A Community of Labradoodle & Goldendoodle Lovers
Before my question . . . a little background so anyone with some thoughts can know what we are already doing. Gracie is 17 mos. and we have been in formal obedience class pretty much non-stop beginning at 3 1/2 months. She is impressive during training sessions; she learns new commands rapidly, and works very well off-lead, however . . . she remains a highly energetic pup and has a reputation for being a ball of energy and a bit of a clown. I have no doubts that she will mature and settle down and I am very pleased with her progress. BUT . . . we have (stupidly) allowed her to fall into an attention-seeking routine that we are having trouble breaking. This routine usually occurs at around 7-8 o'clock when we are both "done for the day" and ready to just sit and gel. It is at this point that Gracie would prefer that we be paying attention to her instead--she lunges and grabs at us and tugs at us (hands; arms; clothing) and paws at us. She thinks of us as her play toy and we are obviously not the donimant player in this game. "No," or "wrong," accompanied with a quick shake are not working. As soon as I release her, her mouth opens again. What I have begun to do is this: For the mouthing, I rap her sharply on the snout with a couple of fingers; or I have even gently and carefully extended a finger into her mouth so that she gags on it. I follow that with an open hand for her to lick, and when she does that I praise. (Both of these techniques are recommended by The Monks of New Skete who I think I may just idolize!) I have also put her into a down-stay for a few minutes or have done about 5 minutes of heeling work around house. Those things do distract her, but I don't seem to be making much of a long-term behavior change. As for the pawing (which can really hurt!), I don't have a clue about how to give an immediate correction for that. Gracie gets brushed and massaged every day, she has a yard to run around in and we throw a frisbie for her to chase. She gets a 20-30 minute walk on weekend days and on most week days. I realize that she likely could use two walks, but at this time of year, this is the reality of what we can do. I should probably add that we keep a supply of small frozen marrow bones on hand and if we give her one of those, that pretty much ends it. I don't mind doing this, but feel that it is a cop-out and not a good solution for the long term. And finally . . . there is no crate. We stopped closing the door at 10 months. Gracie has never destroyed anything in the house, and when we saw that she didn't adopt it as her den, we folded it up and stored it. So, after my typical long-windedness . . . any suggestions??