Canine Behavior/my dog is jealous
Hi our family bought home a puppy in September, a cockalairapoo. He is now 11 months old and is loving, sweet, trainable and energetic. We have one problem. He is so jealous, he will jump between my husband and i if he talks to me or shows affection. He will also bark. Worse is he is very jealous of any affection or even conversation i have with my 7 year old grandson.(he lives with us) he loves him, but if i interact with him he jumps on him or pulls on his sleeves, he tries to steel his toys and eat them. he steals my husbands glasses and eats them. If i have company he is so happy and showers everyone with snuggles until they and i start talking or whatever. he never wants to leave my side, even comes to the bathroom with me.
He is learning all the commands like sit stay, lay down. and i am teaching him all those in sign language as well so he is progressing. He loves hiking and other dogs!
My biggest concern is his relationship with my grandson. it is a love hate thing! i want him to stop jumping on him and when my grandson doesn't want to play with him i want him to stop. if i leash him he barks non stop.
i would also like to crate train him but am not sure how. he goes in it when i am home alone with him and cleaning, but barks if he is told to go in it.
I will be hiring a trainer to come into the house to help with some of the issues, but if you have any suggestions until then i would greatly appreciate some peace in the house.
he is a wonderful loving dog, but he definitely rules the roost!
Thank you for your question. It sounds like you've got your hands full with this one.
Most of what you describe sounds like attention seeking behavior. When he jumps or barks, do people respond to him? Look at him, shh him, talk to him, pet him, give him food or play with him? If any of that happens, even if only some of the time (in fact, especially if only some of the time!) then he has learned that barking and being grabby is a successful way to get his immediate need for attention met.
Dogs do what works for them. So, correcting this is a double-sided process. First we need to start teaching him a different behavior that is incompatible with the undesirable behavior he's currently doing. For example, if he's barking at you and nipping at your clothing, teach him to retrieve a toy from across the room. He can't nip at your clothes if he's moving away from you and he can't nip or bark if he has a toy in his mouth. So, teaching him to retrieve a toy and providing tons of love, praise, play and maybe even trades for tasty treats will help teach him that this behavior reliably gets his need for attention met. He will start to be more inclined to do this behavior, so long as the humans in his world are consistent in rewarding him for making that choice every time he does it (for the next 3 months).
At the same time, his current undesired behavior has to stop working completely. This means that if he barks for attention or nips at clothing, the humans turn their back to him, do not speak to him, bring their hands up to their own chest (to keep from petting or pushing or otherwise touching), and if necessary leaving the room and putting a closed door between you and the dog.
Once the dog has quieted, you can instruct him to go retrieve the toy you've designated as the toy with which he's allowed to ask for attention (or any toy if you don't care what he brings you). And then reward him handsomely for retrieving the toy.
Because he's stealing your grandson's toys, I would do two things. First, I would put all of your grandson's toys into a single room with a door and close the door or put up a baby gate so the dog cannot go in there to steal toys. Management is a key part of changing behavior and so we have to prevent him from having access to the child's toys. The only way to do that is to keep the toys out of the same space as the dog. Or at least put them away after use so nothing is left lying around and available for curious doggie mouths.
Also, for this reason, I might pick just one or two of the dog's favorite toys (his own toys) and really drive home the skill of "retrieve a toy" so that he learns that getting attention from you is not going to happen if he brings you anything other than the one or two toys you've designated as the right thing to use.
I would start involving your grandson in the training so that he can work with the dog to tell the dog to Sit or Down (lie down) or Off (get off of) or Leave It or Drop, etc. While you should always supervise interactions between your dog and your grandson, until he's at least 10 years old, and you should always be watching for signs that the dog is over aroused or uncomfortable so you can intervene and redirect the dog or the child or both... it's also really helpful if the child is learning how to interact with the dog in a productive way and vice versa.
Using positive reinforcement methods, setting the dog up for success and then telling him he's done the right thing, we will help him learn what is expected and he'll be eager to repeat those behaviors more often.
Work on a solid Leave It command (impulse control). And teach him to go to a bed (or into his crate) on cue. You may not even need to close the crate door. But just teaching him it's time to go rest for a bit is a good thing. Below are some training videos, including crate games, that you can look at and work from until you are able to hire a trainer to work with you in person. Just be sure the trainer you're working with uses force free/fear free methods that set him up for success. It's much easier and better for the learning and better for the bond if we set about teaching a dog what TO do, rather than wait for him to mess up so we can tell him what NOT to do.
Crate training games (this is a 36 minute video)
Kikopup crate training
You will likely find many videos on Kikopup that are useful for you.
Leave It (my videos)
Teaching Stay. You have to build up duration, distraction and distance separately and as you add one to another you must make the existing bit easier. In other words, if you can do a 60-second Stay while standing toe-to-toe with the dog, so now you want to add in some distance by taking a step or two away, you must reduce the duration back to just long enough to step away and back. Then as the dog gets used to the movement you've added, you can build in duration again by taking 2 or 3 steps away and then pausing before returning to praise, treat and release.
This is an early stage training example:
This is an intermediate training stage example:
I hope some of this proves helpful. Please feel free to followup if I can be of any further assistance.
Jody, CPDT-KA, APDT
Worcester, MA Behavior Specialist
Masters Candidate - Animals and Public Policy (Animal Behavior)
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine