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Before I give the details, I want to mention that I've read from other sources but would like direct advice based on the specific factors I will outline below. I would also thank you in advance if you're willing to read through this post all the way. I know it's a lot of text but I'm attempting to be as detailed and specific as possible because there are many reasons for dog aggression and I want you to know as much info as possible to determine the cause and to diagnose what steps I can take to correct this behavior.

Dog Description:
-Male
-Neutered
-5 years old
-Weighs 20 lbs
-Part ****zhu, part Lhasa Apso, part Pug and part Husky (weird mix, I know).
-He looks like this.

Situations:
In his life, he has nipped 4 humans. First two times, he was a puppy (8-10 months old). Both times it was in the dog park, both people had been correcting their own dog's behavior and my dog happened to be playing with their dogs. Apparently, my dog did not like these people expressing dominance over his play friend. Of course, I was displeased and embarrassed by my dog's behavior. I corrected the behavior immediately by completely submitting my dog. No physical touch was needed, I told him "no" and then "down". He submitted to my command, went completely flat on his side, head touching the ground, ears relaxed, body relaxed, no eye contact. He waited for me to say, "ok" and then continued playing with other dogs with no more issue. Submitting my dog in this way is something I've practiced with him since I began training. As I said, this was when he was a puppy and he has not nipped again until recently.

Background information:
I got my dog at 7 months. He was the last dog in his litter to be sold. When I got him, he was almost like an abused rescue dog in his behavior. I think before I got him he had some sort of traumatic experience involving humans. He was extremely scared of everyone and every thing, except other dogs. Anything unfamiliar like city sounds, a broom, a cardboard box, they would all scare him. I won his trust and affection quickly though and began training. He has NEVER shown any form of aggression towards me, only other humans. He has overcome most of his "emotional issues" except one.. He's still very standoffish with any human he hasn't met several times before. Generally, he does one of two things when approached by an unfamiliar human. He will avoid them by moving himself away. Or he will bark at them and try to take away their personal space. It looks almost like prey drive kicks in, as if he's trying to push them into a corner. This is sure to happen if the human freezes when barked at, but it can also happen if the human tries to display dominance.. things like strong eye contact, saying no, or stepping towards my dog. They will all be most likely met with barking. I still can't tell if it's fear he's showing or prey drive, but one thing's for sure, he seems to get off on it. He'll even go out of his way to run up to a person to bark at them, even if they haven't payed him any mind. This also seems to be random, some people he will ignore, others he will make a specific point of harassing.
My correction is always the same. I say "no", then "down" and he completely submits, head on the ground, ears relaxed, no eye contact. And he waits for me to say "ok" which releases him from the punishment. Unfortunately, my consistency in attempting to correct his behavior hasn't yielded any results in the long term. Sure, it stops him from barking in that moment but it doesn't prevent future outbreaks. The only way to prevent an outbreak is for me to notice the person before he does and I need to vehemently say "no" several times until I see my dog's body relax. After that, he will be okay and be able to run around and not pay that person any attention whatsoever. Another note, he will, under no circumstances, be friends with a stranger. I've even given strangers "high value" food items for them to feed him with and he will not so much as sniff it. Strangely, after a few times of meeting someone, he will be ecstatic to see them and will play with them.

Recent Nips:
One was over the holidays when my family had a Christmas party. There were 20 people in our house, all friends and relatives. My dog ignored most everyone he didn't know, occasionally he would bark at a new comer and would be corrected in the usual way I described above. Once the people were "admitted" into the house, he would ignore them. Then later, he started barking at a neighbor who just arrived, she sort of waved her hand at him as if to shoo him away and he nipped her before I could reign him in. (Not good to wave one's hands at an agitated dog, I know, but not her fault either as not everyone will know dog etiquette.) So in my usual way, I submitted my dog.
Finally, 2 weeks later, I was in the park and my dog did it again. Unknown human approaches, my dog barks, I'm moving to get close to my dog and correct him, human shook his hand at the dog as if to shoo it away, and my dog nipped. I submitted my dog for an unusually long amount of time. He did not protest, he knew he had done wrong.
I don't think my form of correction is working. I need help. I need a better way to react. Please let me know what you think. This CANNOT happen again. Even though it "just a nip" and he's a little dog, there is absolutely no excuse for his behavior and I can't tolerate it. I love my dog dearly and I want him to be happy and well adjusted.
What should I do?
 

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http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

First, consult a positive trainer, one who recommends counter conditioning and can show you how it is done. It doesn't sound like you have a super aggressive dog, he is just trying to tell you and other people that he is uncomfortable with the situation.

Second avoid large gatherings of unfamiliar people until you have worked on this for a while.

Third read up on this forum about dog body language so you can prevent future problems before they happen

You are suppressing what he wants to tell you when you make him submit as a punishment. Do not punish him for being scared, reward him, if you encounter situations that make him nervous, give him kindness, chicken, a soft voice, anything he loves. You need to rewire his brain so when he sees strangers he is happy because it means good things will happen. Suppressing the barking just forces him to resort to nipping.

Change your "submit" command into a "settle"command, you want him just laying down in a natural relaxed comfortable position, and you want to reward him for doing so. It should not be forced, just a gentle kind way of helping him calm down when things get too much for him. His gaze should not have to be averted from you, in fact it is better if he is looking at you in a relaxed way.

In fact the whole mindset needs to change. You are coaching him through his fear, not punishing him for it. An averted gaze is not respectful, looking at you (not staring) shows that he is paying you attention and is relaxed and comfortable so it should be rewarded.
 

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Firstly you need to forget about submitting and alpha method. It's been debunked, many times over. Those methods can often make dogs worse or bring out new issues. I grew up with these methods and they can be hard to drop, I know. But trust me, it's for the best. I can't really help with what to do. But it is often a fearful dog that bites. It's not about dominance. You need to work on building his confidences. I wouldn't take him to the dog park anymore, and if you have people over it would probably be best to keep him in a room. For his sake and your guest. Maybe with a baby gate so he can see what is going on. And I have to say, all the shih tzu I have met have been snappy/nippy little dogs. I don't know if it's a breed thing or their upbringing.
 

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Making him submit like that is not making him comfortable with strangers, as was said, it just teaches him to suppress how he's feeling. It can also backfire and teach him that he's right to fear strangers, strangers cause you to fuss at him. An equivalent would be if you were terrified of spiders, and every time you reacted to a spider someone forced you to lay down in front of one. You may learn to suppress you reaction, but I doubt your fear would be better.

I have a dog that's scared of people, but to the untrained eye it looks like he's aggressive and trying to be dominant, but in reality what he's doing is trying to scare the people away before they can harm him. That sounds like what your dog is beginning to do. I work to teach my dog that humans are a source of good things happening to him. He gets treats when he spots one, doesn't bark, and looks at me. The game we play is Look At That, he spots a human looks at him and looks at me for a treat, then back at the human, back at me for another treat. He does not get treats for barking, instead I tell him Let's Go and walk him away, we practice let's go in other situations so that for him it's not something he associates with being afraid. To work with fearful dog's like Zody (my dog) the handler has to keep the dog far enough away from the scary thing so that the dog is aware of that but not yet fearful, if the dog is to close they become to scared to learn.

Check out these two links, they have a lot of tips for working with fearful dogs..
Fearfuldogs.com
Care for Reactive Dogs
 
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Dominance in dog training and behavior refers to who is in control of a desired resource. It is fluid and always changing. When it comes to the human-dog relationship, humans already are ''dominant'' almost by default due to our larger brains and opposable thumbs. We literally control just about every aspect of our dogs' lives. What they eat, where and when they eat, water, access to outside, potty breaks, if they breed and with who, access to toys, etc. Consequently dominance really isn't something I consider when it comes to training, but even if it was, it's not something that requires force or intimidation to achieve... just good management skills and an understanding of how to use resources as rewards for wanted behavior.

Before I give the details, I want to mention that I've read from other sources but would like direct advice based on the specific factors I will outline below. I would also thank you in advance if you're willing to read through this post all the way. I know it's a lot of text but I'm attempting to be as detailed and specific as possible because there are many reasons for dog aggression and I want you to know as much info as possible to determine the cause and to diagnose what steps I can take to correct this behavior.

Dog Description:
-Male
-Neutered
-5 years old
-Weighs 20 lbs
-Part ****zhu, part Lhasa Apso, part Pug and part Husky (weird mix, I know).
-He looks like this.

Situations:
In his life, he has nipped 4 humans. First two times, he was a puppy (8-10 months old). Both times it was in the dog park, both people had been correcting their own dog's behavior and my dog happened to be playing with their dogs. Apparently, my dog did not like these people expressing dominance over his play friend. Of course, I was displeased and embarrassed by my dog's behavior. I corrected the behavior immediately by completely submitting my dog. No physical touch was needed, I told him "no" and then "down". He submitted to my command, went completely flat on his side, head touching the ground, ears relaxed, body relaxed, no eye contact. He waited for me to say, "ok" and then continued playing with other dogs with no more issue. Submitting my dog in this way is something I've practiced with him since I began training. As I said, this was when he was a puppy and he has not nipped again until recently.
It's likely that something the person did scared him.

Often the body language you describe is misinterpreted...
Generally when I see similar behavior it is appeasement behavior (doggy equivalent of ''please don't scare or hurt me'') or learned helplessness (only way to make the scary/unpleasant thing to stop is to comply).

Background information:
I got my dog at 7 months. He was the last dog in his litter to be sold. When I got him, he was almost like an abused rescue dog in his behavior. I think before I got him he had some sort of traumatic experience involving humans. He was extremely scared of everyone and every thing, except other dogs. Anything unfamiliar like city sounds, a broom, a cardboard box, they would all scare him. I won his trust and affection quickly though and began training.
Behavior like that can be the result of bad experiences but more often it is lack of socialization and genetics (sensitive, anxious, and/or more fearful temperament).

He has NEVER shown any form of aggression towards me, only other humans. He has overcome most of his "emotional issues" except one.. He's still very standoffish with any human he hasn't met several times before. Generally, he does one of two things when approached by an unfamiliar human. He will avoid them by moving himself away. Or he will bark at them and try to take away their personal space. It looks almost like prey drive kicks in, as if he's trying to push them into a corner. This is sure to happen if the human freezes when barked at, but it can also happen if the human tries to display dominance.. things like strong eye contact, saying no, or stepping towards my dog. They will all be most likely met with barking. I still can't tell if it's fear he's showing or prey drive, but one thing's for sure, he seems to get off on it. He'll even go out of his way to run up to a person to bark at them, even if they haven't payed him any mind. This also seems to be random, some people he will ignore, others he will make a specific point of harassing.
Super common behavior for a dog who is fearful of people. Avoidance (avoiding and moving away) is clear and very appropriate canine body language communicating discomfort. Don't ignore. If your dog is avoiding a person, listen and remove him from the situation. Walk away, put in a different room with a chew, etc. You're probably missing other signals as well such as yawns, shaking off (dry), lip licks, eye blinking, averted gaze, whale eye, etc.

When these signals are ignored then dogs escalate to warnings, thus the barking in an attempt to scare off the person. It's unlikely that prey drive has anything to do with this.

The ''dominance displays'' by people (''no!'' eye contact/stare down, and moving directly toward your dog) are all very threatening. A hard gaze or stare and quick head on movement in particular tend to be clear threats/warnings in canine body language. It's normal and expected for a fearful dog to react with barking to such behavior from people. And often causes the dog to further escalate!

My correction is always the same. I say "no", then "down" and he completely submits, head on the ground, ears relaxed, no eye contact. And he waits for me to say "ok" which releases him from the punishment. Unfortunately, my consistency in attempting to correct his behavior hasn't yielded any results in the long term. Sure, it stops him from barking in that moment but it doesn't prevent future outbreaks. The only way to prevent an outbreak is for me to notice the person before he does and I need to vehemently say "no" several times until I see my dog's body relax. After that, he will be okay and be able to run around and not pay that person any attention whatsoever. Another note, he will, under no circumstances, be friends with a stranger. I've even given strangers "high value" food items for them to feed him with and he will not so much as sniff it. Strangely, after a few times of meeting someone, he will be ecstatic to see them and will play with them.
Read up on the links and resources the others have provided.
One big thing is that other people shouldn't be feeding him atm. For now all food needs to be coming from you. Refusal of food means there is way too much pressure on the dog (overthreshold). You need to work on proximity before interaction. If your dog is not happy near a stranger, he is not going to be happy about interaction.

Recent Nips:
One was over the holidays when my family had a Christmas party. There were 20 people in our house, all friends and relatives. My dog ignored most everyone he didn't know, occasionally he would bark at a new comer and would be corrected in the usual way I described above. Once the people were "admitted" into the house, he would ignore them. Then later, he started barking at a neighbor who just arrived, she sort of waved her hand at him as if to shoo him away and he nipped her before I could reign him in. (Not good to wave one's hands at an agitated dog, I know, but not her fault either as not everyone will know dog etiquette.) So in my usual way, I submitted my dog.
Finally, 2 weeks later, I was in the park and my dog did it again. Unknown human approaches, my dog barks, I'm moving to get close to my dog and correct him, human shook his hand at the dog as if to shoo it away, and my dog nipped. I submitted my dog for an unusually long amount of time. He did not protest, he knew he had done wrong.
Honestly, a crowd like that is overwhelming for many dogs, even those who really enjoy people. In situations like that, better management will be needed. Just putting him away in a quiet room when you have a party. Keeping him on leash and close in public so that you can protect him from scary people and intervene (walk away, body block the person, etc.) before a person scare him causing barking or a snap.

I don't think my form of correction is working. I need help. I need a better way to react. Please let me know what you think. This CANNOT happen again. Even though it "just a nip" and he's a little dog, there is absolutely no excuse for his behavior and I can't tolerate it. I love my dog dearly and I want him to be happy and well adjusted.
What should I do?
The links and resources provided by others are very good places to start. I do think that you would really benefit from bringing in a good reward based trainer or behaviorist to help you. This thread has links that will hopefully help you find a qualified professional.
http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/finding-trainer-behavior-consultant-behaviorist-113946/

Also read up on canine body language and bite prevention.
http://doggonesafe.com/ is user friendly and informative.
 
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