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Aggression and repeating attacks
  • Story


    At 3 months Haiku went to a lady who wanted to give the dog as a present to her husband. When the husband discovered the “present”, he was not happy. Haiku lived in this family for a month - and probably was not socialised or given the care a puppy needs at this age. He came to Tom & Liis’ home at 4 months. He was very shy and frightful of the outside, but was showing good progress until he started showing signs of aggression described below.

    Incidents


    • 18.05.2016 - Liis picked up a training bag. Haiku (7 months old now) bit her arm. No puncture wounds, shallow marks only.
    • 19.05.2016 - The next day. Liis was taking the reading of the water meter. Haiku was coming to see what she was doing in front of her and she slightly pushed Haiku away with a hand. Haiku bit her hand. No punctured skin, but deeper marks that were visible for more than a month.
    • 12.06.2016 - Tom wanted to iron his shirt. He put the iron on the table and waited for it to warm up. It make a ticking sound at which Haiku started barking fiercely. Tom came into the room and said “No!”. Haiku sat down and looked at the iron. Tom wanted to pick up the iron when Haiku jumped at the hand and bit it. Tom tried to pull him away, but he bit him in the knee. He grabbed Haiku by the scruff, said “No!” and put him down again. Haiku’s teeth were bared and he looked angrily at Tom for a while. Told to go him to the cage, he went and Tom closed the door. After ~15 min Tom opened the door to put a water bowl inside his cage, at which point Haiku was calm.
    • 14.06.2016 - Liis went to her parents’ home with Haiku. In the evening Liis and her mother played with Haiku and his toy (a rope tied with two knows). At one point Haiku started to show teeth when the toy was in the mother’s hand. They stopped playing, Haiku calmed down. Mother left the room and Liis was preparing to take Haiku’s cage upstairs. Liis’ mother had left her phone in the room, she went to get it and stepped next to Haikus toy. Then Haiku bit her leg, she grabbed for her leg and Haiku bit her hand. Liis pulled Haiku by his harness to get him away from her mother, Haiku tried to bite Liis but couldn’t reach. Liis’ mother had deep wounds on her hand and foot.
    • 23.06.2016 - At Tom’s grandparents’ house. Haiku was running around freely but often running upstairs where the cat food was. Also another (female) dog was washed there the day before. When Tom’s mother wanted to go upstairs, she saw Haiku sitting calmly at the top of the stairs. As soon as she took a step at the first stair, Haiku rushed down and bit her by her foot. She was wearing boots, which Haiku penetrated. No flesh wound, but mom is afraid of Haiku now.
    • 24.06.2016 - At Tom’s parents’ apartment. Tom was feeding Haiku in his room when his mom came into the hallway from her room. Haiku came to see who it was. Tom conversed with his mom when Haiku had gone close to mom’s feet, head hanging low and muzzle pointing towards the feet (at around 40cm from the feet). Everybody remained calm and in a few seconds Haiku attacked mom’s foot. Deep flesh wound on the top and bottom of the foot. Foot swelled and was painful to step on for several weeks.
    • 30.06.2016 - Haiku and Tom were at a training which involved a big bucket full of treats. When the trainer approached Haiku and the bucket, he became a little wary, so the trainer kept the distance. Haiku was doing really well, but at some point a few dogs started barking and Haiku got excited as well. Tom decided to go outside. When they came back in and were walking towards their bucket, Haiku suddenly bit Tom by his foot, then by his hand, then by his knee. Tom raised Haiku up by his harness, waited for him to calm down and continued training with the bucket. Haiku was really wary at first and looked cautious when Tom tried to get treats from the bucket. After a while, he was normal again and resumed the training. When the training ended and it was time to leave, Haiku started staring at Tom’s feet really intensely. He had to distract Haiku with a few sit, lie, etc.. exercises.
    • 4.07.2016 - Haiku’s 2nd ever Agility training. First one went well due to no distracting factors being present. This time though, there were many dogs around which captured his attention. We did a couple of exercises to get his attention, a few times we did succeed, but mostly he was interested in other dogs. After a while, another dog started training on the same course. Haiku started barking at her and wanted to run to her, but Tom kept him on a short leash. He ran back and forth and barked fiercely. Tom was talking to the trainer and suddenly Haiku, reaching the end of the leash at one end, bit his foot which was really close to his mouth at that point. Startled, Tom pulled Haiku by his leash to get him away from the leg, but Haiku managed to bite his thigh as well. Swinging by the collar on the leash, Haiku reached for his other hand and bit the thumb hard.
    • 9.07.2016 - Tom and Liis both were away all day. Liis’ brother (who had walked Haiku before when we were away) came to walk Haiku. Everything was fine with walking and feeding, Haiku was happy. The brother took Haiku’s toy threw it so Haiku would bring it back. Haiku got all intense and started staring at his feet and a few seconds later bit him. Liis’ brother pushed Haiku away from his feet, got up and backed away to the front door slowly and at the same time seemed like Haiku calmed down as he got further away.
    • 18.07.2016 - Liis had been away for 7 days, came home in the night, went away in the morning and then came back home for lunch. Haiku started barking fiercely at the door. Continued with a few barks even after he should’ve recognised Liis. Tom was standing in the middle of the room the whole time. Haiku seemed to calm down, ran away from the door. Tom started moving towards Liis. Haiku attacked Tom’s foot. Tom pushed Haiku away, guided into the cage with a treat.
    • 19.07.2016 - Liis was on the couch. Haiku was playing with his toy next to her. The toy fell on the ground and Liis picked it up and gave to Haiku. Soon the toy fell on the ground again. Haiku went on the ground but not to the toy. Liis stood up and walked past the side of the couch, opposite the table. Haiku bit her foot hard. Liis said “No” and pushed Haiku away, he wanted to attack again, but Liis said “No” again and he froze with his teeth bared and looked angrily at her. She told him to go to the cage, he went and she closed the door.
    • 23.07.2016 - Tom was napping on the couch. Haiku started barking at the TV. Toomas was woken up, told Haiku to shush and grabbed him by the collar (an exercise he usually responds to normally). He seemed to calm down a bit, but became a little bit wary. He started barking more and went under the table. Tom slowly put his hand under the table, trying to calm Haiku down, but he tried to bite Tom by his hand. Tom waited for Haiku to un-bare his teeth, signalled towards the cage, Haiku went into the cage.
    • 24.07.2016 - Liis was walking Haiku past a fence behind which there was a big angry dog. Haiku was very excited, but Liis kept him on a short leash. At some point he wanted to get closer the dog so much that he tried to bite Liis by her calf, but missed. Liis raised him up be the collar, he coughed a few times and calmed down.

  • Some musings


    • Growling never precedes the attack. In fact, Haiku pretty much never growls.
    • Quite often he starts looking wary, lowers his tail (the “happy” position is curled on the back), moves very slowly and cautiously and stares at people’s feet. This is a sign of a possible attack, but not always. Usually he allows scratching at this stage, but his posture is really stiff and his eyes wide open and usually looking up at you.
    • More often than not when he attacks, his tail is curled and nothing indicates an impending attack
    • We first started noticing these cranky moods after feeding him.


    Measures taken


    • Beanbag has been put under the table so he can’t go there
    • No toys are left lying around. He only gets toys when we allow him to.
    • He used to eat from the bowl. We put food in the bowl and he usually ate it all. When he left some at the bowl, we removed it so that he would not have access to the food all day, but at mealtimes only. This might have contributed to his resource guarding, so now we only feed him from the hand and give him food during play.
    • Haiku is kept in the cage when we’re not home to make him appreciate us being around more.


    Today our daily struggle is such that seemingly at random, but probably connected to things we do or places we go in our apartment, Haiku becomes really stiff, lowers his head and looks at you wide-eyed. He's also started to intensely sniff some places, although we've cleaned everything and swiped all the floors clean and eliminated the smells. It seems that he might go into this state for anything. When playing with a toy and someone approaches (probably afraid that someone will take the toy away, but we rarely do). When playing with an ice cube (which he usually likes very much), he once got bored and suddenly jumped up and started staring at Liis' feet. It is so unnerving that Liis has started wearing extra thick socks and wrapping feet in elastic band underneath, just in case he bites again.

    We think it's that he's trying to establish ground rules and show that he's the boss around the house, but are not entirely sure. A trainer who visited us suggested building a stronger bond between us, but this doesn't teach him not to bite. And as he has developed a habit of solving problems this way, we need to do something to show him that this is not okay. Haiku's breeder told of an extreme method, which has worked on several occasions - to push the Shiba against the floor after an attack until he calms down, but this seems kind of intense and I'm not sure what it would do to the whole "building the relationship" thing. Then again, I don't really feel his fondness for us growing.

    I hope to hear from someone who's been in a similar situation or knows how to approach the issue and/or some feedback on whether we are moving in the right direction.
    Post edited by tom_n_haiku at 2016-07-26 14:47:11
  • Sorry to extend an already so long thread, but there's one more behaviour that I cannot decipher. I fed him. We ran around the apartment in circles, chased each other for about 10-15 minutes. Had a little break. Then played with his toy bone, everything was great. He goes to play with his toy by himself. He curled up and started napping. The bone under his paws. I went to give him a bellyrub and it could be seen that he's worried about something, being a little stiff, but allowing me to turn him on his back and rub his belly. He even licked my hand and such, but was still quite wary. I then picked up the bone and tried to give it to him. His mouth was closed and he didn't seem to want it, just looked at me with his big brown eyes. I threw it to him, he ran after it and brought it back closer to me. I took it again, we tugged at it a little and that was that. I then grabbed a chunk of bone with a hearty piece of meat on it (he loves them). He was really excited, did all the routine - sit, lie, crawl, stand, jump, to the cage, out etc.. eyeballing the piece of meat. I've usually thrown the pieces in his cage and he would eat them there. We have started locking the cage because he's been defensive around the food and when he's in the way, unwanted incidents can occur. So I tried to feed him by hand. He first started licking the piece, chewing really gently at it, but then stopped and started staring at me. I did a couple more exercises (out, sit, lie, to the cage) - he seemed happy and cooperative again. Gave him the piece again (fully open palm), and again, licked it at first, but then stopped and started staring at me. I looked at him and saw his lips twitching a little bit, as if showing aggression. So I closed the cage (he was sitting in there the whole time) and took away the piece of meat. Now sitting here and don't know what to do not to reinforce this behaviour and wondering why he wouldn't eat even though I was offering it to him freely.
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3481


    1. Stop grabbing him by the collar/harness. He sounds like he's fearful and by grabbing his collar/harness or picking him up forcefully won't help the situation. You only do that when it's an emergency.

    2. Do not do what the breeder says... Sounds like the breeder is not reputable. Anybody that knows Shibas would know that kind of forceful method will not do good with Shibas.

    3. I think instead of standing tall above your Shiba, you should crouch down or sit on the floor so you can properly bond with your Shiba.

    4. When walking to or from your Shiba, I think you should train him to sit or stay while you walk past him, then reward for his good behavior.

    5. Try to remove the word "no!" Seems like it is used a lot. Instead try "ah ah" or "leave it".

    How old is your Shiba now? 4 months still? Shibas are notorious for being biters/mouthy when teething. My Shiba went through a similar phase. Is there any chance he seems to be wanting to play and you Misinterpret it for aggression? Also have you brought him to a vet to get him properly checked when you got him?
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 344
    So I know what you're talking about here. Our girl went through the same things. I refer to this look she gets as being "Crazy Dog Mode". She becomes stiff, very alert, eyes very open and dark, and a very intense stare. Her hackles don't rise and her tail lowers slightly, she doesn't growl or make any warning vocalization.

    I've learned this is her guarding position. She is guarding something - her treat, her food, her toy, her space; something she deems as HERS and we are a threat to it.

    How we dealt with it: see this thread for how we dealt with her food guarding. We used a similar approach to all other interactions. She had to learn that these people and things were okay to be around and in these places, and that it was rewarding and positive for it to happen.

    I really urge you to not use any dominant actions (pulling, grabbing by the scruff, or discouraging displays of aggression) - these things don't teach the dog the RIGHT way to behave, they only teach the dog that they should hide their aggression - this increases the risk that your dog will attack and hurt someone without displaying any warning signs and increases their mistrust of you.

    You need to build trust, let your dog be a dog, and help them learn good behavior by rewarding them when they are good. Minimize the chance of failure by reducing their access to things that risk failing. Whenever you introduce something new to his environment (like the iron) let him inspect it, smell it, give him treats when he does, teach him this is safe and okay and not a threat. S

    et him up for success as much as possible with every interaction. You want him to like people, not bite them, so when you're doing something unfamiliar or with other people, make sure they have treats or that you are always there to reward him and keep the interaction a happy and positive experience.

    The easiest way to teach a dog positive behavior is to use a clicker. They're cheap but very effective tools. If you have a smart phone there's apps that imitate them, if you're okay with having your phone in your hand while training. The clickers themselves are generally cheap (cost me $1 for a 2-pack).

    Get a clicker and some treats that Haiku likes, and start by just clicking and giving him a treat. Every time you click you MUST give him a treat. Click / treat / click / treat / click / treat. Do this for a minute and he'll soon learn that a click = a reward. Ask him to sit, when he does click and reward. Ask him to do any other commands or tricks that you know he will do when asked, and each time he does what's asked - click and reward.

    The first thing I teach all of my dogs is to "touch". I put my hand down near their face and say "touch" and wait for them to touch their nose to my hand. When they do, I click and reward. Once they've learned the behavior consistently I use it to introduce them to new things by placing my hand near the new thing and asking them to touch - this is especially useful for hand held objects because I can hold it and say "touch" and have them directly interact with the new thing that might scare them. I used this to introduce the nail grinder to them, asking them to touch and hi five it while it was off, then turning it on and asking them to do it again, clicking and rewarding whenever they did as asked.

    You can certainly teach Haiku positive behavior without a clicker, just use a marking word - Yes works well - to reinforce the behavior. Yes and reward instead of clicking, but the big thing here is to REWARD and positively reinforce the behaviors you want and you have to absolutely not punish or negatively react when he does something you don't want.

    Try not to send him to his crate when he's bad. Close him in a different room (that's safe for him to be in) if you have one, where he can't hurt himself or destroy anything. Get a second crate and name it something else - call it time-out - and when he misbehaves say "time out" and put him in the new crate. You don't want him to associate bad feelings with his primary crate, his crate should always be somewhere he is happy.

    You'll be feeding him a lot of treats at first, and you could even use his food instead and make him work for his meals but if you don't just keep in mind the extra calories coming from the treats and feed him a bit less at meal times.

    Set aside time every day to work on his behavior. Dogs tend to work well in short intervals. Train for 10 minutes then take a break, use his play times as training too, rewarding good play manners. If he misbehaves during interactive play you have to stop playing immediately and take the toy away and absolutely ignore him until he calms down. Once he's calm, play can resume, and he'll soon learn to associate his bad manners with no play, and those bad manners will diminish.

    Be persistent. Be consistent. Make sure you and Liis are doing the same things, and don't let your friends or family break your training. They, too, have to be consistent and persistent. Haiku will learn but you MUST be willing to put in the time and effort to teach him.

    I know exactly what you're going through, if you have any questions about specific situations or circumstances don't hesitate to ask. There is hope for you and Haiku. How long it takes really depends on your persistence and consistency, and how willing and eager he is to earn rewards.
  • @Bootz, He's 9 months old now. This biting cannot by any chance be mistaken for being playful or mouthy, it's clearly guarding his resources and solving the problems aggressively using his teeth rather than submitting to the owner. Snarling while biting and his furious face confirm the fact. And also the bite that caused my girlfriend to limp for a week.

    2, 3, 4 and 5 seem all like reasonable suggestions. Grabbing by collar/harness is I learned from Susan Garrett's Brilliant Recalls series (https://brilliantrecalls.com) and we've been doing that daily so he is really used to collar grabbing in regular situations. There are times when a collar grab is necessary and I don't want to provoke an attack at a critical time, so I'd rather think that it's useful to train him to tolerate that.

    Raising him up by harness/collar has only been used in emergencies, when we need to get him away from a foot or a hand that he has buried his teeth in.
    Post edited by tom_n_haiku at 2016-07-26 15:45:08
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 344
    About the bone - He was tense when you approached for a belly rub because it's his bone and he was afraid you'd take it. Then you took it, reinforcing his fear. He wants it, but he doesn't want you to touch it. Same goes for the piece of meat - he was afraid you would take it away from him, and so he was guarding it in your presence, and then you reinforced that fear and took it away from him. In his mind nothing good comes from you being near his food, you just take it away from him.

    When taking something away, if you don't want to reinforce the fear that you're going to steal their things, you have to offer something of more value to them. Also, if you don't want him to be afraid that you're going to steal his things, then just don't steal his things unless there's a good reason to do so. Other than your concern over his behavior, there was no need to take the bone away from him. Give him the bone, leave the room, come back in and ignore him. If you do approach him or give him attention, do so in a calm and soothing voice and offer him a treat. You want him to trust you but so far as he understands you just steal his things and punish him for having them.
  • Thank you so much @spacedogs.

    The easiest way to teach a dog positive behavior is to use a clicker

    We've been training with a clicker ever since we got him. At 5 months we started attending dog school and trained everything using a clicker.

    The first thing I teach all of my dogs is to "touch".

    He knows that. We've recently been doing this more rarely. Will try incorporating this with other objects, that's a good tip!

    Yes and reward instead of clicking, but the big thing here is to REWARD and positively reinforce the behaviors you want and you have to absolutely not punish or negatively react when he does something you don't want.
    What about when he bites and I'm bleeding all over. I need to patch myself up so I don't mess up all the furniture and my clothes. So we've been putting him into the crate to avoid further aggression. We can try another room, but sometimes we need to use the other room, so that's something we can't always use.


    You'll be feeding him a lot of treats at first, and you could even use his food instead and make him work for his meals but if you don't just keep in mind the extra calories coming from the treats and feed him a bit less at meal times.
    We are making him work for his meals for a month and a half already - every handful has to be earned by sitting, laying down or something similar.

    Once he's calm, play can resume, and he'll soon learn to associate his bad manners with no play, and those bad manners will diminish.

    You are very well describing associating bad manners with no play - isn't this the same as learning that biting = human leaves my space and my things alone? As he has bitten us for 13 times, I can't be that naive that it won't happen agian. What should be the course of action after such an incident at home and outside?


    Other than your concern over his behavior, there was no need to take the bone away from him.
    We are reluctant to leave the toys lying around because we weren't taking them away, but he started guarding them out of the blue. So we were advised not to leave toys lying around. Liis' mom got bit when he stepped near a toy, so we have been trying to only give him toys when playing with us and swapping them for a treat and putting them away. I forgot to write, but this time too, I gave him a treat for the bone, but he still seemed upset.

    All the suggestions make sense and we'll try to utilise them to the best of our efforts - one more call for a suggestion though: what should be our course of action when he suddenly goes into Crazy Dog Mode again? Should we rather leave him alone (reinforcing the guarding behaviour and giving what he wants?), playing with him (but not taking away the toys, maybe diminishing his fear over time) or something else?

    Sometimes the Crazy Mode goes as far as him not being interested by treats (that's how we usually guide him into a crate to safeguard ourselves) or anything and he just stares and is seemingly on the verge of the attack. Liis has escaped these situations by getting the leash if she an and leading him by the leash into the crate.
    Post edited by tom_n_haiku at 2016-07-26 16:14:32
  • It may or may not work, but how we handled guarding situations is we would give the dog a high value treat and go and sit next to them, not looking at them, ignoring them, and just sitting there. Or sit down and offer them the treat and stay sitting, encouraging them to sit near you. You could even try holding the treat while they eat it, but that may be too advanced for your poor guy. Rinse and repeat, until the dog wasn't stressed out by us sitting next to them with the bone/antler, whathaveyou. Then we moved to petting, gentle scratches always on the back and away from their head, and once that was comfortable, then we moved to trading the treat for another treat - like cheese or hot dogs. There is no guarantee it works for every dog, but it worked really well for us.
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 344
    Oh good, you're using a clicker! Are you using it while he's playing, interacting, or walking near people? Keep it with you all the time when you're home, when he's being good periodically click and reward him. Let him know what behavior you want.

    If he only has toys when you're interacting with him, what does he have or do when you're home but not playing with him?

    Guarding in his crate - have you tried rewarding him when you're near the crate (no other interactions occur here - just approach, sit near the crate, toss treats at him inside). Move closer and closer every time you do it - over the course of a few days - up until you're right in the door and hand feeding him treats while he's in his crate. Eventually you'll be welcome there, and your hands will be allowed inside. You BOTH need to do this. Closing the crate when you don't want him in it is a good idea to start, but your goal here should be to teach him that it's okay for you to be near or in his space.

    When Laika would go in to Crazy Dog Mode and start guarding something, if it was a place (what she deemed her spot on the couch) we would remove her from it, put something else there (like pillows) to block her access to it, and if she continued to be anxious we would take her to a different room and reward her there until she calmed down. Once calm we'd re-enter the other room, staying at her side, and reward her for not showing interest in the space she was guarding previously. Eventually we'd take her to the couch and one of us would sit in her spot then call her on to the couch beside us and reward her if she didn't react negatively. At any point in the process, if she showed immediate interest in the couch or her spot, we'd remove her from the room again and repeat the process. It takes a lot of time, sometimes it took 5 hours to watch a movie, but she no longer guards any places as being hers, anyone can sit anywhere they want without worrying that she'll go crazy dog and snap at them.

    If it was a toy she was guarding we remove the toy and put it away and ignore her until she calmed down. If it was a high value treat we took the treat and put it away in a different room then went back to where we were. She would excitedly run back and forth between here and there for a few minutes but eventually she would stop, and that's when we would reward her with a less valuable treat and some pats.

    When she was particularly aggressive we put her in time out and ignored her until she calmed down. We never hit her, yelled at her, grabbed her by the scruff, or otherwise physically handled her except to pick up her leash and lead her to time out.

    As long as you aren't leaving his space or his things alone when he bites you he won't learn that biting gets him what he wants, but he will eventually learn that biting gets him time out with no toys, treats, or interaction.

    Rather than making him work for his food with sits and downs and such and hand feeding him, give him his food (outside of his crate) and toss him some treats while he eats but otherwise leave him alone to eat. Let him learn to trust that you aren't going to steal his food and that you around his food is a good experience. If hand feeding hasn't provided you the results you want yet then it likely won't work for him.

    I know it sounds daunting and in the beginning it might seem like this will never work, but it just takes time and consistency. We have the benefit of working from home and lots of opportunity to interact with our dogs so for us the process went faster only in theory - it was still quite a few hundreds of hours of work.
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 344
    I want to add, there are some treats with her that are just too high value to overcome the guarding. Once identified those treats are removed and are only offered if we're holding it while she eats.

    Also, we've never taken something from her unless there was a reason or need to do so, and always ALWAYS offer something in return. The only time an item is taken forcefully is if she refuses the offer of a trade. Always try to offer a trade that is equal to what you're taking. If you're taking something that can be chewed on for hours, offer something in return that can be chewed on at least until you're free to interact with them again.

  • sergemansergeman
    Posts: 18
    @tom_n_haiku It does sound like some normal Shiba tendencies that have been exacerbated some by guarding. I thought I might add a few things that helped me out early on.

    Rather than initially trying to eliminate all biting I worked to lessen the intensity of the bites by hand feeding; and by teaching him to interact with my hands. I put a favorite treat in my closed hand. If he approached it with his face, licked my hand, or even lightly nibbled on my hand, I rewarded him with the treat. If he bit hard I took my hand away for a few seconds and gave him another chance at it.

    Unfortunately I haven't been able to eliminate biting entirely, but it's never to the point of injurying me. Maybe it will change with age, but it seems like early on they just like to communicate with their mouths.

    I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with not leaving all of his toys or his food out, but after you give him something taking it away when he still wants it will definitely make the guarding worse.

    I wouldn't try to see any of it as a winning or losing situation. He has desires and so do you. He's trying to communicate them to you in a way that he knows how, so you just have to listen for that. And your continued training will help him learn what you want from him.

    Let us know how things go!
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1249
    You've been given a lot if advise already so I just want to add on a few things.
    First of all, have you had him checked out at the vet to make sure he is not in pain?
    Secondly, there are things available that may calm him down slightly such as Adaptil (that you can spray in the flat, or use as a collar or plug in in a socket). It releases feromones that are relaxing and may be useful.
    Thirdly, without reading through the whole post again it looked to me that he has given you warnings pretty much every time. Growling is only one way of telling you, getting tense is a very clear signal to me that he is getting upset. You asked if he won't think he has won if you back off when he does these things. In my opinion if you think of everything as a power struggle it won't help you.
    If you think of it as in he is trying to communicate with you and you either ignore him telling you he is uncomfortable or you notice and show him that you understand him by backing off. Then I think you are getting somewhere.
    Obviously this is not acceptible behaviour, but you need to teach him the right way when he is relaxed.
    Good luck!
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8413
    Two things:

    1) Take the dog to a vet immediately to have him checked out. It does not sound like you have done so. There are many medical conditions that can cause unexplained aggression.

    2) This dog has already bitten several people hard enough to leave puncture wounds and cause substantial bleeding. You need to call in a professional veterinary behaviourist if all checks out okay medically. Stop looking for armchair internet advice and call in someone who can see the dog's (and your) behaviour in person and provide feedback and suggestions based on what is actually happening. At the moment, from what you described above, this is a dangerous dog and a liability for anyone around him. I know that no one wants to think about it, but some dogs are just beyond reasonable help, especially dogs with questionable genetics and an unknown past. Get a professional in there now to evaluate the situation before someone gets seriously injured.
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  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    ("Growling never precedes the attack. In fact, Haiku pretty much never growls.") Since he had a previous home maybe they punished him for growling. One reason people say never tell a dog no for growling is that they might stop and just go for the correction.

    Maybe he just not growl for warning and Like Juni said some dogs warn different ways.

    Being tensed, lip licking, etc.
    This book might help with resource guarding issue.
    https://www.amazon.com/Mine-Practical-Guide-Resource-Guarding/dp/0970562942
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  • Lrose1990Lrose1990
    Posts: 80
    I agree he NEEDS to see a veterinary behavior specialist, and soon. The fact that he's bitten enough to pretty seriously wound a person is no joke; if this happens to another dog or child, it will create serious, potentially life-threatening problems.

    This is not a dog trying to be "boss." Dogs do NOT try and form hierarchies with humans; dominance is resource specific, and may change depending on the resource etc. They know we are not dogs and are not trying to conquer us.

    Here is a link to the diplomates of the veterinary behavior specialty: http://www.dacvb.org/about/member-directory/
  • spacedogs said:

    Oh good, you're using a clicker! Are you using it while he's playing, interacting, or walking near people?

    We've only used it for training certain commands and then kind of faded it out. Will start using it more often again.

    spacedogs said:

    If he only has toys when you're interacting with him, what does he have or do when you're home but not playing with him?

    We've been leaving one toy out for him to play.

    spacedogs said:

    have you tried rewarding him when you're near the crate

    Yes. He usually does not object. Sometimes when I go to straighten his blanket, he comes to see what's happening but usually he's not guarding the crate, at least not visibly. This "not eating something yummy" happens outside of the crate as well.

    spacedogs said:

    If it was a toy she was guarding we remove the toy and put it away and ignore her until she calmed down.

    We've started to take away toys only when he's not interested in them and even then giving a treat as an exchange for his loss.

    spacedogs said:

    When she was particularly aggressive we put her in time out and ignored her until she calmed down. We never hit her, yelled at her, grabbed her by the scruff, or otherwise physically handled her except to pick up her leash and lead her to time out.

    Yes, that's something we could learn from. When Haiku bit us, we were usually startled and to get him away, pulled him or pushed him away. I am not sure if I should wait and see if he's going to let go or continue gnawing on my leg (no, it isn't as cute as it sounds).

    spacedogs said:

    If hand feeding hasn't provided you the results you want yet then it likely won't work for him.

    It might be true. Yesterday I tried patting him on the side (as I've done before with no reaction from him), after which he went all psychedelic again. I have learned to distract him with sits and other activities when he goes into that mode, but obviously hand-feeding him for 2 months hasn't shown much progress. Maybe we should bring the food bowl back..

    spacedogs said:

    First of all, have you had him checked out at the vet to make sure he is not in pain?


    sunyata said:

    1) Take the dog to a vet immediately to have him checked out. It does not sound like you have done so. There are many medical conditions that can cause unexplained aggression.


    We've taken him to three different vets who all told he's physically fine.

    sunyata said:

    You need to call in a professional veterinary behaviourist if all checks out okay medically. Stop looking for armchair internet advice and call in someone who can see the dog's (and your) behaviour in person and provide feedback and suggestions based on what is actually happening.


    I would love to consult a professional, which I've tried to do thrice - first with the trainer whose sessions we've been attending since 4 months old. She said that she hasn't had much experience with problematic dogs and recommended another bahaviourist (if you can call her that) to us. She is educated and quite well-known in our town, but after a few sessions it didn't seem that she can help us either. She suggested some exercises and things that we should do and avoid, sent a few articles and posts from this very forum but she hasn't had any experience with breeds like Shiba from what I understood. We've been consistently doing the exercises, but that hasn't alleviated the crazy dog mode. Don't get me wrong - I trust the experts, but it didn't feel that she knew how to approach the problem, so we're still looking. It's a small country and we don't have such thing as "professional veterinary behaviourist", to my surprise. There is one person who might be able to help us, but she isn't reachable (probably on vacation), which is the reason I'm trying to get as much information as possible.

    sunyata said:

    I know that no one wants to think about it, but some dogs are just beyond reasonable help, especially dogs with questionable genetics and an unknown past.

    I am trying to remain as realistic on this matter as possible and be pragmatic about the approaches and techniques suggested evaluating them before applying to our situation. I've gained very much from this topic alone as the discussion often brings out things that are logical and reasonable, but maybe too much so for us so we don't attack them as go-to resolutions.

    Saya said:

    ("Growling never precedes the attack. In fact, Haiku pretty much never growls.") Since he had a previous home maybe they punished him for growling. One reason people say never tell a dog no for growling is that they might stop and just go for the correction.

    Yes, we thought the same.. It's a shame though. Maybe we can re-teach him to growl? :D (just kidding)

    Saya said:

    This book might help with resource guarding issue.
    https://www.amazon.com/Mine-Practical-Guide-Resource-Guarding/dp/0970562942


    Thanks! I'll definitely check it out

    Lrose1990 said:

    This is not a dog trying to be "boss." Dogs do NOT try and form hierarchies with humans; dominance is resource specific, and may change depending on the resource etc. They know we are not dogs and are not trying to conquer us.

    Here is a link to the diplomates of the veterinary behavior specialty: http://www.dacvb.org/about/member-directory/

    I'll research on that fact, thank you for food for thought! I really hope we can find someone qualified here in our little country who can actually help us. At the same time, we're trying to educate ourselves and make it easier on ourselves.

    One more thing that I would ask your opinion on: When leaving home, should we leave Haiku in a crate (just big enough for him to lie down) or let him roam free in the apartment (a small ~45 sq. meter apartment with a french balcony where he can gaze outside).
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8413
    @tom_n_haiku - Start here:
    https://www.emu.ee/

    Give them a call and see if they have a veterinary behaviourist at the university. Most likely they do.

    This dog is beyond the help of a trainer and needs someone that is certified in canine behaviour to assess him and formulate a work plan. I really hope that your optimism pans out, especially since it seems that this dog had a very rough start in life. :(
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • Yojimbo_90Yojimbo_90
    Posts: 45
    Just throwing my two pence in... :P

    I feel sad reading through all this, I really hope you can work through this with your pup. Haiku hasn't been with you that long, but bonds definitely take a long time to form, especially with Shibas.

    I think working on bonding with your dog and earning his respect is the right way forward, he needs to know he can trust in you. I believe your problems to be definitely solvable with time, patience and most of all, kindness -

    ...rather than submitting to the owner...



    I think you need to soften your approach to your dog and this situation, I understand and totally agree that the biting is both serious and dangerous, I do not deny that, but Haiku is only acting in ways which are instinctual to him, with your help he can learn what is acceptable behaviour and what is not and that he doesn't need to fear that you are taking anything away from him and that you are not a threat. Work on that bond and give him lots of love. He is still young so you have that advantage.

    Shibas are soooo much work, I never anticipated the amount of time and effort involved in raising one, I'm still trying to find the dog/life balance!

    You've got so much good advice here already, I am rooting for you and Haiku!
    Post edited by Yojimbo_90 at 2016-07-29 10:06:33
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 344
    I understand about the biting, and wanting to make it stop. While I don't chastise the dog with physical force or anything, I DO yell "OUCH!" very loudly and give a "No" or "Leave it" command and if they still don't release I'll use my hands to open their jaws. Haven't had to do this with Laika in months, but it still took hundreds of hours to train her to not do it in the first place. I was a bit luckier than you, she was 4 months old when we went through this so while she had sharp little puppy teeth she also had much less jaw & upper body strength. She was able to puncture flesh a few times but not strong enough to actually tear tissue and cause serious damage.
  • sunyata said:

    @tom_n_haiku - Start here:
    https://www.emu.ee/
    Give them a call and see if they have a veterinary behaviourist at the university. Most likely they do.


    That's the person I'm trying to reach but she's probably on vacation. I have someone who knows her well pitch in for me, so I'll probably get in touch with her soon.

    We're also visiting one trainer who was recommended by a few of my friends on Monday. Can't hurt probably :) Other than that, waiting for the lady from the University who seems to be the only one in our area who actually works together with veterinarians.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8413
    spacedogs said:

    I understand about the biting, and wanting to make it stop. While I don't chastise the dog with physical force or anything, I DO yell "OUCH!" very loudly and give a "No" or "Leave it" command and if they still don't release I'll use my hands to open their jaws. Haven't had to do this with Laika in months, but it still took hundreds of hours to train her to not do it in the first place. I was a bit luckier than you, she was 4 months old when we went through this so while she had sharp little puppy teeth she also had much less jaw & upper body strength. She was able to puncture flesh a few times but not strong enough to actually tear tissue and cause serious damage.



    @spacedogs - Normal puppy biting and fear biting are COMPLETELY different things. The dog in question is biting out of fear and resource guarding. That is extremely dangerous, especially since the dog has already bitten hard enough to severely injure someone. Yelling "ouch" or "no" or "leave it" is not going to work in this situation. The OP is not trying to teach the dog to not be mouthy, but trying to work on modifying the behaviour of the dog to reduce the fear and guarding issues and build up trust between the members of the household and the dog.


    That's the person I'm trying to reach but she's probably on vacation. I have someone who knows her well pitch in for me, so I'll probably get in touch with her soon.

    We're also visiting one trainer who was recommended by a few of my friends on Monday. Can't hurt probably :) Other than that, waiting for the lady from the University who seems to be the only one in our area who actually works together with veterinarians.



    @tom_n_haiku - That is good to hear. Hopefully you will hear back from her soon.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 344
    sunyata said:



    @spacedogs - Normal puppy biting and fear biting are COMPLETELY different things. The dog in question is biting out of fear and resource guarding. That is extremely dangerous, especially since the dog has already bitten hard enough to severely injure someone. Yelling "ouch" or "no" or "leave it" is not going to work in this situation. The OP is not trying to teach the dog to not be mouthy, but trying to work on modifying the behaviour of the dog to reduce the fear and guarding issues and build up trust between the members of the household and the dog.



    @sunyata - If you're going to address me please read all of my comments in the discussion, rather than making a false assumption and statements in poor taste based on a singular response that's clearly being read out of context to the rest of my responses.






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