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Help! Can my puppy be saved?

Vanman
June 6th, 2005, 01:10 PM
Hi. Its been a few months since I last posted, but I need some help and advice.

My wife and I are the owners of a 6 month old male poodle/bichon mix. We brought him home at 7 weeks and he was quite the dog. Lots of personality, lots of enery but he was great. We had him housetrained in no time and things were great. Yes, were.

Here is the story. At about the age of 2 months Tucker began picking things up as we walked him and would almost instantly swallow whatever it was. As it became a problem I would try to pull whatever it was out of his mouth and he would bite me, hard. This went on for a little bit until my vet told me I had to dominate him if he bit me in order to stop the biting. It worked. It took a couple weeks but it stopped. If I went to take something foreign from his mouth and he bit I would gently but with force, take him by the neck, hold his 4 paws and hold him down until he stopped screaming and like I said, it went away.

Recently, more problems have come up. Its bad now. Whenever he has a bone or when he's chewing food we cant get near him. He's 10x worse with me than my wife but if you go near him he goes bananas. If you try to take the bone/food away he'll shred your hand within seconds. Than, he postures and has this demonic look on his face as he snarls and growls. Eventually he calms down but lately its getting really bad. Just this morning I walked by him and he started showing teeth. In fact its so bad now that when he's sleeping I cant even go near him.

What is really sad about this is aside from the biting he is an amazing dog 95% of the time. He is great with kids, other people you name it. He is two totally different dogs with me and my wife. To put it bluntly, he hates me and loves my wife. He has never bit her, only me. But he has growled at her.

I dont want to give the impression of a vicious dog. As I said, 95% of the time he is the best. Even with me. But when it comes to a bone or food (which I should mention, he is beyond obsessed with food and always has been) he can be a little scary.

We are at our wits end. We are 100% commited to this dog and hope there is a solution.

Thank you for your time, I anticipate some feedback.

raingirl
June 6th, 2005, 01:21 PM
Well..what you did by grabbing him by the neck and holding his four paws down is (probably) what caused all this. You should never physically restrain a dog to punish or teach it something.

YOu need to get this dog training ASAP AND contact a dog behaviourist who only does positive training methods.

LavenderRott
June 6th, 2005, 01:36 PM
Well, for starters this dog shouldn't get another bone - ever. And since you know that he has food aggression issues, feed him in a place that he can be left alone while he eats.

While I don't think that the way you handled his earlier problem was the best way to handle it, I do think that you are allowed to touch your dog while correcting. Hitting is not allowed though.

This dog needs to be in an obedience class like yesterday. Also, you might want to do a search on the forum for NILIF or Nothing In Life Is Free. Please remember that NILIF is not a "sometimes you do it - sometimes you don't" kind of thing.

This pup is 6 months old. While this behavior may be somewhat manageable now, you will find in a year that that 95% is down to about 50%. As of right now - your dog is ruling your house and he will continue to do so for as long as he is allowed.

BeagleMum
June 6th, 2005, 01:41 PM
I agree. In the puppy class that we have Spencer in, it is all about non-violent training. You never want to be physical with a dog, it just isn't needed. There are so many better ways to teach them. I would definitely suggest obedience classes. They teach you as well as the dog.

Vanman
June 6th, 2005, 01:43 PM
Well..what you did by grabbing him by the neck and holding his four paws down is (probably) what caused all this. You should never physically restrain a dog to punish or teach it something.

YOu need to get this dog training ASAP AND contact a dog behaviourist who only does positive training methods.

this method was shown to me by my vet. It worked before when he picked things up. The vet called it dominating the dog.

I appreciate your feedback raingirl but if you're suggesting I caused the behaviour problem based your personal opinion that I was "mean" to my dog I think I'll wait to hear from some others.

Vanman
June 6th, 2005, 01:47 PM
It appears I was given bad advice from the vet. great.

BMDLuver
June 6th, 2005, 01:55 PM
It appears I was given bad advice from the vet. great.
I would suggest that you look for another vet. Also, try to find someone in your area who can help you work with this behaviour problem in a gentler manner. In the meantime, NILF is needed to be put in place asap as has already been suggested. He's young, so nipping this in the bud immediately should help to reverse the behaviour pattern. http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/alpha.htm
This is a site that will start giving you some ideas.

Princesss04
June 6th, 2005, 01:59 PM
I know this was already stated but I think the method that your "vet" taught you to do was WRONG! And is the cause of this problem. I am so sorry that you are going thorugh this. Please talk to a trainer and get your baby in classess to start off with. Please never put a hand on your dog when you are trying to correct him. It only makes it worse or I think so anway! I do not agree with holding the dog down like that either. Hang in there! There are alot of people on here that can give you good advice! :D

Writing4Fun
June 6th, 2005, 02:10 PM
Agree with everything you've been told. Find another vet (because, personally, I won't do business with anyone who advocates physical restraint as a training method), but in the mean time, know that vets are medical professionals, not behaviourists. You wouldn't expect your family physician to be your marriage counsellor, would you? :) Same thing here.

This pup needs to be shown that you and your wife are the alpha members of your pack, and that all food comes from you, you decide when, where, how much this puppy eats. I think an obedience class will go a long way in mending your relationship. In the mean time, no more bones for this pup, and any cookies or treats have to be worked for - no freebies! With a little work, I'm sure everything will turn out great.

Good luck! :thumbs up

Eleni
June 6th, 2005, 02:24 PM
I too have a bichon/poodle mix, and ironically hes 6 months old

I know my lil guy is crazy food driven. so from day one ive handled his food while he was eating.

is there any way you can handfeed him for a bit to accustom him to having his food touched and handled? or will he bite?

as for picking things up a much more gentler method i sued was I taught him "release"

how i taught it was i had cookies in both my hands, and give him a cookie[they were fairly big so i could just pull it out of his mouth]

i would take the cookie back and praise him saying release as i took the cookie.


if he released the cookie like I wanted he would get a treat or praise or cuddles, whatever worked for him that day

it took us a good month to master, but he will release any little bit of food, or anything if i give him the command now.


Eleni

Lissa
June 6th, 2005, 02:25 PM
I think you've already gotten some great advice, about not giving the dog a bone, doing some obedience training, mabe talking with a behaviourist and putting into place NILIF. If you put all of these suggestions in motion, Tucker will quickly learn that he is not ALPHA!
Remember that most vet's are not trainers or behaviourists or breed specialists. I also believed everything my vet told me (in the beginning) from what to feed my dog (Iams), what breed my dog was (beagle - ya right!) and that halti's can/should be a lifelong mechanism to stop the dog from pulling. Although it's quite easy to believe that your vet knows best, a lot of times this is NOT the case - you should always do your own research!
I know a 9 year old Beagle who is exactly like Tucker. She never had a day of obedience training in her life and her owners ignore the problem and work around her food/bone aggression. When I dog-sat for them, she atacked my dog, then me - I had to use a broom to keep her away from me while I took the food away!
What your vet told you to do is quite extreme; but I was told by my previous dog trainer that when I'm wrestling with me pup to hold him on his back and if he struggles to loop my hand through his collar until he relaxes. I never did this because I think there are better ways to cement my position as alpha and I don't suggest that you do it either - I just wanted to share with you that there is a lot of bad advice floating around and many people follow it. You are not the only one to discipline their dog in a physical way, what's done is done so don't feel too badly about it. Just start fixing the problem.
Have you taken Tucker to socialization or training classes?

Eleni
June 6th, 2005, 02:28 PM
one last thought, is he neutered??

im not sure if there is truth to this but ive heard neutering helps curb dominant behaviour



Eleni

Beaglemom
June 6th, 2005, 02:55 PM
I agree with what everyone else has said. Obedience training will help you establish the alpha role without being physical. My beagle has food aggression issues. Especially when it comes to bones that she has stolen. The solution, no bones for her, period. She will hurt anyone who tries to get them away from her.

What I did to help with my beagle and her food aggression was to teach her that I control her food. I taught her the "drop it" command. Also, she will only take a treat from my hand when I allow her too and even then she must do it slowly as so not to bite me. The person who controls the food is alpha.

Another thing to note is that when a dog steals something, such as a bone, it is normally removed from it by a person. The dog starts to associate that with stolen items, normally bones, will be taken away. This will bring out aggression. I would give the dog a toy or something it likes, tell him to drop it, then give it back. I would do this throughout the day. This will help your dog realize that not everything you take will be taken for good.

Vanman
June 6th, 2005, 03:59 PM
Thank you very much everyone. I really, really apreciate this.

It has been hard on my wife and I. We love this guy to death and these issues have been hard to accept.

Yes, Tucker has been neutered. He was fixed 15 days ago.

I have made a few calls but have yet to hear back from trainers/obedience instructors.

I am very happy to hear this can be reversed/stopped. He is a wonderful dog that just needs to be righted.

The fact I have been "dominating" him for a few months has left a pit in my stomach. We figured what the vet told us must be the law. We have decided to switch vets.

Thanks again everyone. I will follow up with progress.

Luba
June 6th, 2005, 04:00 PM
I haven't read 'all' the replies but agree with much of what I've read.

Try feeding the dog by hand 'every meal' make the dog sit before you feed, and feed each individual piece of food by hand. This shows the dog you are in control of it's feeding. ALSO before you feed the dog have a piece of food to eat yourself, make it look like it came from the dogs bowl..alpha members eat FIRST.

If the dog nips at you or is aggressive during feeding, take a break for a couple of mins and try again. Feeding individual pieces of food that the dog will eat from your hand.

After a week or so of this, you can wean the dog off of eating from your hand but slowly.

I've known others to have this success. Always feed the dog in the same place and make the dog sit before putting the food down, then remove the bowl once feeding is over.

Good Luck

Lucky Rescue
June 6th, 2005, 05:59 PM
I don't know why you asked a doctor for training advice, but am glad you are going to see a trainer now. Do not allow any trainer to use any abusive methods on your dog. They are not necessary.

Here is the article on NILF. It must be followed at all times by everyone in the house, and must be done calmly. Attiutude and body language are things dogs understand much better than scruffing, restraint or rolling.

http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/alpha.htm

coppperbelle
June 6th, 2005, 08:59 PM
First of all please do not feel guilty or that you have done anything wrong with your dog. It is not like you beat your puppy. You held his paws until he calmed down. While I may have done it differently it was a behavior that had to be stopped. I seriously doubt this caused him to be as aggressive as he is now. After all the reason you did what you did was because he was biting.

I know someone who has a large dog with this very same behavior. He started at 8 weeks old. The behavior was not corrected right away and now he is an adult dog that will attack anyone who tries to take something away from him. He has sent people to the hospital for stitches on more than one occasion. He is a ticking time bomb in my opinion and will one day hurt someone very badly. For months his owner has been trying to correct this behavior. Nothing has worked.

The first thing to do is get rid of the bones. NLIF is a good method and I would look into it if I were you. You should become his source for food, that is only you should feed him. Find a trainer or behavioralist and enroll both of you in obedience classes.

This is a behavior that must be corrected. If not he could seriously harm someone.

Vanman
June 6th, 2005, 10:21 PM
Thanks again everyone.

We have a gentleman coming to the house next Tuesday for 2 hours. He claims when he is done we will notice a drastic improvement in Tuckers behaviour.

In the meantime, no pin down domination from this guy!

I will keep you all posted (not that anyone would care much ha ha)

Lucky Rescue
June 7th, 2005, 12:39 AM
I will keep you all posted (not that anyone would care much ha ha)

Of course we care, otherwise no one would have replied!:)

doggy lover
June 7th, 2005, 09:50 AM
Good luck.

MIA
June 7th, 2005, 10:38 PM
I just wanted to add that I NEVER bother with my dogs food (dinner) why? I don't want someone touching or taking my food away!!!

Dog Dancer
June 8th, 2005, 01:11 AM
Vanman, good on you for moving forward with Tucker. Of course he's worth it! And yes of course we care how it turns out. You mentioned that Tucker is more aggressive with you than your wife, so I would make sure that you are the one who does the obedience training with him and you are the one to give him his food. And yes, do let him see you eat first - Alpha first. Good luck we're all pulling for you. :fingerscr

Vanman
June 8th, 2005, 05:18 PM
Vanman, good on you for moving forward with Tucker. Of course he's worth it! And yes of course we care how it turns out. You mentioned that Tucker is more aggressive with you than your wife, so I would make sure that you are the one who does the obedience training with him and you are the one to give him his food. And yes, do let him see you eat first - Alpha first. Good luck we're all pulling for you. :fingerscr

I have been applying NILF and Alpha tools for a few days now. Some things have got better, some worse. It seems I cant even get near Tucker when he's lying down without him showing teeth and even snapping at me if I go to pet him. My wife on the other hand could pick him out of a dead sleep and he'll lick her face off.

Like I mentioned earlier we have someone coming to the house next week. I asked him on the phone how effective the training will be considering he is only coming for a one, two-hour session. He assured me we'll have a new dog when he's done. I'm curious what kind of techniques can be that effective considering right now I get treated the way I do by Tucker.

Regardless, I am very much looking forward to next week

LavenderRott
June 8th, 2005, 05:46 PM
Be careful with this trainer. I am a bit leary of someone who says that he will make you see "a new dog" after one two-hour session. My best advice is that if this guy gets out an electronic collar - run, don't walk away. I know of several trainers in the U.S. who use them on untrained dogs and claim that they have "cured" the dog of whatever was making them misbehave. Of course the dog behaved "better"... they put the collar on high and then zapped them every time they gave a command.

I'm not saying that this trainer may not be wonderful, but in everything that I have heard or read about behavioural problems, they take lots of work to fix.

Just out of curiosity - is your wife practicing NILIF also?

Dog Dancer
June 8th, 2005, 06:40 PM
Hello again Vanman, I don't see in your msgs (or missed it) what city you are in. It may help to mention it in case someone on the board knows a good trainer in your area (in case the one you have coming out doesn't work out - read that as uses abusive correction techniques). I have a friend who does this type of work in Ontario (north east of Toronto, but I'd have to check the town name), but have no idea if you're in her area. Remember to keep us posted no matter what.

BMDLuver
June 8th, 2005, 06:47 PM
I would just like to add, if he does anything during the one hour session that makes you uncomfortable or seems odd, stop him, ask the reason. I too worry about a new dog in one hour. Most behaviour modification trainers who use positive approach will tell you it takes time to reverse behaviours gently.

Luba
June 8th, 2005, 08:29 PM
am a bit leary of someone who says that he will make you see "a new dog" after one two-hour session. My best advice is that if this guy gets out an electronic collar - run, don't walk away

ASOLUTELY agree!!!

Angeleyes1437
June 10th, 2005, 02:07 AM
Okay... you have a serious problem here that can EASILY be corrected...with TIME.

First of all you need to be consistent and dedicate plenty of time to this problem. Not giving your dog a bone is NOT the answer... what happens when he gets a toy or finds a sock he wants to play with? He is resource agressive... that is the term.

Some dogs are resource agressive because they are high strung and nervous they will "lose" their resources. Your dog needs to know that people are not going to steal his toys/food. Physical training is not needed. Put it this way... dogs need three things in this order: Exercise, discipline, affection. Without the first two you can't give affection because you are promoting poor behavior.

Dominating your dog should not be holding him down by four legs!!! Your vet is wrong!! Vets know medical issues, they are not animal psychologists. You are trying to use human psychology on dogs... they only know dog psychology. You have to attain the position of the alpha dog. Let him know he cannot be agressive toward you. Firstly, when you give him food put it down, but don't allow him to eat until YOU want. Stand in front of him... put your legs in his way of eating. Never reward him until he is calm and attentive to YOU! When he is relaxed let him eat the food... with your hand in the bowl the whole time... pet him while he is eating...and if the behavior is what you desire, praise him (with affection...a good boy, a pet on the head, or behind the ears). You should be able to do anything you want to your dog while he eats. The same thing goes for the bones. Try letting him chew the bone while you are holding it... show him that you are not going to steal it from him. If he snarls or growls jerk his collar lightly but quickly, make him lay down... that is a submissive position. You may even want to leave a lead on him while you are training him so you have quick access to "dink" the collar. You just need to break what he is concentrated on and make his attention go to you. Never reward agressive or undesired behavior.

I hope my advice finds you well... if I can help in any other way let me know. Good luck.