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My toy poodle is biting me-help!

lynnb
July 24th, 2005, 12:05 AM
I am new here and wasn't sure where to post this, so hopefully I'm in the right place. Let me preface this by saying that I am not really a dog person--I like dogs and have had a couple of mutts who were great outside dogs that I had no problems with, but I don't really know much about dogs. I love cats but my husband really doesn't like them. We now have a toy poodle, Bunnie Girl, who is 1 year, 5 months old. We got her when she was 8 months old from a woman who also had an older poodle. She said Bunnie was tormenting the older dog and she didn't want to do that to her dog's 'golden years' so she opted to give up the puppy. We agreed to take her because she was supposedly completely housebroken, good with kids, and had been trained to use a doggy door.

From day 1 she growled and snapped at us if we tried to get her to move from her chosen spot on the couch or floor. She would also growl and snap at the children (I have an 8 year old, 6 year old and 10 month old) when she'd had enough play time with them. My husband would swat Bunnie on the nose and say 'no' very firmly when she did this and for awhile the behavior stopped. She has also turned out NOT to be housebroken--we installed a doggy door and re-trained her to use it (she seemed very afraid of it--it took a couple of months to get her to use it), but if it is wet outside (from rain or sprinklers) she will go out, stay out for awhile, then come in and do her business in the house. She also seems to do her business inside if we leave the house for the day. Also, she goes crazy around other dogs--acts as though she's like to tear them apart (even if they're 10 times her size).

We recently took a couple of vacations for a few days each time and left Bunnie with a good friend who runs a kennel. She seemed fine when we picked her up--very glad to be home. However, shortly after we returned from our trip last week, our baby began crawling. Bunnie has always seemed to feel it necessary to express dominance over the baby; she would, for example, come and stand over the baby (if the baby was lying on the floor) with one rear paw on the baby, the other on the floor, and crane her neck to look down at the baby as if to somehow show her that she was bigger/stronger/whatever. Since the baby has begun to crawl, Bunnie has been snapping and growling at her if she comes anywhere near her (we keep the baby far enough away from her that she doesn't grab her coat or tail or hurt the dog in any way).

A few days ago, it had been raining and I woke up to Bunnie's BMs in two spots in the house (normally, she only pees inside). They were a little on the soft side (the baby had eaten bananas and carrots the previous day and thrown quite a few on the floor where Bunnie got to them before I could pick them up), so quite smelly and messy to clean up. I didn't catch her in the act so I didn't do anything as far as discipline; also, I thought it might have been difficult for her to control if her tummy was upset from all the fruits and veggies. The next morning I saw Bunnie go out her doggy door then come back in, and a few minutes later I caught her pooping on the stairs (normal and firm this time). I tried to pick her up but she ran and hid behind a chair--when I tried to get her out, she nipped me. I then became very angry and managed to get her out (with her snapping the whole time)--I took her back to the poop and said 'no' firmly and then swatted her nose (like my husband did when we first got her)--she bit my finger to the point that it bled for about 20 minutes. I put her outside and left her for about an hour. This morning, she was barking at 6:30 a.m. and I went to pick her up to put her outside (I wasn't speaking harshly or reprimanding her--just calling 'here Bunnie' softly)--when I picked her up she bit another finger, breaking the skin but no blood this time.

Bunnie had a thorough check-up at the vet two weeks ago and was given a clean bill of health. I watched my husband pick the dog up a couple of times today and she did not snap or growl at him at all.

I feel fairly certain that this dog was not well-trained as a puppy before we got her. After doing a bit of internet research, I now realize she should have been crate trained, and we should not have been punishing her physically with the swat on the nose. Also, the stress of going to the kennel, combined with the baby becoming mobile, are probably more than she could handle. Realistically, however, I have three children and really do not have the time or inclination to go through a rigorous training process with this dog. My husband works very long hours and so can't be of much help. My children, although they love the dog, are now a little frightened of her after seeing what she did to me and won't be much help either. I am now very concerned about the possibility that the dog will attack my baby and cause serious harm.

I am at this point leaning heavily toward cutting my losses and trying to find a home for her where there won't be any young children or other pets and the owners will have the time to train her properly. However, I don't know if I'm giving up too easily. I don't want to send her away and regret it later. My older children will be sad but not heartbroken (they did not get terribly upset or cry when I told them we might have to give Bunnie away--they just got sad faces). I suppose I am feeling guilty, because I think perhpas we are to blame for her behavior and now we are just going to get rid of her. But, at the same time, I think I would be an idiot to put my baby at risk. (It would be impossible, with the floor plan in our house, to completely separate the baby and Bunnie at all times.)

If anyone has any advice for me or opinions on my situation, I'd love to hear them. I need all the help I can get in making this difficult decision!


Thanks,

Lynn

Prin
July 24th, 2005, 01:37 AM
This dog is incredibly dominant. It has learned that if it snaps, it gets away with murder.

First, never pick up a dominant dog, never let a dominant dog up on the sofa, or anywhere else where they are even remotely closer to eye level to us.

Put an old leash on the dog in the house. Use this to bring the dog outside, to avoid picking her up.

I strongly suggest going for obedience training, so that a professional can help you learn how to become the alpha dog in your home. Poodles, being small, tend to get really dominant and vicious as a result of a lack of discipline and a lack of leadership. Discipline does not mean swatting the dog on the nose. My idea of discipline is getting a dog to lie down and stay there until you say a release word, and every time the dog moves, you consistently have to put it back. But being able to do this is far down the road.

Search this site for NILIF or NILF. It is a method that a lot of people on this board use to regain leadership.

Little dogs can be even more dangerous than big dogs because the owners think they are harmless because they are small. :rolleyes:

You might also want to pick up some books about dog behavior, or just visit a dog park (WITHOUT the dog) and just watch how the dogs discipline and correct each other.

Good luck. I hope you manage to help this bugger become a great dog. She certainly can be with the right leader.

StaceyB
July 24th, 2005, 01:52 AM
I am really sorry if this comes across harsh. I am a believer that a pet is for life and would like problems to be resolved in their home instead of being passed to someone else but your only option here is training. If you are not willing to do this the problems will never be resolved. You seem to have found out what needs to be done, you just need to do it.
Back up and start your house breaking from scratch, get enzyme cleaner to remove all the spots in your home. A black light will help find them.
Crate training is a great idea. If you need the steps I will send them to you. This will also help with the house breaking.
Your pup needs structure and routine in the home. The same type of rules you place on your children as well as enough exercise and play required for this breed.
Training and socializing are going to be the most important part. I would suggest seeking out a good positive trainer and enroll in group classes and a few sessions of private. Training done strictly in your home is not going to be the best choice for this dog and the problems that exist.
If you choose this route you need to be consistant. It will be a lot of hard work.


*Nobody gets a dog to have a bad dog*

CyberKitten
July 24th, 2005, 03:47 AM
I agree with the other posters and just want to add that punishment does not work with animals. It only makes things worse. There are ways to positively reinforce good behavious and I am sure if Tenderfoot was here she would have excellent advice on this subject. This dog is dominant even over you and she must be taught that she only gets her food and her toys and the things she enjoys if she is good. You and your bf must establish dominance again.

Hitting a dog - even as you indicated tyour bf did by tapping her - makes a dog fearful and aggressive so pls do not so it. It is also so unecessary!! She does not understand the punishment - she WILL understand who controls her food and there are obedience programs that can help you. She hid from and bit you because she is afraid if you - she emembered she might get hit when she saw you. Unfortunately, she associates you - and now other humans incl the baby - as someone to fear and to protect herself against. Her only defense is to bite and to be honest, my heart aches for her!

Praise her when she does good - do not hit her, that is just mean and she does not understand why she is being ill treated. I know that is what you think is right but believe me, you are teaching this dog to fear you and be even more aggressive.

I am also concerned for you child but you must keep them seperated for awhile until she knows that the baby is dominant over her!

This poor puppy is an accident waiting to happen and the behavious needs to be nipped in the bud NOW!!I had a poodle who would never had done any of these things but we began from day one to establish who was in charge. He was a wonderful dog and poodles certainly can be joyous and very obedient pets when properly taught. Alas, you may have to begin all over again so this dog can lead a normal life and not end up in a shelter or worse because she bit someone!!

You might also want to take her to a vet regarding the behavious problems to rule out an medical issues. (Oops, my apologies - I just read you did that!)

At this point, no one will take the dog unless you train her to behave. She is your responsibility. If you bring her to the SPCA, she would almost certainly be put down. She deserves to live - and you can help her by retraining her. I know it's hard (I have been thru the puppy phase with my poodle - now deceased after a 17 yr life) but you owe it to her. Certainly, some of the behavious was learned as a puppy but the fact is you also bear some responsibility (and I am not being judgemental here, just observing) and now that you have acquired more knowledge, you can better help her adjust to your home. It is not about cutting your losses (which may sound harsher than you meant to convey but it makes her sound like an item one can simply return to the store! - it is about your responsibility to the dog and to others who come into contact with her - including your children.

Good luck!!

BMDLuver
July 24th, 2005, 07:35 AM
Here is one of the sites on NILF. http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/alpha.htm

There is normally always a reason why a pet ends up being "free". You need to establish that everyone in your house is leader of the pack and this dog is not.

Please also be very careful not to allow the dog to be around the baby whatsoever. Now that the child is crawling it is not safe to have her around the child. A bite to a child's face by a small dog can do serious harm.

I would also suggest leaving a short leash on the dog so that when you need to get hold of her, you can do so by taking the leash and walking her to where you wish or removing her safely from where you do not want her to lie.

Please enlist the help of a trainer by going to classes or having some evaluation time. She is young so most of this behavior should be reduced quickly by POSITIVE reenforcement and direction.

Lucky Rescue
July 24th, 2005, 11:13 AM
HI and welcome!:)

I didn't thoroughly read all the other excellent advice, so if I'm repeating some of it - sorry!

From day 1 she growled and snapped at us if we tried to get her to move from her chosen spot on the couch or floor.

No more sofas or beds. Get her leash, attach it and guide her down while saying "OFF".

She would also growl and snap at the children (I have an 8 year old, 6 year old and 10 month old) when she'd had enough play time with them

Toy breeds are often not good with kids. They are so small and vulnerable that they get defensive and kids often scream, grab and hurt without meaning to. Make sure you teach your kids to be gentle with her.

My husband would swat Bunnie on the nose and say 'no' very firmly when she did this and for awhile the behavior stopped
Hitting is NOT training and can make any problem worse. There is never a need to hit a dog.

She has also turned out NOT to be housebroken--we installed a doggy door and re-trained her to use it (she seemed very afraid of it--it took a couple of months to get her to use it), but if it is wet outside (from rain or sprinklers) she will go out, stay out for awhile, then come in and do her business in the house.
This is not housetraining, since your dog has no way of knowing that going outside is a good thing.
You need to take her outside on her leash and start using a word or phrase like "Go potty" and wait til she does, then PRAISE her like crazy.

I tried to pick her up but she ran and hid behind a chair--when I tried to get her out, she nipped me. I then became very angry and managed to get her out (with her snapping the whole time)--I took her back to the poop and said 'no' firmly and then swatted her nose (like my husband did when we first got her)--she bit my finger to the point that it bled for about 20 minutes
Same as above, hitting is not training, it's abuse so of course she would hide and snap. Wouldn't you if someone kept hitting you when you didn't know why? You haven't housetrained her, yet hit her for not being housetrained.

This dog has been managed very badly in both her homes ( I realize you are not doing this deliberately) and has been no chance to be a good pet.

Please read the link to NILF given above and start over with her. Hopefully her trust has not been too damaged by the treatment she's been getting and it will go well.

Toy poodles are very much in demand, so if you really feel you are not the right home for her, I suggest you adopt her out ASAP to someone who has the time, patience and understanding to help her. Toy poodles are very smart and trainable but cannot train themselves.

If she is not spayed, have this done to make sure she doesnt' end up in a puppymill being bred to death, and charge an adoption fee and make up a contract to ensure her safety.

We agreed to take her because she was supposedly completely housebroken, good with kids, and had been trained to use a doggy door.
Unfortunately, people lie like crazy when trying to dump pets.:(

Prin
July 24th, 2005, 03:42 PM
Unfortunately, people lie like crazy when trying to dump pets.Yes they do. And I hope that if you can't make it with this dog, you are very honest to the next owners. You don't want her to be rehomed yet again. :(