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Another agression question....

Barney's Mom

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Thank you everyone for answering my many questions about Cairns! Here is another one that is really troubling me more than ever and I really need some good advice.

Barney is like a vaccum cleaner when we are outside. He puts EVERYTHING in his mouth. Leaves, sticks, bugs, etc. If I picked him up and tried to get everything out of his mouth, his feet would never touch ground! I don't get too excited about leaves and grass, but every now and then, he gets something in his mouth that could make him sick, like a berry or small crab apple. I pick him up and try to remove it. If I don't succeed right away, he starts growling at me. How can I get him to calm down and let me get the object out of his mouth. I don't get excited or wild about it, but after a while of me messing in his mouth and he has had enough. I don't want him injesting something that could harm him, but I don't relish getting bit either!

Barney is born "pack leader". We are reading all we can get our hands on to learn how to be calm-assertive and become HIS pack leader. Sometimes I think it's working, sometimes I feel helpless. I don't want him growing up to be like this. All the books say NOT to yell at a dog, but sometimes that's what it takes to put him in his place. I realize he is still a puppy, but I am so afraid he will be an aggressive adult, given his temperment at times with me.

I have had such information overload about "pack leader" status that I feel confused and frustrated, and I know he can sense that in me at times, which isn't good.

I need some good, tried and true advice from owners who have experienced this in their own dogs. Please help. I have been in tears half the afternoon. Could be Barney, could be PMS...... :(

All creatures great and small, the Lord God, He made them all!

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Tried and true? Teach him "leave it" and "drop it" ASAP.

When I take something out of one our dogs mouths who isn't dropping it (because I failed to teach it and then reinforce it at intervals) I usually use one hand to squeeze on both sides of the muzzle, about mid-way, pressing the upper lips hard against the gum and lifting a bit. They usually open their mouths at that point - keeping the pressure on I can usually get my fingers in to fish out whatever morsel they're frantically trying to swallow to keep from me. I often have to push down the tongue with my other hand to reach far enough back, as they can try to use the tongue to 'close' their mouth, even though you've got the jaws clamped open. You are right - they will often struggle if you can't do it quickly.

If you've got another pair of hands, have your helper hold the dog's head with both hands from behind, with the thumbs pointed up and pressing against the dog's occiput, with the fingers cupping the dog under the jaws on each side - the ring and middle fingers will be aligned along the bottom of the jaw and the ring and pinky will be essentially resting on the throat (no need to squeeze the throat!). It's hard for the dog to do much when you've got his head totally under control.

Mother Knows Best and Dog Problems - both by Carol Lea Benjamin - are probably books you'll want to pick up to add to your information overload.

I sincerely doubt Barney is aggressive. He sounds like a typical brat puppy.

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CRCTC: Columbia River Cairn Terrier Club 



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Brad is right, "leave it" is one of my most use commands, and it works. Even with birds!!!

Ellie has jaws like vise grips, if she wants to hang on something, it's a real struggle to get it from her. She really tests my strength sometimes.

Terry, mom of Dori and Ellie Mae


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Brad said it perfectly. I use the "drop it" command w/ my Cairns. As much as my oldest, Kiara and youngest, Hannah tolerate eachother indoors, they are best of friends outdoors. Kiara has taught Hannah to hunt, much to my disappointment. Hannah doesn't kill her catch (yet), but will run the yard w/ it. I will yell at her to "drop it" and run after her. So far she has dropped several species of wild lizards and a few toads that were still alive. :sick: If I need to, I have used my thumb and index finger to press into the jaw forcing it to open. It takes being aggressive, but it's very wise to stay one step up on these Cairns.

<img src=&quot;http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/maiwag/terriersiggy.jpg" border="0" class="linked-sig-image" />

Beth, mom to Ninja (5), Hannah (7), Abbey (7 1/2), Kiara (10)

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I have had such information overload about "pack leader" status that I feel confused and frustrated, and I know he can sense that in me at times, which isn't good.

My advice is forget about all the "pack leader" information you've been reading - most of it is a load of rubbish anyway.

Puppies are like children. It's tough to get their attention when they are involved doing something. They get incredibly cranky and willful when they are tired. One day you think they've finally learned how to behave - the next day they are back to square one, or worse.

The most important things with puppies if for you to be consistent. Don't yell - they are not deaf and your excitement will only make their behaviour worse. If you get to the point where you feel you are going to lose it, pick your puppy up and put him in his crate. Chances are he may complain for a little bit and then fall asleep.

It's also useful to have a safe, enclosed area where you can deposit your puppy when you need a break. Maybe you need to cook, or clean, or you just want a break from puppy-watching. A pen set up in the kitchen is ideal. Drop a few safe toys in the pen - a puppy kong is great - and take a half hour break.

Except for house training, one thing many of us forget to do when training puppies is to give positive reinforcement. When your puppy does as you ask, don't forget to praise him. It really does make a difference.

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I smiled as I was reading your post but only because I have felt your pain and because it will get so much better!! I was a wreck too when my pup was Barney's age. Harry would eat everything and anything (is Barney eating poop yet?? :sick: ) He would growl when I wrestled him to drop things. I would cry out of frustration. I thought I had a aggressive/alpha pup and my hands were gonna be FULL!!

Flash forward to today. Harry knows "leave it". He doesn't growl even when I need to take away a bone (but we had a few struggles there too). He is actually more submissive than not (he's forever rolling on his back for man and beast). He is almost a young gentleman.

As others have said on this thread, my biggest suggestion would be consistancy and try to be as calm as possible. It sounds to me (as Brad has said) that you truly have a normal cairn puppy. A lot of his behaivor is probably his way of testing you and his boundaries. You will be amazed how changed he will be when he turns a year or so.

Take comfort - he sounds very normal :)

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Thank you, Lisad!! Your answer to my post was so encouraging!!! Everything you said is true with Barney. One day he is such a sweetie pie, the next day he is a brat from you-know-where! Thanks to everyone else who posted as well! I am so grateful for this site and all you folks who take the time to teach and encourage people like me who are learning about Cairns and how to care for them! I feel much better.....

Thank you!!!!!!! :):):):)

All creatures great and small, the Lord God, He made them all!

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Sophie is an adult and when she arrived knew no commands.....after alot of work she sort of understands "drop it" ...for her it means stop chewing while I take it from her....an "ACK" keeps her from grabbing it to start with. But it took some time for her to learn it. A puppy would probably take a bit longer, their attention spans are shorter. It will take a zillion reminders.

Puppies grow up and the brattiness seems to fade.



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I too know your frustrations. As much as I loved Savannah, there were some days that she brought me to tears. It is normal and I think everyone on this site is either experiancing this stage right now or has experianced it at some point in their pups life. Savannah chewed and chewed things (luckily never anything TOO valuable but we did loose a cell phone charger and a corner off the wood column on the porch). If memory serves me correctly, this slowed down greatly if not stopped right around the time Savannah stopped teething. The brattyness will go away as well. Savannah still has her days when she is a brat but these are few and far between. Your pup will grow out of this with age and training. Hang in there. It will be SOOOO worth it soon. and come here to vent or ask questions anytime. We REALLY do know how you feel!

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.

-M. Acklam

Savannah's Dogster Page

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