Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at email@example.com.
I have a 60-pound female labradoodle who is about 7 months old now. She is smart as a whip. When we walk, come into a room, pet her or love on her, she all of a sudden goes into Cujo-mode. She bites, jumps, backs up and barks a kind of "let's go" bark. It's scary. I can’t control this behavior and I’m at my wits end with her. She also jumps on our two small existing dogs, who now they live in terror. Is it bad if I re-home her? She’s not the girl I had hoped she would be. I know she’s a puppy, but I can’t keep pretending it will get better.
When we get a puppy, we are making a commitment to care for, educate and look after the puppy for the rest of her life. Discarding a puppy when she misbehaves is something no one should ever do.
It sounds like your puppy has too much energy, doesn’t see or respect you as an authority figure and is confused about how to communicate what she wants from you. The energy part is to be expected. Labradoodles have a ton of energy.
Your puppy’s behavior is a result of how you have raised her. Anything your puppy is doing when you pet her is what you are thanking her for. Do you pet her when she jumps up? Doing so when she was small trained her to repeat this action. Now that she's about 60 pounds, you aren’t as happy with the interaction. But to the pup, nothing has changed except jumping up sometimes makes you mad now.
Establishing good boundaries and limits is key when you get a new puppy. Puppies are practicing everything they do — including both good and behaviors. This is why we place importance on setting up a long-term confinement area in our puppy socialization classes. By limiting puppies to a confined area, we can ensure they don’t develop bad habits like chewing the wrong things, stealing, etc. It's also a safe place we can put the puppy when he or she is not acting as well as we would like.
Puppies doesn’t develop their true personalities until they hit 9 months old, so you still have time to address these problems. It will take time and effort, but this is your responsibility. It's not fair to the puppy. It's also not fair to the person you'd give the puppy to, since they'll have to clean up the mess you (likely unintentionally) caused.
I'd strongly recommend you get your puppy into puppy socialization classes immediately. Classes that include socialization and play time can help assist you in developing better social skills and drain some of that excess energy. Here are 5 additional things you can do.
1. Start increasing your puppy’s daily exercise. She needs a minimum of one hour of exercise every day. Click here to watch a video of some creative ways to exercise your puppy.
2. Start asking your puppy to earn her pets. I call this petting with a purpose, and it's incredibly easy and effective.
3. Be sure to communicate what you do like from your puppy by petting her or giving her attention when she does what you like. I call this passive training, and it's the easiest way to train any dog.
4. Start introducing and enforcing rules. This video covers a number of the rules I suggest to my in-home clients.
5. Start practicing some impulse control exercises. The leave it command and teaching a dog to wait for permission to exit an open door are a few examples of ways to help a puppy develop some restraint and control.
Good luck and remember — everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.
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Despite being a senior cat at 10 years old, Baby is full of energy and mischief. Here, she dangles from a bannister in her house in Gretna.
Karen Windle, copy editor
We’re Bruce and Ernie (left). We love sneaking raw bacon off the kitchen counter, lounging around the house naked, er, without our collars and making friends with deer. (The deer *love* to play tag, but for some reason we’re always “it.”)
Katy Glover, online editor
Buster can put a smile on your face like no one else, including those of neighbors who spot him dragging me along on a walk or run. Unfortunately, this high-energy guy recently has been sidelined by the doggie version of a torn ACL and subsequent knee surgery. He could use a little boost, so I'm nominating him for the OWH Pet Parade.
Julie Anderson, news reporter
At left is Clyde. He’s a dog. He’s 2 ½. He’s deaf. At right is Pieces. He’s a cat. He’s 13. He can hear. They would like very much for you to pick them!
Brad Davis, business editor
If you're an avid reader of the World-Herald, maybe you've heard of Cooper. Features reporter Chris Peters has written about raising Cooper. Here he is on the custom pallet bed his mom built for him.
Chris Peters, features reporter
At left is Daisy. Her best friend is a reindeer, who comes to visit a few weeks each year. She complains a lot to the non-magical beings she lives with, for obvious reasons. At right is Diaz. He's a handsome boy who doesn't care about that. He loves walks and belly rubs, all people, most dogs, one cat, and zero racoons and opossums.
Rich Mills, copy editor
At the Ducey Farm in Dundee, we have the blackshirt gals who guard the back yard (Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt), and the chickens who help me garden (Brooklyn and Penny). They produce eggs and inspire pillows for the cutest and most fashionable dogs in the world (Phoebe, Gigi and cousin Tyson), who love to bark at the feral cats (Bunny and Butterscotch) who live outside and have matching tails!
Marjie Ducey, reporter
Gator likes eating snackies, expertly posing for pictures, getting floof everywhere and borking (not barking) at neighbor dogs.
Cory Gilinsky, features (and Sarah Jarecki, civilian)
Gracie the border collie and Beau the red heeler like long walks and frequent car rides, especially to drive-thrus that give treats.
Deb Shanahan, metro desk editor, and Kent Sievers, photographer
Isabel doesn’t enjoy her humans (especially the little ones) a lot, but sometimes likes a good chin scratch. Mostly she enjoys being left alone to sit on top of the piano and watch the birds outside.
Kevin Coffey, music critic
Izzy is 6 months old. She likes to chase her tail (and often catches it), climb up couches (and people), and bother Zake. Zake is 15 years old and unsure of Izzy. After all, Izzy has the high ground.
Zach Tegler, copy desk
Jameson may be named after whiskey, but this five-year-old gal is all sweetness. At first skittish after being rescued from a farm in Oklahoma, now her favorite hobby is stealing hearts — and covers.
Laurel Foster, online
We say Juni found us after my wife was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. This little Havaton brings our family joy, love and snuggles every day.
Jeff Robb, news reporter/data geek
Laika is, hands down, the happiest dog at the dog park. She is named after the heroic Russian cosmonaut dog, one of the first animals in space. Ciara loves to pray. When she joins our family in prayer, she sounds like Scooby Doo. She is fiercely loyal and protective.
Susan Szalewski, copy editor and news reporter
Lolo was adopted seven years ago in Louisiana. She's a mutt, and we think she's part nutria, otherwise known as a swamp rat.
Hunter Paniagua, digital sports coordinator
Minerva is a very hard worker. Two-year-old "Minnie" likes to spend her time cleaning, inspecting boxes and bird watching. (And looking adorable.)
Brandon Olson, digital content hub editor
Molly, a rat-terrier Chihuahua from NHS, loved everyone she met. She was an excellent high jumper and cuddler and gave us joy for 17 years. She died in April.
Betsie Freeman, features reporter
Nellie is a 10-year-old tabby cat who is more like 5 years old at heart. She enjoys sleeping in fresh, warm laundry, eating, chasing lasers and listening to stories with best friend, 4-year-old Sam.
Ashlee Coffey, Momaha.com editor
This is Oliver. He has three legs and a bullet permanently lodged in him. (We didn't put it there). He pretends like he's surly and tough but deep down he's very snuggly.
Roseann Moring, political reporter
Loves tuna, SBH and
A fireside nap
Sarah Baker Hansen, features, and Matthew Hansen, columnist
I'm Sasha. I was a stray in Oklahoma (where my ear was somehow torn) before a shelter rescued me & treated my heartworm. I just tested negative for heartworm, yay! I really like to play dead & get belly rubs!
Alia Conley, news reporter
Slugger, owned by the original Pet Parade Petitor in Chief and saved by Big Red Rescue in Omaha, chases his tail faster to his right than to his left. He ate a hole in the blinds to watch his owner come and go.
Steven Elonich, online editor
Toby is a 4-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix with a big personality. Given the protective tendencies of his breed, he’s very serious about watching over his property — and his owners. Until he isn’t.
Dave Elsesser, features editor, and RyAnne Elsesser
Toothpick loves biting bare legs, gazing longingly at birds outside and dipping his paw into bags of Spicy Nacho Doritos so he can lick off the Doritos dust (which his owners know is gross and bad but are powerless to stop).
Erin Duffy, news reporter
Boston Terriers, Willow, 8, and Dexter, 6, have a closet full of costumes, sweaters, scarves and even some pajamas. They only sit this nicely for photos because there are LOTS of treats involved – but really – they are crazy little puppies!
Tammy Yttri, copy desk chief
Nine years ago, we found Zed roaming the earth (it was a ruff life). He’s a good boy. He likes his toy lobster, pepperonis (which we call pupperonis) and keeping up with his fans at Zedwin.org.
Graham Archer, digital editor
Hi, my name is Zeus, I an eight-year-old American Eskimo looking to get back in the game. They say I am fixed, but I think my only problem is you aren’t in my life. I love long walks and treats. I want someone to chase squirrels with. Won’t you paw right?
Chris Machian, photographer