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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone! I am having problems with my fluff. I know its my fault and I should not have let it get so bad; first thing I should have done was hire a dog trainer..

1. Fiona is a sweet little girl and she's full of love - she's all about kisses but lately its more nibbling than kisses. I know she's so happy to see me and she's just playing but sometimes it hurts! She licks and bites at the same time. She also touches with her paws and "claws" my face or feet.

2. There is a reasonable amount of barking expected, but Fiona is out of control. She does not bark at me or my significant other and some family members, but all strangers (and guests) and dogs get an earful....

3. Potty training is also an issue. I want her to go on puppy pads in laundry room but she only goes on puppy pads in dining room (i put them there because otherwise she goes on the floor in the dining room). I think I may be at fault here - I let her sometimes go outside when we go for walks but mostly goes on puppy pads...

I am looking for dog trainers but there are very few in the area. I want a positive reinforcement trainer but one is hard to find. I found one that uses a clicker - is that method any good?

Any suggestions/books/links would be very helpful, I'm sure you can tell I'm learning the basics. I read a generic book about maltese (from a pet store book section) but it doesnt have much on "fixing" the bad behavior.

Help!
 

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clicker training is excellent! i use dogwise to find training books and tools (by subject is great).

the nibbling, pawing, etc. is pretty easy to fix. when she bites, just yelp outloud ("ouch") and stop playing and ignore her for 10 minutes. same with any other behavior she does, like jumping on you or pawing. ignore. no talking or eye contact or walk out of the room. this is called "negative punishment" because you are taking away something she wants, your attention.

wrt potty training, there are great threads here on the subject but a schedule, diligence and setting her up for success are the key. also having treats right where she is supposed to go potty so you can immediately reward her.

barking can be an issue to deal with. unfortunately i can't tell from your email how her barking is: normal communication? wanting attention? or being reactive or some combination. this is where a good trainer will help you and teach you how to use the clicker to reinforce fiona to listen to you and respond when you say "hush" or whatever command.

hth for the time being! there are some excellent trainers on the board that taught me a lot and can provide more pointers.
 

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Agree with everything Tami has said. With the potty training, the key is restricting the area she is allowed to go in. If you don't want potty in the dining room, then that is an "off limit" area unless you are there to 100% supervise her every move. I also would not put out the potty "welcome mat" (pee pee pad) anywhere you don't want potty. And like Tami said, treats for doing it right! Crate or other wise confine her when you cannot be watching her.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you everyone!
I dont know if she's reactive; when people come into the house, I can see how she would react by barking but when we are outside, somebody could be walking on the sidewalk on the other side of the street and she will bark until she cannot see them. I always have her on the leash so I dont know if she would run up to them....

If a guest comes over, she barks uncontrollably, wags her tail and carefully (while barking ) approaches to sniff thier feet, and then backs up (still barking and wagging her tail). If its really bad, I give tiny pieces of cheese to my guest for them to give to Fiona so she associates guests with food... I dunno....
 

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It sounds like you definitely need a trainer to come in and train you how to train your dog.
You can read a ton of books and get online advice, but there is no substitute for having a trainer with you and your dog. Clicker training is an excellent method and is what I use for everything I train. It is a positive method and is very effective.

The way you explain her behavior towards guests sounds a lot like she is fearful of them. The tail wag does not mean she's happy, her body language is probably saying something different - something a trainer could tell with a visit. The barking at a stranger on the sidewalk until she can't see them is also a form of reactive behavior. Without seeing her you can't really tell if it's excitement, fearful or otherwise.
I would check the APDT website and/or the CPDT website for trainers.
 
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