How do you train to be gentle?

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darth206's picture
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Joined: 2011-05-17

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Hello all!

Duncan has been playing rough with my cat (Kitty Galore).  She appears to like to be chased and vise versa but Duncan will paw her and then nibbles on her. At times she will give a loud meow.She still has her claws, but doesn't scratch him. I tell him either 'easy' or 'gentle',but I'm not sure I'm getting thru. Any suggestions? What else can I do? I have another much older cat (Dante), who doesn't have claws. He swatted Duncan weeks ago and Duncan will stay clear of him. Dante just gives Duncan a look and Duncan will walk away.

Boy I really seem to like names that start with D, Duncan, Dante, Darren my son and Doug my hubby. What's up with that:)

jeshykai's picture
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Sounds to me like Duncan's prey drive is kicking in.  I'm an advocate of a tie down.  When I want Steve to not chase, run, jump or pounce I tie him to his tie down and then any animal or person in the room is the one making the decision when to go up.  That'll help save kitty and any vet bills in the future while you're teaching Duncan to ignore the cat.  Which is how I'd handle it.  I wouldn't even teach "gentle" - the cat should be 100% off limits so enforce "LEAVE IT".

That squirt bottle is a handy tool to make them leave it.  I always gave Steve a squirt and a "LEAVE IT" when he was going to harrass the smaller dogs.  They're SO smart though, he'll push it when he doesn't see the squirt bottle out!  But all I have to do is threaten with it now and he goes running.

How I taught Steve "gentle" with Stella (the puppy) is I had his prong on (you can still use a flat-buckle collar, move it higher up on the neck and make sure your corrections work!) and when he'd get too worked up I'd correct into a sit and then a lay down.  He still desperately wanted to play and so did the puppy so from a lay down, I'd say "gentle" and then let them play.  If he got too enthusastic, I'd correct and say "gentle".  Eventually he clued in he was allowed to play if he stayed laying down and only gentle mouthed her. 

Best of luck!

darth206's picture
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Thanks for the advice. I'll give it a try.

sweetpea's picture
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We first taught "gentle" as a command for taking treats nicely, then after she got it we started to apply it to other situations like when smaller pets or children are around.  She made the connection pretty quickly, and now we can use the word for just about any situation and she knows what it means. 

To start I had her sit, had a treat in my hand and said "gentle" in a soft, soothing tone.  If she tried to take the treat I pulled my hand back.  She wasn't allowed to have it until I could hold it almost against her lips without her trying to snap it out of my fingers.  Then when I say "ok" she is allowed to take it very gently from my hand.  Your tone of voice and not letting her have the treat unless she basically slurps it from your hand are the keys here.  Different from Jess's method but it worked well for us!

Lori's picture
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Never underestimate the uh,uh uh uh...rocky knows that means to stop what he's doing.  We did Gentle just like sweet pea - taught him with treats from the day we brought him home.  and it does apply to other stuff however,  we have a cat and he's fine with her until she runs.....he tries so hard and just does not undestand how she can hate him and not want to play. 

 

she's fully clawed too and I wish she's swat him a good one and teach him but she doesn't either so I figure he can't be hurting her too much or she would.

Joined: 2011-02-21

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On a similar topic...

 

Hi all,

My wife just brought back her Chihuaua/Dachshund mix to Frankfurt (from Florida). He's 3 yrs old and weighs 6 Kg (13 lbs). He's really cute but a bit of a killjoy with my Doberman (5 Months). Maximus, the Doberman would just love to play with Boris (the little one) and doesnt really do anything (much) except bark and nip at Boris.

Yet Boris seems to be so frightened and growls, yaps, chases and tries to bite Mxms every time Mxms wants to play with Boris. Mxms wont get hurt (unless by freak of bad luck) because at 23kgs (50-odd lbs) he's too big but I'd love it if those two little "angels" could just keep each other company, burn off some energy together etc.

Boris (the little guy) is used to his mum (my wife) not telling him any rules, commands or any tricks so I find myself starting from scratch getting him (for example) to sit at the edge of the road till we check there are no cars coming and then cross over (yes, in Germany, like England - where I am from - we can just walk out there among traffic)

Also, Boris spent the first 3 years of his life just in the yard at my wife Mother's house playing with the older Wheaton Terrier so he has had very little contact with the outside world and other dogs.

I take them both on morning walks for an hour - how can I stop little Boris being so scared of Mxms (who's really not that big/dangerous/rough (yet)) and just have him hang out and play with Maximus? I mean they are both short-haired and seem to freeze - even in Germany's summer - so cant they just hang out together, lie/sleep together etc.? BTW. Boris has been castrated. Maximus at 5 months of course not (and hopefully never) 

Any advice would be much appreciated!

Leighton 

sweetpea's picture
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Welcome Leighton!  If Boris has never really been socialized properly it's no surprise that he is scared of your dobe.  This will be an important learning experience for both of them.  For Boris's sake, try to ease into it and don't expect them to become best buddies overnight.  My parents have a shih-poo who is very small, and she used to act the same way around my girl, Dakota.  It took a LOT of visits to get to the point where Lucy would tolerate Dakota being around without putting up a huge fuss.  Work on getting Maximus to play gentle with Boris.  Puppies don't realize their own strength or size and can get carried away with playing.  Make sure you ALWAYS watch them when they are together, and any time either of them starts to show aggression separate them immediately until they calm down. 

Also you mentioned you aren't planning to have Maximus neutered, I'm just curious as to your reasoning for that?  Male dobermans are notorious for having aggression toward other males, even those in their home "pack."  Neutering him would definitely relieve some of that tension between your two dogs once he is a bit older.  If you are not planning to breed him it is also a good idea to neuter for health reasons. 

Joined: 2011-02-21

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Hi Sweatpea,

 

Thanks for the advice. It will be a challenge trying to teach Maximus to play "gently" but good pracice for when my wife gives birth in November...

Re. neutering: I'll be brief as I'm writing this for the second time because I lost the text while navigating away to your dog's piccies - your Dobe is beautiful - I wish I could work out how to upload photos onto this website...

 

[Anybody know how I can write a note to the designer of this website? Its a great site but 1) How do you post photos and 2) how did I just lose all that text w/o at least a pop-up box saying, "are you sure you want to navigate away from this page? All contents will be lost..." or something similar]

In Germany there is generally the consensus that neutering is not a good idea. Here are some typical comments:

- it can make the dog worse

- it can mean the dog's fur loses its shine and other health issues

- it can stunt the growth if done before fully grown due to hormone imbalance

- "normal" dogs try to dominate all the neutered males - more so than females or "normal" males

 

I actually know some neutered dobes (and other breeds) that are still crazy. I also know some non-neutered males that are (perhaps with the exception of some other male aversion / fighting) wonderful animals - excellent temperament with people, children and (most) other dogs.

Also, since Maximus won a young dobe prize in the county, maybe we will breed him and earn back some of his medical bills etc.

My wife (also from the US) thinks castration is better too - but that seems to be the standard "US-approach".

I was thinking I'd wait and see how he turns out and if he is mega aggressive, I would re-consider having him neutered. But would that be too late - is his character already set....?

Also, on another forum I was reading through - it seems we should worry that Maximus may decide one day to injure (or worse) our little Dachshund/Chi mix...?

Your thoughs?

Cheers,

Leighton

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-08

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Neutering is a good idea because it can prevent a lot of accidents and aggression. It really depends on how your dog is now. Is he aggressive, possessive, dominating, or just plain mean?? If so, you probobly want to get him neutered sooner than later. If he isn't and he's fine with other dogs, the real question is why don't you want to neuter him?

It seems that you want to keep your option to breed open. Just being honest here... you simply shouldn't breed. Breeding should be left to professionals. Breeding your pets only encourages BYBs. Unless he has been health/temperment tested... there is no way to guess how the pups would turn out. You shoulod also speak with your breeder first and look over your contract with them. Most breeders add a clause saying that you won't breed. You said that he won a young dobe prize in the county??? Before making the huge decision to breed, he should place in the top twenty in the country as an adult.

As for just attacking your other dog, it could happen. Dobermans have a very high prey drive and if the little one takes off at a sprint... Maximus might chase him and take him down... there are no guarantees as to how your dobe will react. NEVER leave them in a room together unattended.

Good luck with your babies and listen to your wife about the neutering... please.

Scritches and happy thoughts your way,

Joelle and Skye!!!

rgreen4's picture
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If he is raised with the little dog, Max will grow up playing with him/her. Dobies do play rough, but the are also very perceptive. Princess when playing with Red out side would roll him up when he was healthy. Now that his is on the decline, she is gentle with him and he is larger than she is. She will also play nicely with Jiggs a Min. Schnauzer.

Naurally you have to watch them as Max grows. Also, the Dachs/Chi may wind up being the dominant one, it is not unusual for the older smaller dog to boss the younger larger dog.

laith's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-30

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I started the "easy" command with treats. Can't count how many times he almost bit off my fingers. But when you pull that treat they really want away- they will learn quick to be gentle. 

Then just work that into almost anything. We do a gentle paw shake. And even a "quite" bark. Don't let him fool you - just be persistent in your training. :)