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This happened last night and I'm still upset over it. Pedro is a 4 month old min pin/mini aussie mix. He has plenty of that "terrier attitude" and is showing it big time right now. I was at mom's, which is always very stimulating to him, and noticed one of his eyes was kind of wet looking. I picked him up and was trying to look at his eye. He was resisting me so I put my hand around his muzzle. He's much quicker than I am so it was a bit of a struggle, but one I was determined to be the "winner" of. I readjusted my hold on him and tried again. He lashed out and bit me. Not a warning "nip" not an accidental thing, but a full on bite. It didn't break the skin, but I do have a nice little bruise today. Thankfully I didn't give in to my first instinct which was to smack his nose, nor did I give in to the second which was to simply put him down and give up. I very firmly, and probably too loudly, told him NO! NOT NICE! And then I tried again. This time I was ready for him to try to bite again and was quick enough to avoid it. I finally, after 3 or 4 more tries got to look at his eye (which was fine btw). Then I made him go through about 5 minutes of sit/down drills and took him out for a potty and smoke (for me LOL!) break. After we came in, I left him with Mom and had a good cry over the whole deal.

I have NEVER had a puppy try to bite me like that. He was absolutely "angry" looking over the whole thing. I'm not sure I proceeded correctly, but I didn't feel I could give him what he wanted (down to go play) after he'd bitten me. Any suggestions on how to avoid this in the future? What kinds of things should we be working on to desensitize him to me handling his face? How should I have reacted when I was bitten?
 

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Any suggestions on how to avoid this in the future? What kinds of things should we be working on to desensitize him to me handling his face? How should I have reacted when I was bitten?
A lot of what you did was wrong. You forced yourself on the dog, the dog showed you he was uncomfortable with it, and you proceeded to force the issue. This is a good way to teach your dog not to like you. Please accept my criticism as a warning to the danger you are putting yourself in and your dog.

Now that you know your dog is uncomfortable with being touched, you need to give him reason to allow you to touch him. You can do it just like in this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=bgEwiH8CeUE
 

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i feel so sorry for you,my dog hardly ever ets me pick him up ! if he is busy with somethin and lik you said i try to clean his eye he snaps at me as well... but mine is a year old already and i guess because i didnt stop biting behaior when he ws little now he thinks that its fine ! you can read my post there are alot of good advices there my post is called : scared...need advice,help

read it its very good.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Curbside...thank you for that video. I'm honestly not coordinated enough for a clicker! He is *too* food motivated to use treats when we train so almost all his reward is verbal/physical. If I have treats he's a bouncy mess. If we just use "good boy" and "yay Pedro" things are much smoother. Last night threw me off so badly. I felt like if I let him get away with it, as in biting me = getting his way, that I'd set him up to bite everytime something against his will had to be done. There are times when the dogs simply have to deal with things like eye/mouth/ears exams and the like. In that situation, where he was struggling and being bratty over having his head held still and eye looked at, what would you have done? Simply put him down and gone on about your business? I'm not at all being snippy here...I can't word things well sometimes.

Tonight we've been doing some quick short touches and pets to the face. He's tolerated them really well. Not more than a head turn to avoid it as reaction. I plan on doing at least one training session a night on getting him used to being touched everywhere. First his face (I had no clue he cared until last night...weird), then toes which he is pretty good with already, and hiney and tail areas. Does this sound reasonable?

Muse...I'm not scared of him in the least. Sure it hurt when he bit me, but he's 5lbs. I am bigger and badder if it really comes down to it. I can pick him up and put him in a crate until we BOTH calm down. The head/eye thing last night was the very first even sort of defensive/aggressive action he's show with me. I of course want to put a stop to it right now so I don't end up with "one of THOSE toys" that people always gripe about. He's a love of a dog, but that terrier attitude just gets overboard sometimes.
 

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yea i had dogs b4 but never had a problem with agressive behavior.. must be the terrier thing,especially with a fox terrier likemine.. free will.. blah blah blah... we have our good times too of ourse most of the time just somtimes have bad days.. but seriously to me it was a surprise,never knew that my own dog could even think of something like that lol. anyway,good luck with your dog!
 

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Curbside...thank you for that video. I'm honestly not coordinated enough for a clicker!
It's hard, but i does get easier. One thing I have some of my beginner students do is get an iClick (it has a button which sticks out, which makes it easier to click. Sometimes when I'm doing complicated luring or targeting stuff, I'll put it under my foot so I can press it with my toes and it will click. Practice. And start with little stuff- free-shaping can be done wtih you sitting on the sofa tossing treats and not having to have a leash or anything in yoru hands at ll.Give it a try.

He is *too* food motivated to use treats when we train so almost all his reward is verbal/physical. If I have treats he's a bouncy mess. If we just use "good boy" and "yay Pedro" things are much smoother.
Try lower-value treats- I'd put 10 pea-sized pieces of cheese or lunch meat into a baggie with a small handful of kibble- figure 1/4 of his daily ration. Shake it up so it all smells good, then use that. Being bouncy and enthusiastic isn't a treat issue- it's a training issue you need to address NOW- because it's only going to get worse as he matures and gets more energetic.

Last night threw me off so badly. I felt like if I let him get away with it, as in biting me = getting his way, that I'd set him up to bite everytime something against his will had to be done. There are times when the dogs simply have to deal with things like eye/mouth/ears exams and the like. In that situation, where he was struggling and being bratty over having his head held still and eye looked at, what would you have done? Simply put him down and gone on about your business?
Well.. you *did* set him up to bite, but you didn't let him get away with anything. nd yes, dogs have to deal, but unless it's life and death, it's jst dumb to make battles over it. I start all my guys on handling from their very first day home. You can starthat from today, but do NOT expect him to tolerate it all from the first. I start small- puppy on my lap or on the grooming table, run my hands over their back and under their stomach, that's it. Next day, I'll look in an ear or pull gently on their tail, pick up a paw or two. Keep sessions under 2 minutes and increase in TINY incriments- like, 5 seconds. And it shouldn't be 2 minutes of trying to look insie hs ears- it should be 1 minute of hands on exam, 10 second of looking in an ear, 20 seconds of petting, pick up each foot, and then a treat and off the table. Do it right after a walk when he's ready for a brief break and has gotten some of the sillies out.

If he'd gotten crazy-acting during the exam, and I'd screwed up and pushed him to far- and this screw up would be 100% on me- I would GENTLY restrain the dog but stop messing with him- just hold onto him. As soon as I got ANY sort of relaxation, I'd put the dog back down on the grooming table or my lap, touch him nthe feetor the butt- mildly uncomfortable for most dogs but not NEARLY as aversive as a muzzle grab, and LET HIM GO.
I'm not at all being snippy here...I can't word things well sometimes.

Tonight we've been doing some quick short touches and pets to the face. He's tolerated them really well. Not more than a head turn to avoid it as reaction. I plan on doing at least one training session a night on getting him used to being touched everywhere. First his face (I had no clue he cared until last night...weird), then toes which he is pretty good with already, and hiney and tail areas. Does this sound reasonable?
Yes, but now you're going to have to go MUCH slower than you normally would because you do NOT want him to reherse te bad behavior again.

Muse...I'm not scared of him in the least. Sure it hurt when he bit me, but he's 5lbs. I am bigger and badder if it really comes down to it. I can pick him up and put him in a crate until we BOTH calm down. The head/eye thing last night was the very first even sort of defensive/aggressive action he's show with me. I of course want to put a stop to it right now so I don't end up with "one of THOSE toys" that people always gripe about. He's a love of a dog, but that terrier attitude just gets overboard sometimes.
I think it's less th toyand more that frankly... minpin and Ausssie are both breeds that unfortunately have ore than their share of temperament problems- especially in less-than-well-bred dogs. Are you taking classes with your boy? I'll be honest, I think that you may be setting yourself up for disaster if you DON'T get him into some classes with a good, VERY positive, very effective trainer.


Cait
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Cait...Yes we start training classes in March. I live in a very rural area and there isn't much to choose from. I'm using the same trainer all the "dog people" here use. She is listed on that website that Curb often posts too. As to his breeds, yes I agree that there are some issues in both of them. When I met his parents, his mom (the min pin) was a very sweet laid back dog. She was a lap cuddler big time. His dad (the aussie) was more aloof, but neither showed the least bit of aggression or anything. I spent well over an hour with both of them, both in the house and out in the yard. I know an hour isn't much, but they were both sweet dogs and quite fine with strange people in their spaces.

I also did start from day one playing with his feet and handling him all over, or so I thought. All I can think is that because his face is so small, I didn't think to handle and touch it as much. The vet has looked in his mouth at every visit as well as in his ears and such with no issues. I'm not trying to make excuses, but it honestly never occured to me that he would have such issues with his face being handled/looked over. Also, when I mentioned having training sessions to get him used to me messing with his face, I'm not talking about staring into his pulled open eye for 5 minutes. I just simply did 1-3 second touches, holding his head still, lifting his lip a bit. He tolerated it very well last night and we ended the session with some fetch (which he doesn't realize is also teaching him LOL!) The more I think about the other night, the more I think location had something to do with it as well. He is much more apt to act out at Mom's because there are so many dogs and people to play with there. At the time we had enacted the "no dogs over 50lbs in the kitchen" rule so only my two dogs and one of mom's was in there, but he knows his play buddy Heidi the st. bernard was in the other room. I plan on doing some mini-sessions of touching at Mom's as well. I think the distractions/stimulation there have some effects on his behavior and thinking patterns. He needs to learn that he has to behave there too.

How would you address his bouncy-for-the-food as a training issue? I did teach sit and down with food, but have found that he pays more attention to ME and not my fingers when food is not present. It doesn't matter if it is an extra yummy treat or his kibble, he still is so focused on the food nothing else matters.
 

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If you are needing to look at a dogs eyes, there are a couple ways about doing it without the dog feeling so uncomfortable. One way is to get down on your knees and see if you can get the dog to sit in front of you, facing you. Maybe with a good treat. And never directly look at him in the eyes. You can check out the eyes with glances at him, but don't make it look like you are staring at him. Another way is to lay down on your stomach, and see if the dog will come around and lay in front of you, facing you. Again, with a treat and not staring at him.

One thing I sometimes do with Betty, even though she let's me do what I want without being uncomfortable, is to get her to give me kisses. You can get really close to her eyes to see if anything is wrong, whispering to the dog to try to keep her attention and giving kisses.
 

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If you are needing to look at a dogs eyes, there are a couple ways about doing it without the dog feeling so uncomfortable. One way is to get down on your knees and see if you can get the dog to sit in front of you, facing you. Maybe with a good treat. And never directly look at him in the eyes. You can check out the eyes with glances at him, but don't make it look like you are staring at him. Another way is to lay down on your stomach, and see if the dog will come around and lay in front of you, facing you. Again, with a treat and not staring at him.

One thing I sometimes do with Betty, even though she let's me do what I want without being uncomfortable, is to get her to give me kisses. You can get really close to her eyes to see if anything is wrong, whispering to the dog to try to keep her attention and giving kisses.
Unfortunately, this doesn't work quite so well with most small dogs- they're just too far down. Instead, I'd put staring (and making direct eye contact) into a cued behavior. Click/treat for eye contact, then gradually increase the duration of the behavior and add a release command. With lots of treats, even passive dogs who don't want to provoke you will gradually get conditioned that eye contact = good thing (even if it's not natural for them to think so) Once you've got the dog reliably doing it on command (and stopping doing it- ie he looks away when you release) and stopping on command, start refining it- click for soft eyes (no white showing around the eye, showing he's relaxed those facial muscles), click for a soft, slack mouth and slower breathing, relaxed ears, etc- you can shape physiological indicators of relaxation and, because they're wired to BE relaxing, the dog will gradually BECOME relaxed- it's slow but very real.

On the muzzle grabbing, I thought about this overnight and I'd actually teach him to target your hand with his chin, then gradually increase your criteria so that he is putting his muzzle on the palm of your hand (an incompatible behavior with biting) and pressing down so that your fingers naturally curl up around it- you can condition thsi to be pleasant and a predictor of food as well- if you use something like the canned spray cheese (or kong filling, but spray cheese is SLIGHTLY less unnatural and full of preservatives- you could also use a piping (pastry) bag of cream cheese or peanutbutter, though) you can squeeze it into the corner of his mouth and treat while he's still got his chinresting on your hand. Have you done any hand targeting with him? This is the same as the eye contact- you can teach that this mildly uncomfortable behavior results in treats for dogs and it will gradually take on a new significance.


HTH.
Cait
 
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