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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16544
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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My wheaton terrier had bitten my husband several times.

Customer Question

hello. my wheaton terrier had bitten my husband several times. she did it again today when we had a visitor. she also took at a bite the visitor. what should we do???
Submitted: 2 years ago via
Category: Dog Training
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We're afraid it will happen again. It happens when she gets cornered and I'm in the mix. She is very very protective of me (Marcia). It's when people come to the door. She's bitten a salesperson, and today went for a guys knee.
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question today. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible.Have you had Birdie since she was a puppy?Is she spayed?Has she ever gone to obedience classes?Is she crate trained at all?When she acts aggressively, what do you do?How much exercise does she get daily?Is she allowed on couches, the bed, ect?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
we rescued her when she was two years old. yes she's been spayed. we don't think she went to obedience class. yes she's crate trained. when she acts out we try to make her sit - hold her back from attacking people. she gets two walks a day. yes she's allowed on couches, the bed, etc.
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
And does Birdie only act up when you're around?Does she ever try to bite you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No not necessarily. However she's very protective of me and she was also very protective of our daughter. Isolated incidences with just me around. I thought it was a female thing. But she also doesn't like strangers. She's very protective of me when I walk her. She barks at small dogs. I hold her right next to me when we walk. Everyday it seems to be an exercise in good behavior. And I reward her for that. She tried to bite me just the other day when I was pulling her away from the pool. She wouldn't stop barking at the cleaner. That frightened me.
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it. I just have a couple more questions...Has this behavior gotten worse lately?Do you walk her on a traditional leash and collar?When was the last time she had a complete physical at her vet, including blood work?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
With people coming to the house perhaps her aggression has gotten worse - we just never know how she's going to act. I walk her on a lead leash (I think that's what it's called). It straps over her nose. It doesn't allow her to pull. She doesn't like small dogs - sometimes gets to the point where I have to detain her. She's not dog friendly. She's due for a physical. My first step is to take her to vet; next step further training with the rescue organization that we worked with initially. Thanks for your help.
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.
In cases of dogs who are acting up a bit in the home, the very first thing I always suggest is getting them into their vet for a quick physical and blood work to rule out things like thyroid problems (thyroid problems can often cause a dog to become more reactive and/or aggressive). If that comes back clear, then your next step will be to get Birdie into a basic obedience class. Not because she needs to learn how to sit and stay (although that's super nice too), but because attending these classes will build the bond between you and the dog and will elevate you into the position of top dog in the house since you'll be requesting she do something and expecting that she follows through. It will also allow him to socialize with other people and animals in a safe, neutral environment.
Because this can be a dominance issue, the next thing I'd do is start the Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) training program. In my experience, if done consistently, this type of training offers the biggest results for both dogs and owners. With NILIF, your dog will obey your commands without any sort of physical discipline or frustration. The theory is that you raise yourself in the pack heirarchy by controlling all the dogs resources.
And as long as we're on the topic of a wild pack, the top (or alpha) dogs always get to sleep in the best spots. So by allowing Birdie to sleep on the bed, be on the furniture, and basically hang out in the same places you do, you're accidentally sending the message that she's just as high up in the pack dynamic as you and your husband are. From now on, she gets to sleep/rest/hang out on the floor. She can have pillows and dog beds on the floor, but she must stay off the furniture.
More to the point, you're doing to decide when to give your dog her food bowl and when it goes away. You're going to control when you pet your dog, when you offer toys or treats and when you're going to play with the dog.
I like this training because it works on every dog personality. Dogs who are shy get self confidence, dogs who are easily distracted are focused and shy dogs come out of their shell. Dogs like yours, who tend to be a bit pushy will learn patience and manners.
NILIF works like this: we're going to start by essentially ignoring the dog when she demands your attention. No matter how much she tries to get your attention..whether she's pawing at you, or barking at you or even bringing you things. You should absolutely step over her and ignore her as completely as possible. Don't look at her, talk to her or even make eye contact with her. Keep in mind, you're not trying to be mean to're trying to get her to understand that she can't demand you pay attention to her when SHE wants it...with consistency, she'll figure out that you're in charge, regardless of what she thinks. As she figures this out...she will become less possessive of you and less likely to act up towards people who are in your home.
A side note...she may act up more when you first start training her. She's going to really work hard to get you to pay attention to her when she wants you to, but I promise if you don't give in, it'll be worth it in the end.
Everyone in the house is going to have to take part in these new training rules. Make sure they know that from now on, your dog is going to have to earn anything she gets in the house. There will be no treats, no petting, no anything without the right behavior from the dog. When it's time to eat, she's got to sit and wait before you feed her. If you want to give her a little tasty treat, then make sure she earns it by performing some behavior (could be simply sitting). If you're playing with her, only continue as long as you want, then pick the toy up, put it out of reach and walk way. Consistency is the key!!
The bot***** *****ne here is that NILIF is going to establish a very clear pack hierarchy in your house with you and any other human in the house in the top spot. It's done without cruelty or physical punishment, but will get the point across. In time, your dog is going to stop doing anything that you wouldn't agree with, and that includes trying to nip anyone you allow in the house.
This isn't an easy thing to fix...but I have no doubt that with the combination of obedience classes at a training center and your NILIF training at can absolutely get her in line.
I hope this helps!!