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Analee is getting sassy, what do I do?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Annalee

How could they- leave me in a- snowbank?
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 9:06pm PST 
Hello Dogster friends.

I first joined this site about 2 years ago, after getting my rescue pup, Annalee.

The past two years have been great, and she's been a real pal and a very happy dog in our home, where she is the only dog, and she politely gets along well with our 3 cats.

She's always been very obedient, when I say FOLLOW, she follows, when I say SIT, she sits, LAY DOWN, she lays down. She has always followed me around the house "like a puppy", I often have her follow me down to my basement workshop/mancave where she has a nice bed and usually naps while I work on projects.

In just recent weeks, she's gotten an attitude. Sort of a "mind of her own", very suddenly. When I tell her to FOLLOW, and go downstairs, she's begun to turn around half way down and run back up to my wife's office or to our bedroom where she often sleeps when I'm not home. I go back to her, urge her to follow me, offer her a treat to follow me and give it to her when we get downstairs to my workshop. Her refusal to follow me on demand recently has gotten worse. Some times I've had to go get her leash and clip it on her and coax her to follow me downstairs on the lead.

Today, we had an unsettling conflict.
When she refused to follow me downstairs, she went to the bedroom and laid down on the bed. I got her leash and took it to clip it on her, and for the first time ever, she growled at me and showed her teeth, as if she were saying "I will NOT let you lead me downstairs!" She was very hostile, and I had to try to calm her down and clip her lead to her collar and then coaxed her to follow me and rewarded her with a treat when we got downstairs.

At the age of two, she's mostly mature, right? Is this some sort of rebel phase like my daughter went through when she became a teenager, trying to test her right to exercise her own free will, or something of that sort? Nothing has really changed at all, it seems like it's Annalee that's changing, her environment and family haven't changed at all.

Any advice would be appreciated. It really upset me to have her growl aggressively at me in this way. She's not a big dog, so I don't fear her at all (65 lb. mixed breed), but if she would act this way with me, I fear that she might act out like this against my wife of my daughter, if I can't figure out how to curb this new attitude.

Thank you in advance.
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 10:38pm PST 
For a quick behavior change, the first thing in order is a vet check, just to be sure everything is in line and normal.

That said....to answer your question, yes. At around this age behaviors can crop up. Two years old is not a finished adult. My childhood dog, who proved to be quite a challenge....huge understatement there laugh out loud....was actually pretty much a model doggie until he was a few months past his second birthday, and then it all went pretty screwy. Breeds vary. One of my breeds....Giant Schnauzers....are very much puppies until minimally their third birthday, and eighteen to twenty four months or so is the most trying time.

It certainly doesn't seem as if you've bullied her in any way. One piece of fast advice I have is that rather than having it come to you clipping her lead on, which may only fuel tension, just leave it on her 24/7 until this subsides, presuming the vet check goes fine. She's a rescue so I presume she is fixed, but some female dogs even with that can get a little bitchy. It could easily be that she prefers to be upstairs and is testing you, and that this perhaps has become a "hot spot" of conflict; perhaps there were subtle signs you missed, that has come to some sort of a head.

In the case you are describing, if she has a lead on already....hopefully one with some length to it (at least ten feet)....just ask her once and if she does not respond pick the lead up and lead her downstairs without fanfare, and praise her when she gets to the bottom of the stairs.

The vet check is the first thing. You don't know if perhaps she has some joint problem going on, or if there were some incident going down the stairs that made her fretful in some way. I wouldn't presume the worst, but it certainly is possible she's not just getting bold with you and telling you "no"....dogs can and do test at times, and a lack of good timing can open up a can of worms. SHOULD that be the case, she's already figured out she has some advantage in this scenario....having a lead you can simply reach down and pick up (no harsh words or anything, just be matter of a fact) can be disarming without adding any further conflict.

You do want to extend some benefit of the doubt and have the vet check done first.

Does she go up and down the stairs normally save for this scenario? That would be enlightening to know as well.
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Member Since
12/02/2012
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 11, '13 12:14am PST 
I agree. The best bet that you can have at this point is a vet check. If there isn't any health conditions identified, you may want to go visit a behaviorist along the way.
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Annalee

How could they- leave me in a- snowbank?
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 11, '13 4:37am PST 
Thanks for the response.

She hasn't been in to see the vet in several months, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to just have a check up. I'll have my wife set up an appointment just to be sure there isn't something I'm missing.

To answer your one question, no, she doesn't go down to the basement on her own - apart from my workshop there's nothing down there but the cat's litter boxes and the laundry facilities, so it's always been off limits to her except when I ask her to follow me down there. It's never been any issue before, for the past two years when I would say "Follow" and take her with me, she's always been happy to follow me downstairs to my workshop to hang out.

I know my intuition isn't "all knowing", but to me this new issue just seems like it's a matter of her wanting to exercise her choice to not come along. Like a new "contest of wills".

There have never been any bad experiences where something happens downstairs that would scare her or make her feel wary of going down there. It's always been our "private place" where she's seemed to enjoy hanging out with me, we play rope, she naps, she has a water bowl in my workshop, she gets treats, etc.

And no, I have *never* in any way been abusive to her. We've had a very friendly relationship, always.

Thanks again for your suggestions. I appreciate your advice!
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 11, '13 11:23am PST 
I agree on the vet check. If she's got a sore knee or caught a bug that's making her tired, it would make sense. I also agree that new behaviors, especially cranky ones, can crop up in early adulthood. I would recommend that you start keeping treats on you in a pouch or pocket. Every now and then, give her a crazy reward when she does what you ask, like a handful of Slim Jim slices, a new toy, or rolling several of those neon cheese balls across the floor for her to chase down. You want her to choose to obey for fear of missing out on some amazing surprise. You can keep doing that every now and then forever. It's also safest to teach a solid "off!" once a dog has growled at you on the bed, rather than pulling her off yourself. Pick a time when she's awake and playful, and keep a lighthearted tone while doing this, treating getting up and off like a game. And do make sure she has a very comfy alternative where she won't be disturbed unless it's absolutely necessary- adult dogs don't seem to be quite as happy on the floor as puppies are. I know how shocking and unpleasant it is the first time a beloved dog growls at you, but this does not mean she is a bad dog or is suddenly going to start ripping heads off. It's a bit like a teenager who raises her voice at you for the first time. She has developed more distinct preferences, and is learning how to advocate for herself. Since you're paying attention and asking for help, there's an excellent chance that you'll come to a workable solution.
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Nare

Woo-woo- whineybutt
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 11, '13 7:23pm PST 
Jw why she has to follow you downstairs ?
Do you not trust her upstairs without someone, or do you just feel lonely when you're down there ?

If the vet check comes out all clear-- I would personally leave her to do her own thing.. Then, one day curiosity will strike and she will follow you, on her own accord, and that is when you praise and throw a party. When she willingly follows you down there, without a command / prompt, then she holds some value to it.

Think about it..
Aren't you sooo much more willing to do something if you thought of it, and weren't forced to do it (while I know 'forced' is a strong word, if you're leashing her to take her down there while she wants to be upstairs.. well..)

Its like the difference between going to Chuck E Cheese because its your birthday, and then 'having' to go because its your little brother's birthday but you don't really enjoy it because you'd rather be doing your own thing.

If that makes sense red face
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Annalee

How could they- leave me in a- snowbank?
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 12, '13 6:03am PST 
Thanks again for the responses, certainly gives me more to consider.
So far we haven't run into this issue again since I posted this question, keeping my fingers crossed.

My wife took her to the vet for a visit, and there was nothing evident to the vet that was physically wrong. (Other than a little dry skin, which she said a little more soft food and fish oil capsules for, but I'm pretty sure this is totally unrelated.)

The vet suggested it may have just been a bit of crankiness and likely nothing to worry over. She suggested it was possible that it's just a "teenager thing" too, Annalee is growing up. I guess I have grown so accustomed to her following me unquestioningly as a puppy, and this was a bit of a reality check.

In the event that I have an incident like this again, what is the appropriate response to this sort of growling/teeth baring? If there is no reprimand, does a dog begin to feel like "You're not the boss of me" and a trend can grow from it? Do I meet her display of aggression with kindness, or am I showing my weakness as the pack leader in that way? Do I take a stern tone, or is a a soft and pleasant response more appropriate?

Thanks again, Dogster friends.
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Sugar

Ooh ooh, can we- PLEASE go on a- walk!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 12, '13 3:58pm PST 
Sugar is about 12 years old, and her and Sabrina both usually sleep in the garage during summer. They have plenty of nice beds and blankets, fresh water, and that's where they are fed in the mornings. It is a good temperature and they are free to go outside to go potty or scare off any chicken-snatching raccoons as they please. However, in winter they are allowed to sleep upstairs because it gets too cold. Sugar usually has no issue going downstairs with me any other time, in fact, they usually follow me where ever I go. But as soon as Fall comes, when we call her to go to bed, she will turn her head from us and try to look as pathetic and helpless as she possibly can. After some coaxing or a biscuit she usually can be convinced, although there have been a few times where I had to physically pick her up. She has never growled or snapped at us though, and we have always used positive reinforcement. I guess she just wants to see if she can get her way. shrug
[notify]
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 12, '13 7:57pm PST 
Hi, Analee. That's why it is best to just let her drag her lead for now. If she is giving you what for and you are giving her what for back, there is potential that not only escalates the situation, but makes future ones more dicey and may compromise the bond, you know? Ask her once, and if she doesn't comply then without drama just pick the lead up and lead her down. That just puts an end to the contest of wills right there, without really escalating the tension.
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 12, '13 8:46pm PST 
I would recommend that you avoid situations that cause her to growl. That means giving her an off command when she's on the bed, and asking for a "buy in" for getting her leash on in terms of coming to you and sitting. Remember to give really good rewards sometimes, so that she chooses to do this. This gives you an idea about how she's feeling before she gets angry (it's unlikely that she'll growl after obeying commands). If all else fails, respect the growl. It's not overwhelmingly likely, but it's possible that ignoring it may cause her to escalate her display of unhappiness and snap or bite. You want to teach her that there is no need to bite because you will listen to her when she tells you she is uncomfortable with what's happening.
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