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Behavioral Issues Why does he do that?

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Old 23rd October 2010, 01:38 PM
RileyandMax's Avatar
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How do you teach personal space?

So our Max is almost 18 months old... he's a great dog... amazing with our 2 year old son, has never chewed anything in our house, an alert watchdog, great with our other dog, etc etc...

But our one pet peeve with him is being in our faces or all over us. He will lay on the couch with us, which is fine... but if you are sitting there, and he comes over or you call him over to pet him, as soon as you start to pet him, he jumps up on the couch and literally puts his face right against yours sniffing... nothing aggressive at all and not even usually kisses... just like sniffing your breath or something... At the slightest affection or attention, and he has to be on top of you sniffing you, tail wagging.

At that point we just push him down, say "down" and stop the affection... I was thinking that when he realizes that doing that ends the affection/play, he'd figure it out and stop doing it... but it's been months and there is no change... any ideas?
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Old 23rd October 2010, 06:16 PM
srennie's Avatar
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It sounds like you need just a little more control over him to help him maintain control of himself. I'd start by teaching him that he needs permission to get on the couch or bed. That way if you want him to stay on the floor so you can pet him he can't be all in your face. I'd also teach him a command such as 'back' or 'enough' to use when he gets too excited and invasive. Also, don't call him to you in an excited voice or in an energetic way if you want him to remain calm then you need to remain calm as well. If you make him work for the affection he'll start to be more respectful. Work on commands such as 'come' and then 'down' (I use 'down' for lay down and 'off' for remove your feet from whatever they are on to avoid confusion) so he gets used to laying down when he comes to you and then offer affection.
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LILYLARUE (25th October 2010)

Old 25th October 2010, 04:46 AM
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Sounds like Kona... every chance she gets she's in your face. For some unknown reason she likes to put her mouth on yours so your sort of nose to nose (NOT my fave thing). I taught her to not expect to be all over us every time we called her with a lot of patience. She has a command for if she's allowed to get on the couch/bed but if she's climbing on ME she doesn't think that rule applies Anyway, I started by sitting on the couch and calling her to me, trying to pat her. As soon as she put a paw on me I stood up, don't say anything or touch. When she calmed down, I sat down and over and over and over again until FINALLY she got it
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johann (25th October 2010)

Old 25th October 2010, 08:27 AM
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So you know what you want your dog "not" to do, what do you want her to do though? If it is sit nicely for petting, then you need to tell her what she should do. As she approaches you for petting make sure you are cueing her to "sit" (I assume she knows the "sit" cue). If left to their own devices, dogs don't always make the choice we want them to, so set her up for success by actually cueing the behavior you do want her to do so she knows what's expected of her. Then if she doesn't do it, you can fairly deliver a consequence for inappropriate behavior.

Kilby'sMum's technique is likely to be the most effective at teaching the dog what not to do. For one thing, by standing up and diverting human attention, she is delivering a meaningful consequence to the unwanted behavior. Because she is not pushing, touching, or speaking to the dog, she is not inadvertantly providing the "reward" of continued interaction. Additionally, because she stands at the first sign of inappropriate behavior (paw on leg) she is delivering the consequence in a consistent and timely manner which allows her dog to learn what specific behavior earned her the "punishment".

If you want to make this technique more effective, you could pair it with a consistently used punisher word like "Eh-eh" or "Enough" that you would say right before you stand up. With repetition, this word would come to predict the punishment and the dog would alter its behavior upon hearing just the word.

Of course, you also need to teach the dog what to do, so go back and spend some time retraining the sit. Make sure that you include distraction training as well. For this dog, a big distraction is physical touching and verbal praise, so work each of those distractions at low levels, gradually increasing to the point that the dog can hold its stay while you pet them or while you praise them. Once they can sit for the individual distractions, then you can work on combining them at low levels, again gradually building up to where you are petting and praising with enthusiasm and the dog is still capable of maintaining the sit. Then work on callling the dog to you, cueing a sit, and then delivering the petting and praise--you may have to back track to lower levels of enthusiasm. Then do the exercise from a seated position.

Additionally, it would be of benefit to teach this dog to yield to your space. This can very effectively be done by teaching the dog a "back" cue. With the dog in front of you, step toward them. When they take a step back (watch for movement from their back feet) mark it with a clicker or verbal marker of "yes" and toss a treat behind them. They will go for the tossed treat and then likely come back toward you for more. This sets them up in just the right position to step into them again. As they are reliably taking that step back in response to your step in, you can add the verbal cue "back". Gradually you can take more steps into them and require that they back up more. Always toss or deliver the treat back and away from you so as not to create any incentive for them to come closer into your space. Next you can start fading your stepping-in motion and the dog will learn to back away from you on verbal cue alone. Then you can introduce the cue from a seated position.

Eventually you'll be able to call the dog to you, cue a "sit" (or because of repitition the dog might auto sit) and praise and pet your dog. If the dog should get pushy, you will be able to say "Enough" to stop the mis-behavior and then cue a "back" to get the dog to give you more space. Recue the "sit" and begin praising and petting again.

Last edited by TwoDogs; 25th October 2010 at 08:30 AM.
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Old 25th October 2010, 09:10 AM
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Yeah, what TwoDogs said! That is what I was talking about but I certainly didn't capture it as clearly. Very good post and advice!