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Puppy play which trainer is right? What should I do?
  • I guess I am just a little confused and now kind of questioning what to do in regards to socialization for my puppy. Just a disclaimer my puppy hasn't been around unknown dogs. Only people's dogs we know well. I come from a family of dog people and so does my husband. He has met probably 8 different breeds of all shapes and sizes including cats, horses, cows and a pet bird (under very close watch and in my arms). My vet advised us that it would be okay to do this, considering where he is at with his shots and since his parents yard is fenced (they had a family reunion so he met lots of puppy cousins) and has been since he was a child and my parents closest neighbor is a mile away.

    Anyway, when Pavvy plays with adult dogs and even my sisters 6 month old puppy he really isn't that mouthy, at least he doesn't bite and hold on. He did check my sisters dog once when he was playing too rough but when I asked a trainer they said that, that was how puppies learn. She said as long as there is not excessive growling or aggression other than a few yelps when a puppy gets a tad rough there wasn't anything to worry about. Well, we started taking him to another trainer at a different center due to the other one not having enough room in her class. However, I am a tad frustrated. The new trainer was talking about puppy mouthing during a class. I explained to her that Pavvy very rarely mouths on us anymore at all (he's 13 weeks). She seemed to not believe me. I explained to this women that we used the "ouch" method (Which I found on here, thank you everyone! it worked like a charm). He would put his teeth on us, we would scream ouch and move away from him and ignore him until he engaged in an appropriate activity then reinforce him. We also started to redirect him to chew on his toys and pretty soon he started bringing them to us both when we used the ouch method and then when we would come home instead of jumping on us and scratching up our legs (mind you he still has his moments, they are just few and far between where it was happening all day every day).

    The trainer seemed to not believe me which is annoying. She agreed the method was a good one but apparently didn't trust in my ability to implement such a behavioral strategy (although, she is aware I do ABA for a living with kids with Autism. Which really isn't all that different. Behavior is behavior, animal or human and the biggest step is to find the function).

    We have taken him to puppy dates which is like a group of vaccinated puppies who get together a few times a week to practice playing. Pavvy is way more mouthy when he's there. The breeds are mostly larger and all high energy dogs. Pavvy does seem to look more vicious when he plays then other breeds due to his wolf like appearance but he also seems to match their level of intensity, which is what we've seen him do with other dogs, including my mom shy collie mix. Today, a bulldog took Pav by the collar and shook him. There was a simply clap and a no but nothing passed that. However, everytime Pavvy does anything it feels like they are getting after him. He has never made another dog yelp or bit and held on. It just kind of feels like they over correct him sometimes; pulling him out of the play pile, blocking him from playing or having me hold him while the rest play. I feel like he would learn more if they gave the other puppies and him a chance to set boundaries, after all that's what they do with their littermates.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

    I'm really not a trainer and maybe I'm being a bit of a momma bear but why do I pay someone to stop my dog everytime he pushes another one over (mind you he is about 10-20 pounds lighter and a good 4 inches shorter then the majority of them).

    What is the best move here? Do I follow the advice of the other trainer and find a place that allows the puppies to teach each other more in a sense or do I keep going my current trainer. The option I am actally leaning more towards is Pav just continuing to play with his adult dog and puppy cousins until he is old enough to go to the dog park and play with older dogs. Just cutting puppy playtime out completely.

    I might be being totally ridiculous about this but it's just frustrating. My puppy really isn't anymore mouthy than the others I seriously think he just looks more vicious when he plays. He also isn't learning anything by sitting on my lap the whole time.

    Thank you all for everything. I love this Forum and have found so many good strategies when facing a problem with him. Maybe I should be paying you guys instead of our trainer. Haha.

    [mod edit: changed category and closed thread due to duplicate topic]
    Post edited by sunyata at 2015-08-04 07:55:06
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1106
    The option I am actally leaning more towards is Pav just continuing to play with his adult dog and puppy cousins until he is old enough to go to the dog park and play with older dogs. Just cutting puppy playtime out completely.

    Continue letting Pav play with your friends/family dogs. Well adjusted mentors are the best.

    But, do not expect dog parks to be appropriate socialization for a puppy! If you browse around a bit in the socialization as well as aggression categories, dog parks are more often than not eventually a source of trauma for Shibas and their owners. There is no enforcement of proper behavior, or vaccination status, etc.

    Instead, a puppy play group is a controlled environment where the level of play is monitored and doesn't get out of hand - this is the right place for pups to safely learn how to interact with each other. Yes, they should be allowed to communicate with each other when they've had enough, but it should not be allowed to escalate into a fight. All should have adequate time outs when necessary. A simple rule of thumb, when play becomes too rough and one-side (when one of the dogs is no longer having fun), separate them for a few seconds. Release the bullied pup first, and if he attempts to re-initiate play, all is well.

    Also, mouthiness with people is separate from how rough dogs will play with each other; and Shibas do like to play rough! It's impossible to tell if your trainer is unfairly keeping Pav out of the play, but you should bring up your concerns with her. If it really bothers you, take some video and we can give you feedback.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8584
    @Pavvylove - There are tons of threads on socialization, behaviour, and finding good trainers already on the forum. The advice given above is good info, but I highly suggest that you read through the other threads as well.

    Since this is a common topic and there are existing threads, I am going to go ahead and close this one. Feel free to continue the conversation in one of the other threads if you would like. Thanks! :)
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
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