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  #1  
Old September 11th, 2008, 11:51 AM
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marko marko is offline
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6 year old Shih-Tzu - Authority issues

Hi members,

A friend of mine asked me for some help (so I'm asking you guys and gals since you're the experts ) with his Shih-Tzu. The dooger is 6 and they adopted him recently. They think she was neglected and came to them without any medical history but with some problem behaviours.

She doesn't listen too well to basic commands most of the time. They are hoping to get advice they can try on their own as they are a bit strapped for cash.

I have told him that I think there is an authority issue here big time and that the dog does not know it is not the leader. I have suggested dividing food into small portionions and really showing that they are the food givers - I have suggested not using the cage as punishment but using a firm NO and looking away as punishment.

All other advice would be greatly appreciated and I may well email him this link and hope he'll input more backstory.

Here's what he writes
Many thanks as always
Marko

"We're going to get working pretty hardcore on these as of right now - but have a couple of questions, too.

1. When she does do something wrong (snarling, nipping, not responding to a command), how should we be punishing her? Neither of us are such fans of hitting her, so we'd like to avoid that if at all possible.

2. We have a cage that we tend to put her in when things do go wrong. It's in the livingroom right now - should it be moved? She likes to bark a whole lot when we first put her in, then it falls (almost immediately) to whimpers and small growls - should we yell at her for these? We've been known, too, to cover the cage with a blanket for more of a "solitary" treatment - or move it to the bathroom and close the door.

3. Would a muzzle help? She can be pretty mean with us at times (Especially when it's around food) but is, for now, not so bad with others - she mostly hides when we have company. She can be pretty snarky with other dogs, though. Would this help show her that we're in control? Or would it just make things worse?"
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  #2  
Old September 11th, 2008, 11:58 AM
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Frenchy Frenchy is offline
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I'm not too good at training but did have to do some with some fosters.

When she bites them , I would let out a big OUCH ! So she knows it's hurting them.

I would also always give her commands , out of the blue , like sit down and stuff. So she knows when they ask for something , she has to delivers.

The crate should be her fun place. You're right about telling your friend to not use it as a punishement.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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Frenchy Frenchy is offline
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Oh and another thing they can try , is to get her on leash and attach it to one of them , then go about their things in the house. She won't have a choice but to follow the person and will learn that they are THE leaders , not her.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 02:11 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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How long have they had the dog. Let me know.

It sounds like the people are novice dog owners and need the training more so than the dog.

Firstly the crate should absolutely not be a form of punishment.

Food aggression is not uncommon. The first step to curbing this behaviour however is that the dog must learn the basic commands such as sit, stay, wait and come.

For the food aggression the most important step (step 1) is 'sit' followed by 'wait'. The food should be placed in a bowl (not on the floor). They hold the bowl and the dog should be in sit position. The bowl is then placed on the floor and the dog should 'wait' until the command is given to eat. Also a leash should be placed on the dog. While the dog is eating, the command 'come' is given. Obviously the dog will not come at first. The leash should be used to remove the dog from the bowl and at the same time using the word 'come' - then reward with a piece of meat (food). The command or gester is then given to the dog to resume eating.

It is very difficult to tell you exactly how this is done, but if you try it on your own dog you will understand what I mean. You can then show your friend what to do.

Really - they should take a training course. It is money well spent. This dog needs to understand boundries, leadership, discipline and RESPECT. This dog was never shown in the past, but it is not too late.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 03:16 PM
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BusterBoo BusterBoo is offline
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So sorry to hear your friend is having problems with his tzu, they are known to be a bit on the "stubborn/independant" side but if he can get through to the dog, he will have a loving animal!

First...the crate CANNOT be used as punishment, it should be the dog's safe place, a place with treats and something to chew on and peace and quiet.

As for muzzles, I have never gotten an older dog and had to re-train him/her but I am not a fan of muzzles in general so....

As for food aggression, could it be possible that in her previous home she had to fight for her food (other dogs???). Hopefully once she sees/learns that there is always food, she will calm down.

I know training can get expensive, but it is well worth it in the end. Sometimes community centres have dog training and it can be cheaper.

Good luck to your friend and his tzu! (they really are good dogs!!! )

Sorry, not a lot of help, but hoping that it all works out!
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  #6  
Old September 11th, 2008, 03:50 PM
TwoLostSouls TwoLostSouls is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
1. When she does do something wrong (snarling, nipping, not responding to a command), how should we be punishing her? Neither of us are such fans of hitting her, so we'd like to avoid that if at all possible.
Never punish a dog. Never hit a dog nor otherwise try to hurt it. You will not accomplish your goal. If a dog doesn't sit when told, you have to go make it sit. If it doesn't lie down, make it lie down. If it doesn't come, go and bring it to where you want it. It's simple mind-over-matter. Don't give up until you accomplish your goals. The dog must learn that you, not it, are in charge. Avoid rewarding with treats until it obeys your commands.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
2. We have a cage that we tend to put her in when things do go wrong. It's in the livingroom right now - should it be moved? She likes to bark a whole lot when we first put her in, then it falls (almost immediately) to whimpers and small growls - should we yell at her for these? We've been known, too, to cover the cage with a blanket for more of a "solitary" treatment - or move it to the bathroom and close the door.
As others have said here, the cage should be the dog's bed or den and should never be used for punishment. In fact, you should dismiss the entire premise of punishment. You can teach your dog there are consequences for disobeying you, but punishment won't work.

Yelling at a dog is pointless. The dog doesn't understand what you're saying. Also, if you're yelling, you will be mad or frustrated. To dogs, anger and frustration are weakness and they won't take you seriously. Always remain calm and assertive. You must never give in to your dog or it is controlling you, not you controlling it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
3. Would a muzzle help? She can be pretty mean with us at times (Especially when it's around food) but is, for now, not so bad with others - she mostly hides when we have company. She can be pretty snarky with other dogs, though. Would this help show her that we're in control? Or would it just make things worse?"
This is more potential for disaster. Meanness should never be tolerated and well as unwanted barking and aggression over food. All of these are bad things. You have to reclaim the food, the home and everything in it as, presently, the dog thinks it's all his. Being snarky with other dogs is not natural. This is a symptom of an insecure dog. The aggression will only get worse if not fixed. Muzzling the dog is a band-aid solution to a bigger problem.

As someone else has already mentioned, it sounds like the people here have no experience with dogs. I'm willing to bet that if they started to assert themselves as the pack leaders, the dog will sit, down and come on command as expected - provided it has been taught these commands already. If they need more help, just ask.

Last edited by TwoLostSouls; September 11th, 2008 at 04:00 PM. Reason: spelling
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  #7  
Old September 11th, 2008, 06:55 PM
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TeriM TeriM is offline
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Awww, good for them for trying . I agree that obedience courses are a great idea but I would definately also try a few other things.

1) Always leave the leash dragging on the dog so that they can easily correct without having to get to close and risk escalating the behaviour.

2) Do the "umbilical cord" thing. Tie the leash to their belt and proceed around the house doing regular daily chores, watching tv etc. This teaches the dog to watch you and that you are the "leader". At the same time they can work on some basic obedience commands (sit, down etc.) and reward for good behaviour.

3) Definately incorporate NILF for all activities. I believe pets.ca has a great link to explain this to them.

4) For a week or two I would have them hand feed all or at least the first half portion of the dogs meals (assuming feeding kibble). Have them sit with the dog and hold the food in a closed fist. Likely the dog will be all over them to get the food but eventually the dog will sit down and move away from the hand. That is when they open the fist and feed.

5) Good advice from the others regarding the crate. It can be used for a "time out" but it is important to just calmly and cheerfully escort the dog (this is another reason for keeping the leash on) to the crate, perhaps throw the favorite toy in and then ignore all behaviour until the dog is calm. It usually doesn't take very long until they get it.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 07:58 PM
joeysmama joeysmama is offline
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I agree with the umbilical cord treatment. Joey was a rescue dog and mostly shih tzu, possibly some lhasa in there. He was almost certainly abused and there were some issues that we were never able to resolve but then we were more inexperienced and we only got to love him for 5 years before he went to the bridge.:sad:

They are very social dogs so turning your head and not paying attention is a more effective punishment than harsh words or physical treatment. I think that the umbilical training would give him a stronger attachment and that's going to work the best.
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  #9  
Old September 15th, 2008, 10:28 AM
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marko marko is offline
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Thanks so much for all the help and suggestions
Please feel free to continue to give advice if new thoughts arise. I think my friend will post in this thread as well, so hopefully the situation will become clearer.

Here is that link for the no free lunch
http://pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

Thx again - Marko
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  #10  
Old September 15th, 2008, 10:57 AM
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bendyfoot bendyfoot is offline
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I second (third?) the umbillical and NILFF approach with this dog. I'd have him on a 8 or 10 ft lead at all times, and tied to the owners whenever they are home. I would be using the crate only for sleeping and when the owners are away from the house. If this dog was abused or treated harshly, a calm but assertive approach is going to be needed. Yelling at or hitting the dog will likely make things worse. A firm "no" should be all that's used when the dog misbehaves, along with using the lead to move/redirect the dog to a desirable behaviour (pull her off the couch, away from a person or dog being nipped, use it to direct her body into a sit or down, etc.). The muzzle won't help, it will only mask the problems. Our first dog was nippy and dog agressive and did the whole resource (food) guarding thing. She had to be shown that stuff in the house, including "her" food, was OURS, not hers. Hand-feeding, or using the food as "rewards" for obeying commands (they should be practicing obedience, on-leash, every day, and the food could be used at treats for training) would be a good place to start and then work up to putting the food in the bowl, making the dog sit/wait(on-leash) while you have your hand in the bowl or while another dog comes to investigate the food (then release with "ok" or "free").
In the meantime, I'd be doing a bit of doggie "boot camp"...no freebies (no treats, pats, toys, attention unless she worked for it or is showing desireable behaviour), umbillical at all times, no bed/chair/couch privelleges, etc. until she starts showing that she knows the people are in charge. Keep in mind it can take a long time. I would say it was a good 6 months of consistent practice until our dog finally came to terms with not being "the boss".
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Old September 15th, 2008, 11:26 AM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Bendyfoot I think that this is great, however I truly believe that the dog should know certain commands before attacking the food agression. Simple commands are easier to accomplish by the dog and in turn the dog gets to understand positive reinforcement/discipline and then reward. If a dog does not understand or even ignors the sit command, then other commands regarding the food aggression may be ignored.

I value your input Bendyfoot - when I read many of your threads our training methods and views are very similar - so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Always willing to learn.....
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Old September 15th, 2008, 12:25 PM
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bendyfoot bendyfoot is offline
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I didn't explain properly...I meant to work up to the food agression stuff...feeding by hand is a simple way to start. The basic obedience commands need to be pretty reliable before you can expect a sit/wait for food. Especially for a food-motivated or guarding dog a sit/wait is a really tough one. It's a long-term goal.
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Solomon - black DSH - king of kitchen raids (11)
Gracie - Mutterooski X - scary smart (9)
Jaida - GSD - tripod trainwreck and gentle soul (4)
Heidi - mugsly Boston Terrier X - she is in BIG trouble!!! (3)
Audrey - torbie - sweet as pie (11 months)
Patrick - blue - a little turd (but we like him anyways) (6 months)
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Old September 15th, 2008, 12:26 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Ok so we are on the same page....
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