Biting and barking issues: Please Help!

Posted by Lyvettely
Jul 19, 2008
Hi Everyone,

I am new to the forum. Glad to be here. I have a 1 1/2 year old Malchi (Maltese and Chihuahua mix) and I am having issues with biting and barking. First the biting. When I came home from work my sister told me that my dog Appa had bitten my elderly mother in the hand. Apparently mother was in the kitchen and Appa was roaming around in there too when a fruit rolled to the ground. Immediately Appa chased after it but my mother got to it first, reached out to grab it and that is when Appa made a growling noise and bit her. My sister put him on a time out (separated and tied him away from everybody) for a while. I want to know how I should go about training him not to react this way.

Another problem that I have is his barking. He seems to bark at almost everything! When people walk passed the house he barks. When cats or squirrels pass through he barks. when he smells the scent of strangers he barks. When we are out walking and Appa is on a leash, someone may stop to say what a cute dog he is. They quickly change their mind when Appa takes two steps back and starts to growl and bark at them. I've asked a few strangers to give him a treat. You know, to have Appa associate strangers with something good. But appa cowers a little and smells the treat but doesn't take it. When I got him as a puppy I was so determined to get him socialized and be a really good dog. I took him out, introduced him to kids but I guess I should have done more. From the looks of things I failed him. I really want to remedy the situation. i want a dog that isn't afraid of people. I've read that the [U]crucial[/U] time for socialization is before 4 months. Is it too late to teach him social skills?

Thanks for any advice.

Posted by Lyvettely
Jul 24, 2008
Sorry if I seem pushy, but would anyone have any advice to my predicament as stated above? Thanks in advance.

Posted by Annie
Jul 24, 2008
Hi there,
I´m no expert but I have a few ideas...
The biting is a problem and I can see the stress you must be feeling. It would be a good idea for strangers to totally ignore your dog for awhile. If he feels that everybody is reaching over him to offer him treats, well maybe it´s too much attention. Remember that dogs don´t like eye contact so much and they also don´t like people reaching over their heads to pat them...on such a small dog as yours I would imagine this feels VERY threatening. He needs to protect himself somehow. Ask people to ignore him for a while, and then perhaps let some treats appear when he seems more relaxed. So many people think these breeds are just cutsie little toys and don´t give them the respect that they would give to another dog...

Although he is so little and cute, I would hope that you are treating him with the same discipline that you would another (bigger)dog. Re-read the Alpha tips as a lot of the problems you describe seem to be from the dog being overly 'tough' and bossy. YOU are the top dog, and the littlie needs to follow your lead. i.e. not on the furniture, not cuddling in bed, never treats from the table, having to give back toys whenever you want them, moving out of your way, not sitting on your lap when visitors come...etc etc...

The barking, with our dog was dramatically improved by a can full of stones with tape over the top ( some people use a water pistol) EVERYTIME that he barks...shake it...loud! Have a couple of them around them home so one is always to hand. The idea is that when he barks...suddenly is this shocking noise and he should is not the human, but magic! After a very short time you will find that when he sees something, that normally he would bark at, he will look at you first before barking...quick...give him a treat. After a few weeks it will be much better.
You need to be a bit more tough to be kind! Be a bit more strict NOW and you will have a sweet little friend for ever. Your early socialisation sounds good and it´s not too late, but remember, for such a small dog, even a little kid seems HUGE. Make sure your dog is always supervised, and your guests don´t treat him like a baby!

With the biting of the hand, time out sounds good, but you could all work on taking toys from your dog and exchanging them with treats. When he realises nothing bad happens and often he gets something good in return...then he will not fuss about ownership over a toy. Remember, everything in the house is yours to use and have and the dog may 'borrow' them.
Hope some of these ideas help, good luck
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jul 30, 2008
Hi Lyvette,

I hope Appa has had no more biting problems since then.

I endorse everything Annie wrote and they are all very good tips.

I am not an Alpha Training believer but I still agree with that you, as the owner, needs to be able to control your dog. Everything boils down to training and if you becomes a good trainer of your dog, it will be much easier to control your dog's behaviors.

One tip I would like to give you to prevent the biting that happened in your mother's kitchen is to teach Appa a "Leave it!" command. It goes like this:

First, have Appa sit in front of you. Put a treat on top of your open hand and bring your hand close to his nose as saying "Leave it". If he tries to take the treat, close your hand or take your hand slowly away from nose saying "Leave it". Most dogs learn quickly that you don't want them to take the treat when you say "Leave it". If Appa leaves it for a moment, offer the treat saying "Take it". He will soon learn that he should wait with a "Leave it" command but it is always followed by "Take it" and a treat.

When he master this, put a treat on the floor in front of him and tell him to "leave it", then "Take it". Then, the 3rd step is to have him sit or down position and you throw a treat close to his paws from a distance, again saying "Leave it". If he can leave the treat even when you are not right in front of him, it will be great.

Once he learns this command, it is very handy to use. For example, like in the situation you described in your original posting, your mother or sister only needs to say "Leave it" to Appa. If Appa knew this command, it would have been no problem if your mother picked the fruit up. Also, when you walk your dog and there is a piece of food on the ground, you can say "Leave it" and Appa would just leave it alone.

This kind of training will eventually help your dog to be obedient and to listen to your directions better than before. Most dogs enjoy this training as a game as well, when treats are involved (at least my dogs do).

Good luck