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I adopted my dog from a shelter nearly two years ago. He was about 8-9 months we think when I adopted him and he looks like a pit bull mix (unsure about what his mix is). He had some aggressive tendencies when we first got him but he has made a lot of progress except in one area and I need help understanding and trying to curb this behavior. He is completely calm and sweet whenever both my boyfriend and myself are home or when it is just my boyfriend home with him BUT when it is just me home, he starts barking, snapping, and biting at me. I have no idea what to do when he does this except put him in his crate until my boyfriend gets home which obviously is not a solution. Does anyone have any insight that could help me understand why he does this to me or how I can stop this behavior?
Note: It’s possible he was used for dog fighting prior to us adopting him, but unsure about this.
 

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When he bites, does he break the skin, cause you injury? Bearing in mind a big dog could break bones if he wanted, is he exercising good bite inhibition? If he is injuring you, you need more help than we can offer on a forum. Can you also say what techniques you have tried so far, what has worked or not worked? Has he been practicing this behaviour for the whole two years? Sorry for all the questions but it helps to get a clearer understanding of what is happening.
 

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When he bites, does he break the skin, cause you injury? Bearing in mind a big dog could break bones if he wanted, is he exercising good bite inhibition? If he is injuring you, you need more help than we can offer on a forum. Can you also say what techniques you have tried so far, what has worked or not worked? Has he been practicing this behaviour for the whole two years? Sorry for all the questions but it helps to get a clearer understanding of what is happening.
Totally understand lots of questions! He never breaks the skin, and often times he is not biting hard but just like more nipping. A few times he has left little bruises but I don’t think he’s trying to hurt me. He’s been doing this with me pretty much the whole two years but never does it to my boyfriend. Sometimes when I start rubbing his ears or his back, he will stop but sometimes that doesn’t work. If I can get him to calm down, I just put him in his crate for like a time out which usually calms him down a little bit.
 

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I wonder if he just hasn't learned this is inappropriate play - puppies play like this,and as I said, if he was really being aggressive he could cause much more serious injury.

Can you try this for a couple of weeks and see if it helps. Teach him that teeth on skin equals end of fun. So as soon as he makes contact, walk out of the room for a few moments. Be consistent, do it immediately and do it every time, completely disengage with him.

There is also something called ”extinction burst” that you should be aware of. This is when a behaviour that used to get attention no longer works for the dog so he tries it all the harder and it seems like things are getting worse, not better. This is good, because it means that what you are doing is starting to work.
 

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Just to add to what @JoanneF has said, when you do disengage with him, don't say anything but remain super-calm - I found that much more effective than saying 'No'.

Another thought is that he might be missing your boyfriend, wondering where he is, and that little bit of extra stress is making him act out. Make sure you have plenty of good interactions with him when it's just the two of you. I really like this video:
You can invent lots of fun 'games' using the basics, and it teaches him to control his actions (e.g. 'I really want to play rough with Mum but it's better if I don't').
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I wonder if he just hasn't learned this is inappropriate play - puppies play like this,and as I said, if he was really being aggressive he could cause much more serious injury.

Can you try this for a couple of weeks and see if it helps. Teach him that teeth on skin equals end of fun. So as soon as he makes contact, walk out of the room for a few moments. Be consistent, do it immediately and do it every time, completely disengage with him.

There is also something called ”extinction burst” that you should be aware of. This is when a behaviour that used to get attention no longer works for the dog so he tries it all the harder and it seems like things are getting worse, not better. This is good, because it means that what you are doing is starting to work.
I will definitely try this out. Thank you so much!
 

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Just to add to what @JoanneF has said, when you do disengage with him, don't say anything but remain super-calm - I found that much more effective than saying 'No'.

Another thought is that he might be missing your boyfriend, wondering where he is, and that little bit of extra stress is making him act out. Make sure you have plenty of good interactions with him when it's just the two of you. I really like this video:
You can invent lots of fun 'games' using the basics, and it teaches him to control his actions (e.g. 'I really want to play rough with Mum but it's better if I don't').
Okay yeah I definitely am going to try not saying anything because I do always say no which doesn’t work! I’ll also try out games, thank you so much!
 

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It's not what you asked but picking up on saying No - dogs find that difficult because at any one time they are doing many things. As well as the behaviour you are saying no to, they are watching, listening, sniffing, planning - so what does the ”no” refer to? So instead, try asking for something you would like instead. So for example, if he was jumping up, ask for a sit.
 
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