Some owners worry that this means the puppy will grow up to be aggressive and start to impose punishments or strict dominance regimes. Other owners do nothing, assuming the puppy will grow out of it.
For puppies it is important to be taught bite inhibition from day one and ideally before 16 weeks. Puppies need to learn while they are young that it is unacceptable for their teeth to meet human skin under any conditions. They may think anger in humans is a way of playing rough, which is why punishment doesn’t work.
Never, ever, let anyone play roughhouse with your puppy because it will encourage play biting.
Puppies should always be discouraged from using their teeth on humans, including mouthing and nipping. A dog can hurt people by biting, and a dog that bites a stranger may have to be put down.
Prevention is better than a cure. Socialise your puppy with people, and make sure they have no special phobias, e.g. with regard to delivery people. You may get the delivery people to throw titbits to the puppy from a safe distance, so the puppy makes friends with them. Do not let your puppy run free and bark at strangers, or they may get kicked and start biting to defend themselves. Make sure your puppy is supervised when they are outside, or that the garden is secure and locked, so no stranger can enter. Keep the puppy secure e.g. on a lead when strangers are about, if there is any risk of biting.
Puppies may try to bite their owners to retain a stolen object. Keep the forbidden object out of their reach. If you need to take something away from your puppy, use soothing words, and try to tempt them away with something more interesting (e.g. a handful of stinky titbits). If your puppy has found the titbits more interesting, talk softly to them, wear thick gloves (owners choice) and take the object away quickly, before the puppy has chance to react. Most important think of your safety first. Don’t force the issue if the object is not that important.
A lot of fighting occurs at different levels of seriousness, from play fights to serious fights which can result in injury and even death. A lot of people argue that play fights between puppies should not be allowed, since it’s a way that they learn how to fight, while others see play fights as a useful way for puppy to learn how to bite gently and not hurt each other. A lot of this depends on the age, the breed and on the ability to recognise when fights are getting serious. Little puppies don’t usually do each other harm, and can learn how to regulate their bites by the way that their siblings react. If the puppy bites too hard, the sibling yelps and doesn’t want to play any more. This is enough to teach the biter that they have gone to far. Where you need to be careful is when puppies of different sizes get together, and there is the danger of a puppy getting bullied, or learning to be a bully. This can happen with unrelated puppies and puppies of different sizes in cross-breed litters, especially big litters. Always stop play fights if one puppy is unhappy about what is happening, and is trying to run away, rather than coming back for more, or if you just want some peace and quiet.
Fights can get more serious as the puppies get older. Some breeds are better able to tussle playfully as adults without getting out of hand, and they tend to be dogs bred to live in packs, such as many hound breeds.
Play fights between siblings, or dogs that are friends typically include chase games and play bows, and the puppies return again and again to each other, until they are exhausted. Other breeds are more likely to lose their tempers when they fight, and the fighting and growls get more frenetic, while the play bows disappear. It’s best to stop the fight if they start to look serious, even if the fights are between puppies.
A lot of fights between socialised adult dogs are brief, and result in no damage to either dog. Typically, they involve a younger puppy being scolded for taking liberties with an older dog, or two entire males reaching adulthood. The owners of both males need to be especially careful on walks, since previously sociable male dogs may suddenly decide to ‘take out’ the other entire male dogs. Fights can also occur when dogs don’t understand each other’s body language, which often happens when dogs of different breeds meet. Bull Terriers and Rottweilers send fewer signals to other dogs, which may not realise when it is wiser to back off. If you have a dog that sometimes likes to pick fights, or seems to get involved in a lot of fights, keep them on a lead unless you have a clear view ahead, and know that any dog approaching is one they don’t fight with. Anticipate trouble, and try to spot approaching rivals before they do, so you can call them back to avoid trouble.
Walking your dog in the same place at the same time every day helps you avoid fights, since you can get to know which dogs your dog likes, and which they don’t. Learn to read your dog’s body language when there are new dogs about, so you can keep at a comfortable distance if they seem wary. Even if your dog seems friendly, do check with other owners before letting yours approach their dog. Fights occur if the dogs don’t get enough space as well, for example if they are hemmed in on a narrow pathway. If the initial meeting looks promising, the best place for your dog to get to know a new dog is off the lead in an open space, like the middle of a field.
Unsocialised dogs tend to fight out of fear. It’s worth trying to socialise adult dogs, even if you may never trust them off the lead with other dogs. It means that they are less likely to bite any young dog that approaches them, or to lunge at dogs that pass by. You may need to enlist the help of a trainer or someone with a lot of experience of dogs, who can help by exposing your dog to calm adult dogs that don’t react to barking and posturing. You may also take an unsoicalised dog to watch an outdoor training class at a safe distance, so long as all owners taking part in the class know not to let their dogs approach you. Set up markers so your dog has their ‘comfort distance’ respected.
Owners of dogs that growl and snarl are often worried about having an aggressive dog. Growling and snarling is a way that dogs try to create distance, and want the human or dog they are growling at to go away, so the dog feels threatened or is frightened. This is a useful sign, so don’t punish your dog for growling, or you will just confirm their fears, and they may even learn to bite without growling. Growling says a dog doesn’t want to pick a fight, but may bite if you push it. Just stay standing, to show the growling won’t work to make you back off, and make yourself less a threat, by looking away, for example. If you tower over a growling dog, and try to touch their head it is likely to trigger biting, whereas squatting and talking to them gently may calm them down.
Barking dogs are often seen as aggressive when they are just barking out of excitement, because they want to play, or as an alarm call. Dogs may also bark and pull their owners sleeve if they think their owner is doing something dangerous, like using a vacuum cleaner, which some dogs see as a very strange, noisy object. This isn’t attacking, but protecting the owner. Dogs may also have never have learnt how to play gently with humans.
Aggression is often mixed with fear. Dogs may be frightened, fearing that someone plans to hurt them, and make a show of aggression as a warning, to defend themselves. How you tackle this depends a lot on why the dog is frightened, and how much time you have. Generally, it’s better to tackle the fear than force the dog to do what they are frightened of. You may need to act fast for the dogs own sake, e.g. to muzzle the dog for veterinary treatment. In this case, move swiftly and decisively, whilst using gentle, soothing words.
Dogs that show clear aggression may show this for a number of reasons. Firstly, check that there are medical problems, such as a brain tumour, or thyroid problem, especially if the aggression is sudden and unexpected. A vet may also find a hidden injury which could be causing pain. Pain will make dogs tetchy, and dogs will often growl if you touch a sore spot.
|Resource Guarding. |
Resource guarding is when a dog uses aggression to keep ownership of items of value to him such as food or a favourite toy. In the dog world this is perfectly natural and normal behaviour.
Aggression is often caused by a dog that is fearful, worried or scared of something.
Dog growls at strangers when walking on a lead = dog is worried about strangers.
Dog growls at owners when he is on the sofa = dog is worried about losing his comfy resting place.
Dog growls and snaps at owner when they approach him when he is eating = dog is worried that he will lose his food.
All dogs should be given the chance to play with toys. They help with exercise, training and chewing. Sometimes however, certain dogs can get possessive when people try to touch them.
The most common response from owner is to tell them off either verbally or physically. This only makes the situation WORSE. It increases the dogs fear and so the intensity of the dog’s behaviour. In other words this approach will probably get the person bitten than cure the problem.
The owner must approach this problem with confident indifference ie make it clear to the dog that you are not really interested in their smelly toy anyway.
Teaching the ‘take it’ and ‘leave it’ exercise is the best way to start. If the dog is only a toy guarder then the use of treats only for this exercise is recommended.
You must NOT (during training) enter the dogs personal space to obtain the toy, you must get them to bring the toy to you. This is achieved by backing away whist encouraging the dog to come to you. High value treats can be thrown to the dog to encourage and reward its cooperation.
GUARDING STOLEN ITEMS.
Lots of owners inadvertently teach their dogs to steal items. The usual response is to chase after the dog and then this becomes a great game, or verbally telling them off and forcibly removing the item. The dog then will keep repeating this to make the game start again.
There are three things the owner must ask themselves,
Is the item dangerous to the dog?
How valuable is the item to the owner?
Is it the end of the world if the dog keeps the item?
If the item is dangerous it must be retrieved as quickly as possible but avoiding direct confrontation. Grab something of really high value to the dog, like a lump of cheese or sausage or liver and throw pieces to the dog in quick succession. As the dog starts to take the food the owner should throw a handful away from the stolen item and when the dog moves away it can be safely removed. Any verbal interaction should be encouraging and rewarding so as not to arouse the fear trigger.
The main things to remember are
Owner’s verbal response must always be one of surprise and praise if you discover that your dog has stolen something.
This is not rewarding the dog for stealing, the main aim is not to trigger the fear response and any form of firm language or physical manipulation will do this.
By keeping the tone happy and non-confrontational you will keep the dog relaxed and relatively close to you. If you them walk towards the treat cupboard or fridge whilst congratulating the dog on its prize the chances are that it will follow you and then drop the item in favour of a treat.
IT IS FAR BETTER TO HAVE A DOG THAT STEALS THINGS AND IMMEDIATELY LOOKS FOR THE OWNER TO SHOW THEM THEIR PRIZE IN ORDER TO GET A TREAT, THAN HAVING ONE THAT STEALS AND RUNS OFF WITH IT AND GUARDS IT WITH ITS LIFE.
Food is required to stay alive and is therefore very valuable. It is also often the highlight of a dogs day so to have someone come and mess with it can cause a dog a great deal of distress.
The first step is to ensure that the dog is fed on a boring dried food
Second step is to have a selection of very high value food at you disposal.
The training starts with the owner being a distance away from the dog and its food. It is imperative that the dog’s fear trigger is not activated. The owners job is to happily call the dog’s name and throw a decent sized chunk of food as close to the bowl as possible. The food should be thrown whatever the dog’s response to the call may be. This should be done approx 3 times at every meal time. When it gets to the stage that the dog lifts its head out of the bowl on hearing his name in expectation of getting the food you can then take a step towards the dog and then throw the food. THIS PROCESS NEEDS TO BE BUILT UP VERY SLOWLY. IF IT IS RUSHED IN ANY WAY THE DOG MAY REGRESS VERY QUICKLY.
The aim is for the owner to be able to call the dog’s name whilst it is eating and for the dog’s head to come happily out of the bowl in expectation of something nice being added to it.
If this is achieved the dog is associating a good emotion with a person approaching them whilst eating instead of a fearful/defensive one.
With puppies on no account should punishment be used as it will increase the behaviour. They need to be taught the correct behaviour in the first place before they can be corrected for getting it wrong.
|An interesting read, thanks!|
|Lots of great information here! Thank you!|
|Our puppy has drawn blood when we have gone to pet her when she has a chew toy. She gets very stiff and then snarls and bites. We have been turtling her on her back and saying "NO BITE!" and it seems to be improving a bit, but what you say here is making a lot of sense. I hope we haven't done any damage so far, I feel terrible! She looks terrified when we flip her.|
|Excellent info, Lori. Well done.|
|I thought I post this up the charts again|
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