Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ask The Trainer - Biting Puppy

Question: Scooter has been with us since he was 14 weeks old. There were two boys (9 & 11) at his birth home. When we first brought him home he thought I was a chew toy and possibly a litter mate......he would grab my ankle or arm and try to wrestle me to the ground. He has been to puppy school, teen school and adult school....also had a private trainer. We have tried different types of collars(including a prong type),leashes and halters. Taking him to the vet is almost impossible, we can't get a muzzle on him and he will bite. He is very possessive of his food and anything that he knows he isn't supposed to have. He has bitten me and my husband...... Scooter weighs 76#......HELP!

Answer: There is no quick fix for this, there is however several things you can do right from the start to mitigate the need for Scooter to exert so much effort into controlling his environment. That’s really what is happening here. He is terrified of things that he can’t control and lashes out the only way he’s found to be effective.

#1. Get a crate, if you don’t already have one, and start playing crate games with him

#2. Follow the tough love program below.

#3. Temporarily cease using all known commands (sit, down, off, no, his name, and any other commands / words you use consistently to try and get him to behave). He has either negative associations with these words or he has learned that you don’t really mean what you’re saying.

#4. No yelling at him, poking him, jerking on his collar, or any other “corrective” type actions. Again, he has learned that they are fleeting and you don’t follow through. He has also learned behaviors that scare you into submission even when you’re trying to correct him. So all those corrections are now creating the behavior you are trying to stop.

Pre Program

1. Write down everything your dog does that is inappropriate.

2. Write down everything you would like your dog to do instead of what he does in #1

3. Write down everything your dog does that is a demand for something. This can be for play, food or attention.

4. Write down what your emotions are about your dogs demands.

5. Write down everything you love about your dog.
The program

1. NO free time. If he is not interacting with you, he is crated.

2. The only things he is allowed to chew on when he is not interacting with you is a bone or a thick knotted rope.

3. All meals are hand fed with the pushing method.

4. All exercise, all free time is done on leash or long line. Get a slip lead or a martingale (limited slip) collar. He is now immune to the pinch collar.

5. He is no longer allowed on the furniture.

6. He is no longer allowed in your lap.

7. Get him on a head halter or traffic lead and keep it on him at all times when he is outside his crate so that you have something to grab if necessary.

8. He receives nothing for free. All toys, interaction with you, food, attention or treats must be earned.

9. Interaction with any one is constructive play. Tugging, fetching (on the long line), trick training, scent detection - anything that is natural for a dog to do. Vizla’s especially respond to the flirt pole and fetching as they are mostly site hounds.

10. During all play with the other dogs, you must recall the dog every 5 minutes. If he doesn't recall, he goes back in the crate.

11. Any misbehavior, he goes back in the crate. Any resource guarding, he goes back in the crate with only a bone or a rope.
As he responds to this program and starts behaving during the times he is out of the crate, start returning some privileges to him – mostly time out of the crate to interact with you or just hang out.Never again free feed him and do pushing at least once a day for the rest of his life.

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