Page 1 of 1

Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:20 pm
by jodiandblue
I have a 12 week chow chow pup. He loves to play with other dogs and doesn't shy away from people.
My problem is that now every time I take him for a walk or bathroom break, if he see another dog or person he will sit down, stare at them, and refuses to continue with the walk unless I let him go see what he's staring at. I don't mind letting him go see dogs or people but when its time to go inside I basically end up having to pick him up to get him inside. How can I break this stubborn habit and focus on me?

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:34 am
by Cindy J
At that age I found that my puppies are very treat motivated. Waving a smelly treat under their noses will have them paying attention to you. We have a saying here, "In order to keep a puppies attention, we must make ourselves more interesting than anything else out there."

This often means I can be seen and "heard" acting like a complete animated clown. I keep my voice animated and excited... have numerous squeaky toys stuffed in my pockets as well as always carrying a treat bag.

Once your puppy knows that you will let him have his way when he freezes, he will continue to use this method to get his way. At 6 months of age, Chance will sometimes freeze in place when he does not want to go the same direction that I want to go. (chows have a clownish stubborn side) Do not get angry or frustrated... They will just dig in deeper to try to get their way. This is when I pull out the "sillies" and make myself more interesting.

When that fails, I straddle him and give him a playful push in the direction I want him to go. This is fine for us when we are out walking, but would not be so good in a conformation show. :oops:

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:47 pm
by jodiandblue
Thanks Cindy! Thats great advice, and I will try to put it to use asap.

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:17 pm
by Rory's Dad
Two potential items going on here, and i use the word item rather than issue intentionally.

1st possibility is whats frequently referred to as selective hearing. Chows are exceptionally good at this. They will pretend not to hear you. Sometimes it is a power struggle, and as Cindy suggested will wait to be baited (bribed) to do what you want. Nothing wrong with that as long as you can figure it out and find the proper enticement so that its not a tug of war.

The 2nd possibility is a similar 'dominance' tactic for chows, but is not directed to you. It is directed toward whatever they are looking at. Similar to the childrens game 'dont blink' or whatever its called. Eye contact with a chow is a contest, they are looking for the 1st to break. Many popular training guides suggest that although its necessary to make eye contact to establish contact and attention, you shouldnt exceed more than a few seconds as its considered a challenge to the dog. Others suggest the exact opposite, that you should establish eye contact and maintain it until the dog looks away to establish position.

I tend to be somewhere in the middle. Establishing eye contact is essential to getting your dogs focus and executing commands. But i don't think its a positive training method to place the dog in an uncomfortable position, and a stare down where he loses does have that effect. Mutual ground with a reward at the end is much more effective.

Although Chows have obtained a reputation as an aggressive breed (and i fully disagree with the assertion), they are frequently also thought of as good 'attack dogs'. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything they are very good 'alert dogs', they will alert you to anything unfamiliar to them with a solid barking pattern. Most are very good at actually using different bark patterns for different threat levels. A whiny pitch for something that interests them, but is not perceived as a threat, or a deeper bark for something they are unsure of, or a deep bark mixed with a throaty growl for something they dont like at all. Chows very seldom actually attack unless with no other alternative. They will use the barks, stare down, and an aggressive stance to back off any danger. Chows, with the stilted gate, large ruff, and dark mouth color appear different than any other dog most people, dog breeds or other potential threats will encounter and it unsettles them. Chows rely on this to resolve conflict.

Anyway, that's way more than you asked. If you can identify which situation applies, then regaining his focus should be fairly straightforward. Keep in mind that you may have to differentiate in order to figure out how to get that back. Chows recognize different reward levels. For example, if its just you and the dog a simple treat might get his focus back for him to sit on command. Outside he has more distractions and it might be a bigger bit. If he has a squirrel in site and views it as that cartoon steak, you might require something a bit more attractive (cheese or a bit of shredded chicken).

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:50 pm
by Pinoy51
Hi Rory's Dad
Love your blog. It describes precisely what's going on in a Chow's mind.
I' m using the starring, if i get disrespect during real discipline calls.
E.g. don't steal food from other the other dogs. In those cases I hold the head of the offender and make very clear that this was unacceptable. It's reserved to keep the peace in the pack. Can't actually remember when I did this the last time.
Standard situations are solved by getting short contact and repeat command until followed, my guys hardly ever react on the first call :roll: . A little push in the right direction is also required here and there to make things work.
I'm not so fond of bribing but I guess for a puppy it's okay. I can't imagine myself walking with a big a treats and three Chows. Guess what happen if I give a treat to one :D
But in all this the guys are just too cute and lovable.

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:58 pm
by Rory's Dad
Pinoy, you are right that the bribing is a training tool and not necessarily a life long event. Although there is some argument to remaining consistent with chows, that really isnt the entire issue.

The bribe is to get the dogs attention and to teach him where he needs to be focus wise. The best example might be to go back to basic walking technique. Loose leash can be a very tough lessons for any dog, but chows maybe more so. They see a point on the horizon and just have to be there, or they just want to stay home and guard the yard so don't go anywhere. The objective is to identify something that interests them more. And when you place that something right next to your knee and start moving forward, thats where the nose and mouth ends up. No need to continue that excercise forever, but you will need to use positive reinforcement here and there to keep that going forward. Most likely an enthusiastic 'good boy' or a pat on the head will suffice. Each dog and his person will need to work out what that reward will be, but there will have to be something that satisfies the dogs needs and the humans level of justification. Think of it as the agreement to keep everyone in line and the minimum requirement to maintain the chain of command. NILIF theory has to apply no matter the reward. It just varies depending on the situation.

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:49 am
by jodiandblue
Thanks Rory's Dad!

That was a lot of great information. I think Im dealing with the second of the two possibilities your suggested. He always wants to be the more dominate dog. He tends to try to overpower any dog he meets big or small, and he hasn't been scared off by any of them to feel like the dominated one, which Im actually a bit concerned about.. Even one of the my mothers 100 pound retrievers are scared to go get their toy back from my 17 pound chow puppy (not because my puppy is aggressive in a mean way). Also my mother has an old retriever who dislikes my chow very much and is always snapping at him, but yet my chow keeps testing his patience anyways.

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:54 am
by Cocoa
Even one of the my mothers 100 pound retrievers are scared to go get their toy back from my 17 pound chow puppy

Is the retriever a male? It is very common for male dogs to give puppies a wide berth.

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:19 pm
by jodiandblue
Yes, both of her retrievers are male. The younger one seems to give my chow space when he takes his toys, but the older male will not put up with it and snaps at him.

Re: Puppy has a staring problem..

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:40 pm
by Rory's Dad
Cocoa has a good point. With males it can be a difficult dynamic to figure out. It could be completely natural and not actual aggression.

Puppies are prone to push the boundaries and they do so mostly in a playful manner. They will attempt to take resources that are not theirs. They will nip at heals and tails. Older dogs MAY try to teach them proper manners and snap back at them to put them in their places. You need to pay very close attention to this interaction. If their is no growling then it is likely OK. Your pup should yelp if he is snapped at and the older dog should relent a bit.

If it goes beyond that to an actual argument, then that is different.

You have a unique situation where you are not the 'owner' of all the dogs. Normally i would suggest that you need to assert yourself as the leader and control the interactions, but if the other dogs are not yours, i don't think that is an option. Best approach might be to work to teach your Chow what is his and to respect that. The older retreiver may be a step ahead of you on this one...again its all about watching closely. When you chow goes to take something belonging to the other dog, stop him. A simple 'leave it' or 'no' should suffice, then direct him to something of his. It won't take too long, he will get it.