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Help with Barking/Nippy Rescue

kittygirl
November 5th, 2010, 03:51 PM
We have had our dog now for almost 6 months. When we first brought him home he was very quiet and quite timid. It took weeks for us to hear him bark and he mostly kept to himself, preferring to snuggle under a blanket on his own.
We spent time encouraging him and did basic obedience in the first few months and he began to slowly come out of his shell. He became more comfortable around the 3 month mark, beginning to play and 'hang' with the fam and since then his confidence has grown leaps and bounds.

BUT - our little timid dog has become protective especially towards me (mom) and when people are coming to our home and office. We have had to stop taking him to the office which he went to almost everyday because he is barking at visitors and has snapped at someone when they got too close. He has not bitten anyone ..yet, but I am afraid he will get there. He growls, he shows teeth.. I don't like it at all.

This behavior has started very recently and grown progressively worse in a short period of time and I obviously want to correct it right away but am not sure what measures we should be taking. Right now we are not allowing him to greet people and he has to be crated or separated from our guests. We accomplish this by physically blocking him with our legs and leading him to his crate or another room. Advice?

Dog Dancer
November 5th, 2010, 04:14 PM
Hi Kittygirl, I'm not going to try to answer you, there are others here who can certainly help you. That said, they will likely want to know any background you can give on your little nipper. Age, breed, any history from the rescue. It will help them in deciding the best advice. Thanks and good luck to you. Thanks for rescuing.

kittygirl
November 5th, 2010, 04:31 PM
Ah I forgot about that - I was uploading pictures. Otis is mixed breed, def has beagle and dachshund and possibly some chihuahua or JRT. Not quite sure exactly but I would describe him as a weiner beagle. He was approx 2 when we got him 6 months ago. He weighs about 18lbs right now.

As his behavior has changed quite a bit since his time with us - I am not sure what is normal except he had been quite even tempered but def submissive. He was quite concerned about our three cats in the very beginning - he wouldn't look at them. He still will NEVER eat their food or drink from their water. As well, in the beginning he was submissive towards us like, when we approached him he would turn over on his back. I had trouble with him in obedience classes - he would scream if I tugged his leash or physically put him into a sit. These are things we worked on and he has gained trust with us and is much more confident.

kittygirl
November 5th, 2010, 04:33 PM
To add - I had little information from the rescue except he was a stray. He came from the US and was vetted there and again here when we first got him.

luckypenny
November 5th, 2010, 04:58 PM
I don't think your dog's form of aggression has much to do with being protective although I do believe it stems from fear with the info you've provided.

Your best bet would be to seek help from a qualified professional with extensive experience in canine aggression to help you with behavior modification. I checked the CAPPDT site for trainers in your area and the only one that came up with info on reactive dogs was Renee DeVilliers at All About Dogs http://www.allaboutdogs.ca/ .

In addition, you may also find this book very helpful in understanding and treating your dog's issues. Aggression in Dogs - Practical Management, Prevention, and Behavior Modification by Brenda Aloff http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB755

Just as we'd contact a vet for serious medical issues, I strongly recommend consulting with a professional in regards to serious behavioral problems such as aggression. Hope you get the help you're looking for :fingerscr .

kittygirl
November 5th, 2010, 05:21 PM
Thanks LuckyPenny - I will look into both of these.

I say protective because he really reacts when someone gets close to me specifically. He guards me. But I can see now how this could be fear.

Would this be something he has newly become fearful of or has he always been fearful and is only now allowing himself to project I wonder.
Honestly, he has only recently started acting this way. Until a few weeks ago - he would meet people at the door with a wiggly bum and would sit with our guests, give kisses and be really sweet.

luckypenny
November 5th, 2010, 05:28 PM
If this behavior is fairly recent then, I'd suggest a vet visit first to rule out anything physical that may be causing him pain.

Your description of him when he first joined your family would indicate he may already have had fear/anxiety problems. On the other hand, he may have recently experienced something negative when meeting strangers/guests. Can you think of anything that may have occurred that could have frightened him?

kittygirl
November 5th, 2010, 07:59 PM
A vet visit may be in order. Thanks for the suggestion.

He did have a bad experience with someone during the summer. This person that he had met before decided to reach out and grab Otis by the muzzle in a play wrestle kind of way. Unbelievable I know, and this person has dogs. Anyway, Otis screamed, scared not hurt, and hid behind me. His new behavior has not been since that incident but perhaps it has something to do with it.

I have contacted a trainer that has met Otis before from his obedience classes. Hopefully she can help or connect me with someone.