biting on neck part II/dominance or aggression?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by hotdog2007, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. hotdog2007

    hotdog2007 New Member

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    Hello,

    I posted earlier about my dog biting other dogs on the neck and received some good replies, but am worried the problem is growing worse. I've had my dog for almost 2 months, and I think she's a little over a year. She loves to play and wrestle with other dogs, which I think she initiates by biting on the neck, but at times she becomes obsessive with this biting. Yesterday a smaller dog was new to the park and had quickly submitted to some other dogs (not her) and was on his back, and she came over and bit him on the neck! I gave her a time out, and thought she was okay (though in retrospect I should have taken her home), but a few minites later she ended up chasing after another new dog that came in, who was very timid and afraid, and biting him (or her?) on the neck. This other dog was already scared and that made it worse. I took her right home after that. Additionally, she has some friend she plays with quite often, but even after these other dog grows bored of playing, she persists in biting them on the neck. My thinking is that this is how she asserts her dominance over other dogs. She loves playing with other dogs and I don't want to take that away from her, but if this behavior escalates I don't know what else I can do. Is there any way to get her to stop this, or do you think it's turning into aggression?
     
  2. Angelique

    Angelique New Member

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    Just remember play is practice for more serious adult interactions which usually emerge around age two (depending on the individual dog and breed).

    It's mostly about teaching this young dog social skills, social boundaries, and to listen to you when you verbally tell them to "Knock it off!", when their behavior is socially inappropriate. :D

    Body positioning, eye contact, and vocal tone carry more meaning when indicating "social disapproval by the pack leader (you :))", than punishments after the fact, IMO.

    I've personally found, directing the dog's social activities in the moment, before the situation escalates, rather than simply reacting to what the dog is doing (or manipulating/distracting the dog with food), is a good tip in establishing leadership and getting your dog to pay attention to you.

    Social skills and boundaries must be learned from the more socially experienced members of a social group, whether those leaders are human or canine.

    Stable leader = stable followers.
     
  3. hotdog2007

    hotdog2007 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice! I have a question - what do you mean by "directing the dog's social activities in the moment, before the situation escalates"? In other words, if she is around other dogs, when and how should I take action?
     
  4. Angelique

    Angelique New Member

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    When the other dog is acting uncomfortable, retreating, sending submisive signals, etc...

    If your dog is just starting to lock on target or fixate on another dog while leashed and during a walk, when you want them to keep moving and ignore... I usually just give them a slight bump with the leash or say "hey", without breaking stride or forward focus.

    Teaching a dog good social skills means learning to ignore other dogs and respect the boundaries of the leash, as well as occasionally interacting with (acceptable) strangers with calm dogs.

    It's not just about your dog. A lot of other dogs out there have not learned social boundaries or manners.
     
  5. hotdog2007

    hotdog2007 New Member

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    Thank you! On a leash she is actually very good now, and if she greets dogs on a leash (I ask permission from the other owner first) she does well. The problem is when she plays with dogs off-leash. There are certain dogs she seems to get wound up around. I suppose the problem situations fall into groups: dogs she has not met before that she is drawn to and who she seems to intimidate, situations where she is wound up and hyper, and dogs she meets often who seem to enjoy wrestling with her. In the case of the first two situations, I think I should leash her and remove her from the situation. Is there anything else I should do to let her know her behavior is not acceptable?

    In the third situation, with other dogs who like to wrestle, should I just let her play? She sometimes tries to persist after they are finished, but gets the message in a couple of minutes and gives up.

    Thanks again for all your help!
     
  6. Angelique

    Angelique New Member

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    I use a basic three step approach when teaching a dog social skills in a world filled with human laws and rules, where they will also encounter other dogs and people.

    1. Establish the in-home relationship between all members of the household, both dogs and humans. All humans must be on the same page and support each other in how they interact with both the dogs and each other around the dogs. All humans are leaders...those who set the boundaries, direct the activities of the dogs, and control the resources. NILIF is one great program which will help you do this.

    Leadership is (IMO) primarily eshablished by how you act, your attitude, and demeanor. Understand that it is unnatural (for the most part) for a dog to take instructions from a subordinate member of their social group. Leaders act like leaders, and it has more to do with what you project about yourself, than what you actually do to the dog.

    2. Once the relationship is healthy and established between all canine and human members of the household, teach the dog verbal, visual, and physical boundary cues. You can use "no", "ah-ah", "hey", ect...to tell a dog to stop what they are doing and pay attention to you.

    You can body block the dog from proceding in a certain direction, give a leash tug, or touch the dog in order to break forward focus and get their attention back on you as they learn your verbal cues.

    I've learned body posture and positioning speak volumes in a dog's world...as does addressing an unwanted behavior before it escalates. ;)

    3. learning to ignore and practice walking parallel with another dog and owner.

    Set up a situation where a friend walks by, you exchange a friendly greeting and take up pace next to them with your dog. There is no dog intertaction in this exercise. It simply teaches (mostly through classical conditioning) your dog to be in the presence of another dog and human without the expectation and excitement of a formal greeting. Moving in the same direction usually indicates to a dog that "we" have joined-up and are working together.


    The best time to allow play is after the parallel walk when the dog's energy is lower and they have already been moving in a cooperative manner with the other dog.

    Just pay attention to how your dog is playing, as well as what the demeanor of the other dog is "saying".

    It's always a good idea to get hands-on/eyes-on help in these situations. Without being there in person, all we can offer is general concepts based on what you've told us.

    Good luck! :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2008
  7. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    Does the pup get to play with adult large dogs? If not I suggest doing that, older dogs are great at teaching young rowdy dogs when they've had enough, dogs, especially young or very active dogs can be very rude and other dogs know how to teach manners. for your part I would just make sure you watch for when her playmate has had enough (lies down to rest, is trying to drink, keeps telling her off and won't play etc.) and then block her from the other dog and redirect her attention when she goes for him again. When you say bites her on the neck what do you mean exactly? Does she actually hurt the other dog, does she just mouth? Is she trying to attack the dog, pick him up or move him by the neck? perhaps she has been playing with too many submissive dogs and needs a more dominant dog for her to play with so she does not always get to play dominant dog as that could result in some problems for her if she ever does get challenged for dominance by another dog, if she's not used to it and wants to fight for top position you could have a big problem.

    It sounds to me that this is just a case of a dog who can't mind their manners and all her friends tire out before her, she just does not want to stop playing! either the dogs or the dogs with your help, have to teach her that when they are done playing with her she needs to leave them alone. So if the other dogs do not tell her off, you need to physically body block her (block her path to the other dog by placing yourself in front of her) until she stops trying to get past you (if you can't block her because she is too fast then leash her and wait until she stops trying to get to the other dog but don't do anything to stop her, she needs to learn to control herself and that trying to get to the other dog by pulling or throwing fits does not work) and redirect her attention to an acceptable form of play (with a toy or dog who wants to play right then).

    the biting, if it is all in play, does not really worry me, but if she seems aggressive (grabs and shakes, holds on and does not let go, growls aggressively while doing it etc.) or is hurting the other dogs she may simply be becoming dog aggressive but I could not say for sure without seeing her, she does not sound that way to me right now though.

    What breed is she? Certain breeds have less tolerance of other dogs or are often dog aggressive.
     
  8. hotdog2007

    hotdog2007 New Member

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    Angelique -

    Thank you so much! I looked up the NILIF program and am going to implement it. I think we were actually already doing some of it already - my dog Nanook must sit and wait before she is fed, only gets treats when we are training, and must sit before going into the park, but I am going to also implement the part about affection, sitting before walks or car rides, etc. I haven't done a good job of teaching her verbal, visual, and physical boundary cues, so I need to work on that. If she doesn't respond to the cue, what action should I take? I really like the parallel walk idea, and I'll try that too. As for hands on help, she goes to a reputable dog day care once a week, and I've tried asking them if she is too rough, but they say she does fine. Do you think they are a good judge?
     
  9. hotdog2007

    hotdog2007 New Member

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    Thanks Maxy! I think I'll try taking her to a larger park where there are more adult large dogs so she can be around them regularly. When I think about it, she does very well playing with larger dogs, as she's quite strong and fast for her size. She likes to get larger dogs to chase her. I don't think she usually hurts the other dogs with her biting, since they often don't seem to mind, but occasionally they will squeal. If my memory serves correct she backs away when they squeal. She doesn't try and move them or anything and usually doesn't hold on at all. It's more short quick biting. She's a mixed breed, mostly lab and husky I believe.

     
  10. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    If it's a good doggy day care, they certainly should be experts on doggy play, and they will definately know if your dog is playing inappropriately! I'd trust their opinion, if they are reputable as you say.

    When she bites their necks, where exactly does she bite - under their head, over their head, to the side.... Does she hold or just nip and let go?
     
  11. hotdog2007

    hotdog2007 New Member

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    She bites to the side, and generally just nips and lets go. I think I have seen some improvement over the two days. Yesterday she played with a puppy she had previously been too rough with in my opinion (he's 5 months but already outweighs her by 15 + pounds!), and was much gentler. When she seemed on the verge of getting too rough I called out "gentle" or "no" and she would step back until he initiated play again. Today we went to the park and she played with a mini schnauzer, a JRT/whippet mix, great dane, and an older, larger lab mix, and seemed to respect their boundaries. She bit the large lab mix on the neck several times, but he apparently didn't mind, though he seemed to be a no-nonsense type of dog. At the end she started nipping at the JRT mix, at which time I just leashed her and took her out, as I didn't want it to escalate and it was time to go anyway.
     
  12. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Nipping at the side of the neck is perfectly fine. Sounds like she's doing well.

    Make sure that when you use the "gentle" cue, and she stops what she's doing or actually acts more gently, PRAISE HER so that she knows that's what you want. If you can get really excited and get her to come to you for a treat, that's even better. If you do nothing to reward the gentle, she'll learn the word doesn't mean anything and she'll tune it out.
     
  13. hotdog2007

    hotdog2007 New Member

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    Thanks! I haven't been rewarding her much for stepping back, but I will start today - I really want her to be able to play with other dogs.
     
  14. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    That's a good general idea to think about any time you're trying to communicate with your dog, not just in this case. ANY time your dog does what you tell him to do, you should let him know that he did it right, even if it's just a simple "good" (I say "thank you!" to my dogs a lot, I think some people think it's weird, but it's just nice praise).
     

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