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My unruly dog is making me crazy.

I've posted before about dear Abby, our rescued American Bulldog mix that we adopted a year and half ago.  I am tearing my hair out. This weekend, she jumped on my father, who has Parkinson's, while he was sitting in his recliner.  Mind you, this was after a day in doggy care and a looong walk.  She was very calm, just got up from lounging on the carpet, walked around and for no reason jumped up to say hi.  NOT COOL.  Below is what I have tried so far so please, only serious, non-judgmental suggestions.  I am trying here and am willing to do more.  I am at my wits end and just want my dog to be well behaved.  Having her around other people is so stressful, she literally cannot be off leash when others are around.  (*she is not aggressive at all, more like an insane lunatic on speed.  That being said, because of her size, she really could hurt someone if she knocked them over.) 

  • She has very strict boundaries at home, NILF I guess you could say.  No treats, no food, no affection unless she sits/is calm and follows a command.  
  • Not allowed on furniture unless invited.  (She will try for 45 min to get on the couch, RELENTLESS and I will not allow it b/c she initiated it).
  • She gets exercised EVERY day for at least an hour.  Combinations of walking and running (upwards of 5 miles at times + fetch in the yard)  We even do the mind games of hide and go seek outside.  I have given her "jobs" to do on her walks such as carrying things like sticks.
  • She has been given food puzzles and doggy mind puzzles.  
  • She goes to the dog park and doggy day care maybe 1x a week to offer a different outlet for energy
  • We take her to public places that are crowded so she is socialized and gets to meet new people and dogs in appropriate ways.
  • I ignore bad behavior and make a huge deal when she does something good.  I was told to shake a can with pennies when she does something unfavorable like jumping b/c the ignoring was not working.
A few other pieces about Abby.  Unless there is something she is really interested in (chicken for example) she could care less.  I did some training with her in the yard with chicken and she totally did everything I asked for.  Dog biscuits, she walks away.  I can't even really determine if she is "high energy" bc she sleeps half the day.  Every morning after my husband leaves I try to get her to go the bathroom before I leave for work, she is snoring, curled in a cocoon of blankets that she created and wont move until I make her.  She goes back to bed and remains this way until I come home for lunch when I have to wake her up AGAIN.  So my thought is a high energy dog would not be lounging around all morning long. I'm telling you, I make coffee, make noise in the kitchen run up and down the stairs and she doesn't budge.  

I am probably making her out to be more than she really is but I am a petite woman and she is an 80 lb dog.  I just want her to be good around other people and have a stressfree day.  She is actually very calm at home, really relaxed, doesn't destroy anything, nothing.  She is a sweet dog but is not at her potential.  My neighbors all love her, they just find her antics "funny"  I do not.  I have no idea what her first year of life was like b/c she was a stray.  We (husband and I) both work full time and our families don't live close by so we really don't/can't have people over regular basis to train her that sense.

We have taken her to dog "trainer/behaviorist" before.  Serious suggestions please.  

Re: My unruly dog is making me crazy.

  • A few things:

    1.) have you tried crate training? our Dalmatian (read: high energy, pushy, smart, persistant) is crate trained, and we've noticed that when she gets unruly it is much like a young child that has gotten overtired and acts out. When she gets like this she often gets a 5-10 minute break in her crate.  we say "Maya, in your den" and she goes in the crate until she can calm down, often she throws a bit of a hissy-fit, and in that case she does not get to come out until she has quieted down. At this point we've been consistent enough with it that often when she starts getting wound-up (usually after a busy day...2 long walks and lots of time outside) we can just say "Maya, do you need to go in your den?" and she stops what she is doing and finds an appropriate toy to chew. I should be very clear here, the crate is NOT punishment, when she obeys the "In your den" command she gets treats.  to me it seems that she gets overstimulated and needs a mental break.

    2. Just because you are taking her to places with lots of people, does not mean she is getting socialized. is she interacting with those people? to they ask her to sit and give her a treat? try asking people if they would mind giving asking your dog to sit and giving her a treat or two. some people won't want to, but you'd be surprised how many people will. 

    3. How far are you walking her? I know a Dal has a lot more energy, but in general, tired puppies are good puppies. I do two 3-5 mile walks with Maya on good days, then she is usually a very good puppy. also mental games are great at tiring dogs out.  We like to play hide and seek...really one of us calls her, the other hides then calls her and then roles gets her moving around the house.  this is a good game when I'm in the kitchen cooking dinner and H is in the living room doing e-mail or something, we can keep doing what we're doing and she stays busy. also 2-3 15 minute training sessions a day help. 

    4. My high energy dog is a lazy pile of bones in the morning. I get up at 5, she goes out does her business, eats breakfast and then puts herself back to bed until we go on a walk. Make it your new mission to see how tired you can get her. 

    5. Try training class again. We have taken a variety of classes and it has helped with people training so we start to recognize when her behavior is sliding backwards and can intervene before she does something inappropriate. we spent 12 weeks in Puppy classes, have done a session of agility (FANTASTIC for high energy breeds...mental and physical exercise) she was always tired after that class, and we're now doing a "Canine Explorers" class to work on good leash behavior when there are lots of distractions around. There are tons of options out there. 

    6. DO NOT set your dog up to fail. if there are people you don't want her jumping on around take active steps to prevent her from doing it. gate her from the area, or make a "puppy-pop" with a KONG (there are recipies for stuffing KONGS all over the internet, make one with high-value ingredients and freeze it) giving her something that is way better than jumping on the couch will reward her for staying on the floor. 

    Good Luck.

    Me: 28 H: 30
    Married 07/14/2012
    TTC #1 January 2015
    BFP! 3/27/15 Baby Girl!! EDD:12/7/2015
  • I suggest not allowing her on the furniture at all. It's got to be confusing that sometimes she is allowed up there & other times she is not.


  • All excellent suggestions.  

    @ Gdaisy09:
    1.  She is crate trained.  She really only is in there for a few hours when I am at work and she certainly goes in there on her own when she is tired or needs a time out.  
    2. She does interact with the people we meet most of the time, especially all of the other dog walkers in the neighborhood...though I do admit I worry she will jump so I do keep it moving along.
    3. Perhaps she isn't getting enough walking, will have to think about more.
    4.  Where we live (upstate NY) there are unfortunately limited options...Ive explore the most popular ones already (1 lady who was top rated has Lyme Disease and no longer trains, 1 lady turned out to be insane and we used the 3rd)
    5.  I agree I dont want to set her up to fail...its baffling b/c the jumping on my dad came out of nowhere.

    @ crystaldbl

    I agree.  *I* don't let her on the furniture ever...her best buddy however (my husband) def. does.  He follows the protocol of inviting her up.

    Thanks everyone....
  • I'd like to follow this thread to see if anyone has any other thoughts. I am in the exact same boat as you are with my 55LB Australian Cattle Dog/Australian Shephed mix. High energy is an understatement. He is not aggressive at all but has the deepest bark/growl I've ever heard..... he just gets so insanely wound up and excited in certain situations and is just jumping all over the place like a lunatic.  I also keep it moving rather quickly for fear of jumping/playful barking/possibly even nipping (he is a herding dog after all). I know that isn't the right thing to do... my hubby and I are very determined with his training, we knocked every habit of his that was not desirable off... except the crazy lunatic jumping! He runs 3-5 miles daily on top of his AM/PM walks (where he carries his own backpack) and eats his dinner/breakfast through a puzzle toy.. we work him every way we can.. he still gets psycho! We brought him to a family reunion a few weeks ago and it was so exhausting bc I had to constantly grab him, pull him down, leash him, etc.... my husband doesn't think it's a big deal... but we clearly know better.
  • Did you take her to a veterinary behaviorist or someone like 'bark busters" there is a HUGE difference. Your should be asking the question of your veterinarian, that is who is qualified to answer.   Your dog may need to be medicated while retraining.  I have had patients on clomicalm, prozac, xanax while training and for some it works great.  WHen the behaviorist is a veterinary specialist it makes this process much easier. 
    The other side of the coin is that you need to follow the instructions and practice closely...and that is the hardest part..practicing and being consistent. 
    Good luck!
  • She shouldn't be sleep ing all day. Dogs too get an underactive thyroid --- maybe have hers checked out.

    Work with an animal behaviorist on the jumping --- somebody I know had an Amstaff and they took a collapsible crate with them if they were going to spend the day or extended time as company. Maybe you could use the collapsible crate once she says Hi to everyone.:)
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