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I think I'm doing something wrong.....
  • RyuRyu
    Posts: 1623
    The past two days, I've had two incidents where the following happened:

    He grabbed something that he shouldn't have - normally a dirty sock or piece of plastic.
    I take a hold of the object and say "off!"
    He just tightens his grip and growls.
    I repeat "off!" (and I usually start to panic inside but consciously try to remain calm and in control)
    He growls even more (usually longer and somewhat higher-pitched - this freaks me out)
    If I get the object away from him, he shrieks and lunges to bite the hand that is holding the object.
    He has bitten me twice but didn't break the skin. Hurts like hell but never breaks the skin. Each time he bites, he immediately lets go and sits down...I think that's really wierd. He doesn't keep coming after the object. He growls, lunges, nips, and then is fine! I don't get it and I'm starting to get worried that he's becoming aggressive....

    I was thinking this morning that maybe we didn't spend enough time on "off!" and I should go back to practicing with treats. The thing is though, at this point, everytime he grabs something, I don't want to have to go get a treat to get him to release. I feel like he should know by now?

    On Monday, he did this to me and I couldn't get the item away from him. Tim came and he let go without much of a fight (still growling but no lunge). I assumed that he viewed Tim as the pack leader and me as beneath him. But then last night, he lunged and bit Tim! I'm so confused and disheartened...

    Then to make things worse, right after the lunge and bite, he's all licks and snuggles. I don't know how to act after he does this - I don't want to promote the behavior by praising his licking/snuggling but I also apparently don't know how to prevent the lunge and bite either....

    am I making any sense whatsoever?!
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    you can screech when he bites you to set a boundary there (like another dog would if bit) but you have to find a way to nip the behavior before it gets to that point. Shibas are stubborn SOB's and test your will every chance they get. If ours get something they shouldn't, we stand in front of them and command a sit and a down than a leave it or off or whatever you say. At that point, you are in control, then I give a treat for following commands and trade the treat for the item and he should let it go.
    I'm sure someone else has a better method. I'm sorry he's making you feel that way! I'm sure he's just testing you - he's at that age!! But you are right to be concerned about catching it before it becomes an aggressive issue.
    Post edited by tsukitsune at 2008-05-14 22:45:16
  • JessicaRabbitJessicaRabbit
    Posts: 2217
    Moto has had similar issues. Especially with toys when he wants to play.
    Ryu is considering what you are doing a game. Shibas HATE being ignored. SO if after you say off he doesn't let go. Turn your back on him and start to walk away. He will likely follow you and give it to you.

    Practice the commands "watch me", "leave it", and "off/or drop it" the command watch me, once he makes eye contact reward him initially with treats, and wean off to praise. practice walking past tempting things like stinky socks (we have lots of practice with roadkill here) and the command "leave it" if he in fact ignores the temptation reward IMMEDIATELY (same thing food weaned eventually to praise)m and then do the same with off.

    you are doing fine. The growling is him thinking you are a litter mate and not the boss.

    People mention the book all the time, and really is super helpful. I am in the process of re-reading it and it is so helpful

    "The other end of the leash" by Patricia McConnell.

    good luck
  • RomiRomi
    Posts: 2722
    Pam - I forget if you said you were taking him to obedience classes or not. But I leaned a technique from the trainer, I hope it helps you.

    I was told never to get into a "tug-o-war" type situation with my dogs when they have something they should not. This is a very dominant game for dogs. I would start off by using some of his toys and letting him play with it and then say "LEAVE IT", if he drops it or leaves it alone, Praise him right away and treat him. He will start to associate the word "LEAVE IT" with lots of praise and treats. There are a lot of different ways you can condition him with the "LEAVE IT". Another thing I did was I would get a treat and put it in my hand. I would open my hand and let the dog sniff it and say "LEAVE IT" and close my hand. Once they stopped trying to get it out of my hand or lost interest, I would immediately praise and open my hand and say "TAKE IT!" in a happy chipper voice. Now I can drop treats/human food on the floor and say "LEAVE IT" and they won't even go near it, they automatically go into a Sit or Down position and wait for their praise/treat. I must say, this is one of the BEST commands I have ever learned. It works great in almost any situation you can think of.

    As for the sweet licks and cuddles after the incident, I wouldn't pay any attention to it. After he stops attempting to get your attention and goes off, call him back make him do a sit or down and then praise him for it. He needs to learn that HE will get attention on YOUR TIME not his. Its really hard, but actually its not so bad. I was super sad when my behaviorist told me to ignore all attention seeking behavior. I thought "he just wants some love!" But actually, this is a sign of passive dominance. So now whenever he comes up to me for attention, I ignore him and after he leaves for about 30 seconds, Ill call him back and show him lots of love.

    I hope this helps Pam! Good Luck with the little man!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    I'm not gonna add much - I think what people have already said is great and you don't need info overload. I will say this tho...

    It sound like the start of adolescence and you must work to make sure he knows you are the boss. I think it is time for "Nothing In Life Is Free".

    You could also try having some treats in your pocket and redirecting him w/ those.

    I think you are doing fine tho, its hard when a dog you love growls at you.

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  • brandon_wbrandon_w
    Posts: 3433
    Start of adolescence indeed. Your sweet little Ryu might not be around for awhile. It's not that he doesn't love you, it's that he's a teenager, and teenagers rebel, and do stupid things, and mostly need consistent rules. Be prepared for your blood pressure and alcohol consumption to go up over the next 18 months or so.
  • I don't have much to add to this other than my support. I've never read this anywhere, but my theory is that when you take hold of the object he has you are inviting a game of dominance. I do this with Lucy because I have conditioned her already that I'm in charge and she should drop something when I ask her to. Joey, since he's still learning, is expected to drop things without me having to touch them. I would suggest practicing with a favorite chew toy of his. Put him on a leash so he has to stay near you. Give him the toy for 30 seconds or so, and then command him to leave it. Lots of praise when he does. If he doesn't , give a correction (verbal or leash) but DON'T EVER repeat the command. Repeating the command merely tells him that he doesn't have to listen the first time (or the second, or third, or seventh, or ...). Once he has given you the toy and you have praised him, give it back immediately and allow him to play for a few more seconds. Repeat. Once he gets good at that, try without the leash. Once he's good at that, you can practice playing tug-of-war with him and then commanding him to leave it while you are still tugging. Lucy has this one down pretty good already (although we haven't practiced in a while).


    Also, I agree with Romi, you must ignore the affection after he's nipped you. That is just reinforcing the behavior.


    Ok, I guess I did have something to add. ;-)
  • RyuRyu
    Posts: 1623
    Thanks everyone! I'm a little relieved to hear that it may be adolescence kicking in. I guess we got too comfortable and slack with the training when we shouldn't have. I agree with everything everyone has commented and am ready to kick it into gear!

    Jess: You must be psychic :-) I ordered that book a week ago and it just arrived the other day. I actually brought it to work with me. It also came with a pamphlet entitled "How to be the Leader of the Pack; and have your dog love you for it" or something similar which I read in one sitting. Ironically, as Ryu was rudely trying to get me to play with him. :-) Also, I bet if I walked away from him instead of trying to get it, he WOULD come follow (sometimes he can be an annoying shadow). Good idea!

    Romi: Thanks for the tip about leave it. We've been using "off" with treats on the floor but haven't tried it with his toys. Definitely going to work on that.

    ......never a dull moment :)
    Post edited by Ryu at 2008-05-15 00:02:42
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Our trainer has a great way to deal with frustration when dealing with dog... if he starts to frustrate you, sing him happy birthday! You can't be frustrated if your singing happy birthday. :o)

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  • Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you should always end the training session with you in possession of the toy. It reinforces that the toy belongs to you and you were only letting him play with it (which further reinforces your dominance over him).


    Good luck!!!!
  • RyuRyu
    Posts: 1623
    lol that's pretty cool :-) when he frustrates me, I usually look at Tim and say, "Like Father, Like Son" :-)
  • Hahaha. Happy Birthday? I'm going to have to try that one! :-)
  • LeonbergerLeonberger
    Posts: 3580
    You got great advice Pam, and I'm not going to add anything. I just want to say good luck, and remember you have a stubborn teenager that will test you like you've never been tested before.

    Brad - The Happy Birthday is great, lol. I can imagine someone singing Happy Birthday while locking their jaw to see if the frustration goes away :-)
  • GreensageGreensage
    Posts: 173
    Hi Pam,

    I face this a little bit with Rudi now (he is 7 months). I think the thing I remind myself is that it is not that he does not know my commands, he knows.

    I feel that Rudi is generally asking me things, "why doesn't he understand me", and engages me until I do....or else! LOL. So we go through an entire overview of things that are "Rudi's domain" until he seems to become satisfied or either has forgotten what it was he was trying to tell me. Just the other day this occurred where he was being a brat to me and then ole deaf man, me, realizes there is actually some commotion outside. It is not always explanable what the behavioral changes indicate but most times it is us not understanding them, they are afterall the "momentum of the Universe". I even have to remind myself that the Universe is only 7 months old right now. LOL

    I am only speaking humorously here. I am sorry I do not mean to. I should not be making light of all of this after all the good and sound advice from everyone; it's just that I somehow got the impression that you generally had a frightened moment where your mind was actually anticipating a serious bite and a touch of fear crept in. I do hope that I just took that part wrong. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to feel a loss of control or fear because that can be an energy that animals focus in on.

    As much as I try to understand animals I have to remind myself that humans long ago removed themselves from Nature's languages. I think that we are making progress in that finally society is realizing that all animals speak, but I still remember when I was a child and I would hear things such as "dolphins being unique in the Animal Kingdom and having a language" and how other animals use body signs and reactionary methods of communicating instead. I know most of us know otherwise, granted this was in the 1970s.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that I was concerned. I really do not think that Ryu was putting you below him. I think he really was engaging you in the only method he could at the time to get something across; it is impossible to know what it would be on this end but it must of been something he felt was important. He probably got carried away at his purpose but I do not believe that his assertiveness was due to any heiarchy placements.

    I agree when a moment arises like this that turning away from him is the best solution. Then the reasons can be thought through without a battle of the wits. I know Rudi steps back and lets me take care of something in a moments notice without continuing his engagement. He still comes back and tries it again but not as serious and I am able to make him try a different approach. There have been moments where I felt that same way before, where I was being bullied because he saw me as "not the alpha" LOL, but I am certain that is not the case.

    OK, sorry about ranting. I really hope he is not in too much trouble over this. Be mindful that we aren't listening to our furry kids half as much as they are listening to us. Take care.

    Ron
  • RyuRyu
    Posts: 1623
    Thanks Ron - you definitely picked up on my feelings perfectly. I have to admit that I do get a bit of fear when he does the loud growl/shriek and lunge. Usually it lasts about two seconds (two seconds too long) and then I try my hardest to push it away and remain calm... but I could be failing at that....More confidence practice for me! And no worries, he can't be in too much trouble because he's busy romping in daycare today :-)

    Last night, he grabbed two things that he shouldn't have and instead of initiating a "tug-of-war" type situation, I calmly pull something more valuable (jerky treat) from my pocket and say "leave it", out drops the item from his mouth... so I grap the offending item and then give him the treat with praise. I think with some more practice, he'll associate "leave it" with what I mean for it to mean. We are now using the NILIF method with everything (as suggested by several here). I really think it's going to make a big difference.

    While we're on the subject, I learned about the "body block" from Patricia McConnell's pamphlet and started to use that instead of pushing Ryu away when he's trying to initiate play with mouthing. I must say, it is amazing how fast the results have come from doing this. It used to be such a battle through which our arms and hands suffered from teeth scrapes (not bites but pulling our arms and hands out of his mouth and scraping his teeth) but now he just backs off, sits and waits for us to come play with him. This all happened in less than two days!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Pam, you did that perfectly! I use body blocking at least ten times a day with our dogs... it's a valuable tool.

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  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    We do a lot of body blocking, too!
  • That's great Pam! Keep it up. :-)

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