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Monday, April 20, 2015

Meet Jack


Ok so we're  HUGE  Dr.Who fans.

As of Thursday we decided to call him Jack! He's a total flirt with his big blue eyes. He's about a year, maybe a year and a half old, tall and thin, an incredible jumper - when he was playing with Dante he reminded me of a jack in the box, and he needs some training.

So far no one is missing him, which makes us pretty happy because I'd like to find him a great home. And tomorrow they're out of time and he's all ours.
We also decided Jack is a mama's boy, he seems to prefer my company to that of hubby's, probably because hubby is currently on vacation and the main one correcting Jack and intervening in playtime when needed.

We're currently working on teaching Jack some basic manners, and encouraging him to interact with us something he wasn't initially inclined to do. For the first couple days  that we had him he was a bit like the shadow in the room rather than a dog.

Here's a Quick Breakdown of How Our Days Have Been Progressing & The Training We've Been Doing.

Day 1:
Day one he had to work for all his kibbles, good behavior was rewarded, anxiety and whining was ignored and he is smart so he started learning pretty quick what behaviors got him what he wanted, be it a treat or playtime outside. Over the course of the day he ate his two meals one kibble at a time, which is a great way to teach a puppy. We want him to know that we are the source of his food, and good behavior is rewarded in our house.

Day 2:
Day two we began giving him small meals so that he can eat with our pups, but since he's still pretty clueless hubby keeps kibbles in a bag all day and is constantly rewarding/feeding him so that we can be rewarding his progress. We've also been working on getting him comfortable in a crate.

He happily enters the crate on his own.

We're rewarding - eye contact, following us, sitting before being let in/outside, sitting when asked, laying down in the crate, when he redirects from harassing Dante & Ziva, ignoring the cats, coming when called...basically anything he is doing good is being rewarded, and he's getting plenty to eat don't worry!

We're ignoring, "behavioral extinction" whining at the door to come in/out, whining in the crate.

The biggest issue we're having is his mounting/sexual excitement.

"I am a Princess and shall be treated thus."

Ziva won't tolerate it and she warns him then corrects him with a bite, Dante doesn't know what to do so we spent most of the day pulling Jack off him and asking him to lay down or putting a leash on him until he was calm again.
The hard part though is that as soon as we released him he'd go back to it, treats didn't even dissuade him.

He doesn't seem to know how to doggy play so when they get running and wrestling he just mounts.

To correct this issue we initially used our slip lead, said "No" while looping him, and then removed him from play.

Mounting = time out to calm down, and then we would release him when he relaxed. Unfortunately doing this for two days - as soon as we'd release him the first thing he would do would be to mount again.

This is a problem for a number of reasons. The first being; not only could we not redirect his behavior through treats or a change of activity, but we didn't feel like he was associating the timeout and "No" with his mounting behavior. The second being that Ziva does not tolerate it when dogs attempt to mount her, resulting in angry snarls and a potential bite/dog fight if Jack decided to not accept her correction. The third issue was that he quickly decided that the leash was something that should be avoided, and what we don't want is for him to run off whenever he sees a leash. In our house leash represents a grand adventure! Something to be excited about, and a reason for a solid sit without being asked, because the dog sitting first is the first one to be leashed up. Dante has this down solid, he'll run up and immediately plant his butt on the ground giving direct eye contact.

All these things led to us using a water bottle set on "mist" to spray him, corresponded with a firm "No".

This is an example of "Positive Punishment" - dog's behavior causes a bad thing to happen. This is definitely not how we prefer to work with dogs, but in this case since his sexual drive and excitement was constantly hitting a level of 10 on a scale of one being almost none, to ten being impossible to control, we felt like it was our only option.
It helped a lot. Only two sprays later and he was correcting his own behavior!

When training we almost always use "Positive Reinforcement", and "Negative Punishment". Dogs learn much faster when you can reward them for what they are doing "correctly" as opposed to using disciplinary actions.

Day 4:
His progress is incredible! At this point he is eating full meals with Dante and Ziva, he's shown zero aggression or resource guarding issues and we're continuing to reward him with treats/clicker training during the day.

He has also become much more interested in what hubby and I are doing, in fact he's become my little shadow, a job usually left to Ziva.

He's greeting us at the door when we enter the house, and he is learning self control. His mounting at this point maybe happened once today, and all we had to say was "No", and he quickly redirected his own behavior to something more productive.

They love to play tug!

When we first got him he didn't understand how to play, but now he is tugging with Dante and Ziva and participating in chase/wrestle games without becoming over-aroused. In fact he's seeming to be more of a medium energy dog than a high energy dog like we originally thought. He's happy to follow me around the house while I do chores, and he quietly lays on the floor.
He is also beginning to snuggle with us on the couch! We've been really impressed with his progress so far and its only been a few days.

Things We're Still Working On:
- "Come", this is sadly a broken word for Jack. We're attempting to resurrect it though with super high value treats in the form of chicken hearts.

- "Jack", we're still working on him responding to his name and we are careful to keep it associated with only good things like pets, belly rubs, and treats.

- Bolting, Jack is clearly used to playing chase when he doesn't want to do something like go into the crate or to his bed for bedtime. The easiest way we've found to get around this with him is to promptly ignore his dancing around like a silly beast, interest him in something else, and then finally reward him when we do catch hold of his collar. In the meantime however he is not safe to have off-leash or un-fenced.

If you have any questions please let me know! 
Here is how we are conducting our training in more detail:

Crate Training

Obedience Training Through Shaping

Teaching Impulse Control

More about "Poisoned" or Broken Words

Bloghop (1)


  1. In just a few short days, Jack seems to be coming along nicely. Hoping his mounting will stop once he's neutered. He is beautiful and going to make someone a great companion. Jill

    1. Thanks! We're certainly hoping it will help him to learn better self control if his hormones are out of the picture.

  2. Great advice, through and through. Love his name, BTW, as I am a huge Dr. Who fan as well!
    --Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

    1. Captain Jack is one of my favorite characters! :-)

  3. Wow, you are making incredible progress with Jack! He's got beautiful markings, very handsome!

  4. Those eyes! Great to hear of his progress too.

    Leo is neutered, but he fixates on dogs at the dog park and mounts them. It seemed to get progressively worse so we'd leave as soon as he made his first move...or even looked like he was going to make a move. Yesterday though, I caught him starting to think about mounting, and then turn away, which I praised effusively. I didn't think that was something we'd be able to train away, but I'm hopeful! It's now been four dog park visits without any mounting!

    Plus, my post for tomorrow talks a little about those four quadrants. I always forget which one is which, aside from positive reinforcement. "Negative punishment" sounds bad, but it's an important (not necessarily aversive) tool.

    1. Jack was mounting from sexual excitement, he'd become over aroused and couldn't seem to help himself. Some dogs mount for dominance, Ziva does this sometimes, puppies do it to instigate play, and some older dogs do it out of a bad habit/lack of socialization skills (it's possible Jack fits in this category too).
      Bummer about Leo, my first guess would be a dominance/socialization issue - if it's dominance then you're doing the right thing by leaving and praising him for self control. :-)
      We avoid dog parks like the plague because of the lack of responsible owners and badly behaved dogs, but i'm glad Leo is starting to do well and learning how to play properly! *wags!

  5. It sounds like you're off to a good start, the one thing I'd like to say is be careful with using water as punishment. I had a case a while back with a dog who became severely aggressive (biting at the water and whatever was attached to the water hose ie: our hands, arms, etc) when we tried to bathe him when I asked the owner about it they had been correcting him with a squirt of water.

    I think pulling him off with a leash is probably a better idea and you can condition him so that the leash is a good thing. I'd also work on a positive interrupter and maybe even start Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol.

    1. Thanks Lauren I really appreciate your input!
      On a good note we're almost not using the water bottle anymore. He's a pretty fast learner, I didn't end up spraying him at all today.
      I have to admit though that he's a new kind of challenge and i've had to walk away a few times for fear of losing my patience with him. He's very stubborn, and when he gets sexually aroused almost nothing breaks his focus (the water bottle does..) but i'm sure you're right, so i'll reconsider just pulling him off all the time.
      On a good note, hubby and I are very much on the same page so we're at least consistent! :-)

  6. Amazing eyes!

    I wonder if he's so used to mounting that even after the neuter if he will still retain that behavior. I know when I fostered a 3 month old puppy - he was always mounting Blueberry's head. After his surgery though, it was like a switch had finally been turned off and he didn't do it anymore. Blueberry was pretty tolerant of it though. She'd be chewing on a Nylabone, Linus would be humping her head and she just continued to chew.

    Sounds like you are making great strides with him in his training! Keep up the good work!

    1. He was just neutered yesterday! Today he's back to being easily aroused but i'm hoping with time it'll work its way out of his system. :-)
      Blueberry sounds like a wonderful foster sister, and very tolerant! Ziva is not so tolerant to naughty behavior.

  7. Jack is lucky he came to your house! No one will try harder to help him!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  8. You are amazingly organized pet parents/trainers. Jack (the dog) has the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen.
    Congratulations on your new boy.


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