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Need help with biting and more

9705 Views 63 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  roxy25
Hello all,
I can use some insight. I have a poodle here. Her name is Shelby given by myself. I am not sure of her exact age , breed, past etc. Here is the story as short as I can make it. I was told she was found tied to a bench in a major city to fend for herself. Apparently someone took her in and couldn't keep her so gave to a brother. The brother couldn't keep her where he was so she went to another sister, the one dog there was not having it. She then went to the the mothers house. The mother was not home enough and was just keeping her there until a home was found. Thats where I stepped in. I wanted to adopt a third. Didn't care what breed, just whoever was in need.
I was told she was good with other dogs, was a sweet girl but a little shy. I went to meet her with one of my dogs, everything was fine. She was scared of me and my dog and basically everything around her. I ended up taking her home regardless. I have another dog that was severely abused and he came around to me with time and patience.
OK maybe this story won't be so short. Thanks to those who are still reading.
I brought her home and everything was ok. She was scared and hid a lot or followed me. Took about a day or 2 for her to come up to me on her own and want me to pet her. That same night she was under the couch ( ratan couch with about a foot and a half space to lay under) I moved the couch and went to unplug the lamp I had plugged in so I could move it. She was about 3 feet away and came charging at me and bit my hand twice in about 3 seconds. I backed out and my initial shock made me say What the eff! I said NO in a firm voice but backed off cause she was snarling at me and ready to lung again. I let her be and figured ok she is just scared.
Well I have had her almost 2 weeks now and she has bitten be over 7 times. She has bitten my other dog twice. Hasn't drawn blood on him and only got me to bleed twice. The weird thing is she comes up to me, give me kisses, plays, snuggles, and more but out of the blue will just turn and go nuts on you. I figured it was just from adjusting. You can tell she was abused in the past as well. If you even so much as raise your arm to do anything she ducks and flinches. If she thinks you are coming at her she will attack. I am trying my hardest to gain her trust and letting her come to me on her own showing her I won't hurt her. If she growls I usually say her name and make a gasping noise and call her over and sometimes it will snap her out of it and she will come over. When she listens I reward her with love. She bit my foot last night simply because she thought my slipper was coming at her I guess. Someone knocked on the door and the other dog started barking. When I went to quiet him and put him in the other room she went to bite me again. I used to be a vet tech and have delt with a lot of dogs who I had to muzzle and deal with who werent friendly but for some reason she intimidates me. I know thats not good cause if I show fear it will make it worse. I have tried to dominate her and not back up lately letting her know I won't have it and if I even say the word no she lunges. I am not going to dump her. I have taken her in and will not give up on her. I just need some suggestions on what to do. I have tried rescue remedy and only rewarding when being good. My other dogs are about her size one smaller. They are submissive to her and don't go by her she comes to them. She has shown interest in playing with the small one now but after she bit him twice he is scared of her and won't play but run behind me.
Do I just give it time? Am I going about the situation wrong? My vet says she was probably abused and we don't know how bad and she needs time and just to try and work with her but Ceaser says dogs live in the moment. Am I creating the situation? Am I making it worse? Any suggestions please?

The first time she bit my other dog was because he got to close to her sniffing and didn't back away. The second time she was lying on me and he came up to say hi and she went after him. I had to grab her off of him and she bit me in the process then started lunging and snarling at me.
She is extremely skinny and I can feel her bones as well. Not sure how long she wasn't fed or what. She is picky about her food but the good thing is when I took the plate away she didn't go to bite. She takes treats very gently. If the other dog comes to eat she doesn't snap she either stays and shares or backs away.

Also can anyone help me figure out what she is? Is she a poodle mix? a full poodle? I am not too familiar. She is about 13-14 lbs. I don't know about her hair cut , she came to me like this. Her whiskers on her face are cut so I assume she will grow longer fur?
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Can you post a picture of her?

Dogs do live in the moment, but that doesn't mean they are willing to be a doormat, you know? I think I would try some of that touch training that Victoria Stillwell uses, you know, where you sit on the floor in front of the dog and hold your empty hand out palm up about 6 inches away from her nose. Then when she reaches out to sniff your hand, you say 'touch' and then give her a treat with your other hand (which you hide behind your back until ready to give to her).

Good luck - it's a wonderful thing you're doing. Hang in there! :)
Marian, there's a couple pictures of Shelby here:

Here are a few pics . I will try the touch thing. Thanks


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She's a cutie... breaks my heart that she's been through so much!! I would never advocate anyone keeping a biter unless they knew what they were getting into and were willing to take it to the end (sounds like you're that kind of owner! Good for you!!)

I'm assuming (hoping) that you don't have children in your home... if that's true and it's just adults and dogs, (and if it were me) I'd be hanging in there for Shelby's sake, too. It sounds to me as if she's pretty damaged and really needs some time to learn to trust that you'll take care of her and she doesn't need to try to be the one in charge...

I know you mention that Cesar M says that dogs "live in the moment", but I've watched many of his programs that explain that if the owner perpetuates that "moment" the dog won't be able to move from it. For example there was a dog in Australia who; because of some abuse suffered from the postman, had an aversion to the mailman's motorbike (the posty bike) and would go after the bike and postman every time - What I understood from Cesar's explanation is that the owners were still uptight every time the posty bike came around and sort of expected the dog to act up so they had to get past that...

You mention that you are aware of the fact that you're starting to feel intimidated by her and she may be picking up on that - I wish I had some magic method you could use to make her all better, but I'm afraid that time will be the only thing that will help this girl understand that not all homes are like the ones she left behind! Two weeks hasn't been long enough for her to "get it" yet...

Good luck and hang in there! Get advice from dog behaviorists if you are able; trainers too! And keep us updated on your progress with her!!
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Hi again,
No kids here, my pets are my kids. As for the acting uptight when certain things happen. Yes I understand and know I need to not fear or get worried something might happen or she will pick up on it. I've been trying not to so when she does her growls I try to change it into me calling her over all cutesy so she doesn't think I fear her. Its been working a little. The first time it happened I wasn't worried at all it was a surprise. The second time was also a surprise being I thought I scared her the first time. Then I started getting a bit weary. Even now I can pick up on her stance. She gets this arched stance and look in her eyes and I know not to push. As soon as she does that I say her name and try to change her mood fast.
I wouldn't ever dump her for biting. I am sure she has her reasons and is scared, I feel bad actually. Thought it does hurt and get frustrating.
Since I know nothing about poodles though, is there any certain grooming I should keep? I read they need to be bathed more often and have the fur pulled from their ear canals? True? Not sure how bathing will go over with her. Also does she look like a full poodle or maybe a mix? Sometimes she looks very poodle like to me and others she looks cockapoo like. Any opinions?
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Grooming may be fun (not) with a girl like Shelby! They DO need a little more in-depth grooming than, say, a labrador... There are differing opinions on the ear-hair plucking issue, but unless it's causing a problem for Shelby (impacted ear wax, inability to get good airflow through the ear canal) I wouldn't push that task just yet... Conversely if she DOES have ear problems, she will have to be "OK" with having that grooming job done for her...

I wouldn't say that bathing needs to be done any more frequently than any other dog - if she's stinky or dirty, she needs a bath! Poodles do have a haircoat rather than "fur" so the hair is constantly growing (like yours and mine) and needs to be clipped, scissored, cut periodically or you will get mats and it can get bad... If she were my dog, I'd try to get her used to short periods of brushing/combing/nail clipping/ear cleaning etc. and make it as positive an experience as possible - you never know... she may LIKE it!!! ???

I've also read on this forum that if a handler is feeling nerves coming up before a show (for example) to pop a peppermint candy in their mouth to mask any adrenaline scent the dog may pick up on... I would probably try that for any grooming training I would do with Shelby... Also, do you have a grooming table or any sort of raised, sturdy, non-slip surface that you can practice your grooming? Dogs tend to respect the table a little more than if you just try to do it on the ground where they can bite and run!!

I'm not a poodle conformation expert, and purebred poodles can have a variety of physical attributes depending on the breeding; but she looks poodle to me... If you're DYING to find out, you could have a DNA test done (we had it done on our boxer, cocker spaniel, great pyrenees, labrador, miniature poodle, viszla, plus, mix!!) :lol: There're some expenses associated with doing the test and it didn't make us love Hannah-banana any more or any less - it was just to satisfy our own curiosity.

Bless you for taking this little waif in - you state that you would never dump her for biting but can you imagine how many people may have already done just that and that's why she's so unpredictable today???

Best wishes for continued progress and for Shelby to become calm in her heart!!
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you said that when she growls you ask her to come to you. If I were a dog, and my human called me every time I growled I would think I was being rewarded for growling.

I highly reccomend getting a behaviorist in for this who uses positive reinforcement, not a trainer, but a behaviorist, and also ask your vets advice.

For now until you can find one, I would ignore her when she growls.
By this I mean, she growls, you totally turn your back, cross your arms and look up at the sky.
With her being abandoned and shipped from house to house, you can probally use your attention for a reward.

In any case congratulations on your new baby, and I hope it goes well for you and little Shelby.

And yes, I think she is a poodle, but its hard to tell without a clean face if she is mixed. does she have a docked tail?
I will reiterate that you need a professional behaviorist. This dog has a number of issues. She is dangerous to you, guests in your home and any strangers you might encounter if you take her outside the home.

I am not a behaviorist, but here are my thoughts for what they are worth....

I would tether this bitch any time she was out of the crate. I'm talking ALL THE TIME! She does not get any free time/space until this issue is under control. Tie her to yourself. Don't give her any direction, just let her figure out that she needs to follow or she gets dragged.

Hand feed her. She needs to know that all food comes from you. Every piece of food that this girl eats should come from your hand. If she is a fussy eater, make sure that it is high value food like steak, chicken, egg, cheese etc.

Implement the "Nothing in Life is Free" training system. Do an Internet search for it. This girl does not get on furniture or beds.

Finally, dealing with the aggression.....

We know that this bitch is under trained and under socialized. She probably has some sharp shy issues going on where she panics and then lashes out. However, she also seems to have dominance issues. You can see this when she is aggressive when you try to verbally correct her. I'd say that along the way, this girl has learned to bully people by acting aggressively.

I would get a dominant dog collar and if she came after me, I'd "string her up". This is a method where you basically choke a dog into submission. It seems heartless, but for many dogs it is the last stop before being put to sleep. The Leerburg site has the collars for sale plus a full explanation of how to use a dominant dog collar. http://leerburg.com/746.htm

I have personally seen this method work with a dominant Standard Poodle. In his case, his owner was teaching a forced retrieve using an ear pinch. He resented the ear pinch and he nailed his owner. She backed off and that was all it took. He learned in one action that he could physically controll the situation. The next day, he jumped up on the table to take food off of it. When his owner tried to push him off, he nailed her again. Then he went after her again when she gave him a collar pop during a heeling exercise. His owner could not handle or correct him and it is impossible to live with a dog like that.

She used a dominant dog collar and the Leerburg method (lifted feet only not full hanging). It took about three times and the problem was fixed. The dog learned that there were consequences he had never considered for aggressive behavior towards his owner.
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I thought the same thing, she's gotten what she wants with the growling and biting, which is to get her to back off. Once you back off she knows that teeth and growling and showing aggression is the way to get what she wants.

I don't want to sound mean but stop thinking of these dogs as your kids. They aren't kids, they are animals and need to be treated as such. There are rules and reprecussions in the animal world for behaviors. I think cbrand has given you excellent advice and I hope you take it for your sake.
As said before, I would consult a behaviourist asap. Please don't try to handle this on your own, whether using positive or aversive methods. You could do more harm than good without having a plan of action to follow. Only you can decide what approach you're comfortable with, and find a trainer who uses that approach.
Beside agreeing with Cbrand - I wish you the best of luck - you will definitely need a lot of it too :(
Hi Everyone,
Figured I would give an update and quick replies to some posts on here. Kpoo have to disagree with you. Although they are not human they are my kids, they just have fur. I do treat them like animals but I treat animals differently then the average person and I don't think its wrong. Sorry. I am not a fan of spoiled brats either trust me. I do believe in discipline and not just warnings.
Someone else posted before that if I call her or act nice when she bites she will learn its ok. Now don't get me wrong I understand where you are coming from. However if I don't move or if I show ANY kind of dominance she attacks and will keep biting. To be honest she has bitten me over 20 times now.
As for the walking away if I turn or walk back or away she attacks. If I get down and call her she kinda gets confused and snaps out of it.
I'd like to skip to the present now if I may.
I have not consulted a behavior specialist because right now I cannot afford it. They just cost way to much around here to have to keep going back. She has seen my vet. I have spent a lot on her so far at my vet just getting shots, HW test etc. She also is need need of a teeth cleaning real bad and possible removable which I need to save for.
I have tried contacting the person I got her from cause I know she HAS to know the biting issue and just never said anything. She will not email back or answer or return a call. ....Shocker! ( insert sarcasm here)
She is lucky I am the one who took her cause I am sure anyone else would have bounced her again.
The main thing is after getting to know me she has calmed down A LOT! She still has her moments. She gets a bit food aggressive but ONLY towards things she knows she isn't supposed to have like garbage. Regular dog food she has no issues with. Also when someone knocks at the door and I try getting them to be quiet and back I will walk in front of them backing them up and she will attack my feet or ankles.
She adores my boyfriend and I mean goes nuts when he comes over and cries when he leaves. I am wondering if perhaps it was a female who abused her cause she LOVES men.
She gets extremely protective of him and will often go to growl or bite me if I go near him on the couch. He automatically yells at her and pushes her off and tells her no. She will not bite him and listens to him. Even from another room. If I can't get her to do something he can. If he is here she barely listens to me no matter how firm I am but she is beginning to start and he always supports me and makes her do what I say. She is getting very good with no biting while here is here though.
She listens to me when he isn't here though pretty well and is a big love bug. She is a funny little things and now rolls on her back for tummy rubs. She gets moody at night though and still has her snapping moments. She usually comes right up to me after she realizes what she does and licks my hands or nudges me. Almost like crap I'm sorry! I tell her that wasn't nice and she just looks at me with these sad eyes. I don't go to pet her though I don't give her any love until she goes and lays down. Then I will. I really think she is coming around. She has made so much progress in such little time.
When she goes to bite me now m which is not too often anymore , I kinda just take it. I don't back down now and she stops quicker but still goes at it. I often try to move towards her when she threatens me so she doesn't think I am scared but if I show any dominance she snaps.
She loves to play and loves her toys. She plays with me constantly and mouth open as well. She will have my entire hand in her mouth but soo gentle. She never bites during this time and is as gentle as can be. She even takes some treats now and again veryyy gentle.
Me and my boyfriend have decided to move in together next month. We will be getting a bigger space eventually but she has a permanent home with us. Neither of us will let her go. I think she just got lucky and ended up in the right hands. she even tries to play with the other dogs now as well although they are weary of her after she bit them.
I hope I can come back and update that she hasn't bitten me since one day but until then I will keep updating.
I thank you all for your advice!!! :) If I could afford a behavior specialist I really would. Anything she needed but right now I just really can't. I can get her the basic vetting and whatever else medical or emergency if/when needed but I can't afford a behavior specialist on the spot. Hope everyone understands. Sorry so long!
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Oh my. I wonder if you even realize the liability you have there. You are making excuses for this dog's behaviors and guess what? One day her behavior will be turned on someone else and you will be liable for that damage. Good luck.
Oh my. I wonder if you even realize the liability you have there. You are making excuses for this dog's behaviors and guess what? One day her behavior will be turned on someone else and you will be liable for that damage. Good luck.
I honestly don't believe you read my entire response but think what you like. I don't see how I made up an excuse for her. I never said her behavior was excusable, I said I think she is coming around and I am trying to work with her. I think she has her reasons yes but never said any of what she does is ok did I?
I am very aware of the liability I have thanks. I am not a moron.
I can only say that that dog needs some serious training and an expert evaluation :wacko: No matter how much she "progressed" - she is unfortunately eons away from being a "normal" dog right now :smow:

Please take her away from other dogs till you get her under control :rolffleyes:. You might be willing to endure constant biting - but other innocent creatures should not be exposed to her aggression - including your human friends :scared:

Best of luck !
There has to be a rescue or humane organization near you that you could reach out to and ask for help. Most of the larger ones have behaviorists on staff, and I'm sure they would be willing to help you out to prevent this poor girl from ending up in a shelter (not saying you would do that, but what if that's your only choice after trying to fix her on your own?).

I would contact the ASPCA and ask. The worse they can say is no.
First I am not a cruel person. I wouldn't let other "innocent creatures endure constant biting". I said I AM dealing with it. The reason I am dealing with it is because if I back up and show fear it gets worse. By showing her I am not backing up she gives up easier. She bit my one dog once and snapped at the other and that is when she first came here. It hasn't happened again. As I said she now tries to play with them and by that I mean follows them and wants to do what they are doing with a waggy tail. She will carry a toy in her mouth and drop it in front of them and do her little backards pounce and bark to get them to play. However because of what she did in the beginning they are weary of her. They do not fight ever and usually all sleep together in the same area. Occasionally if she is sleeping in the livingroom I put the gate up before I leave anywhere but I am usually home for medical reasons.
Second my boyfriend who is saving for rings and moving in next month adores her and she loves him more then she loves me. She doesn't ever try to bite him even if he gets physical with her and removed her from a spot and she listens. He knows what goes on and witnesses it. He is more then mature enough to make his own decisions about taking a risk when around her. If he is going to be my fiance and roommate he is going to have to live with her as well and she will be his as well. In fact he is the one who has paid for her vetting currently. You make it seem like I parade people in front of her to taunt her. What do you want me to do keep her locked in a room away from people and animals and just have no life? How will that help? I think if anything that would make her behavior worse. What kind of life is that? I might as well put her down?!
The people I do let over are my close friends ( and I mean like sisters and brothers to me for well over 10 years) and are all aware of her and willing to take that risk. They are all animal lovers and have rescues themselves and its rare they are ever over anyway. She is baby gated in the kitchen when they do come over however she is very waggy tailed and usually they will talk to her and she is fine with it and does her ballerina dance for them. When they are comfortable and are over for dinner or something she is let out after a while and they just don't touch her unless she comes to them and nudges for pets which is always. She is a very loving girl but she just has her moments now and usually I can read her and know when she is going to bite and what triggers it. Its mostly at night. Not saying she can't do this at anytime but yes its a risk that I am willing to take with my friends. I am not a 16 year old who doesn't know the consequences.
I know it sounds unrealistic but regardless of her occasional biting now I love this little girl as does my boyfriend and she will stay with me until she has to part with this world and it won't be me putting her down unless it was some kind of medical emergency and she was suffering and there was nothing I can do. I would never and could never give her to a shelter. I would euthanize her before doing that to her. I know many don't agree but thats how I feel. I am a big animal lover and animal rights girl. I would never let any animal be hurt constantly or in general. I would throw myself in front of a moving car for an animal. Please know I am doing what I can do as best as I can for her.

Thanks for the info and help. I did contact the ASPCA which isn't local here and other humane societies and none of them have any charity type behaviorists or discount anything like that. Only low cost spay/neuter shots. If I give them my info straight out they will make me fill out a bite report and put her into quarentine at a pound or vets office for 10 days. If it happens more then once they put her down. Thats what they do around here. I am an X vet tech and I have had to deal with this a lot from biting dogs and quarentines. I couldn't put her through that. I will not report her biting unless it happens to someone else and they demand it. Unfortunately no one around here can help. I am not in NYC but in the same area. If anyone knows someone who is willing to help or donate time please let me know. I am not opposed. Just can't find anything.

p.s. To the person who asked. No docked tail.
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She adores my boyfriend and I mean goes nuts when he comes over and cries when he leaves. I am wondering if perhaps it was a female who abused her cause she LOVES men.
She gets extremely protective of him and will often go to growl or bite me if I go near him on the couch. He automatically yells at her and pushes her off and tells her no. She will not bite him and listens to him. Even from another room. If I can't get her to do something he can. If he is here she barely listens to me no matter how firm I am but she is beginning to start and he always supports me and makes her do what I say.
This bitch has dominance issues. She listens to your BF because she respects him. She doesn't listen to you and she bullies you because she does NOT respect you.

Have you implemented any of the training/behavioral techniques I suggested?
I completely understand that you really want to help and that you do care about that dog - but I wish that you can see that only proper training can make her a stable and "functional" dog.

There are many wrong responses that all of you do with her - and it will only perpetuate her behavior. You must understand that even though you want to help her - you do not know how and making her behave by "avoiding" situations that "set her off" give you a wrong picture. It only seems that she is doing better when actually in the first situation when she feels threatened she will leash out unexpectedly. You say that you do not want to have her isolated - but you are doing just that ( she is behind baby gates ), and you will not be able to take her anywhere until she starts behaving - so prolonging her state - you prolong her isolation.

I will give you just one example of how wrong you all react - you give her pets when she comes and asks for it :doh: - I mean - it is a classic enforcement of dominant behavior !!!

I am really sorry - I can see that you really care and want to help her and it is very commendable - but she needs a professional help or an owner who is willing to learn proper training techniques that work on such deeply disturbed and dominant dog :rolffleyes:

Your BF instinctively knows how to handle her shenanigans and put her in her place - why you do not copy him is beyond me ? He does not take any of her abuse and she is crazy about him - and you behave like a delta dog and of course, she is bossing you around (she is biting you less just because YOU learned when to back off instead of OTHER WAY AROUND !) Do you see a fundamental flow ?????

I really wish we could help - but unless you take an active roll of actually training her - there is no help : (((.

CBrand is exceptionally experienced member with fantastic knowledge of not only this breed but dog training in general and if you can not trust her in her opinion - than I do not know how we as a forum can help you : (((
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