Insane Scavenging/wild behaviour

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Post by Shan11 Sun Sep 15 2019, 15:01

Hi everyone,

I’m new to the forum, haven’t gone over to intros yet as I just need to get this down.
I have a nearly 2yo staffie cross, we think lab but we’re not entirely sure.
Her scavenging is getting completely out of hand and it’s getting to the point where I physically can’t and don’t want to walk her.
She eats poop, sick, rubbish, food stuffs, sticks, rocks, plastic, just about anything she can get to. She will lunge into the middle of the road unexpectedly and has pulled me down hills.
She’s the same in the house, will eat out of the bin if I don’t keep it locked away or empty it every time it gets half full. She steals off the side, gets in your face while you’re eating.
She’s vomiting in the night because she’s eaten too much and then she’ll try and eat that too.
She’s not getting half of the exercise she needs because of this and so she’s then running around wild all night, barking at me and my girlfriend, attacking everything.
I’ve tried muzzle training her but I can either get her to put her face into it or fasten the strap around her neck, she won’t let me do both and if I’m not constantly feeding treats she starts trying to attack the muzzle.
She’s not very people friendly and I couldn’t have a trainer come to the house which is why I haven’t gone down that route.
I really just don’t know what to do with her and it’s getting to the point where I don’t want her anymore.

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Post by gillybrent Sun Sep 15 2019, 16:27

Welcome to the forum. 

Oh, Lord, you are suffering! Has she always been like this, or is it a new behaviour?

If it's new, you need to get a vet check to rule out any underlying medical reason. If it's always been like this, you need to begin with muzzle training (sorry, I know you've tried, but it's essential) & a strong "leave" command. 

Can i ask what food she's on at the moment? Has she always had the same food?

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Post by Shan11 Sun Sep 15 2019, 16:40

She’s always been greedy but it was nothing like this, she’d pick up abandoned fruit if it was in front of her or nick stuff if things were left within reach but I’d say over the past year it’s got increasingly worse.
The poop/sick eating has been probably last 3/4 months.
I’ve gone down the vet route and they suggested upping her food intake/walking after meals/little snacks and I do all these things but it makes no difference. She’s on Arden grange, mix of wet and dry, I switched her to that at 8mo after suggestion from a friend.


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Post by Nifty staffy Sun Sep 15 2019, 18:19

Hi & welcome to the forum  wave

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Post by Nifty staffy Sun Sep 15 2019, 19:09

Hello and welcome.

Sorry to hear things aren’t great but I hope we can give you a few ideas to improve your situation.

My first thoughts are that it’s a behaviour that has become compulsive. Maybe your dog was already greedy but in order to satisfy a need (physical and/or emotional), she has become a scavenger that you describe today.
If I were you, I think a global view of your situation could help to find durable solutions. I am in no way being judgmental but just want to help you in the right direction. Smile  

How is she weight and health wize ?
Reason I ask is because Arden food appears to be high in carbohydrates /rice which could also affect their behaviour. Consider changing your feed to a high quality kibble lower in carbohydrates. Use slow feeders (bowls, dribble feeders, snuffle mats, etc) to slow her down and keep her occupied longer whilst she eats. Try 2 meals per day and keep small treats for training purposes.

For now, you’ll need to continue to keep all temptation out of her reach. You sound to be doing a good job in your home environment already. Continue to keep bin out of reach, pick up her poops “on delivery” so she can’t go back. Call her away from temptation and reward her heavily (even just making a big fuss) when she makes the move to come back to you.
Does she have toys ? Big chewers (like mine) do well with stuffed black kong to keep them busy, 100% cotton ropes, west paw design toys last a little longer.

For walks, sounds like you have 2 problems : her compulsive eating and her basic control (if she can lunge into the road or pull you over).
I also agree that you need to get a muzzle on her so you can concentrate on the control whilst out, one problem at a time. Can I ask what type of muzzle you are using ? I have a baskerville (when BSL requires me to use one) which are very nice to use and you can slip the strap over the head once adjusted to avoid fiddling with buckles.

What equipment do you walk your dog with ? Collar or harness ?
I would suggest using a well-fitting harness with a front attachment so you can clip a second line to it. The idea is that you use the lead on the back as usual but if your dog lunges away, you can use the front lead to get her front end back to you and avoid her tanking off.

And then I wonder if she has resorted to this behaviour in order to get your attention ? Getting told off for undesirable behaviour is still attention from you so it could be what she’s looking for.
Do you have quality time with her ? Do you have a garden or fenced dog park that you can use ? Do you play fetch or tug or chase-me games together ? Can she snuggle up to you on the sofa ?
Does she have a fixed routine - hours and places to sleep, eat, play ?

Maybe something above might need tweaking to get out of your vicious circle.


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Post by Shan11 Sun Sep 15 2019, 23:04

Hello, thanks for the reply. She weighed 17kg around 3 months ago at her last vets check. She wasn’t eating very well in the summer but still scavenging, I suspected poisoning but the vets never actually explained what it was. They put her on antibiotics and suggested feeding three times instead of two which is what I was doing before so now she eats at 8:00, 13:00 and 18:00. I use a slow feeder or dispensing toys for all her meals.

She doesn’t eat her own poop, I think it’s cat poop she picks up as it’s usually small. The Baskerville is what I have and tried her with several times a day for three weeks until I eventually gave up. I still have it so I will give it another go.

I have the Julius K9 harness with the front clip attachment but I rarely use the front clip unless she’s completely out of control because it bunches around her front legs. (She still tries to run like a horse). I’ve been looking at other harnesses and two point leads. Found the pet safe 3 in 1 harness on amazon that I can get a two point lead with but I’m abit unsure about how much control id have as the leads like a handle.

Honestly she gets as much as my attention as I can give . She snuggles up on the sofa with me, sleeps on my bed, has set eating hours. We play often, I take her to the local park often which, (most of the time), is the only safe place to walk her without mass amounts of crap for her to eat. When we’re in the park she’s on a longline so we can play with her ball or frisbee/brush up on commands.

I have a large garden she can go in to run around but she rarely does anymore. Instead she opts to run around inside, stealing/barking and whatever else. She has hard chew toys and I regularly buy her raw knuckle bones.

The only thing that isn’t set in stone is her walking times because of the scavenging. I try to get out with her every morning an hour after breakfast to minimise risk and then again after lunch but she’s always worse in an afternoon.

Whenever I have to leave for work or whatever else my mom watches her because she can’t be left for longer than an hour. We’ve had trouble with separation anxiety as well but she’s 100% improved on that. She’s exactly the same for my mom too.

I honest to god don’t know where I’ve gone wrong or how I could improve our situation. I love her to death and dread even thinking about giving her up. I absolutely don’t want to but at this point I’m just thinking if someone else could do better for her.

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Post by gillybrent Mon Sep 16 2019, 07:37

Please don't think along the lines of you going wrong - you haven't! It's just that you haven't yet got a handle on what she needs. 

How long are her walks & what do you do on them? Do you do any training with her? 

I would also change her food. Have a look on "allaboutdogfood" and try to choose one with 5stars & a high meat content/low rice & other trains. 

Can i ask how you've tried to get her used to a muzzle? 

Sorry about the hundreds of questions, but it just helps with overall view of things.

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Post by Shan11 Mon Sep 16 2019, 08:43

I try to get her out every morning for an hour in the local park. I’ll usually take her jolly ball or frisbee and mix play with recall training. I brush up on our basics too, sit/stay/speak/jump/lie down. If she’s not up to play we’ll just walk around for awhile. If I’m working that day I take her around the block for 30mins instead. I’ve tried getting her to walk to heel/sit on our street walks but she’s a stubborn mare and completely ignores me. She’s too focused on what she could find.

In the afternoon she gets anywhere between 30mins - 1hour really depending on how bad she’s scavenging. But mostly these days we spend the afternoon in the garden with me trying and mostly failing to encourage play. If we’ve been to the park in the morning I do a street walk or vise versa.

I rarely walk her further afield anymore to new places because I can’t handle her.

With the muzzle training I put a little bit of peanut butter inside to begin with and held it up. I told her to ‘put muzzle on’ every time and rewarded with treats when she did. We got to the point where she’d put her face inside but she always angled her face down towards the floor so I had to hold her face up. I followed a YouTube vid and also practised fastening the strap around her neck and removing it so the muzzle just hung there. She was more nervous about that but we again got to the point where she’d let me do that.

She would not let me do both. If her face was in the muzzle and I attempted to fasten the strap she ran every time. And if by some miracle I managed to fasten the strap or even hold it closed behind her head for a few seconds I couldn’t then undo it because she would run and attempt to knock it off herself. Even if I was constantly feeding treats she’d take a treat and knock it off straight away.

No, don’t worry about the questions. Keep them coming! I really appreciate both of you taking time out to help me get to the bottom of this. I will have a look at that site you suggested for her kibble.

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Post by gillybrent Mon Sep 16 2019, 19:12

Okay, at two years old she's getting nowhere near enough exercise. That's a hard fact, but true. 

She's at her prime, physically, but still a pup mentally & her body & mind can't keep pace with each other. 

She needs three, hour long walks a day (or 3/4 hour walks) and a better food to reduce stress. I know she scavengers, but you're going to have to keep her on lead & under close supervision until you can address it (ie with a muzzle). ANY dog can be muzzle trained but some take longer than others. Don't give up. Take it slowly - offer treats through the muzzle cage, then move the muzzle closer & closer until she accepts it around her nose. Then hold it there for a few seconds & still offer treats through the cage. Gradually increase the time until you can hold the strap around the back of her head & then let go. Soon, you should be able to clip it up & then release it. Again, gradually increase the time.

Then, I'm afraid, comes the problem - gradually start to leave the muzzle on (indoors) for a minute or so, followed by released & praise. Eventually (and it might take a month or two!) you'll be able to rake her out with it on. 

Also, keep her mind active indoors. Hide toys around the house & encourage her to find them. Teach her heel work, recall, distant control (sit, stand, down etc) indoors.

It won't be an easy journey for either of you, but it WILL be worthwhile in the end, and you'll have a totally devoted fur friend!

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Post by Nifty staffy Mon Sep 16 2019, 20:23

Another vote for you not to consider that you’ve done anything wrong. You’re just out of phase with each other at the moment but I’m sure it’s just a bad moment to get through Smile  

Again, good advice from gilly. Mastering the muzzle will really change alot for your outdoor adventures too so stick with it and be more stubborn than that mare Wink

With regards to the harness, please get rid of the julius k9. I’ve never liked them and have recently had the confirmation that physios are seeing more and more dogs with shoulder problems caused by them as the bulk of the harness restricts front leg movement.
I like Y harnesses with a front attachment. I use ruffwear front range but there are cheaper equivalents on amazon like this which I used for baby Nifty
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rabbitgoo-Harness-Adjustable-Training-Walking-Black/dp/B01M6YASY1/ref=sr_1_8?crid=39X78DR8ZWBQ1&keywords=ruffwear%2Bfront%2Brange%2Bharness&qid=1568660428&sprefix=Ruffwear%2Bfront%2Brange%2Caps%2C1054&sr=8-8&th=1

For the lead, something simple like his will more than do the job
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nobby-Training-Leash-Classic-Brown/dp/B00591DGR4/ref=sr_1_46?keywords=Nobby+adjustable+lead+dog&qid=1568660782&sr=8-46

As for food, I recently changed Nifty’s kibble and she has gone from a couch potato to running after speedy Opium (suspected food intolerance). You will just need to find the reverse effect to calm or settle yours down a little. I think most people don’t realise the difference a change in food can make, hardest part is to find the right one. Has your vet suggested probiotics or maybe treatment for ulcers ? If your girl has already had anxiety problems, she could be an anxious type and with maybe unsuitable kibble, she’s looking for anything to ease her stomach. Just a thought ...

You can get your girl interested in your garden again by hiding treats in boxes or under flower pots in the garden. Throw a few treats into the grass and ask her to search. What you do in the local park with jolly ball and frisbee, you could probably do in your garden. It’ll be easier for you to use, especially with winter on it’s way (unless you’re in the southern hemisphere of course).

Just another thought, how is she with other dogs ? Maybe walking around the block with another dog will keep her so busy and focused on new canine friend that she’ll scavenge less. Do you have the possibility of getting her to canine school at all ? Instructors on site might be able to help you and at least they won’t be on house calls.

Whatever you do, make sure that you turn a bad situation into a positive one.
If she barks and runs around the house, tell her firmly that it’s not the desired behaviour but then ask her something positive like sit and don’t move, then make sure you exaggerate the praise.
The idea is to try to get her to skip the “naughty” action to go straight to the “good” behaviour to get praise/treat quicker.


Last edited by Nifty staffy on Mon Sep 16 2019, 20:34; edited 1 time in total


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Post by gillybrent Mon Sep 16 2019, 20:32

As she's a scavenger, I wouldn't hide treats - that's just encouraging her to pick up food wherever she finds it!

Julius K9 harnesses are fine, as long as your dog isn't a great puller. But no harness should take the place of good training to walk nicely on lead.  Wink

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Post by Nifty staffy Mon Sep 16 2019, 20:42

gillybrent wrote:As she's a scavenger, I wouldn't hide treats - that's just encouraging her to pick up food wherever she finds it!

Julius K9 harnesses are fine, as long as your dog isn't a great puller. But no harness should take the place of good training to walk nicely on lead.  Wink

Well in that case, for the garden place a few food bowls dotted around and randomly place a small treat or a toy she likes. The idea is just to get her interested in the garden again and seeing it as a positive and fun place to be.

As to the Julius K9 harness, I stick to my opinion.
Unfortunately the reality is that most dogs can and will pull, these harnesses do more harm when they do.
The theory of perfect lead control is nice, I’m just realistic and practical especially during the learning curve of our younger canine friends Wink


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Post by Shan11 Mon Sep 16 2019, 23:24

Oh, I know she’s not getting anywhere near enough exercise. That’s why she’s running on the walls at night! I’ve been on a harness/food hunt today and got her measured for Nifty’s first suggestion, the ruffwear, this afternoon so we should have that soon and fingers crossed I won’t be getting pulled in front of anymore cars.

On the food subject the vets have never prescribed/suggested anything to me other than what I’ve already said. Ive never looked at her and thought she’s an anxious dog but reflecting on some of our walks I can definitely remember times when she’s jumped at a sound and then lunged or stuck her head straight in a bush to find something to eat. Maybe this has just become a coping mechanism for her and I’ve just never noticed because I’m always so frustrated during/after our walks.

I’ve been researching feeding raw and though there’s loads of conflicting information I think it could be a good move for us. I read one post on another forum that said it helped one owner with her dogs scavenging. Thoughts on that?

She’s fine with dogs, a little boisterous at times but it really depends on the dog. We regularly see dogs in the park and there’s a few she can play with and enjoy her walk with. But I don’t know any of them well enough to ask if they’d be willing to take a walk around the block with us.

I’ve not looked into canine schools and when it comes to her in the house there’s no getting through to her. I don’t know how to explain it other than that her pupils go really wide and she looks almost crazed. You can’t ignore her, the whole ‘ow’ thing doesn’t work, leaving her is a definite no because she’ll just tear anything in sight to shreds. I’ve found two ways of calming her down, one is to hold her and cuddle her and the other is to confine her to the kitchen for a little timeout. (Not Ideal I know).

I’ll definitely start with the muzzle again tomorrow using the instructions you gave and this time I won’t give up. I’ll also have a go at the suggestions you gave for getting her interested in the garden again.

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Post by Inez Maria Mon Sep 16 2019, 23:45

Hiya I can feel your frustration with what to do it is hard and we sometimes feel like pulling our hair out I cannot advise too much as have not much experience like others. But going on my own learning curve with my boy its all about exercise mentally and physically I have found he needed as much mental stimulation as walking. I would deffo try and keep a fave toy for walking and distract when lunging for food if you can find something that really grabs her attention keep it. Some are food oriented and some toy driven so as said I am not so clued up as others but I always believe basics work ,,,,,,,, good luck x


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Post by Inez Maria Mon Sep 16 2019, 23:55

Nifty staffy wrote:Hi & welcome to the forum  wave

Welcome to the Staffordshire bull terrier niceboard. We are pleased you've decided to join us, and hope you enjoy your stay. We hope to see plenty of pictures of your Staffordshire bull terriers or any other breed you may have in your household.

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Off subject BTW needs to be in introductions Laughing


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Post by Nifty staffy Tue Sep 17 2019, 05:34

Shan11 - looks like you’re already seeing your situation from a slightly different angle and finding things to try.

I have no experience on feeding raw but there are some good articles here, as a starting point
https://therawfeedingcommunity.com/

Concerning the ruffwear harnesses, my girls wear size S. Nifty is about 17kgs and stocky whilst Opium was 15kgs (at last weighing) and filling out. What colour did you get ? Smile

For dog walks, you can also maybe check ads in a local paper, or leave a note at the dog park. Local canine school could also be a potential call or even just a neighbour.


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Post by Nifty staffy Tue Sep 17 2019, 06:21

That crazed look is often a sign that they need to let off steam. A good way is in those zoomies but better in the garden than in the house !

Oh, and what is your girl’s name ? It’s nicer to put a name than to refer to “her” Smile


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Post by gillybrent Tue Sep 17 2019, 08:34

Yes, that crazed look us definitely excess energy! 

That could be lack of exercise and/or food. 

Raw feeding is often helpful, but if you're a newcomer to it there are some really good pre-mixed minces. Nutriment, Benyfit & Country Hunter are good.

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Post by Mia05 Tue Sep 17 2019, 13:46

I think you need to go back to basics with training your dog hun they need mental stimulation as well as physical keep all foodstuffs in high cupboards and get rid of the rubbish bin for the moment . At mealtime id suggest feeding twice a day in the morning and night and change her food to dry shes bored . U also need a commanding voice and try not to shout, she will be sensing your upset try amd remain calm. Perhaps a male friend could help with walks id also get a collar im not a fan of harnesses im afraid. Id also see about training classss to help you.use positive voice when using the muzzle she wnt make such a fuss id use high value treats such as dried fish and natures menu james wellbeloved and wainwrights. Where are you based ? I could look and see what training classes there are for you.


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Post by Shan11 Tue Sep 17 2019, 16:31

I ordered the orange Ruffwear in size s from Amazon and her name is Tilly. We've had a much nicer day today and I really put your advice into practise, we've had a short muzzle training session and she had breakfast in dispensing/kong toys in the garden. We went for an hour's run at 9 with her jolly ball and took a 40min walk at 3 which wasn't pleasant for me at all but I'm sure she enjoyed herself as she managed to snag half a ham sandwich, some spilt ice cream and some berries! She's only had one outburst so far today and I didn't completely keep my cool but I checked myself and calmed down. I still had to give her a timeout but then she came out and we had a little play.

I think I'm going to write us up a little schedule to stick to and some goals to work towards. I really want to thank you for all the advice you've given. You've really helped me just take a step back and look at the whole situation differently and realise we can fix this if I work hard to make that change.

As for the dog walks/training I will have a look and see what I can sort out, I'll have a look at the raw brands suggested and read up a bit more on it before I make a decision.

Mia I'm not sure you've read the entire post as she does get mental stimulation, I posted above that we use dispensing toys/kongs, she gets bones and we do train on the park with toys. She probably doesn't get as much as she could do with atm but I'm working to change that. All food is locked away, she only manages to get something in the house when I'm cooking and she jumps up or if I'm emptying/throwing something in the bin and she jumps at me. She is on a mix of wet and dry, sometimes I'll freeze the wet food in a kong and give the dry in toys or give the wet in a bowl and dry separate. If I walked her with a collar she'd kill herself, as I said she tries to run and lunges randomly.

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Post by Nifty staffy Tue Sep 17 2019, 19:36

Oh Shan, I’m so happy for you that there were nice moments in your day today with Tilly Smile
I’m sure she looks great with an orange harness. Opium has an orange one too whilst Nifty has purple or blue.
Each to his own I suppose but I believe you’re better off with the harness too, at least for now  Wink  
Did you try with the double lead ?

As to the food she found today, that might just require that in the future, you anticipate before she does to take a wider berth around the obstacle ahead or to change direction before Tilly realises.
Let’s face it though, today’s human food is still better than poop and plastic from your first post !

Today is proof that you don’t necessarily have to make huge efforts (well not all the time). Just tweak your habits a little and remember that each little step is taking you forwards. Then just allow yourself to look back from time to time and you’ll see how much progress you’re making.

Well done ! thumbs up


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Post by gillybrent Wed Sep 18 2019, 09:52

That's great!

Small steps now will result in big changes later - keep at it, you're doing fine.

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Post by Shan11 Wed Sep 18 2019, 18:18

I ordered a similar lead to the one you suggested, we should have that by Monday. That combined with the harness should make walking her easier (hopefully). Changing my mindset and making small tweaks has already made a difference. It’s funny cause I already knew this but I think sometimes it takes a little intervention.
I also had a quick look at a couple different group dog walks in my area, there’s nothing going on at the minute but these groups get together every month or so and I think we’ll tag along to the next.
Thanks again to both of you, I’ll post an update in a few days to let you know how we’re getting on.

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Post by Nifty staffy Wed Sep 18 2019, 19:21

Thank you so much for this news and it’ll be really nice to have your updates from time to time Big Grin


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Post by gillybrent Wed Sep 18 2019, 21:02

That's wonderful! 

Keep us in the loop!

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Post by Mia05 Sat Sep 21 2019, 15:22

Ok i may have posted wrong slightly didnt mean to offend by mental srimulation i mean't training on walks, whether that be sitting at kerbs counting treats making them use their brain. Glad ur doing ok it does get easier


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Post by lexii Sun Sep 22 2019, 03:49

Haven't been able to add anything more than whats been said...but just wanted to say you sound like someone who really wants to do what is best for your dog...looking into anything and everything and willing to try it all....you're the type of owner who will (if you stick with it) end up with a great dog from challenging circumstances.  I believe you are in this and that attitude is he one that will get through it.

I agree that hiding stuff for her to find may trigger the behaviour she is showing but i don't think anyone has really touched on the find and retrieve behaviour that is in the blood of working labradors (if indeed she is a cross with a working  type lab) she may not actually come back well as thats not really a staff trait but she could be trained to find and come back...it is very mentally and physically draining to do that so its maybe something you could look into. Finding won't be the reward...finding then coming back to you will be.
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Post by Shan11 Tue Sep 24 2019, 15:24


Little update, the new harness arrived yesterday and it is 100% times better. So much easier to control her and guide her when I’m not being pulled in every which direction! I’ve actually really enjoyed our walks yesterday and today. I put it to the test, placed her in situations where I knew she’d usually to rag me all over and she couldn’t so the Ruffwear gets a thumbs up from me!

When it comes to the muzzle training I’m really unsure what to do. We’ve been at it everyday and she’s happy to put her face init using the command ‘muzzle on’ but she’s pushing her head down towards the floor and getting really snappy while her face is in it. I think she’s abit scared but I don’t know how to make her hold her head up and see it’s alright? Learning her to retrieve is a good idea that I’ll look into.

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Post by Mia05 Tue Sep 24 2019, 15:44

Good news shan about the training muzzle wise perhaps show her a treat get her to sit just reassure as opposed to saying muzzle on if she can eat with the muzzle on give her the treat once the muzzle is on and she isnt displaying her usual behaviour or give plenty praise pats and words of encouragement.


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Post by gillybrent Tue Sep 24 2019, 19:52

You need to hold the muzzle at her head height & poke a treat through for her to nibble. At the moment, she sees the muzzle as a threat unless it's on the floor. Take it slowly - it might take a month, but you can do it! 

Persevere - patience, consistency & more patience will win through.

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