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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

I was directed here from another site, from someone who posted that spanking a dog is bad under all circumstances. Let me explain the situation, how I've been dealing with it, and you all can tell me what I'm doing wrong :)

I have a 1/2 Chihuahua 1/2 Jack Russell terrier. I knew when getting the dog she would need a lot of attention and exercise, and she wouldn't be an easy dog to handle, but she needed a home, the kids really wanted a puppy, and at the time I wasn't working (I started working 3 months after we got her). I didn't socialize her as much as I wanted to when she was younger because I'm in a semi-rural area, rural enough that there isn't a dog park or anything like that I can take her too and I don't see a lot of neighbors who have dogs. I walk her every day and we spend lots of time outside, so she gets plenty of exercise. She is very sweet towards people, and she is mostly good with my kids (ages 6 & 8) and other kids.

There are several problems:

1) She will growl and snap at anyone trying to take something away from her, like a random toy or pencil the kids accidentally dropped. She doesn't do it all the time, but she does it enough that the kids will not try to take anything from her and will instead ask me to get it. She has plenty of toys of her own to play with. Sometimes enticing her with an alternative will work fine, or we can simply take it away. Sometimes she just growls a little and I can pry open her mouth with her lip a little over her teeth to encourage her to open it. Probably about 10% of the time she will snap at me very aggressively. Based on what I read in a puppy training book, I do give her a small smack on the jaw when she does this and tell her "no" loudly. She doesn't do it as often as she used to, but she still does now and then. I won't give her bones at all anymore because she is always aggressive like that if she has one, even if we're just approaching her but not trying to take it away. She's not this way with her normal food or rawhides though.

2) I walk her a fair amount without her leash, since we are in an area with few houses and she doesn't venture off past our normal routine areas. However, there is a friendly neighbor who she likes and sometimes throws scraps in his yard. Sometimes she will be in his yard and I need to get home (I don't leave her over there unattended) so I go to put her on her leash and whether she something in her mouth or not she will growl and snap at me. Once on the leash and in general when on the leash (I sometimes take her places like Home Depot because they allow dogs) she is fine.

3) She's horrible with other dogs. She will bark and bark at them and take an aggressive posture if they are keeping their distance, but if they try to sniff her she freaks out and yelps and is clearly terrified. She's only 12 lb but she's this way around small dogs too. We have two neighbors with very low key, non-aggressive dogs and she won't even let them sniff her. At best, with the one neighbors dog they will sort of "parallel play" but if the other dog tries to really play with her she starts barking again. We got her at 11 weeks old and she lived fine with other dogs before then, but I just couldn't find a way to get her around other dogs when she was younger - and on the few "puppy play dates" I was able to arrange she acted like this. It isn't too much of an issue since we don't have to be around other dogs, but I'm betting it ties in with the previous two issues.

4) She jumps on guests. But I can see this issue is discussed in an easy to find thread ;)

Thanks for any feedback.

Edit: whoops sorry if this is better placed in the puppy forum!

750 Posts
I would stop physical training (a little smack on such a little dog could be traumatizing)
Your dog has resource guarding, when a dog guards an item they consider to be precious to them, this usually happens when you give your dog things so he ''shuts up, stops jumping, stops nipping'' something to amuse him.
I'm pretty afraid your dog has an advanced case.

I recommend the book ''MINE!'' from Jean Donaldson.

In the meantime you buy the book, and have it delivered to your home, i recommend you start using the NILIF method (nothing in life is free) whenever you are going to give your dog something (serve the dog water, food, open a door to go outside, give a treat, toy, ANYTHING) make the dog perform a command, start slow, with a simple sit, then proceed into a down position, , sit and wait, or down and wait, then move further ahead, and ask your dog to perform hard tricks so she sees what she is going to get is worthy.
Whenever you play with a toy, and game time is over, take the toy with YOU, it's YOUR toy, and YOU decide when to play with YOUR toy.

You should also start socializing in any way posible, take your dog to family trips, try to make her meet up with more dogs, in a distance, not close enough to engage her in a fight, let her be comfortable around dogs, then take a step closer and closer until she can tolerate being with a dog beside her.

However, i would hire a trainer, and behaviourist if i was you.. lacking of time to actually help the dog out.

7,964 Posts
Erick has made some excellant suggestions.

I agree.. do not hit, spank, smack, belt, or otherwise physically punish your dog. She is showing her displeasure at you taking things from her and starts with a growl.. and that is a warning. If you press it, she will bite as you have seen.

When she has something you want to take from her, swap something else of higher value. Typically this is a food item.. Not a dry dog treat but something REALLY good like a bit of Hot dog. They make REALLY cheap hot dogs that you can get a zillion treats out of my quartering the hot dog lengthwise and then cutting it crosswise. It isn't the SIZE of the bit of food, it is the quality that the dog values. Prying stuff out of her mouth is a really BAD idea.

While hitting the dog and saying NO loudly may have decreased her snapping it did not do what you want which is to sop this behavior completely. I agree with Erick on the Book suggestion. You may be able to get it used or have the library get it in for you. It is pretty short. It is accurate. Meanwhile, do not hit your dog.

As to walking the dog off leash, I would not walk this dog off leash where the neghbor puts out scraps. If you dog has a Reliable Recall (there is a book "Really Reliable Recall" you can get from www.dogwise.com.. cheap and very effective) you can walk her off leash, but put the leash on her B4 you get to Neighbor "Jake's" house with the scraps. This way the leash is already ON the dog and if you want to leave you can. Personally I would not let her eat Neighbor Jake's Scraps but this is not my dog. Prevention is truly 9/10ths of the dure with most undesirable dog behaviors.

Another thing I suggest is that you look at the stickies at the top of this forum. NILIF as Erick Suggested but also play the Doggy Zen game and see if that doesn't help.

Certainly a Certified behaviorist would be a good idea. However, having suggested this b4 I realize most will not part with the money for a certified behaviorist even tho it is worth it IMO.
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