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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 10lb chi-terrier rescue that we believe is now about 2. When we first got him he was traumatized by the vet trying to take blood. Over time I've been able to convince him to let me trim his nails, but trying to get him to go to the groomer has failed multiple times since. We stopped trying in May.

Well, in July he had his shots and it was an all together nightmare. They had to muzzle him and basically hold him down so he didn't alligator roll while they gave them.

This past weekend he went in for boarding for the first time in about a month and he actually snapped at four different people. He's never done this before and he used to let them carry him around no problem. They said they think it's because of his harness and also say it's been a progressing issue since trying to get him in the grooming room back in May. He doesn't appear to like people to go over his back, but I'm not convinced that these are solely the reason but also possibly the vet trips for shots too.

We are going to go to training, but I'm looking for some recommendations as far as scolding or treat training against this to help us reverse these behaviors as much as possible in the mean time. I want the handlers at daycare to feel safe while handling my dog.

We have already told them to stop using his harness and to just loop him with the pole. I started training him yesterday afternoon to start walking on a leash instead of a harness (he's so small that I actually use the harness with a retractable leash as a back up for now because I'm worried he may get out and we live in the city - please let me know if this is a terrible idea). Already this morning on his walk I felt like I had more control over him.

I'm really heartbroken because I try my hardest to be a good dog parent. We have numerous important trips coming up this fall and him getting kicked out of daycare could cause a mess. On top of that we are also trying for a baby. I don't want to give up my dog, it would tear me to pieces, but if we can't break the snapping I don't know how we can have him around a baby.

Please help. I'm open to all ideas.

I'd also like to know the success of using water spray bottles or cans with pennies as tools when acting out if anyone does this? We have a water spray bottle, but I admit I haven't been consistent with it. I'm just so confused because sometimes someone says, "oh that's bad, don't do that." So then I switch and I just feel like it gets muddled and inconsistent.

I'm also going to reach out to his vet about anxiety medication. If anyone has used this and has any comments I'd be grateful.

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The repeated exposure to things/situations he doesn't like is probably what created this problem, honestly. Most dogs can get over one bad experience, but consistently being made to feel uncomfortable has probably grown some distrust when people try to handle him.

First, don't use punishment on this dog (scolding, water bottles, penny cans) because you may make the problem worse. The dog is clearly very afraid, and using more aversive methods will only frighten him more. I would also recommend getting a positive, force free trainer to help you with these issues.

Can you give a little more information on this? Clearly, he has issues with being handled. Is it only with strangers, or with you, too? What was happening when the daycare workers got snapped at? Is he typically fearful of strangers?

Handling issues can be fixed, but it often takes a lot of time, and incredible patience. It's important to move at the dog's pace, and when they express their discomfort, you must listen and back off. Praise and reward is important, as they begin to associate handling with good things.

When he goes to daycare regularly, he's excited to go. We stopped going a lot over the summer months because they had a kennel cough outbreak and I didn't want Benji getting sick after he caught it at the end of May. So I think maybe he's just out of routine by going there only three times in July for half a day and one day in August) and doesn't understand it's supposed to be fun social time?

He is fine with me when I put his harness on, but it is difficult for my husband to do and now apparently it is difficult for the workers at daycare to do too. It's just strange considering last fall they were walking around with him tucked into their hoodies and now he's snapping at them.

When people visit our house he does get wary and stressed, but as long as they ignore him he will eventually go up to them for a treat or pet and sometimes even crawl in their lap by the time they leave.

However: my mother in law came to visit in the spring. We told her the same thing we told everyone else - ignore him. Instead she got impatient and tried to pick him up and he snapped. I was more pissed at her than him because I felt she put him in that position. Then he had the incident at the groomers in May. In July he had his shots and that was even traumatizing for me to watch. Then in August a friend came to our house and we told him the same thing: ignore our dog. He didn't listen and the dog snapped at him and he reacted by smacking him. Fortunately, my husband confronted him immediately so I didn't have to. Now this has happened. I feel like it has progressed because we are doing something wrong or not doing enough.

I bought a collar that tightens if he pulls on the leash too hard so that I can teach him to heel on leash (I worry he will slip out of a regular collar right now and he pulls really bad on his harness anyways). Is this okay? I feel like if they don't have to put the harness on and just clip his collar we can rule out whether the harness is an issue.


Thoughts?


Thank you so much everyone for the feed back. I'm going to call the daycare to talk to them about things we can work on together to make him more comfortable. When he goes regularly he's better around other people and dogs so I feel like this is an important thing for him to continue doing, but I don't want to do it at the expense of his or someone else's safety. I'm also going to call the training center I had in mind to ask them about their training certifications as recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So after talking to the daycare I've confirmed he doesn't have to be picked up to be put into his loft he stays in for boarding.

The problem times seem to be when they lift him to put on his harness and one incident where he slipped out of the gate at daycare while they were getting another dog and they tried to picked him up to put him back in. The girl I spoke to told me she's done that before and it wasn't an issue. It appears it's only with certain people.

I also asked if when they leash him if they get to his level. They said yes.

I explained that he does respond very well to treats and is extremely treat motivated so perhaps we could incorporate this in his daily activities to ensure a positive impression on him.

I've bought him a loop leash and have asked if we can try this for now. I've been practicing with him today quite a bit and have started rewarding when I put the loop leash on and take it off (it has to be taken off when he goes into his room. I asked if it could be left on but they said it's policy so they don't get caught on anything. Which I understand, it's the same practice I use at home). I also asked if they could reward when leashing him to reinforce it as a positive thing.

I also bought beef jerky for dogs so that he has a special treat he receives each time he gets to daycare/boarding.

I don't think the harness hurts him - especially with as much as he pulls on leash while using it. So I think the change to a loop leash will be good bc it will allow me to take control at home too.

I'm open go anymore suggestions should anyone have any!
 
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