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Please Help-My dog is becoming a biter!

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  • Please Help-My dog is becoming a biter!

    Hoping someone on here has some ideas as I am getting worried! Long, sorry!

    My dog is 2 year old Shih tzu/Poodle mix (small dog, about 15 lbs.). As a puppy he was very relaxed and quiet, very easy to house break. He has always been vocal and has some seperation anxiety issues, but as to handling we can do anything with him. We go on walks of about 1.5 miles daily and when he is on our lawn with me he never shows interest in people or other dogs passing by on the sidewalk. Literally, just looks and continues with his business. He goes to dog parks, visits the barn I board at, no problems, ever.

    When we are in the house he barks like mad when someone besides my husband or myself comes in, once we indicate we are ok with the stranger he is fine. On walks he is skittish if other humans reach for him, but then he warms up and is fine.

    The problems occur at my parents' house, where he goes when I go away or on weekends when I visit (which is often). My parents have several dogs and an invisible fence (which my dog is trained to). The dogs are free to be in or out as they chose and this system has always worked out fine. There are people in and out of my parents several times a day, barn people, the handyman etc. Recently, my dog has run up to people after they get out of their cars and bites their ankles, or in another case the person reached out towards him and he snapped at their hand. It has progressed from grabbing a cuff to actually scratching someone the other day (scratch not pucture or tear). None of the people he has grabbed or attempted to grab have reacted to him except with surprise and I have never seen it happen myself. I am getting worried that he will do some damage to someone. He never does it when we are home, totally different at my parents'. Maybe more of a pack mentality??? He is neutered, but the only male there.

    My thought is to get an electric collar and set him in the situation where he is likely to bite. When he goes to do it, use the collar on him. Hopefully, it will work on the vibrate setting and he will get the message without actually shocking him. I HATE having to do this, but I will hate it a lot more if someone gets hurt. Since this behavior seems to be getting worse, I am afraid it will carry over to our own house. My biggest fear would be that he would get aggressive with a small child and do some damage.

    I don't understand where this behavior came from and why it is suddenly worse. Please give any advice you can think of! Any other training techniques?
    Impossible is nothing.

  • #2
    Your dog is stressed. You mention that he has separation anxiety issues so putting him in a new situation just might plain stress him out so his behavior will be different than at home. It sounds like your parents home is busy with people and animals so it is definitely a change in environment for him. I absolutely would NOT get an electric collar because you will just scare him more and make the environment worse for him.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by rockonxox View Post
      Your dog is stressed. You mention that he has separation anxiety issues so putting him in a new situation just might plain stress him out so his behavior will be different than at home. It sounds like your parents home is busy with people and animals so it is definitely a change in environment for him. I absolutely would NOT get an electric collar because you will just scare him more and make the environment worse for him.
      That sounds right to me. At your parents' house and with so many other dogs, yours is getting insecure.

      Try putting him on a leash with you and giving him a job to do while the other dogs and people are around. He needs to be shown how to *not* go into brain fart in this new, busy situation. Ask everyone to just ignore him for a while. Once he feels safe, he won't jump to DefCon 5 the way he is now. But if he's already a wigger, you need to intervene to help him break the habit of being paranoid and reactive.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Double post on phone. Sorry
        Impossible is nothing.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          I agree he is seems to be stressed by new people, but I think he likes the parents' better than home. He and their younger dog play nonstop and he has been going there for weeks at a time since puppyhood. I always feel he is really bored after we leave.

          Do you have any ideas on practicing with strangers? He is good on leash ( horse hows, Petco, etc.).

          My thought was initially that he sees himself as a top dog therebc their young dog is female. That is why asked for advice. He seems very happy there and always has company so never alone there. I appreciate the input. I have always had dogs but never had this kind of thing happen.
          Impossible is nothing.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks guys will practice on the leash and have people kind of ignore. Sorry mvp looks like I posted at same time as you. I do appreciate the advice! Coth always has answers. thanks
            Impossible is nothing.

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            • #7
              put him on a lead, and move him away from people if he starts toward them. Don't let him practice this poor behavior.

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              • #8
                I agree that he should not have "free run" of the farm if that includes greeting strangers without a person/being on a leash. Being off leash and free to play all day is absolutely fine, but it may not work out to have an off-leash dog that can independently reach and greet strangers arriving, because they don't have the proper "guidance" and supervision from their person. Since I doubt it will be easy to change the electric fence settings not to allow access to these strangers, it will fall on you to recall the dog when someone arrives and leash it. Hopefully with practice greeting strangers appropriately it might change the behavior.

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                • #9
                  Clicker training for fear aggression.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My thought is to get an electric collar and set him in the situation where he is likely to bite. When he goes to do it, use the collar on him. Hopefully, it will work on the vibrate setting and he will get the message without actually shocking him.
                    if you read the literature on ecollars, EVERYONE strongly warns against using them to try to cure/curb "aggression"- because often it makes the behavior far worse. If the dog is biting out of fear, you've just reinforced in his mind that he has something to fear. If he's biting out of territorality, you've just reinforced in his mind that he has to attack with greater determination to get these dangerous strangers out of here.

                    from your descriptions:
                    When we are in the house he barks like mad when someone besides my husband or myself comes in
                    On walks he is skittish if other humans reach for him
                    my dog has run up to people after they get out of their cars and bites their ankles, or in another case the person reached out towards him and he snapped at their hand.
                    he sounds very fearful of people- strangers- plus has a healthy dose of territoriality. He's probably starting channeling his fear into aggression lately because of his age- he's feeling more confident, confident enough to attack instead of run.

                    the first thing you need to do is remove him from the situation where he can bite people. Immediately.

                    and then work on making him less fearful of people. You might want to consult a professional behaviorist- biting is serious enough that you want eyes-on-the-scene professional help.

                    there's a whole bunch of books available on dog aggression:

                    http://www.dogwise.com/Browse/SubCat...Cat=Aggression

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                    • #11
                      One idea, if he's food-motivated, is to set up a few visits where he gets food when people come up. Car drives up, food. Car parks, food. Person gets out, food. Very good, smelly food. Have the arrival prepared with food, not to throw but to drop around him/her. The idea is he grows to associate arrivals with good things.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by vacation1 View Post
                        One idea, if he's food-motivated, is to set up a few visits where he gets food when people come up. Car drives up, food. Car parks, food. Person gets out, food. Very good, smelly food. Have the arrival prepared with food, not to throw but to drop around him/her. The idea is he grows to associate arrivals with good things.
                        One suggestion.

                        Don't have the strangers feed him or drop food near them. You don't want the dog to be conflicted...stranger/feed will sometimes make a dog want the food but be afraid enough that they snatch the food which may feel like a bite to the stranger.

                        Instead, YOU feed him and keep his attention on you.

                        this way you still get the stranger = food association w/o putting the dog in a position of grabbing and backing off.

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thanks everyone for the suggestions, we are working on the suggestion above to give him a job to do (job is to "come" and have a piece of cheese) when strangers arrive and that seems to help. Once the other dogs stop being curious he is free to go and then he has no interest in the new people. This weekend was an improvement with the new plan. I am still puzzled about this fear of strangers because he has never been mistreated, and when we are at a totally new place on leash (horse show, pet store, dog park) he is a friendly and good dog. Again, thanks for the suggestions and we are implementing some of them and they seem to be helping.
                          Impossible is nothing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Meh, the question is "What makes an otherwise reasonable dog go into brain fart?" And then you start with the usual dog-agenda suspects: Other dogs, a territory to defend, strangers approaching him, total chaos of dogs or people or whatever.

                            In your case, it sounds like the one "ingredient" among these that is special about your in-laws' place is the territory. Yeah, all the other components are there, too, but "Should I defend this place?" is the one that your particular dog doesn't slow down and think rationally about. He gets an instinctive vibe that he has something to lose and acts on it.

                            I think it's fair, feasible and humane to give a dog something to think about when he's not thinking as opposed to using any kind of punishment. After all, he can't fix his behavior in response to a negative consequence if he wasn't thinking/choosing to do that behavior in the first place. To this air-headed animal, the punishment adds to the anxiety and confusion because it seems to come from on high.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

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