How to encourage an aloof dog to be more interactive?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Domestika, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    I'm having a hard time wording my question...

    My 3 month old puppy is already very headstrong. She wants to do what she wants to do and isn't particularly interested in what I want to do, or whether I'm even around.

    She rarely looks at me (even though we've spent a LOT of time on "look at me" exercises) and does not come to me for affection, period. She crawled into my lap once while I was on the floor, but that's it in the month that I've had her. She sleeps away from where I'm sitting and if I move towards her or walk by and pet her, she'll usually move away.

    When she does interact with me, she bites me. Playfully, usually. She uses her mouth and teeth on me constantly despite the many, many, many techniques I have used to try to stop that. She will, on the odd occassion, turn and snap at me if I physically move her away from something she wants to be doing (like chewing something she shouldn't) or if I put her in her crate when she's not particularly tired - she'll turn and bite me as I'm trying to put her in.

    I've spent a LOT of time working on getting her to pay attention to me, and she will if I have something she wants, but if she's laying on the floor calmly and I say "Nova!" nine times out of ten she won't even raise her eyes to acknowledge me.

    She's not pushy in most other ways. She doesn't barge ahead of me (though she is quite pushy on leash - either making me drag her or racing ahead and not acknowledging me when I stop moving). She doesn't guard her food or toys. She is VERY friendly with other people, climbing all over them and wagging her tail ferociously. She doesn't wag her tail with me and she doesn't play with me. Well, without biting constantly and hard.

    I am TRYING not to be offended that my STUPID dog doesn't appear to like me AT ALL. But, as I'm sure you can tell, it's very hard. :) We are in puppy classes and we can have a trainer come to the house, but I don't think that she will act this way when other people are around. She gets very animated and friendly with others. I do all the stuff from Nothing in Life is Free. She will grudgingly sit (ONLY facing away from me) to have her leash put on, etc.

    Ok, I guess it was part a rant and part a question. Help? Ideas?
     
  2. jess2416

    jess2416 Who woulda thought

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Messages:
    22,560
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    NC
    Chloe rarely pays attention to me and is very "aloof" towards strangers, lol you can ask Angel Chicken, but that just makes the times that she does come to me and gives me kisses even more special..

    but anyhoo maybe someone will have some advice for you
     
  3. Sweet72947

    Sweet72947 Squishy face

    Joined:
    May 18, 2006
    Messages:
    9,158
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    1 Dog, Norris!
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Home Page:
    My black lab Daisy also isn't much for affection. Although she is trainable. Benji is the one who ignores me, lol. I would suggest finding out what she likes. Does she like tummy rubs? Ear scritches? Brushing? What activities does she like to do - walks, play with toys/frisbee, eat? Do the things she likes, and do them often. This will help you bond and connect with your dog.

    It is also important not to force your dog to do anything she is afraid of, rather gradually introduce her to it. The snapping when you put her in the crate is, IMO, a combination of being bratty and not being fond of the crate. Feed her in the crate to associate it with good stuff, and teach her a command to go in the crate so that you don't have to push her in. Nobody likes being shoved into anything.

    With Benji, he likes walks and plushy toys, and loves loves LOVES chicken. He will come when you say the word "chicken". I have been using a combination of these things to teach him stuff. Sometimes you gotta get creative.

    One thing that has been helping me is a nifty little confidence - building game. Get a clicker, and click-treat for random behaviors that your dog gives you. You can try and see if they'll mess with an object such as a basket, but if not just let your dog do whatever and click-treat. Daisy likes this game, its great fun and I have noticed that she is more...outgoing (for lack of a better word) already. You could use this to teach your dog that looking at you is good, she looks at you, click-treat. Benji is taking a while to catch on though, he likes to sit there and stare at me cutely, while edging closer and closer...lol
     
  4. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Messages:
    10,233
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Have you ever heard of a game called "runaway"? It's a search and rescue exercise that is specifically used to build your dog's drive to be with you/humans. And it's really, really fun. If she likes to chase stuff, she will probably enjoy this game.

    I found an online preview of a book with a very good explanation of how to do it:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=7MFpq-k86z0C&pg=PA87&lpg=PA87&dq=&source=web&ots=GUuUn7Y2IL&sig=356hig0pGlHpCYe9g2lZG03J5Sc&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result

    Since she's not training for SAR, you don't need to hide out of view. Actually, I recommend you don't, especially at first. This is doubly important if you are going to do Sch or tracking with her, because you don't want to encourage her to air scent. Hide in plain sight where she can see you, this is just drive building.

    The other important thing is that you have to act like an idiot for this to be effective. The means running backwards while playbowing and hooting and waving your arms using the most ridiculous squeaky voice possible. The person holding on to her who is responsible for releasing her to get you needs to get really excited too, to get her revved up, and then release her when she's really straining/ready to run! Then when she gets to you have the partay of her life. It's pretty embarrassing, which is partly why SAR training is done in the deep woods. :eek:

    Lastly, while you are leaving don't call her name, don't tell her to come, don't tell her to stay, DO be exciting, VERY exciting.
     
  5. Jynx

    Jynx New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2005
    Messages:
    1,071
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    9 + fish
    Location:
    CT
    I agree with Romy's suggestions,,I have always had GSD's, and while most of them are very aloof with others,,they have always wanted nothing more than to be with ME..

    My 5mth old puppy is like my 11 yr old,,I can't move without them rightthere and wanting to be 'in' on anything I'm doing.

    Yours is only 12 wks old, but even at that age, I have never had a problem with them bonding to me totally...

    As well as Romy's suggestions,,which is somewhat like Romy's,,a ping pong game,,,two people,,(you and someone else),,call the dog back and forth,,give REALLY good treats/praise for coming..Also, hand feeding her her meals might help ,,and actually sometimes IGNORING them ticks them off enough to WANT to be with you :)))

    I don't know if your working on any basics yet,,,but just one thing,,don't repeat yourself,,in other words,,don't keep saying things like NOVA COME COME NOVA COME,,,repeteating commands gets' 'nagging' and they will end up tuning you out...

    Good luck,,and how is she feeling by the way?? I know in other thread you were having some health issues with her??? Any results yet??
    diane
     
  6. Suzzie

    Suzzie Aging Canine Advocate

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Messages:
    1,134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Why? So people can criticize that too?
    Location:
    Ohio
    Home Page:
    I just wanted to add my two cents. The keepaway game is marvelous for training your dog to come when called. Also, since she seems extremely reluctant to respond to you, DO treat like a pez machine when she does something you want her to do. ie, call her, she comes, give her a treat immediately, give her another, give her another, give her another. Try again. Reinforcement works wonders. :) Do NOT get into that habit where you say a command more than once, it really makes the dog less willing to do it the first time you tell them.
     
  7. skKi

    skKi woop

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2006
    Messages:
    1,539
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Outside
    I had nearly the exact same problem with my dog when I first got him, except he didn't even care for strangers at first.

    He never wagged his tail, he never acknowledged me or anyone no matter HOW silly and fun we acted, if I ran away from him, he'd turn around and trot away from me, if I tried to play with him, he'd get up and go find another room. For the first month, he hung out in my launry room all day by choice and would leave if I went in there to do laundry.

    I did discover the only thing he seemed to care about was food, so I used that. I clicker trained him and found out that he absolutley LOVED it. Over time with training, he became more friendly towards me. I had strangers give him treats and he started to love them. At about 4.5 months old be began being terrified of people for unknown reasons, but because of that, he looked to me more than ever. I'd say it wasn't until he was about 6 months old that I could say my dog liked me and actually believe it.

    I advocate finding out what she enjoys doing and do it a LOT. My dog loves training, so we've been through 3 classes and are now in agility, and I aim to teach him a new trick weekly. It seriously helped the bonding.
     
  8. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    We did something very similar to Romy's suggestion in puppy class and Nova was the only dog in the class that could not have cared LESS what I was doing. I was jumping up and down, clapping, cheering, getting all excited...yeah. She was like "Ok, idiot. I'm going to go over here now..."

    I'm starting to get very frustrated...which I'm sure she can pick up on. I can handle disobedience...puppies just don't know better! I can totally handle a dog that misbehaves and gets up to no good. It's a totally different thing when your dog just plain old does not like you. I've waited so long for this dog and watched for years with such jealousy as everyone around me as found their little buddies who are bonded to them like crazy. Then I FINALLY pick my little girl and...she couldn't care less whether I'm around or not.

    I've tried so many things and she just gets more and more independent. I mean, we're not even at the rebellious adolescent stage yet. I can't fathom how she would get MORE independent...

    I'm trying now to not pay any attention to her. When she does get attention it's rarely and it's on my terms. I treat her for looking at me (which is very rare and she usually doesn't want the treat) and I don't talk to her, for the most part. She has to sit and down for her food (which she doesn't care about, so she just walks away when I give the commands), she has to do commands to get any toys (I've taken them all up off the floor so she has NO access to them unless I give one to her) and generally will forego the toy so she doesn't have to do what I've asked. And the biting is just so bad.

    I totally saw myself finally getting this little ball of fur who I would have this great relationship with, who would look to me for leadership and protection and want to be with me and play with me and instead I have somehow ended up with a dog who will wag her tail for everyone but me and sees herself as the boss of the house and me as the lowest dog in the pack. I've seen people who are pushovers with their dog and teach their dog to walk all over them. I have SO not done that. I don't know what I've done wrong...

    ANYWAY, her health issues persist. We have ruled out pancreatitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We won't be able to get decent biospies with the endoscope because of her size so we're looking at spaying her early to kill two birds with one stone. Spay her when we go in to get the biopsies so she only has the one anesthetic. We're trying one last antibiotic and then my vet is COMPLETELY out of ideas. He said he's never seen anything like this and he's really tried to get it figured out. So we'll be on to a specialist next.

    And the best part. My pet insurance isn't covering a penny of this because it was "pre-existing" because she's had diarrhea since I got her. And the breeder hasn't returned my emails in a week.

    Kill me now. [sorry for the rant]
     
  9. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    Unfortuantely because of her health problems I can only "treat" her with her regular kibble with some garlic powder on it. She liked it at first but now she's like "Blech...whatever". She did seem more interested in doing what I asked when I was able to give her treats she actually cared about. Unfortunately her health comes first...though I do ask my vet on a regular basis when I can start giving her other food again because I think it's having a negative effect on her training and our relationship.

    If I give her a command and she ignores me, stares at me or walks away I just turn and walk away and say "Oh, you blew it. Too bad. No treat for you". And then I might come back a minute or two later and try again. I think she gets more headstrong each time I ask her to do something and she's able to stare me down and not do it so I give her about 3 seconds to decide to do it or not. "Sit...no? Ok I'll take my treat and go". But, for sure, I am a fan of the "jackpot" approach. :)
     
  10. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    That is VERY encouraging. I really appreciate you posting. :)
     
  11. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    It seems like clicker training has helped a few people improve their bond with their dog... We had our last puppy class on Saturday and it was the first time they mentioned clicker training. They showed us a bit of what you can do and gave us each a clicker. We've practised at home a bit and, honestly, Nova does seem to kind of enjoy it. So far all we're doing it targetting. She touches her nose to my hand for a click/treat and I move my hand all over, up, down, to the side, under my leg, etc.

    Do you have suggestions for fun things to teach a pup with a clicker?
     
  12. Gena

    Gena New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Messages:
    222
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A few things come to my mind while reading this thread. Who has been the one taking her for all the vet visits? Feeding her all the meds? Not-so-cheerfully (lol) getting up at 3am to clean up an accident? I'm guessing it has been you. Not much you can do about it, all those things are needed.

    So...what would I do? Don't push her to "like" you. She already does I'm sure. She's just not sure what you are going to do to her next. Wait for her to approach you. I would also forget about hardcore NILIF at least for a while. You can always pick back up with that when she is a bit more healthy. Get a wrist strap for your clicker and wear it constantly. Keep about 1/3 of her daily kibble allotment in a pocket/bait bag. Have her simply look at you for her meal. Don't ask, just fix the bowl up and wait a second. Click and pop it down if she even looks in your general direction at first. If she glances at you during the day, click and toss her a kibble.

    Have you "charged" your clicker yet? If not I suggest spending a meal doing that. Click, toss out a few kibbles, let her eat them, repeat.

    You can start working towards getting her to offer behaviors instead of having you cue them. For example, dogs sit and lie down a lot. Have your clicker and kibble handy and put on some TV. If she sits, click and toss her a kibble or two, same with downs. If she looks at you, approaches you, brings a toy near you...click and toss. I wouldn't make her come to you to get the kibble at this point, though you could work on tossing them closer to you than to her after a bit. And by all means, if she is having fun with target work...do it every chance you get. Leave her wanting more though. Don't wait until she walks away. If last time you got 5 nose bumps, this time only do 3.

    One last thought...if she can have kibble, I'll bet she can have plain boiled chicken breast. Ask the vet of course, but most vets will recommend boiled chicken and rice for dogs with icky tummies. Or maybe cut up a bit of stinky hot dog/pepperoni/liver treat and let it sit in a baggie of kibble or cheerios (another "shouldn't mess with the belly" thing) to make them smell more interesting.

    And, you asked for a fun clicker exercise...http://www.clickertraining.com/node/167
     
  13. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    6,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Two dogs, three cats
    Location:
    Central Texas
    The other advice is good (particularly Gena's recent post), I definately believe in clicker training to help build the bond between dog and handler. My concern, though, is that she's not crazy about food or toys, so that leaves you with very few options of rewards that you can use with the clicker. If you offer her a treat (or toy, or other reward) for a behavior, and she doesn't take it, it's not a reward. Sometimes it can even be seen as aversive - you try to give her a treat, she doesn't take it, you get frustrated, she get's frustrated, etc.

    What I do with aloof dogs is just be even more aloof than they are. If they don't want to give me attention, I don't want to give them attention either. Eventually your dog will come to you for attention.... even then, don't give her the attention! Ignore her and walk away or just go back to whatever you were doing. Wait until she ask for attention at least twice before finally giving her attention, and don't give her attention when she's asking for it, wait until a few minutes later.

    Maybe it sounds cruel, but I think of it as building drive for a reward, similar to how we build toy drive or treat motivation. Withold the reward until she really really wants it (and thus will work for it), then give it to her on your terms, not when she's begging.
     
  14. fillyone

    fillyone But please, call me Barb

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2005
    Messages:
    820
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    I haven't read everything yet so this may be a repeat, but have you tried getting her to work for a toy/game instead of food?

    Dante was so not food motivated as a pup, he wanted his tug and only his tug so that's what we used. I use a Jute tug that ONLY comes down when we train.

    Now as an adult he'll work for either food or his tug, but under high distraction the tug works better!!
     
  15. Gena

    Gena New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Messages:
    222
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've been thinking about you and your situation all night. I think it got in my brain so hard because there were times when Pedro was young that I didn't think he liked me very much. He did lots of the same things your pup is doing. Everyone else was so much more FUN than I was. It hurts when you are the one cleaning up pee puddles, researching the best food, buying ungodly amounts of puppy junk and this pup would rather play with the weird neighbor across the street.

    Somewhere along the way, things got better for us though. It does take time to "get to know" each other. It does take time to get over that obsessive handling/prodding/checking to see if they are breathing bit. Or it did for me anyway.

    I quoted the above because I wonder if you've not managed to somehow teach her to stay away from you. Not intentionally of course! If everytime she tries to play she gets mouthy and you are doing all the normal "no bite" type things, you may have. Try working the baby step version of bite inhibition. LET her bite you and only react for now if it really does hurt. As time goes by you can up the ante and "get hurt" more easily. It might make a difference for her.

    Also, I wanted to mention the umbilical method. Leash her to you when you're out and about in the house. Encourage her to come with you everywhere, but don't just drag her around. Of course, being a reward dispenser at these times *should* help. She follows you willingly, she gets to chew on your hand for a minute...sounds like she likes that :lol-sign:
     
  16. DanL

    DanL Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
    Messages:
    3,932
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    As a side note, what kind of health problems does your pup have that it can only have kibble? Sometimes kibble is the cause of problems, not the cure. And I'd be careful with too much garlic, too much isn't good.
     
  17. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    Thanks for all your suggestions. I'm currently handfeeding her her meals, a small handful each time she makes eye contact with me. That seems to be going ok. And I've definitely been convinced that clicker trainer would be a great idea. We've only done the target stuff so far, but I'd like to start incorporating it on walks (to teach her EXACTLY where I want her to be, because she's always lagging behind or steaming ahead) and also for eye contact in the house. I think once she's got the eye contact/click thing figured out in the house it'll be easier to translate into eye contact outside, cause right now once we step out the door it's like she forgets her name/that there is someone on the other end of the leash!

    I'll check out the clicker exercises! And I'll ask about the chicken breat. Can't hurt, really.
     
  18. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    This is a really good idea. I'm working on this already. I've made a big change from how I used to do things. I was so intent on catching EVERYTHING she did so that I could reward it...I would stare at her constantly so that the second she looked at me I could reward her. But like...wait a minute...who feels the need to check in with someone who is CONSTANTLY keeping an eye on you? Why bother, right?

    So now I don't look at her when she looks at me. I don't look away, but I don't stare at her for no reason. I also don't talk to her very much. I live alone right now and I was constantly carrying on a dialogue with her, or to myself aloud and she probably just started tuning out the chatter so that when I asked her to do things she was like "Is she talking to me, or...?"

    Man. I had no idea it would be so much work! I thought it was just going to be...peeing in the house and chewing stuff!
     
  19. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    That's a good reminder, actually. You get so used to "treating". Now that I've taken all her toys up off the floor, I'm starting to get her to do a few tricks to get a toy to play with and she seems to be focussed enough to do a few things to get it so maybe we need to focus on toys a bit more!
     
  20. Domestika

    Domestika New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,163
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    1.5
    Location:
    B.C., Canada
    I appreciating hearing about your relationship with your dog. It makes me feel a lot better to hear about someone who's been in the same boat and had things turn out ok.

    It's particularly important to me now because the breeder has given me the opportunity to take Nova back (because of her on-going health problems) and take her sister instead (who was returned because of a sudden divorce). If our relationship was going to be like this for the next 12 years...I would seriously consider the trade. But if things can possibly change in time...then that gives me hope for me and my pup.

    Good point about teaching her to stay away from me. I'll admit that there have been moments of extreme frustration with the biting where I have yelled at her and even pinned her to the ground to stop the constant attack. It's happened a couple of times, unfortunately (and I feel absolutely HORRIBLE that I let my frustration get the better of me) and I wonder if she remembers these things and doesn't consider me a good play partner because she doesn't know what to expect from me.

    I guess I was so annoyed and hurt (ouch!) by the biting that I wanted it to stop IMMEDIATELY and maybe we do need to go back a couple of steps. I did read recently that it's dangerous to stop a puppy from biting altogether because they don't learn how strong their bite is and can really hurt someone later. It said to start working on reducing the pressure of the bite (how hard she bites) and THEN start working on the frequency (reducing the incidence of biting).

    Though...she doesn't respond to any action or sound I make in relation to the biting so this is proving to be a very difficult task (even just to reduce the pressure), but I'll keep trying! I'm learning that consistency is key!
     

Share This Page