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Q&A: My boxer is bratty, my dog jumps on people

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Question submitted by Janet N.
I have a 7-month-old boxer and a 6-year-old pitty (who is unbelievably patient!). My boxer always steals whatever toy my pit has. If my pit is getting a drink, he runs over and sticks his nose in the bowl too. He will constantly bite and tug on my pits ears and is constantly terrorizing him. How can I stop this bratty behavior? He also is a ”forager.” He eats anything and everything and I am scared for my boxers safety and well being. I feed him one cup, three times daily, and he always acts starved. My boxer’s way of showing affection is nibbling on my hands, I dont want him to think that affection is bad, but nibbling is. My pitty was so easy to train, I think I got spoiled and not sure what or how to deal with my crazy boxer?
Terry’s answer
The first thing I would do is make sure there is nothing physically wrong with your boxer pup that would cause his foraging (vitamin deficiency, worms; there could be several things). After that is confirmed, a solid “leave it” command will help with all of your issues.  Start by putting a treat in your hand and closing your fingers over it.  Put your fist palm up in front of his nose. Say “leave it” and repeat until your dog looks away. As soon as he looks away, open your hand and say “take it.” What this teaches is that when you say “leave it” he is to ignore what ever has his attention. Timing is very important so he gets the idea that him turning his head – thus turning his attention away – he gets rewarded.  When you have pretty good success with that, graduate to a toy on the floor, then items outside while on leash. Obviously the thing you want him to leave the most is your Pit, but it works with everything.
Now, onto the hand “nibbling.” When he does that, say a word (and always use the same word) – for this demo we will choose “ouch.” When his teeth touch your skin say, “ouch” in a loud, high-pitched voice, and fold your arms. What you are trying to do is startle him each time he does that particular behavior of putting his teeth on you and letting him know that it’s not acceptable.
Question submitted by Tom

My German Shepherd (14 months) always jumps on people when they come over the house. She constantly gets over-excited. Any suggestions on how to stop this? Training leash has not been working.

Terry’s answer
Without knowing which training leash you are using, I can’t help you there, but there are things you can do without the leash. One of the best things to do in this situation is to teach “place.” Determine what you want her “place” to be (her bed, towel on the floor, etc). Have some treats ready and stand next to her place.  Say the word “place, or “(dog’s name) place.” She will not know what you are trying to tell her, but if she puts so much as a toenail on her place, reward with treat. After she begins to understand that going to that “place” gets her a reward, she will be most willing to go there. Practice this and you will find her putting more and more of her body on it. Then you can have her “sit” or “down” on her place. When she is fully on her place, give her something to do- kong, favorite toy – just something to keep her occupied while you are opening the door. Then have someone outside ringing the doorbell and you can practice “place.” Only when she is calm can she then “say hello” to your guests.  On the flip side of training, you can ask your guests to ignore her completely when they come in. You may want to have them bring a treat to toss onto her “place” if she is calm before. Good luck with this. A 14-month-old German Shepherd has lots of energy. You may even want to go for a nice long walk before you practice “place.”

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at FourontheFloor-Dogtraining.com and on Facebook.

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