Stubborn and Obsessive BMD Male

Discussion in 'First Time Dog Owner and Basic Questions' started by Lem, Aug 28, 2016.

  1. Lem

    Lem New Member

    I'm not sure what to make of our boy Titus. He is nearly 2 and has some unhealthy behaviors. It all started at approximately 6 months of age. Titus began eating socks, swallowing them whole before we could cross the room to get to him. He had several bouts of gastric issues due to ingesting said items. Once we got the sock issue under control, he moved on to other items such as hand towels, dish rags, basically any form of cloth. He eventually had to have surgery because he swallowed the knot off of a dog rope, a squeaky toy, and half of a dish towel. He seeks out ways to get items, checks doors, knows guests forget about his eating problem. When we remove items, he seeks out new things in no time. He recently started eating his own feces, immediately after evacuating. He growled at me once when I tried to stop him from eating it. He also has just started obsessing about eating grass clippings. I had to buy a bagged mower because I couldn't keep up with raking two acres of clumps. Sigh... Has anyone else had this problem? Also he has been to obedience training, he knows commands, but chooses not to listen. Treats motivate him, but somethings are worth more to him than a treat I guess.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  2. Klexi

    Klexi Guest

    Google NILIF

    At 2 years of age he should know better. This is ''if''
    He isn't bored out of his mind. Dogs of any breed and any age will becpme destructive and find their own way of burning out their energy. But we must not forget that the Berner is a working dog.
    Physical and mental.
    A tired dog is a good dog.

    The NILIF is an amazimg way to shape up your leadership status.

    I personally chose to hand feed my dogs which also helps my leader status.

    As for feces eating.....well some sogs do that. I had a dog who did that and the only 2 ways I could find that worked was

    1. Pick up right after
    2. ''leave it'' as soon as i knew he was headed for it
    There are other ways you can look up on the web too.

    As for socks and rags etc... Needs to learn bounderies and have

    I would set him up for success by crating hom when home alone
    And making sure he does not have access to socks etc...
    The come command is great for that since he will be rewarded when he comes to you.

    I know you said he was obedience trained but I would decinatly go back to basics.

    All great trainers will never hesitate to take a step
    back to succeed.

    There is ABSOLUTLY NO easy miracle fix.

    At around 6 months he took over your home.

    Its never too late to realise it and do something to gain leadership back.

    Once again I highly recommend you look intp the NILIF.

    I have learned all of this by being in the same situation as you at some point and Ive also learned the hard way that dogs will take over if we let them.

    Since, I have raised my dogs to be very respectful and look to me for direction.
    Raising them is not always easy but very gratifying in the end.

    I hope you the best.
    bernermom likes this.
  3. apage104

    apage104 New Member

    I can totally relate to what you are going through! My girl Scarlett is a 10 month old BMD. At five months of age she started swallowing socks/underwear, beach towel, rug, basically anything fabric, in addition to eating bark outside. At 8 months of age she started eating her own feces and had terrible gastric issues. Around the same time she started eating feces she also started showing signs of obstruction becoming lethargic, vomiting food/water and had chronic diarrhea. We took her to the vet and the x ray showed obstruction and cost $2400 to remove what turned out to be my son’s baseball sock lodged in her intestine. After surgery her appetite returned to normal and she never ate her own feces again! I know that the baseball sock was inside of her for at least a month which I’m guessing was preventing her from absorbing nutrients from her food which led to the behavior of eating her own feces. We always keep her crated while we are gone and at bedtime. Unfortunately 3 weeks ago she got a hold of her nylon leash and ate all 6 feet of it!!! Luckily she vomited and pooped out the entire thing because I couldn’t afford to spend another $2400 for surgery. I just increased the amount of food I feed her to 1.5 cups/meal 3 times a day in hopes of keeping her more fulfilled during the day. It seems to have helped. We too have been through obedience training and she is a very sweet and well-mannered pup aside from eating objects. I am really hoping she grows out of this bad habit, but seeing as how your dog is already 2 and still doing this is so discouraging for me:( I’m definitely going to google this NILIF training that was suggested.
  4. Lem

    Lem New Member

    Cleo likes this.
  5. Lem

    Lem New Member

    Thank you for your response! I guess I really should have elaborated more on our situation because I left out a lot of information. We crated him as a puppy, encouraged him to like the crate with food treats etc.. He was ok until we would leave. He would experience extreme separation anxiety and panic. Nothing we tried would calm him. He ripped the front of the kennel off at 6 mo. We repaired it and continued working with him. Eventually he would become aggressive if we tried to walk him to the kennel by his collar. At 1 year I could not kennel him. We practice NILIF with positive reinforcement. We live on five acres with one acre being the fenced backyard. I exercise him regularly. I walk 3-5 miles daily, even when my foot was in a waking cast. That walking is done at a park and doesn't include playing at home. It seems that he always tests me and when he can take advantage he does. When my foot was injured he would try to race me up stairs, cut me off when walking. We have been working on obedience training steadily. I have seen improvements from the 1 year old to the 2 year old Titus, but with each new success comes a new challenge. I keep trying to understand his behavior.. I read and practice on how to be a good leader, build trust, read dog body language, and I just don't know what he needs. He seems to have OCD behaviors, growls when you try to stop him, verbally! Ok so to fast forward, after I posted the original post a few things have happened. I made an appointment with a certified behaviorist and was really excited about figuring out how to help Titus. Well, that night I walked into the other room and in a minutes time my daughter screamed and I heard him growl and bark. I ran in to see her crying and holding her arm. She said he bit her. I sent him outside to assess what happened. He didn't break the skin and so I asked her to explain what happened. She said he was in between the couch and coffee table trying to get in the built-in basket. She was standing on the other side of the table. She said no, leave it, and slid the basked back towards her. He ran around barked, went around the table and bit her arm. I looked into the basket and seen she had put her socks in the basket earlier that day..along with a cheese wrapper. So clearly he wanted in there badly! I know the situation was bad but could have been avoided by not putting the items there. So we went to the behaviorist and I wasn't prepared to hear what she said. In short she thinks his wires are crossed. He never settled down in the hour we were there and displayed extreme anxiety. She said it was almost painful to watch him. I always thought he was just so excited because he was young. She said he doesn't cope with anxiety well and basically he is a hazard to himself and others. She said it is likely due to bad genetics and we cannot fix some of his behaviors. She said he is confused. I haven't gotten the full report back yet but she is recommending medications to our vet along with a specialized plan, but in reality she said not to expect much. I asked about additional classes and she said it won't benefit him. He gets overstimulated. Basically she said his only quality of life is because of everything we do for him and his mental state is poor, he would have no quality without us. She said we could not in good conscience rehome him. Ultimately she would recommend euthanasia! She said in five years he is only the third dog like this she has seen. What am I to do??? What do I believe? What is safe for my family? I'm increasing his walking and his basic commands. I love our boy and basically a lot of the last year has revolve around trying to build a better bond. She says he has trust issues because his brain never allows him too. What are your thoughts? I'm going back to see our vet with this report. I want to prove her wrong! I believe he deserves a good life.
  6. Lem

    Lem New Member

  7. Lem

    Lem New Member

    I truly hope for the best in your situation. We think his eating of objects is anxiety related and possibly genetics. I have heard a few other BMD owners say their dog eats random things and I was hoping he would grow out of this fixation. Now it seems to be a compulsion. We try our best to Titus proof the house, but it makes having company hard. One slip and he is there!
  8. summersnowbr

    summersnowbr Active Member

    Dogs in many ways are just like people. Some dogs will pick things up very quickly and others will take more time and guidance. Often times when we as trainers see our dog having difficulty learning a task, it's because the dog is not being communicated to in a way that the dog can understand. Other times they fail to learn a task because they are not properly instructed as to when they've done the behavior correctly and therefore have no way of knowing what you are asking of them . Always reward your dog for doing something right and use patience when demonstrating a desired behavior. If your dog still seems to have trouble learning something new, think about how you've been teaching the dog from the "dog's point of view." Think about how certain behaviors may not be as clearly taught as you thought they were, or if there are elements in the environment that might be causing your dog to become confused or distracted. Is the behavior too complex and perhaps needs to be broken up into smaller steps? Another possibility to consider is whether the dog is capable of physically learning a certain behavior - for example, a dog that has hip problems might find certain positions like "sit" uncomfortable.
    If your dog is eating non-food items, look at how the behavior developed and when it’s happening. For example, a dog might start out by finding and playing with or chewing socks, pillows, and anything else around home that looks fun. For some dogs, it is merely an attempt to explore their world – which dogs do primarily through their noses and their mouths. Looking to have some fun or alleviate boredom is a common issue. Some dogs express this through chewing. Some dogs will chew lots of things but not ingest. Others will ingest the items they chew. There are some things you can do. The first thing to do is diligently pick up all socks and other items of clothing and keep them out of your dog's reach. Make sure your dog is getting enough food for his age, weight and lifestyle. Keep him active - go on a walk, play ball, enroll in an obedience class. There are many creative dog toys such as the Buster Cube or Kongs , to keep your dog puzzled and engaged to help fight boredom and hopefully divert his attention away from the sock-eating missions. Never give up on your dog. Just keep note of when he does it and you'll see a pattern. Then try changing that pattern towards the good.
  9. Lem

    Lem New Member

    I thank you for your response, only I wish it were so simple. Titus is very smart and he learns quickly. He was bell trained at only 3 months. We repeat tasks and always reward correct behaviors immediately. The problem is, things that should tire his brain seem to overstimulate him. A round of nose work with treats in the yard led to uncontrollable ingestion of grass clumps. He goes into a frenzie and treats mean nothing at that point. At 1 year his obsession for socks, the only thing he would seek out to swallow, shifted to any cloth item he could get his mouth on. We worked on leave it... He passes for some items and not on others. The same goes for drop it. He knows he is greatly rewarded for dropping, but sometimes he would rather eat it faster the moment you say drop it. We took him back to obedience classes. He can and will follow commands, until we move to intermittent treats and praise. He will listen as long as it doesn't conflict with what he wants. He is very demanding but insecure at the same time. At times he seems confident, and others he seems insecure. Our house could only become more Titus proof if we locked the bedroom and bathroom doors (they stay closed), removed books from shelves, and never sat an item on a counter. My child has to play in her room behind a closed door because he will take her things and eat them. He then gets stressed because he hears her playing and he can't see, so what does he do? He marches over to the bookshelf to snack on her favorite book. I keep seeing boredom..but the thing is.. I literally spend most of my day working with him. How can he possibly get bored after miles of walking, playing fetch, going over his lessons, playing with a kong, an everlasting treat ball, nylabones, and two cats to entertain. I am a stay at home mom, so I'm pretty much always around. He doesn't even like going outside by himself.
  10. Lem

    Lem New Member

    Another thing, he has never been a big eater. He does not gobble his food and rarely finishes a full serving. We feed him twice a day. He must sit and wait for food. Many times he does not come for food, or he doesn't want to sit. I have to put his food up and try again later. We used to allow him to open feed because always grazed, but we were told not to allow that. So he has been sitting and waiting for his food for the last year. He does this well if he wants to eat. He does not guard his food and will even share with one of the cats.
  11. Lem

    Lem New Member

    Sorry, I forgot to mention we feed him 2 cups of Blue Buffalo Wilderness in the morning, and evening. He rarely eats all of it and doesn't show interest when it is time to feed. The first time I seen him eat his feces was after his surgery. We had been mixing pumpkin into his food to help firm his stool back up. I thought maybe some of the pumpkin was not digested. We took him back to the vet and he ran some tests and said he could find no reason for his eating of feces or other items.
  12. summersnowbr

    summersnowbr Active Member

    could I ask where you got your Berner? Also, have you talked to the breeder about your situation?
  13. Lem

    Lem New Member

    We got him from an Amish family in Pennsylvania. The behaviorist said he was most likely not bred the best. I don't know how to reach them again. When we got him he was living in a barn and covered in filth. He was 14 weeks and showed no signs of anything other than happiness.
    -We are continuing to work with Titus and some days he does really well. Our vets concern regards his unpredictability. I am keeping track of his patterns, and have reviewed videos with our daughter on animal body language. The last few days have been great! The only thing he has done was pull a Birthday card off of a door and ate the bottom portion. He did this when I was on the front porch for five minutes talking to my husband. He didn't growl at me when I took it away. Let's hope the trend continues.

    * We discovered a recent bout of tapeworms. The vet said it could have come from recently eating something dead outside, or swallowing a flea. We never miss a flea treatment, but one is all it takes. The vet said this was something new and would have nothing to do with his previous behaviors. The vet also said defiant would be a good way to describe some of the things Titus does.
  14. summersnowbr

    summersnowbr Active Member

    The Bernese Mountain Dog still has that urge to work even when he is living in suburbia. If you can give him the opportunity to pull a cart either around your yard or at an organized carting event, he will be a happy dog. We got a cart for our male Great Pyrenees and that really made them feel important because they had something that they were breed to do. If possible see if you can get a hold of a cart and harness and see how he handles it. It may do the trick. Look at the company website for "My Dog Works".
    Obviously talking to the breeder isn't an option. But Amish are known for having their dogs pull carts!!
  15. Lem

    Lem New Member

    Yes, we have considered that as well and bought him a harness to start working with him. I would love to have him help me haul my fire wood and gardening items around, but he freaks out with a harness on. He starts acting like a bucking bronco. We are trying little by little. I take him for his walks early in the am before I feed him and theoretically it should help satisfy a need to "work for food." If we can get him to be comfortable with the harness we will move on to the next step and have him pull a box with a log in it, gradually increasing the weight etc. then we can move on to the cart. I agree he will be happier with a job. The trick is finding one he can master now. Thanks again for the tips!
    Cheryl likes this.
  16. Lem

    Lem New Member

    I just tried to get the harness on him again... No success and I ended it before it became a negative experience for him. He was becoming edgy and continued attempts would've provoked him.
  17. summersnowbr

    summersnowbr Active Member

    Hmmm. I wish I lived close to you. I think what he needs is to see some other dog in a harness with the cart behind it. He needs to know that the harness is on only so that he can do a job. When ours first learned the harness was scary but we continued with the cart and then it all became logical to the dogs and they loved it. In fact if they say the harness in my hand they would go crazy they all wanted in the harness. It was always hard to pick who would go first. I always started with the oldest and worked down.
    Lem likes this.
  18. Lem

    Lem New Member

    I think seeing another dog do it would make a big difference! It would need to be a calm environment as well. That is how he finally learned to raise his leg to pee! He was a lean forward and let it go kind of guy up until a few weeks ago. Lol he struggles with his aim, but he tries. We live in Virginia. Blue Ridge Mountains!
    summersnowbr likes this.
  19. summersnowbr

    summersnowbr Active Member

    Thats funny we moved away from Round Hill VA. Our house was in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Do you know where the pie store is on Route 7. We used to live about two miles from it.
  20. Lem

    Lem New Member

    Haha that is funny! I'm not very familiar with that area. I know it is about an hour and a half north of us, near Winchester. We are about 15 minutes from the Thornton gap entrance to the National Park. Titus loves to hike there. Culpeper and Warrenton are the largest towns near us. We aren't originally from here though. My husband retired from the military and we relocated from upstate NY.

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