Biting us!

Posted by Curlys-Mom
Feb 4, 2008
I am seeking answers and solutions to the problem we have just recently had with Curly. He is a hybrid Bichon and Schitzu. He is two years old and cute as a button.

What has happened is that while travelling to Texas, he got a thorn in his paw. I was trying to find it and remove it while my husband held him. He let us do that for a bit, but then suddenly turned and bit my husband. We found a vet in the nearest town and he removed the thorn but only after muzzeling Curly.
Then, about 5 weeks later, I suspected Curly might have something going on in his ear and while my husband was holding him so that I might look, again Curly growled and fast as a wink he turned and bit my husband again. That time we both yelled at him and quickly put him down. However, I was able to bathe him later that morning and he was no problem. Again, we took him to the vet and he did have an ear infection which is being treated. Since that time he has seemed to shy away from me, even leaving the room when I go over to pet him. He seems to be afraid of me. He does not exhibit any agressive actions to strangers or other dogs.

I am at a loss as to what has caused him to act this way. We have several young grandchildren and cannot have a dog that might bite. Please tell me what to do about this. I will try anything (as will my husband). We love Curly and want to keep him as a member of our family.
Posted by Todd
Feb 6, 2008
HI there and thank you for your question.

I think part of the problem that Curly has is that he is reacting to pain. So the biting at you may be just a referral of his pain.

I do think it is important for you to to work on some alpha training and general obedience.

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your dogs while they are sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that Curly eats after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not Curly straightaway when you arrive home. Make him wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

I also think it is very important that he is be banned from couches and beds as these are items that can be used to represent dominance.

You should reprimand Curly for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dogs poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior.

What I recommend you do, is the next time he acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

The second after you have reprimanded Curly and he shows the correct behaviour you must immediately reinforce this with praise, petting and attention.

The next step you will have to take is to work very hard on Curly's obedience. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands. The more obedient he is the more likely you are to have success and get him to respond to you when they have misbehaved. This training will take a lot of time and patience.

Once you have done basic alpha and obedience training the problem may have reduced in its severity but you need to reinforce the correct behaviours to fully stop the problem.

The key is to reprimand him for the worng behaviours and reinforcing the correct relaxed and non aggressive behaviour.
You can try and introduce him to situations where he is normally aggressive. Have him on the leash and sitting. If he reacts poorly reprimand him as above.
If he behaves then reinforce that with praise and attention.

The problem with the vet is a hard one. Often it is best to take them in to see the vet just for a visit when the vet is quiet. Again reinforce the right behaviour with praise and treats. If he growls etc tell him off and make him sit.

I hope this helped and good luck.

Kind Regards
Todd Field