Planning the First Year: Preparation - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Planning the First Year: Preparation

My adult dog would love, love, love to do therapy work. He loves all living beings (people, dogs, ants, etc.) more than life itself. And he's so confident that the vet who x-rayed his hips for OFA called him a "macho man" because of his attitude, and he's also extremely gentle.

But, he has Excessive Greeting Disorder with new people. He does not calm down after a few minutes. If someone squats down to pet him, all bets are off. We worked on this since the first day we brought him home-- so he never jumps on us without permission, but other humans are a different story. He knows just how to act in the show ring, but that's a highly predictable setting with calm judges who do the same thing, every time. He has his CGC, but that was testing on one day...

I'm going to wait several years to try with him.

Now, my new puppy is a different story. Like my adult dog, he is very confident. Nothing seems to phase him when we're at home or in the outside world. He also loves everyone. But the big difference is, he's calm with new people. At first I wondered if he was stressed (I know sometimes "calm" dogs are just shut down or fearful) but after many observations, this does not seem to be the case. He always accepts treats happily, keeps coming back to people for more pets, but... he doesn't jump on them!

What things should I be working on this first year-- looking back, are there things you wish you did or didn't do? For example, I wish-- with my first dog-- that I'd never let people pet him while we were out until he was at least 6 months. I'm sure he would have retained his love for people, but he might have gotten off on the right "paw" (haha) if we didn't bother with greetings, because let's face it... so many people will outright refuse to follow your instructions to stop petting if they jump. "Oh, I don't mind! I love dogs!"

I don't know if I should follow this protocol with my new puppy in case he does jump and is inadvertently rewarded, and then it begins...

So, keeping the ultimate goal in mind, I will start practicing what is on the test, but I wondered if I could hear more "dos and don'ts" from those of you who are experienced.

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2017, 11:17 PM
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I love your puppy! He's sooo sweet. I don't really have any good advice to offer because it seems like you know what you're doing! The main thing I regret is not teaching my dog to to calmly ignore other dogs from day one. I let him walk up to and greet any and every dog we saw. Later, when we took one of the therapy dog tests, he flunked the part where you have to leave it and ignore the other dog on a loose lead.

As far as greeting, actually I let my dog greet pretty much any human who wanted to greet him. We live downtown so just riding the elevator downstairs and going out to potty in our building is basically people greeting time. I know what you mean about getting reinforced for jumping by people saying "oh I don't mind," etc. My dog naturally did not jump as a puppy either. He only did it occasionally later as he got older. I don't really know what the best advice here is. For us with the amount of people we see per day, it wasn't really possible to not allow him to greet. We just said "no no, he has to sit for more petting" and really put our foot down about it. He's not perfect, but he NEVER jumps on people during our therapy visits or walks out in the street. Once in awhile, if I see him getting too riled up and looks like he wants to jump, I shorten his lead and he naturally stays on four paws. He knows short lead means popped collar/harness means stay off. Not sure if it is because of training or because he is just lazy and prefers not to jump anyway.

Other than that just doing therapy dog classes with wheelchairs/walkers etc! Socialization with "weird" people that move slowly or hunched over or wearing hats or a cast on their leg. He had such a great experience in those classes that he tries to drag me over to people in wheelchairs to greet them.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-05-2017, 09:52 AM
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I truly think there needs to be a balance when choosing between active socialization and the desire to (ideally) prevent our puppies from learning inappropriate behaviors. With a puppy our job is to build a solid foundation of social skills, ('social padding' if you will) which includes interacting with strangers who may behave in 'strange' ways. Though in theory, preventing a puppy from greeting random strangers (who may occasionally allow the pup to jump up), might work, we may also be teaching our puppy that 'random strangers' out in the 'real world' are something to be wary of. Dogs learn early on, through experience, what is safe and what is not, that includes people and other dogs, even if by nature they are people friendly they do benefit from the 'experience' of greeting unfamiliar people early on.
Not to say that our puppy must meet every stranger on the street, we can be selective, proactive in who our puppy 'greets', the person who respectfully, and calmly asks to greet your pup, is more likely to listen to the rules- crouch down, (so the pup is less likely to jump up) let him come to you, if he puts his paws on you please stand up and turn away - than someone who is 'out of control' and squealing with delight - we do have a right to say 'No, not today.' (he's got a virus or some such).'

It is more beneficial to focus on teaching and rewarding, creating a solid foundation of 'good' behaviors we want to see from our pup, (ie: creating a 'habit' of greeting appropriately, starting with family, friends, at home and on the street, and moving on to 'strangers') so that if/when 'mistakes' do happen, (someone allows the pup to jump up) those 'mistakes' are less likely to 'undo' the appropriate behaviors our pup has learned.

It is not the destination but the journey that matters. Thank you Charlie, for the journey, it was truly amazing!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-06-2017, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, littlesnow! Haha it's an illusion that I know what I'm doing! I understand why you let your dog meet dogs-- that's the advice we are often told! In fact, when my dog was maybe 10 weeks old, a dog walker crossed the street with a Rhodesian Ridgeback and insisted I "socialize" my puppy with him. But at puppy class, they told us not to... much harder to avoid when you live in a major city, however!

I see what you mean about continuing to allow your dog to meet people since he wasn't jumpy. It's good to hear that meeting people didn't encourage him to start this behavior! Your dog is so well-behaved and lovely!!

Charliethree, I agree about the balance. It's just that my other dog was extreme in the jumping department. No amount of treats or time (people ignoring him) worked. Even certain trainers in class couldn't get him to stop when they worked with him! (Ha, I didn't go back to them.) He loves people more than life itself, and as a puppy, he couldn't turn it "off" if he had contact with people. (Imagine your dreams coming true as an immature child... how can you calm down?) The ONLY thing that made a difference was distance. As he grew older, there was no way I could physically restrain him. So we have continued to use distance and very controlled circumstances to help him overcome this issue, and he's slowly improving while still retaining his deep love for people.

I did something that I think helped the other day with my puppy. Someone asked to pet him, and I said, "Yes, if you are willing to help me train him." Phrasing it this way set the right tone, I think. (No chance for the person to say, "I don't mind if he jumps.") And it worked! My puppy did start to jump, but he's more "textbook" and the typical advice worked, so he stopped jumping and got to be pet. Whew!

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 05:52 PM
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Im picking my puppy up saturday and our major goal is therapy work. I have a almost 6 year old golden who for the most part is well behaved. He loves food to a fault and can get excited around people. He isnt bad about jumping but does get excited around people and can have trouble staying still.

Since I am in the same position as OP I would love to know as well about what to do and not do.

My boy Otter
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 08:05 PM
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Daisy is 5 months old and same! I tell people to turn away or say down... but they just think they know better. :-/ VERY rarely does Daisy attempt to jump up on us anymore. I haven't taught her to jump up to my chest because I do not want her do throw anyone off balance. People just love her to death... and i don't have the heart to say NO because I know how important it is for her to meet new people.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-01-2018, 11:15 PM
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Someone gave me this book - The Focused Puppy - when Abby was about a year old. Everything I wish I knew when she was a baby is in this book. I always give it as a gift to friends with new pups, and without fail, it's been their favorite. I highly recommended it if you're thinking ahead of planning out your next puppy's first year and learning from past mistakes (oh boy, do we have those).

One thing I really like about it is it emphasizes proper socialization (letting people pet your dog) but in the right way; how to insist on 4-paws-on-the-ground with a young pup for instance, so that they learn both socialization AND good habits.

Delmarva Chrysae Canis Abigail ("Abby")
b. January 6, 2015
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