Dog behavior problems My 8 year-old over-sized Sheltie doesn't tolerate children or exhuberant puppies. He bit a little

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Customer: dog behavior problems
My 8 year-old over-sized Sheltie doesn't tolerate young children or exhuberant puppies. He bit a little girl recently, without drawing blood, becauwe she was waving her hands in front of his face. The proximity and motion caused him to lash out at her. In the past he's also bitten adults hands when they reach toward him to pet him. This never happens when approaced from the side and behind his head. How can we cure him of this strong reaction and not just keep him at a distance to prevent him from biting, which is working but is stressful?
Answered by crtrdr in 1 hour 10 years ago
28+ years of experience

132 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Dog Veterinary, Dog Medicine, Dog Diseases, Small Animal Veterinary

crtrdr :

Hi, I am happy to try and help you with your Sheltie. How long has he acted this way? Has it gotten worse recently?


crtrdr :

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I am sorry to hear about the situation with your Sheltie. I am sure this is very stressful for all of you.
First, let me say that as humans, we often approach animals in a way that is not fair to them . Many dogs do not like having people bend over them, approach them head on, or wave their hands in front of their face. It is ok for you to ask people not to approach your dog. If they keep coming, it is ok to ask again and then turn and walk away.
You might want to check out the posters created by Dr. Sophia Yin, a veterinary behaviorist. They show the correct way to approach a dog.
However, you certainly don't want your sheltie biting anyone else. You may want to keep a pocket full of treats available to give to the people to give to him to make friends. Sometimes offering a treat will open the door for your dog to accept new people. I would advise people not to pet him unless he comes to them first to be petted. That is the correct and polite way to greet a dog.
If this is a new behavior, you may want to have him checked out to make sure that he is not suffering from head or neck pain. You also may want to make sure that is eyesight is good. Pain or diminished vision could make him more likely to bite someone.
I hope this is helpful for you. If you have any further questions, please let me know.
I wish the best for you and your sheltie.
Dr. K

When my Sheltie was younger, a puppy himself and during his first year or two, he was used to being around children more often. We were good about socializing him. As the years passed and my own child became a teenager, the dog saw less and less of children. When we are out walking him he is fine with strange children IF approached from the side. More than once I have clamped my hand around his mouth to pre-empt a bite, just in case. His reaction to strange adults, especially men, has been to grab thier hand in is mouth as they are reaching (albeit slowly) to pat his head, unless they are patient enough to allow the dog to approach them himself first.

We explain to people not to offer thier hands for him to sniff because he may bite them, and to let him sniff them for a minute or so before trying to pet him.

Our biggest worry is a new 5 yr-old neighbor next door who might reach through or over the chain link fence between our yards, despite being told not to. We are vigilant about watching both the dog and the child when they are both outside at the same time, but if my dog is out in my yard and then the child also comes out in his yard and I'm not outside myself we may have a problem.

The dog's vision is something I've questioned as a possible explanation for his behavior and I didn't know it could be checked.

By no training on our part the dog won't accept treats from strangers, not at the drive-up teller, at a dog friendly store, or from folks whom we have given his own treats to. So your suggestion is good to let people befriend him by offering a treat but not with this dog.

I was hoping to re-train this dog somehow, so he won't resort to biting for such a small offense. We've never trained him with use of force or harm, just praise, attention and treats. Do you have any other suggestions?

It does make it more difficult if a dog does not like treats. Does he like a particular toy,or ball? Sometimes offering to play is a good introduction. Or, if he does not like dog treats, how about trying small pieces of chicken or cheese.
It is concerning about the next door child. I would just keep reminding her not to touch the dog without your permission. I would also speak to the parents.
Sometimes as dogs get older their tolerance level gets less--- just like many people.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
Hi, I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going? crtrdr
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