View Full Version : New puppy - need advice

5th December 2006, 09:58 PM
Hello all!

I am new here :flwr: . I just got a 10 week old ruby cavalier puppy called Samwise 4 days ago :d*g: . He is very cute, but quite a handful. He's my first dog, and though I have read a lot about puppy training, there are a few things that I'd like to ask for some advice on - if someone has had similar issues.

Sammy is very friendly and brave with new people, which is great. But he has a kindof embarrassing habit of humping their legs :sl*p: . Especially when guests come over, he gets quite compulsive about it - which is such a pity because they would like to fuss over him but instead we have to keep telling him off. He also does that with me sometimes when I take him outside. Does anyone know what this means in such a young puppy? Is it a dominance thing - showing the guests that this is his domain? He does the same thing to his stuffed toys when there is a guest over. Could it just be out of excitement or nervousness?

Another thing is that most of his waking hours he spends trying to play fight me. I'm sure he'll calm down eventually, but he can be very stubborn about it, so I'm afraid he'll develop bad habits if I don't get it under control. I keep stopping him and trying to distract him with other toys, but he's usually only distracted for half a minute at most. I've also tried yelping and ignoring him when he bites hard. That surprises him at first, but if I ignore him, he just goes on biting me and tugging on my clothes. I've also tried the 'reward for behaving well' thing, but he has such a short attention span (a matter of seconds) that by the time I've rewarded him, he's back to fighting me again.

Anyway, he is such a little fox and very cute (especially when he's sleepy). But is this behaviour typical? Is it just a stage?


5th December 2006, 10:26 PM
Oh congrats on the ruby pup!! I'm 100% sure he's adorable.

The good news is that both "problems" you described are normal for a puppy. So your dog isnt possessed or programmed for behavioral problems! Puppies are a great deal of work and they can be annoying, for sure! The running joke is that's why they are so cute, otherwise, no one would want one!

It does sound like it is time to start teaching Samwise some basic commands and boundaries, though. No one likes to be puppy-humped, so he needs to learn that behavior is not allowed.

With any unwanted behavior, it is easier to teach a dog a replacement action. Therefore, instead of saying "no hump" or "no jump" etc., you tell the dog to do something else; it will redirect his attention to something else. Knowing certain actions on command is one of the great benefits of training.

Have you considered taking Samewise to a puppy class? I highly recommend them, especially since this is your first dog. Not only will Samwise get to socialize and you'll learn a great deal about how to live well with your new family member.

While you look into finding a puppy class, you can teach Samwise some basic commands like sit and down. When he humps, you can get his attention (using his name, a "watch me" command, or simply touching/moving him) and tell him to sit. When he sits calmly, you can then praise him. He'll get the attention he wants and you redirect him from humping. Eventually, he'll learn to sit instead of hump.

Both the humping and the excessive nipping/playing are traits Samwise will outgrow, but it is important to recognize that they CAN be more controlled. Waiting for him to outgrow the behaviors, and just letting them continue in the mean time, will only result in more unwanted behaviors when he's older and more independent. Teaching him boundaries and basic obedience now while he's young, impressionable, and total into you will pay off unmeasureable in a few months and in years to come!

5th December 2006, 10:29 PM
Ditto Cindy's word of advice ;)

5th December 2006, 10:49 PM
Welcome to the board! :)

First: be very careful in following what some of the popular TV trainers and old training books say about 'dominance' -- these are very old, and in my opinion (and the opinion of many experts on dog behaviour and wolf behaviour) disproved theories of how dogs interact with each other and especially with humans. Much is based on very old and simplistic studies of wolf behaviour which have long since been rethought -- but for some reason, perhaps because it is an easy 'diagnosis', the old theories not only survive but flourish especially with TV trainers. Most aggression and bad behaviour in dogs isn't dominance -- just as it isn't 'domination' when children misbehave -- but relates to bad manners, fear, us giving them mixed and confused messages about what we expect and how they are to behave, and a natural desire in many children ad dogs to test boundaries. That's what good training is for. :lol:


You'll be happy to know that humping is never a domination issue in a puppy. :) It's just normal puppy behaviour as they try out various adult behaviours -- that's what playing hard and nipping is, too.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with humping, it is just that we don't tend to consider it polite behaviour. Thus you do need to discourage it by redirecting his attention or startle him with a loud 'ah!' and redirect. The same with the puppy nipping. This is normal behaviour and I am afraid is going to go on some time yet! :lol: If the pup is able to still bite and try to play with you after you are ignoring, then you aren;t really ignoring -- you need to actually get up and away out of the pup's reach or he will just go right back to trying to play again. If he did the same to a sibling the puppy would move away and stay away, depriving him of all opportunity to play. You need to ignore him for 5 minutes or so, a lifetime for a puppy.

Getting an Xpen would be a good idea as you can place the pup in an xpen as a time out for 5-10 minutes. Don't scold or ever punish, just give the pup a time out.

There are lots of links for training down in the Library section: I recommend reading the training and behaviour articles on www.deesdogs.com and on http://siriuspup.com/behavior_problems.html

Also see: humping behaviour: http://www.cavaliertalk.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3437

Also if you use the search function on this site and enter 'humping' or 'puppy biting' you'll find lots of previous threads on these topics, full of advice.

And this is an excellent book: http://www.jamesandkenneth.com/book5.html

Keep in mind that puppies are a LOT of work -- like small kids they need lots of time and attention and training, gentle guidance and love. It is easy to underestimate the time and focus puppies will take -- which isn;t said as a warning or discouragement but to say, don't feel like you are failing at working with the pup simply because it doesn;t quickly learn good behaviour because this takes patience and timeand often a lot more than we might at first think; as does housetraining. Generally most puppies get a lot easier by the time they are about 6 months old as they will be a lot more mature. :)

Also the advice above on puppy training/classes is also excellent. :)

6th December 2006, 12:27 AM
Thankyou for your advice!

These first few days have been quite a whirlwind for both of us, but we are beginning to settle down into a routine together - he got over his fear of being outside and leeches and rain and so on amazingly quickly. And this evening he has even been playing on his own with his toys for a while. He is very clever and has worked out (while I am typing) a very effective system of getting attention by biting my toe - after which I hand him his fluffy duck, he takes it, I praise him, go back to typing, and he bites my toe again - and so it continues :)

Laura and Samwise

6th December 2006, 10:45 PM

Just wanted to update a bit about Sammy - I think we're starting to understand each other a lot more now. I realised that in ALL his 'naughty' behavior, all he is caring about is getting my attention. When I really ignored him just for five minutes, he started to eat the sofa, cry his head off, tear shoes, and sniff the ground as though he were about to poop (he had just been out, so he didn't need to, but he has noticed that it puts me on alert). We have gone through this ritual a few times, and though my sofa has been chewed quite a bit, he seems finally to be getting the message. He gets more attention for play time when he isn't so rough. Break through! Peace at last!! :jump:

I won't be able to get him to puppy training until late January. But I'll do my best till then with some basic commands. He is such a character! :) Not quite the calm, laid-back little pup I thought I met at the breeders, but I think we'll get along fine.

;) Laura

6th December 2006, 11:16 PM
He sounds like the average, lovable little monster they all are! It's hard not to love them, isnt it??

To help with the chewing (which can be caused from teething pain), try taking a rag, soaking it with water, and then twisting it. Put it in the freezer til it is frozen solid, then let Sammy chew on it til it defrosts. (then repeat the process.) Chewing on the cold cloth will help soothe his gums.

18th December 2006, 11:53 PM
I'm going throught the same thing. We seemed to stop the humping very easily just by saying uh uh and moving away.

The big problem for me is the biting. It's hard to leave the room for his time out when he grips hold of my clothes and it says in an article Karlin quoted (in another thread) that you shouldn't pick the dog up to put it in time out, you should just leave the room. Well if I do get him off my by prying his mouth open gently, he nips at my legs as I leave. This is stressing me out :? What can I do?

19th December 2006, 12:39 AM
Carry on ignoring him, I think. It is hard; we found it difficult with Amber because she was so bite-y. Holly was too, but not nearly as bad... and actually, Holly has been the one to do the most towards curing Amber's nipping. When I said 'uh uh' she'd stop, look at me, and almost immediately after start again. Holly's tactics weren't quite so gentle, but they worked, and Amber now very rarely bites/nips, and she stops now as soon as she's told to- by either Holly or I :lol: :lol: :lol: Not that this is much use to you if you've only the one dog; I guess the point is to be consistent and wait it out. They do outgrow it. Remember distraction techniques too- have lots of toys handy and give him that. I rather think that at that age it's partly testing boundaries, partly play, and partly wanting to give their teeth some action! Amber has been known to chew her ears when she's in a really nippy mood!

19th December 2006, 03:15 AM
Also see: http://siriuspup.com/pdfs/08PuppyBiting.pdf

19th December 2006, 04:27 PM
Thanks for your advice. I read this article before I added my previous comment. It was reasuring. But this is where I read not to pick the pup up but to just walk off. But I think I will have to pick him u to put him in his crate. Or is that a bad idea, would it maybe make the crate a place of punishment? I really don't want to do that! He never complains about being in his crate.

I made calls about a puppy class and there's one starting on 3rd January, only 30mins for 6 weeks @ £14 the course. That's good isn't it. It just teaches the basics but hopefully would let him know I'm in charge! I'm a bit an anxious sort so maybe he doesn't think I'm boss.

20th December 2006, 01:25 AM
:updte: I managed to teach "leave it" today when Dylan grabs my clothes, the nipping has stopped over night, how they move on! I think I taught "leave it" anyway, I may have taught him if he pulls my clothes, he gets a treat. But anyway, he stops when I say leave it. I feel a bit more in control. How are you getting on laram?

Pauline :)

3rd January 2007, 10:27 PM

Sorry - I haven't been checking this tread for a while, so I didn't notice that there were more replies :oops: .

Sammy is now nearly 15weeks old :p He is still very cute, such a clown, but very determined. He was so persistent with the play-fighting and general destruction :roll: that nothing else seemed to work except giving him time-outs. I would give him a couple of warnings and then put him into the shower-room for a minute or two (so I have been picking him up). It worked almost immediately, and pretty soon if he was going to bite something that wasn't allowed I only had to give him a warning and he would find a toy instead. He still throws 'tantrums' from time to time - barks his head off, finds a forbidden item, runs around the flat, and dares me to chase him. But it's usually when he's over-tired, and ignoring it completely calms him down (although the item might end up rather chewed). I've thought about giving him treats in exchange, but I'm afraid that will just give him more motivation to play the same game again - he's very clever. I do play with him quite a lot each day, by the way, so he does get plenty of attention in that respect.

Sammy no longer humps people at all - that stopped very quickly. He now just tries to hump other dogs and the occasional stuffed toy :) My friend has a one year old female Finnish Lapphund who he tries to play-bite and hump. She is very gentle and just walks away - although of course he chases her and I have to stop him. It's amazing that she doesn't growl - she knows he's a baby, but still. I better be careful when he's older though or we might end up with Finnish Cavalierhund puppies :p

We still have some housebreaking issues of course, but otherwise things are going very well. He has learned a lot of commands already - he knows sit, down, roll over, and stay. But of course he will only do them if treats are on offer ;) Also, after three weeks of refusing to move on the leash, he will now walk quite happily. I do have one question though - are all Cavaliers Lap dogs? Sam is quite aloof with me in that respect - he will actually go to the opposite end of the sofa to sleep. :( I think I've been fussing over him too much icon_whistling