Chronics of a Trouble Boy

After reading from Lincoln himself that he had been a little trouble this past weeks you've been asking what he had been up to...!

Well, first of all Lincoln ate the brand new floor we just bought for the new flat (he managed to make a big whole in the middle of the living room and a big one in the hallway -so all of it has to be changed - which is going to cost quite a lot of money especially for us as we're still students) and also started acting crazy on walks.

From time to time, when he sees another doggie (or a pigeon - and only in this cases because otherwise he is very good), he suddently pulls on the leash VERY hard and starts doing his jumping thing he did when he was younger and excited to go for a walk.

Nothing aggressive of course - he just really wants to play - and no matter the size of the dog in front of him - big german shepherds or chihuahuas. Before doing it he starts to raise his ears but keeps walking slowly on our side. Sometimes he will do fine but sometimes (especially during the evening) he will starts to behave badly when we walk past the dog so we both get stressy and of course Lincoln must feel it too ...

He never ever did this with other doggies when we were walking before, he has started it around the beginning of August. One day he was great - the next day we had a completely different dog when walking past other dogs.

Thing is he gets to see other doggies quite often and gets to play with them off leash (not so often since we're here but Anika his labrador friend we already talked about has moved to Bordeaux too), so I don't think (but I could be wrong) that he behaves like this because he is in real need to play with other dogs...

What works best is when we've been playing with the ball outside with him before going to the proper walk and when we've been running a lot so he's tired and does not pay much attention to other doggies (or birds) but it's not a real solution as we won't always be able to make him tired before every walk in doggie-crowded areas like the big forest we have just in front of the building where we now live.

Also, what works well is to tell him to "seat" or to "lie down" or to "shake paws" when he sees a doggie and starts to do his raising ears thing. Everytime we walk past another dog and if Lincoln had been behaving OK then he gets a treat. He also has a DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) collar, and a DAP diffuser in the room he sleeps and is left alone in when we have to leave.

But all this does not always work so we don't really know what else we can do when it doesn't- we meet a lot of other excited doggie in the forest that pull on their leash too when they see other dogs but Lincoln is a huge dog and we just can't let him get away with this kind of behavior as some people or dog might get scared of him and that's obviously not what we want. But he is doing better every day and we are hoping it will stop as quickly as it started. Did it ever happen with any of you?

About his destruction problem we found a behaviorist where we now live and it appears that Lincoln has developed a very special relationship with one of us and clearly he is too emotionally attached to me and didn't properly learn "detachment" and so he finds it very difficult to see me go and leave the house and don't understand why he should have to stay without me.

So we both have a lot of work to do on this point - and we're doing great for now.

He sleeps alone in his room now (he used to sleep in our bedroom...), and I have stopped cuddling him all the time and started ignoring him in some situations like when he comes and asks to play - behaviorist said it is fundamental in our case - and I now make him "earn" everything even playtime or cuddles.

It's been quite hard at the beginning but necessary and I can tell you it's been working AWESOME as Lincoln hasn't done ANYTHING wrong in the house for almost 2 weeks !! We started everything all over again - starting by leaving the house only 2 minutes then 5, 20 mins ! We are now doing 3 hours in a row and everything seems fine. The change in his behavior in the house has been radical ! And I'm very proud of him :) But I can't help feeling guilty and sorry for all the mistakes we (I) made with him - I was so excited to get my very own Great Dane as I had been waiting for it for ages since I was a little girl and I guess I just did not have the "strength" to tell him "no" when I should have..

Let's see how it goes with our going back to uni on Monday and see if all our efforts have really paid off ! We'll keep you posted !

ps : did you notice Lincoln has a grain of rice stuck on his nose on every picture of this post ? haha


  1. I'm was so excited when I read this post, I'm so glad you went to a behaviorist! I really wanted to help you get get some of the problems under control, but it's so hard to know what's actually going on and what your interactions are with him through typing!

    Don't be so hard on yourself either, because when you have issues you don't think that small little things that have no relevance to the actual problem are what are causing it!

    I'm sure it will all work out if you keep up the hard work :)


  2. Please keep us updated, we and our human love hearing and reading about these posts!

    Licks and lots of slobber,
    Lexi and Jasper the Danes

  3. Oh Lincoln! Im glad to hear youre getting help on the separation anxiety. It's hard not to love all over them as they are so cute! Darwin has always slept in the living room, mostly cause there's no room in the bedroom for her bed!

  4. You are doing all the right things. Sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn the better way to do it. Stick with it and we are sure you will be very happy with Lincoln's behavior. He is still a young pup and has lots to learn. It sounds to us like you have found a very smart behaviorist.

    Good luck and do keep us updated.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  5. Hello Lincoln, Eating the floor? I haven't heard of that one before. I hope Stella and Rory don't read this one ha ha. We are glad you are getting help. It is hard not to spoil them when they are young and cute but you are learning all the time and should be proud of your efforts.

    When you are out walking you could try and give Lincoln some treats even before he sees the other dogs (and I suppose you will have to be as vigilant as you can in seeing them first). This might take his mind off them and towards you thus giving you his attention instead of them. I hope this makes sense. With our Bruce, we would make him sit, and then feed him treats while the other dog walked by, but would try and have a bit of distance between us and them.

    I hope Lincoln improves with his walks. He is only young and has owners who obviously love him to bits. Good luck.

    No worries (for sure), and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

  6. Sounds to me like you are going all the right things


  7. Olá amiguinho lindo e querido.
    voce é grandão perto de mim... Sou tão pequeninha. Rsrsrs.
    Mas sei que voce é bonzinho. E amo nossa amizade.
    Meu blog conquistou 200 amiguinhos e voce faz parte desta conquista de amigos.
    Bom domingo e ótima semana cheia de alegria e diversão.
    Quero ser sua amiguinha para sempre.
    Aus 1000 com amor e carinho do Brasil...


  8. I'm finally here! My human is helping me do this comment using her new software that types for her as she speaks, so she can rest her arms from her RSI – it's not bad,huh? But it does still make mistakes and my human has to keep stopping to correct it so it's a bit annoying and very slow – it takes us double the time to do the same thing! So please excuse any funny words or spellings in my comment!

    Anyway my human once the takeover my comment today so I'll just say a quick hi to Lincoln!

    Honey the Great Dane


    oh my God! You have just described exactly what honey was like at the same age! She was just like Lincoln – she was very good walking until about six months and then we hit eight-months and it was like a monster replaced my dog! Every time we went out for a walk she would get overexcited when she saw another dog and start lunging and jumping and pulling. Just like Lincoln, it was not aggression – it was just overexcitement which then became frustration because she could not reach them but as you say, it looks terrible, especially with such a big dog and it makes other people very scared. It also makes us, the humans, really stressed out because they are pretty strong dogs and you're really struggling to control them – and it's a really bad image for both great Danes and us!

    I think you're doing all the right things. We had to see a private trainer to help us in the end because I lost all my confidence with Honey but you sound like you're on track. The key is to give them something alternative to focus on when you see the ears start going up (into "alert mode") – so they don't get a chance to get into that crazy loop. If you can direct their attention to something else and get them to work for something else and then reward them for doing that alternative action, then that is the key to overcoming this problem.

    I know it doesn't look like it works every time now but keep on doing what you're doing – it will take time but if you keep on doing it, gradually you will notice that he is able to pass dogs successfully more often. I won't lie to you – you still have months of hard work ahead of you but trust me, it will all work out if you just continue doing what you're doing now.

    In our case, we taught Honey the "Heel" command to do as the alternative action – this means to walk next to our left side, with her shoulder in line with our legs, and ignore everything else. We had to practice this first in an area with no distractions and do a lot of sharp left and right turns and changing directions and U-turns to keep her attention on us and to teach her that we are unpredictable and she has to just follow us. Once she learned this command, we started to use it when they are distractions around – first easy things like passing a rubbish bin or something that's not very interesting – and then gradually doing it with harder things, like dogs.

    With dogs we started first from a big distance and then gradually reduced the distance until she is able to pass a dog next to her on the pavement when she is doing Heel. But it doesn't matter what command you use – if Sit or Watch or any other behaviour works then that's fine. We just found Heel more useful because it keeps her moving, away from the other dog (and next to us, in a fixed position), especially if the other dog is also overexcited and lunging. If you do is Sit or some of the other commands, then you have to remain in that place, which can get very difficult because the destruction remains next to him – it's always easier to keep your dog's attention on you if you keep moving so teaching your dog command to walk next to you is very useful when you need to pass things because you are giving him an alternative action at the same time you are moving him in the direction you want.


  9. (...continued)

    Anyway it's very hard to explain such things over the Internet – I agree with what Laura said (Lexi and Jasper's owner) – I think it's really good you found a behaviourist to help you and maybe she might be able to have some suggestions for your walking issues too. Like Laura, I also had lots of suggestions for your problems (if you remember, I left some long comments before with suggestions of what to do with Lincoln at home, which were quite similar to what your behaviourist has suggested, such as making him burn everything and ignoring him sometimes, etc) – but it is much better if you have someone with you in real life to supervise and guide you. And also to see Lincoln in real life and assess him

    But it really sounds like you're doing all the right things – and I think your regime at home will also make a difference to your walks. Because you're teaching Lincoln (in a nice way) that you are a leader and you are in charge and he has to learn self-control and listen to you – when he can't get attention from you whenever he wants and he has to earn everything, then he starts to respect you more and also to trust in your leadership more – and this will then spread to other areas of your life as well, such as your walk. Making your dog earn everything is one of the keys to teaching him how to behave nicely and to respect your authority, but in a nice way.

    But don't be too hard on yourself – I can totally understand how easy it is to want to "love them too much" – especially if you have been waiting for one for such a long time. At least you are aware of your past mistakes now and taking steps to change things, which is great! The fact that he has changed his behaviour sounds like everything is working really well.

    There will always be setbacks – so don't lose heart if he suddenly behaves badly again when you seem to be making progress. It took us about six months working with Honey every day on the walks to change her behaviour but if you saw her now, you wouldn't believe that she was ever bad like before, lunging and pulling at dogs. Nobody believes us unless they knew her when she was young. I think the 8+ months age is very difficult for any dog but especially for giant breeds because they are so strong and that's when they start to really test boundaries but if you spend the time training and working with them now, you will come through and have a lovely dog for the rest of your life.

    Good luck and looking forward to more updates!


  10. Oh I forgot to say also – it's very good to "tire him" before a walk but you can do it also with training, not just the physical way. If you remember, I think I mentioned this in an e-mail to you before – it's a good idea to do 5 min of training before you start your walk. This will tire him out a lot, especially if he has to concentrate – mental stimulation is as tiring as physical.

    You don't have to do anything fancy but you can go through all his basic commands like sit, down, stay, come plus some of his dancing tricks plus making him walk with you like the Heel I described above and getting him to keep his attention on you and follow you, while you walk around in an unpredictable way. All of this is making him concentrate and focus, which will tire him.

    You only need to do 5 min of this but it will take the "edge" off him when he starts the walk. It also reminds him nicely that you are in charge and you are the boss of the walk. This is what we did with Honey when she was going through this similar thing and it worked really well.

    We also used to stop in the middle of the walk from time to time (even without any distractions like other dogs) and just spend 5 min again doing another short training session and running through all her basic commands. These short little "training breaks" in the middle of the walk are very good for constantly reminding him of your leadership and calm him down and stop him getting over excited about anything. It helps to remind him of self-control.

    Incorporating training into the walk is a really good way to maximise your efficiency and use your time, so you don't have to do separate training sessions him. If you do 5 min with him every 10 min in the walk then by the time you come back home, you've probably have done about 20 to 30 min of training without even really realising it. But definitely do at least 5 min before you start to walk, aside from all the playing with the balls etc.

    Good luck!

  11. Hsin-Yi covered pretty much everything, so we'll just wish you good luck! Keep on working it and you'll do fine. It's always tough learning to be a pawrent with the first furkid, just like the first child is the hardest because you've never been a parent before. No matter how many times you've observed other parents, it just isn't the same as when it's you with your first child - or your first Dane. You'll be fine!

    Jed & Abby