6 Year Old Havanese Biting Problems
My mom has a Havanese names Bijlee that we adopted about 3 years ago from another family.
When we first got him we could hardly touch him, he hated kennels, and he constantly growl and try to bite when we tried putting his leash or collar on.
Over the years he's gotten better, but he is still doing his business in our basement, although he knows to go outside.
My mom is able to pick him up now and whatever else and he's completely fine most of the time, but right when she thinks she can trust him he bites her although he's let her pick him up or whatever a million times before. He's bitten my sister, my dad, my auntie, and my grandparents before too for doing things they normally do like put him on their lap when he begs to come up, or things like that.
He's get aggressive with our other Schnoodle, Daisy, as well when ever she goes near where he's sleeping or laying.
My mom does not know what to do and is afraid she's going to have to put him down if he bites one more time.
Is there any reason why he bites or continues to do his business in the basement? My mom will not let him up on her bed anymore, and is more cautious when petting him or lifting him up, but wants to know what else she can do.
My mom loves him and doesn't to put him down, but cannot put up with it.
Thank you in advance for your help,
Your dog has fear issues and maybe some resource guarding. I would consult a certified animal behaviorist (be careful, many people call themselves 'behaviorists' without proper qualifications because it is an unregulated profession) or a positive trainer who specializes in reactive dogs.
It sounds like your poor guy was punished for a variety of behaviors (i.e. fear of confinement, fear of the leash and collar) and is becoming reactive when he feels threatened or nervous. Many little dogs hate being picked up, it dis-empowers them and makes them feel defensive. I would have your mum stop picking him up at all. Stop petting him, or even really looking at him for now. Wait for him to solicit contact with you.
Biting is a last resort for dogs who are asking people (or other dogs) to back off. Watch your dog. Does he lick his lips, freeze in place, look stiff, yawn, show the whites of his eyes, look or curve his body away from you, crouch down as if startled? These are all signs that he is stressed out and telling you politely to back off. It may be that, especially if he was punished in his previous home, he has stopped offering these warnings because he learned that they didn't work. You can start mending that bridge by respecting his space.
The resource guarding (if that is what it is) is a whole other issue and should really be thoroughly explained by a qualified trainer who can see the behavior. Under no circumstances should he be corrected for it, that will only increase it's severity.
Housetraining is housetraining. If he still goes in the house than he either has a medical issue or has not fully learned to go outside (is it urine or feces or both?). The only solution is to monitor him completely (so, he's never out of your sight) and putting him on a strict schedule of trips to the yard. Every 2 hours and after meals.
Is he still intact?
Reward successful toilets with praise and food. Interrupt accidents with a "whoops" and take him outside as fast as possible. I would put him on a harness and have him drag a light leash at all times so that you don't have to touch him directly to move him outside.
Make sure that you are cleaning all the areas he has messed with an enzymatic cleaner - available at mos pet stores. This will de-nature the scent proteins left behind by normal cleaners that your dog can still smell, and will therefore think makes that spot an acceptable place to go.
Finally, I would suggest that you folks stop feeding him from a bowl. Portion out his daily ration and feed him from your hands. If he is very skittish of specific people they can start by dropping kibbles for him when they walk by and go from there. Go at his pace. If he looks or acts nervous back it off a bit.
A little basic positive training (sit, lie down, shake) will go a long way to give him more confidence and strengthen his bond to your family.
hope this helps
There seems to be a whole lot of info lately regarding the connection between intestional health and brain function. It wouldn't cost a lot or harm your little dog to try adding organic yogurt or probiotic powder to his food in conjunction with good behaviour modification. And the next time you have him at the vet, maybe get him checked out for aches and pains, his eyesight and hearing. There could be some undetected physical issue(s) affecting his behaviour. Like they say, "A sound mind in a sound body''.
This may have started out as a fear response but it seems to have developed into a 'knee jerk' reaction when ever he needs to make a point. I have a feeling there's aren't many warning behaviors in advance, he has become reactive and he needs to learn to become thoughtful. He needs to learn to think about his behavior and check in with the people for guidance not just get nasty.
He learned that 'snapping/biting' got people to back off and he learned it works, and when a dog learns something works they do it more. It becomes self rewarding.
It sounds like he rules the roost. Some good basic obedience could go a long way with him but he could also use desensitization exercises and boundary setting. He needs to learn that people are not a threat, people set the rules and boundaries (not him) and protecting his things will only get him further from the very things he is trying to protect. For example if I went to pick up a dog toy on the ground and he lunged for me to protect it then my training partner (who has him on the leash) would simply walk him away from the toy with a 'leave it' command. Then we would repeat this drill until he learned that the toy is not his to protect and bad manners will not win. Being calm and patient wins every time, not a
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their dogs is they give them way too much freedom - we call it 'recess'. Dogs need to be in school even at home. They need to have their minds engaged, be taught rules of the household and learn respect for their family members. This will fix most any problem you would possibly encounter with a dog. We can't just let them roam about the house 24/7 thinking "what do I want to do now? Go get a drink, chew a toy, bark at a squirrel, get a pat from mom". Because it becomes all about them and not about you. They become impatient, independent, impulsive and reactive - this is where ll of the bad behaviors show up. If you engage their minds they become connected and thoughtful, and the impulse becomes "what does my person want?"
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