Jump to content
BC Boards
Jmason

Aggressive 9mth border collie, getting serious and struggling.

Recommended Posts

Its just me and my mother. Always had dogs. Last dog was Labrador. Everyone warned my mother to be careful getting a collie, hard work. She seemed committed as am I. Had Charlie from 6 weeks old, which I have found out was probably too early. I am a puppy novice and not afraid to admit it. Mother gave the impression she knows what she's doing.

Never played any aggressive games with Charlie. Doesn't appear to be any physical issues or pain. From early on he never liked his paws being touched much, he might nip. Cutting nails was a nightmare. Teething and play biting was a hard time but even when walking away and saying ouch I never found that he got any softer. Mum made some bad decisions I think, such as giving him too much rope jumping up to kitchen worktop without disapline or jumping on sofa while she eats. I have taught him to sit, down, stay (a bit hit and miss), "leave" when handing him food and recently "off" which does work well for getting him off the sofa and down from kitchen worktop. Although he rarely stays down unless the treats keep flowing as praise!

My mother is a bit ocd about Charlie picking up things outside, and one evening she thought he had a slug. She attempted to stupidly open his mouth to get it out and lightly shook his collar when he didn't let her. He turned and bit her hand and as she swiped away it left a deep cut with a little blood. Since then she is naturally scared, although it doesn't seem that much of a surprise that he tried to bite in this scenario??

Putting the incident aside, biting trousers and feet in the house went on for some time but phased out. It moved on to biting upper clothing, but then biting deeper to skin contact which forced me to start wearing thick jumpers to protect myself.

I strongly felt that mum was not giving Charlie much disapline early on for him to learn what he can and cannot do. Recently I stepped in and used a much firmer voice, and focused on training his commands more but he's still quite out of control at times. When visitors come, I may quietly coax him into his crate by saying "crate" and rewarding, but if we have to put a lead on him for a few minutes and get him to sit to keep distance from the visitor, he can eventually get frustrated and bite the nearest thing to him - be it me, or even the nearest toy. I've noticed regularly that if he tries to have his own way and then realises that I am simply going to ignore him or give him a "no" or "leave" command....He can run off and find the nearest toy to absolutely destroy in temper.

My mother would feed Charlie using a bowl and let him eat it on his own in another room. A local dog behaviourist suggested, among other things, filling multiple kongs to keep him occupied longer. It was when I started doing this that I noticed how much he hates seeing someone else being around his food (preparing it more than anything). As I filled his kongs at the counter, he would jump up, and I would keep giving him commands to get off. If he did get off and sit i would give him some of the food to reward as I'm preparing it. However his frustration gets the better of him and he will jump up and bite your arm multiple times to the point where u then resort to putting the food away until he gets rid of his energy and anger. I ignore him at this moment. The odd thing is that although he is highly strung when I'm preparing his food, when he's eating it I can be around him without him showing any signs of defence that I can tell. If he's got a kong trapped under something for example, he will let me get it for him and give it to him without any drama.

As ive sat and thought, it seems that all of his anger is brought on by being frustrated when he cant have his own way, when he cant get to the object he wants or even sometimes if you tell him "no". Ive left messages with another trainer yesterday who specialises in agression. It seems like "redirected agression crossed with possessive agression", might that sound right?

After a week of being mauled from behind as I prepare his food, I decided that I might try a different approach today by filling his bowl halfway with food and then slowly dropping more food into his bowl as I stand near him. Does this sound sensible? He happily sat down this morning while I drop fed him some food near his kongs, although when I got near the end he lurched again, bit at my jumper arm and tried to drag as he growled.

If I'm sat on the sofa and he jumps up to lay on me, he may be ok, but if he smells any leftover treats in my pocket I have to get up quickly because he will bite in order to get the crumbs or treats if there were any. 

When he's good he's a lovable dog. He loves visitors and has never showed agression towards them and still doesn't. I'm not completely oblivious to the fact that we do need to keep him away from people until this is resolved though and that will be the case. The postman loves him and fussed him every day. He goes for regular walks and meets other dogs on the way. Again, he doesn't show agression towards them but does like to play and dart around with them.

Everyone has different opinions. Obviously I don't want to give up on Charlie, especially since his bouts of agression do seem to have logical reasons behind it. Its not as though he is randomly ripping me to shreds for no reason. One or two friends seem to think it's the end if the road, and others think like me that he needs the right help.

Any of your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

 

James and Charlie.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You do not say how old this dog is, and it would be good to know that.

What it sounds like to me is that this dog has been badly spoiled by being allowed to do as he pleases, and you now have your work cut out for you to retrain him. Things like nipping and biting and jumping up on the kitchen worktop should have been nipped in the bud the very first time they happened, and worked with consistently ever since. If they had been they might be a thing of the past by now. It is vital you get the biting thing changed because having a dog who bites is a huge liability, even if he is generally good with other people,  and can result in the death of the dog.  Your mother prying his mouth open and shaking him by the collar made this worse, as the dog no doubt saw this as an act of violence toward him (and I rather tend to agree with the dog on this).

At this point, you may need a qualified behaviorist who uses positive reinforcement training to help you, or you may be able to change things on your own and I would recommend at least trying it on your own first. However, you need to assess whether or not you and your mother will be able to reach a solid agreement on how the dog is to be handled from now on.  It sounds to me as if the biting is all about food, and you can train these bad behaviors out of the dog, but it will take a fair bit of time and patience and, most importantly, 100% consistency in how the dog is handled by both you and your mother. Lack of that consistency will result in failure and a confused dog which will probably make the problems worse. If you and your mom can agree on the protocol for training the dog and stick to it, there will be lots of help from this forum, including from me personally. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

You do not say how old this dog is, and it would be good to know that.

What it sounds like to me is that this dog has been badly spoiled by being allowed to do as he pleases, and you now have your work cut out for you to retrain him. Things like nipping and biting and jumping up on the kitchen worktop should have been nipped in the bud the very first time they happened, and worked with consistently ever since. If they had been they might be a thing of the past by now. It is vital you get the biting thing changed because having a dog who bites is a huge liability, even if he is generally good with other people,  and can result in the death of the dog.  Your mother prying his mouth open and shaking him by the collar made this worse, as the dog no doubt saw this as an act of violence toward him (and I rather tend to agree with the dog on this).

At this point, you may need a qualified behaviorist who uses positive reinforcement training to help you, or you may be able to change things on your own and I would recommend at least trying it on your own first. However, you need to assess whether or not you and your mother will be able to reach a solid agreement on how the dog is to be handled from now on.  It sounds to me as if the biting is all about food, and you can train these bad behaviors out of the dog, but it will take a fair bit of time and patience and, most importantly, 100% consistency in how the dog is handled by both you and your mother. Lack of that consistency will result in failure and a confused dog which will probably make the problems worse. If you and your mom can agree on the protocol for training the dog and stick to it, there will be lots of help from this forum, including from me personally. 

Says 9 months in the title.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oops, sorry, thanks for pointing that out. :)

So, this dog is still a puppy and no doubt can be retrained just fine, but that training needs to start now and, as stated above, be consistent. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds like he was never taught appropriate behaviour as a smaller puppy. Hopefully with the right sort of help and advice you'll be able to work through it.

To start with though, could you shut him in a different room when you are preparing any sort of food? Our boy would try and jump up on the counter if I'm preparing Kongs or his food but I ask him to lay on the mat before I start and toss him the odd treat for staying there. In the beginning he needed lots of sending back to the mat and lots of treats to keep him there, now he just knows to go and wait on the mat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for the responses so far. Ive begun shutting him in the crate while i prepare half his food and then when i let him out to eat, I drop feed the second half by hand into his bowl. At least today that seemed to go ok if I keep the drop feed flow moving at a good pace. I get him to sit sometimes but not too long else he might lunge when he gets frustrated.

When I got back from work this evening he was a bit hyper, jumping at me with excitement at first so I keep getting him to sit before stroking. However there always comes a point where the excitement seems to overcome him and he jumps in the same way but then grabs hold of arm/jumper. I dont know what would happen if I didn't have a jumper on but I wouldn't like to try. He likes to grab onto fabrics anyway so it makes me wonder if the wooly hoodie is attracting him sometimes!

The majority of the time that he lunged and grabbed my arm tonight, tugging and growling, he would stop when I said "off" but he doesn't stay down down long. After many repetitions he gets it sometimes but at least twice tonight I resorted to using "off" and then exitied the room for a couple of minutes. After I did that a couple of times he left me alone for a while.

One of the replies said that I may be able to retrain this issue myself. If so does anyone have any other tips on what I can focus on doing, since the quicker I start the better by the sounds of it. The trainer I was hoping to see didn't get back to my calls or messages which is a shame as they have good reviews on Google. We are in the middle of nowhere in sutton on sea, lincolnshire uk. Always have to travel long distance to find anything any good around here.

 

Thanks,

James.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jmason said:

When I got back from work this evening he was a bit hyper, jumping at me with excitement at first so I keep getting him to sit before stroking. However there always comes a point where the excitement seems to overcome him and he jumps in the same way but then grabs hold of arm/jumper. I dont know what would happen if I didn't have a jumper on but I wouldn't like to try. He likes to grab onto fabrics anyway so it makes me wonder if the wooly hoodie is attracting him sometimes!

Our boy also jumps in excitement when I get home. He seems to be able to sit for a short time for a nice greeting but if the greeting goes on for more than a minute he starts jumping. He can be the same when greeting other people so we try to keep greetings really short and try to move on before he goes over the top. If you're okay about using treats for training then dropping the treats on the floor, or even throwing them slightly away from you will help him to keeps his feet on the floor. Although if you think the aggression is around food and worry that it might make him worse maybe there's a favourite toy instead. If he likes playing ball maybe when you could get home you do a quick sit, stroke and then throw/roll the ball before he has chance to jump, again that will help keep his feet on the floor rather than jumping at you. I also have a Kong or chew ready for when I get home so after we've had our quick hello I can give him something to keep him busy and calm while I get changed etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We rescued a dog once at this age who had already had three owners and had (before we rescued him) been kept on a chain. He was a large breed, a biter, jumped up, wouldn’t get off - basically thought he owned the place and he was huge. I mention this because we managed to turn that guy around to be a loveable non biting dog although we did keep him inside whenever the postman came!

What did we do? Well you have gotten some good advice above. Consistency and patience and seeing everything through is vital! 

We got quite a few bites while holding our ground and in hindsight a pair of gauntlets would have helped. Focusing on proactive training for things that aren’t currently a battle ground will help you. Spend time teaching him something like ‘lie down’ and ‘leave it’. That way your goal can be that he lies down before you give him food and he leaves it until you say he can have it. 

When you want a dog to do ‘off’, grabbing the collar can start a battle. Look to body block instead. So if you want him off the sofa just plonk yourself next to him and shove him off confidently with the weight of your body but no eye contact. If you want him off the counter then stand next to him and move your body into the place where he is. When he moves out of the way give a matter of fact ‘good boy’ and then get on with something else. 

Just my two cents worth :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Jmason said:

 

When I got back from work this evening he was a bit hyper, jumping at me with excitement at first so I keep getting him to sit before stroking. However there always comes a point where the excitement seems to overcome him and he jumps in the same way but then grabs hold of arm/jumper.

This tells me that you let the greeting and sitting thing go on too long.  Start with ONE sit, and nice petting while sitting. You praise him, give him a treat (I recommend carrying treats with you all the time during this training), and then the greeting is over. If after that he jumps or bites at anything, he goes immediately into his crate. Do not have any attitude of punishment when you put him in the crate. Don't say anything, don't be angry. Just act as if it is a natural consequence of his biting.

If he starts up when you let him back out, he goes back into the crate. Repeat.

If he suddenly jumps up on you, raise your knee so that he hits it with his chest when he comes up and bounces off. It will not hurt him, and prevents his getting paws on you. I would combine that with "off", or "uh-uh", but again not said in an angry tone; in fact said in a very neutral  tone. He jumps again, he goes into the crate. Repeat. Watch his body language as much of the time as you can. You will soon learn the "tell" that indicates he is about to jump up. Say "uh'uh" as soon as you see the "tell". If he still jumps or bites, into the crate he goes. If he hesitates, even for one second, praise him and give him a treat. 

You have to think of this as sort of a law of the universe, rather than as punishment. Just natural consequence, like gravity. Keep it neutral but don't ever, ever let him jump up on you without his having the consequence. Never. Not even once. Similarly, never allow a hesitation on his part if you say "uh'uh" to go by without getting praise and a treat. Here is where working with a clicker or a specific word is useful. Often we think that there is nothing to praise or reward because the dog is "always" wild or doing the undesirable thing. But if you watch closely, there will be a one-second hesitation or pause, and that is what you have to reward instantly. You don't just show consequences for the undesired behavior, you also must reward the good behavior so that your dog gets the idea of what you do want. This is very important.

Having him completely out of the room while preparing any food is a good way to start.  Dropping food into the bowl is a good idea, as well. Once you have a handle on the jumping and biting you can move on to training in the kitchen. In the meantime, if possible don't let him in there at all until it is his feeding time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

This tells me that you let the greeting and sitting thing go on too long.  Start with ONE sit, and nice petting while sitting. You praise him, give him a treat (I recommend carrying treats with you all the time during this training), and then the greeting is over. If after that he jumps or bites at anything, he goes immediately into his crate. Do not have any attitude of punishment when you put him in the crate. Don't say anything, don't be angry. Just act as if it is a natural consequence of his biting.

If he starts up when you let him back out, he goes back into the crate. Repeat.

If he suddenly jumps up on you, raise your knee so that he hits it with his chest when he comes up and bounces off. It will not hurt him, and prevents his getting paws on you. I would combine that with "off", or "uh-uh", but again not said in an angry tone; in fact said in a very neutral  tone. He jumps again, he goes into the crate. Repeat. Watch his body language as much of the time as you can. You will soon learn the "tell" that indicates he is about to jump up. Say "uh'uh" as soon as you see the "tell". If he still jumps or bites, into the crate he goes. If he hesitates, even for one second, praise him and give him a treat. 

You have to think of this as sort of a law of the universe, rather than as punishment. Just natural consequence, like gravity. Keep it neutral but don't ever, ever let him jump up on you without his having the consequence. Never. Not even once. Similarly, never allow a hesitation on his part if you say "uh'uh" to go by without getting praise and a treat. Here is where working with a clicker or a specific word is useful. Often we think that there is nothing to praise or reward because the dog is "always" wild or doing the undesirable thing. But if you watch closely, there will be a one-second hesitation or pause, and that is what you have to reward instantly. You don't just show consequences for the undesired behavior, you also must reward the good behavior so that your dog gets the idea of what you do want. This is very important.

Having him completely out of the room while preparing any food is a good way to start.  Dropping food into the bowl is a good idea, as well. Once you have a handle on the jumping and biting you can move on to training in the kitchen. In the meantime, if possible don't let him in there at all until it is his feeding time.

What she said! 

One thing that we did that avoided any over-excitement when we came home was that our dogs spent the day in their crates, with appropriate chew items. When we came home, we did not go and see the dogs at first at all. We came in quietly, hung up our coats, put up our stuff, and, then, when the dogs were calm and quiet in their crates, went and let them out and greeted them but without a lot of fuss or stimulation, just calm and quiet voices and stroking and hugs. It might not work for everyone or all dogs but it certainly worked for us. 

Putting him in his crate or another room while you prepare his food is a good idea. Maybe using a food dish or food dispenser that makes him work to get his food so he eats more slowly might help calm him down a bit. I'm not sure why you feel a need to add food to his dish while he is eating. I am one of those who feels that, in general, give the dog his food and leave him alone to eat it because I think that reduces stress and stimulation at meal time. 

With a nippy dog, timing is crucial. If you want to avoid an issue of nipping, you want to be prepared before it even happens and, hopefully, before the idea is active in his brain so that you can redirect his growing excitement and energy into a constructive channel, like with a chew toy, practicing a command or trick, or a game he enjoys. 

These are smart, active dogs and I believe they take extra effort as pups and young dogs to guide them into behaviors that will make them a pleasure to live with. And, if the owner does that, he/she can have a good dog for life. If a person doesn't invest in doing that, the dog will train himself and the owner probably won't like what the dog has learned. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks once again I've been reading all the comments. Its a lot to take in but I so want Charlie to be right. 

Certainly the food is a trigger. General excitement also seems a trigger. This evening he started going mental, jumped and bitten when I quickly discovered that he was actually wanting to go outside and do his business. Usually he will walk to the door and bark but sometimes he does just start running around like a madman jumping over the sofas. When we got back inside he was still a bit hyper. I kept my distance from him and folded my arms, looking away. I gave him the off command when he jumped which did work temporarily a few times. When he finally jumped and bit me good (I wasn't wearing as many layers today) the pain gave me no choice but to immediately grab his collar and restrain him a little beside me as I said "off". He grinded his teeth a little for the few moments that i held his collar away from me. Thankfully he had a chew bone right beside him and he quickly directed onto that. Then I slowly released as I said "good boy" because he was chewing his bone instead.

I will be honest, walking him into the crate when he is in this mood is pretty tricky, I've seen him get very angry indeed when I've put him in there and it becomes a dodgy process to let go and shut the crate door without a big snap or a tantrum to push the door open. He treats going in the crate in the scenario as a fight. He has learnt the word "crate" though and providing I have a treat he usually runs straight for it for any other reason.

Would I be doing a bad thing by doing the crate punishment idea with a treat or will that be misunderstood by him as a reward for biting?

I fully undertand that any kind of restraining or nose hitting is a bad idea, I certainly don't want to have to do any of that any time unless I'm threatened.

Thanks once again for everyone's input so far. My mother is ill at the moment so I am taking care of Charlie alone, but we will be having a serious talk about rules and making sure we do the same thing once she is better.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If he doesn't go in the crate readily but is very food-motivated, you might try tossing a treat (or a few treats) into the crate and then closing the door behind him. Initially, to get him used to the idea, you may want to just randomly choose an opportunity to do this and not close the crate door, just getting him used to the idea of going into the crate as it being a good thing and not a bad thing. 

I am really concerned about how bitey he is at his age. He's not a silly puppy any more but an adolescent, and this sounds more and more like he has been spending time learning that biting and snapping are what get him what he wants, so that is has become his default for situations that get him excited or frustrated or are not what he wants to do. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

P.s. to answer the query about dropping food into bowl idea. I don't mind not doing this if people think it's only going to make him worse, over stimulated, over excited etc. I was just shocked to see how volatile he was and was looking for a way that might eventually make him more comfortable around me with food. I suppose my head is was telling me "how will he learn if he is never put I  the situation" - hence the food dropping idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Sue R said:

If he doesn't go in the crate readily but is very food-motivated, you might try tossing a treat (or a few treats) into the crate and then closing the door behind him. Initially, to get him used to the idea, you may want to just randomly choose an opportunity to do this and not close the crate door, just getting him used to the idea of going into the crate as it being a good thing and not a bad thing. 

I am really concerned about how bitey he is at his age. He's not a silly puppy any more but an adolescent, and this sounds more and more like he has been spending time learning that biting and snapping are what get him what he wants, so that is has become his default for situations that get him excited or frustrated or are not what he wants to do. 

Sue youre last paragraph is spot on, this is the behaviour that I see, be it food or overexcitedness. Its all pretty much been dumped on me now since mum has become frightened of him, but if there is hope for this little fella I'm desperate to give him the training he needs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've not dealt with anything bitey older than a younger pup. Well, except once, when I was helping with a dog training class and a woman had a six-month old that she'd bought out of a bad situation. She had cuts all over her hands and wrists from him but she had never been able to bring herself to be strict and set limits on him because she felt so sorry for the situation he had come from. It's kind of like children - dealing with something when they are young and easily controlled/picked up/held/restrained and it's not ingrained, is so much easier than dealing with something when they are older, less easily controlled, and have formed solid bad habits. 

This behavior could simply be due to him learning it worked for him when he was a pup. Or, it could possibly be due to something else, perhaps in conjunction with learning that it worked. Not to be an alarmist but brain tumors, vision issues, "bad wiring" in the brain, thyroid issues - there are possibilities to consider if this can't be retrained. I wonder if a vet visit might be in order to rule out some of these thoughts. 

Do you have the possibility of dealing with an animal behaviorist? Not just a dog trainer but a certified behaviorist? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Still hunting for a local behaviourist this evening. Is there anything in particular that I need to be looking for to make sure i get the right person? Any particular certifications etc?

This evening I tried the crate punishment simply by giving the crate command and pointing in its direction. He did go in the crate on his own nicely, but there was a couple of angry jabs directed at me as I closed the door. otherwise he went in ok. Heard some scratching at his bedding and he then gave some small barks every so often. How long do you think would be a good time to crate him for after a bite if i continue this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jmason said:

Would I be doing a bad thing by doing the crate punishment idea with a treat or will that be misunderstood by him as a reward for biting?

As I stated, the crate is NOT a punishment. If you are putting him into the crate with an attitude of punishment, the dog will see it that way and that may be part of the problem. If you do it with a totally neutral attitude, like "oops, it's crate time again", it will not be a punishment. This distinction is very important. If he goes into the crate with a treat any other time, simply toss a treat in with him once he is in the crate and he will probably stop fighting it so much when you go to put him in.

As Sue has said, the fact that he got away with this behavior for so long is most likely a big part of the problem. He got what he wanted by behaving this way so he sees no reason to stop it. Now it has to stop. A dog who will bite is a danger to you, himself, and everyone else. I would suggest getting him looked at by a vet just to rule out other causes , but work hard on the training and never allow him to behave this way again without consequences. Not punishment. Consequences.  I would crate him for at least 10 minutes each time, but longer if he has not settled down by then. When you let him out, do so in a neutral manner. No praise, no bad looks, no petting, nothing. Don't even look at him, just go about your day, but make sure you are observing his body language as much of the time as you can. If he remains all four feet on the floor for a while, praise him and give him a treat.

Another thing: be sure that you never in any way act excited around him. No loud noises, no roughhouse playing, no excited tone of voice at any time. Keep your voice quiet and calm when you are praising him. 

In seeking a behaviorist, ask how much experience the person has had. How many years training dogs? How many years training dogs who bite? What certifications does the trainer have? What method does the trainer use with dogs who bite? Run away from anyone who uses coercive methods, a choke chain collar, or a shock collar. Find someone who uses positive reinforcement either entirely or as the method the vast majority of the time.  Don't go to anyone who would hit your dog for ANY reason. If possible, go to a class or session this trainer is doing and observe first. A dog like this has to be handled firmly and prevented from biting, but that can be accomplished without violence of any kind. Violence will be seen as an attack by the dog and will only make things worse, guaranteed. You can control a dog by being violent and make him so afraid of the punishment that he won't bite. But that is like creating a time bomb. The urge to bite won't go away; only be pushed down and eventually it may erupt. The same is true of holding him down by the collar while he struggles to get away. This is control by force and not a good idea. It just gives the dog something to fight about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a good description and comparison of the various types of behaviorists by the late Dr. Sophia Yin: https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/animal-trainers-and-behaviorists-licensing-and-certification/ It's a few years old but I'm not aware that much has changed in the intervening years. From some of of the vocabulary you use I suspect you might be the the UK though, so I don't think the certifying organizations will be the same. You may want to do a search using the terms "animal," "behavior*" and "certifications" for something more geographically relevant. Yin's article will at least give you a framework for determining someone's training.

I think with the degree of the issues you're having with your dog, you should be looking for either a veterinary behaviorist or someone who has one of the applied animal behavior certifications. There are way too many self-styled "behaviorists" who really don't know what they're doing. Some of them are quite famous, but it doesn't make them knowledgeable.

Good luck.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're in the UK, Dogs Trust do classes and dog training. They're quite reasonably priced even for private sessions. Their aim is to help prevent dogs from getting turned in due to behavioural problems so the main focus is on manners and acceptable behaviour (from both dogs and humans). It's positive reinforcement based and while you can read tips and tricks on the internet watching them show you on your dog is really helpful. I found that just working through what we did want our boy to do with the trainers in a calm low distraction environment meant he knew what he should be doing when the same thing happened in the real world. If not Dogs Trust maybe other rehoming places do similar, they must be working with and rehabilitating dogs that need rehoming so will know someone with experience. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, jami74 said:

If you're in the UK, Dogs Trust do classes and dog training. They're quite reasonably priced even for private sessions. Their aim is to help prevent dogs from getting turned in due to behavioural problems so the main focus is on manners and acceptable behaviour (from both dogs and humans). It's positive reinforcement based and while you can read tips and tricks on the internet watching them show you on your dog is really helpful. I found that just working through what we did want our boy to do with the trainers in a calm low distraction environment meant he knew what he should be doing when the same thing happened in the real world. If not Dogs Trust maybe other rehoming places do similar, they must be working with and rehabilitating dogs that need rehoming so will know someone with experience. 

That’s great to know! 

Is it open to everyone or do they have to decide that you meet their criteria?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Icaraa said:

That’s great to know! 

Is it open to everyone or do they have to decide that you meet their criteria?

As far as I know its open to everyone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our dog was a terrible biter her first year too. It went way beyond mouthy and more towards aggression. Our hands and arms were often covered in scratches and bite marks. When she was very young, we tried all the conventional advice about how to stop nipping and mouthiness, but none of it worked. She also had body handling, food guarding, and impulse control issues, to name a few. It was a very tough year with many tears on my part and at times I felt so desperate. I hoped eventually all our hard work would pay off – and it did! So I just wanted to give you some hope that if you are persistent and consistent, you can get through this and have a great dog in the end.

Our pup already had body handling issues prior to the food guarding. I believe the food guarding really started due to an incident similar to yours. Our vet had given her a dental chew and we gave it to her one day. I went to the store while my husband supervised her chewing on it. A small piece got lodged in the roof of her mouth and she was pawing at it. My husband tried to help get it out, and she bit him. (From her perspective, he was trying to take a very high value treat from her.) He ended up putting on leather gloves so he could get it out without getting bitten again and so she wouldn’t choke. After that if we gave her a Kong in her X-pen, she’d growl if we came near. If we put kibble in her bowl and sat it down, she’d get act strange, lay down on the floor, and not eat. However, she was fine with lower value treats, which was great, because she was not toy motivated.

I don’t know if any of these will help you, but here are some of the methods we used to try and resolve our pup's issues. As others recommended, we also hired a behaviorist to help us navigate these issues, and her advice and help was invaluable.

  1. She was very sweet and affectionate with neighbors and strangers (just not with us), but since she was biting us so hard and so often, we decided to not let her be around children at all for the time-being.
  2. For the food guarding,  we tried many different things like hand feeding, etc. We stopped giving her Kongs and what finally worked for us was using the “elevator method”. We’d pick up her bowl, put her kibble in it, then ask her to sit before putting the food down. If she breaks the sit, we bring the food back up until she holds the sit. Once the food is down, we give her a release word and she can eat. We still do this now even though she no longer guards her bowl, mainly because it's easy and hopefully might prevent her from resuming her old guarding behavior. I also read "Mine!" by Jean Donaldson. It helped me to understand the different types of guarding and that our dog had a combination of food guarding, object guarding, and body handling issues. The book can be a bit technical at times, but has exercises that you can use, and some are for dropping food into their bowls. 
  3. You mentioned your pup doesn’t like to have his paws handled. From what I’ve heard from vets, this is very common. Ours did not want us to touch or hold her at all and she had a serious meltdown (with snapping) the first time we went to the vet. Back then, the only time I could really pet or touch her was right when she woke up in the morning. She’d let me rub the sides of her face while she stretched, so I made sure to take advantage of that! We worked through the body handling by saying a body part (like “ears”), taking a quick peek in her ears, saying “Yes!” and treating. We did this for eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and tail and used in our training sessions. We also dropped into the vet’s office about once a week for treats and pets from the staff and then left. They were very nice about it, and encouraged that we do this as often as we like. However, she still didn’t like her paws to be touched. It wasn’t until 2 ½ that she finally no longer minded us cleaning or checking her paws. 
  4. In addition to these methods, I also started to teach her “give” and “take”. I’d give her a low value toy and say “take!” She’d put it in her mouth and I’d say “give”. As soon as she’d drop it, I’d say “Yes!” and then we’d start over. This helped to teach her that just because she’s giving us a toy or something of higher value, it doesn’t mean that she won’t get it back.  We decided to use “leave it” to mean she can never have the object and taught this separately. 
  5. I also bought a package of bandannas/handkerchiefs and had one folded up in my back pocket at all times. If we were out in the yard or somewhere (and didn’t have a chew toy to redirect to) and she wanted to start biting, I’d pull out the bandanna and start twirling it around just out of her reach. This got her to focus on the game of chasing the bandanna and not on attacking me. I also carried treats and a clicker in my pocket for the entire first year so that if she did something good I could immediately reward the behavior.
  6. Also, any time she was settling down in the house, I’d very quietly and calmly say “good girl”. I might also give her a small treat if I didn’t think it’d get her too excited. I did this to try and reinforce the calm behavior when she exhibited it…at that time, it wasn’t too often! I then took it a step further by using shaping. One day when she was lying on the ground, she kicked out her leg so she was in a relaxed position. I immediately clicked and treated for the “calm/relaxed” leg. I kept doing this and when she’d kick out the leg, I’d say the word “calm”, click and treat. Now if we say “can you get calm?”, she lays down and kicks out her leg.
  7. Since she was treat motivated, I also started doing some impulse control games with her, similar to this one with low value treats (but without requiring that she be on her bed to start off): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6ixdBkqsWI.
  8. We didn't shake her by the collar, but we did want her to get used to us touching her collar, in case we needed to in the future. We started off by simply/briefly touching her collar for a second, saying "Yes!" and giving her a treat. Next we started saying the word "collar", touching the collar, saying "Yes" and treating. This progressed to where we'd say "collar" put a finger or two under the collar, "Yes!" and treat. It was a very simple exercise, so we did this as part of our daily training.  

In addition to all of the above, since she was so treat motivated (thankfully!), I also worked on trick training and commands in short sessions throughout the day to mentally tire her out. 

I realize these are just a few things that happened to work for us (there were many other things we were also doing, but not listed here!), and your mileage may vary. Our dog turned a corner right around 1 year old. She stopped biting us, became affectionate and actually cared what we thought! :)

Good luck with your pup!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, PuppyMavis said:

...I also carried treats and a clicker in my pocket for the entire first year so that if she did something good I could immediately reward the behavior....

While this is a great idea, a clicker in a pocket doesn't allow for a fast enough click to be effective. I've now got my clickers on spiral wrist bands of his type https://www.amazon.com/spiral-coil-wristband/s?page=1&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aspiral coil wristband (you may be able to find singles other places) and also to charge a marker word such as Yes! for times I can't get to the clicker in time. You've always got your voice ready.

ETA the link. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...