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growl and bite, growl and bite

weppasmom
October 1st, 2007, 09:06 AM
Hello everyone... I need some advice or suggestions about my 2 year old schnauzer, Sasha. She came to live with us earlier in the summer and she loooves my husband, but is very distrustful of me and even seems to hate me. The family who had her before had neglected her and, we suspect, had hit her and abused her. Anyway, if I make her do something she doesn't want to do, she growls and snaps at me. She has brought blood before on my hand. She usually walks on the leash fine for me, but yesterday, we were walking on the leash, approaching a different part of the yard than she was used to, she started balking and trying to pull in a different direction. Feeling that she was scared, I gently bent over and started saying "it's ok, good girl" and rubbing her head, and all of a sudden she growled and tried to bite me. I said "NO" and held up my hand in a "stop" signal, which didn't seem to make things any better.
Then, this morning I was trying to coax her to jump up into the car to take her to the groomer and she wouldn't jump in. I picked her up to put her in (gently) and again she growled and snapped at me. :sad:
She's been to the vet so we know she is in good health and not in pain of some sort. I am the one who feeds her and takes care of her most of the time while my husband is at work. We are scheduled for obedience classes later this month, but I'm wondering if obedience classes are going to help this biting problem?? Some of you are very experienced at dealing with dog behavior and I'm wondering if you think this sounds like fear or dominance aggression or WHAT?

mastifflover
October 1st, 2007, 10:18 AM
It sounds like fear to me. She may have been abused by a woman and that would be one reason for her bonding with your hubby as opposed to you. I know when I got Bud he was abused by men and was terrified of all men. He was not really crazy about me either but not nearly as fearful. He did not come near me other than walks for the first couple of weeks. I talked to him all the time in a calm voice and when he came near I would pat him if he balked I would just let him be. After a few weeks I came home from work and he actually wagged his tail when he saw me, I had finally been excepted but real trust takes much longer to establish. He still is leary of men but if I am there he feels much safer. Try and do things with your husband and the dog to establish that you are not a threat to her but her friend. You also must establish that you are higher in the pack order than her. Do not let her get away with a snap or growl a sharp NO, do not let her think that she can get away with that behavior. It takes time there is no quick fix if it is fear and I think it is and not aggressive behavior. I am sure others will have other suggestions. Wishing you luck and keep us updated

Longblades
October 1st, 2007, 10:41 AM
Feeling that she was scared, I gently bent over and started saying "it's ok, good girl" and rubbing her head

The best way to reassure her is to ignore what she seems to be frightened of and showing leadership yourself. By bending over and petting her you may have 1) re-inforced the behaviour with the pet 2) intimidated/threatened her with your vastly greater size bending over her and 3) shown that you are not the leader by reacting to her behaviour in a submissive manner.

You did say you had a Vet check but a dog with vision or hearing problems is easily startled. All of a sudden, there you ARE and many dogs will react defensively to the sudden appearance of something threatening even a well loved human.

I wonder if a behaviourist might be called for? Just some ideas.

mastifflover
October 1st, 2007, 12:02 PM
You did say you had a Vet check but a dog with vision or hearing problems is easily startled. All of a sudden, there you ARE and many dogs will react defensively to the sudden appearance of something threatening even a well loved human.


Good point I had a foster that had eye problems that fear bit. He had scratched corneas. He bit a few people it was all due to fear and eye problems. Bud startles easy because he is partially deaf in one ear, might be something else to consider

weppasmom
October 1st, 2007, 12:13 PM
Thank you SO much for your comments and suggestions! Longblades, I had no idea I had conveyed those messages to Sasha by bending over and talking to her... I will take your advice next time. :thumbs up
Mastifflover, I need to take her to the vet soon for a teeth-cleaning, so I will definitely ask him about her vision and hearing.
Now that I think about it, I bet there are lots of other things I'll learn from the obedience trainer when we go. I've had dogs all my life but just never had one that displayed this behavior :shrug:

mastifflover
October 1st, 2007, 12:28 PM
You are welcome we are always learning something new. I also suggest you be the one to go with your dog to obedience it will also to help define you as a pack leader. Good luck and trust me it will be worth it in the end she will probably become your best friend