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Hi! I have a 2 year old male shih tzu and ever since he was a puppy he would always nip me and my family. Whenever we would touch his head or try to carry him, he would always nip us which has caused us to have wounds. And he would always be possessive and would try to bite us whenever he gets our things and we would try to get it back from him. What advise can you give me to stop him from nipping us? Thank you.
 

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When he has your things, he sees them as his things - to a dog possession is 10/10ths of the law.

In his view, you are trying to take things away from him, and he is telling you he is unhappy about it. After all, if someone tried to take something that belonged to you, you would be pretty cross too. And the harder someone tries to take something, the harder you/he will try to keep it.

So, two things. First, try swapping what he has for something even better. No fuss, no drama, everybody wins. You will find some useful information here -


Second, please be observant of his body language.

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 or reprimand the dog for giving them; stopping the dog from giving them would be like taking the battery out of a smoke alarm.

I'm also going to tag our member @JudyN who has experience of her dog stealing things and guarding them.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your help 😊. Sometimes I think it's because he is not afraid of us even though we scold or ignore him whenever he nips at us.
 

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I'm also going to tag our member @JudyN who has experience of her dog stealing things and guarding them.
You called? :)

The last thing you want is for your dog to be afraid of you - that would make him more likely to lash out, not less. Scolding etc. doesn't help prevent the behaviour one little bit - you need to address the reasons he's snapping in the first place.

First, a lot of dogs don't like their heads being touched. It's quite likely that he had been trying to tell you this by moving his head, but these signs can be subtle - so he had to resort to the snap. The solution is to wait till he asks to be petted, and then go for the sides of his chest, or his neck, or wherever he seems to prefer it. Pet for 5 seconds, stop, and don't do it again unless he 'asks' for it.

Being picked up or generally manhandled can also be scary. My advice would be not to pick him up at all but to move him by other methods - e.g. lead him to where you want him to go, and/or teach him commands. My dog doesn't like being pushed so I have taught him 'off' (the sofa) and 'out of here' (usually the kitchen when he want to 'help' cook).

I'm not sure about those times when your dog does need to be picked up, as mine is too big - hopefully someone else can advise on how to get him to like it.

For the stealing and guarding, you can teach 'trade' or 'drop' (these are probably mentioned in the link JoanneF gave). My dog wouldn't trade though - my theory is that if we were willing to offer something really tasty in exchange for what he had, then what he had must be really worth hanging on to. If you ignore a dog who has something he shouldn't, then he will relax more, and it will also make what he has seem less important.

I taught my dog 'Bring it to me' (using things he wasn't fussed about enough to guard), which was useful as if he obeyed I knew he was happy to give up the object in exchange for a treat - if he didn't bring it, I knew it might be best to leave him with it or find an alternative strategy.

Another helpful strategy is to teach a really good recall in the home. Then, if the dog is chewing your best shoes in the bedroom, you can call 'SAUSAGE!!!' or whatever from the other end of the house (opening and closing the fridge door might help) and he'll be so excited he'll come running and forget about your shoes. Watch out for signs of suspicion... my dog was extremely suspicious so sometimes I would recall him and then let him go back to what he had.
 
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