dog biting

Posted by jools414
Jun 20, 2008
Hello all.
i have a 4 year old springer spaniel, Molly,who is completely mad, a female.
she has a habit of biting, that is when you try to take something from her, she releases it, and then will snap and bite your hand really hard. She has drawn blood on a number of occasions, mainly to me. Last night she decided to bite my son in the same way. He was really angry as i was looking after his three children, and said he does not want the dog near his children. This i can understand and fully appreciate his concerns. Now i need to find a way to solve this problem, or else the dog will have to go. Molly barks and jumps up at everyone who comes to the door in a quite aggressive way, and i am finding it extremely stressful trying to control her. I have tried to train her, and she will obey some commands and on occassions is really quite obedient. I have now downloaded all the info on your website so am hoping that this will solve the problems. If anyone has any advice i would really appreciate it. Jools414
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Jan 29, 2010
Hi Jools,

It sounds like Molly has taken over the dominant role in the house, and therefore feels the need to protect the rest of 'her' pack against visitors coming to the house. The biting is also a result of this because she thinks that she, as the leader, has the ultimate right to her toys and she is simply trying to put you in your place by nipping you. She is not trying to hurt you but just treating you as she would a subordinate dog in the pack. However, you will need to re-establish yourself as the alpha dog before her aggression progresses. There are a few things that you can do to indicate to her that she is supposed to be at the bottom of the hierarchy. These include insisting that you walk ahead of her through doorways and when walking on the leash, and feeding her after you have finished your own meal. You must ignore her if she comes up to you for attention, as she has to learn that attention from you is earned and not just given out whenever she wants it. Before you pat her or play with her, give her a command, such as 'sit-stay' so that she will see that your attention is a reward for good behavior. This will act as an incentive for the future. If you are playing a game with her, make sure it is you that chooses the toy and when you decide that you have had enough, take the toy away with you so that she realizes that it is you that controls playtime. It is best to avoid games that include biting or will fuel her competitive nature, such as ‘tug of war’. When you first come home, you should greet the rest of the household first before saying hello to her. All these things can be incorporated relatively easily into your normal daily routine, although it will require some patience and perseverance from you. She will struggle initially as she sees herself as the alpha dog and therefore being in the submissive position to you, who she sees as a subordinate, is distressing. Soon she will settle into her new place in the hierarchy and should become a more relaxed dog, as she has been relieved of the role of protector.

If she starts barking or lunging at your visitors, take her by the collar and lead her away to a 'time-out zone'. Don't speak to her or make eye contact when taking her away, so that she is getting absolutely no attention from anyone at all. This place should be quiet and free of distractions, away from other people and dogs so that she can be left completely alone. Leave her there until she calms down and then make her obey a command, such as 'sit-stay', before releasing her from the 'time-out zone'. If she misbehaves again, do exactly the same. She will soon learn that that is not the way to get attention, in fact it will lead to complete isolation instead, which is the opposite of what she wants.

You should do the same for her if she refuses to let you have things or bites you. Take that thing away from her, although you may need to put a leash on her first to protect yourself from her nips, then lead her straight to the ‘time-out zone’ without speaking to her. She needs to understand that you control not only all ‘her’ possessions but also her every movement.

It is a good idea to set aside some time each day for a bit of obedience training, which will not only improve her obedience levels but also the relationship between you. Even by starting on simple commands such as ‘sit-stay’, you will be asserting your dominance over her and reinforcing your status as leader of the pack, as well as her need to look to you for direction and commands.

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!