View Full Version : Am i the only one having training troubles?

8th September 2006, 07:11 PM
Hi everyone,
Well I have been working with Riley from the day we brought him home at 10 wks old, and he has always been stubborn and wants his way. So here we are now and Riley is 9 mths. old and good gracious we are still struggling with who is going to call the shots. I have been very careful to try to establish myself as pack leader with him and he is not allowed to get away with very much. I have learned that with him you cannot give an inch or he will take a mile! :sl*p: But i am human and i'm sure i cannot be doing everything right, plus i'm just a regular person and not a dog trainer or anything.
Does anyone else have this problem, I feel like i am the only one! :? Especially with a Cavalier, i keep hearing people around where i live saying how their dogs or their friends' dogs (all CKCS) are so mellow and gentle and just do whatever you want without a fight. And they ask if Riley is mixed with some other breed or something, like he couldn't be a Cavalier! Sure, i have some trouble with him wanting to always lead the walks and his greetings with dogs are over the top excited, but he's not completely out of control. Is that what other people see? icon_blshing I have worked with him so hard all these months to control his behavior to a well mannerd level, but i don't seem to be producing that result. It's very embarrassing when we have to leave public places or avoid doing greetings because Riley is just way to excited and noisy. icon_blshing
Does anyone out there know what i'm talking about? Do i have a "special" case doggie on my hands? Am i crazy or just frustrated? h*lp

8th September 2006, 08:20 PM
When Holly wants to walk somewhere, she pulls like crazy, and she's only just (at three) starting to realise that being a pest at mealtimes only gets her told off, or thrown out of the room altogether. Other than that, she was actually surprisingly easy to train, all things considered, but when she decides to be stubborn...

Have you tried classes? I haven't, for Holly, but may well do for the new puppy. Is there any way that you make greetings low key? Apparently that sorts out hyper behaviour. I notice Holly always greets me politely when I come in from being out if I'm alone, but if I'm with a friend and she feels she's being ignored, she gets very wound up. And if it's either my parents or my grandmother, it's total craziness- but they've always hyped up their greetings, so...to be expected, I suppose! Thankfully it's only once a week. Oh, and is he neutered? Supposedly that calms them down too.

8th September 2006, 08:50 PM
Sadie can be like that sometimes. She will obey a command only when she knows that there is something in it for her. I can tell her to sit till I am blue in the face and nothing, but if I have a treat in my hand or her leash then she sits immediatley. :x
I dont know how to change this behavior. Maybe someone else has some good advise.

8th September 2006, 08:54 PM

everydog that I have owned has been different from the next. some are stronger in nature and make natural leaders and others are more gentle and do all the following. After being in a club for many years you can spot the timid/confident pups after only one or two classes.

Perhaps you have a little one that has a very strong character, likes to set the pace and take the lead? if you have then excellent results will come with the help of a training class, I find that these little ones respond very well, are quick to learn and adore the one to one attention that training gives them...they have the confidence to hold themselves in a class unlike their shy quiet pals.

I bet he would also enjoy controlled agility when basic commands have been learnt with obedience being part of that....have you ever taken him training where he is working with other dogs and noise and lots to concentrate on? you might be surprised...it normally leaves them quite tired afterwards!!! ... they sleep very well!

My Sheltie Daisy was a true born leader, she still tries to push her luck! I found channelling her energy into "brain work" was the ticket with her, she has turned into one of my best dogs, it took work and practice, patience and gentle rewards but the results are worth it. Her brightness gives her the edge.

Try the classes, you will enjoy it as well, you will find others to share the problems with and trainers will always give you the time and confidence to manage your little one. Perhaps you might find a friend from the classes that you could dog walk with, being able to practice at the same time.

A trained dog is a pleasure to own and watch, it makes all the difference.

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

8th September 2006, 08:54 PM
Thanks Lisa_T. Yes, we are in our 3rd set of classes now, this time with a behaviorist/trainer. Riley was neutered at 6 mths., absolutely necessary. His greetings with people (us included) are not really a problem, it's mangageable, but it's with other dogs that he really gets excited. He LOVES other dogs, always has. It's to the point where if he even spots any dog from a distance the ears go forward, the whining starts, and the pulling starts too. It's all he can do to contain himself! :roll: he wants to get to that other dog and say "hi". Really becoming a major problem at this point.
I appreciate your input. :thnx:

8th September 2006, 09:08 PM
Thanks melanie and Alison. I thought that after 2 different classes that we would be further along on these issues. So for the 3rd class I sought out a dog behaviorist that has classes outside along the street (lots of distractions, just like the real world). I wanted to try agility, but he is too young yet for that. I think he would do well with that though.
It's just so embarrassing for me as i want to be able to take Riley everywhere and now i have to exclude him because of the trying to pull and not listening thing. It's a shame really. :( I just want to be able to allow him to enjoy all the dog friendly places we have here, but he may be unwelcome and therefore will miss out. And it's hard to do dog-dog greetings when my dog is acting way over the top, the other owners get put off (can't blame them). I really am trying hard to control his behavior, we work on it outdoors and indoors everyday. I just seem to be dealing with maybe a "natural born leader" and it's really frustrating for me.
I do appreciate your suggestions though, it helps to know at least some people have a bit of stubbornness in thier dogs too. :)

8th September 2006, 09:11 PM

you will need to get his attention on you when this behaviour starts, even if you turn around and walk away a few paces, get him looking at you and when he does reward him...(small meat tasty treat)...calm him down and walk towards the dog again...keeping his attention on you all the time. When he acts up get his attention again. Keep his attention.

He will learn to focus on you, and walk towards another dog calmly. You should be able to walk/cross past another dog without him bothering about it.

A dog needs to have it's attention on you for all reasons....in a dangerous road situation could you shout "down" and get a response? would your dog always return to you when called? would he "leave" the bone he found in the park? he should always have an ear ready for you.

What is your trainer doing about this? have you spoken to them about it?

Perhaps a few lessons in the class crossing through/around other dogs would help to get him focused on you a little more.

Use the best treats you can for this, top quality stuff!!!

Alison, Wilts, U.k.

8th September 2006, 09:28 PM
I've seen some special training work very well for dogs like this. They get overstimulated and what you want to do is create a diversion that lets them get used to having other dogs around where it doesn;t have to be over-exciting. The way Tara and Lisa do this is they have such a dog at a regular class but he might be over to one side and they set up canellettis (sp?) (low jumps that connect to cones) and the dog is walked back and fgorth across the cannellettis which requires the dog to concentrate on the walking. You can throw a treat in between the jumps to tempt the dog over. As the dog calms and focuses on the little jumps (they are more like steps) the dog is treated and this can go on the whole class, back and forth. In a class that is focused on problem dogs, then someone else might walk another dog at a distance from the canellettis and you and your dog, just walk back and forth with a calm dog, and yours will keep trying to start the repertoire of behaviour you dislike but his attention will keep being diverted back to the canellettis. As he refocuses then he gets more praise and a few treats tossed along between the jumps.

Over time you WILL work up to the point where the dog is considerably less excitable. I've seen total change in just a class or two like this. Also as you walk him if he sees other dogs and gets excited manouevre him to the side of you that blocks his view and get him to focus on you. If he is too exciteable just turn and go another direction; don;t scold, but you can start using a phrase like 'you lose' (Dee Ganley uses this one -- www.deesdogs.com) and turn and walk away. Then he will start to associate this phrase with doing something unwanted.

Also PRAISE when he is behaving well, and maybe treat. Dogs hear NO all the time and hardly evere hear YES. If you priase good behaviour when it occurs he then has a choice of right ways to behave that he can try as an option. I praise my dogs when they sit by themselves when I talk to someone, when they relax down, when they are relaxing at home on floor or couch, when they are walking well on the lead.

You also need to keep working, working, working on the look command so that the dog will always turn to focus on you; and gradually introduce distractions, more and more. Your goal with all this is to get the dog to the point where as he sees something exciting and starts the repertoire you can ask him to look and he will look at you, breaking his gaze on the thing exciting him.

Note that you can work just on look commands to accomplish all this.

I wonder are you accidentally rewarding the unwanted behaviour? For example do you start getting excited in trying to stop him, talking to himn and saying no and getting more and more focused on him? All this is an attention reward, s is your own anxiety when you might see another dog, as you anticipate his unwanted behaviour. If YOU are getting anxious, he will pick up your cue, nervous looks, etc.

All that said Jaspar is very exciteable and people here who have seen him on walks will know he nags and whines to have his toy thrown for him and also does this from overexciotement when he arrives at his agility class. I need to work more with him on 'look' but certainly he has got much better because of his agility and also I work at totally ignoring the unwanted behaviour. he is so darn sart and very manipulating so he does require firm consistent guidance from me. EG you cannot let him get things his way when it is unwanted behaviour or it sets up a pattern of him demanding a repeat of that bnehaviour.

As Alison suggests agility is EXCELLENT for this type of dog as it both works their busy brain and requires a much higher level of bonding with his owner and focus on you. I would guess if you treid something like agility this will start to help his wandering attention and inability to focus back to you when you want him to.

I recommend this article from Dee Ganley:


And this:


A dog by going into a relaxed down actually starts to relax. It is to do with the position.

Ad try:


This is typical of Dee's approach and this is basically what you want to get your fellow to do:

Some dogs over-react even to small amounts of stimulation and go ballistic
when they come into contact with someone (everyone)! You can work more
easily with dogs like this, and help them succeed in learning this behavior, by
having them on leash. Ask the dog to sit, drop the leash and step on it. This
limits the dog’s range of motion and allows you to keep the dog under control.
If the dog breaks the sit and lunges forward as someone approaches, tell
him to sit again and ask the person to step back and stand still. If the dog
remains in a sit, the person may approach again and the dog can be rewarded.
The dog is learning two things: that jumping up or breaking the sit gets him
nothing that he wants or likes, and that remaining in a sit and staying calm
earns him things that he does want and likes. Broaden the dog’s range of
experience by training this behavior in a variety of locations – a supermarket
or mall parking lot, oath Post Office are great places to work on this. People
will often come up to you and ask you if they can pet your dog and are happy
to spend a few minutes helping you our with a training session. The more
people a dog interacts with, the better he’ll get at behaving in an appropriate

Dogs, like people, learn quickly and easily when they are reinforced for
making good choices. If you are willing to put some time and effort into
teaching your dog how to behave well in human society he will reward you
with increasingly good behavior. “My name is NO NO BAD DOG!” will be come
a thing of the past.

8th September 2006, 10:59 PM
Thank you for your input, it is very helpul. So it sounds like I do have a "special" case on my hands. icon_nwunsure Is that unusual in a Cavalier? I wasn't looking for a constant battle when we got our pup, but I adore him anyway and will not give up on him.

Karlin- Thank you for the information and articles. I will read them thoroughly. It would be nice to find a class that would allow me to work with Riley in the presence of other dogs. Walking over the obstacles would definitely require him to keep focused. ;) By this point i am sure i get anxious when i see another dog coming toward us and Riley no doubt feels this. It's been very hard for me to try to remain relaxed as i know what is coming. I will continue to work on my own reactions and behavior. However, i do praise him regularly for his good behaviors as well, I know that it is important for him to know what i DO want him to do too. :)

Alison- My trainer thinks that we need to do more work with Riley crossing by other dogs and getting his focus on watching me. It hasn't been that easy to set up outside of class. If i could find other dog owners that would be willing to let me pass by them and thier dogs repeatedly, while they stay calm, that would really help. Just can't find people willing to do it. And i do the turning in the other direction and reward with chicken or meat pieces when Riley does look at me. We have been working on that one for a while, i admit many times i end up quite dizzy! :D I do appreciate the suggestions.

11th September 2006, 01:25 AM
Hi Laura,

Riley sounds pretty much like all the cavaliers that come to our classes and we have many many cavaliers.

In the most part the whole family comes along and over the last few months the parents have watched as their older children train their cavalier! We have had 3 children of about 11 years of age work with their cavalier.

Cavaliers love to explore, smell, greet, play and signal to other dogs. I find that owners generally feel that their cavvy is ignoring them, they ask "why does he ignore me?" with a disappointed look on their face.

When you take Riley into an area of high stimulus he takes in every thing. His brain starts to try and process smells and sounds while his eyes watch each body movement of every other dog and then translates that body signal (calming signal, stress signals, distance increasing/decreasing signals) and your voice becomes quieter and quieter in the background until such time as he can't hear you anymore.

Have you ever been watching such a great movie that you are sitting forward on your sofa and totally engrossed? Or have you ever been reading a great book that you feel yourself transported into the scene? Then you turn around and someone is asking you if you want a cup of tea and you didn't even hear them? That is what it is like for dogs when they are in high stimulus areas.

Therefore it is important for you to stop thinking that Riley's behaviour is related to pack position or that he wants to lead...cavaliers and dogs pull on collars and leads because they will pull on anything that offers resistance. He just thinks that you are are pulling him.

I would advise that you start to train 'Self Control' exercises to Riley and then some lead training (use a Sensa-tion harness if you need to). You will also have to reward Riley for small good behaviours so this means lowering the criteria so you can build it up. For example don't expect Riley to sit nicely beside you in a training class full of other dogs, simply go for getting a check in or a look towards you for a reward (remember eye contact is deemed as rude by dogs so even a look towards your general head region is acceptable). Reinforce the look towards you enough and then raise the criteria for Riley to checking in and loosening on the lead. Reward these small behaviours EVERY SINGLE TIME while he learns and then increase the criteria gradually and you will have success.

Also remember to say nothing when he gets it wrong (pulling, yapping). No sound or no information is a good indication to a dog that something is not right with you. When he gets it right tell him YES and reward with delicious chicken, liver or whatever treats he LOVES.

Good Luck!