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Hello,

My puppy who is almost 8 months has recently become obsessed with hair and over the past few days she's been grabbing my hair and others as well and chewing it if the hair is in a pony. She has jumped up and grabbed peoples hair at the dog park as well which is unlike her because she had pretty much stopped jumping up as a greeting over the past few months. I would like to nip this in the butt before it becomes anymore of a habit.

We have managed to get her to stop the demand barking and jumping at counters/begging by using the spray bottle/penny jar. She currently is working on mastering the "it's yer choice" game and has gotten much better at staying away from the treat on the floor. She knows the basics (sit, stay, come, leave it, drop it, focus, target, down, heel, here, halt) granted they do need work because there are times when she puts on the breaks and all bets are off - gotta love the adolescent period. I'm just wondering if I am doing something wrong or there is something I could be doing differently? Or this is something she will grow out of (but hoping that I can train it out of her!)

Thank you!
 

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Your dog likes things that dangle above her head and is enticed to jump and grab. Obviously, hair is the wrong target. You can try and punish the behavior, but that won't eliminate the desire. To your dog, a bouncing ponytail moves a lot like prey does. Think of how a squirrel tail swishes as he runs up a tree. That's what a ponytail looks like to your dog. You can punish, but the innate desire to catch and grab prey isn't going anywhere.

What you want to do instead of punishing prey drive, is modify the target to something more appropriate than hair. Do you have a flirt pole? If not, get one. A flirt pole will satisfy the prey driven jump and bite desire, be an appropriate target, build self-control, and tire out your dog.

https://www.amazon.com/flirt-pole-dogs/s?k=flirt+pole+for+dogs

The flirt pole toy does all the wonderfully enticing things that a ponytail does, and gives the dog an outlet for prey drive. A flirt pole works best if you pair chasing and killing the toy with self-control behaviors of drop it, leave it, down, and stay. At first, simply dropping the toy makes the toy fly again. Later on, dropping the toy and leaving it alone for .5 seconds makes it fly again. Inch up to 1 full second of leave it before she gets to chase. Inch up to 1.5 seconds of leave it. When your dog will leave the toy alone for 5 whole seconds, no matter how you move it, add a down/stay. .5 seconds of a down stay makes the toy fly. Inch up in seconds until you get a behavior chain of drop the toy, leave the toy, lie down, and stay for five whole long seconds.

With the behavior chain installed in your dog's brain, you'll be able to tell your dog to drop the toy, lie down, leave the toy alone no matter how you wiggle it, and then take off running after it when you say it's ok. Training like this with a flirt pole builds self control. In return, your dog gets a joyful explosion of prey driven activity directed at an appropriate target. And, after about ten minutes of playing with a flirt pole, your dog will lie down in the shade and be ready for a nap.

 

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I will definitely second the flirt pole. It was life saver when Javelin was in that adolescent time frame. He still enjoys it.
 

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Flirt pole saved my sanity when Noelle was a teenager, too. Chase and attack this flying interesting thing until you can't stand up anymore. Go inside and sleep for hours. Love that thing.
 

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Is a flirt pole too much action for a puppy? Cleo (standard) is 13 weeks now. She loves to chase and tug, and she's very fast. I tried a flirt pole with her, and I found it very difficult to move the toy fast enough to keep her from constantly catching it, at which point she wanted to tug for a while and it was hard to stop her (she doesn't know drop it yet!). The pole on the one i have is a bit heavy, so i got tired a lot faster than she did. I also realize now, watching the video posted by Click, that I was holding it too high at times and making the toy go up and down in a squiggle motion sometimes, rather than dragging it along the ground in a circle. Cleo is very bouncy when she plays, and I know she is not supposed to jump high, but is it okay for her to jump a little to try and catch or grab something, or is that strictly forbidden while she's a puppy?
 

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You can use a flirt pole with a puppy but you can't use it to have them jumping up to catch the flying object. I wouldn't have Cleo jump for it unless you can keep it very low. If you move faster it will be harder for her to catch it and you will burn a couple of extra calories. You can play follow me games with it dragging on the ground. Let the pup catch it and hold it periodically and use that as an opportunity to teach the baby to willingly give it up on your order and reward that by playing another round. This is really a great way to teach give and leave it.
 
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