|Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 6:04pm PST |
With all due respect, I would ask you not to put words into my mouth.
"Bad manners" do not indicate that you have a "bad dog". As you pointed out, it indicates an "untrained dog", which is more indicative of the "bad former owner". (Which we already knew about, considering Kiska was lucky enough to be removed from such a situation.) If it's a spade, I'm going to call it a spade. The mouthing etc is "bad manners", and the OP is doing well to be patiently educating their dog in "good manners". I'm certainly aware that all dogs must be educated in "good manners" and do not come with a preprogrammed set of instructions for living in human society. If they were, a lot less adolescent dogs would end up dumped in shelters when they cease being cute.
However, the OP knows nothing of what that former home was like, or what behaviors he learned there, so Kiska may be repeating behaviors that have worked for him in the past. If it works, it is reinforcing.
As neither of us was in the OP's house at the time of the incident, or has seen video footage of it, I feel it is highly inappropriate (based on the OP's description) to immediately diagnose the behavior as fear related. It might be; and if it is, a good course of counterconditioning and desensitization in combination with good positive reinforcement training will help the dog settle happily into his new home.
However, if it was simply excitement, that counterconditioning would be inappropriate, and the dog just needs some training so that the OP can communicate what behavior is wanted.
Admittedly, "being a jerk" is a remote possibility, as it involves the dog trying to order the house the way that he wants it. Perhaps it is a more common problem in my own breed, which are meant to be extremely rules oriented and bossy farmdogs with enough grit and guts to save you if the farm's bull decides it wants to stomp and gore you. They get into a LOT of trouble if they are allowed to make up their own rules. (Thankfully, I've only had to deal with telling Chandler that he does not have to be playground police.)
The point is, if you are not directly there, it is really hard to tell what emotional state is causing a behavior, and that is probably best left to the family and the trainer that they will be working with.
As you say, the dog does need some training, and I agree with a positive reinforcement course is the best way to learn. And yes, redirecting the mouthing and chewing into appropriate outlets is a great choice. For stealing, I would suggest management to prevent the dog from having opportunities to practice, and perhaps teaching the dog to trade and bring you things. My trainer likes to teach the dog to bring the wonderful thing it has found to her in exchange for a cookie or toy.
NOWHERE did I say anything about going into this with a hard disciplinarian attitude. NILIF is not punishment for misbehavior. It is structure that will help an (excited and untrained/fearful and untrained/bossy and untrained...whichever it is doesn't matter) dog feel secure knowing what is expected. Untrained does NOT mean bad. It just means untrained.
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