My dog nipped me in the face and is quite aggressive towards me :(

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My dog nipped me in the face and is quite aggressive towards me :(

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Old 03-21-2012, 09:22 PM
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My dog nipped me in the face and is quite aggressive towards me :(

My 10 month old puppy Louie (who I posted about in the breed section--there are photos there of his ridiculously cute self), nipped me in the face today! I do not believe he was playing, he simply did not want me to move him. My husband and I have had a major problem with him since we rescued him at 3 months old. He was initially a very scared dog and we managed to help him become more confident....too confident apparently by taking him to the dog park and just loving on him.

While we have both had some exposure to dogs, we have never raised a puppy before and discovered that yelling, no!! when he did something bad did not really have a good effect on him....a lot of the times he would up and urinate. Then he became very aggressive towards me and so I know now, not to corner him (he is 14 lbs) but there are times when he is out of control and needs to be put in the other room. We had been having my husband remove him because every time I would try (when he is agitated) he would snap and snarl and lick his lips at me but we have been thinking it is a dominance issue. Sooo we started demanding that he sit for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING (so far that is the main trick he knows, we have not been able to get him into obedience class...that will come april 1st). So now sometimes, as long as I don't get too angry and glare at him after he snaps at me and scares me, as long as I stay calm and quiet, he will let me pet him but if I try to pick him up he tries to bite.

Tonight he bit me on my face (really nipped) and also has been getting very aggressive when I try to remove him from my seat on the couch and he recently learned how to jump on our bed and we can't keep him off because of our apartment set-up but I've noticed he does not sleep on my husband's pillows, only mine an snaps at me when I try to move him!! He has also become somewhat more aggressive at the dog park, which is noticeable to me but other dog owners said he is just being a dog..he mounts every small dog and plays rather rough now.

I am at my wit's end with this dang dog. We love him but if he is going to continue like this or if this get's any worse he is going to be a danger and we will be forced to get rid of him We are signing up for an obedience class but I'm tired. It seems like my own puppy whom I love and spoil, hates me.

Any help would be appreciated! I'm really tired of serious criticism so if all you have is criticism of how horrible a dog owner I am, I just don't want to hear it.

Thanks for reading my post!
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:48 PM
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I feel your pain - when my mom and I got her Shih Tsu Impulse (as in, Impulse buy), she was super cute and fluffy - and super nippy with a "don't push my buttons" type attitude. She loved to aim for your nose when she was scared or angry, especially when you corrected her with a No!" and stare down. And she's the reason we stopped doing dominance rolls with any dog - totally backfired. Luckily, she loves people, so we found walking away from her when she was misbehaving really helped curb unwanted behavior and avoided that doomed stare-down. We also taught "let's go" (as in "follow me"), to help with getting her off beds, out of rooms, etc. Also throwing her favorite toy to get her off the bed/couch worked wonders too, since then she was happy to leave and we didn't get in a "this is my spot, no it's my spot!" fighting match.

Imp also plays super rough - we finally got her a play mate so she would leave our older dog alone (who is 60 lbs to her 8, and still didn't like her style of play!). The two little ones sound like they're fighting, but then they get a drink from the same bowl and lay down next to each other. It's when they go deathly quiet and stiff that we have to separate them.

The good news is, once you can really read your puppy and learn a few helpful techniques at obedience class, your puppy can certainly improve. Imp is now a well behaved dog (okay, occasionally needs time-outs at the dog park, and has a tendency to pull the "I have no idea what that command means" trick if she's not sufficiently motivated) - it's been years since she snapped at anyone, let alone the family. Clicker training would have been great for her (especially when she was in her nippy/frightened stage) because we would have avoided so many show-downs and she probably would listen better today.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:04 PM
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IMO it sounds like your pup might be Resource Guarding and also possibly have some handling issues. Generally dogs with these issues are actually quite insecure, not "dominant"!

I just wanted to give you some reading and a couple videos to get you started. I will be back a bit later and will do my best to answer any questions you have. And I am sure other members here will jump in to help you out!

A good intro to Resource Guarding and what to do!
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior...fication-7511/

A bit about subtle signals (eye blinks, averted eyes, lip licks, etc.) your dog is likely giving off to try and tell you he is uncomfortable.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior...signals-10084/
*direct eye contact/hard stare is often seen as a threat in the dog world, so no more glaring!

An alternative explaination for why dogs hump.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior...patterns-3434/

Info about what dominance really means in respect to dogs.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training...nce-dogs-4076/

Videos for ways to deal with handling issues.

Last edited by kmes; 03-21-2012 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:44 AM
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I hope that I'm interpreting your situation right (it's still in the morning here and I'm at work lol), but it seems that your dog is insecure and not used to handling, and your relationship with him is not positive/solid enough so he's not feeling safe with you yet.

When you mentioned that he urinated whenever you yelled "no" to him, does it seem fear/submissive urination? Did your dog seem fearful/submissive when you began to correct him verbally and by staring at him? If so, then your dog probably had learned that since showing submission didn't work, and since aggression seems to work (you would back away if he bites/growl), then he now resorts to aggression to defend himself.

What can be done is aside of desensitizing him of being handled, you have to work on making the relationship more positive for him too so that he feels safe with you and trusts you (so that you can handle him). You can:
- start clicker training;
- treat him constantly, play toys with him, as long as he knows how to wait patiently by sitting and not stealing anything from you unless you give him;
- desensitize handling issues by first approach your hand and then give a treat to him and then repeat a lot. When he's fine with your hands near him, start trying to touch him lightly and then immediately give him a treat. Repeat a lot again and then when he's fine, gently caress him once and treat him, and repeat. The key here is to approach slowly, and use treats to let him associate that your hands near him is a good thing, and every time he seems fine with a step already, you approach more and more. Make sure you're patient, and by time you won't need treats anymore, coz he already feels safe about your handling.

Lastly, the issues can be dealt with without correction and only positive reinforcement. And IMO, it can be very counter productive to use correction on fearful dogs and/or before the owner/dog relationship is solid/positive enough.
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:18 AM
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I will echo Kmes. When your puppy is snarling and lip licking, this is not "dominance" at all.

It sounds like you and he need to develop some ways to deal with him that do not necessitate picking him up. So you can move him "hands free".

Teaching a "over here" cue, using positive reinforcement techniques, would allow you to get him out of corners, off of furniture, or what ever you need.

I suspect if you continue to have to resort to handling him when he is scared-defensive-aggressive or resource guarding, the situation will escalate.

It might be a very good idea to consult a behaviorist and get some help in your home with him, to get you headed down the right path with this little guy. Without some help in getting this situation headed in a better direction, I could see the situation deteriorating as he matures.


Trainers
Association of Pet Dog Trainers - Dog Training Resources

behaviorists
International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
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Old 03-22-2012, 10:48 AM
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thanks everyone for your responses! I am not 100% sure if he is always resource guarding but then again, I simply don't know because I am not an expert on dog behavior. I think you are right though that most of this is not related to him being dominant. I will say that his behavior did IMPROVE after we began doing a lot more training with him...focusing on getting him to sit and rewarding positive behavior. Most of the time, he is my snuggle puppy and he loves nothing more than to be carried around and held like a baby, snuggled in my arms.

It is when he is sitting on my bed or on the couch and then I move him and show my unhappiness with him (still trying not to raise my voice much with him) that he then becomes very aggressive towards me and only me. Also, when he is playing, recently he began trying to play with my feet like they are his own toy but it hurts and I'll say 'ouch! no, louie!' and get him to sit using a deep voice (was told that helps) and if he continues I pick him up to put him in the other room. Most of the time, this is fine and later when I go to check on him, he is sitting with his little head down or rolls over on his belly, but sometimes he will snap at me if I pick him up, freaking out. It is inconsistent. There may be something I am doing, perhaps he is noticing that I am stressed (as a result of other things) and perceives my stress as a threat...I don't know. I really hope this will work and hopefully through obedience class, we will all learn some lessons and I will be able to remove him from situations without having to try and pick him up.

I would hate to have to get rid of my snuggle puppy...he is the sweetest dog 99% of the time.
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Old 03-22-2012, 11:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louiesmama View Post

It is when he is sitting on my bed or on the couch and then I move him and show my unhappiness with him (still trying not to raise my voice much with him) that he then becomes very aggressive towards me and only me.
Sounds like he is RGing the bed/couch. Being gruff with him is making this reaction much worse.
Teach him an "off" command. Get rid of your unhappy voice, as this just puts him in a defensive mode. What you want is him happily complying. Teach him an "off" command using treats.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Louiesmama View Post
Also, when he is playing, recently he began trying to play with my feet like they are his own toy but it hurts and I'll say 'ouch! no, louie!' and get him to sit using a deep voice (was told that helps)
From his perspective you are growling at him. This will not calm him down. Toss him a toy instead. Wear sturdy shoes as well, while he is young and chewy on everything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louiesmama View Post
and if he continues I pick him up to put him in the other room. Most of the time, this is fine and later when I go to check on him, he is sitting with his little head down or rolls over on his belly, but sometimes he will snap at me if I pick him up, freaking out.
Picking him up is extremely threatening to a small dog, especially when he is already grumpy as you have been speaking to him in a growly voice. He is snapping in self defense. Remember we are as big as elephants to him!


It sounds to me like you are getting some bad advice from somewhere. This is not a dog where being "dominant" to him, or "speaking deeply" or otherwise being in any way intimidating, will get you what you seek. These methods will only cause your problems to get worse.

Go to Kikopups channel. Learn how to train what you want through only positive means. Give up the whole idea of the dominance framework. It is getting you in trouble.

kikopup - YouTube

The dog is basically timid and fearful, mixed with Resource Guarding issues.

Read this
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior...fication-7511/

And this
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training...-fallout-4776/


You are at a cross roads with this pup. Things are either going to get better from here, or continue to get worse.

If you continue with any of the deep voice commands, reaching for him when he's feeling aggressive/fearful, picking him up when he's not ready for it, and believing in the idea that he has times he is trying to dominate you, things will likely get worse.

If you learn how to do Positive Reinforcement Training, and start to see his behaviors for what they are, fearful-defensive-aggression and Resource Guarding, you can make progress improving things.

Hope some of that helps!
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:47 PM
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the kikopup channel really has helped, even the one time I tried it a few minutes ago! I am not sure if it will help with his aggression yet, it is too early to tell but so far he responded very well to it. I mimicked the clicker sound since I don't have one and we did the whole 'treat in hand' thing and he left it alone and then made eye contact with me when he wanted some. Then all i had to do was use the hand motion for sit and he sat, then put out my hand and he gave me his paw and said 'down' and he went right down! Then we worked on 'stay' and I use a motion (I kind of made up) with my hand in a 'stop' kind of sign and he stayed! day 1 of mock-click training is a success!
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Louiesmama View Post
the kikopup channel really has helped, even the one time I tried it a few minutes ago! I am not sure if it will help with his aggression yet, it is too early to tell but so far he responded very well to it. I mimicked the clicker sound since I don't have one and we did the whole 'treat in hand' thing and he left it alone and then made eye contact with me when he wanted some. Then all i had to do was use the hand motion for sit and he sat, then put out my hand and he gave me his paw and said 'down' and he went right down! Then we worked on 'stay' and I use a motion (I kind of made up) with my hand in a 'stop' kind of sign and he stayed! day 1 of mock-click training is a success!
Keep up the good work! I think you will find that the more of this type of training you do, the better and more trusting will be your relationship with Louie.

So PR training in its simplest form is a way to train a specific behavior. But as you get more into it, you'll find it is an entire philosophy of how to be with your dog. You will get more tuned into what is going on with him, and will realize what provokes his fearful aggression. Then you can change the way you handle those situations, and eventually the aggression will fade away.

Its a long term thing. You can do it!
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Old 05-31-2012, 04:34 PM
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Update on Louie: He really has improved but one of the biggest things that I have found to help is cuddling him way more frequently and just spending more time with him. I didn't always get to spend a lot of time with him during the year because I was always at school, studying, at my internship or working but my husband was home most of the time with him and when I got home I was always really really busy and stressed out so I think he picked up on that and responded to that. Now, we've been cuddling a lot more and he's been like my little cuddle-pup He still has moments where he will bark and will act out a bit but it is happening really infrequently now.
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