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Bossy puppy with 4 previous homes

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by Ava, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Ava

    Ava Member Registered

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    Hi guys, I really do hope you can offer me some advice, because I'm feeling overwhelmed. :(

    We've had our beautiful JRT x Chihuahua since he was 11 months old - he's 16 months now. We know he's had quite a few homes before us, so we understand why he has some issues.
    First, let me tell you all the great things about him before we get into the not so great! :rolleyes:
    OK, so he's super smart, absolutely gorgeous! He's wolf sable in colour, with a huge fluffy tail! He never whines or cries, he fetches his leash, coat & harness when he wants to go for a walk. (Pretty annoying when he wants to go out in the middle of the night just to sit on the grass for a bit and have a look around!)
    He's not possessive over his food, toys or anything else. He let's me brush his teeth, check his ears, etc and comb his fur. Before I open the front door and take him for a walk, he always sits nicely and waits. He's very playful and does this super cute thing where he play bows and bangs his front legs on the floor and barks at a toy, or a biscuit, etc.:D

    RIGHT, now for the not so good!
    He barks and lunges at vehicles, people (children and the elderly, too.) dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, his own reflection, items in shop windows everything basically! He lunges at our faces (fangs out!) when he wants something or he's excited. He shows his teeth if we try to kiss his face. (Which we are obviously not doing now.) He ever shows his teeth when approaching my husband's face to lick him. o_O Which is our little dogs favourite thing to do in the whole world, so why would he show his teeth? He'd much rather lick his face than have a belly rub!
    He has a few other issues with barking and peeing in the house after a bath, etc but I think the msg will turn into a book if I list all his naughty antics. ;) The main 2 that concern me are the barking at people and the fangs out when he's near our faces.

    A bit about his life with us might be helpful....
    He's walked for 20min on the morning with me. 10min when my husband gets home on the afternoon. 1 hour on the park, on a long 12 metre training lead. (lots of running to burn some of his energy off.) then 4 more 10 min walks throughout the evening.

    Chicken, steak, lamb are of no interest to him when he sees something he wants to chase. I've tried and tried working from a distance from the distraction and getting closer, but there has been no improvement in 5 months of having him.
    He has a round Kong toy and has lots of play time with us, but his energy is endless. o_O

    When he shows his teeth, he doesn't growl and there are NO other signs that the fangs are about to make an appearance. :( No lip licking, turning his head away, yawning etc. Just straight to the pearly whites! We don't smack him - we've never smacked any of our dogs. We just tell him no, withdraw attention or put him out of the room... But he's getting worse. Now, he shows his teeth and bites (not hard enough to break the skin) when he doesn't want to do something, or we try to pet him. Time outs frustrate him and make him worse. If we ignore him he thinks he is getting away with barking his head off, which he kind of is!

    I don't think it's true aggression and I don't think it's a submissive grin. It's more like he's anxious, stressed or just bossy! (??)

    I googled SO much information about it over the last 5 months and I can't find anything that fits the description of his behaviour?

    Has anyone out there experienced this toothy behaviour in the same content? I hope someone will reply because we are scared this will continue to get worse. He's started showing his teeth more and more lately, too. :(

    Also, some help with the barking /lunging would be great. Everyone looks at us like we are bad doggie parents that can't control their dog. The latter part is true. :oops:

    He was castrated 6 weeks after we got him BTW.
     
  2. Violet Turner

    Violet Turner Well-Known Member Registered

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    he could be anxious, and he is giving it out as aggression if you want go have a look at my thread: Train Your Dog this is to teach watch me so if he is barking outside it draws his attention to you and not the dog, car, cat etc.
    I just reread it why did you castrate him so early? Health?
    what do you to discipline him? I know you said you don't smack so I'm wondering...
    Ask if you need any more information as i have seen this with many of my dogs as most have been rescues :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
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  3. Mayblossom

    Mayblossom Well-Known Member Registered

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    Having a few different homes before he’s a year old must have been quite traumatic for the little lad :( so no wonder he has issues, bless him. Who knows what he’s been through over the last year, can’t offer any help as never had any experience with this type of behaviour but I’m sure someone can offer you some good advice on here. He has lots of good points though :D
     
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  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    This isn't great, especially for the people he is barking at. So to train him out of it, try to find out what his 'flight distance' is. Flight distance is the term used to describe the position where a perceived threat gets too close, and an animal adopts fight or flight behaviour. Because your dog cannot flee, he is probably lunging on the basis that he thinks he can scare off the 'threat'. You said when he is like this, he won't take chicken etc - this is related, a stressed animal won't eat (again related to fight or flight; an empty stomach is more efficient for fighting or fleeing). Once you have found that distance, sit on a bench or something keeping him far enough away from triggers that he doesn't react. Reward, with food or anything else that he loves, and gradually - over months, this is never going to be a quick fix - work on reducing the distance. The 'watch me' mentioned above (I haven't read the linked page though) can be useful but some dogs get more upset when they can't see the thing they are afraid of so use that with caution.

    The teeth display is hard to analyse without seeing the context. It doesn't sound like aggression from the way you describe it. It is more of a concern that he bites (even if it isn't hard) when you say he doesn't want to do something. Dogs give a series of signals that they are unhappy, but unfortunately most people don't recognise them because they can be quite subtle. To begin with there is often wide eyes, lip licking and yawning. There is also muscular tension in the body. Then the ones we sometimes do see - growl, snarl, nip then bite. If the early signals are not seen (or, in the dog's view, ignored) he won't bother with them because us stupid humans pay no attention anyway; so he may go straight to the bite. So it's important never to ignore the early signals. It is possible previous owners have failed to pay attention to his warnings so he just bypasses them. Growls are good, they are a tremendously helpful way of your dog communicating! Going back to the things you don't want him to do, luring is always better than forcing - like if you want him to move to or from a certain place, call him and offer a treat rather than push or pull him. Maybe if you gave examples we might be able to suggest more.

    You also said he has unlimited energy. Training a 'settle down' cue is a good idea. Rather than go into it (my reply has been quite long already) have a look for Kikopup on YouTube. She has some great training videos including a settle and also one to stop barking.

    Edit - my arithmetic on the paragraph below was way off, the dog was neutered later than I thought but I am leaving the paragraph in for clarity

    Last (I promise!) it's too late now but if anyone else reads this in future, neutering early stops testosterone, the brave hormone, so that could be a cause of anxious behaviour in your dog.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
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  5. arealhuman

    arealhuman Well-Known Member Registered

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    Welcome to the forum. I feel your pain. I have a rescue dog, and he barks at other dogs, although he is getting a bit more chilled now. As @JoanneF says, it isn't a quick fix. The advice on here from a lot of people helped me greatly. Can you find a reputable trainer near you? They might be able to offer some techniques on helping with this. Also, do you have any mental stimulation you can provide in addition to his walks? I've read on here that this can be as taxing as a walk for the dog. A great toy we've used recently is a ball with a single hole in, in which you drop treats, the dog rolls it around to get them out. I'm aware I've asked more questions than provided answers, but I'm hoping this might prompt some ideas for you to try :)
     
  6. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    I don't think a year old is particularly young to castrate a chihuahua as they will mature physically and mentally - though I don't know how it would tie in with fear periods.

    In addition to what has been said, he gets quite a lot of walks. This is good, but if he's getting stressed on every walk then his stress levels are going to be constantly at a high level. Once a dog has been stressed, it can take a day or more for his levels to return to normal, but this can only happen if they don't get topped up in the meantime. So your no. 1 aim is to reduce stress and ensure a calm environment.

    Avoiding all triggers on walks is vital, as has been said, even if this means fewer walks, walks in other places and at unsociable hours, or whatever. Sniffing games (in our outside the house) or just letting him sniff in th verges and long grass can be very calming as well as giving him a mental workout.

    What do you feed him? Some dog foods can be the equivalent of blue Smarties.

    He may well have been punished for growling or showing other signs of discomfort/aggression in the past, which would explain why he doesn't give you much warning. Also, he might be conflicted - you represent security to him, part of him may want to be petted, but he's learnt in the past that 'people' can be dangerous. Some dogs also like to be petted, but hate hands going over the head - in which case a neck scratch or chest rub may go down better. I would avoid putting your face anywhere near his for obvious reasons, but also, you might look as if you're looming over him which would be intimidating. I would reduce petting in general unless he clearly wants it. There's a video here about a dog's 'consent to petting' - but bear in mind that he might still clearly elicit petting and then decide very suddenly that he doesn't want it after all:

    I wouldn't correct him in any way at all when he shows his teeth, growls or barks at you, or even bites - these are all comunications, including the bite! Instead, simply walk away. If timeouts are used for, e.g., biting in play, they only need to be for 5-10 seconds - this gets the message over, but isn't so long that he'll forget what it was he did and gets frustrated.

    Impulse control games are great for any dog as it develops their ability to control their behaviour - there's a great video here:
     
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  7. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Sorry, my arithmetic was waaayyy off!
     
  8. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    It's easy to read 'He was castrated 6 weeks' and have your brain jump to the wrong conclusion without you realising!
     
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  9. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .

    As suggested above, DS/CC / DeSensitize & Counter-Condition is the most-common form of behavior modification for any reactive issue: find out what the dog's very-earliest signs of anxiety or arousal are, by watching carefully.
    He might slow down as he approaches a potential trigger, or his head & tail might come up, or his ears prick - this is LONG before his pupils expand, hackles rise, etc. // Those early signs become the ones U watch for, & don't get him any closer, at that point.

    Then figure out at what point he notices the trigger, without in any way reacting - that might be where his ears prick, or he CLOSES HIS MOUTH [most relaxed dogs let their mouths open slightly & the tip of the tongue lies over the incisors - when they tense, they bring their tongues into their mouths, & close them].
    Determine what that distance is - where he's aware of the trigger, but not yet reacting. That's the distance where U will work.

    I would urge U to buy a copy of Click to Calm - it's a terrific DIY manual for any reactive issue, & can get into far-more extensive explanations than anyone can here. :) It's inexpensive &, above all, safe - there will be no suggestions to confront, flood, provoke, or intimidate the dog!
    Used copies are often available on Amazon, Libris, etc.

    It's not absolutely mandatory that U use a clicker or other marker, but it certainly helps the dog to understand precisely what behavior U want, by highlighting it. A marker can be thought of as a camera-shutter: U mark that Kodak moment when everything is right; thus timing is important. Practicing accuracy AWAY from the dog in order to get some hand/eye or hand/ear co-ordination is important, so that U master the mechanical skill B4 U try actually training with it.
    Such simple challenges as dropping a ball & clicking B4 it hits the floor are the start; marking the instant that each car in a lane of traffic "touches" a vertical object like the post of a street-sign is slightly more advanced, & clicks of moving persons, such as everyone with a red jacket at the mall, are another step forward. All of this is done without the dog as an audience; U don't want the marker to become background noise!

    Open Bar / Closed Bar is a super-simple DS/CC process:
    have a pint to a quart of pea-sized or half-pea size tidbits, all high-protein & low-carb. Cubed lean beef, diced chkn breast or turkey, slivers of canned cold-water fish [mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon - water-packed, not in oil], or freeze-dried lamb-lung, beef-liver, whitefish.
    Stay outside the dog's reaction distance, but close to their threshold - he's aware, but not reacting.
    EVERY TIME the trigger is present, feed feed feed in a steady stream - as he swallows the previous morsel, the next is under his nose. The trigger cannot be seen or heard?... SNAP! - bar's closed, & no more goodies, until the next passing trigger.
    U can save some money by using a portion of his kibble [assuming he eats kibble]; deduct that amount from his allotted measured meals of the next day, & bag it overnight in the 'frig, mixed in the same bag with the fresh foods, already snipped into pea-sized bits; next day, everything in the bag smells fantastic, & he will eagerly gobble the kibble. // At least half the bag should be fresh foods, &/or freeze-dried protein. U can't use 3/4 kibble & 1/4 fresh protein; the dog's response won't be as eager.

    The parking-lot of a pet-supply store [or veterinary office or groomer] is a good spot for such DS/CC sessions - get closer only as the dog's reactivity drops. U cannot hurry the process; U can only get closer as the dog relaxes in the presence of that trigger, & it can vary day to day. Yesterday, he might have been fine at 20-ft; today the wind is gusty & blowing erratically, & he needs 50-ft to stay calm when another dog passes in the distance.
    That's OK. Just go with whatever he feels, on a given day. :) He will progress, just hang in there.

    BTW, I disagree that testicles are needed for dogs to "be confident". Testes don't secrete confidence, & testosterone is associated with dimorphic sexual behaviors [mounting, leg-lift to mark, lick urine to test for estrus, posturing at other M dogs, M:M reactivity or M:M aggro, escape to roam...] & aggression, across the spectrum.
    He was past 12-MO when he was neutered - any issues of "lack of confidence" were pre-existing, along with his testes, & would not be made worse by castration.
    No one I've asked has yet been able to post a link to a research paper in a journal, where fearful dogs who kept their testes were proven to become more confident, while fearful dogs who were neutered experienced a sudden & sharp worsening of their timid behaviors. :rolleyes: This seems to be an old-husbands' tale, & for some reason, it arose in the UK.
    It's interesting that no one alleges that "timid F dogs need their ovaries to become confident" - despite the fact that, analogous to testes, ovaries prompt Fs to be less tolerant & more reactive / aggro toward other Fs, most prominently & obnoxiously when in estrus. I don't think anyone would refer to a serious F:F fight as an expression of confidence - it's aggression, & when one of the 2 is in estrus of whatever stage, it's driven by F hormones.

    U might want to start a log of his progress, listing his current threshold under given circs ["20-ft in the open on a calm day, 35-ft on a narrow sidewalk with a brisk breeze"...], & what places U go for Open-Bar / Closed-Bar sessions.

    - terry

    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
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  10. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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  11. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Are you sure about that? There seem to be plenty of threads in there with posts from members other than the OP.
     
  12. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    No. :) I could easily be wrong - wouldn't be the 1st time. :D

    Maybe it was the "Training Logs" subforum? - I know there is one, where no comments can be posted, & it's strictly for the OP's continuation.
    - t

    .
     
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  13. Ava

    Ava Member Registered

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    Thank you so much for your reply :)
    Yes, I think you're right, I think he's anxious, too. He must have a lot of conflicting emotions. :(
    He's actually never been in a rescue center, not that I know of, anyway. He's just been sold on and sold on, like a piece of unwanted furniture. I guess he's looking if he hasn't been in a rescue center. Though I still feel so bad for him that no one wanted him. He's wonderful in so many ways. :'(
    We usually tell him 'no' or 'ah ah' if he does something he's not allowed to, or turn away, ignore it or put him out of the room for a bit. We are trying everything!
    We had him neutered at 12 months because we were told that if we didn't, he was more likely to be attacked by intact males who could see him as a thread. Unfortunately there is a little JRT who is always loose on the park and he's intact. (He lives local to us and we have been told he escapes under the fence) Any information you can give me is greatly welcomed. :)
    I will definitely check out your link, too. :)
     
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  14. Ava

    Ava Member Registered

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    IMG_20171210_104801910.jpg
    I'm trying to post some pictures of him throughout this thread. :)
     
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  15. Ava

    Ava Member Registered

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    LOL, yes he does have lots of good points. :D
    Thank you so much for replying :)
     
  16. Ava

    Ava Member Registered

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    I appreciate everyones reply so much. Thank you :)
    Yes, I will keep a good distance from whatever he is focused on, I think it's going to take longer than I'd hoped, but that's OK.
    He will take food if he isn't over threshold and zoned in on the dog etc. I'd say his desire to chase dogs is stonger than any other. :rolleyes:
    BTW, if he does interact with other friendly dog, he does play very nicely with them. They sniff, then chase each other! :)
    If he doesn't want to be petted, he usually turns his head and yawns, so I always stop when he does that.
    None of these signs are shown before he flashes his teeth, though. :oops: For instance, when I'm at my father's house (He's 86 and was burgled today :( )he'll sit by his chair and give my dad his paw when he wants something. If my dads hand is in reach he'll wag his tail and he will play bite it, with his teeth making the odd quick appearance. His body isn't tense at all, it's like he is asking for something and feels anxious that he can't make you understand. I could definitely be wrong though.
    When my husband is asleep when I get home with the pup (He comes everywhere with me. He's never been 'home alone!' ) He runs up the stairs, jumps on the bed and tries to lick his face. He flashes his teeth quickly, licks the air - as he stretches his tongue to the length of a giraffes in order to try and reach his face! Teeth are flashed briefly again, air licked again, etc. The teeth go away once he's allowed to lick.
    We've stopped the face licking all together because he's obsessed by it and does it with such focus and he never wants to stop!
    As for the his mouth on our hands when we move him, I agree luring him away is better than pushing him off. It's usually when he's trying to sit at the head of the bed on the pillow and lick faces!
    I just don't know he's being a bit bossy as well.
    I saw a video on the 'settle' method, a couple of months back. I've been working on it with him and I think he knows what it means now, but he just doesn't want to do it! :rolleyes:
     
  17. Ava

    Ava Member Registered

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    IMG_20180315_212131.jpg
    Yes, I have one of those treat toys as well. :) He has quite a few different ones (I'm trying them all!) His favourite is a round one with a hole it it. He takes it to the top of the stairs and drops it!! Then he goes and picks up all the bits that have dropped out! :D He has no interest in any of them on a walk though. :(
    It's like he's never seen the world before and he's overwhelmed. :(
    Thank you so much for replying. Everyone is so helpful. :D
     
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  18. Ava

    Ava Member Registered

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    Thank you for your reply and video's. All the help is making me feel less alone and overwhelmed. :) It's 4.50am so I'll check the link out tomorrow with great interest. (I wanted to try and respond to everyone tonight, because it means so much to me that you've all taken your time to help.)
    I was reading something about how dogs stay in that fight or flight mode for 24hrs or longer, after a stressful event and I definitely want to keep a record of EVERYTHING that happens everyday and see if that makes it clearer.
    I definitely cuddle and pet him too much and I'm trying hard to resist his cuteness!
    If I have treat for him and ask him to sit in one room whilst I go to another, he will do it. He can be quite patient (if he thinks It's worth it!) He never whines or pines.
    His diet definitely needs sorting out. What he will eat one day, he won't the next, so after it's been there all day and he hasn't eaten it, I will buy him something different .... Then he goes off that. All he eats right now is freshly cooked meat & some dog treats - milk bones, denta stix, chicken jerkys.
    I think because I've spoiled him so much I'll have to feed him dog food and I guess he'll eat it when he's hungry enough. He will drive me insane for something different though!
    He's got Royal Canine, Perfect Fit, Pooch and Mutt, Harringtons and Iams at the moment. There's a bit of all of them in a bowl in the kitchen and he's never eaten a single bite!
     
  19. Ava

    Ava Member Registered

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    All this advice really motivated me to make some changes. I've been reading so much online over the last 5 months and so much of it conflicts with what someone else has said and that has left me questioning if I'm choosing the right approach.
    I feel like I can put it all together and write down a solid plan.
    My concern with the neutering is that we might have broken his trust by handing him over to the vet to hurt him. He was friendly to everyone prior to that. I wonder if he feels like he has to protect himself now, because he can't trust us to do it. He doesn't try to bite anyone, he barks a LOT, checks if they are friendly,
    then wants to jump up repeatedly, play biting their hands.
    I wanted add some more information to this reply, but it's 5:40am. :(
    Thank you so much for your msg. I'm extremely grateful. Honestly, it helps so much.
     
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  20. Mayblossom

    Mayblossom Well-Known Member Registered

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    Does so much good to talk and realise you’re not alone with your issues , not many perfect doggies out there ;) easy to tell that you love him and want to do the very best you can. Keep us posted on his progress, love the pictures of him too ....he’s adorable :rolleyes:
     
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