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Old 05-14-2013, 10:52 PM
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Applebear Applebear is offline
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My mom has a doxi mix. The dog has serious behavioral issues...he tries to attack all most every dog and person he meets. He's usually fine with his human and dog family. According to my mom, he is usually fine with other people too once they get through that first introduction, which is him trying to kill them...but after, he knows them and is cool from then on out.

However I never see this side to him. Every single time I go over there, he is out for blood. He will calm down after a few hours, and I will try to make friends...offer treats and he'll even play a little. But it doesn't fail, I come back and he goes after me again.

Tonight was the worse. I had walked in and I wasn't even thinking about him...I was too busy concentrating on what I was carrying and keeping my pup out from under my feet. My mom opens the door he was behind [jumping and going crazy as he spotted me...really mom shouldn't have opened door if you want my honest opinion] and yells, "Benny don't you dare!" And sure enough he runs past her and nails me in the leg. This time I felt it, he had tore through my pants to the skin. If my pants weren't so baggy, I imagine it would of been a lot worse.

I can see where it is his turf [not that I'm agreeing it's ok, but looking at it from a dogs point of view], but he will attack outside the home too. It doesn't matter. He bites first and asks questions later. I told mom he's going to bite the wrong person and he's going to get put down. She keeps saying she's going to get him a muzzle. But what he needs is some serious behavioral training and for her to take some training with him.

Mom admits she spoils him. She admits there's a problem. But every time I go over, he is out and ready to attack. I don't know what I'm suppose to do here...dogs usually like me and I'm usually good at making friends with some time and patience. But it's to the point I will no longer go there unless he is locked up.

Though I know some may suggest a behaviorist trainer...I can guarantee mom won't do that. Is it unreasonable for me to expect the dog to be locked up or at least contained on a leash when I come over? It is very rare I stop by randomly, they all most always know I am coming. I have tried treats, and standing back...but like I said, he charges...bites...asks questions later.
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Old 05-15-2013, 05:56 AM
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It is their responsibility to leash or confine him when you come over, but if you walk in unannounced they don't have the chance to do that. If you need to when you pull up in your car call them from your cell phone and ask them to leash him before you come in. Wait a minute, then get out of your car. It will likely be easier for them to leash him up if he hasn't seen or heard you getting out of the car yet.

As for you, the best thing to do is completely ignore him. No eye contact, no talking to him, no holding out a hand for him to sniff, no treats from you (though his owners can give treats to get and keep him calm) pretend he's not there. What you see as trying to make friends he sees as a threat. If he could sniff you without the risk of you trying to interact with him he might warm up to you. But if he may bite he needs a muzzle for this.

Unfortunately this likely has a genetic component to it, so being spoiled probably doesn't have much to do with it, and working through it will be a lot harder. They really need to focus on managing Benny and on giving visitors clear instructions to ignore him.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:57 AM
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It's likely a combination of both past trauma, and your mom "spoiling" him...and if she does make any effort to work on his issues, without a professional, she may be using the wrong approach (she definitely is, just by letting him out and yelling "don't you dare" at him) and making his problems worse.

Without knowing the dog, it doesn't sound like an uncommon issue and I'd guess that with proper training and management (and a behaviorist) the dog could become at least tolerant of you and guests in the home. There's always the small chance it's a mental health issue/chemical imbalance/etc, but it's more likely environmental.

I don't think it's at all unreasonable you ask the dog be put away, or at least restrained on a leash, when you come over. And personally, if I arrived at their home and the dog was not contained, I'd turn right around and leave, or leave the second they let him out, every single time, until they learn their dog is severely disturbing their visitors.

Do they let him out when non-family come over? Do they not consider what a major liability that is?

Realize there is NOTHING you can do about this unless everyone who lives in the household with the dog is willing to get help and be consistent with training and rules.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:20 AM
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My husband's dad has a dog who is a biter. He's not little, either. DH point blank told his dad he won't visit unless the dog is put away. I think it's totally reasonable to not want to be bitten, but you may need to draw a line and be willing to act on it.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Is it unreasonable for me to expect the dog to be locked up or at least contained on a leash when I come over?
Um no. Your mom is showing a complete disregard for your safety.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:15 AM
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People also often think because it's a small dog, they don't need to be as vigilant about bites. I'm sure if your mom owned a german shepherd or pit bull or even a golden, she wouldn't be so lax about letting the dog run up and bite you.

However, I know that at least a handful of small children have been killed by dachshunds in the past decade or so, and another handful of adults that I know either personally or through friends have been SERIOUSLY bitten (30+ stitches, reconstructive surgery, etc.) by dachshunds (standard sized, not "mini" but still).

Don't assume this dog is small enough to not do very much damage.
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:05 PM
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I rarely go over without them knowing first [In fact, mom complains I won't 'just come over' without an invite]...most the time, it is them inviting me over for dinner. They make no attempts to restrain or confine him when knowing. I live a block away, tell them when I'm heading, they can see me walk or drive up to house, hear me come in to the breezeway. I have even stood there before entering the house part to see if they will intervene. They never do. The most mom will do is yell from other room for him to stop it...entire time he is waiting for the perfect time to swoop in and bite my legs or jump for my upper body [I'm 5'9 and he has nailed me as high as my stomach and forearms]. I have tried stopping and even allow my mom to do something...she won't if she is sitting down. If she is in the kitchen where you enter from breezeway, she will grab and swat his nose/head [not hard, but we know it's not the way] every time he lunges as I walk by. If he just sits there [being held by collar] growling, she'll be saying, "It's ok..." She's trying to tell him I'm ok, but all she really is doing is reinforcing the growling and attack mode he is currently in.

I stopped trying to 'make friends' awhile ago and was talking more in the past tense at times. Yesterday, I had barely entered the house, I wasn't even moving, looking at or talking to him...soon as she opened the door, he went straight for me. In the past, yes I tried...but it was getting to the point, where I am just trying to get to a safe spot without being bit. I started to avoid because all I could do is sit on the couch and hold still...I won't even get up to go to the bathroom. If I shift a leg or cough, that has become provoking to him. I know it has gotten to the point where I am not feeling comfortable/fearful and he is probably reading that off me. But it's also becoming about no control at all, especially when they KNOW I'm coming [I will remedy the .0001% times I don't call ahead]. I'm not trying to paint myself perfect...but I don't know what else to do anymore other than to stop coming over completely [which with my dad really getting up there and fighting cancer, is hard and feels horrible]. I have expressed my discomfort and mom is starting to make it about me...which yeah, maybe it is if he's feeding off my feelings. But those feelings wouldn't be there if they weren't allowing him to go after me. I would never ever allow my dogs to go after someone. If they did half of what is going on here, I would be super ashamed of myself.

Some questions would be, if I can convince mom to at least leash him before I get there...what are some proper things she could be doing during this time? When he is lunging, barking and growling at just my presence? What are some things she can do while in her van or outside meeting new people or dogs [this also includes me, as she sometimes swings by when I'm out in yard with my dogs]? If she even pets another dog or interacts on a more personal level with a person outside of home, he goes into a aggressive mode [if not all ready in it]. Lastly, I think she feels if she gets a muzzle...this will be 'solving' the problem. To me, still allowing him to chase and bite at me isn't acceptable even with muzzle. Would I be correct in setting boundaries that he be leashed regardless if I am to visit, at least until he is at a calmer level?
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:28 PM
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I would definitely refuse to come over unless he's leashed, I'm shocked they aren't already doing this. Is this just with you or do they leave him loose when anyone comes over? I know with my dog entrances are by far the most dangerous (or would be if he were not leashed). For him that is the only time he would bite without the person trying to interact with him. He is just soooooo over the top aroused that he isn't thinking at all. Even when I have people over he knows and LIKES I leash him when they walk through the door unless it is someone who comes over all the time and he can recognize by sight. With less frequent visitors he often doesn't recognize them until he sniffs, so he may behave aggressively for a few seconds until he realizes who it is. Especially if they knock, he believes knocking is something strangers, not friends, do so a knock puts him straight into aggressive mode and a bite could happen before he knows who he's sinking his teeth into. Your mom must understand that the reason for the dog's behavior doesn't matter, you feel unsafe (because you are) and that should be enough reason to put a leash on the dog.

You are right that a muzzle does not fix the problem, it's a tool that can be used in addition to a leash to make things safer just in case. For me a muzzle would be used only if the dog has shown signs of warming up to someone and your mom wants to let him sniff the person. A muzzle would make it possible for the dog to truly get comfortable with the person on a "normal dog" level (actual interaction). Without a muzzle I wouldn't let the dog within a few feet of anyone, especially since he sounds very easy to set off.


As for actual training she should do, it's really hard to say without seeing the dog. Different things work for different dogs. I can only tell you what I do with my own dog, who sounds very similar to Benny, albeit with better bite inhibition. Does his reactivity decrease at all during your visit (does he start super bad, reacting when you do barely anything and then get less easily upset throughout the visit?).

So with my dog Tucker He is leashed when someone comes over and I usually take him into a room where he cannot watch the people enter. he will still react because he can hear them, but it's not as bad as when he can see them too. It's even better if we can open the door before anyone knocks, knocking makes him go nuts. If I had enough prep time I will have him on a harness, but if it was unexpected a collar works fine too. I pack my pockets with treats, lots of treats. So he barks his head off and we stand in another room and I wait until i get some sign that he can think. I usually try to get his attention with his name or a noise. If he looks at me he gets a treat. Sometimes he won't give me attention so I just start by dropping some treats on the floor. If he can break his attention on the visitors to eat them I can usually then get his attention with my voice and reward him for looking at me. You cannot really reward aggression with treats or a soothing voice. Remember it is an emotional response, the dog will stop the behavior when the emotion changes. So the best thing you can do is try and change the emotion from terrified or angry to happy or calm. Treats and focus help do that.

So once I get his attention I will walk us to a point where he can see the people. As soon as he sees them I get his attention again and give a treat. I will usually retreat a few steps back to where he cannot see them anymore and give another treat, ask for a sit or down, give another treat, then move forward to where he can see them again. We rinse and repeat until I think he can actually stand and watch them for a while. When this is all depends on the dog and the signs he's giving. For Tucker I can tell he's still ready to react if he is straining hard against the leash to the point where his nails dig into the floor when I pull him back. He will also usually make a very gasping sound, like he's struggling for air (even when on a harness), because he is in such a high level of panic.

When these signs go away we can usually stand and watch the people from a distance. I will let him look for a second and then get his attention for a treat. I will sometimes ask for a sit or down for a treat just to break his focus from the visitors for a little longer. I will still retreat to another room if I think he's getting more stressed again, or simply if we've been there a while and I want to give him a break. When he's doing well we will move into the room with the visitors and basically do the same things. Let him briefly watch, then ask for attention or commands. No punishment or raised voices, remember we want to get him calm and happy. The attention getting is just his name or a clicking noise with my mouth(though an actual command taught separately, like "watch me", could be used as well). Any sign that he wants to react and I'll retreat from the room with him, often tossing treats on the floor along the way to keep him from turning back to bark.

When he is remaining calm in the room with them I can usually sit down and lay off the treats a bit. We are out of the reaction zone, he will not be set off as easily anymore. I will now give treats occasionally for sitting or laying nicely. If he is staring at the person I will get his attention and give a treat. If he is air sniffing I will usually let him continue for several seconds before getting his attention and giving a treat. Sniffing is good. What I also sometimes do at this point is bring out a stuffed kong (with his dinner or simply yummy stuff in it) and let him have it. At this point he is calm enough to focus on the toy/food and it lets me have a chance to relax.

Eventually he just relaxes and can be normal and non-reactive, but still on leash. If the person does something "new" like coughing, laughing, standing up, etc. I will give him a treat (or several if it made him pretty uncomfortable). I will also reward him if the person looks at him or talks to him. I don't let them do that at first (I tell them not to when they come in and remind them if they slip up), but once he's calm I allow a tiny bit if he appears calm about it, I tell them to stop if he seems upset. I never allow them to try and touch him unless they've been here for several hours and he seems extremely comfortable with them/seeking their attention. I would not allow that at all if he had bad bite inhibition, and generally it doesn't happen on the first visit anyway. Many people are not allowed to touch him until they walk through the door and he seems thrilled that their here. What I do try and let him do to all visitors, once he is comfortable, is get an up close sniff. I will ask the person if it's okay and will tell them to just stay still and ignore him. Then I let him sniff their legs to his heart's content, then call him away for a treat. This relaxes him IMMENSELY. If I don't allow him an up close sniff he obsesses over the person for a lot longer. But again, this is not going to be safe for all dogs, especially without a muzzle.

So that's what we do in the house, and it works fairly well. It actually works best when we have multiple visitors and all but one or two are people he likes. So like he's now comfortable with all grandparents, and several aunts/uncles. If we have a groups over with nana, papa, my aunt Terry, my brother's girlfriend (all of whom are his buddies), and then two strangers, he is going to do MUCH better than if it were just the two strangers. He just sort of groups the strangers in with the visitors he likes and is less edgy. But for some dogs the large group would make them MORE upset, because groups are simply upsetting to them. This method has allowed him to become comfortable with all regular visitors we have. It still has to happen with every new person though. I find the more new people we have over in a short time frame (say we have three sets of new people over in the course of two weeks) the quicker each intro goes. If, on the other hand, we go a couple of months between visitors he's equally bad each time.

As you can see it takes a lot of time and effort every time there is a visitor. The way things work in my house I am not the one catering the the guests, so I can devote myself to the dog. If I was living by myself or was having someone over for ME it would be pretty rough. I'd either have to have patient guests or Tucker would just have to go stay in a room by himself for the duration.


Outside I basically do similar things. Rewarding him for attention, asking for commands and rewarding. But I have never gotten him to warm up to someone outside of the house, I just don't hang out for hours with people outside of the house and that's how long it would take him to warm up. I also always reward when we go by someone outside, even if we're not interacting with them. I want him to see approaching people as good things. Every time we pass someone on a walk Tucker immediately gets into heel position and stares up into my face because he knows he'll get a treat. It's harder outside though because if he does react while I'm talking to someone it'd be pretty rude to just walk away from them. So I still have some issues with that. I just have to try and shove treats in his face and hope he'll take them and calm down. My best bet is always to keep the rate of reinforcement high from the beginning so he doesn't react in the first place. If I reinforce a LOT at first he can usually calm down so I can get him beyond the risk of reacting and give fewer treats.

It's lots of work though, and whether or not your mom wants to do all that is up to her. What she NEEDS to do is manage him by putting him away or putting him on leash.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:57 PM
ackerleynelson ackerleynelson is offline
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You are right...if he could react very badly to you who is a family member then he could be very harmful for the strangers. There is one thing which could really help him is the behaviour training. For more reference you can can visit: http://www.boomtowne.com/.
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Old 05-16-2013, 07:45 AM
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If your mom won't even stop her dog from biting family, I'm guessing she's not going to do ANY work on the situation. I'd work on getting her to keep people SAFE without trying to get her to do anything to modify the behavior at this point. And for the love of Dog if she is taking this dog out in public, do everything you can to help her understand how bad that could go so she stops. That's a bite and a lawsuit waiting to happen.
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