My Dog Just Snarled at Me; Another Lesson On Dog Behavior

My Pharaoh

My puppy (a little over a year) is not the bravest little soldier on earth. I work to build his confidence in all that I do with him and he gets better and better as he matures.  I work at his pace and I let him be a puppy and he is very well loved, and he certainly loves every move I make… well almost every move.

But today, we had a weird moment.

I hurt my back.

It sucks to get old and I am feeling the pain these past few days.

For a girl I am pretty strong, I was always able to lift weights and play hard with the boys.  I think it is just part of my German heritage and body type, short, stocky and strong.

So earlier in the week I was with a friend of mine when he decided it would be a good idea to roll a 300# log that had partially caught fire on top of a roaring fire (no we had not been drinking and in hindsight I realize how silly this sounds) the idea was that the large log would help the burning fire underneath last longer.

The trouble was, it was already singed in one area and it was awkward to move without catching ourselves on fire.

It wobbled, so did my back and I ended up losing my footing.  My friend, who describes himself as “Baby Huey” who has stupid strength was able to finish the job by himself.  I didn’t fare so well, and the next day when I went to unload my little guy’s steel crate I did the final damage.

I have spent 3 days on a heating pad and in some serious pain.

Me in a bite suit

Me in a bite suit

Unfortunately I am used to stupidity and pain, because I was born with no grace so I do dumb stuff and fall fairly frequently.

I had some work to catch up on; got to keep up with you frequent readers 😉 and I needed a little computer/heating pad break to grab some water.

Half bent over I rounded the corner into the next room to find my baby “Pharaoh” curled up on his bed with his toy.

I think I did a totally “stupid grin”… I assume I looked like a hunched over “Joker” to my puppy.

At first I think he didn’t recognize me; after all I was hunched over so I wasn’t the same shape and I was showing my teeth in what must have looked like a horribly aggressive way.

He hackled, snarled and growled at my hideousness.

Thanks mainstreethost...  I imagine this is what I looked like

Thanks mainstreethost… I imagine this is what I looked like

Now remember he isn’t brave.  He hackled to show me he was bigger and he snarled… well because I was snarling; at least in his tiny pea brain I was.

As soon as I laughed and spoke to him he wagged VERY VERY submissively and approached me to be petted, curled into my face and body and kissed me on the face as if to say “OMG I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize it was you”.

As I petted him, I grinned like the Joker again.  I was able to get a little more upright by this point but I made a point to show him all my teeth (I know him well enough to know he was not going to bite or attack me but caution should be used with any dog growling or snarling).

He snarled again, back at me.  This time not in an act of aggression, but in a confused act of submission.

It is clear that I don’t leer at him very often; and now I am going to have to.

He has a hard time using what he knows as an act of aggression between dogs (showing teeth) and applying that to human interaction.

I wonder how many other dogs are totally shocked into aggression just because we as humans are muddling through life just being stupid humans.

Heck, I am a dog trainer and still I shuffled in and leered at a puppy I know has confidence issues.

A Little History

I haven’t had this guy since he was born or even when he was 8 weeks old.

I got him when he was older and I have no idea how he was kept or what specifically was done to or with him.

I doubt someone smiled at him as they beat him, but I don’t know all of his experiences.

I do know that he is just a scared puppy in a big body.

So What Do I do?

Some Dogs Smile Uncomfortably Because They Don't Know What Else to Do

Some Dogs Smile Uncomfortably Because They Don’t Know What Else to Do

Well, if someone else was emailing me with this problem, I would recommend a veterinary behaviorist.  Growling and snarling is a scary problem and dogs can bite very quickly.

I however know and trust myself (my instincts) and my dog not to maul me.

We have a good relationship.  I don’t beat him.  I don’t yell at him. I don’t corner him.  I don’t make him do things he doesn’t want to do.  We have a trusting relationship based on positive reinforcement and fun.

In all honesty, I think that visually he didn’t recognize me.  As a herding dog his vision is more acute at distances with fast moving objects, not close up.

So my plan is to spend months leering, leaning over, hunching around, shuffling and looking like the joker while I coo to him, pet him, and treat him for good behavior.

Why?

What happens when I am at a dog sporting event, or out and about when someone thinks he is as cute as I think he is and they bend over and grin at him from ear to ear?

If I don’t desensitize him to this behavior as someone he loves and trusts, his retaliation could be swift and aggressive.

So it is up to me to teach him that people have horrible dog skills but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to eat him.

If he learns that this kind of smile means good things, he won’t be taken aback when someone else does it to him.

Do All Dog Have This Problem

NO, or at least it doesn’t present as aggressively as my experience today.

I think often times we smile at dogs, or try to hug them or restrain them and at first they think we are crazy, but most of them react better.  Mostly because they are OUR DOGS.

My dog just happens to be a scardy cat.

Remember to NEVER do these things to dogs you don’t know, or you will likely be bit in the face.  And, teach your children to keep their faces away from dogs.  Hands are meant for petting, no hugging or getting into dog’s faces!

But, as always it reminds me how to interact with other dogs.  Thankfully, I don’t leer at many dogs… but this has taught me to keep my teeth to myself!

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Comments

  1. Colleen says:

    Hi Minette,

    I too have a adopted timid Malinois. I love reading your articles – you have helped me tremendously in understanding quirky behaviors and dealing with them. I have had a similar response from my dog when she was inside and I was outside. I bent down and peered into the picture window at her and it freaked her out. The change in my posture seemed to override her ability to recognize me. And when I stood straight and talked to her, she immediately became submissive and confused. I haven’t worked further on this…but now me thinks I best. 🙂 Thank you so much!!!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Sadly timid Malinois are more the norm than they used to be 🙁

    But I think herding dogs also have such keen eyesight for motion that their near vision lacks. I can’t tell you how often I have heard from clients that something as simple as the toilet seat up or down or the garbage moved is a big deal for herding dog; until they realize the visual change is okay.

    [Reply]

    Terry Reply:

    Thank you for your mention of herding dogs vision and lack of. Now I understand why my DS responds with caution when simple things around the house change …anything that is new or placed differently. I walk Sammie over to the change, talking softly to her (she responds well when talked to calmly and softly), let her sniff the difference and walk around it. Then she is OK with the change. She also notices any difference outside and we do the same. It amazes me how quickly Sammie notices any change and once she investigates the change, she accepts it and will walk on by. If I am ok with it…she is ok with it. She really follows my lead…our vocal and body language communication is totally amazing! My first DS. Always had a GSD.I have never had a dog so responsive. I do have to watch that though, if she senses a negative reaction, she is on alert. Love working and training her…we are a work in progress…always learning.

    [Reply]

  2. Walkaround says:

    My collie mix used to be growl and growl at me when she had a bone. After kind, firm training, she was much better and growled at me for the last time about a year ago. Directly after her last growl, she immediately lowered her head, wagged so hard that her whole body swung around, and then brought the bone over to me and laid it at my feet and would not take it back til I touched it.

    [Reply]

    Judy Rafanelli Reply:

    Care to share with us how you got your dog to that point?

    [Reply]

  3. John Groat says:

    Today my rescue dog – a Griffon/Shihtzu cross snapped at me and growled at me. She is a neutered female about 4 years old and we have had her for about four months. It really was good to have some understanding of why she growled and snapped, and what I can do about it. Thank you for yet another good lesson.
    John

    [Reply]

    JoanM Reply:

    I have a Wheatib/Westie mix and is very subborn. She growls and barks at evrything. Like a garbage can on garbage day.(She is getting better at see it now after 3 nonths.Anything new she barks and goes to bite. Some looking in the car window at her etc. Life is hard with her.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I get my dogs to give me focus and eye contact

    I would contact customer service at info@thedogtrainingsecret.com and enroll in our aggression program which will teach you this and more coping mechanisms.

    [Reply]

  4. Dean says:

    Hi Minette ,

    I have a two and a half year old Boer boel .he is the sweetest dog all the time but recently i have being noticing that he growls at my Kids(3 AND 7 years) this is when they would want play with him. this scares me a lot because i am not sure what to do.
    he is sweetest with me and my wife and is very attached to us however he is not the same with my kids.

    There was this one time that he actually when for my little one but i believe she was trying to hug him and ever since that day i have being ignoring him a lot only because i am truly upset that he had done that. i am truly not sure what to do and require your help.

    Regards
    Dean

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Contact a veterinary behaviorist. Someone needs to see the behavior and work and talk to the kids.

    Dogs often see kids as “dogs” so the things they put up with from us they won’t put up with from children and that is when bites and especially severe facial bites happen.

    Kids have no dog manners and in order to keep everyone safe you need to teach them all how to live with one another.
    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/give-kiss-understanding-dog-language/

    and this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/recommend-veterinary-behaviorist-dog-trainer/

    [Reply]

  5. Annemarie says:

    Good Morning Chet,
    Question I have a 2 year Bichon / Poodle rescue. We got him when he was 5 months old. I will be honest he is hell on wheels but my husband & I just love Bennett. One of his bad habits is he likes to steal things and hide under any piece of furniture and chew on them. I cannot tell you how many pairs of shoes he has destroyed. Sunday getting ready for Church he stole a towel and went under the bed. He saw me coming and dropped the towel before taking it under the bed. When I went to check on him he growled at me which is unusual for him.
    Can you tell me why Bennett did that and how do I stop it?
    Appreciated your feedback.
    Annemarie

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I’d get in on our next aggression program starts on the 23rd and will give you videos and signs to look for.

    Contact customer service info@thedogtrainingsecret.com

    Dana will get you enrolled.

    [Reply]

  6. karen says:

    Hi! i have a Dutch Shepherd, and he is very loving, obedient, i never beat him up or yell at him because he is very intelligent and doesn’t do bad things around the house, i got him when he was 3 months old and i don’t know exactly what happened in that period of time but when he sees another dogs he starts shaking, growling and even attacking (i always go out with a muzzle). He is neutered and his anxiety has decreased (also i’ve been working with positive reinforcement) but he still has that problem with other dogs (i have 5 more dogs in the house and he is very playful and loving with all of them), he has decreased that aggression and even made a couple of new friends, but he doesn’t like when other dogs approach him…. or when people in the street wants to pet him. He is friendly when he is the one that makes the first contact but when someone wants to do it first he doesn’t like it and barks. He has never barked or snarled at me but when i want to hug him and cuddle he growls a little bit but doesn’t do anything more. So, i wanted to know if you can give me some tips to handle his aggression. (by the way all his siblings has the same problem, but way worse, they cannot see other people or dogs because the want to attack, they have to be locked down)

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Stop hugging him!! He is likely to bite you!

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/give-kiss-understanding-dog-language/

    And contact our customer service rep so she can get you into the next aggression course it starts Sept 23 I think but she’ll give you all of the details.

    info@thedogtrainingsecret.com

    [Reply]

  7. Loretta says:

    I am always surprised when your article matches a situation I am currently facing. My miniature poodle who is a little over one year has a serious problem. It is my hubby. He has no patience and continues to think he should be completely trained. In fact that should have happened months and months ago. Consequently, he plays with “Rusty” in big dog games like tug, rough house and you can’t have that. It is or was kind of cute when my little dog would let out a protest if you touched his chew stick, but the growling that is happening now is not so cute. He now growls and threatens to snap at me if he is sleeping and I move him, move myself etc… I admit I played along also because he was so “cute”. Now when we have company he barks, snaps, sounds like he is going to kill someone. When he is playing with them or they are petting him and quit he soft bites which frightens them. I am afraid we have made a HUGE error and it is not his fault.

    I have taken the tug toys away and told hubby no more games of bite and tug of any kind. I will play tug with him of very abbreviated and short period. The barking and trouble with people around, if hubby isn’t home, timeout in his kennel works, but if hubby is home, nothing does. I would love to have hubby trained just a bit, I have really tried simply because your methods work, but since hubby insists he doesn’t want to interact with “the dog” because he is my dog and he should mind but does anyway I am stuck. Any suggestions?
    Loretta

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I haven’t managed husband training yet either as it takes more effort because they have access to their own motivators.

    Sit him down and have a talk about the damage he is doing to the dog… that is the best you can do.

    [Reply]

  8. Nicole Alvarez says:

    My husband and I have 2 dogs, both a little over two years old. Our black lab, we believe is mixed with a little of something else. Has shown some aggressive behaviors. We believe the main reason being because he is insecure. You had mentioned that you have been working on the confidence of your pup. How can i work on building my dogs confidence?
    Nicole

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Find the things that he fears and expose him to them from a great distance. Use treats to make the treats more important than the distraction then slowly and sometimes it might take months move forward.

    [Reply]

  9. Stephanie Phillips says:

    Hi, This may not help – but when I work with scared horses (and I have dogs also and agree with Minette’s comments) we do something called approach and retreat.

    We approach the scary thing until you can just feel the tension and then turn around and retreat. Then repeat the process. The time it takes with horses depends on the confidence of the horse. Treats can work too, given at the correct moment. The point at which the dog has gone the farthest towards what you want. ( this may need correction from someone as horses are prey animals and dogs predators)

    My rescue dog growled at me the other day – he was on the bed with me in the place he wanted to be and I went to move him (littler dog and he growled and I just moved him. He has done it twice now the second time was more threatening, but I just moved him as I wanted to. He is trying to be top dog and my ignoring it, seems to be working. He will push his boundaries so he finds the wall and then he will feel confident within them.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I’d stop sleeping with him, if you growl you don’t get that privilege and what happens if you kick him at night??

    Growlers belong on the floor in their crates… their own space they never have to share

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    I had a poodle who started growling if I tried to move him off the bed. Meh then moved to growling when I moved if I was in the bed. He then began snapping and bit my husband. It’s true, you should not allow him on the bed since he has growled. I then made my dog sleep beside the bed in a crate and never touched him if he was on something that I wanted him to get off. I simply ordered him down off whatever it was and made him obey. This was better

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Agreed! Confrontation always ends poorly. I believe in gaining privileges and focusing on obedience, then it is the dogs nature to listen when given a directive.

    [Reply]

    Loretta Reply:

    Wow, that is the biggest trouble spot with my Rusty. It started with going to bed and then graduated into where he fell asleep at night before I was ready and when it is time to go to bed. Thank you. I will remember that and continue with hubby training 101!

  10. Carolyn says:

    Dear Minette

    Why are people so stupid? I remember many years ago there was a golden retriever that used to come visit me every day. I never did find out where he came from but he was well fed and taken care of so I assumed he belonged to someone in the neighborhood. We used to sit on the steps together. I thought I got to know him well enough to give him a hug as he sat beside me. WRONG! He immediately growled at me. That is when I learned even the sweetest dogs do NOT like to be hugged! Naturally I was hurt and confused but never tried to hug him again. Come on people! It does not take rocket science to “read” an animal. Also do not fail to teach your little ones to give the puppy their space!!

    Recently a sweet little “Westie was quarantined to his house for two weeks because someone allowed their stupid kid to “stare Spock down.” Needless to say the kid got bit in the face. So who gets punished for it?? The dog of course!!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    The only time dogs hug each other is when they mount for sex…. so most dogs don’t like it… we desensitize some dogs to it by doing it since they are little but most dogs it just makes them so uncomfortable. Read this for more http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/give-kiss-understanding-dog-language/

    [Reply]

    JoanM Reply:

    I didn’t know Westies are aggressive. What do you do about it?

    [Reply]

  11. Teresa says:

    Our black Lab is 5 years old and is a really good natured dog with us. He wants to be Alpha when he is around other dogs, but we don’t have trouble with him. My issue is that he sort of growls at my son’s girlfriend. She has a high pitched voice and says hi to him then goes to pet him but he squares off, stares right into her eyes and growls quietly. No baring of teeth, no hackles. We have tried having her not pay any attention to him and that goes very well, but then when she tries to pet him again, he might growl again. If she doesn’t look at him, he’s fine and enjoys her petting. He does not do this with other ladies and only rarely with a man(a repair man, for example). How do we treat this? I appreciate his protection with strangers, but with someone we have invited in and who is no threat , I don’t like his behavior. Can you help ?
    P. S. We have had him since he was 8 weeks old and he has been in a very loving home.
    Teresa

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Don”t let him sit next to her and don’t let her pet him.

    If and only IF he is good have her toss him treats for WEEKS don’t talk just toss treats and ignore. Keep him on a leash when she is there.

    Eventually he will see she is good without the fear of her being bitten and then he can have more interaction, but don’t force him or you will have a bite on your hands.

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/growl-good/

    [Reply]

  12. Stephanie says:

    Minette,

    The dog is a rescue from a rich family that had kids but bored with him. He had just spent 6 days at $100 a night in the top suite at the fancy vet/groomers before she dropped him off at the rescue. I saw him the first day he was dropped off and adopted him knowing that there would be some issues. I have three other dogs (three bonded especially to each of my children with special needs) He does not sleep with me at night and he was just on the bed sleeping with me while I was resting during the day. I spend a lot of time with rescue dogs and usually read them pretty well. I had to, due to the fact that I had them when I had children with special needs around. He is a Shih Tzu and wants to be higher in the pecking order. We have this dog issues under control (longer story but safe) and he has shown not other aggression. I believe He got want he anted at his last house and that was one of the reasons she gave him up, apart from telling the vet, she just didn’t like him any more (he just turned three and I have had him 2 months. He has to have 4 bottom teeth removed and has infected anal glands. So the poor boy is dealing with a lot. But all my dogs get crated if needed. None have bitten and I have one that wants to be cuddled, but he came from a puppy mill and was deprived of pretty much everything. He has sensory deprivation to the degree that a trainer took three weeks to get him to be able to sty on leash without pulling if a vehicle went past. He stares at mirrors – ones he can’t see himself in. He fixates on so many things it is incredible, But he wants to be in your lap, cuddle close to you and if you want to feel like the most special person in the world, this dog does it. When I am bed ridden, he stays with me 24/7, except for potty breaks, which he takes only when made to leave the room and he has to be carried. It is the only time he will not respond to commands. Anyway, thank you for your curt advice.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    aggression course will help teach you both some things

    [Reply]

  13. Bev says:

    We adopted 2 little (neutered male) 3-year-old Cairn Terrier/Shih Tzu liter mates who have been together since birth. They play with each other and get along well, etc. but when we give Bert (alpha) attention, he looks over at Ernie and starts growling. At first we thought he was growling at us but it consistently happens the same way. Bert tenses up, looks at Ernie and starts posturing. He never growls at us but it appears as if he is because it only happens when we’re loving on Bert and Ernie approaches. We would love to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

  14. Marianne says:

    We have a queensland blue heeler who can be quite agressive. He feels he has to protect my husband and if anyone tries to hug or kiss him (husband) the dog will growl and bite them (usually on their legs). If people make quick or fast movements he snaps at them. Don’t know how to stop this.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Put him on a leash and teach him manners. Have your husband step on the leash if he has to to keep the dog in a down safely away from whom he is hugging. If the dog behaves he can be rewarded if not he will correct himself and do it until he stops fighting.

    [Reply]

    Stephanie Reply:

    You give sound advice but do you just get sick of hearing from people that you think act stupidly because you know what to do? You are short and abrasive in your replies. I know you have a lot to respond to, but serious – if the lady knew how to teach him manners – don’t you think she would have. I have a friend that is a trainer and she is just like you. I ask for help and she acts as if I am dumb. I ask because I am not trained to work with dogs, and having trained and worked with horses, I know what and how to work with them. Dogs are a completely different animal. I want to give credit to your knowledge.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Just like “tone” can be read into text messages; they can also be read into responses.

    I have several websites to maintain and I do my best to answer all the questions I see. Most have been addressed in this website via other posts or articles and can be searched.

    So if you need to teach your dog “down” you can search using the search button 1/4 of the way down the page “down” or “trash stealing” or “dog behavior”

    I have basic articles from how to clicker train your dog or crate train, to more advanced articles on dog behavior and how to read dogs.

    It isn’t easy to teach people via writing because I don’t know their experience, I can’t see their face, and we aren’t having an interactive conversation.

    I usually stick to being brief because I don’t know how much people know, and if they then ask specifically what I mean by “manners” then I can point them in the right direction.

    If I wrote a novel and explained everything completely; I would get no work done.

    When I do have a concern about circumstances I haven’t yet addressed I usually do write an article about it because it is easier to write everything and then share it in that form.

    I do the best I can with the time and information I have 🙂

  15. Gina says:

    We have a rescued bichon. He is about 9 years old. We have had him for three years. He had a reputation for being “possessive” after his last adoption, from which he was returned after two weeks, because he would growl at the husband if he tried to sit by the wife or be affectionate with the wife. We were warned to let him come to us, rather than approach him, when we met him at the shelter. We fostered him for a few weeks to see how he would get along with our bichon who is a year-and-a-half younger than him. Almost immediately, our bichon, Riley, was teaching Oscar how to be a bichon. Oscar clearly had had little to no socialization with other dogs. We were told that he had been a stray and was so matted, yellow, and skinny they did not even know what breed he was until they shaved him completely. He had been adopted by a college student and lived happily with her for just over a year, until she left for a mission trip to Korea. She had left him with her parents, but he started snarling at her dad, so her parents returned him to the shelter. He went out with two other potential adoptees, only to be returned each time. He got into our hearts, and we decided he would never go back to the shelter again. We recognized right away that he was not “possessive”, but rather, he was fearful, so of course, he tried to make himself big and scary to make the scary thing go away. When he behaved that way, we spoke calmly to him and gave him lots of space to retreat to a safe place (his crate). He would eventually come out and come looking for attention. He had also obviously been beaten because he did not like his hind end patted at all. So, we patted him a lot, treating him and talking lovingly to him. Now, he LOVES to have his hind end patted! He has become an exceptionally loving and happy dog who adores my husband, but he still has his “moments”. If you wake him up at night accidentally, he will often snarl and act like he’s going to eat you alive. We understand that he’s just scared and he settles down quickly. The oddest thing, though, that we haven’t figured out a cause for, is that he will often growl at my husband when he walks into the bedroom (Oscar spends a chunk of his day laying on our bed) for no apparent reason. Just this morning, I was getting ready for work in the bathroom, which is open to the bedroom. Oscar and the other two bichons were all on the bed. My husband walked into the bedroom and Oscar started a low growl. When my husband talked to him, saying, “Oscar, why are you growling at me?” Oscar kept growling quietly, head still laying on the bed, not moving to be aggressive at all, and eventually stopped and came to him to be petted. I don’t know if it’s a vision thing and he doesn’t see well, or what could be triggering this behavior. We aren’t really worried about it, because as soon as he “comes to” he is loving and happy, but if my husband had persisted and moved to pet him or gotten closer to him, he would have gotten up and started barking, snarling, and growling at him to scare him away. He almost never behaves this way with me. I just wish we understood what was going through his head when this happens, because he absolutely adores my husband, seeking him out for attention far more than he seeks attention from me.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Take our aggression course getting ready to start on the 23rd contact Dana at info@thedogtrainingsecret.com

    [Reply]

    Susan Reply:

    Sometimes playing with my dog (tug of war) he will decide he doesn’t want to give up the toy and will snarl at me. I have gotten so I know the snarl sound and I will back off but he snapped at me the first few times. He also doesn’t like to have pills pushed down his throat. I now wrap them in lunch meat or cheese.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would stop playing tug. It is like a game of war; whoever is bigger and badder wins.

    This is how we teach dogs to bite when we do bite training, we teach them confidence that they get what they want when they growl and bite.

    Instead work on control work, like retrieving and teaching “out”http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/teaching-dog-drop-protection-training/

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    I know you think this isn’t an aggression problem and that maybe it’s vision and I can understand why. But this is almost certainly an aggression problem. Please go to the course and learn more.

    [Reply]

    Stacey Reply:

    Gina…maybe it’s too many men sleeping in your bed 🙂 Mine is not allowed on the bed or the furniture for that very reason. They think they own it.

    [Reply]

  16. Lynda Brown says:

    My hyper-schnauzer is too much. She comes at everybody with teeth. Not really to bite but her way to play. Cannot get her to stop and she will not let anyone pet her. I know she is just wanting attention but how do we get her to quit biting and chewing up everything?

    [Reply]

  17. Catalina King says:

    I started taking lessons from a trainer who ways he’s a positive reinforcement trainer but he has suggested we do time outs in a kennel. He has also suggested we use a muzzle as punishment. If our dog lunges and tries to bite someone, she says we should immediately put on the muzzle. I had worked hard to get my dog to let me put a muzzle on her by giving her treats when she has it on. I had used it to have her wear when she initially meets people because she had learned to bite and lunge at them. She had bitten several people. Using the muzzle as punishment or a crate as punishment doesn’t sound right to me. Your thoughts?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    This trainer has the wrong thought process. Although I do give time outs, the crate should be mostly fun.

    and here are my thoughts on a muzzle and how to change the way she was started on muzzle training 😉 a much different approach http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/love/

    I would also contact a veterinary behaviorist instead of a trainer, they have more knowledge and can help more with specifics.

    we also have an aggression course that is starting soon, which will show videos of muzzle training etc. contact customer service at info@thedogtrainingsecret.com for more information and getting signed up.

    I think you will prefer my training style

    [Reply]

  18. Sue says:

    Hi MInette. Always enjoy your articles.
    I am writing about you today and not my dogs, but it can apply to animals as well!
    When there is a back strain or pulled muscle, best practice is ***always*** to apply ice for the first 48 hrs to reduce inflammation and swelling which causes the pain, then Day 3,change to BOTH….alternating ice 20 min, wait 20 min, then heat 20 min . Heat relaxes muscles, yes, but it also brings more blood to the area, which can make the situation more swollen .
    And if you are able , take Aleve or Ibuprophen (an anti-inflammatory) as directed day & night for a few days, to reduce the inflammation and pain. Movement is good. Sitting or in bed =more stiff. Try doing a squat by a counter if you can, after the heat. Its great traction. Get up after, with a chair or counter to not strain yourself OR stand with your back to the wall and try to slowly straighten up, after you have iced.
    If you have numbness in leg or foot, seek help . DC,MD or PT
    Be well soon.
    Sue

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    hahaha I had to read that a few times to figure out what you were talking about 😉 I have the attention span of a gnat and forgot I was talking about my back pain 😉

    You are probably right I probably should have iced it… but I hate ice and heat feels so nice 😉 After a few days of shuffling around the house I am back to my crazy self and still shuffling for the puppy on occasion and showing him all my teeth (I do have great teeth) hahaha

    I do want to point out; just because I read it wrong Aleve and Ibuprophen are HUMAN MEDS DON”T GIVE TO DOGS!!!

    If your dog has a limp; go see your vet to figure out the best advice and to get doggy anti-inflamitories

    Thank you 🙂 for your post

    [Reply]

  19. Stacey says:

    I have a 17 month old Aussie. She is environmentally sensitive to say the least. Which is a problem because we are ready to start competing in agility. Today we went on our usual hike at the State Park. We seldom incounter anyone so I let her off leash to practice recall. She did give signs of something up ahead. Always watch for the signs from your dog…they give them to you! We saw what looked like GHOSTS! Well she went banana’s! Growling, barking, sounding ferocious. Turns out the state checks for different ticks in the area and the people were wearing all white and carrying swooping pieces of white fabric to collect any ticks they find. Best thing I could think of is to let her sniff them and then the fear would be gone. Unfortunately the girl was afraid of dogs so that enhanced the unpleasant situation. We walked by them with tight leash. Bad. My dog barking and lunging. We sat and watched them for a few momenets with some treats. She was stil upset. She needed to go touch them but they didn’t want her to. I could understand that. So we went on our way. She will probably be afraid of ghosts from now on.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    With a reactive dog you can’t expect to let your dog go and touch everything. The idea is that the dog learns to trust you, and learns coping mechanisms from you.

    I would not have wanted a growling, barking dog touching me or anywhere near me if I was them either.

    Work on eye contact and focus, and contact customer service to look into our aggression program; I think you would learn important tools for maintenance and the eye contact and focus.

    info@thedogtrainingsecret.com

    [Reply]

    Stacey Reply:

    Reactive is a pretty harsh word to label my dog when you don’t even know her. She is very wiggle butt friendly to all people and any dog that likes her. She was afraid of the big white movement…not the people. She barked at a huge tractor too until she went up and sniffed it. Now she’s fine when we walk by them. Your saying don’t let her explore (sniff) or learn things on her own? Look to me for everyting? What happens when I’m not there for her? A class in aggression might deal with that. Doesn’t seem like it.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You are proactive, or reactive; what you are describing was reactive.

    Sometimes you can’t allow your dog interaction with everything they are reactive to; what if it was children? We can’t risk children being bitten so that dogs can be more comfortable around them.

    Comfort comes with being confident and sometimes confidence comes with our teaching them what to do and what is acceptable and not allowing them to be traumatized.

    Yes I teach my dogs eye contact and focus. I allow them to be dogs, but if they get reactive with something or are unsure and it isn’t feasible for me to allow them access to it; or they are too traumatized they find comfort in giving me focus.

    I would have had a command to get her back into heel position and then let her win by giving me eye contact therefore stopping her aggression and giving her something positive to do.

    It is amazing what eye contact and focus can do to a training program.

    And, I am always there for my dogs they are indoor dogs and I am always around for them.

    Stacey Reply:

    Indoor dogs and outdoor agility dogs…well now your talking apples and oranges

    Minette Reply:

    No most people I know keep their agility dogs indoors as pets.

    I think most agility dogs are pets first

  20. Bernice Cutcher says:

    Ihave a jack russel-blue heeler mix,9 mos.she is great as far as no agreesion but when you want to pet her she watches your hands and will mouth them. I tell her “no bites” and she will lick. It is just annoying and I will be living with my son next year I don’t want her to do this to my 3yr old grandson. She also goes crazy jumping, climbing up on people when she greats them, I have tried to get her to sit,stay but that only last a very short time and if they sit on the couch its fair game to her,I then have to crate her to stop but when she comes out it starts all over. I don’t have many people stop over so she doesn’t see many other,I live alone and she’s home alone when I’m at work,I don’t let her jump all over me. I would love to stop this behavior. She has been to puppy OB training and this was a problem then with her jumping. Thanks

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I question whether or not it is the beginning stages of aggression you are seeing. I can’t see the dog’s behavior so I can’t say for sure but not all dogs like being petted, read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/dogs-petted/

    and you can search for answers to your other questions on the same page. There is a search bar about 1/4 of the way down the page on the right side.

    [Reply]

  21. kaja says:

    Something about this feels disturbing. Why didn’t he recongnize you by smell, Stacey?

    [Reply]

  22. Yve says:

    Hi Minette,
    Thanks for all you helpful tips. I have 2 GSD’s, males. The younger is 8 months, very large, all black, working lines.
    We have been attending a relatively “new-for-us” training school, puppy programme. Bertie the 8 month old, has become increasingly uncomfortable in class, snarling at other dogs if they come close, growling and lunging too. He can do all of the training exercises but it’s as if his brain melts down in class, he becomes white-eyed and red-rimmed too, pants and head turns a lot and he loses confidence withinin the 4 walls of the class and with other dogs around. So he goes into “fight” rather than flight mode. The trainers have been a bit baffled (one got a bit snarly with him, which didn’t help my confidence either) and have now said to my requests for guidance that it’s a learned behaviour and to withdraw him from classes and to focus on bonding and play stuff. No timeline.
    Help! I am focusing on bonding and playing with him. I give him quality 1:1 time ie not always with my 2 year old. Both dogs get on well. They are not left unsupervised together as 2 males and have their own “time-out” routines as well as together and individual time with me. Out in public Bertie can be excellent, still and focused on me. a little reactive to other dogs but with gentle guidance, nowhere near as problematic as when in class. As a character he seems deep and reflective and others say he has a remarkably happy proud gait when he walks with me. I want to make sure i am getting it right from him and that the aggression is not provoked any further for his safety and other dogs. It would be nice to get to where he can be off lead on a beach say. Around people and children he is calm and relaxed. I would like to enrol on your next dog aggression online course and have emailed Dana. Any tips or ideas for now?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I’m going to answer you here so other people can see and take advantage. I got Dana’s email but I’m just going to hit one spot 😉

    First I would say neuter. Testosterone makes this behavior worse and a dog with these behaviors toward other dogs shouldn’t be bred no matter what the genetics.

    I too have a dog like this and just got him neutered to help him with this problem. If you allow the behavior too long and it is territorial it will become a learned behavior. At 8 months you have a chance to keep the testosterone down and work on the learned behavior part.

    My dog has GREAT genetics, his father is a KNPV dog with a perfect score; and I chose to have him neutered so he wouldn’t pass the trait along and to keep his fighting down with his siblings (not really related)

    I recommend working on eye contact and focus and making looking at YOU the most important thing in the dog’s life.

    So when I take my dog to competitions or out anywhere he is to stare into my pupils and not look around at the other dogs. If he does this… I have taught him I will play with him (his reward), so I always have his toy (some people work treats).

    He is excessively aggressive and is easy to get eye contact. I remember a few months ago we went to an event we were able to drive in and drop our crates and stuff, but we had to walk out the 2 miles through a festival full of people, dogs, vendors, live music, drunk people… I was nervous actually…and wasn’t overly prepared but he went side by side with other dogs not seeing them coming or going because he was watching me and his toy.

    If I took him somewhere full of dogs and I wasn’t sure, I would use a basket muzzle.

    I teach all of my dogs to work obedience in a basket muzzle. I have taught them that the muzzle is rewarding and I can pop treats in through a basket muzzle.

    That gives me confidence that he can’t grab another dog if it came close enough… and it teaches him to work in a muzzle and gives him confidence close to other dogs too.

    It takes a lot of time and a lot of work; first with no other distractions and then leading up to full of distractions… and you must work up you can’t expect to take him out today and get eye contact and focus with other dogs.

    Eventually take another class and just keep his focus all the time; it will give you both confidence and definitely I think you would benefit from our aggression course as it teaches all these behaviors through video.

    Read these articles http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/eye-contact-focus-behavior-broken/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/love/

    [Reply]

  23. Geo says:

    I am not sure, if you can help me. My Cairin Terrier suddenly
    started going under the bed and every time my wife goes
    out to get water he snarls and snaps are her viciously.
    He did it last evening and I went to the kitchen and he
    followed me. I gave him ice chips and re-assured him
    everything is alright and invited him back on the bed. When
    he followed me to the kitchen he was wary and he did the same
    when getting him to come up on the bed. MY wife feels
    threatened, because this is the 3rd night he did this? Can you
    provide any help on this situation we are desperate.

    There is tension in the house from my loss of work. Could he
    be feeling the tension?

    Regards,

    Geo

    [Reply]

  24. Nadina says:

    Hello! We just got a Polish Tatra Sheepdog puppy. He is 4.5 months old and is the size of a grown German shepherd. When we were visiting the breeders and the people who we bought him from he was barking and growling. He sat in front of us, next to his brother and the woman who took care of him. The whole 30 minutes or less he was on and off barking and growling. Then we took him for a walk and he calmed down. Then we took him home, it was a 3h long drive time. When we arrived he seemed extremely scared, because there were 5 people looking at him and our neighbor dog barking. Now he has been with us for four days. Once he felt comfortable with us he was such a lovely and loving pup. But he seems to not recognize people. For instance, when someone changes their outfit, like only puts on a big jacket he growls and barks. Now the other 2 family members came home, who he has played with a lot of times and was friendly. He was alone at the terrace with our second dog and they came up the stairs wanting to come in the house but he was sitting right in front of the door. They came and talked to him.They tried to pet him and he was barking, growling and even almost snapped them. I should include that one of the people was kind of yelling at him telling him not to bark. He also did that to some guests that we had over, growled and barked, even when his owner-our father was with him. And I should include that his favorite person-his owner wasn’t home at the moment when the other 2 family members arrived. He hasn’t been to a doggy school yet but is going in a week. Our grandma says that he might have been hit in the home he was before. We don’t hit him here and we try to be loving all the time. So, is this really serious and we might have to keep him in some kind of a gate, locked away from everyone because he might snap someone or is there a way to solve this. He seems to be very scared and anxious of strangers and forgets people after short periods of time.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    That is a huge red flag at that age and an even bigger liability… I would find a veterinary behaviorist to work with because as he gets older he is more likely to bite and you have a short period to try and control this dangerous behavior.

    Hitting usually has very little to do with this kind of behavior as it is unlikely that new people came over and hit the puppies. This is a genetic problem.

    [Reply]

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