Positive Reinforcement Needed for Puppy who Picks on the Lady

Published by Theo Stewart on

Henlow picks on the poor lady. He flies at her, she feels, out of the blue.

She is doing her best to ‘discipline’ their fifteen-week-old Golden Retriever puppy. She has been fed with outdated advice.

A build up of a number of things are resulting in Henlow becoming cross, defiant and frustrated.

The lady is perhaps more confrontational with Henlow than the man and it’s a vicious circle. The result is, she’s the one who gets bitten. He growls and flies at her.

She is the main victim of his teeth!

This is very upsetting because she puts so much care into trying to get things right – in training him and loving him.

Inviting conflict

Ways she may be inviting conflict include giving him a ‘command’ and not following up immediately with reward. If she wants him off the sofa when he is getting rough, she commands him ‘off’ and pushes him. Predictably, He gets angry and goes for her hands.

She then may give him ‘time out’ and carry the biting, wriggling pup to his bed.

‘Time out’ shouldn’t seen as punishment, but a break with something to do that calms him down. With this attitude, she will be able to call him behind the gate, for food, and give him something on which to redirect his arousal and possible frustration.

A relationship built on positive reinforcement

I showed them how to build their relationship built on positive reinforcement. This will create a cooperative puppy.

They should think in terms of ‘cues’ rather than ‘commands’ and always pay him for doing as they ask. Why not?

The more commands the lady uses, the more she invites him to disobey – and then what should she do about it? Keep commanding? Force him? Manhandle him?

Henlow has the teeth!

They will teach him ‘Off’ the sofa by getting up and calling him off nicely – then rewarding him when he does so.

The lady asked – what if he then ignores me?

Why does he want to be there anyway? To be near to lady and to bite her! He is releasing feelings that have built up inside him. If he doesn’t come off when called, she could walk out for a minute and shut the door.

When she returns, immediately give him something to do with his jaws or time in the kitchen with some rubbish to destroy! He needs help in releasing these built-up feelings inside him.

Cooperative, not defiant.

With plenty of positive reinforcement, Henlow will naturally become cooperative rather than defiant.

Amongst my other suggestions is for the puppy to use his brain and put in some effort when eating his meals – like in a Kong. He will then have less need to get satisfaction and release for pent up frustration and energy by ‘going for’ the lady.

Another example of where they can help him to feel less frustrated is out on walks. They take him to lovely open places but he’s on a short lead all the time. He can’t reach the sniffs or do normal puppy exploring. How frustrating that must be for him. I suggest a long line straight away.

We covered a lot more. I have helped countless puppy owners over the years and have learned all sorts of tactics from working with them.

Upbeat and encouraging

They can be upbeat and encouraging and avoid ‘discipline’ where puppy doesn’t understand what it is he SHOULD be doing. This way they will build a great relationship based on positive reinforcement.

Accurate diagnosis is advisable for anyone with a wayward puppy. As in this case, people can’t see the true cause of behaviours for themselves. How they try to treat it can make things worse. I offer and experienced outside with my online Puppy Parenting system.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

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