View Full Version : Challenging behavior

11th March 2006, 04:59 PM
Well Riley has been with us for 2 weeks now. He definitely has a stubborn streak. I have to admit, i am surprised. All the Cavaliers i had met were so sweet and Riley has shown that he is quite sure of himself and challenges me and my husband. We love him to bits, but his antics are starting to drive us crazy!
For example, if it is time for him to go out to potty, he will sit at the open door after one of us goes out and "decide" if he feels like coming out. We always end up either going and getting him or luring him out with a food treat. That's just one example, there are others! We try to make sure that we are the people "in charge" and don't let him get away with things, but he is really stubborn and it is harder than i thought. I guess i thought a Cavalier would be more willing to please, not so headstrong! :x
Riley is now 12 weeks old and I want to get this behavior thing on the right track now before bad habits develop too much.
Does anyone have this same experience? Is it his age? Maybe we just arent' getting the rules clear to him? Maybe he is dominant?
Help! :?

Harry & Heidi's mom
11th March 2006, 05:18 PM
is it raining by any chance? Harry refuses to go out when it's raining and has to be forced outside (we go outside with him too)

11th March 2006, 06:07 PM
Yes, it's been raining quite a bit here in California. But that doesn't actually seem to bother him. When he is out in the yard, he chooses to grab rocks, grass, twigs, whatever in his mouth and then run away from us to go eat it. He doesn't come when called and tries to eat the object before we can get to him. Very frustrating!! Who knows what he'll eat next, could be something harmful. :shock:
Anyway, there are more examples like jumping up at us or trying to jump on things and excessive mouthing/biting. We really want to get this under control.

Harry & Heidi's mom
11th March 2006, 06:17 PM
Harry has all of these behaviours, and he's 10 months old
him eating stuff out of the garden had us at the vet this week!! so i'm now watching his every move and distract him as soon as he's spotted something that might tempt him.

he also jumps up at people, but we ignore him until he's settled down, he'll soon catch on with this one.

sounds like normal puppy behaviour to me :lol:

Cathy T
11th March 2006, 10:07 PM
Have to looked into any training classes? Jake was my fist dog in over 20 years so I enrolled "us" in puppy kindergarten and beginners class so "I" would know what to do. I also follow a lot of what Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer says. I watch his show faithfully every Friday night on the National Geographic Channel. You might want to try taking him out to go potty on lead so that he knows it's not play around time.

11th March 2006, 11:40 PM
He's still very very young and only a baby. He isn't challenging you, he is just trying out various games he thinks are fun. He is right now training you very well to give him a treat by giving his own'command' which is, 'I will sit here til you go get the treat!'. :)

Remember the best way to train a dog is to reward the behaviour you want and ignore the behaviour you don't want. Right now you are rewarding the behaviour you don't want -- giving him a treat for not coming outside until you go get the treat for him. He now knows if he waits long enough, you go get the treat.

Also, he is simply way too small and young to be expected to have learned to go out all by himself -- this is like expecting a toddler to understand the whole potty-training thing just because he sometimes can do it by himself. He can't make all those connections yet at 3 months old.

What you want to do is make this a routine right now of putting him on his lead, taking him to where you want him to go and always going out WITH him, not letting him out to go on his own (which sets up all sorts of potential problems as he gets older, including him going out but not 'going' then coming back in and soiling the house), and teach him a command each for peeing and doing his poop. Say the command as soon as he starts doing what you want him to do and give lots of praise. Then reward him with a tiny treat AFTER he goes. This routine allows you to do three things:

1) control when he goes out
2) teaches hi m a useful pair of commands
3) housetrains efficiently

And it also is lead practice for him too! I strongly recommend Shirlee Kalstones' book on housetraining a dog as it gives really good structured advice. :)

12th March 2006, 01:03 AM
Thank you for the input. Karlin, i just wanted to make clear that we do not ever let him out on his own. Always, we go to the door first (when it seems he might have to go potty, which is about every hour while he is awake) and say "outside" leading the way to his potty spot. When he does follow us we do say "go potty" which he usually does, and then he gets a treat as soon as he is done going along with enthusiastic cheers of "good potty", "good boy". (i guess i need to use 2 different commands for each elimination). When this scenario works, it works great.
Sometimes though, he doesn't follow us out the door and instead just sits in the doorway. We have been trying to do it while on lead, but right now he chooses to bite the lead and try to twist and jump away from the lead if it is attached to his collar. He doesn't like to follow us if we have the lead attached to his collar. If his harness is on, it's not a problem. But there's not enough time to put on his harness every time he needs to go potty. So, we are having a bit of a time trying to find the best way to deal with this. I just don't want to start him off with bad habits.
I do appreciate all your information and we are really trying to be patient and consistent, as he is "just a baby". It can be frustrating though when dealing with all these challenges and making sure we don't set up bad habits.

12th March 2006, 01:55 AM
Cedar used to act that way when the lead was on her collar. Like you, we didnt take the time to put the harness on her each and every time she needed to go out. We still dont. But we were insistant on using the lead. It meant we had to use the lead more, not less. And if she chewed and started messing with her lead, we had to use commands like "drop it" and "watch me" to get her to stop her behavior and give her attention to me.

If the lead problem is really bad, you can put something like bitter apple on the lead, so it tastes bad. If you're currently using a leather leash, change to a nylon one; they apparently have less chew-appeal than the leather. (Not that the nylon isnt chewable....)

I know there are a lot of opinions about using leads on collars with Cavs. Most of the time, we use a harness. But the quick outings to the backyard without a harness are still leash on collar. Just be careful not to jerk or pull on the lead too much. Commands that get the dogs attention so the dog drops the leash on its own worked the best for us.

Dont you just love puppies? :D

12th March 2006, 12:55 PM
I agree with the above; puppies in particular will bite and play with the lead but that's all the more reason to be using it regularly to get them used to it as well. Given you are only taking a few short steps outside for houstraining, I wouldn't be concerned about using a lead on the collar and it is good for any dog to be comfortable with both harness and collar.

That's great you are doing all the steps you noted; however I would stop any use of food to tempt him out as this is indeed reinforcing his desire to stay in until you offer the food; and instead, get into the lead routine at this very young age. With rain in particular you are going to get a balking puppy and you want the trip outside to be a requirement, not an optional choice when it comes to elimination! :) I would not really be trying to get himn out on his own volition and off lead til he is at least 4-5 months or so as a puppy attention span is so short.

It is surprisingly easy to reinforce unwanted behaviour -- sometimes you have to rethink what is being done from a dog logic perspective not a human perspective. For example we tend to think of only the action right before the reward -- eg puppy won;t come out, I call puppy with food, puppy comes out, goal achieved. But back it up fiurther and you can see puppy perspective is -- people go outside, people call me, I wait, people call me some more and go get food, now I go to them and am rewarded for waiting then coming, with food. Therefore I should always wait, then come , as that is the right order of actions.

It is one of the reasons trainers say never ever scold a dog for coming to you later than you commanded. EG dog is running around a field, you call dog, dog ignores you, dog chases another dog, you call dog, dog ignores you; finally dog responds to your call and comes, you, very annoyed, scold dog for coming. Dog learns: don't return when called or you get punished; or alternatively -- sometimes I get praised and sometimes punished when I return and I don;t understand why so maybe I'll come and maybe I won't as my owner obviously wants me to do something else when saying 'come' and I don't know what it is.

I'd definitely be working already on recall at this age, too -- you simply cannot start too early and it is the single most important command a dog will learn as it is likely to save its life -- but don't associate the 'come' command with the housetraining as they are two different commands and contexts. :)

Cavalier Mom
14th March 2006, 08:28 PM
Oh dear, I thought for a moment I was reading about my Prince! He was exactly the same way! It takes time and patience! Prince will still challange me once in a while. :lol:

When your pup sits at the door and waits for the treat to go outside, try placing your hand underneath him like you are about to pick him up under the belly but instead coaxing him out the door. Do this gently and he probably stand up and walk out the door on his own. Sometimes they decide that they are going to stay sitting and you have to lift the little guy to a stand and gently convice him to cross that threshold. I get Prince off the bed this way when he decides he would much rather take a nice nap than come when called.

I had a lot of touble with the recall too. Samson and Molly have been cooperative and sweet but again, Prince must be my little devil dog. :badgrin: Everytime I call him from puppy hood on, I have made it a fun and happy time. I have used everything from toys, treats, cheers with jumps and handclapping. My neighbors must think I am crazy because I have been out in the backyard on my hands and knees with my butt in the air :oops: calling a six pound puppy to make it fun and ALWAYS happy and rewarding.

I always carried treats in my pocket to offer him when he got something he shouldn't be chewing and a chase was inevitable. Now he will voluntarily give it up in the hopes of something to eat. I still give him the treats now and then because I think he could become unconditioned as easily as he became conditioned.

Good luck with your pup! He is one of those that is loaded with personality and will keep you smiling and laughing for years to come.
Besides, when you get through all this puppy stuff, (and it goes fast) you will look back and think it wasn't so bad after all!

15th March 2006, 08:35 AM
First, let me say i'm happy to announce that as of about a week ago, Zack is officially house trained. He finally got it. He has given up using the wee wee pads, even though they are still sitting (wadded up) by the doors. He asks to go outside and he goes potty when he goes out. He was about 20 or 21 weeks old when this happened decisively. Before that, he didn't get it. He usually went potty outside, but mainly because i watched him pretty closely and put him out frequently (i would pick him up and put him out, carrying him affectionately), and also because of the use of the crate, so that when he had been in the crate overnight or while i was at work for 4 hour stretches, then when i put him outside, he was most likely to pee, because of the long wait.

He consistently used the wee wee pads in doors, and i was worried that he was getting the message that it's ok to go in doors, but he has given up the wee wee pads. I won't be surprised if he makes future mistakes, but i can see that he is getting it now. yay.

so, i attribute this successful outcome to:

his age

the crate

catching him in the act of when he on rare occasions peed on the rug instead of on the wee wee pads, so i could communicate that this was not desired behavior, by giving a disgruntled expression and putting him outside and saying "Pee outside."

About crate training, i had heard that dogs are clean animals and will learn to control their bladder and bowels because they don't want to soil their living space. So i think what happens is, as they get older, their concept of their living space expands, and eventually it encompasses the house they live in, and eventually they transfer their crate behavior to the whole house.

I didn't put a lead on Zack when i took him out in the backyard many times a day, but the yard is very small. I always went with him in the beginning and watched him because i wanted to clean up poop right away. I read in a book cleaning it up right away encourages the dog to use the same area. My backyard has ivy and foliage, and if i'm not watching, he could do it in places i would never find. But he tends to go in places where i can see him even when I let him out by himself now.

Anyway, i would say that overall, house training went pretty smoothly. But this is one reason why i chose to get an older puppy (he was 16 weeks when i got him)--because i have a day job and it helped that by the time i got him, he was somewhat crate trained. And his consistent use of the wee wee pads indoors minimized the trauma. Him having diarrhea and very soft stools during the first couple of weeks when he was still going on the rug and not always hitting the wee wee pads made things harder than they would've been without the diarrhea (thank goodness for natures miracle) but generally, house training progress was pretty steady.

15th March 2006, 08:47 AM
Laura, what you describe with challenging sounds familiar to me too. When i first got Zack, it seemed like he was more willing to come when i called, and as time went on, he got so he would just look at me and not move when i would call him. i wondered if it was because of all the pills i had to force down his throat? But it sounds like it's just normal behavior. My daughter's cavalier does it too. I'm trying to train him with bits of his food as treats now, and i can see some successful results. As far as getting him to go outside, in the beginning i used to carry him out, like it was a fun outing we were going on, "oh boy, lets go outside!" and then put him down, and sit down in a patio chair and watch while he went sniffing around. Hoping he would go potty. So because i'd carry him, there was no challenge. As time went on, when i'd get him up in the morning, get him out of the crate, i'd snuggle with him for a bit, and then say "you want to go outside?" in an excited voice, and i'd say it a few times, and then put him on the floor and start walking toward the door, and he'd go toward the door and go out ahead of me using his own locomotion. But the ways in which he challenges me include coming when i call him and running away when i try to stop him from eating something i'm afraid will hurt him. I don't think he's challenging me so much as just doing what comes naturally, and hopefully in time, i can find ways of teaching him to do what i want instead. Another area where he challenges (but again, i don't think of it exactly as a challenge) is barking at the cat and jumping at her. He just wants to play, he wants her to be a puppy, but it's hard on her and the barking hurts my ears, so i reprimand him a lot about that. He knows i don't like it, but he forgets because he's so excited about her.

15th March 2006, 08:14 PM
Thank you so much everyone for sharing your experiences!
So it sounds like i just have a typical puppy and i just need to be consistent and patient when dealing with these challenges. You know, i guess i just forgot how much work it is to raise a puppy, don't get me wrong i adore Riley, but i haven't had a puppy in quite a while and it just takes more effort than dealing with an adult dog.
I am really trying to make training fun for him and i think that maybe sometimes he just doesn't get what i mean, but we can work on that. :)
It really helps to hear that i am not the only one going through this, that's why i am so grateful for this forum. How wonderful to have other people to share and ask questions with!!
Riley does learn quickly and since we started Puppy Class he already knows, "sit", "down", and "stand". He learned all that in one week! What a clever little boy! ;)

16th March 2006, 03:00 PM
Yes they are a LOT of work! But worth it... :lol:

16th March 2006, 04:18 PM

I have seen a number of references to wee wee pads/ housetraining pads etc .... can you please let me know where I can get them and what type are the best?

This is in anticipation of our new arrival ....


16th March 2006, 05:13 PM

I have seen a number of references to wee wee pads/ housetraining pads etc .... can you please let me know where I can get them and what type are the best?

This is in anticipation of our new arrival ....


The kind i have used is made by the Four Paws company, http://www.fourpaws.com/

They have them on Amazon.com and at just about any US pet store that sells wee wee pads bcause they are the dominant brand. I probably chose this brand because they had smaller sizes since when i bougth stuff for Zack, i didnt know what i would need or use and what would turn out not to be useful or necessary. I never trained him to go on them, i just put them down in front of the doors and he was attracted to go on them, i think they have a scent but i haven't looked into how they work. I got the regular size and put down two or three together so he would have a large target to aim for. He would often get his poop part on the pad and part off, but that was diarrhea, where he had to keep straining to get it all out so he moved around a bit. If it had been regular poop it probably all would've gone on the pads. the pads did not allow anything to seep through to the carpet. He didn't always use them, sometimes, he'd go right in the middle of the room far from any pad, but that was the rare exception. He was definitely drawn to go on the pads.

I have no reason to think other brands aren't just as good. I just got that brand because they had so many different sizes to choose from, but i think the technology of all the brands is probably the same. i did a search for Four Paws Wee Wee pads and they are for sale on line many places, and they have them at PetCo, PetSmart and all the big distributors. If you call their phone number they could probably tell you were to find them locally.

congratulations on the coming new arrival :)

16th March 2006, 05:18 PM
Thanks Judy ... have time yet to look around our local pet stores that we go to .. so now that I know the type and brand, I'll see what they have ...

Appreciate the quick reply ...

Charley (our new arrival) is coming on Sat 24 ..... can't wait ....

28th March 2006, 05:10 PM
Hey Judy,

Was looking up my past posts to let you know that I was in our local pet store at the weekend and there they were ... the four paws wee wee pads!!!!
We are only on our second one (Charley only came to us on Sat) and it's working brilliantly ..... We got a pack of 7 and I'm hoping that will do the trick ....

28th March 2006, 06:07 PM
Hey Judy,

Was looking up my past posts to let you know that I was in our local pet store at the weekend and there they were ... the four paws wee wee pads!!!!
We are only on our second one (Charley only came to us on Sat) and it's working brilliantly ..... We got a pack of 7 and I'm hoping that will do the trick ....

Congratulations on Charley!

I got 7 the first time too. we went through them pretty fast and i went and got a bigger size, 14 or 30? As time went on we used more because he learned to use them and because i have two doors to the outside and put them in front of both, and because of his diarrhea, he would tend to move during an 'elimination' and spread the wealth around a bit, missing the pad in part, so i put down three or four of them by that door, and two by the other door which is all that would fit. He was using them so regularly that i went through a couple of bags of a larger size, but he stopped using them while I still had/have a lot left over. Today i am glad to have them because it's raining and he's refusing to go outside, so i put some down, but i won't be surprised if he just holds his bladder/bowel and waits. I'll be leaving him for about 4 hours. We did go outside this morning but i wasn't watching him and am not sure if he peed. :oops: But it was just barely over a month of using the pads until he gave them up, so that's not so long.

Good luck and have fun!! :o