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Hi Everyone,

I'm reaching out for some general advice from those of you who have had experience raising/owning a standard poodle from 8 weeks - most of their life.

I picked up my boy Murphy when he was 8 weeks old, and he is now just about 16 weeks. I did all the research I could before picking him up, and have tried my best to apply what I've read. I'm a little concerned, but I'm not sure if my concern is justified.

We work on training every day. When we are doing training in the house with treats, he is usually very good. He has learned: look at me, come, sit, shake, down, play dead (bang bang), crate (he enters the crate), wait, leave it (kind of), drop it (kind of). We go for short walks on the same route each day just in my condo development, and he has done very well learning to walk at my side and not pull on the leash.

My issue is, when we aren't in an obvious training session, he seems to completely ignore the commands. It definitely seems like he knows what I'm asking him to do, but choosing not to listen. When we are outside on our walks and he sees someone/something he wants to stare at, he'll just sit down, and not listen to anything I say. Or if a person or a dog walks by he gets super excited and will keep pulling the leash as if I'm not there. My other main concern is at night time, he can get super rambunctious, and very bitey/barkey. Sometimes rechanneling the energy to a training session or toy works, other times all he wants to do is be an absolute monster.

Should I be concerned at all with his choosing to ignore all commands when we aren't training? Is it because he's just a puppy, or is this a personality thing maybe? He was one of 3 males in a litter of 11, and he was the biggest of the group (He's about 30lbs at the end of 15 weeks). Any advice on the barking/biting outbursts?

I appreciate any advice!

Best,
Jordan
 

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The night-time bitey barky tendency is pretty normal. He's probably just tired. Puppie lose their impulse control when they are tired, and the loss of control comes out as manic running and biting. I would make sure he doesn't need to potty and then put him to bed.
 

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Do you reinforce good behaviours differently during training sessions vs. other times?

Murphy’s still just a baby, so it’s possible you’re just expecting a little too much. With all your research, you probably know, too, that adolescence is right around the corner, and his listening skills are likely to get even more sporadic.

But if he’s learned that in certain situations it’s very rewarding to listen to you, and in other situations it’s more rewarding to ignore you, I’d probably look at what you’re doing differently.

Just remember that rewards don’t always have to be food-based. Play, attention, freedom.... These are all very reinforcing. You can tailor the reward fo the particular moment.

And yes, biting/barking tantrums in the evening are very normal. One of the most challenging parts of puppyhood. Try to think of Murphy as an overtired toddler—who just happens to have razor teeth—who just doesn’t know what to do with himself.

In addition to making sure he’s getting adequate rest throughout the day (puppies need a ton of sleep, as much as 20 hours!), get him on a good evening routine that involves draining his last bit of battery and then having him settle quietly. For Peggy, that often meant going in her indoor exercise pen with a chew so she understood playtime was over. Then one more quiet potty right before bed.
 

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Sounds normal... You're not doing anything wrong. I was in your shoes too, I know how you feel.

I'm not sure if you've ever worked at a summer camp, but like a kindergardener, your puppy's attention span is still very short when there are so many more interesting things happening around him. Can you blame him though? Sticks, leafs, SNOW, other humans, other dogs, bark. The environment is much more interesting than Dad/Mom. For example, you're not going to be able to take the SAT's at Gameworks or Dave and Busters with a roll full of quarters... it's just not going to happen. Like Peggy mentioned, bring your expectations down a smidge. If you get one good session in a day, that's a win.

You could also keep to more residental streets for the time being. Once you're aware, you can see a distraction gradient and a relationship to how easy or difficult it is to keep Murpheys attention.

Night time/Evening - You need to help puppy wind down early to sleep. He doesn't know he needs to go to bed but when the land shark comes out you know it's time for bed.. just like when the gas light comes on, you know you need to get to the gas station asap. All toys off the ground and out of sight, blinds down, "alexa play calm music", lights off, and try your best to be quiet and boring... you are the fur parent at this point. Gameboy away because Dad/Mom said so (sound familiar? lol) . When it's time for the last pee trip, then lights on, take Murphey out, and come back in and to bed. Just try it for a week, I think you'll be relieved.

The plus side is that you'll be more well rested too, so win-win.

Teething - Have any of his teeth popped out yet? Basil started to lose her teeth around the 16/17/18/19/20 week mark. This phase could be contributing to the mouthiness too. The teeth will start to pop out. So, don't be suprised if Murphey has that goofy missing tooth look or if you see blood in his mouth. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns. It's also a good time to hit pause on tug for a few weeks.

You're doing great and it sounds like Murphy is very lucky to have such a loving furparent as yourself.
 

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All of the above posts have great thoughts and advice. Your pupper definitely sounds like a normal
young dog. Just like all children and teens...doggies need guidance and direction but even with that, maturity and self control take time.😉 There are stages where you think it will never get better or that you are moving backwards and for a short period, such during teething, this can be true, but only for a season. Dogs, like kids, actually
grow up! We’re here for you! We definitely understand! 😊
 

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Dogs do not generalize. They don't know that "sit" in the living room is also "sit" at the park. You have to retrain every place you go. People think I magically have the best behaved dogs. It's not magic. Everytime we go to a new place I run my dog(s) through their lessons. Heel on our street is also heel at the fair. I run the dog through his or her paces using praise. With some dogs, praise and a treat.

Your dog is not choosing to ignore you.
 

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All of what was said above is great advise. I particularly will take up on Michigan Gal's post about generalizing. Dogs are poor at this part of the process. There are a number of very well known obedience folks who would tell you it takes roughly 6000 correct executions of a behavior for a dog to gain stimulus control of that behavior. Stimulus control roughly equates to generalized understanding. Until you reach that point many will tell you the dog doesn't really understand to the level you should be aiming for.

MG is right that your dog is not choosing to ignore you. He doesn't understand well enough to have stimulus control. Only recently at home Javelin has finally figured out if I tell him to sit somewhere that it means he has to stay in that place until I release him. He now sits and I can leave him for long periods of time (5 minutes or longer) without me wondering what he is doing he used to wait a couple of minutes for me to return and then wander away, but he now sits anywhere I leave him in the house or yard and stays despite all kinds of distractions and for very long periods of time. He has known sit since he was ten weeks old, but now at age 5 he has complete stimulus control for it (and many other things too).
 

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I'm so happy people have mentioned the idea of generalizing concepts. I have Galen sit multiple times, every single day. He sits during training drills. He sits when I tell him to pose in a chair or on a stool. He sits when we get to a street corner. He sits, just because, while out on a walk. In his young life so far he has probably performed sit, on command, somewhere between 1500 and 2000 times.

Still, I think we are only about 60% of the way to having a reliable sit. Yesterday he was standing in my upstairs hallway, and I was downstairs in the livingroom. I asked for a sit just to see what he would do. He looked down at me from the top of the stairs, puzzled, and hesitantly sat. He really wasn't sure that was what I wanted. The context made no sense to him. I had never told him to sit when he was looking down at me from a high place. I will continue finding new and different places for him to sit, so he broadens his generalization.
 

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This is a great article that applies to more than just distance:


Since reading it, I’ve started proofing commands with my back turned. That quickly tells me whether Peggy actually knows the verbal cue or if she’s just getting subtle—sometimes contradictory—clues from the situation or my body language.
 

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Cowpony makes a good point about how we train our dogs. Once your dog will sit with you right with him, work on him being on the other side of a table or something so he can't get to you. Toss a treat. You should be able to have him sit from the other side of the room (to top of the stairs). It is convenient, but is also a safety issue.

I have had to park my border collie because we were on opposite sides of the road and a car was coming. "Hamish, down." He lies down and waits. I stay still, just so I don't distract him from the down. Car passes. Hamish lives.
 

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If you want to see some fun and creative ways to proof distance and such look up Ian Dunbar's Canine Games. Lily and I attended a workshop with Ian and had great fun with those games. I was impressed by how well lily generalized some of the activities and also impressed by how much more I could do to proof with her failures in some of the others.
 
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These were all incredibly great answers, and hearing your feedback has helped tremendously (in practice, and for improving peace of mind). The point made about "sit" inside when we are training for treats, is different from "sit" outside when people are walking by makes complete sense. The lack of stimulus control when exhausted, and needing some quiet calm down time at night. I've focused more on getting in some quality nap sessions through out the day, and its definitely seem to make the crazy mouthing/biting time at night improve.

He's a puppy turning into an adolescent, and he's going to act like it. Thanks everyone for your input!
 
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