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Reuben is nearly 10 months old and I think becoming a teenager! I am desperately trying to get him to engage in playing with me when out on walks and get his interest for only a tiny amount of time. He is far too keen on sniffing, weeing on everything and other dogs. I keep trying different toys and play hide and seek etc but mostly feel like I am fighting a losing battle. His recall is very up and down and i take the long line with me always now and lots of training on this especially in areas with distractions. He has dog friends and plays nicely with them but I also want him to focus on me.

He is definitely testing the boundaries at the moment and unfortunately failed his Bronze test last Friday and was just completely unfocused on me. Even the trainer was really surprised at how cheeky he was being! I was away from him for 3 nights prior to the test so know of course this would not of helped but it was just bad timing.  I am not concerned about the test failure as this can be done again and I have no time limit expectations. However i would like to get through this phase with my sanity left intact!

Would it be best that I walk him mainly on his own and only limited days of doggy playtime or is this detrimental to his socialisation?

My trainer also suggested being aloof at home with him and giving him the attention when out on walks, but i find this quite difficult. He is very good at home and quite chilled, obedient and even seemed to have stopped pinching things ie toys etc.

He is not neutered so I know he has hormone surges to deal with but do they level out at some point?

Also his lead walking is generally quite good now unless we are walking with doggy friends and I spend most of my time lagging behind due to the stop, start and walk in the other direction exercises. He will then will sit when I stop but whines as obviously frustrated that he is being left behind. How do I deal with this frustation? Do I  ignore the whinning and continue with my stop, starts etc until we catch up with friends or do I abandon walking with my friends and turn round and go off on our own walk? I have a lot of patience so am happy to persevere but I also want Reuben to learn something rather than just getting completely wound up with frustration.

And lastly approximately what age did your dogs come through the other side of adolescence and does it all click in to place (wishful thinking for me at the moment, haha)

Thank you, I am off to take some Valium now, lol

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Louise - forget the toe rag! Have two Valium and wash it down with a large glass of whatever your favourite tipple happens to be !
Haha, like your thinking! And when I wake up will it all be better...
If you take enough Valium you wont wake up till he is two and it will be!
Sorry to say Louise I don't think I had any real feelings of control over my setters till about age 3. But I will say that if working on training, mine does much better after he has gotten his energy out a bit first. He drags me into the park but he walks like a star back to the car because he is settled down and relaxed. Do you have a fenced in area to play frisbee or ball for a few minutes to get his excitement level down first. I know you said he won't play with you! But mine can't resist a ball. Two actually, one he holds and one we throw, he drops one grabs the other etc. I have to laugh that I am trying to help someone else when I spent 20 minutes trying to get mine back on leash today to go home. His new thing! His recall is good. He comes back but not close enough to hook him up. He has made a game of this now. I usually ask someone else, a stranger even to call him over which he does happily and they grab his collar for me. But I feel foolish like I have no control, oh wait, I don't! Ossian I like your idea, wake me in two more years please.
At least I have comfort in the fact that I am not alone!!! I bought two more toys today that I am not planning on showing reuben until our walk tomorrow and hope he may like one of them.
Oh dear naughty Cash, he is very smart! I trick reuben into the lead going back on as I call him several times prior to hooking up and releasing him etc and then he never knows when it is going to happen. I am sure though he will wise up to this too...
I do let him have a good run/sniff as early as poss but have to walk through the park (on route to school) prior to getting to the field. And even after a good run about his lead walking with doggy pals is just too exciting.

Anyway I am off to sleep for the next two years, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Tomato is officially 9 months old as of Saturday, and she's great at fetching/ coming when called. Not phenomenal, but pretty good. One trick that I use is to always reinforce her the first few times she fetches or she comes. I ALWAYS have 4-5 treats on me to remind her that coming back is an excellent plan : ) I also noticed that having a specific call/body position when calling her helped with this training a lot. I always squat down and whistle the same tune so there's no question as to what I'm asking. Most of the time, she's so excited to come lick my face that just squatting does the trick. Also, you have to teach most dogs how to play with you. We worked really hard for the first few months teaching Tomato to play fetch, and only recently is she finding it to be the best game in the universe.

Be diligent and consistent!

-Tiffany
Thanks Tiffany and I love the name Tomato!
Can I just say that tomato is an adorable IS name! Back to the topic at hand.
She is my lovely "sweet fruit!" I also get to call her "saucy" when she lays spread eagle on the couch, and call her a "rotten Tomato" when she's especially bad!
Went through the same with Anton and Gina, exactly at the same age. At times, I was in tears. I intensified the training, and she (I train Gina, Anton is my partners' dog) seemed to get better. Our Terrible Two were about 18 months old when they eventually got through this stage. I have to mention that both are desexed, so it is not a hormone thing.

However, they are 20 months now, and, although they are absolutely great and well trained, they still seem to have these fits of "no, I am not doing this". Not so much Anton, but Gina. Often, when she is in that phase, she has this defiant look. And she knows exactly what I want. Example: I say sit - she does a down. Or she invents her own training choreography, just because little Madam wants to do it HER way. Sometimes it makes me screaaaaam.

I figured three things:
1. When I am more relaxed with training, she just does her own thing.
2. When we are with other dogs and people, and she seems to copy other dogs' behaviour. There is one pointer on the beach. He is six and absolutely ill mannered. He runs up to people, jumps all over them - and voila - Gina, who adores this dog - does exactly the same. These are moments in which I think: Why on earth do I bother with all this training?
3. The third is when I am in a bad mood, either ill or just had some bad news or something that makes me weak, then she makes the most of it.

Oh, there is another thing: When I am tense, because I WANT her to behave. Then she does exactly the opposite. The worse I get, the worse she gets, a vicious cycle really.

Guess in most cases, it's my thing more so than Gina's.


All I know is that it helps do something she really enjoys. At the moment, it's seek and find, and some sort of improvised dummy training. She is so focussed on what mummy comes up with next, she does not let me out of sight, which makes it hard to hide stuff for her. But it's true, it took us a while to get focused on this sort of games.
Sometimes I ask myself when the teenagers phase is over, in 10 years?

Most important, does he come back on recall? His safety is the most important thing.
Don't lose your temper. Don't knock back too much Valium.
Hi Louise

Your youngster is behaving very naturally for his age and you will be going through quite a hard time in the next few months. Sorry abou that! But it is worth perservering as there comes a time - sooner or later depending on how good you are at training your dog - when everything clicks into place. I find around 2 years of age providing I really work hard on the basics. Basics being: a Stop or Drop and a Recall with no hesitation or questions asked.

At 10 months your boy is feeling both an increase of independence and the surge of hormones. Neutering at this age would not stop him becoming more independent. I personally prefer to limit the time my dog interacts in play with others to 2-5 minutes. I don't want him to get carried away in play with fellow doggy mates as I find it impossible (being a boring two-legged human) to compete with the attraction of the other dogs. At this crucial age I will keep mine on a long line which may drag along the ground most of the time unless doggy regularly takes off into the distance in pursuit of greater attractions. I do loads of so-called 'orientation' training meaning I walk routes the dog does not expect me to take, hide when he is not concentrating, turn off the path when he thinks I am aimlessly wandering along. I will not first call him but expect him to keep an eye on me! If he misses me, he will have to search for me. Obviously I only do this kind of hide-and-seek game where there is no danger.
To put it simply: Make him realize YOU are the centre of HIS world! (even though in truth it may be the other way round...;-))
The other aspect to consider at this age is NILIF or 'Nothing in life is free'
NILIF means that whatever your dog wants he must offer you something in return. This can be eye contact, a sit, a decent recall, a drop. Before he is allowed to rush to another dog or be let in the garden, or is given a treat, is let off the lead etc etc... you insist on a small 'Please' in form of a simple exercise. You will be surprised at how quickly he catches on!

On your walks you can surprise him with a game or a treat but never make a fool of yourself by BEGGING him to play with you. After all, it should be an honour for him to be allowed to play with you, not the other way round...If he is not interested, put him on the lead and practice a recall.
On walks, I like to have a fluffy toy or fur on a 2 metre string that I can swing in the air keeping the end in my hand. A short chase and play then exchange with a treat and put the furry toy away again. The dog is never allowed to run off with that specific toy. It is YOURS and very rarely you will 'condescend' to let him play with it.

Sorry, I'm getting carried away here... To recapulate simply: limit your dog's time of interaction with other dogs and work on his basic obedience. You will get there, but it takes time and perseverence. After 2000 repeats you should notice you are getting somewhere!

And please let us know how you get on!

Good luck!
Many thanks to everyone replying to this "problem" My Henry is almost 9mths old now and is quite a hand full at times in fact I have fallen 3 times in the last 3 weeks and had a black eye to show for it!!!! I was beginning to think all the "knowalls" in my circle of associates were right and that I do spoil him tooooo much. BUT after reading your replies I see I am not alone.....Thank goodness!!! Well to prove it is better to share a problem we went out for our walk this morning and I felt so much better. My heart was lighter and I am sure Henry was in tune with that, he was GOLDEN. I know he may not be quite so good this afternoon but I will try to remain positive. We must all be positive because we love them sooooo much.

Thanks again

Pamela

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