12th Apr 2008, 8:46 pm
My SIL has just rehomed a gorgeous staffy boy who we met properly today, he is very well behaved in all aspects except toys. They bought him home Tuesday so I am fully aware that this dog is not settled yet.
So far my SIL has tryed playing with him with a rope toy with a small rubber toy on but she feels that he 'changes' when he goes into play mode, his eyes change and he gets very possesive of the toy, he will NOT let go of it no matter what you command him (we've tried - leave, drop, let go, no, is there any others we could try?). When she eventually got it off him she took it away as she has children and didn't feel he was safe with toys around them.
Today we decided to test him in a safe enviroment away from the kids, in our garden where he cannot escape (they don't have a garden to try this themselves) he started by just running around then got a 'doggy' football ie flat, and proceeded to shake it madly, it would be comical if it wasn't slightly sad to see him go so nuts. He does seem to 'go' as in his eyes change and the whites go red, his eyes seem to roll aswell, it is quite concerning to watch.
I have had a Stafford before who could play madly but not like this, this dog doesn't seem to have a 'stop' command, once he has the ball there is no getting it off him even when trying to distract him with treats.
Eventually we managed to distract him with a shaker, which was unfortunatley made out of a 500ml water bottle with marbles in, he dropped the ball and went for the bottle/shaker which my SIL was holding in her hand, he caught her hand with his teeth and caused a slight injury but I'm sure this was accidental and not with any aggression, my SIL is ok but we would like to know if there is something we've done wrong, or is there a way of training him out of this, or should we just avoid overexciting him with toys in the future (which does seem a shame)
I also lent them my car harness today until they can get one of their own. I put it on him earlier today and adjusted it to his size, he allowed me to put it on and stood there very patiently while I adjusted it, but seemed sort of deflated once I had finished, stopped wandering around etc unless called. My BIL said he doesn't like to be held by his collar but he was fine when I held him by it and when my SIL held him too. Later when they were going home my OH and BIL put the harness onto the dog and they said he had a 'bad' reaction to it, he cowered and just stood there, refused to move with his tail between his legs, so they removed it (I didn't actually see this) I feel this is a fear of Men not the collar or harness what do others think?
Is there a good way to overcome his fear of the harness as we really want him to be restrained when travelling in the car.
All advice will be gratefully recieved, sorry this is so long!!!
13th Apr 2008, 9:10 am
It could be a reaction to the harness - I've seen lots of dogs refuse to move and look really miserable when different bits of equipment are attached to them.
I would teach him to associate it with good times, so every time it goes on, something good happens. If he still refuses to move I'd be inclined to just leave it on him, but really that depends on whether he's refusing to move because he doesn't like it, or he's shutting down due to stress, when it would be unkind to leave it on him.
With the toy possesiveness I'd hesitate to give advice without seeing the dog, because doing the wrong thing can cause more problems - as you've already seen with the rattle bottle over stimulating him so he wasn't careful where he put his mouth.
I'd suggest that your SIL finds a professional to ask about the toy possessiveness when they can observe the dog - and in the meantime work on 'leave' and 'drop' with low value items so that it becomes second nature.
When my Fred arrived he had a thing for nicking clothes out of the laundry basket when I was hanging them out on the line - he will still help himself if he can, but now he'll not only drop them on command, his training is so strong that he'll even bring them back to me.
13th Apr 2008, 9:54 am
My collie was the same when I first put a harness on her, she just stood there looking very sorry for herself and refused to move, until she learned that harness = flyball, which totally changed her view of it
I agree with Eco warrior re the trainer/behaviourist bit over toys, but there is a difference between being aggressive/possesive (ie growling/teeth baring)around toys and just plain not wanting to give it back.
It may well be that he has always played on his own and has not been trained that bringing the toy back means more fun.
I wouldn't play any tuggy games with him and if they want to play with toys I would use the two ball game, that way the dog gives the toy/ball back of his own will and not by force. Remember the toys are his as fun, he doesn't yet know the rules so can't be expected to give the toy back, rattle bottles etc will only either frighten him or further excite him, both counter productive to what your SIL is trying to achieve.
13th Apr 2008, 3:10 pm
About the toys - Daisy would change at first with toys - I suspect her previous owners had turned Play into Battle. Her eyes would glaze and her body stiffen - it was as though she was completely obsessed with keeping that toy. It`s taken me a long time, but she`s `normal` now and is happy to give me her toys because I play with her. I think maybe use a low-status toy (a boring one) at first and reward the dog when he puts it down. And absolutely no tuggy games!
13th Apr 2008, 9:56 pm
"he will NOT let go of it no matter what you command him"
I'll only comment on this little bit because I have no experience beyond it.
He will not respond to any command unless he knows what it means. The 'Leave It' command needs to be taught. I'm reluctant to mention how I trained mine (and how Oddie's Daddy trained him) as it would possibly be better taught hands on by a trainer that has seen the dog. But giving commands mean nothing if the dog hasn't learned it.
I will also add that having had a soft as anything Terrier that didn't really play hard, to see my little Chinese Crested 'ragging' on her toys was astounding to begin with. I've seen a JRT ratting, and that is the only thing that would come close. She has 'killed' a number of toys. While in other circumstances her 'leave it' is 100%, getting her to leave a toy she is ragging isn't so easy as it is so self-rewarding.