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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9631
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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2yr old yorkie biting and growling any tips

Customer Question

2yr old yorkie biting and growling any tips
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.

Can you tell me what precedes the growling and biting?

Where did you get the dog? When did you get the dog?

Does the dog act shy of people to begin with when meeting them?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Almost 3 yrs ago, from one of my clients, he is not shy he just goes after people growling and aggressively
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

thank you for that information. Generally dogs will go after people to keep them away from them because they do not want them in their space. This can come from a fear or from wanting to be alpha. Usually if the dog goes after someone head on it is alpha, if they go after someone once they first back away from them or if the person is leaving the room or if someone goes to pet them , then it is fear. So I need to know what I am dealing with to tell you how to best handle it.

How does the dog act when someone wants to pick it up or pet it?

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

It seems you may be offline and i will be going off as well. If you can provide more information I will be better able to help you with the problem. I will be emailed when you reply and will answer you when I am next online tomorrow/

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sammy is definitely alpha male and does not do well when approached to be picked up or pet. He growls and tries to bite the person.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. That does not seem to be an alpha male it is the actions of a dog that is trying to keep people away. Alpha's are more sure of themselves and do not need to act out each time but will put another in its place if it is deemed appropriate to do so.

But I am going to tell you to handle both.

Alpha dog: needs to be trained positively daily and put on the learn to earn program.

Reactions to Actions or Learn to Earn

Copyright Sally G

In some instances with training depending on how well the dog responds to the above training you may also want to incorporate a type of ‘learn to earn’ training as well.

What learn to earn training means is that you are taking charge of their entire life’s wants and needs. No more free food is put down in front of them. Keep the daily dose of food in a closed tin in the area where the dog is fed, call the dog to you and ask him to sit. When he sits, he gets a handful of food. Do this throughout the day using any command that the dog knows and the dog must obey that command in order to get some food.

You will also take control of when the dogs can play. The toys should have been put away before this but if they were not, put all toys away, then when you are ready to play take out a toy and play with the dog, when you decide play is over put the toy away again.

Petting does not come to them just because they nudge you, you decide when this takes place, which means you would call them to you and pet them at your discretion and ask that a command be obeyed . If they nudge to be petted, you ignore that, but you can give the dog a command at any time to obey and reward that behavior with petting. Again you always want to reinforce a behavior you have asked for. So even though you know the dog has nudged you to be petted, you don’t have to totally ignore the dog, in fact this is the perfect opportunity to turn that nudge into a trick or command and praise and reward the dog for that.

Anything your dog takes for granted such as you opening the door to let it out, putting on a leash to go for a walk, allowing it to walk though a door before you, etc. these are all privileges to a dog that come naturally due to the human’s repetitive actions over time but many humans don’t realize this.

So before you go through that door put the dog in a sit or wait and you walk through first then invite the dog to walk through. Again this should be rewarded with praise. Before you put the leash on you ask for a sit stay. Furniture is a no, no for dogs that have aggressive tendencies because it puts them in a higher charge over the others in the home, even children.

Dogs should not just be allowed on the couch without specific invitation if at all. This need to be close and cuddle is more a human thing than a dog thing. Dogs do like to be close to the one they love and respect, but sitting on the floor next to that person will be enough to please them.

This is not to say that no dog should ever be allowed on a couch, it is perfectly fine if you have stable easy going dogs. It is when there are problem dogs in the home that furniture should be off limits to all dogs.

As mentioned above, in most cases dogs have developed habits that some owners allowed and gave in to over time but did not realize it. What might be helpful to the owner is to sit and make a list of all the good things your dog gets for free by an action that you have let the dog do for years. This will help you to turn those free behaviors into commands or tricks that can earn a reward.

When the dog tries that action to get the desired reaction from you, stop and think, did I call the dog over to be petted? Did I tell the dog it is time to go out and that is why he brings the leash? Did I say let’s play so that is why he dropped the ball in my lap? All of those actions got the dog reactions in the past usually in a positive beneficial way to the dog. So now it is time to turn that all around.

Keep in mind that dogs do what works for them and if it stops working they usually stop doing it. So when they growl or snap at you when you reach for that bone, it usually works as the human won't take it. I would never suggest to take anything from a growling dog, merely explaining that this works for the dog so therefore they do it. Using the learn to earn program does not really give them a chance to become possessive.

Dogs that are well balanced within a group to begin with do not really need any of the above things to change; it is your right to spoil a well rounded dog! It is only homes with dogs in it that have social limitations around other dogs that should need the above direction.

Scared dog: Daily positive obedience

*Start clicker training. The clicker is about 3 dollars in a pet store. Use human food such as hot dog slivers for training.

*Don’t make direct eye contact, turn your head to the side looking away from the dog but keep the dog in your peripheral vision. (For street training: Tell people when they approach, that the dog is in training and to ignore the dog no talking to, no eye contact ,no petting. )

* Do not talk to the dog. Constant talking no matter how sweet of a tone of voice you use will still be a threat to a dog. The dog that is scared just wants to be left alone. (For street training: Once conversation is over with a person give them a treat to drop on the ground for the dog. They should not try to hand the treat to the dog, just drop treat and walk away. This will start to tell the dog good things happen when people come near.)

* Do not reach out to pet the dog especially over the head. This is another threat to the dog. A dog has no idea what your intention is when you are standing over it with your hand extended.

* Do not stand over a fearful dog. Try sitting on the floor at home and wait for the dog to come to you. Sitting at the dogs level is less threatening. You can put a treat in an open palm and lay your hand to the side of you to entice the dog but any sudden head turn or movement may move the dog back. Have patience and when the dog is feeling comfortable enough with you then you will see it approaching you in a happy manner.

Over time, as you see that the dog starts looking forward to people coming up to it , you will have people call the dog’s name and drop a treat. But still do not make eye contact or try to pet. All of this may one day lead up to a stranger being able to pet the dog but at this time you won’t know until you see a change in the dog’s demeanor and body language so don’t get ovet confident until you see the dog actually approaching the person in a happy manner.

The goal would be to eventually have a person hold the treat out to the dog and the dog take it with no fearful reaction.

Clicker training/positive method training/ print off
video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Do not do both for a shy dog and an alpha dog at one time. Try one first since you thing it is alpha I put alpha first and see if you notice changes , If not then move to the shy dog training.