't like.

    This trainer is in your state, within two hours from the location listen in your profile.  Might be worth a visit: https://www.rogersk9.com/ -- I don't know her personally, but she's on my trainer's list of skilled trainers.  So what you could do is maybe 2-3 weeks of board and train and then drive over every other week for lessons to continue the training until you've accomplished your goals.  

    What obedience does he know so far and well?

    Rogers K-9 Services, LLC
     ​ Our main goal for all dogs is building/modifying the human-canine bond to create happy, balanced dogs who are capable of living peacefully in tod…
    • He can do it all, obedience-wise.  But when he gets hyper excited, he ignores commands.  We definitely could not afford a board and train, and getting him there would be impossible with his level of car sickness.  His eyes roll around in his head and he vomits and heaves for hours, even with meds and an empty stomach. 

      We have an agility course in our back yard, he learned that in one day.  He's not dumb, he just can't control his emotions.  He knows sit, down, off, shake, roll over, wait, up.  He won't even settle for treats when other people are around.

      He despises delivery people and barks, but that's normal.  He swims a lot in our pool in the summer, walks are around 2 miles/day.  He's a digger, but he only digs at the back of the lot, I'm not concerned at all about digging.  He hunts, digs up and kills moles and mice.

      He naps about 2 hours/day, the rest of the time he's active.  We're retired and he's our motivation to keep moving.  I just can't find the off switch and keep his attention around people.  It doesn't help when visitors ignore my pleas to ignore him and not pet him.  Thank you for your suggestions.

      • It's not obedience if he can only perform in a distraction vacuum.  That said, he's only a year old.  And he's an adolescent male dog from a mix of two high energy breeds.  You might be expecting more than he can do YET. 

        So if the holy grail is that when guests come over he calmly walks at your side and can go to his bed and lay there or get petted while he sits or stands politely consider that HIGH SCHOOL graduation and he's in Kindergarten.  You don't put a kindegartner in a 10th grade math class.  You help the kindergartner memorize numbers and count and maybe learn to count by even numbers.  Then very very simple addition.  And maybe that kindergartner can only pay attention for 5 min at a time.  It's going to be a while...

        I'm happy to help you problem solve, but I still think you need to consider attending obedience classes with him for another year.  Repetition, repetition, repetition on a protracted timeline.  If a calmer less easily amped up dog can learn to sit for guests in 10 weeks (just an example) then maybe you need to spread out the steps over 6 months to a year of work.

        Now, can you list all the obedience he can do and WHERE he can do this.  Here's an example of what I'm looking for:

        Heel - he can heel in the house, he can heel in the yard, he can heel in a parking lot, he can heel in the pet store, but if another dog shows up or a squirrel or a cat, he loses focus or downright blows you off.

        Sit/down stay - he can hold a stay for 2 minutes with me 15 feet away.  He can hold a stay while I dance around him.  He can hold a stay as long as people are at least 15 feet away also, but if they get any closer he will break.

        Recall - he can recall in the yard, he will recall in the house, he will recall on a 30 foot leash in a quiet park, but he will not recall off leash or if he spots a squirrel

        Now, you tell me, when it comes to basic obedience commands, what does he know and how well does he know it and where have you practiced?  The more detailed you can be the more easily we can help you problem solve and think about baby steps toward high school grad. 

        • He will obey us 100% except with visitors.  When in public, such as a pet store, he has a prong collar on and will obey there as well, he's bad at the vet even with the collar, they just will not ignore him.  It's at home when there are visitors.  The reason people stopped visiting is because they don't like to be peed on, which I totally understand.  He doesn't lift his leg and pee, it's dribbling all over their shoes and legs.

          He was in puppy class for 8 weeks, basically a waste of time and money, he wouldn't do any commands except sit, which I didn't understand, because he would obey at home.  That's when we got a trainer, and then another trainer, both recommended an electronic collar.

          My experience with many many dogs has been exclusively with collies, and they're just not jumpy, and very obedient by age 1.  I was raised with collies, from the play pen on.  I've had 7 of them in my adult life.  Vinny is a completely different type of dog and I'm lost with him.  My wife had a cocker spaniel before I met her, and I've been told he was a terror puppy that turned into a great dog after time.  It's why we decided on a spaniel mix, because of her previous dog.

          • DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT meant as instruction or exactly how to do it.  There's a lot more to what I was doing and what people in these videos are doing.  I want you to zoom out and see the big picture of step by step carefully staged process, inching your way toward the final product through predictable practice.

            It sounds like social distractions are really challenging for him so that is where to put your training focus.  Just a boat load of training around social distractions but you'll need volunteers and friends who can follow instructions.  I promise you if you go in with an expectation you can train your helpers to do things correctly.  People are usually eager to help.  I have used strangers in a park, employees at Home Depot and pet stores, friends I've invited to a parking lot or park to help.  It's definitely work, but you can do it.  Just start small and build up.  Your dog will tell you if it's doable or too much by his response.  

            Is he a Springer spaniel mix or a Cocker spaniel mix?  Springers are wound up pretty tightly and have a LOT of go.  This website actually lists excited urination as a common thing in springers: https://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/englishspringerspaniels.html so if he is a springer mix, sounds like he fits the bill.  As an aside, when it comes to excited urination, you can't really stop it, he just has to grow out of it.  I would do guest greetings OUTSIDE until he quits doing it.  

            At any rate let's think of the parts of greeting people:
            - Proximity
            - Voice Interaction
            - Touching
            - And what he's supposed to be doing

            I am going to share some videos with you to give you a rough idea of how to do this.  Initially you'll want to do this outside in a park or some place that's not your home where there are other things going on , but not too busy and not too quiet.  If it's soooooo boring and quiet that the singular human helpers are the ONLY focus, it might be way too hard.  But usually parks have sights, sounds, smells to kind of dilute things.  

            So you get 1-2 people to help you and you pick an area with some space around it and set things up like this photo below.  You heel into this imaginary LARGE rectangle a little off center so there is more space on the side of your dog than around you.  You could mark it off with brightly colored rope on the ground so your helper knows where to walk and how far away to stay.  If you're on concrete, put down blue painter's tape to mark the rectangle shape your helper will be walking as well as the spot where you and your dog will be each time.  

            10925345478?profile=RESIZE_930xSo heel your dog into your waiting spot.  At this point your helper will be where the stop sign is.  Your helper needs to remain NEUTRAL.  No attention to the dog.  They are an automomaton on a walking path.  Walk at a normal pace as if you're not there when you tell them to go.  

            Tell your dog to "stay" and then indicate to your helper to start walking the path of the arrows.  If your dog maintains the stay the whole time until the person returns to their stopping point, praise your dog and do a little heeling to get him moving and then back to your spot.  This time the person can get closer in their path by 1 foot.  Repeat.  Each time your dog does well, praise and heel away for a break and return to your spot.  Each time the person moves in 1 foot closer to your dog on their vertical walking path.  You can quit at any time if you have success and then do it again the next day.  The first goal will be to walk by within one foot of your dog on the person's vertical path.  When you can do that a few times, awesome!  Your helper is dismissed and should leave or you can go and put your dog in the car if you want to talk to your friend before they go.  Don't ruin the good work by allowing your dog to go greet the person in his usual high energy way when you are finished.  

            What if your dog breaks their stay or starts levitating at any point while the person is walking their path?  

            English Springer Spaniels: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
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            • DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT meant as instruction or exactly how to do it.  There's a lot more to what I was doing and what people in these videos are doing.  I want you to zoom out and see the big picture of step by step carefully staged process, inching your way toward the final product through predictable practice.

              So if your dog, instead of holding a solid stay, starts toward the person walking by or cranes their neck excessively to where you think their attention is LOST, you correct but rather than making it confrontational, walk hastily in the opposite direction of their attention.  In this case, turn to your right and GO!  Don't scold, yell or give any command, just turn and go that way with haste.  

              10925432689?profile=RESIZE_584x

              At that point, your helper needs to STOP walking and just stand there until you and your dog are back in position.  Repeat as needed until your dog learns to not pay closer attention to the person walking by.  This is done this way instead of a normal collar correction so that it doesn't set up the person to be a predictor of conflict and instead the dog thinks "Oops I wasn't paying attention and missed my person walking away!"  Now if your dog breaks his stay when the person is not near, then you can correct in whatever way you normally correct a stay--in my experience that should be from straight in front of the dog.  

              If and when your dog can handle this with the person following their walking path a foot away, then at that point you can add a new challenge:

              The person then STOPS when they are parallel with your dog.  So the person just stops walking but continues to be neutral and look ahead.  For only a few seconds at first and you can work up to 30 seconds over the session or several sessions.  

              When that is successful a few times over, then you can add the challenge of the person ever so briefly touching your dog on his head.  This is not a cuddle session.  There is NO eye contact, the person is still looking ahead, but they just briefly touch your dog's head and then immediately continue walking.  

              When that is succesful they can touch the dog's head and then let their hand go down your dog's back AS they walk away.  

              You do this at your dog's pace and bank on success...don't go too fast so they are always getting correct.   Count on this taking a good month perhaps, maybe longer depending on how quickly your dog gets amped up from the earlier stages.  You might be in the "person walking at a distance" stage for a looong time.  Or you might be at the almost-but-not-quite-ready-for-a-head-touch for a looong time.  

              Doing things in this way allows things to be predictable and understandable to your dog.  It happens THE SAME way every single time.  There is no guesswork.  Your dog knows what he is supposed to do.

              You can see, then, that the level of guest-coming-to-the-house is 50 levels above this, right?  You're going to have to go soooo slow and paced to get to "graduation."

              https://youtube.com/shorts/-pC7IKNN4IQ?feature=share

              The video I'm sharing is from a similar training I was doing but at the "STAND stay" level and we were at the touching part.  Now, I made a mistake here in that I didn't make a correction for his showing too much interest (sniffing) the person helping, but I also didn't let the person touch him until he quit being sniffy.  So it was a milder lesson.  I should have been standing at his side and turned and walked him away.  Anyway, you get the gist.  He was farther along overall.  He will STILL get very excited if guests come over.  He will not naturally go up to them calmly.  I still have to use his obedience and have a plan.  I will often walk him out in heel and do some work with him as the guests watch and then release him, but he doesn't jump on people, he's just wild and wiggly.

              I'll show you some more videos.  In the meantime, DO NOT allow him to greet people in your house.  Crate him or gate him where he can't go and jump on people.

              • DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT meant as instruction or exactly how to do it.  There's a lot more to what I was doing and what people in these videos are doing.  I want you to zoom out and see the big picture.  The big picture is take BABY steps toward your dog's ability to withstand the intense social attraction/distraction of guests/strangers in his space.  Back up.  Train the small parts.  Work forward SLOWLY in a pattern your dog can understand.  Don't be random.  Don't throw him into situations he's not ready for.  Instruct your guests and if they are not up for it, don't do it.  Invite people to a park or parking lot to practice.  Your helper can even just sit in a folding chair as you heel around the person closer and closer or do stays near the person. 

                WHEN your dog can do this in public places with strangers, then you can start doing it in YOUR yard with helpers you invite over FOR THIS.  Or guests who are willing to engage in 10 min of helping before you put your dog away and hang out with your guests.  Set things up intentionally.  Then put your dog away.  

                WHEN Your dog can do controlled greetings in your yard, then you can try it in your house.  You first bring your guests in and keep your dog in another room.  You then instruct your guests to stand or sit where you want them.  You then leash your dog and heel him into the guest area and do some work with him until he is doing the work well.  Then put your dog away.  

                Over time, you can do more and more and even have your dog do a long down or a "place" command while guests sit and talk with you for 10 minutes and then release your dog while guests ignore him.  After a few minutes of him sniffing them, send him back to "place" -- you just have to use his obedience consistently and only increase the challenge bit by bit.  Your dog will show you what it can and can't do.  Use that info to guide your training.

                A few other videos.  This is a dog that's about halfway through the training.  This dog had a bite history and the trainer spent MONTHS in training as well as acclimating him to people approaching, so this is not a starting point, but a way's into the dog's training.
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xv7uiIBrDxM&t=440s

                And another closer to where you're starting, but probably your dog will need MORE space to start:
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy9D3w2c2JU


                • Thank you, this is incredibly helpful!  Yes, he's a Springer.  We have a park at the end of our street.

      • Adina is absolutely spot on. What your dog "knows" and what he will actually do, any time and every time, are two completely different things. "Smart" doesn't equal trained. Being smart, or not, is not the problem. This is about channeling your dog's intelligence into a will to focus on you, work for/with you, and cooperate with you. That takes time, patience, dedication, consistency, and repetition. 

  • Have you tried just crating him when you have visitors?  At least for a while until he calms down.  

    I know the struggle of getting visitors to ignore the dogs.. the visitors don't listen very well and instead reward the over-excited greeting by going to see the dogs.  I think we need to be more firm about it but I'll need to get the family on board with a plan first.

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