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Need Advice with Behavior Issues
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Indiana Mitch
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PostPosted: 01/21/04, 1:15 pm    Post subject: Need Advice with Behavior Issues Reply with quote

My GWP female will be 2 years old in June. She's a great hunting dog and she couldn't be more devoted or fun... but there are some issues that I must deal with right away. She's driving our family a little crazy and I'm hoping some changes in training can fix things.

The problems center around making noise and being "pushy" when it comes to getting her way.

She whines and groans and yowls and "talks" when she isn't getting her way... or wants something badly. I believe she understands the "Quiet" command... but I think she's more than willing to ignore it if she really wants something. One example would be "yelling" at us if her tennis ball has worked it's way under a piece of furniture. We don't mind getting the ball for her, eventually... but she can become quite obnoxious if she doesn't get her ball right away. She has also attempted to push the telephone off of my ear, when I'm conducting business in my office and I'm on the phone for more than a few minutes. Impressive behaviour... but not acceptable! <g>

You need to know that we do not allow her full run of the house. She stays in my office (18 x 1Cool most of the time... and we allow her into the family room & dining room in the evening when the family is unwinding with television or music. She LOVES being let in with everyone else (which I understand) but if being "released" isn't happening quickly enough... or we are making her stay in the office because of guests or any other reason... she will begin to make high-pitched whines in protest. I don't reward her by releasing her because she's making noise... but she often ignores being told to be quiet, regardless of what I've tried in the past. She also wants to sleep on my lap while I watch TV. I probably should never have allowed her to sleep there when she was smaller... but I actually enjoy being that close with her and she's warm during these winter months! However... perhaps it's not a good idea with GWPs. I'm open to suggestions.

Again... everyone in the family knows NOT to come to her aid or release her when she's making noise, so she won't train us, instead of the other way around. However, she does whine to go out to relieve herself, and I believe she "fakes" needing to go out, from time to time, to get people to do her bidding or give her more attention. She will sometimes walk to the back door in my office (leads to the back yard) and give me the impression she wants out. As I rise from my desk, she runs over to the gate between my office and the family room and make it clear she wants to be allowed to look for trouble out there. Smart way to get me out of my office chair... but I get tired of her crying wolf about needing to go out.

Regarding the "Quiet" command... the only thing that has helped to get her to obey at all times, has been to leave the electronic collar on her so that I can give her a VERY LIGHT correction if she ignores me saying"Quiet" or "Quit" which is a similar command we use to stop undesired behaviour. However, I don't really want to rely on negative stimulation to make her comply.

She also recently began urinating in the office if she's not let out quickly. I believe it's a form of punishment or an effort to get attention... even if it's negative attention. The other day she wet the floor. I cleaned it up... let her out... praised her for going outside. When she came in I decided to crate her for a while just to calm her down a bit. 30 minutes later, she decided to urinate on her Orvis Dog Nest which was in the crate. She has never urinated on a nest before... so I'm not sure if it was her punishing us... or a medical issue with her urinary tract.

I'm quite busy right now and not running her every day... so perhaps that's part of the problem. I am in the office every day though... and that's for hours and hours... so she is certainly not being ignored all day.

We also have two cats which she loves to play with... and a little Peke that is her friend. She's allowed in the fenced back yard about 10 times a day... so she does get a chance to chase squirrels and run... but perhaps that's not enough for her.

If the urinating continues, I plan to catch a sample and have her tested for an infection, since she has been VERY well house trained until the last couple of weeks. She hasn't gone in the house for the last 3 days.

There's no doubt in my mind that this is the smartest dog I've ever owned (1 pointer, 1 lab, 1 GSP and multiple mutts over the last 30 years) so I'm willing to accept that she may need some clever persuassion methods.
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PostPosted: 01/21/04, 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've got a situation Smile . I'm looking forward to reading the advice you get Very Happy
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PostPosted: 01/21/04, 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay... come on now.

About a dozen folks have read this thread and nobody has given me the magic spell to cure my dog forever!! Cool

Please... help the Indiana boy!! Laughing
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Jon P
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PostPosted: 01/21/04, 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tough to tell from your description - I'd really like to see this dog in person. But, from your limited description, this dog sounds like a head case and a strange combination of being needy and dominant at the same time.

I think the only way you will have a chance of sorting this out is to consistently and at all times reprimand inappropriate behaviour. The urinating on her bed could be an infection but I imagine it's an attempt to mark territory since there are other animals in the house. I would keep the collar on and correct all inappropriate behaviour but do NO verbal punishment if possible. You will have to devote some time to this and observe her when you know there is the likelyhood she will pull these antics. I would teach the down or drop command and use it with the collar to tell her when her behaviour is inappropriate. Let her learn that the unpleasantness stops when she acts appropriately.

Ultimately, this is a severe temperament flaw. It could also have been you - and that you didn't set the guidelines early on. Dogs that are loud and in your face, telling you what to do may appear to be cute. But, really what they are often doing is being dominant. May seem cute - but its not and it becomes an issue that is very annoying.
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PostPosted: 01/21/04, 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IM:

If it were me, I'd first take her to the vet and rule out medical issues. Then you know where to start with the urinating thing.....

I've got an ecollar now, but used a squirt bottle before that when my GWP was carrying on verbally. I'd give her a squirt and then turn my back on her until she quieted down.. Like Jon said, not a word was spoken. Then I'd turn back to her and praise her when she stopped. Took a little bit, but she got it.

She still talks/barks when there's something like a ball that's gone under a dresser. I've noticed that she'll bark/whine, and THEN LOOK AT ME to see if I'm paying attention. What a brat! If I know she can't get it, I'll get it for her eventually, but I make her be quiet first (usuallly a no bark works). If I know she can get it, I make her do it.

Kongs stuffed with treats (peanut butter, bisquits you have a hard time getting in there, which makes it hard to get them out) can occupy them for a good while also.

She sounds like she's pretty smart, and smart enough to figure out how to get what she wants, and has been given it for her efforts. No offense meant, it's hard to realize just how smart and conniving these dogs can be sometimes Shocked

But if they weren't, life would be soooo boring!

Karen
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PostPosted: 01/22/04, 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, here's my two cents..... I agree that you should get her checked by the vet for the urinating problem. Is she spayed? If not, she may be coming into season and sometimes they have to "go" more often... or it could be a urinary infection. Hard to call with out a vet.

From everything you tell us, she sounds just like a Wirehair Bitch to me. Pushy, wants everything her way. You are going to have to find out what she really really hates.... punishment wise. Some dogs only need a dirty look, some need corporal punishment to get the point.

Dogs that insist you pet them or push their way into or onto you when you are doing something else and not paying attention to them are acting just like a small child does when mom or dad gets on the phone. Ever notice that the moment you get a call your kids want to have a conversation with you? Why? Because you aren't paying attention to THEM! It's annoying and should be dealt with quickly. Whenever the dog demands something from you, you have to let them know they just simply ain't gonna get what they want. NO! GO LIE DOWN! NOW! Be bold, be stern, be nasty about it. Don't worry about hurting her feelings, she'll get over it.

Now and then my old girl insists on sitting on my lap...I'll let her from time to time and give her extra attention, a bit of loving and then it's Get Down...it wouldn't be so bad except she then wants to take over the entire chair. I'll ask her to lie next to the chair and I'll scratch her ear for awhile. That seems to be enough for her.

One way to stop the ball under the couch "game", and it can become a game to the dog, is pretty simple. No ball in the house. Only outside. Or ball goes under the couch, you get it and put it away. Game over!

Consistentency is the key...and a good sense of humor will help.

Keep us posted!
Bernee
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Indiana Mitch
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PostPosted: 01/22/04, 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great comments from everyone! Thanks!!

It's good to know I can toughen up with Sophie. I've not dealt with Wirehairs before and I think I was under the impression that it was easy to screw them up with tough (though proper) reprimands and such.

By the way... here's what the scoundrel looks like:

http://www.brightsites.com/pets/sophie.html

See why it's so difficult to discipline her!? <that's a joke>

Sophie is spayed and she has not urinated in the house for the last several days... so I'm thinking there's no infection or medical problem. However, I'll keep an open mind -- especially if that problem arises again.

I think it's a great idea -- and now's the time -- to introduce and enforce a "down" or "place" command and back it up.

I've been wanting her to learn to go to a place (like on a mat) and stay there, quietly, until released. Looks like that training starts now! Confused

I also love the kong idea to keep her distracted.

Nobody said that she needed to run for an hour or so everyday to keep a level head. Was that an oversight? I still think she "deserves" a good run every day, when my schedule permits... but should I feel as though she's being poorly treated if she only gets to run in the yard (which is about a quarter of an acre) most days?

I have no problem with leaving the e-collar on her. And I completely understand why you're all recommending that correction be given with no verbal association.

Along those lines... when wanting her to stop a particular behavior... do most of you lean toward a light stimulation, which may require multiple reminders... or a fairly harsh correction that might be sufficient to avoid that behavior for good. I'm thinking of 3 situations specifically... and I'll tip my hat on how I'm leaning... so those of you who are more wise and experienced (probably every one of you) can direct me.

Here's the collar I own, in case that's helpful info:

http://www.dogtra.com/img/d-2000tnb.gif

ONE:
When she feels she's been outside long enough... she will run up to the window, put her feet on the outside sill, and stare at us (she can see into the family room) as though to say, "Hey, I'm done. Let me in!"

This not only leaves nasty paw prints on the sill and glass, it can make you wet yourself (depending on your age and internal health) when you don't expect it. My wife has threatened to go right outside and strangle her when that stunt has caused her to nearly spill a cup of coffee on herself or something like that.

I'm thinking this would be a perfect time to turn the e-collar up about half way and make her think that window is wired to the local power station. Perhaps just because I'm really tired of the dirty window. I've shocked her on a very low level in the past, and she eventually goes back to the window. Perhaps she is collar wise -- another testimony to my short-comings as a trainer. Embarassed

TWO:
She will often eat droppings, either her own or the Pekes, if she finds them in the yard. I realize that entire chapters have been written about this practice in just about all breeds... but I can't help but think that electric stimulation could break that habit. Now and then she'll come in with breath that is downright digusting! I'm thinking a strong (I do NOT mean full throttle, by the way) stimulation for that too.

THREE:
The whining and "talking" when she's not getting her way. In addition, she does "bump" me and others when she wants attention. She'll even lean against us so hard sometimes that you feel as though you might tip over. I'm sure you are all rolling your eyes right now... and some of you are about ready to jump a plane to Indiana so you can give this bully a piece of your mind. Trust me... I'm convinced and I'm ready to put her in her place... though you don't need to worry about me over-doing it. At least I'm pretty confident I know what level of correction to use.

Anyway... on the noise-making, pushing and other dominant behavior, I'm thinking of a combination of fairly low stimulation... coupled with training to stay on a mat, or a directed location, and being "forced" to stay there until released.

Thanks again to everyone. Keep sending on the advice. I've always believed that 20 heads are better than 1.

I await your wisdom!
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PostPosted: 01/22/04, 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mitch, at least it appears you are maintaining a good sense of humor.

Now, I'm going to give you a warning...... while the training collar is a wonderful tool, for some things, it's not a cure all. If you shock this dog everytime she coughs you will end up with a very worried dog that won't know what the heck is happening to her. Some things need a good old fashioned hand on correction and not, I repeat NOT elecricity!

Something you must keep in mind when you are trying to correct, or change certain behaviours is that you have to have the timing correct, and you have to do it every time the dog commits the sin. Eating poop in the yard cannot be corrected with the collar unless you are going to watch her CONSTANTLY when she is outside. If you hit her with the collar at 9 am for eating poop, but then go for a cup of coffee, answer the phone, or whatever... and at 9:23 she picks up another morsel and you don't correct her.. well, she won't get the hint! See what I mean? Pick up the yard as soon as possible, put some MSG on their food, or try changing foods for this nasty stuff. Do an internet search for this... you should be able to find lots of ideas.

The collar may work for the jumping on the window, and yes, I would turn it up pretty high. One good, get this in your head now, correction is a whole lot better than lots of little corrections for this type of behaviour. You want her to stop, now, and forever.......make her never want to come near that window again!!!!! But again, you are going to have to be dilligent......

Dogs that lean on you are seeking comfort, and in some cases it's not a bad thing. But if she is almost knocking you over.. she has to quit. Instead of the collar.. simply move away from her, or even better bump her really hard with your knee every time she leans into you. Make it unpleasant, not fun. Tell her off, or quit or something. Dogs will also put their foot on your foot sometimes during training.... don't let them get away with this either. Make her keep a distance, you decide what the distance is.

A good run everyday makes a happier dog........you have to do what you can do.

Just be careful using the collar for every little infraction. It's not a cure all, and can make bigger problems down the road.
Bernee
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Indiana Mitch
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PostPosted: 01/22/04, 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dualgwp wrote:
Just be careful using the collar for every little infraction. It's not a cure all, and can make bigger problems down the road.
Bernee

Thanks, Bernee.

I think I know that already... but it's always good to be reminded... and your scenario about watching her 24/7 so I can catch her eating poop is a good example of me not thinking it all the way through.

She has, from time to time, sought out poop to eat... no matter what she is fed.

I switched from Pro Plan (which I've always loved and used exclusively with my GSP, Maggie, who died at the age of nine back in November) to PMI (Purina Mills, Exclusive product) because the soy in the Pro Plan made Sophie pass gas that could clear the whole house. Heck... for all I know, the neighbors may have smelled it when she'd cut loose. A search of the Internet pointed to soy being the culprit, and -- sure enough -- when I switched to PMI, which uses fresh Chicken or Lamb and has no soy... the air improved dramatically around here.

Here's more info on the product I now feed:

http://www.pminutrition.com/exclusive_brand.html

Anyway... great advice... and some healthy warnings. Thanks!!
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PostPosted: 01/30/04, 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mitch,

I'm just dropping in quickly...been having some computer problems. I too have a girl that's just turned 2. I've had her out of rescue for the past year and a half. She's AWESOME! And I too train with an e-collar. I don't hunt with her, but boy she'd love it if I did. I know she's the envy of my hunting neighbor! (if she disappears one weekend, I'll know who has her!)

Your girl sounds just like mine. My girl doesn't bark when people come to the door or anything, but BOY she's a talker. She can be very loud if she wants something but she doesn't get away with it. Mostly this is outdoors wanting her dummy thrown...or indoors with the promise of going out. She gets excited and might bark. Sometimes she'll bark at another dog in play because she's so excited. When my partner's daughter come's home from school, this girl turns into a REAL talker, yowling and whining and chirping because she's so happy. Yes, some of it is loud, but it's her nature, and I think some patience is required. I suspect this girl of yours, and mine, will grow out of some of this.

When this girl gets TOO excited and starts barking at me for the dummy or starts making demands, I put her in a down. I don't use the collar. She can't bark quite as loud when she's lying down, and now, if she starts getting too loud, she'll actually take herself into a down and calm down a bit. Really, that's all that's needed.

As for the back window... you've described our girl to a T. She'll come flying up the steps and just stand with her nose pressed to the glass, staring at you. I shattered my ankle in July and am still recovering...as long as she can see me struggling to get to the door she's fine. But if she doesn't see anyone it's one or two clear loud barks....then repeated if there is no opened door. To ME this isn't demanding...this is communication. These wires are smart, and they can learn pretty quickly their vocal abilities. This girl was silent for her first year with us. I actually had to teach her to 'speak' so I could teach "shhh". Even though my girl is quite vocal and does the leaning thing at times, these are not signs of dominance in her at all. This is a dog who my partner's 6-year-old can put through her obedience paces, who my 2-yr-old nephew who can barely speak can get into a sit, who can have anything taken from her mouth, etc. There is no dominance about her, but she IS a very vocal member of the family, and I value that. I agree -- you don't want to reward the demanding barks, but you could turn it into something else, like a down before you turn to using the e-collar. THat's my advice.

The back window thing...the nose prints...hell, that's the price for owning a smart-ass dog, as far as I'm concerned. I would think twice before you start implementing the collar in this situation.

As for the stool-eating...I agree with Bernee on the use of the collar there. It HAS to be consistent. These dogs are smart enough that if they get away with it once, it's game over. I know this first hand -- not from poop-eating but from kitty kibble eating....for this raw-fed dog cat kibble is like doggie crack! I've got an addict on my hands, and it's been a battle to come up with new ways to hide it or get it out of reach. And this is an angel of a dog we're talking about!

I think the best bet with the stool eating is to simply pick up asap in the back yard. THen work with the collar and teach a really solid "leave it" so you can apply the command outside the backyard while doing leash work or in-sight work. After that, well, you can't correct for what you can't see...and if she gets away with it out of sight...she's just going to keep eating it, no matter where. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of 'crittering' or using the collar without a command -- but that's just me!

As for exercise... This is my first wire, and I've had to revamp my life a little to accommodate her. She gets out, off-leash, full running at LEAST 35 minutes a day, since she doesn't do much running in our large backyard. Two to three times a week she gets a one hour play-date with a GSP in a ball diamond, and it's full tilt wrestling and running the whole time. Now with winter, she gets out on the trails only once a week for a 45-60 min hike -- off-leash. Is it enough? Not if you ask Matea! I have learned the dangers of exercising too much -- they just need more and more! But I've found that 2-3 one-hour off-leash outtings are a good balance, and on non-hiking or play-date days, she gets at least a half hour off leash in the play field, fetching or playing soccer, etc. When my ankle wasn't so f*cked up, I was doing a lot of agility with her and obedience, and a lot of off-leash training, so she got out even more. I am sold on GWPs now, but their energy needs are a challenge because their brains aren't built for idleness. They simply need to get out there and be challenged.

Anyway, sorry if this is a bit scattered. Like I said, I'm in and out briefly....but I couldn't resist responding since Sophie sounds JUST like Matea. I guess I just don't see that you've got such a huge problem beyond the stool eating, and that could be related to diet.

Illona
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PostPosted: 01/30/04, 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoyed reading your story about Sophie. We also have a GWP named Wiggles, a male. It seems really coinsidental, but Wiggles and Sophie have the same birth date, and when I looked at her picture, she looked so much like Wiggles. Do you have the papers, and where was she from? Father's and mother's name? Shocked
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PostPosted: 02/04/04, 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mitch:

we just got our first GWP as a pup in December, so I am SO not qualified to provide solid answers - but I can tell you this: after having owned 2 mini schnausers and 2 cocker spaniels, GWP's are another dog entirely. We chose the breed for the out-of-doors qualities that my (nearly)adult sons were looking for, as well as being good companions.

After a month we knew that a few sessions with a professional obedience trainer were going to be necessary or the dog would running the household in short order. Two sessioons in - best money we've ever spent. Have made a point of ALL family members being at the sessions - seeing is believing. We have not had to use an electronic collar but use a squirt bottle and small beanbags. (Beanbags are 1/2 c. of popcorn sewn into a 5x5 or 6x6 pieces of cloth...I'm a sewer and it took about 30 minutes to make a dozen). You throw the bag (try not to hit head) at the dog when he's doing an undesirable behavior. It has worked really well for the barking & whining for attention.

Lastly, exercise really makes a difference for Duke. 45-60 minutes off leash or trail running really seems to help. Unfortunately, we've had hard packed icy snow and temps below freezing for 3 weeks now with no end in sight. It's hard for us to plough thru the stuff and hard on the pup, as well. We're in the Kansas City area...how on earth do all you people up north deal with this? Perhaps you don't have the ice problems we get. At any rate, the exercise seems to be key. Duke's family also would like to get out, too!!!

My oldest son thinks it would be fun to try field trials with him...anybody got any advice on how to get started? We do almost no hunting, so it would be no guns.

So from a novice...that's our experience so far....

Good luck!!!

Susan (aka Duke's mom)
Olathe, Kansas
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PostPosted: 02/04/04, 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan - we are in Minnesota and we go out until the temps drop below 10 and that is mainly because that's the temp my westies start to shiver! We do get the ice and deep snow but as long as they are running in a field the ice doesn't seem to be as much of a problem.

Today is day two of not going out due to cold (I start shivering below 10 also!) and so far so good. We have a fenced back yard so there is a lot of in and out going on but it's all we can do right now.

Lots of good chew bones have saved the day keeping them busy! Can't wait til tomorrow when we get close to 20!

Ann
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PostPosted: 02/07/04, 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ann -

thanks for the encouragement...we have now discovered Duke LOVES deep snow. We got 11" Thursday (on top of the hard pack). I guess they weren't kidding about an all-weather coat!

--Susan
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PostPosted: 02/09/04, 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi There!
I'm tuning in late so bear with me.

1. If she is wetting on soft stuff that is often the sign of a urinary tract infection. Could also just be an attention getter. I would rule out a medical reason first, obviously.

There has been a lot of talk about correction and punishment to resolve this situation.

Here are my thoughts:
My experience with hundreds of dog owners is that they seldom if ever time a punishment correctly. Not our fault, it is just that human's don't have the exquisite timing dogs do. Problem is dogs only understand the exquisite timing. I'm guessing the correction at least sometimes comes after the behavior has stopped. Therefore, the correction is punishing the stopping of the behavior. (Hence encouraging it to continue.)

Secondly, it is clear what the dog wants here is attention and that is just what she is getting. Therefore, it is not surprising the behavior is continuing.

Lastly, even a perfectly timed, big punishment will only buy you a temporary suppression of the behavior. An analogy to think of is getting a speeding ticket. After the ticket you resolve to drive the speed limit (after all you can't afford another ticket or the increased insurance). For a while you pay attention and drive the speed limit. Then one day when you’re late you speed just a little and after a while you are speeding again as before. The difference is you are probably more vigilant about watching for speed traps and sneaky cops hidden on ramps and roadsides. In fact what the punishment has done is made you a better speeder.

So, rather than punishment I expect you can make great strides with this dog using a little bit different strategy.

1. I would really increase the stimulation level
Get her out for a couple hours of good exercise (off leash) each day. A tired dog is a good dog.

2. Mental stimulation
Invest in a number of Kong toys, buster cube (if you feed kibble), marrowbones and other interactive toys that catch your eye. Keep her busy and occupied for hours. Buy a book on clicker training and teach her a million tricks. (Clicker training takes about 3 minutes a day so you can probably squeeze it in even if you are busy). If you don't want to buy a book take a class. They are a BLAST! The more you change her scenery the more mental exhaustion. (You might be a little nutty if you spent as much time in the office as she does, maybe not, just a guess)

3. Praise/reinforce what you like - Ignore what you don't like
It is very easy to ignore a quiet dog because we just don't want to "burst the bubble". However, the dog learns "quiet = no attention" and "pushy/whiney/obnoxious = attention". And if there is one thing that is clear from the post is that this dog wants attention. Have her earn privileges like sitting on your lap, being loose in the house, being on the couch (if you permit it), for being a calm, quiet girl.

In this case I would go so far as to say completely ignore her anytime she is not lying down quietly. Her food should come out when she is laying quietly, any attention, balls etc. outside time, should all come when she is being quiet. This may be tricky to manage for a day or two since she is so "vocal" but once she gets the idea you will have a transformed girl.

Good luck!
Keep us posted
Anne and Riley
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