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Yeah, another Tommy question... growling!

October 21st, 2007, 06:47 PM
Hi guys,

Sorry to bother everybody with yet ANOTHER Tommy issue! This one has me baffled, though.

Over the last while Tommy has started getting growly/snarly when you lift him, hold him in place, or try to put on his coat or harness. I've ruled out any pain, because the rest of the time you can rub/press/touch every inch of him without him being bothered. It's only when you are going to make him do something - go for a walk, put his harness on to go home from somebody's house, put his paw in his jacket, anything he doesn't want to do.

It's escalated over the last couple of weeks to outright snarling, teeth bared, Cujo type of thing. He won't actually break skin, but he does snap at your hand - hard enough to make it red, but not an actual bite. It's close though, and if we don't get it under control I don't think biting is far behind.

He is generally very well behaved, we've had puppy classes and then basic obedience classes, and he'll sit/down/come etc, he's normally a very good, obedient dog... it's ONLY when you try to lift him/hold him/put his harness on that he does this.

So far we've tried telling him no, but not letting him win - he doesn't get released until he calms down. We've tried teaching him 'calm' and praising him when he stops the bad behaviour. We practice NILIF. His behaviour at all other times is fantastic, but we can't seem to curb this bit of aggression.

What are we missing? I KNOW he doesn't want his harness on, doesn't want to go for a walk or leave our friends' house, etc... but he needs to learn that he can't act like that, period. What am I doing wrong to try and make him understand that this behaviour is unacceptable? And I repeat - he NEVER wins this way, no matter how bad he gets, we do not let him get what he wants until he settles down.

Any ideas?

October 21st, 2007, 07:00 PM
not sure, but i think to check his teeth to see if anything with them could be bothering him becasue that can make them snap, also when he doees growl, dont stop doing what ever your doing becasue he will then know that when he growls you will stop doing what ever you want, therefore making him dominant over you. when ge growls, pick him up and look him in the eyes (far enough away so he cant snap at your face) and tell him that its unacceptable in a deep and serious tone. and dont put him down untill he stops. hope this helps :)

October 21st, 2007, 08:59 PM
Thanks, Allymack... I think his teeth are ok (although he did just lose a late puppytooth, and doesn't have an adult one behind it:eek:). I think if they were bugging him, he might get snappy other times? But it's just when he doesn't want to do something, so I'm pretty sure it's just attitude, LOL.

We are very careful never to put him down when he's doing it, we never stop what we are doing... I'm not worried about him biting me, he KNOWS better, and so far he's all talk but never actually chomps down. I just don't know how to make the attitude STOP. As of right now, we're simply taking away privileges and upping the NILIF - if he had to sit to get something before, now he has to sit and down; he was allowed on the couch before, now it's invite only time. I don't know what else to try, this better be a phase he's going through:frustrated:.

October 21st, 2007, 09:24 PM
Hmm, it definately sounds like he is challenging you. I would continue working hard on the NILF and also add in some extra training exercises as well. Going for walks where he has to do lots of heeling/sitting/down stay etc are all good for reinforcing your leadership role. I would also seriously consider having a consult with a behaviourist in your home.

October 21st, 2007, 11:22 PM
Does he allow you to pick him up at other times?

When you discipline him for snapping/ getting all snarly face where are you and where is he ie. sitting, standing, kneeling, crouching ?

October 22nd, 2007, 07:34 AM
He doesn't like being picked up at the best of times, but he'll normally allow you to lift him or hold him for another reason - he'll wriggle and do his darndest to get down, but won't snap or snarl.

It's usually when we're putting on his harness and he doesn't want to go - if he doesn't want to go for a walk or doesn't want to leave wherever he is, and he knows the harness means he's leaving. Or if you're putting on his coat and have to move his paws to put them in. Normally we're both on the floor when it's happening, since he's so little, and I'm holding him still to put something on - so we're both ground level. We've tried having one person hold him and the other stay somewhat standing to do it, thinking that might help, but nope... he's a stubborn bugger! So it's usually a sitting/crouching position.

He'll do it if somebody's standing holding him too, since he doesn't like to be held or carried, but normally at that point a stern 'calm down' will make him stop and he'll try giving kisses to get down instead.

October 22nd, 2007, 09:43 AM
Well I think this is a very serious issue and the only answer would be to send Tommy to me and over the next several years I shall do my best to correct the situation:laughing::laughing:

Just kidding of course as I do know this needs to stop and although I don't have an answer I hope you find the off button for Tommy's snapping. And do give that adorable one a big kiss from me please.

October 22nd, 2007, 05:14 PM
:laughing:Lukka'sma, tell ya what... you just send Lukka here for a bit to show Tommy who's reallllllly the boss:laughing:.

Well, I think it's pretty much confirmed that it's an attitude issue, LOL. I took Tommy for a walk this morning and it was pretty much a drag down the sidewalk because somebody didn't feel like walking. Oh yeah, and the ten minute wait at the corner cuz he didn't feel like giving me a down. And the fact that he wouldn't even look in my direction when I said his name. Yep, we've got an attitude going on!

So... I admit, we've been busy with work and Tommy's not been walked as many times a day lately - didn't think it was a problem because he hates walks most of the time anyway. That stops today, he's back on 3 walks a day, like it or not. NILIF is ramped up, he works harder starting now for EVERYTHING. We were leaving him out of the crate during the day, and he was doing really well - should we go back to crating him all day long? I've also picked his toys up off the floor and I'm just giving him one or two at a time rather than letting him have all of them to choose from.

Anything else you guys can think of? This seems to be a typical small dog issue - no offense to small dogs! - just that lots of small dog owners don't bother to teach them the same manners as big dogs, and they think they can take over the planet. I know Tommy's small enough to just pick up and make him do what you want him to do, but to me that's not acceptable - I expect the same behaviour from him that I would expect from a 90 lb dog. Any other tricks/habits/training that I should be doing to make him realize he's not really Napoleon?

October 22nd, 2007, 05:58 PM
well, another thought to work on ( as if oyu dont have enough :rolleyes:) is to invite him to play tug-of-war (with a toy that you never leave for him to have) and you must start the game and stop the game, but getting on with it, invite him to play tug-of-war and then tel him to sit, pull up on the toy a bit, and just wait it out, and when he does sit (with toy not in his mouth ) reward, but remember not to repeat the command ( as the would defeat the purpose of the game) you can also do this with a down. this game is teaching him that he must listen to you at all times, even when he is playing, so you have control over him, hope this helps :)

October 22nd, 2007, 06:44 PM
I'll probably think of something to add later on but for now I just want to tell you that you are doing an AMAZING job. We come across small dogs and their people all the time ~ you have remarkable insight and a I-wish-they-were-all-like-you attitude. You are really in tune with Tommy ~ good on ya!

October 22nd, 2007, 07:17 PM
Awww, thank you Mummummum! That's so wonderful to hear, especially coming from somebody whose advice and opinions I admire, thank you.

It's especially nice to hear after coming back from half an hour of 'good walk! Wait. Sit. Watch me. Down. Stay. Good boy! Wait. Yes, again. Sit. Watch me. No, ME, not the grasshopper. Down. Stay. Yes, that was just a truck going by. No, those people are not coming over to pet you. Down. Sheesh, it's a moth, relax. Down. Yay, good boy!':laughing::laughing::laughing:.

October 23rd, 2007, 12:44 AM
Seems to me like Tommy is due for the bratty teenager phase. Riley hit that big time this summer while we were away on holidays (he was approx 15 months). Consistant and persistant back to the basics training was the key for us. Sounds like you are working hard and doing a good job :thumbs up.

October 23rd, 2007, 10:46 AM
To me, this sounds like Tommy needs some RE-ranking in your pack.
He appears to feel that he can tell you what you can or can't do with or to him... this simply should not be so.
You are the leader of his little him that.
I would suggest that you start with a very basic mental exercise.
He who controls the food, controls the dog (it's my belief anyway)

Breakfast - feed him each kibble from your hand...and of course make him work for it...
Dinner - feed him each kibble from your hand...and of course make him work for that also.

Also, do you let him on the couch? or chairs/beds etc?
If so... when he's sitting/laying all comfy cozy on the couch... order him to move... when he does move(either willingly or with your assistance teehee), YOU take that nice warm spot he left.
I know it sounds petty and almost too simple... but, you will see soon enough he will begin to defer to you as his pack leader...
These are simple things you can implement into your daily life with ease... and it will help to solidify in his mind that he is NOT the controller of his own destiny... :)
Good luck and keep working on it... a good dog is worth every minute of training!

November 11th, 2007, 07:02 PM
Thanks for all the great suggestions and advice, guys! I thought I'd give an update since it's been about 3 weeks now...

Things are GREAT!

The key seems to be the walks... Tommy HATES them, for some reason he hates going out and we literally have to drag him off the front stoop even though he goes out back no problem. But, as long as he's getting a minimum of 2-3 walks a day, he's soooooooooo good! No more snarly growls, no more fuss, and he's back to being a total snuggle bunny/lap warmer. No walks = little meanie, walks = adorable cuddly fuzzbutt. Go figure. I mean, we were walking him every day anyway, but just not enough - and I didn't think it mattered all that much since he doesn't like it, but it certainly DOES matter!

The only snarlies we get now are minor ones when I try to put his sweater on - he seems to detest having to put his paws through something. So, no biggie - that's not exactly a necessity, yanno? He'll let me touch and play with his paws, just seems to hate bending to get through a sweater. So, no sweater. Pick your battles, LOL. He has a coat that just has a velcro strap around the middle instead of leg holes, it pops over the head and he's fine with that. I'm not fighting a battle over a sweater.

We've had a total attitude change, and he's our well-behaved, sweet, affectionate pooch once again:cloud9:.

Thanks again everybody:).

November 11th, 2007, 07:11 PM
Have you tried leaving through the back to go for a walk?? Perhaps something out front upsets him or something happened after you left out the front ie got scared by car/dog :shrug:

November 11th, 2007, 08:36 PM
I wish I could - we live in a townhouse complex and the backyard is totally fenced with no gate (so how do the darn skunks get in:frustrated:, LOL).

We've just been taking it easy with him - cheering him on when he goes down the steps, and letting him take his time and sniff all around. It may take us 10 minutes to get to the sidewalk, but he seems to be getting a bit more used to it. I figure it's better to let him get used to things at his own pace rather than being super strict about walking/heeling at this point, and it seems to be slowwwwwwwwwwly working:).