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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
GF's mom was dog sitting a small Chi cross for a week. Went over last week, gf went in and I stayed out to have a cigarette. I went in, removed coat and shoes and as soon as I mounted the stairs, the dog was lunging/backing off, barking - but didn't bite. How would you handle that?
 

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IME, most dogs nip at your heels (excepting herders engaging in herding behavior) because they don't have the nerve to bite you head on, and because your movement further incites them due to either prey drive or past reinforcement (nipping at someone's heels makes them walk faster to get away- therefore dog thinks nipping at heels is an effective means of warding off threats). Usually if you stop walking and turn around to face toward them (just stand quietly, ignoring the dog, don't stare them down or try to scare them off), they will stop and retreat. Then call someone who the dog likes to remove them if possible. Otherwise, you can either stand there until they get bored or decide you are no longer threatening (could be a while) or back/crab walk slowly away.

For future prevention, you could try carrying some tiny soft treats in your hand (hot dog?), and throw those on the floor away from you as you (slowly) traverse the dog's area- this helps to distract the dog from needling your shoe as well as associate you with food- win/win :) Just make sure you start tossing treats before they start reacting. You could ask the owner to keep the dog with them when you come, or secure it elsewhere. Or if the owner is interested in working with the dog, there are things they can do to curb the behavior, but I've found that many people are indifferent to their little dogs' nippy behavior.
 

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I'd ask the handler to keep the dog away from me.
depending how much it hurt I'd be more or less friendly and polite.
It's their job to keep their pet away from me, not mine.

if there's damage done, I'd let them give me their indendity so my health insurrance company can get the money for my treatment back from their personal liability insurance company.
if there's no handler around I'd try to fixate the dog and inform the police.
the dog would be brought either to the police kennels and/or to the local shelter.
if the owner can't be found the health insurance company has to carry the costs, as far as i know.

I'd do this with any dog, regardless of they've got 80 kg, 30 kg or 3kg.

if the dog is just loud and annoying, I'd ignore it I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I'm a little different in that sense I guess. GF knew what I was going to end up doing, sort of took everyone else off guard.

When the dog (she may be 2 pounds) started nipping at me, I ignored everyone else in the room. Just moved forward, she kept coming and barking but backing up all the time. Before she knew it, she was cornered and picked her up with one hand. I look at these little dogs as being in something of a comfort zone, they are used to getting their own way, it's what they've become accustomed to. I simply removed her from her comfort zone, no emotion involved, not angry, not scared.

Once I had the dog in my hand, held her close avoiding any possible bite - she didn't attempt to. I ignored the dog and talked with everyone around me. They all had shocked expressions. The look on the dogs face suggested "Ok, this isn't the way it was supposed to happen". She calmed immediately, showed avoidance. Once I put her down, no more barking - she actually came to me a few times for a sniff over the course of the evening.
 

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It's good that that approach worked out well for you, there's always more than one approach to a given problem :)

Technically, if the dog were in a "comfort zone", it wouldn't be reactive (barking, growling, nipping) to begin with, as those are all hallmarks of a defensive or fearful dog- dogs who are frightened or feeling threatened typically aren't comfortable. It may have learned from past experiences/owner complacency that it is on it's own to deter a threat, and that nipping is an effective deterrent, but that doesn't mean that it's comfortable with the situation.

It sounds like that particular dog has the constitution of a piece of paper- you push, she folds. There are many other dogs who go from being defensive to being downright dangerous when cornered without easy retreat, or opt out of retreating at all and merely bite from the word go if pressured while feeling defensive. Luckily for you, she was all bark, no bite!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's good that that approach worked out well for you, there's always more than one approach to a given problem :)

Technically, if the dog were in a "comfort zone", it wouldn't be reactive (barking, growling, nipping) to begin with, as those are all hallmarks of a defensive or fearful dog- dogs who are frightened or feeling threatened typically aren't comfortable. It may have learned from past experiences/owner complacency that it is on it's own to deter a threat, and that nipping is an effective deterrent, but that doesn't mean that it's comfortable with the situation.

It sounds like that particular dog has the constitution of a piece of paper- you push, she folds. There are many other dogs who go from being defensive to being downright dangerous when cornered without easy retreat, or opt out of retreating at all and merely bite from the word go if pressured while feeling defensive. Luckily for you, she was all bark, no bite!
When I use the term "comfort zone", I mean it in the sense that a dog is used to doing something - and getting it's way. You can apply it to a dog that's aggressive with other dogs, or people, they get the same reaction. Any dog, you push - it will fold. One may have to push hard, haven't met a dog yet that couldn't be heeled and I don't use violence. Yes I will and have gotten physical large with dogs that have gotten physical with me, if a dog snaps at me, I will risk the bite but they will submit without the use of pain.

You mentioned earlier using treats, I can't bring myself to do that. Giving treats to a dog in any capacity when they are giving out negative behavior isn't good. I don't do treats, have never used treats to get a dog to do what is expected, but if it works for you, great.
 

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Dogs generally bark and lunge at people because they are fearful. Agonistic behavior is displayed to achieve one thing: Make the scary thing go away. Small dogs tend to be prone to do this because they are so small and the rest of the world is so much bigger. I do not condone what you did to the dog and you're lucky you didn't get the snot bitten out of you. It's never a good idea to flood a fearful dog and force them to shut down. Dogs don't have a lot of choices in those situations. Fight, flight or freeze..

Counter conditioning with treats absolutely works and it is the best way to work with fearful dogs. Letting them get comfortable and moving at their pace. We had a dog that another trainer and I worked with in one of our classes who did very similar things and 7 weeks later he graduated and was a completely different dog.

If you don't believe me, check out Dr. Sophia Yin working with a fearful jack russell: http://youtu.be/sI13v9JgJu0

http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/thoughts-training-food-1219/
http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

Also as a reminder to all this is a positive reinforcement based forum and we do not allow people to recommend aversive training techniques. Flooding dogs (or getting physical in any way other than play) falls under this rule. http://www.dogforum.com/dogforum-co...es-guidelines-training-behavior-please-23692/


 

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If you were going to use treats, the goal would be to use them as soon as you enter the area the dog is occupying, BEFORE the dog is showing negative behavior. By doing that, you're not rewarding negative behavior, but rather avoiding conflict (by distracting the dog and preventing the negative behavior from ever occurring) and also building a positive association by pairing something pleasant with your arrival. You certainly don't have to use treats to make a fearful dog less apt to nip at your ankles, but it's probably one of the faster ways to resolve the issue. I don't use treats often in training these days because my dogs have higher toy drive, but that doesn't mean I don't acknowledge that they can be an effective form of reinforcement.

For what it's worth, lots of big dogs don't even acknowledge threat displays from little dogs. These same dogs might brawl with a larger dog for similar (or less) infraction, but recognize a tiny dog as not a threat and treat it accordingly.

The fact that you've not yet encountered a dog that can't be backed down/restrained by intimidating body language or physical force probably speaks more of the number and type of dogs you have encountered, rather than the effectiveness of the method. The vast majority of pet dogs owned by people are selected for rather amiable, tolerant, and/or soft temperaments, which is probably why said dogs have only snapped at (warned) you to begin with, rather than delivering a real bite. There are certainly dogs of harder temperament who would see your bid and raise you 42 teeth. Thankfully, such dogs aren't common, and usually are owned by people who know what they have and how to keep them out of trouble.
 

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@busannie If the dog is fearful, it is certainly helpful and it does work better to try and deliver treats before the reaction occurs but treats can also be delivered as the reaction is happening as well or even after. It's important to attempt to keep the dog under threshold as much as possible during training but if they go over the person would not be rewarding barking/lunging by feeding treats because you can't reinforce fear and those behaviors are occurring because of the fear.
 

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It depends on the situation really. Some herders will nip your legs, but that's different from some obnoxious, badly trained rat dog attacking your legs.
I was running with my Mal one time and a chihuahua attacked me (snarling, baring teeth and everything) so I gave it a kick because I didn't it near me or my dog. It wasn't hard kick, but enough to send him scampering back to it's owner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So lets change the dog... Take the little nipper out of the situation and replace it with a doberman. To me, a dog is a dog, I don't care about the size of the mouth. Would you still use treats or retreat?
 

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Echo goes nuts if you try to restrain her in any way, my partner and I are keeping a collection of wound photos to help us resist puppy wants. I suspect this will always be true with her, the trainer and vet were a bit shocked at her veracity. At least the vet got a good look at her teeth.

There is no option but positive training with this dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Dogs generally bark and lunge at people because they are fearful. Agonistic behavior is displayed to achieve one thing: Make the scary thing go away. Small dogs tend to be prone to do this because they are so small and the rest of the world is so much bigger. I do not condone what you did to the dog and you're lucky you didn't get the snot bitten out of you. It's never a good idea to flood a fearful dog and force them to shut down. Dogs don't have a lot of choices in those situations. Fight, flight or freeze..

Counter conditioning with treats absolutely works and it is the best way to work with fearful dogs. Letting them get comfortable and moving at their pace. We had a dog that another trainer and I worked with in one of our classes who did very similar things and 7 weeks later he graduated and was a completely different dog.

If you don't believe me, check out Dr. Sophia Yin working with a fearful jack russell: http://youtu.be/sI13v9JgJu0

http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/thoughts-training-food-1219/
http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

I understand what you're saying, but it's not my dog to train and this dog won't change, the owners don't feel the need. I walked into the house and was dealing with a dog in the immediate situation. It's not the dogs home, she was being cared for by a family member outside her own territory while the owners were out of town. i'm not trying to be argumentative, I'm just trying to wrap my head around what you're saying. I wouldn't want someone else to train my dog when they are dog sitting, just don't do it.

I don't look at the size of the dog anymore, small or large matters not in the grand scheme of things. I find most small dog owners with behavioral problems spend more time trying to vindicate their small breed instead of correct, it's a losing battle. One wouldn't get away with vindicating a large breed. Recall the lady with the vicious pug, what would you do in the situation faced with that pug at your feet knowing it's probably going to bite - and an owner saying don't worry, it's not vicious.

If there are better ways, I really would like to know. I carry no fear of dogs anymore to be honest and I've been bit several times in my life by large breeds unprovoked.
 

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I have encountered many mean dogs, and never been bitten. I tell my kids and everyone else, be a tree until dog calms down. Or if you have treats or an interesting object, throw them somewhere else then get to a safe place while dog is going for treats/object. This is for any size of dog.

Assuming I don't have treats, I would just stand totally still ignoring dog until dog ignores me or calms down, then I would walk slowly away from dog. I am not trying to antagonize the dog, I just do not care for what it is doing so I do not respond.

The reward here is that the dog calms down, you move away (as you are what is making the dog uncomfortable) I would not reward the dog by moving away if the dog was nipping at me. if my movement made dog start again, I would stand still again.

I am not sure what I would do if the dog bit me, I guess whatever force is necessary to defend myself, probably pepper spray in the mouth if it was a larger dog to get it to let go, or a good sharp kick (hard enough to hurt but not injure) if it was a smaller dog. If my kids were around I would probably be a lot more "mama bear"
 

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So lets change the dog... Take the little nipper out of the situation and replace it with a doberman. To me, a dog is a dog, I don't care about the size of the mouth. Would you still use treats or retreat?
If a doberman were barking and nipping at my heels, I would do the same. Dog is already showing weak nerves and is unlikely to do much more than what it already is if you don't pressure them. Standing still and turning around to become less of an easy target would likely get the dog back to a respectable distance, and from there, you can again either wait for them to leave completely, or leave yourself (with the understanding that if you turn your back and walk off quickly, you will likely have a repeat of the prior behavior).

I have had a neighbor's roaming shepherd mix behave similarly, and he had actually bitten a few individuals on my block when they began to walk faster/run or kick at him. He never bothered with me because I didn't allow him to drive me, didn't run like prey, and didn't push him to the point that he would freak out in self defense. Animal control eventually picked him up and his owners never redeemed him because they had one of his puppies, I would imagine he was euthanized rather than placed due to his bite history and general sketchy behavior.

If I go to someone's house, it's not typically to police their dog's behavior. I have taken treats to peoples houses when I knew their dogs were reactive to people entering, with their permission. I enter, drop handful of treats, dog eats treats without barking or nipping, by the time that they're done, we (people) have settled and dog is good. Frequently those sort of dogs only react to people when they enter the house, and are fine once guests are settled and the excitement of their arrival is over. I don't particularly care whether someone else's dog "submits" to my presence or not, as long as it keeps its teeth off me, whatever else it does is the owner's problem. My dogs wouldn't dream of nipping at a person's heels, and what other peoples' dogs do isn't something I concern myself with unless it becomes a problem for me.

Chas, If you can, I would work with your pup to condition her to allow restraint. Even if she's never the most tolerant of it, you can probably improve her tolerance somewhat. I'm actually working to condition one of my cats(!) to be more tolerant of restraint for blood draws, as she's on a low dose of steroids for allergies (she gets eosinophilic granulomas as well as general itchiness which makes her chew her hair off and puke it up everywhere :<) and should have bloodwork periodically. She is a nice enough cat, but turns into a bear when restrained to have something done. She is food motivated, and I'm giving treats as a reward for good behavior, and of course, release from the restraint is a big reward in and of itself. Initially, I was just calling her up onto the dresser and scratching around her neck, but now she's letting me stretch her out and tip her head up a fair bit without resisting (for jugular draw- the ideal but she says "no way!"), or I can put her on her side with minimal resistance until I stretch her leg out (less ideal blood draw site, but all we've been able to use thus far because she is a jerk). When she's at ease with the current level of restraint, I'll increase either duration or positioning criteria before letting her go and rewarding. One she has it down at home, I'll have to try it in the vet environment, then with other people involved, etc. It's been a drawn out process so far, but since she needs the blood drawn periodically, worth it to maybe make things easier for everyone in the long term. The training takes about 1 minute every evening as part of our usual routine, and I think now she kind of looks forward to her evening manhandling and treat :)
 

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So lets change the dog... Take the little nipper out of the situation and replace it with a doberman. To me, a dog is a dog, I don't care about the size of the mouth. Would you still use treats or retreat?
If it were a doberman, it would probably get a face full of pepper spray.

No I'd still act like a social human being and ask the handler to do something about their dog.
It's their job not mine to control the dog and keep them safe to be around other people.
They know better how to work with their dog and even if not, It's not my problem.

Regardless of the breed, it can be quite dangerous when you inflict fear or pain on a dog you don't know.
not every dog is nice little cutie that'll act with retreat on a direct confrontation my stranger.
It doesn't matter if it is a Dobermann or a Zwergpinscher, it's still a dog that i don't know, and the last thing i want to do to it is putting it in a situation where it thinks it has to protect itself because of fear or pain.
 

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@busannie absolutely! I should add she's fine with gentle restraint now, she only had a problem with the vet that got her technician to hold her by the neck and using restraint to calm her or remove her from a high stress situation. We no longer see that vet and the new one has had no trouble even with some nasty tests. We use treats and do handling every day and it is improving.
 
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