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Thread: Jeckyl & Hyde Labrador

  1. #1

    Jeckyl & Hyde Labrador

    I have a 5 year old Lab. As a puppy, I took him through a few of the basic behavior/obedience courses. He learned the basics, and still follows them fairly well to this day (sometimes with a little stubborness).

    When it's just me, my wife and the dog, he is very sweet, calm and obedient. He is playful when it's time to play and is content chewing a bone in the living room when my wife and I are otherwise occupied. He follows his commands well when it's time to eat, go outside, go to bed, etc.

    The problem is when we have visitors. As soon as a guest arrives at the door, he flies into a frenzy and most commands are ignored without reward. I can get him to sit and stay for a moment or two at a distance from the door, but he barks loudly and you can see all his muscles twitching in excitement. Once I get near the door, he leaves his spot and comes running, panting, barking, bouncing in circles and throwing his body into the guests' legs. Once I finally spearate him from the guests he torments everyone by jumping, barking, stealing shoes and items from purses/bags/coat pockets, humping small children and stealing their toys from the time they walk in the door until the time they leave. Each time an event like this occurs, I stop what I'm doing and try to tell him that what he is doing is bad. I don't physically hit him, but I stop him from what he's doing or take the stolen item away and tell him "no" (a command that he normally listens to when we're all alone). If I make him go in the other room and stay, he barks uncontrollably to the point where it's not enjoyable for anyone. I should note that none of this behavior is violent. It's all very playful, but being almost 80lbs, it's not fun for anyone.

    Once the guests leave, he returns to his bone in the living room like nothing happened and life is back to normal.

    One thing that is different when we have guests is that he does get certain treats when we have company. This has always been the case, even as a puppy, simply to give him something to do since we aren't giving him attention, but in the last year or so he ignores the treats and focuses all his attention on the company.

    I apologize in advance for the lengthy post, but I'm at my wits end here. Can anyone give me any advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Waltham, MA, USA
    Oooh, boy, time to start from scratch with retraining about visitors!

    You may need a friend or two to volunteer to help with this. Does he react at the sound of the doorbell or knock? When does the frenzy begin?

    You'll have to keep him on a leash when you have visitors over for now. How do your visitors typically react? Do they act excited to see him? Really, it sounds like your best bet is to have him on a leash, and keep him focussed on you when the visitor comes. Don't make a fuss over him, or even the guest, just stay calm, but keep him calm, by reinforcing "sit," with the leash. Once you and the guests are seated, keep him next to you, still on the leash, so he cannot ignore commands.

    If you have a willing friend, you can practice guests arriving, and him staying calm, several times in repetition. But always have him leashed, until he "unlearns" the craziness, and remembers that he needs to behave.

    Does this make sense?
    I've Been Frosted

  3. #3
    If my wife or I start doing things that even resemble a routine of preparing for visitors (setting the table, organizing certain things, etc), it starts then. The slightest noise sends him running around the house looking out windows and barking. He'll sit there at attention staring at the door because he knows (or sometimes thinks) someone is coming.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Waltham, MA, USA
    Okay, that's the time, then, to disrupt his "getting wound up" routine. As soon as you see it starting, make him sit, leash him and keep him calm. Because it starts before visitors arrive, that makes it easier to set up "practice" sessions. Good luck with this, I know 80 pounds of enthusiastic Lab can be difficult to train, but just keep at it, and it WILL sink in!
    I've Been Frosted

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    indianapolis,indiana usa
    Hi & welcome to PT.

    What jumps out at me is the statement " I took him through a few of the basic behavior/obedience courses. He learned the basics, and still follows them fairly well to this day (sometimes with a little stubborness)."

    I believe he needs more training in the basics. If you are not sure the dog
    really "gets it", then formal training would really help you both. Training
    never ends really, & talking him on walks & reinforcing commands might be
    a good idea too.
    I've Been Boo'd

    I've been Frosted

    Today is the oldest you've ever been, and the youngest you'll ever be again.

    Eleanor Roosevelt

  6. #6
    Thanks for the replies. What I meant by "basics" means that he obeys the normal sit, stay, lay down, no, etc. He even gets the paper when it comes. We reinforce these quite often and, like I said before, he obeys fine when it's just us.

    I started the guest training today. My wife is pregnant so I went out and bought a gentle lead for him to wear so he doesn't try to pull her around in his excitement. Hopefully he picks it up quickly.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Waltham, MA, USA
    Oh, good - and the gentle leader sounds like a good idea as well. Let us know how it goes!
    I've Been Frosted

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Northern California
    The problem is that your pup is just not used to guests being over and so reacts in a chaotic frenzy. He is quite simply being overstimulated.

    To counter this, practice "getting ready" for guests a couple times a day. Set the plates, tidy up the house, etc. As soon as you see him noticing or getting riled up, however, sit back down. Ignore him. Let him stare at the door. The minute he starts to calm down and go back to his bed, toss him a bone and start your "getting ready" routine again. If he starts getting excited, take away the bone, sit down, and let him get bored. As soon as he calms down again, give the bone back and do your "getting ready" routine again. Eventually, you can get ready in peace and your dog will associate your "getting ready" routine with being calm and chewing on a bone.

    The same thing goes for the doorbell ringing. If that excites him, have a friend ring the door bell. Let him bark. Let him stare. Eventually, he'll get bored. You can then distract them and give him a bone to chew on. At that point, have your friend ring the bell again. Let him bark and stare and then get bored. Repeat the activity. Eventually, he'll bark a few times, but he will easily reorient back towards you. Eventually, you can work your way up to bringing the guests inside, etc. etc.

    Good luck! It's all about teaching self control MENTALLY instead of physically (btw, I'm not a huge fan of head halters, but if your wife needs it to feel in control, by all means use it. I recommend trying to achieve this mentally, first )

  9. #9
    She doesn't need it to feel in control, she needs it because she's small and 7 months pregnant. I'm 6' 3" and 215lbs. He gives me a run for my money sometimes when he gets excited. Thanks for the advice though.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Ohio, USA
    I have the same problem with my 165 lb Mastiff Bon
    We rarely have company so he gets super excited whenever
    anyone come.
    What we've done is put him in his crate for about 10 minutes
    or so until he calms down. It's the only thing that seems to work for him.

    I hope you can find a solution that works for you.

    Huney, Bon & Simba-missed so very much
    Remembering all the Rainbow Bridge Pets

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Markham, Canada
    You've already had some great advice. All I can add is to ask your guests to completely ignore him as though he doesn't exist until he has completely calmed down. No touching or eye contact just walk straight passed him. My dog used to stand at the top of the stairs barking and our friends just walked straight past him. Of course they knew he wouldn't bite, he would then just go and lie down since he was getting no "reward" for his bad performance.

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