I recently joined the boards in hopes that you guys could give me some advice.
I have a 9-month-old male Shih Tzu puppy named Chavo. My family & I got him when he was 2-months-old last October. When Winter came, we got hit hard so we made the mistake of just letting him roam in our backyard to do his business instead of taking him out for a walk. He took to barking at strangers and has now gotten to the point where he growls at them and sometimes tries to bite. He has tried to bite a few of my relatives since they're pretty much strangers to him. From what I have seen, they don't seem to be actual bites because they don't leaves marks, so it's like he didn't clamp on.
Recently, my 16-year-old sister had her friend over at our house and he was doing his usual barking and growling and tried to bite her. As I always do when he gets like this, I said "No!" then got him to sit. She was kneeling and offered her hand for him to sniff and he did. After a bit, she started to pet him and he didn't bark, growl, or try to bite her and my sister & I praised him. Then he started his barking again and then repeated the sniffing and allowing her to pet him followed by his barking again...and so on and so forth. We thought this might have meant that he was getting better with strangers. =/
Are my sister & I going about this the right way? We try not to let him go near strangers because we're afraid that he might actually bite them, but we do the "No!" and getting him to sit when they walk by us on walks.
We were thinking of enrolling him into a puppy class because he only knows "sit" and not 100%. We figured the classes would also help socialize him with different dogs and people. He seems to be fine with dogs except when he's not able to go and smell them. (This one time, we didn't let Chavo go near a Great Dane and her owner because the owner's little girl was there too and he started barking like mad and made the Great Dane cry)
I feel awful because I know I let him down by not socializing him properly.
I really want to help him overcome this.
Edit: Also, I have a 9-year-old sister that bugs him a lot. He has bitten her a few times because of this. Any advice on getting a child to stop bothering the dog? Or how to get him to stop? Or should she stop him herself?
I apologize for the vast amount of text!
Any help would be greatly appreciated!