Couple of questions from first time dog owner (not just race)

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Post by mario1995 Wed Feb 07 2024, 10:18

Hi!

As a first time dog owner (I know, Staffy probably is not a popular choice in that category) I have a couple questions about how fellow Staffy owners would go about some stuff.

As for intro:
We (gf and me) got our male Staffy at around 9 weeks old from reputable breeder. We decided on crate training from day one, and as soon as he got shots we took him outside - at first we carried him, then after final shots when vet told us he's gonna have his immune system at like 90% capacity we decided on regular walks, potty training outside and meeting other dogs.

Of course our mental resilience was heavily tested at his crazy nipping phase - but we patiently redirected his needles onto toys, or in my case to licking. I mean he learned that hands are no-no so instead of nipping he started licking them when he gets excited. We introduced basic obedience at home at around 3 months old - sit, lay down, stay and so on.

We unfortunately skipped on doggy kindergarten, so he missed up on lots of interactions with other pups outside of regular walks. But from time to time we meet with breeders and go for a longer play sessions off-leash in the woods nearby.

At 6 months old we decided on obedience training with certified trainer - as our boy was very good at home but a mess on walks 🙈 He's making good progress, heeling nicely and being overall good boy most of the time.

Now he's 7 (almost Cool months old, his balls got freaking huge and he started peeing leg-up. I think as a first time dog owners we didn't do bad job with him - could be better sure, but also could be probably worse Smile We take him on a decent walk at least 3 times a day and at least once we do some play and running, fetch or some other activities to drain him a bit of energy Smile We're looking forward to him being fully grown so we can get into pulling weights, weighted collars and other big boy stuff.

Introductions aside, now my questions:

1. Crate training and calming down
He manages to sleep and calm down almost exclusively in crate. When not in crate he seems to have trouble settling down and/or going to sleep. The problem is - he's not going to crate on his own volition during the day. There's no problem when we tell him to go there for the night - he lays down and snores in couple of minutes. We decided that it could probably help if we did not put him in crate during the day - so he would learn to decide for himself when and where to lay down and get some snoozes. When we watch a movie he would sometimes go for a nap on the floor or on the sofa. But more often than not he would go back up in couple of minutes and just sit there or start playing with a toy. Are we doing something wrong? Sometimes when he's overexcited he would lay flat on the ground and try to calm himself. Is this normal? Should we praise him for that or leave him be for a few moments?

2. Interactions with other dogs and when to step in
We know that we should let dogs decide on what to do most of the time, but the problem with Staffies is - they're hotheads. So our boy greets some dogs nicely, but with some he gets excited from the start and after initial sniffing he tries to go straight to play. With younger dogs that's not a problem (but we pull him out immediately as we don't want to reinforce getting overexcited at the sight of other dog), but some older dogs don't like his "in yo face" attitude and go for warning almost immediately. BUT our little playful dumbass reads those signals as invitation to further play as far as we can read. He does not stiffen up, tail is still wagging, his ears and face expression do not change at all. And he kinda cries when we take him away from would-be playmate as he thinks we interrupted perfectly fine play session. We are afraid that if we wouldn't stop the interaction it could escalate into fight as the other dog was clearly uncomfortable and was warning our boy "back up or else!".

With other bullies the play is great as the same type of play is preffered by both parties. We often meet with 3yo male Staffy and he fully accepts our boy as they run around making demon noises. And our boy tries to hump him - should we let it be or should we break it? When we meet breeder with our boys mother and sister they also play nicely - no incidents as breeder always observes them for any sign of unwanted behaviour / escalation.

Any thoughts?

3. Nipping started anew when excited
Now with winter there isn't always a way to let go of excess energy as we should. Even with a nice, padded and water resistant coat he sometimes (when it snows strongly or if the wind is really stronh) does not really want a long walk. A wee and quick number 2 and we are ok to go back 🙈

So he understandably can get into excited state and gets zoomies or starts trying to hump our pillows. Of course we don't let him hump any of our bedding, so the problem starts when we tell him not to do it or take the unfortunate pillow from his grasp. He then redirects to our hands like good old needle times. Now what's the best way to go about a) taking the pillow from him and telling him off b) making him realize that nipping at hands is unacceptable?

For now we go by route of:
he goes onto a bed and grabs a pillow -> he makes a pillow his bitch (you know the pose) -> I come by -> I tell him "NO" sternly, but not yelling -> he does not react and goes about his business -> I grab pillow and pull it from under him -> he nips at hand -> I do an "ouch" sound and shortly after say NO! again -> he either gets excited and starts playing "nip the hand" while jumping around OR ignores the pillow and turns around and settles a bit for which he gets calm praise.

Thoughts?

4. Pee and walks at least 3 times a day, would he be fine with 8 hours without pee?
We have the fortune of a family member living close by as we both work full time jobs. So doggo gets a chance to relieve himself every 4-5 hours or so. Somebody always comes in the middle of the day to let him out and take him for a nice walk. At his age (7 months old) would he be able to hold pee for 8 hours or so? He never had any accident in the crate. While in crate his bladder seems to be made of adamantium. But he can occasionaly have a morning accident on the floor when we open the crate and take too long to get dressed and ready to go.

Will be really grateful for any thoughts and tips - as we'd love to get a balanced, well tempered family member at the end of this initial set of troubles and hickups. Also if something is not put together well - I'll be happy to rephrase or elaborate as English is not my first language Smile

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Post by Caryll2 Thu Feb 08 2024, 16:41

Okay, I'm cooking right now, but I'll answer your questions asap. It might not be till I wake up tomorrow morning! But I'll try. Just wanted to know you've not been ignored.
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Post by mario1995 Fri Feb 09 2024, 14:07

Great, will be monitoring the thread for reply Smile Take your time, I'm grateful.

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Post by Caryll2 Sun Feb 11 2024, 13:02

So sorry for the delay!

I'll address a couple of points now & the rest later...

1. Crate training. If he doesn't fancy resting in his crate during the day, have you though about a bed outside his crate, preferably where he can still see you? Even a soft beany cushion would do the trick. Use a little spray of Pet Remedy to help him relax. At his age he wouldn't have learnt yet how to control his over enthusiasm! Don't try and force him to be in his crate if he doesn't want to be there & don't expect too much too soon.

2. Don't allowed uncontrolled play with ANY dog. The second you see play getting rough, step in & allow him to calm down. If he doesn't calm down within a couple of minutes then call an end to the play & go home. Despite what many people think, dogs don't have to play with other dogs to enjoy their walks! The occasional controlled play date is much more beneficial than daily uncontrolled play.
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Post by Caryll2 Sun Feb 11 2024, 13:10

3. You're pretty much doing the right thing with the humping. At 7 months he has a LOT of hormone input going on! Just keep calm & praise when he listens.

Build a really strong 'leave' command (use favourite treats to get him to drop things) and make sure you get the command in BEFORE he goes in to hump mode - so if he goes to grab a cushion, "Leave" and praise. It's useful to have a stash of treats in every room to reward!

4. Personally I feel that 8 hours is too long to leave a 7 month old pup and expect him to not have an accident. I certainly wouldn't crate him for 8 hours. Overnight is different, the whole system slows down during sleep, including urine production, so it's less of a problem.

Hope that all helps a little?
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Post by mario1995 Mon Feb 12 2024, 10:24

Thanks for reply! It cleared almost everything for me! Big Grin

As for points:

1. We are looking for a new bed to put outside the crate, as his old one is too small and he tries to hump it. He learns little by little to settle so on weekends when we're at home most of the time he's outside the crate most of the time and when he gets overexcited or really tired he would just lay flat on the floor on the belly or on the side, but a nice bedding would be probably more comfy - plus it would give an opportunity to maybe teach him PLACE cue.

2. We always control his interactions with other dogs. Also, we try to at least greet a dog or two every walk if the owner seems to have good control over his doggo and is willing to spare couple seconds for at least a sniff or two. In our heads it just develops his social skills - even if it's just a little bit every time, and also lets him be near other dogs which he seems to love. It's WiP but we'll make a gentle play enjoyer out of him so it's not only other bullies who enjoy playing with him Smile

3. Will try to prevent him from going full hump mode Smile

4. Thanks, we thought similarly, but it's always great to get confirmation Smile

I'd have a follow-up question about humping, as other stuff is now much clearer to me.

If he gets into full hump mode, when I get the pillow from him he doesn't like it at all and starts to growl (kinda similar growl like when two Staffies play) and he tries to nip at my hand. I know the difference between a play nip and bite as I experienced the latter when I was extracting some moldy bread out of his mouth on a walk. He briefly clenched his back teeth as he was trying to eat it as fast as possible, but released as soon as I gave out biggest OUCH in my life 😂 But back on track - when I take his soon to be lover pillow he kinda snaps and nips at my hand. Now even if he connects it's kinda like play bite strength but I don't want to allow any kind of skin contact. What would be a best way to discourage him from that growl/nip attitude? I know it's at least partly due to raging hormones but I'd like to have clear boundaries regardless. He reacts the same when he tries to hump my leg - I stop it as soon as he tries to jump on my leg and when he grabs - he then growls and tries again a couple times - every time i just push him away with a stern "NO!" or "BAD!". If he gets excited too much I stand tall, get him to sit, and wait a couple seconds until he settles at least a bit. It seems to work, he tries humping a bit less lately (both me and pilllow) but he also seems a bit agitated - panting a lot even when he lays down in attempt to settle.

So I guess my question is can I go about stopping him better or is it just a phase to endure. Should I be worried that he tries to hump me, or should I just continue to tell him off until he gets that it's unacceptable and/or his hormones settle down?

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Post by Caryll2 Mon Feb 12 2024, 15:55

I certainly wouldn't worry about it - it's a natural thing for a dog to do after all,  even if we don't like it (neither do most other dogs!).

Certainly if you can get him to sit for a minute that will help, and obviously keep making sure he knows it's not acceptable,  but other than castration there's little you can do that you're not doing now (and he's too young for that). The panting is nervous energy - he's so fired up he becomes anxious & pants.

All my males in the past have humped to an extent, although only one (my last boy) was a real problem with it. Even a couple of the bitches I've had hummed when they got too overwhelmed. The trouble is although it's definitely a hormone thing, it's also a dog's way of releasing tension. Your boy's probably still a bit young to be exercised to the point where he has no energy left to hump,  but give him another 4 or 5 months & you can try wearing him out at least once a day (not to the point of exhaustion of course, just pleasantly tired). By that time he may also be a bit more used to the hormones & be able to cope better.

Are you intending to castrate him or leave him intact?
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Post by mario1995 Mon Feb 12 2024, 19:13

OK I'm relieved a bit. So I shouldn't worry too much about him nipping when overexcited, just be consistent in discouraging it?

I'd rather leave him intact as long as it's beneficial for his physical and mental health. So if vet doesn't advise otherwise his balls shall stay where they are Smile

We are trying to at least play some high intensity fetch when we're short on time to drain him a bit in the morning, but as I mentioned earlier - when he's old enough for some weight pulling and other big boy exercises - then we'll be happy Smile

Other than exercise, are there any more ways to combat anxiety and nervousness? Maybe some toys / ways to play that would help dog relax and calm down? I'm never sure how to comfort my boy when he sits besides me on a couch and pants as he's probably a little anxious / nervous / overexcited from hormones.


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Post by Caryll2 Tue Feb 13 2024, 07:04

These might help...

https://nutri-paw.com/products/calming-treats

They're not cheap, but they're quite effective. I used them with Badger & it definitely helped.
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Post by mario1995 Tue Feb 13 2024, 09:35

I'll look into those treats. Also might try licking mats. Chewing toys are hit or miss - sometimes they seem to soothe him, sometimes they seem to excite him more.

Thanks for your replies - I'm much more confident now and I see clear path ahead! Big Grin

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