Puppy Temper Tantrums...

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Singdrumplay:
Our 4 month old lab mix throws tantrums on walks. She will take the leash in her mouth, and when we stop, remove the leash "while saying drop it," she proceeds to growling, biting, barking, jumping, etc. She will not continue walking during this fit. She carries on like we're doing something horrible to her, although we just take the leash from her mouth. She is enrolled in puppy obedience classes with postitive reinforcement as the training method, and has responded well to the rest of her training. Do you have any suggestions?
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Emily Carroll/Fluttervale:
[nq:1]Our 4 month old lab mix throws tantrums on walks. She will take the leashin her mouth, and when we ... postitive reinforcement as the training method, andhas responded well to the rest of her training. Do you have any suggestions?[/nq]
What do you do to try to contain her and encourage her to not react like this? Secondly, what other mental exercise is she receiving? Does she receive off-lead playtime? It's important that you make sure she gets lots of off-lead playtime. Playing fetch with her in the yard, running around, etc.
Secondly, instead of gently removing the leash from her mouth, try giving her as little leash as you can (don't strangle her or give her *NO* room to run around but just give her half an inch to think about) and freeze when she does this. Don't react to her, don't make her do anything. Get her nice and bored. You're not doing anything interesting, she's not doing anything interesting.
Thirdly, work on not letting her have these temper tantrums. I am a big fan of letting my dogs know that I'm always carrying around treats. They just never know when they're going to do something that warrants me handing them out (so they're on their best behavior!) I start out with taking a few steps, and calling them back to me (I teach them to touch a hand) and get a treat. Take a few more steps. Instead of being bored, they're constantly trying to figure out what you're going to ask for next. Eventually they forget they even GET bored on walks, they are happy in your company.

Puppies go through "stages" and yours is no different Emotion: wink Labs are fun, but you have to make sure they get enough mental stimulation.

Emily Carroll
http://www.fluttervale.com/kennel - Fluttervale Labradors http://www.fluttervale.com/biography - Canine Biography
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culprit:
[nq:1]Our 4 month old lab mix throws tantrums on walks. She will take the leash in her mouth, and when ... reinforcement as the training method, and has responded well to the rest of her training. Do you have any suggestions?[/nq]
it sounds more to me like she's trying to play with you, not having a tantrum. :-) i'll second Emily's suggestion of freezing, and basically ignoring the behavior. i'll bet you're reacting somehow, because she's continuing her behavior for some reason. maybe she thinks you're playing with her when you take the leash away.
one of my dogs taps on the door to go outside. sometimes he does this over and over, not even leaving the deck, but turning around to come right back inside. it's totally annoying. so sometimes when he taps on the door, i'll give him a good chewy treat, like a bone or a pressed rawhide, in order to get him to leave me alone for 20 minutes or so.
lately i've noticed that he taps on the door, over and over, very quickly in succession (telling him "no" doesn't help for long). then he just sits and looks at me expectantly. that's because i inadvertently taught him that tapping on the door will get him a really good treat. :-)

everything dogs do, they do for a reason. it's up to us to find that reason, and remove it if necessary, in order to shape their behavior. make sense?
-kelly
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Leah:
[nq:1]Our 4 month old lab mix throws tantrums on walks. She will take the leash in her mouth, and when ... reinforcement as the training method, and has responded well to the rest of her training. Do you have any suggestions?[/nq]
Have you actually taught her the command "drop it?"

Sounds to me like she thinks it's a fun game. A lot of pups - in particular the mouthy ones like labs - play tug with their leashes.

The easiest thing to do would be to spray bitter apple, bitter end, or one of the other yucky-tasting products on the leash so that she no longer wants to put it in her mouth. You may have to experiment to find one she doesn't mind, though.
And you could try bringing a toy with you on your walks that she could carry in her mouth, instead of the leash.
To teach drop it:
1. Let her put something in her mouth (like a toy).
2. Say drop it.
3. Initially, put a treat right up to her nose. Shove it in her nostril ifyou have to. Wait patiently until she decides to voluntarily drop the toy to take the treat. I've yet to see a dog who wouldn't eventually give in to the smell of the food. :}
4. Praise her, and whip the toy behind your back for a second (to get it outof her sight, so she doesn't change her mind). Give her the treat.
5. Immediately give her the toy back and leave her alone with it.

After the first few times, you shouldn't have to put the treat to her nose any more. As quickly as you can (as soon as she understands the command), don't let her see or smell the treat when you ask her to drop an object. Other than that, rinse and repeat on the above exercise as many times a day as you can manage.
I love this method, because you're not only teaching the dog the "drop it" command, but you're also teaching her that she doesn't have to guard her treasures from you. A mouthy dog is used to getting stuff taken away from her and not getting it back. After this training, that dead squirrel she finds outside will more likely be offered to you, instead of buried in the couch. :}

Whenever she has something in her mouth that you can't give back, like a shoe, trade it for a toy.

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Paula:
[nq:1]Our 4 month old lab mix throws tantrums on walks. She will take the leash in her mouth, and when ... reinforcement as the training method, and has responded well to the rest of her training. Do you have any suggestions?[/nq]Labs are a really mouthy breed. My lab mix used to also want to take the leash in her mouth. She also would "hold" my hand with her mouth. Lately, she has decided that she is too good for chewies but loves to hunt down and destroy pens. It's up to me to let her know what she can and cannot have in her mouth. You can get a really short leash, I think it is called a traffic leash, that gives enough room for her to walk but not enough for her to reach back and take it in her mouth, at least not easily.

You can also walk her when she is hungry and take kibble with you. When you stop, feed her some kibble. If she grabs for the leash, tell her "no" sternly and then as soon as she lets go of it, praise her profusely. If she doesn't let go on her own, use kibble to tempt her to let it go so she can fit some food in her mouth. Even if the only reason she dropped it was greed, praise her for dropping the leash and make sure you do not do anything that she enjoys when she has the leash in her mouth.I have been working on "drop it" with Punk since the pen habit came up. She also picks up dirty socks, so she apparently has a stinky feet smell fetish. So I keep her with me in a fairly small room so she can't sneak anything by me that has some pens and dirty socks around. When I see her going for something, I tell her "no" and then praise her when she does something other than grab the forbidden item. If she gets something anyway, I tell her to "drop it" and praise her profusely when she drops it.

If she refuses to drop it, I walk her down (another reason for a small enclosed space), tell her "Drop it" while I open her mouth and take the item out of there, drop it on the ground while still holding on to her enough that she can't go for it and praise her for her "good drop it!" If you don't know how to get a dog to open it's mouth and release something, you might not want to experiment with one that is out of control, but you can get your vet to show you how.

I first learned it when I needed to get mouths open to give pills. Now I put pills in yummy food bits to hide them, but the mouth opening trick still comes in handy for other things.

This afternoon, we were outside playing catch and Punk refused to drop the ball when I told her to. Instead of joining in a fun game of keep-away, I told her "No, drop it!" and when she still refused, I turned my back on her and went inside, leaving her outside. She dropped that ball really fast then. In that case I decided not to walk her down for two reasons: Following her around was part of the game she wanted to play and it wasn't worth it since the yard is larger than a small room and the ball was something she couldn't harm herself with and I wouldn't get upset if she chewed up.

So, don't reward the behavior you don't want (don't play her game), find a way to control whether she can do what you don't want (shorter leash or same leash wrapped around hand to make it shorter), give her an alternative (No don't do it in the first place or drop it when she has it) and praise that alternative. Lure or bribe the behavior you want if you can't get it from her naturally before that point where you want to scream in frustration (hungry dog and kibble or treats in the pocket). Also, be really careful what you let a lab or lab mix have in her mouth since they are prone to be mouthy anyway.

Paula
"I think I'm having the best childhood I've ever had!" Mimi
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Scott:
Maybe she is just being a puppy. I would use positive reinforcement to guide her in her growth, but I would allow her to be a puppy. She is awfully young.
[nq:1]Our 4 month old lab mix throws tantrums on walks. She will take the leash in her mouth, and when ... reinforcement as the training method, and has responded well to the rest of her training. Do you have any suggestions?[/nq]

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Rocky:
[nq:1]I have been working on "drop it" with Punk since the pen habit came up.[/nq]
To put a dollar value on it: A "drop it" command would have saved an acquaintance a $1000 surgery bill on her lab. Said lab (not a puppy) wouldn't give up a squeaky and, when presented with a treat in exchange, made the decision to swallow the toy and then grab and swallow the treat bag.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
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Emily Carroll/Fluttervale:
[nq:2]I have been working on "drop it" with Punk since the pen habit came up.[/nq]
[nq:1]To put a dollar value on it: A "drop it" command would have saved an acquaintance a $1000 surgery bill ... made the decision to swallow the toy and then grab and swallow the treat bag. Matt. Rocky's a Dog.[/nq]
Forgive me for laughing at the picture of that.
That is SUCH a Lab thing to do.

Emily Carroll
http://www.fluttervale.com/kennel - Fluttervale Labradors http://www.fluttervale.com/biography - Canine Biography
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Melinda Shore:
[nq:1]To put a dollar value on it: A "drop it" command would have saved an acquaintance a $1000 surgery bill ... with a treat in exchange, made the decision to swallow the toy and then grab and swallow the treat bag.[/nq]
I'm very sorry for what must have been a terrible scare for your friend as well the risk to the dog, but it's hard not to admire a dog with advanced problem-solving skills.
Melinda Shore - Software longa, hardware brevis - (Email Removed)

"War is heck" American Family Association
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