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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
hey i just started a new job at a shelter, and theres this one 4 month old small labrador mix not so high energy dog, that is a biter. Whenever we move around the dogs like to the outside yard, she is usually unresponsive and goes roams where she wants in the shelter. Then whenever i go to grab her collar to get her there she turns her head and bites. Today as i tryed to hook up a leash she layed on her back which made it even harder and i got bitten which got me feeling a little angry and frustrated. The other workers/volunteers at the shelter handle her by very gently approaching/petting and hooking up the leash to move her. Taking her with ur hand on the collar pretty much is guarantee she will try to bite. Instead of working around the issue like everyone i want to address it, and cure this issue, which in turn will also help her get adopted...Any advice much appreciated. Thanks
 

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Are you allowed to feed the dogs? I would just try positive reinforcement for any touch in and around her collar. There's some stickies on this site about positive reinforcement and training. Get her to associate people touching her/her collar/putting a leash on with good good things! Never approach her from behind or startle her.

Approach her slowly, with treats in a pouch on you (not in your hands). Reach out slowly, when she allows you to touch her without biting/snapping say "Yes" and give a treat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Now touch her collar. No biting/snapping, say "yes" and treat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Advance to hooking up the leash. Then to walking with the leash. Then to walking with you while you hold her collar.

You are going to go slowly and gently. Don't expect her to get it in a day. Eventually you want her to be comfortable with all people doing this.

Puppies are bitey and nippy. Should the puppy bite or nip, ignore!
 

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Sounds like the dog needs to be conditioned to enjoy having her collar grabbed. Raiders stump wags a mile a minute when I touch his collar and that's because I've paired it with good things. Mostly food treats but I've been working on tug drive lately and it drives him nuts (in the good way). Similarly, Raider too doesn't like being pulled around by his collar and reaches around to remove my hand. That's his way of telling me he will come with me and I don't need to drag him.

And it sounds to me also that you're going to have to take some time to get her used to that. Start by click/treating (or verbal marker which ever you use) your touch on her back (or where ever she's comfortable) and move up to where a collar sits. Don't grab her collar until she trusts you touching her neck. Once she's cool with that I'd then introduce her to the concept of her collar being touched, and then grabbed and then so forth to the point of her associating collar grabs as a good thing. Play lots of games WITH the collar too.

She might just of had a rough experience with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanks guys. I never thought about that. I was kinna thinking it was a dominance issue but acting firm/alpha with her didnt seem to help. I will try ur suggestions and take my time with it, thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
O forgot to ask, while doing these exercises, and the dog bites, how should i react?
n should i stop or continue the exercise?...
 

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Dominance is not the problem, and dominance based training is outdated and incorrect. It been disproven and shouldn't be used as a training method. Trying to be firm or tough with a dog that bites is not the correct way to handle that, it's likely she's had people snatch her collar roughly in the past and is telling you "hey, let go!". I personally think the rest of the shelter employees are handling it properly, by being careful and kind when grabbing this dogs collar.

When she bites is it mouthing on your hand, or is it a quick snap? Is it aggressive or more just "get off me" behavior? If she's throwing herself on the ground and biting your hands she probably doesn't want to go with you because you're pulling too hard, or she knows she will have to go back into the kennel which I would hate too.

When she tries to bite, just walk away and say "come on!" In a very fun tone and when she's interested in you again try again, but this time carefully and calm as the other employees are doing. Feed her treats as you grab her collar, and don't tug or pull. Once you have her collar in your hand praise heavily, let go, and try again. Don't ever be forceful, don't tug, don't make it uncomfortable.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
its more like a quick snap, "get off me" behavior. After i got the leash connected to her she didnt get off the ground and had to drag her and forcefully get her to her legs to start moving which guess was wrong. I try to ask nicely calling her name to come but she usually ignores. Def got some work to do with her and thanks to ur guys help now have some proper guidance to getting her rehabilitated :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
thanks for the video, ill watch it soon. no in house trainer but i want to be a trainer and i think this job is the perfect place for me to start :) isnt it true that a dog doesnt mouth a owner/handler that it respects? I kinna assumed that if the dog saw me as alpha i would gain his respect-hence not being bit..
 

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sounds not like aggression to me, more like bein insecure. :)
Have you tried using a harness for handling and a collar just for training and reconditioning it? some dogs feel less threatend by the harness and depending on the type, it can help calming down nervous dogs.
 
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Dogs don't often bite because they think they are the alpha, most commonly, it's is because of fear. If you've dragged this dog on a lead before, it is most definitely fearful.

Especially if you want to be a trainer, I HIGHLY suggest you take a look at the positive training stickies in this forum. Aggression and dominance based training was made popular by TV shows, but is NOT the best way to train a dog.

Books: http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/comprehensive-book-list-115977/

Operant conditioning: http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/4-quadrants-operant-conditioning-23702/

Biting and nipping: http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/biting-mouthing-nipping-168082/

Web resources: http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/web-resources-131034/
 

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This job certainly sounds like a great way to interact with a lot of dogs, but there is a lot of education involved in training too. One resource for you might be the Karen Pryor Academy, which is one of the most highly-respected of the online training schools. Shelter employees get a terrific discount on tuition, and KPA graduates are super-employable as shelter trainers!

The "sticky" thread up top on training resources is also filled with tons of links to articles and videos on all kinds of topics. It's great that you are asking questions, because there are so many resources out there -- great books, great videos, great seminars and workshops, great trainers -- and being eager to learn is the only prerequisite!

Biting (and most dog behavior) has nothing to do with respect. Most biting has to do with fear.

When a dog is afraid or uncomfortable, she can communicate that in many ways. Since dogs don't have words, they can't actually say, "STOP! I FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE!" Instead, they tend to look uncomfortable/fearful. They may move more slowly, seem inhibited, shrink or cower, tuck their tails, flatten their ears, retract the corners of their lips, pant uneasily (or hold their breath), get sweaty paw pads, lick their lips, widen or squint their eyes, or move away from whatever is making them uncomfortable. There are hundreds of signals, large and small, that can tell us when a dog is becoming uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, what a great many dogs experience is that human beings completely ignore all those signs of fear. A great many people do not read dogs very well, because it is a learned skill that takes years to be really good at. And many people tend not to treat fear very seriously even if they do notice it, perhaps because they have been taught to read it as a sign of disrespect, or because they've never stopped to consider that fear is one of the absolute worst emotions a dog can possibly experience. For whatever reasons, many people will continue to do whatever is already making the dog very uncomfortable.

Some dogs may run away, if they have the space and inclination. Some dogs may simply freeze up (which ignorant people sometimes call "submissive," meaning the dog is so overwhelmed with fear that she has basically shut down). Some dogs may try harder to communicate "please, just STOP DOING THAT," perhaps by using distance-seeking signals -- growling, glaring, pushing the corners of their lips forward to signal that they are likelier to bite. Eventually, if their attempts at communication are ignored long enough, some dogs will bite.

All that can take ten minutes or a few seconds, depending on various factors. Learning to identify the moment a dog begins to become uncomfortable is an incredibly useful skill. Because that way, you can start your training long before a dog is pushed to the point of being fearful enough to actual bite.

Dogs bite for other reasons, of course. I have a young dog who gets really mouthy when she's too excited, which has nothing to do with fear and everything to do with hunting/herding instincts (and self-control, which I am happy to say is something she is steadily learning!!). But the kind of biting you are describing is an attempt to escape something the dog finds highly aversive. It does not matter that you don't think it SHOULD be aversive, the dog says it is...and being a good trainer starts with listening to what dogs are telling us!

If respect has anything to do with dog training, it is this: dogs feel calmer, and more able to think & learn, when they are with someone who makes them feel safe. We can make dogs feel safe by listening to them, by behaving predictably, and by making sure that our actions produce consistently positive consequences for the dog. Does that make us a "leader" in the eyes of the dog? Who knows, and who cares...it makes us better friends to dogs, makes our relationships with them immeasurably richer, and makes us more worthy of the kind of trust we often ask from dogs.
 

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Another really good author to put on your radar is Jean Donaldson. Her books are informative and pretty entertaining. She also writes a lot of the training/behavioral curriculum for the APSCA... But frankly her books are a lot more interesting, and with better humor :D
 

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Discussion Starter #15
wow what an eye opener! after watching some of these videos i realize just how wrongly i handled the situation, and how big of a misconception on the whole dominance theory i bought into was, i think ive been watching too much u know who on the tv :p
very important lesson learned here and need to work on recognizing the signs and handle fearful dogs gently..but in a way it is good it happened as i think experience is the best way to learn. ive got alot more to learn and so much great material from u guys to help, thanks! :)
 

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I'm excited for you...so many fascinating things to learn and try! And for all the dogs who will benefit from having an advocate who works hard to understand and help them :)
 
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