Being Snappy w/ Guests

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by BTmom, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. BTmom

    BTmom New Member

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    Hi all,

    I have a bit of a problem on my hands here that I'd really like to fix as soon as possible. So I have an 8 year old Chihuahua who has always loved strangers/guests and absolutely loved being pet. Then I moved in with my boyfriend and his mother would come by a lot. She fell in love with my dog and loves to pet and hold her. In fact, a little too much.

    To the point where my dog has learned that in order to get out of it, she has to be mean and snappy. It's because my bf's mother would restrain her even if she showed signs of wanting to be let go.

    The problem is, it's beginning to become a big issue because now she does it to all guests. They could be petting her and out of nowhere, she will snap and freak out...and they're not even restraining her. This is something that has never happened before my bf's mother came along. She started doing this last year (at age 7).

    I am not sure how to train her out of this. People are beginning to think I have a terror of a dog. :(

    Any advice appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Maura

    Maura New Member

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    Do you use a cue for "I'll pick you up now"? If not, use one. Put her in your lap, but do not hold her, use one hand to stroke her a couple of times. Have your bf create a distraction that will make your pet want to go see what is going on. Repeat a few times. Ask a couple of friends to come over and do the same thing, putting the dog on their laps and doing a one handed pet. Again, create a distraction so your dog will jump off the lap. This may help her to regain her trust.

    Don't let the bf's mother pet your dog any more. Use any excuse you want, but keep your chi out of her arms. This woman needs to learn to respect your wishes in your own house.
     
  3. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    If she were my dog, I would not allow anyone to hold her or pat her. She is clearly uncomfortable with that. When guests come over, including your b.f's mother, they should be instructed ahead of time to pay zero attention to her...no eye contact, no attention at all, even if she barks or growls. No punishment, no nothing from you either if she's snarking at people. What your guests need to do, is have some high value treats in their hand upon entering your house, which they can get from a bag you leave out on the porch. They simply drop the treats on the floor as they walk past her without speaking or looking. Only when she apppoaches them and asks for a pat or to be held on a lap, does anyone accept that from her. No overt handling of any kind. It has to be on her time frame and in her way. Associate all these people with good treats, maybe dropping a special toy too... and no obnoxious groaping or force of any kind.

    I'd make sure to specifically ask some friends and family to help you with this by planning visits and going over the training rules first. Tell your b.f.'s mother that this is what MUST happen. If people can't respect your training protocol, then lock the dog up where they can't get to her. You have to protect your Chi from pushy, obnoxious, groaping behavior of people. She needs to have time to change her outlook on visitors...to see that they are actaully really cool to have around. So, give her her own time to do that with the help of good associations.

    In addition to breaking up that rotten association she's made with patting and being held forceably on a lap, she should have some obedience training, using positive methods, if you aren't already. She should earn some of the things she likes. Is she asked to sit before getting her food or to do some other skill to get other things she likes? Or simply be calm and have behavior you like before she gets what she wants at any given time? Be careful what you reinforce when interacting with her.

    It sounds like she could use some mental challenges rather than excessive attention and physical handling. If someone forced my Chihuahua to stay on her lap, my Chihuahua wouldn't likely bite. There might be times where I'd have to force my Chi to stay on my lap. Like what if I were in a vet's office and I didn't want her to get down? She would stay if I told her to chill and stay. So, I think there may be more to it than the fact that your b.f.'s mother did that, although it's obviously stressing her out. It could also be something in her temperament, a lack of training in other areas(?) or any combination of things. So, to cover all bases, be sure and give her some mental and a little physical exercise and have her earn the things she values as well as having people back off and letting her be a dog. Obedience training goes a long way toward improving general behavior, besides the obvious....learning those specific skills. It helps the dog to feel more confident....confident in herself and confident in her owner....that you will handle sketchy situations for her. Every dog needs a job of some kind where they need to think, figure things out and start being aware that the good things are contingent upon their behavior.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  4. BTmom

    BTmom New Member

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    Maura - that is a great idea. I will try it. I think by building up the amount of time she spends on a guest's lap and realizing she's not going to be restrained anymore may help our situation. Thank you.


    Hi Doberluv -

    The problem is that she's giving mixed signals, too. She goes up to guests and lies down or gets onto their lap, they pet her, and then she freaks out. As I mentioned, this was never the case before my bf's mother started holding her all the time and not letting go. Before, any guests were able to pet her for as long as they wanted because she enjoyed every last bit of it. Now, I believe she's associating people coming over and her being pet with the potential of being restrained. She now does it to my bf's mother all the time and with other guests, it takes up to a minute or two sometimes. Sometimes nothing. She especially hates my bf's mother touching her, even if it's just a couple of pats.

    When my friends come over now, I have been telling them to ignore her. It's the times when she rolls over for pets or climbs into someone's lap on the floor when I thought since she wanted it, it would be okay. I've also noticed she tends to freak out more and quicker at females. She has never done it to my bf's father (he also doesn't restrain her). I strongly believe this is a result of being restrained by the mother all the time, sigh. We would tell her that she doesn't like it, but with some people, it seems to go in one ear and out the next. I guess I will try the locking her in another room. She gets extra excited and barky when that happens because she wants to see and greet the guests (she doesn't jump on people or show any other 'bad' manners - she simply wants to meet and sniff them before she can relax. Otherwise, she'll continue barking.)

    I certainly do make her do tricks or stay and wait before she gets anything. She is quite obedient in that respect. She gets daily walks, but maybe we will also try for more exercise. Thanks a bunch!
     
  5. ShopieCha

    ShopieCha Training Pro =)

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    You need to build her trust up again. It is also very important that you avoid contact with the mother who started the problem.

    The emotional wound needs to heal and if she is around it will keep being opened.
     

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