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It's unfortunately going to take some work to undo the damage done by watching that show. Reading his first book is a little better. It at least has some nuance and makes some important points regarding our dysfunctional relationship with dogs in the United States. But his "pack leader" approach has been thoroughly debunked. And exercising a puppy the way he exercises some of the dogs on his show would create a nightmarish little adrenaline junkie.

As for your daughter, she needs to understand that poodles are SMART. And her interactions with Willow are undermining all your efforts. As long as there's a chance for payout, Willow's going to keep repeating behaviours you don't want. And the more she rehearses them, the harder they'll be to break. That's not very nice for Willow.

Your daughter probably thinks she's doing a kind thing, sneaking treats and roughhousing, but it's confusing for a puppy not to have clear boundaries. Dunbar touches on these sorts of interactions in his book. Maybe your daughter would enjoy reading it? It's quite conversational and accessible. And it really helps to have the whole household on the same page!
 

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I like Ian Dunbar.

I think Cesar Millan is is problematic. He's like a race car driver. The stuff he does works for him, but it requires skill and timing the rest of us don't have. And even he miscalculates sometimes.

Regarding the alpha role thing that some old school trainers recommend- think about your favorite boss at work. Was it the one who was always on your case about everything you did? The one who made you take your lunch at 11:30 instead of 12:30, just to prove he was boss? Or was it the one who patiently showed you how work the software you had never seen before? And showed you again, with a laugh and a shrug, when you forgot a step?
 

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Good for you for sticking with this puppy and coming here for advice! There is no easy fix, no one size fits all, and they will surprise you in the most wonderful and awful ways....it’s kind of like raising kids in that regard.

I have 14 month old puppy who was has gone between being brilliant and then terrible at recall and back and forth like that or the last year or so. She’s back to brilliant, but I don’t completely trust her yet. When we hike, she’s still on a long lead- the other dogs get to be off leash. She has to show me that she won’t backslide before I trust her on a mountain trail.

So, cut yourself and the puppy some slack! You’ve received good advice here, I would just reinforce the importance of making coming to you the best thing in the world, and don’t make it be the end of a fun activity. If the only times you call her to come means the fun ends, well, what would you do? If my fun was ending I wouldn’t want to come.

When I call Gracie in from the yard, I still treat her every time she comes, then I spend a minute or so throwing a ball for her in the house. I want to make sure she has a rock solid recall. It doesn’t have to be long, just a minute or so they associate the fun activity with the command. There will be times in the future when you have to call her from a fun activity, but if you’ve provided enough of a foundation that her brain associates coming with all good things, it works.

Once you’re sure it’s rock solid, then start treating every other time, but praise always, and make sure the behavior is solid before backing off. Then back it off to every third time, and then longer. This is the Las Vegas type theory. If they know a big reward is coming, but not sure when, then they will keep offering the behavior. It’s similar to why humans will keep gambling. But for know, until she gets that idea, you are probably going to go through weeks, if not months of treating every single recall to cement that behavior.

Just like most things in life, dog training is mostly about persistence and keeping at it. Even if you don’t do it perfectly (and my training has many moments of imperfection!) just keep moving forward and getting back at it.

And don’t forget to come here for questions/ advice!
 

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Hi Willowgirl,

You have already gotten a lot of really great advice here. One thing that I just wanted to add is that I got my first dog when I was almost a teenager. My dog also was not very affectionate as a puppy. All she could think about was playing, and getting treats when doing what she was told. She grew up to be a really awesome dog for me. Super smart, and easy to train. I bonded with her by training her. I would just suggest getting your daughter as involved in the training process as possible. Have her watch the training videos with you. Also, there was a lot to read through, but are you taking your pup to formal training classes? If so, your daughter could be the "trainer" during the class. She might even get involved in grooming your puppy. Children can learn a lot from taking care of their first dog. :)
 

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I do not think that any dog that doesn't have a super reliable recall should be off leash except in a fenced backyard when its family are angaging it in play. The play makes for a better bond and that will help improve recall. Even at ages of 11, 11 and 4 1/2 we still play recall games every now and again with our dogs. Give all humans good treats and go off in different directions. Take turns calling the dog giving just one treat to remind him what the game is about and then as the dog is going to different people as fast as they can. People will randomize the rewards by giving a jackpot for coming like a rocket and one for average speed and maybe just a little pet for being slow.

BTW our dogs have really reliable recalls, but aren't off leash outside our yard or at training. We have leash laws and many people drive our residential streets like they are in the Daytona 500.
 

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Lots of great suggestions here! My standard puppy is 6 months, he is very clever and generally well behaved, but I would never consider letting him off leash in a place where there are other dogs and people around. So yeah I think you are expecting a bit much at this point. Remember that you want to always set her up to succeed because if she gets practice at ignoring commands she will get "better" at that instead of actually doing them!
I can attest to one of the earlier comments, hiding when your pup is not paying close attention to you really makes them more alert! I did that several times and now Raffi checks in with me frequently. One of his favorite games is playing hide and seek with my daughter (I hold him while she hides).
If you can find a good class, get your daughter to handle Willow. She is probably more likely to take suggestions from the trainer who she will see as an experienced dog person.
And I think you said Willow will come in the yard and the field, but make sure you are not asking her to come when you are ready to go. Just because she will come, doesn't mean you should. She might not mind being done in those situations, but she might still connect the recall with the end of playing and then when it's something she does want to continue she will ignore. So even in the 'boring' situations, recall in order to play or just release. My trainer also emphasizes touching or grasping the collar on nearly every recall and then releasing, so that when you do need to grab hold your dog doesn't just dance out of reach.
My pup loves to chase a long floppy toy so that's something I like to use when I want to keep him close after the recall.
 

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So today was pretty terrifying. For the first time today I let my five month old standard poodle, Willow, off the leash at the beach. She ran up to a couple and they pet her and she fell in love with them. I tried to get her back with treats but of course she wouldn’t even look at me or my daughter who she adores. She followed them all the way to the stairs to the street and she went up them!!! Luckily the nice couple stopped and waited for my daughter to get her. She was ready to go home with them!!!
After that I was pretty nervous so we kept her on the leash and just had her lay down near the water. I wanted her to try relax a little bit and watch all the dogs and people from the leash. About 14 minutes later my friends with their dog came and we walked to the end where there was a dead end. I let her off the leash again. She stayed close with us but she would not come near me the entire two hours. I am not sure what I steps i need to take to do better for her. At home I’ve kept her tethered 85% of the time to me or safety close to me in the house. For three months I call her name and when she comes to me I give her a treat and have a celebration. If something’s more interesting it’s like I don’t exist. I’ve read this happens with lots of dogs but I just am losing my patience. If I tell her to sit she will only if I have a treat she’s interested in after she’s smelled it. I’ve tried pushing her butt down if she doesn’t sit but she learned on I’ll just sit when she does that, so I stopped. She’s just too darn smart and I’m too stupid!!! For three months I’ve been telling her to stay off the counters. When she jumps up I’ll take her out of the room. Sometimes it will happen 30 times in a row and she just keeps going back. I understand that it’s my fault for letting her near the counter but our house is so tiny there’s no where else for her to go!! She’s just so independent. I’ve read every single training book and I feel like I’m very consistent and I do follow through. She just is an opportunist. Does anyone have any suggestions??
I have a 6 month old mpoo and since I got him at 11 weeks he was instructed to SIT prior to meals. He would back talk me for several weeks at first lol and now he sits on his own and he does a sit stay for 15-20 seconds. I also use a clicker for training as well.
 

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So today was pretty terrifying. For the first time today I let my five month old standard poodle, Willow, off the leash at the beach. She ran up to a couple and they pet her and she fell in love with them. I tried to get her back with treats but of course she wouldn’t even look at me or my daughter who she adores. She followed them all the way to the stairs to the street and she went up them!!! Luckily the nice couple stopped and waited for my daughter to get her. She was ready to go home with them!!!
After that I was pretty nervous so we kept her on the leash and just had her lay down near the water. I wanted her to try relax a little bit and watch all the dogs and people from the leash. About 14 minutes later my friends with their dog came and we walked to the end where there was a dead end. I let her off the leash again. She stayed close with us but she would not come near me the entire two hours. I am not sure what I steps i need to take to do better for her. At home I’ve kept her tethered 85% of the time to me or safety close to me in the house. For three months I call her name and when she comes to me I give her a treat and have a celebration. If something’s more interesting it’s like I don’t exist. I’ve read this happens with lots of dogs but I just am losing my patience. If I tell her to sit she will only if I have a treat she’s interested in after she’s smelled it. I’ve tried pushing her butt down if she doesn’t sit but she learned on I’ll just sit when she does that, so I stopped. She’s just too darn smart and I’m too stupid!!! For three months I’ve been telling her to stay off the counters. When she jumps up I’ll take her out of the room. Sometimes it will happen 30 times in a row and she just keeps going back. I understand that it’s my fault for letting her near the counter but our house is so tiny there’s no where else for her to go!! She’s just so independent. I’ve read every single training book and I feel like I’m very consistent and I do follow through. She just is an opportunist. Does anyone have any suggestions??
Oh I remember this stage. Noodle was quite the renegade that first 9 months. I solved the entire issue permanently with an e collar. It changed her situational awareness immediately, The first shock sent her running to me- a little yelp of surprise (it is like the static in the dryer,) and now we have it on the lowest setting and she stops whatever she is doing and looks to me for instruction when she hears the clicker that proceeds it. Once she realized the boundaries, she just fell right in line. Before this tool, I was just a hindrance to her independent ideas.

We also have the invisible fence in the yard, she knows all her perimeters and she is so smart (and mind you, crafty,) the training time was minimal. The Pet Safe brand of e-collar seems to be the most reliable, (I returned 3 less expensive ones) and they have excellent customer service if you have any issues. We have one that does both remote and fence.The e collar works well for off leash and will work for your counters, it also will keep her from being waylaid by distractions and come when you call. You will not need to tether her at home. It was a totally life changing event for our poodle and now that she is nearly 2, we rarely need to put the collar on for the yard (unless she is unsupervised), and never in the house. We do use it at the beach and in the woods for off leash still, but I have no had to push the button often.
(at about 91/2 months she became a velcro poodle, still feisty and fearless, but a definite pack member- ready to work with minimal grumbling. )

Hope this helps.

p.s. I wanted to add that in the year we have used the collar, our girl has only been actually shocked 2-3 times, once she associated the clicking noise with the shock, she stops whatever she is doing at the click noise and once she has recognized what causes the click (not the collar or the remote but the boundary/ behavior,) she doesn't require the collar to reinforce it.
You will discover that having an independent minded poodle is quite a blessing- ours has no problem with thunder- she is so brave and adventurous. I really thought she was a psychopath at 5 months though, to be honest- she seemed so anti-social, (my first poodle- I had golden retrievers for 20 years and rottweilers before that,) but now she is just the most fabulous and creative creature I have ever known.
 

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I like Ian Dunbar.

I think Cesar Millan is is problematic. He's like a race car driver. The stuff he does works for him, but it requires skill and timing the rest of us don't have. And even he miscalculates sometimes.

Regarding the alpha role thing that some old school trainers recommend- think about your favorite boss at work. Was it the one who was always on your case about everything you did? The one who made you take your lunch at 11:30 instead of 12:30, just to prove he was boss? Or was it the one who patiently showed you how work the software you had never seen before? And showed you again, with a laugh and a shrug, when you forgot a step?
I guess I don't really agree with this. Not totally anyway. I know someone that had a boss that was not strict about his employee coming in late. This employee was ALWAYS a few minutes late most days. I know this first hand. When the boss passed away and one of the other employees became the boss he cracked down on the tardiness. The employee hated the new boss but he is NEVER late now. So in regards to dog training I do think a person has to be taken seriously although not meanly. IMHO
 

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I guess I don't really agree with this. Not totally anyway. I know someone that had a boss that was not strict about his employee coming in late. This employee was ALWAYS a few minutes late most days. I know this first hand. When the boss passed away and one of the other employees became the boss he cracked down on the tardiness. The employee hated the new boss but he is NEVER late now. So in regards to dog training I do think a person has to be taken seriously although not meanly. IMHO
That new boss outlined clear boundaries and expectations to his or her employees.

As a dog owner or handler, you must do the same. But the notion that "alpha" training is the most effective way to accomplish this has been thoroughly disproven.
 

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Discussion Starter #32
It doesn’t work with my little baby girl!! ?
Thank you @ Peggy for the recommendations. And thank you everyone else. My daughter and I have been watching/reading Dunbar and George Zaki. It’s like willow is magically a new dog. She’s been such a good girl. All thanks to you guys!! I am sure she will be super naughty again soon in her teen years right?
 

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It doesn’t work with my little baby girl!! ?
Thank you @ Peggy for the recommendations. And thank you everyone else. My daughter and I have been watching/reading Dunbar and George Zaki. It’s like willow is magically a new dog. She’s been such a good girl. All thanks to you guys!! I am sure she will be super naughty again soon in her teen years right?
My heart might burst with joy!! I'm so happy to hear you and your daughter are bonding through this process, too. Dogs are such wonderful family glue.

Head over to the adolescence support group thread when you need to be reminded you're not alone, but honestly—you'll be fine. I promise. Just stay consistent. You'll see enough exciting progress that it'll keep you going through the rough bits.

And if you really can't stand it anymore, do what we did and find an awesome petsitter. We went away without Peggy for a night last weekend and it felt like a week's vacation! We returned refreshed and ready to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Well now that you mention it. We are going to Disneyland in four weeks. We will be gone four nights and I’m pretty worried. I haven't figured out what to do with her yet. My brother recommended a local kennel where they get to be outside playing with other dogs all day.
 

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That's so exciting! I'm jealous!

As far as kennels go, we spoke with lots of local dog owners, visited the kennel with the most recommendations, and decided NOPE. Poodles are so sensitive and Peggy's too young to be left unsupervised with other dogs. We want to ensure all experiences are as positive as possible while she's still at such an impressionable age. And while the kennel claims that the yard is supervised, the human was indoors, doing office work, and would just peek her head out every once in a while.

To me it would be no different than just dropping Peggy off alone at the dog park for the day, which is something I wouldn't do in a million years.

My advice is to get this sorted this week. It's already very short notice. Visit local kennels. Talk to trusted folks, such as your vet, pet boutique owner, groomer etc. And consider having someone come stay at your home while you're gone, if possible. Maybe a local vet tech does this on the side?

We found an in-home sitter to be the least disruptive option for Peggy, and also the one that put our minds at ease. We purchased an inexpensive indoor security camera for our main living space, too, which provided extra comfort. Our sitter was totally fine with it.

My friend prefers to leave her poodle puppy with a sitter that cares for one dog at a time in her own home, along with her own dog. Having another dog around, if he or she's a good fit with Willow, could be really nice. Like a doggy mentor!
 

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Remember, you can never outrun a poodle. Get everyone in the family on the same poodle training path. My husband allowed jumping and that is a devil of a habit to break with this exuberant breed. Ditto counter surfing, lol, the list goes on, but we’re here for you:)
 
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