Hello again everyone. My dog Muttley is making progress with his training (or maybe I am), but he has been exhibiting a behavior that is a bit troubling, and I would like advice on best ways to handle it.

If I hand feed him a small piece of food, such as cheese or meat, he very carefully takes it from my fingers, mostly using his lips and tongue. However, when I give him a rawhide chew, he often gets excited and lunges for it, often knocking it from my hand. I have tried pulling it away when he tries to lunge, but I am afraid he might interpret this as teasing or playing, which may make the behavior worse. He is not really resource aggressive, and I can take his chews or other food from him without any real argument.
I think he uses the chews as an outlet for his excess energy, and he will actually chew up and eat a medium size rawhide bone in less than half an hour, and a small chip in a few minutes. He eats them carefully by chewing off small pieces, rather than trying to swallow large chunks, but he does work at them with great intensity.
He also sometimes nips just a little bit when I play with him. Usually he just grabs a bit of my sleeve, and he does not bite hard, but it can hurt if he gets a piece of my skin. He also likes to play by rolling over and flailing his front and back legs, and I have to be careful that he doesn't hit me in the eye with his claws.
Thanks for any suggestions to make sure these do not become real problems. It might discourage a potential adopter if he acts this way, or if he should nip their hand. He is a powerful dog, and even an accidental bite or scratch could be serious.
Paul and Muttley
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Hello again everyone. My dog Muttley is making progress with his training (or maybe I am), but he has been ... their hand. He is a powerful dog, and even an accidental bite or scratch could be serious. Paul and Muttley[/nq]When I give a dog a chew toy or treat, if they lunge at my hands I take the treat away from them and put it up. Don't give it back for a half hour or so. He should get the point. It follows the whole nothing in life is free policy. Except he doesn't get the treat unless he takes it nice. This may not work with some dogs when it comes to treats, since some inhale them. My dog is the weirdest thing when it comes to chewing food and treats.

He will not put more than three peices of food in his mouth at once, and he completely chews and swallows the three peices before getting any more. I use a small kibble too, not a dental type kibble. Small enough that my other dog, a cairn terrier would probably swallow it whole if he was fed the same food.
Hello again everyone. My dog Muttley is making progress with his training (or maybe I am), but he has been ... nip their hand. He is a powerful dog, and even an accidental biteor scratch could be serious. Paul and Muttley===

I never rough play with my rotty, because I don't want her to get too excited; I don't think it is a good idea to get a large or agressive type dog too excited with rough play; they start running around and knocking people down and nipping hands. If your dog leaps for the chewie, I would place the chewie near his food dish, instead of handing it to him, and let him know that that is where he gets his food and treats.
Tonight I tried to make sure he was relatively calm when I gave him a rawhide chew. He had told me that he wanted one by putting his nose on the bag. I keep it on a coffee table where he could get at them if he wanted to, but even when left alone for 8 hours or more, he has not gotten into them. Also, he has not gotten into the big bag of dog food on the floor, and it even seems like he barely touches his dry food which I leave out for him.

I find that amazing and commendable. So, I gave him the chew, and he did grab it more aggressively than he would a piece of ham. He started to chew on it, and I took it away briefly, without any complaint. I gave it back, and he proceeded to devour it. I would like to be able to give him treats, rather than leaving them by his food or tossing them to him. Maybe I'm asking too much for him to be more polite?
I enjoy a little bit of roughhousing with Muttley. He really doesn't get much chance to expend his considerable energy as I wish he could, by running and playing in a safe environment. He does seem to get a bit excited, but I never have a real problem settling him down. He was much worse at first about jumping up on me when he was excited, especially when I first got home, but he is much better now. I could probably prohibit such behavior, but in a way I actually enjoy it. It is mostly a problem when someone like my friend Helene (who rescued Muttley) visits him, and he weighs almost as much as she does, so she is understandably afraid he will knock her over. He settles down fairly quickly, however. He is just happy to see her.I am leaning more now toward keeping him, and maybe I can put up a fence where he can run safely, or maybe take him somewhere he can. It has been difficult trying to sort out the pros and cons of having a dog who is fun to play with and certainly good protection, versus the partial alienation of my cat Photon. It seems like I can balance both, and they may eventually be able to tolerate each other. It has been a long, sometimes stressful experience with my efforts to do what is best for Muttley, Photon, and myself, but I have learned a lot, and it really is nice to be good buddies with a big, intelligent creature who is responsive, protective, and loving.

As I write this, Muttley is snoring on my bed behind me, perfectly calm and trustworthy. At this point, I don't know how I could give him up, unless it was to someone I really knew well, and with whom I was convinced he would have a better life.
Thank you all for your many words of encouragement and good advice, even if it was sometimes hard to accept and act on. It looks like I might owe Janet her normal training fees if I decide to keep this lovable Mutt, but that is a small part of the cost of dog ownership, and well worth it.

Paul and Muttley, and (somewhere) Photon
Paul,
Lunging for food is a common thing when it comes to food items that are of special interest with animals. I have trained a wide range of animals from killer whales to beagles and food discretion is something animals seem to have an inate ability to retain.
Sounds like Muttley just loves a chew and is set on getting it. There may of been some hesitancy in the past on your reaction when giving it to him which causes him to think that it is acceptable to take chews in this manner. Not saying this for sure but I have seen it when animals react differently based on the presentation and manner that food is presented. For example the process in giving him cheese may be in such a way that he understands the rules of proper taking of this. My assumption would be that you spent some quality time teaching him to accept food in this manner. A step that you might of assumed would be carried over to larger food types.
One of my earliest challenges in animal training was a 700 lb sea lion named Clyde. He loved to knock the food bucket off the trainer which was humorous for the crowd but a little scary as the trainer.

There were two theories on how to deal with this. Keep the bucket away from him (which was difficult due to his size) or train him to wait. I choose to train him to wait. At first I would give him opportunity to "steal" from the bucket but their was nothing in the bucket to steal. I than taught him to do an "incompatible" behavior to stealing the bucket. This was lying down as the bucket was than higher than his head. By teaching him to wait and understand that by participating in a pleasant behavior for us both (lying down) he learned that he got what he truely was after.
Large animals present trainers to become more creative in your communication with your animals. Large dogs are on the fine line with their owners dependant on the physical size of the owner. By being creative and using non physical means to communicate proper etiquette you will quickly realzie that their head will work quicker than their paws.
I would be definitely concerned in any form of small nips that are starting. These are precursors to a tendancy of more agressive behavior. You have two options dependant on yoru comfort in teaching. One form teaches you to correct behavior physically. This opportunity is not given to us with large animals so I always choose the simple stop ignore reset posture. Which teaches the animal the act of nipping causes the behavior they desire to be terminated. They quickly learn to communicate in much more postive manners on how to play.

Redirection of incompatible behaviors is a great tool in communciating animals. Feel free to write for more specific examples.

Christopher
Tonight I tried to make sure he was relatively calm when I gave him a rawhide chew. He had told ... them by his food or tossing them to him. Maybe I'm asking too much for him to be more polite?[/nq]Ok, so I would never let my dog tell me when he wanted a chew. If you let him tell you when he wants anything and you comply, it raises a small social rank issue. Basically I would advise against ever letting a dog get what it is telling you it wants. This includes things such as attention as well. For instance, if my dog comes up to me and prods me with his nose, signaling he wants me to pet him, I don't pet him. I give him an alternate instruction which he must comply with, such as to lay down or go to his bed.

Some time later, after he has forgotten that he told me he wanted attention, I will call him back over to me and lavish him with attention. The same thing holds true for his treats, he should never get them when he tells you he wants them. In the case of my dog, his treats are kept up high so he can not get him, which in his case means over about 6 feet. He will sit when he wants them and give me very sad eyes, but I do not yield to his command, and make him wait till I feel like giving him a treat.

If I gave him treats as often as he tells me to, he would probably have about 10 lbs of fat on him instead of the nice lean healthy weight I keep him at. You give treats to him because he is a good dog who does what he is told, and gets treats once in a while. I wouldn't advise against just tossing them by his food personally, because to me that is ignoring the underlying issue. Regardless of if you want to adopt him out or keep him yourself, he needs to learn manners.

Think of being well behaved and doing as he is told as his job.
Nick
Basically I would advise against ever letting a dog get what it is telling you it wants.

Dog: "I want to go out"
You: "NA NA NA NA NA I CAN'T HEAR YOU NA NA NA NA NA" Dog: "Uh, okay."
If I gave him treats as often as he tells me to, he would probably have about 10 lbs of fat on him instead of the nice lean healthy weight I keep him at.

That's not a pack structure reason, that's a dog health reason.
I don't see a problem with rewarding a dog for asking for something politely. Whether or not he gets it depends on the circumstances, but a polite request (sitting and waiting, for example) is already showing the kind of submission that you seem to expect.

Melinda Shore - Software longa, hardware brevis - (Email Removed)

Prouder than ever to be a member of the reality-based community
On 25 Sep 2006 06:52:26 -0700,
"(Email Removed)"
Tonight I tried to make sure he was relatively calm ... he wanted one by putting his nose on the bag.

Ok, so I would never let my dog tell me when he wanted a chew. .. Regardless of if you ... yourself, he needs to learn manners. Think of being well behaved and doing as he is told as his job.

I agree. Must have missed the "request for rawhide" (I personally don't give the stuff).
Paul - bring a chew with you to class tomorrow night.

Janet Boss
www.bestfriendsdogobedience.com
Basically I would advise against ever letting a dog get what it is telling you it wants.

Dog: "I want to go out" You: "NA NA NA NA NA I CAN'T HEAR YOU NA NA NA NA NA" Dog: "Uh, okay."

Ok, so a dog asking for treats and acting like it needs to go out are completely different. That being said, my dog never asks to go out, or tell me he needs to go out. He goes out often enough at regular intervals far before he has a need to go to the bathroom.
If I gave him treats as often as he tells ... of the nice lean healthy weight I keep him at.

I don't give him treats on his command because of a pack structure reason, if I did, I wouldn't be able to give him as often as he asks because of medical reasons.
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