Author Topic: Puppy over excited for treats  (Read 464 times)

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Offline m0mof6

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Puppy over excited for treats
« on: July 04, 2017, 01:23:49 PM »
When working with my 11 week old puppy, Geo, he gets over excited about treats. His treats are just pieces of his normal food. He will eat his treat and then stops listening and attempts to get another treat. Attempts include nuzzling my hand, licking my hand, pawing at my hand, and very light nipping (teeth touching my hand but no pressure at all). Sometimes I have a treat in my hand and other times I do not.  It doesn't matter if he just ate or is due to eat even though it is the exact same food we put in his bowl. At this point (Geo demanding food) I stop until he looses interest- he doesn't get the treat. How can I get him to accept a treat nicely and continue with training? TIA!

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Puppy over excited for treats
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2017, 02:23:34 PM »
Correct him for rude behavior.  Basically, tell him, "no," or "uh uh," and then stop him from doing it so he learns what "no," means.  I'm not suggesting you strike the puppy or anything like that, but you do have to set limits for him and enforce thouse limits.  If he's nipping, you can say, "no bite," and then gently hold his mouth closed so he cannot bite.  If he's pawing, you can say, "no," and then gently but firmly hold his paw so he can't paw you.

He's doing these things because he thinks they will succeed in getting him what he wants.  So in addition to telling him you disapprove, you need to think about ways you've allowed him to believe that.  At some point in his life these behaviors have succeeded and reinforced him repeating them.  What that means now is that you're going to have to push through some extinction bursts.  An extinction burst is when the organism has learned that a behavior gets them what they want and then suddenly it doesn't work so they do that behavior more vigorously, convinced that if they just try a little harder it will work again.  Like someone pushing the button on a TV remote harder or raising it into the air or shaking it when it doesn't seem to be working.  They expect it to work and so will try harder with the established behavior pattern to make it work.

During an extinction burst, the absolute worst thing you can do is give in.  So once you start refusing to respond as he wishes, you have to make a commitment to stick with it, no matter how annoying or vigorous he becomes.  It might seem like refusing to comply isn't working because the behavior actually gets worse for a while, but that is how extinction bursts work.  The problem is that you can use extinction to get rid of an undesired behavior, but you can also use an extinction burst to intensify a behavior you want to keep.  If you reinforce during the extinction burst, the behavior will become 10 times harder to extinguish in future.  This typically happens when the trainer is feeling social pressure either from the puppy or from people watching the interaction with the puppy, or from embarrassment over the puppy's behavior.  For example, the puppy is tossing a noisy fit, yelping like you're killing him but you aren't (he's just being dramatic to get what he wants).  This happens often when someone is trying to do public access training before the core behaviors are solid.  They give in to hide the misbehavior and accidentally make life a lot harder on themselves and their puppy.

Even if a puppy protests restrictions on what he can do (don't poop in the house, don't chew on my hand or my shoes, don't bark at the mail carrier) he actually feels safer and more secure when he lives in an ordered life with simple rules that are consistently enforced.  Why?  Because he knows what to expect.  There is no need to worry about what might happen.  There is no fear that no one is in charge, responsible for seeing to his needs and safety.

You have both a right and a duty to set these simple rules that will make him pleasant to live with and to enforce them gently.  With puppies usually simple physical restraint (holding his mouth shut or holding his paw still) are sufficient and while he might protest being restrained it doesn't actually hurt him physically or psychologically and he's going to need to get used to some restraint anyway in order to get his nails trimmed, get bathed, get vaccinations from the vet, get injures examined and treated and so on.

My current SD was a huge drama queen as a little puppy.  He was delighted to jump in a lake and swim, but suggest a bath to get the stink off him and he acted like I was pouring acid over him.  I know for 100% certain that I wasn't hurting him.  He just didn't want to be told he had to do it.  He didn't want to be brushed either or have his nails trimmed.  But these things must be done for his own well being.  Now he just flops like a rag doll in my lap for grooming and nail trims.  He's a little tenderheaded and will yip of the brush hits a snarl and pulls the fur a little.  That's a legitimate complaint.  He's more sensitive to having his fur pulled by the brush than my other dogs, so I use more care, a special brush, and a different technique for him.  I still have to get those mats out because he's going to be miserable if I don't.  The tough bit for a new puppy owner is figuring out which is legitimate complaint and which is puppy drama.

You know your pup is not starving.  You aren't going to hurt him by having food in your hand that he can see and smell but is not allowed to have.  He'll probably be dramatic about it because puppies tend to drama.  But put the food there and when he reaches for it close your hand around it so he can't get it and tell him "no," if he gets too persistent about trying to get to it.  Give treats to him ONLY when he is being polite and gentle. Ignore drama.  When he stops fussing, sits, and looks at you in contemplation (reviewing his options for getting the treat), THAT is when you open your hand and give it to him.  That way you are rewarding only good behavior and not pestering behavior.

You can feed him his whole meal this way, one kibble at a time.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Puppy over excited for treats
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2017, 02:25:06 PM »
Note:  You might not have been the one to accidentally teach him this behavior.  He may have learned it from a previous owner.  Unfortunately, you're still stuck with fixing it.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline m0mof6

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Re: Puppy over excited for treats
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2017, 02:34:29 PM »
Thanks, that's kinda what I thought. I was just hoping it would be easier to train out of. :LOL:

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Puppy over excited for treats
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2017, 02:35:25 PM »
They're a lot like toddlers just starting to walk.  Into everything and needing boundaries.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline m0mof6

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Re: Puppy over excited for treats
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2017, 03:08:35 PM »
I've been working on this multiple times since I posted yesterday and he is doing much better.  :smile:    thanks again!

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Puppy over excited for treats
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2017, 04:09:27 PM »
Awesome!
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest