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Hi there,

My partner and I have a standard and mini mix poodle who is 17 weeks old (Bourbon). We've had him since he was 8 weeks old. :)
This is not my first dog, I grew up with a mini poodle Scottish terrier mix, and a full-bred Scottish terrier in the past.

Since we've gotten Bourbon, it's been a whirlwind! He's super curious, highly intelligent, and is always looking for ways to keep himself entertained. Not going to lie, this has been a bit of a learning curve for us, but over the past few weeks, we've had pretty good results since we purchased him puzzle toys, and have set up a pretty strict training schedule that allows for quick 5 min sessions throughout the day. So far he's learned how to weave between our legs, sit, stay, come, paw, roll over, down (all by the age of 12 weeks). He's also great at sleeping in his crate at night and has had zero accidents since he was 10 weeks.

What we're really struggling with now is his frustration tolerance. A couple of weeks back he started demand barking for his food and treats, toys, and we have managed to curb that for the most part. However, when it comes to walking outside this is another ball game. When we first got him, and we were taking him outside to use the washroom, he would get frustrated right before he would go, and then would bite our feet. Eventually, he outgrew this.

Now, however, if we're on a walk and he cannot greet a person or dogs (we're currently trying to limit the number of people/dogs we introduce him to, typically he'll get to say hello to 1 or 2 people/dogs out of 5, as recommended by our trainer), or is told to leave it he becomes quite agitated with us and starts jumping up and biting. The biting wasn't that hard at first, but now is actually quite hard and he has come close to breaking the skin. He has unfortunately ripped a pair of sweatpants.. When he's not agitated though on walks, he's generally pretty good with staying beside us, not pulling too much, and checking back in with through "look at me" commands. We also can get him to sit and lie down as well. He basically just loses all of his training when he gets overexcited/frustrated. We have brought toys on our walks for the past week and a half and will attempt to redirect him to these, very few times it works though. He'll usually bite it for a second, then redirect to us again.

He also has started humping us in the house, when he becomes excited, which honestly is easier to correct by just saying off. Although he'll come back a few times to try again haha.

Curious if this is common in poodles? We know he's still very little, but we want to nip this in the bud sooner rather than later as he's growing like a weed but also the biting hurts and people probably see us and are concerned that we're getting mauled by our dog lol.

To also add - we make him work for all his meals he never just gets a bowl of food. He also has to wait and leave it before he eats, until we tell him it's okay. We're also walking in and out of rooms first and make sure that he sits and stays until we tell him to join us.

Any tips would be appreciated :)
 

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I think you have a very normal poodle puppy with a moderate/high energy level. :)

I don’t have a spoo but there should be members with lots of experience around soon.
 

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He sounds completely within the range of normal. Similar to how my mini was. On the difficult end of the range for puppies, but with consistency he should grow up to be a good dog. I think the jumping and biting during walks that you describe is simply him not knowing how to deal with his frustration. As he ages he will get better at this, but my first suggestion would be to try making your redirection more energetic. Having toys is a good idea, but it's not enough to keep the frustration away. Dogs release a lot of their frustration through movement, and trainers say that getting a dog moving is going to help them to calm and compose themselves. Maybe throwing a toy and running after it together, or engaging him with a flirt pole, or simply running away together could be good for distracting him. I have found that my dog learned to actually self employ this method. If we pass a dog that he's really jazzed about he will actually start running to get past it. Like he knows he can't handle the pressure. Even if what he wants is to meet the dog.

The Look at That game can be good for helping him to control himself, but this must be done before he gets over excited. After you reach that excitement I think redirection will help the most.

The humping is completely normal and just part of puppy play. Correct him and it will pass. I allowed humping of toys, and even that passed after about a month. Just normal development.

If you've only lost one pair of pants you're lucky haha. I think I lost four.
 

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First, you are already working with a trainer. Excellent!

Some of what's going on is simply puppy immaturity and energy. I have a rip in the sleeve of my favorite down jacket courtesy of one of Galen's full tooth lunges. 😖 The self control will improve with age and consistent handling.

It sounds like you might be having the start of some leash reactivity issues.
Reactivity can be fear based, excitement based, or both. For both of these a key is to build up tolerance by gradually introducing the trigger from a distance. You can't reason with a puppy in full meltdown mode, so try not to let it get to that point. Instead, let the puppy see the trigger, say a friendly neighbor, in the distance. Quiet puppy = neighbor comes closer. Agitated puppy = neighbor retreats

Of course, you won't win all of these encounters. I've never met a squirrel that was willing to stick around for doggy desensitization training. Even so, you can sometimes make some progress simply by stopping and watching from a distance. The other day it clicked for my boy Galen that watching rabbits was an option. When he obeyed me and waited he got to watch the rabbits for a long time. When he stepped forward the rabbits went away.
 

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Thanks for all the advice! Definitely are trying to go to quieter areas for his walks that have fewer distractions. Going to start in easier environments and work our way up.

Last night though when we were taking Bourbon out for his nighttime pee, he smelt something in the grass that got him super excited, and then he started all the jumping and biting. In these instances, do you have any tips, or is it best to just try and remain calm? We have started to try crouching down to him (with a toy) and holding his collar gently until he calms down, that way he's not lunging. Not sure if that's the best thing to do though? It's a similar experience when something is just a little bit too far out of his reach to smell.
 

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I think there is no single recipe for every dog and every situation.

With Galen, who is still learning leash manners, I'm turning every distraction into a "do not drag me down the street" lesson. When he shows polite interest and waits for me to follow I will let him explore interesting scents. If he tries to drag me I plant myself firmly, stop moving, and wait for him to look up at me with a slack leash. With really amazing distractions I reward him looking at me by giving him a treat. If he were to have a barking tantrum I would immediately take him away from whatever he was interested in. He only tried the barking tantrum a couple times before he decided he didn't like the results.

My boy Pogo has strong drive and is very leash reactive. I don't think I will ever extinguish that behavior, in part because I'm never going to be able to reorganize the world. We share the world with chipmunks; its a fact of life. However, I have been able to mitigate the reactivity somewhat.
1) Leave husband and our other dog at home. He feeds off their stress, which puts us into a loop of dog getting excited, husband getting stressed, dog getting more excited...
2) Give him a stuffed animal to carry. When he gets really excited he shakes the stuffed animal. The stuffy helps contain eruptions about other dogs and chipmunks. He doesn't want to risk the other dog stealing his stuffy, which reduces his interest in approaching the other dog. Plus, he cant easily bark with a stuffy in his mouth, which helps keep the other dog defused. Unfortunately he can't carry a stuffy in really hot weather, as he can't pant.)
3) Anticipate things that will set him off and give him something else to do. For example, he gets really excited by slow moving Amazon delivery trucks and wants to chase them. So, I am constantly on alert for Amazon trucks. When I spot one I direct him off to the side and start practicing "touch", "leave it" (which he thinks simply means to step backwards), and "spin". It's very hard for him to track the progress of an Amazon truck while he's spinning. 😈
 

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Lots of good advice here. And welcome to you and Bourbon! He sounds awesome!

A low tolerance for frustration/lack of impulse control was one of my primary puppy Peggy challenges. But I can confidently say it gets better!! Much better.

My #1 advice when he turns his frustration on you is to stay calm. Even saying "No" would send Peggy up a few notches. But silence, boring energy, and no eye contact worked wonders....eventually. ;)

I also got some great advice here which was to not fuel the frustration. For example, if I wanted her to sit before she got a toy, the moment her bum hit the ground, the toy was hers. With time, I've been able to build on the duration. But for at least the first 6 months, she was rewarded for even small displays of self control. Pushing too far, too fast, was antagonistic. And constantly demanding things of her was similarly stressful. It's a great method with some dogs, but with an easily frustrated girl like Peggy, I prefer to reward for calm, rather than forcing her to always be "on."

On walks, I take a different approach: A quick change of direction accompanied by an enthusiastic "let's go!" redirects that excited energy and turns puppy's focus back to you. Reward with a soft, easy-to-chew-on-the-go treat.

A note on rewards: Praise sent puppy Peggy through the roof. I had (and continue to have) much better luck with food-based rewards, always being careful to tailor their value to the situation. For example, something she goes wild for—like string cheese—would be too much for distraction-free indoor training sessions.

Toys also make good rewards, and can also occupy a bitey mouth. Make sure you always have one within reach, both inside and in your yard. When Peggy gets over-excited, she will 9 times out of 10 seek out a toy now rather than mouth us. This is because when she was teething, we'd stick a toy in her mouth after the first bite. If she persisted, we walked away.

Edit: Does your trainer work with a clicker? I would have found this too tricky at first, but I finally introduced one when Peggy was around 9 months, and she took to it instantly. It's an excellent way to calmly mark good behaviour and signal a reward is coming, without triggering wild excitement.
 
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