Dog Biting Problem - Help!

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by got_walmart, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. got_walmart Guest

    Hi everyone. I am from Ohio. I joined tonight to see what help I can get training 1 of my dogs. I have a 1 year old Maltese/Miniature pincher mix, Sadie. She is spoiled rotten. I think she owns me, I don't own her. I also have a 4 month old Collie/Lab mix, Serena. She is not so spoiled. She has a mind of her own, and lets everyone know it. The biggest problem is, she bites, and has since we got her at 9 weeks. I am in the process of training. It's not going so well. So I thought I would see what this site had to offer. I could use all the help I could get with her.

  2. Jean Cote Administrator

    Welcome to the site! I'm positive that if you keep looking you will find your answer - it always works that way! :) I'm curious, have you thought of contacting a dog trainer or behaviorist? For behaviors like biting it's usually the best route to go.

    You can also search the forums, there were other people with biting problems and they have been discussed. :D
  3. got_walmart Guest

    Thank you Jean. I have contacted a couple animal behaviorist in my area. One suggested a muzzle, which I tried, but it mad her twice as mad when I took it off. Another refused to work with her, because after an hour, she still couldn't get near her. So they told me if I couldn't handle her, I should send her to a shelter, or find another home for her. Which I will not do. I took her to give her a home. She's not going anywhere.
    I have searched around on here, and I found a couple things to try. I know it will not change in a day, but with a little patients, I think she will come around.I will not give up on her.
    By the way, from what I have seen so far, this is the best site I have come across.
  4. Jean Cote Administrator

    You don't have to give her to a shelter, that's ridiculous. Why would a dog trainer advise of such a thing completely baffles me :eek: If she has behavioral problems, especially biting, then she will never find a home, and will probably end up on death row.

    When you say it made her twice as mad when you took it off. Are you talking about your dog or the trainer?

    The first thing I would advise you to do is to figure out why she is biting. Some dogs bite because they are protecting something, or they are fearful or aggressive. You can usually tell when a dog is going to bite because their body language changes. I have written an article which explains this a little bit.

    You said that your dog is one year old. If she has been doing this since puppy hood, she will have learned and has been conditioned to respond that way in some circumstances. It is going to take a lot of work on your part to get her to change her ways.

    But you are on the right path. Try reading on aggression and positive training techniques. It's a little late right now, but I'm sure other people will love to help you some more!

    I will also move these posts into its own thread in the Behavioral Forum so that people can find it.
  5. marieke New Member

    It's great you don't give up on your dog like some people do so easily. Pity though that your trainer suggested a shelter. Like that's gonna help the dog stop from biting. Good luck with training, Jean article should help you a lot. Still it does sound like a problem that you'd best solve with a little help from an experienced trainer too. Since your other dog owns you you probably have to change your own behaviour too to become the leader of the pack. I'm curious how it'll work out. Will you let us know? You could give other people with the same problem your tips.
  6. got_walmart Guest

    I will never take my dogs to a shelter. I got them for keeps. The trainer told me this because I have children, and they think she will turn on them. Funny part is, she has never went after them. The muzzle makes the dog twice as mad.
    I do have to clear up a little confusion. The 4 month old is the one biting. She has been a little flighty since we got her. She came from an Amish farm. Please don't anyone take offense by this. She was let run free with little to no attention. So I think her fear is people. I tried to socialize her, but she continued to bite. The last problem I had was when I took her to the vet Friday, and when I shut my door and tried to open another to get her out. She wouldn't let me back in my car. She ended up biting me on the hand very hard. I have teeth marks on my hand where she bit me. I ended up putting the muzzle on her to take her in, and she growled the whole time. I left it on her till we got back home so I could get her back out of the car. I have put up beware of dog signs, and now people are afraid to come to my house.
    I will express, I am NOT going to give up. She is still young, and can still be retrained. I just got to figure out how..........
  7. got_walmart Guest

    My 1 year old dog, I have no trouble with. She is even afraid of the 4 month old dog.
  8. topbarks New Member

    In that case it sounds like puppy behaviour to me.
    How hard does she bite?
    Has she drawn blood?
    In what circumstances?
    How have you reacted?
    Have you give her appropriate items to chew and bite?
    Puppies are teething around this time and this could be an influencing factor in this common behaviour.
  9. Jean Cote Administrator

    That sounds like a lot more than just puppy chewing behavior to me! :) You mentioned that you have gotten the help of a dog trainer ... but have you tried a behaviorist?

    Here is a little food for thought on the difference between the two. [ Article ]
  10. got_walmart Guest

    To answer your questions topbarks, we thought at first it was puppy play. She bites hard though. She has drawn blood biting. I still have teeth marks on my hand where she bit me Friday. I was trying to get in my car to get her out. She also tries to bite anyone that comes in the house or yard. She growls, and claws at people. She has rawhide bones, dog toys,(or what's left of them.) She runs all over the yard, so I know she's getting plenty of exercise. She gets all the attention she could want. But when she's done playing, she turns and bites.

    Jean, the one that I called was a certified trainer animal behaviorist.
    We have tried a few things I read on here, so far today she is doing good. I think the biggest problem is that since she is a big dog, people back down from her. I do the same thing. So far telling her "NO", and meaning it has made her take a second look.
    I have never had a bigger dog, so this is new for me.
  11. Jean Cote Administrator

    I will be honest with you; I’m not really sure what to tell you. Biting is such a broad topic that I hardly suggest any training techniques for it over the internet. Without seeing the dog do it in person, it’s close to impossible to know exactly why she is doing it. People often believe the dog is biting because of this or that, but it could be something totally different. Some dogs bite because they have an infection and are suffering from it; others do it because they have learned that it is an appropriate way of getting their way around.

    Maybe you should try contact another behaviourist, one that can come to your house and examine what you and your dog are doing. She is only four months old – this can be fixed if you act immediately. There was another member on this forum a while back that had gone to three different trainers before he was able to see some results. The first two focused on “dominance” and how to break the dog. Well, what that created was an atmosphere where he didn’t even like his dog anymore. He started some positive training techniques along with strict rules and a lot has changed, he sent me an e-mail.

    It is very important that you fix this problem now. If she is big now, can you imagine how big she will be when she is full grown? That is probably why the dog trainer advised you to put her in a shelter, if this problem isn’t fixed now it will be very dangerous later on.

    All I can say is to not give up. But I don’t believe you should tolerate any kind of biting whatsoever. Having a family dog should be fun and harmonious, and I believe that is why you have gotten a second dog.

    You could always try some positive training techniques with her, to see how your relationship develops with her. Clicker training is pretty easy and fun, all you need is some treats and a little bit of patience. As a beginner you should take a look at the Luring Part 2 lesson which I simply touch my dog, click and then feed. This usually creates a positive association with you being close and touching the dog. I’ve done this with my neighbour’s dog, she was a timid dog where you couldn’t even walk behind her or touch her side without her backing away. With this technique, in two weeks, I was able to step over her and touch her anywhere I wanted.

    Eventually you could do this with the muzzle as well. It’s obvious that she hates her muzzle, but I’m curious as to how it was introduced. If it was forced on her using your strength, then she probably developed a very negative association with it. This could be done by putting the muzzle on the floor and letting her see it, (click & treat), then sniff it (click & treat) and then you could move on to getting the muzzle around her face, (click & treat). This is the same thing as the previous exercise; it creates a positive association with the object by using food.

    I hope this helps a little.
  12. topbarks New Member

    Having read the thread more closely Jean I agree with you it is more than just puppy play but the dogs age may have a contributing factor.
    Have you had the dog checked by a vet to rule out any medical cause?
    I'm not sure of the protocol where you guys are from but in the UK I would want a vet to take a look first before doing a consult.
    I also agree with you that problems like this can not be solved without seeing the dog, owner and the relationship and home environment so I would also advise a visit by a behaviourist to get to the bottom of things.
  13. Jean Cote Administrator

    He mentioned that he took her to the vet, that's where she wouldn't allow him in his car. Ouch.
  14. got_walmart Guest

    OK, I got a little bit of an update. I called the vet back today, I found out that she does have a bladder infection. (The test was done because I had a concern about her leaking urine when she walked.) I don't know if this would cause her to bite, or be painful. I did pick up the antibiotic today. So we'll see if that works.
    We have been very persistent today with the no biting. She has gone all day, with only 2 times she tried to bite. I think where she came from she was the "dominate" one. So we have a little bit of a power struggle.
    I also found today when I was brushing her teeth, she had a splinter in her gum. I know that hurt. I got it out, and found the board she had been chewing on. She can no longer get to it. The vet wouldn't have caught this because they didn't look in her mouth. They didn't want to take the muzzle off. It looked like it had been there a while. Someone had mentioned to have her checked for medical problems. With having her to the vet Friday, I decided to just recheck her from head to tail. Just to be sure. Well, after finding the splinter in her mouth, I also found one in her foot.
    This may be why she had an attitude. So we'll see if this helps also.
    While I was out, I also got some training treats, a clicker, and a trainer collar. She loves the clicker, and the treats. She also seems to calm down when the trainer leash comes out. I haven't put it on her yet. I'm letting her check it out first. I gave up on the muzzle. She hates that thing. I let her check it out first, then used it, but she don't like it at all.
    I think this was a good place to start with all the suggestions. If this don't work, I still will not give up. I will find something else. How long should I know if it's going to work? I saw one thing say about a week, and another say maybe up to 3? How long before I should try something else?
    Thanks everyone for the help.
  15. Jean Cote Administrator

    Congratulations on finding out what was going on with your dog! It’s hard to tell how much this was affecting her behaviour, but if it were me, I would be real grumpy if I had splinters and a bladder infection!

    The beauty about positive training techniques is that it shows you a way of life, rather than just a way to train your dog. When your dog gets time to spend with you, learning and being successful, then he learns to love being around you. This is the reason I have built this website, so that dog owners from across the world would have a place to learn how to do it themselves. Only ten minutes a day would get you on the right track to creating a harmonious relationship with your dog. (But in your case, several short sessions might be better)

    So as for when you should stop this – I would say never. But that is up to you to decide, give it a try and see what kind of results you get.

    So have fun with this! And if your dog is at any time – showing some signs of aggression or biting, you just have to put the treats away. She will get the message that if she is in that state of mind, then she looses all opportunities to get treats.

    Please do let us know how your training is going, and don’t forget to read the theory lessons in the classroom. Other than that I wish you good luck, and I hope that this will help you.

    P.S. I think you should also train both of your dogs! :)

  16. got_walmart Guest

    I wish I had a better update on my dog that bites. She is doing better about not biting. She has picked up a few other bad habits also. Barking ALL the time, trying to "heard" my kids. She nips their heals till they get up on the couch. On a brighter note, She is learning new things. She sits, stays, lays, crawls, sits pretty, she will not beg when someone is eating. She is now fully housebroke. I am still not giving up on her. I found some really good articles, and suggestions on here. She is just VERY stubborn, but I can tell she wants to learn. We still have a little bit of a power struggle, but we are both getting better.
  17. Jean Cote Administrator

    The best advice I can give is "Don't let her do anything you don't like". You don't have to put up with anything you don't like.

    My sister is horrible for this stuff, her dog growls at her when she picks her dog up or anytime he wants to get his way. But the problem is not the dog, it's in the way she handles it. She backs off and walks away from the dog - so what is the dog to think? MMM... Hey growling works, guess I gotta do it more often.

    Same goes with your dog herding your kids or nipping at them. He thinks it’s a game and your kids are his sheep.

    Barking, it is ironic that my neighbors dog bark constantly, while both of my dogs rarely bark - ever. Even when their dog is barking at my dogs through the fence, my dogs won't even bark back. Why? Because I've taught them not to do it. Ever since they were puppies I've always used verbal reprimand followed with a correction to discipline my dogs for any behaviors that I didn't like. This works with barking and digging.

    But as to how to do it, you will need to find a trainer to show you how. Because it's too hard to describe every little details that could or might happen here on the internet. And I've learned to do this by looking at other trainers do it.

    I think it is great that you are learning all sorts of new training stuff with your dog, especially the positive training methods listed on this website. But it also sounds like you need to do some behavioral control which to me, is separate from training tricks or obedience work.

    P.S. Is that the dog that is causing so much havoc? :) Cute one.
  18. Jean Cote Administrator

    Tip: I would keep a spray bottle by the couch and spray the dog in the face anytime she nips at your kid's feet.

    Just like the training on this website, your timing has to be precise. You have to spray immediately after she nips or it will never register in her brain why you are spraying her.
  19. got_walmart Guest

    That is a picture of the brat. LOL!!
    Well, I did something I said I would never do. No, I didn't get rid of her. I got a bark collar. I got it yesterday. I only use it when I'm home, so when she does bark, and stops I can tell her "good girl". My neighbors say she's not barking when I'm not home now. She's also not barking at 3 in the morning. She's not sure which collar she has on. She will kinda test bark to see if she's going to get shocked. I don't like it, but it is so much quieter. I don't leave it on her at night, but I put her regular collar back on, so she's not real sure.
    I also tried the spray bottle. It was a good idea, but she liked it. But we found something she don't like. A bell. When she tries to round my kids up, we ring the bell, and she stops. We tell her she's a good girl, and she goes and lays down.
    You said something about digging, that is a whole other issue we haven't even started on yet. I am going to take her tomorrow to a trainer about the behavior issues. It's not going to hurt getting a little extra advice.
    I did find another positive thing. I tried to walk her for the first time yesterday, I couldn't get her to leave the yard. She's never been out of the yard other then in the car.
  20. Jean Cote Administrator

    Question ... how much exercise does she get?

    Dogs that don’t receive enough exercise will usually spend their extra energy doing bad stuff. You could see a tremendous change in behavior if you start exercising her.

    Does she retrieve? The best exercise I have found is retrieving, it’s easy for the owner and tons of exercise for the dog.

    As a puppy, you should always try to acclimatize the dog to new and different surroundings and environments. Spending some extra time when the dog is a puppy will definitely pay itself off!

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