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Thread: Oh No...i Think I Have Spoilt My Dog!

  1. #1

    Unhappy Oh No...i Think I Have Spoilt My Dog!

    Apologies fo the long thanks in advance for reading it!!

    I haven't posted in a while...mainly thought things were going well with me and my pup however last night something happened which made me re-think the whole way I am approaching things.

    Jax was licking one of his paws for a few minutes so I wanted to have a look just to make sure he wasn't injured. He growled at me a couple of times which i took to mean it must be sore so became more insistent that he show it to me. When I put my hand around it he actually snarled at me and possibly tried to bite. It happened so quickly...i obviously pulled my hand away out of sheer instinct so I'm not sure if he would have actually bit me or if it was just a warning. I have never heard him make such an aggressive noise before! My OH was sitting next to me and scruffed him straight away.

    This got us thinking about a few things we have been letting slide and have been in a bit of denial about for the past few weeks.

    My OH has been overseas for work recently for a month and while he was away i have been really very slack with training what i thought was just a gentle, sweet tempered little dog. eg. I have been letting him sleep on the bed with me instead of his usual laundry, I have given him treats when he went to his kibble box, i have let him have lots of toys strewn around the house, i haven't corrected him when he's pulled on the lead or rushed through doors before me, he's also been jumping up on me at meal times instead of just sleeping by my feet as he used to do.

    OH got back 2 weeks ago and although he's much better than me he hasn't really corrected the behaviours that I let develop. ie. Jax was still on the bed with us, he goes to where his toys are kept and whines then one of us will give him a get the get the general idea. in the last week he has also started growling when we go to pick him up to move him on the couch...but stops once we told him 'no'

    so as of last night we have had to face what we have done and decided to begin working to correct the bad behaviours that we encouraged. these are the steps we are taking:
    - Jax is back to sleeping in the laundry - we are just letting him cry and ignoring him once we go to bed.
    - all his toys have been packed up. he will only get one at a time when we say so and we will put it away once h e's done
    - if he mouths at all when we play or pet him (does this more with me) i will clamp his mouth shut with my hand and say 'no bite' and only let go once he's calmer
    - he will not be allowed in or out of the back door unless he sits and stays and waits for our 'ok'
    - he's not allowed to have raw hides or biscuits lying around the house anymore. we will give and then put away what he doesn't finish
    - we will not allow or respond to him jumping on us anymore
    - any growling or other signs of aggression will continue to be corrected with a scruff and sharp 'no!'

    If anyone has any constructive advice about what we are doing that would be much appreciated. It's really important for us to get him back to where he was as we often have young children around and they have always loved Jax as he's always been gentle and patient with them. at the moment i wouldn't let him play with anyone who didn't know how to handle dogs (despite the fact that he's just a small white fluffy!)

    thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Rural NSW


    Why is it important that if he was allowed on the bed he is not now?
    Why the limited access to his toys?
    Why is it so important that you go through the door first?

    To me, the only really important ones are the jumping and growling that must be taken care of.

    Of course all this is my own personal opinion.
    I don't give a rats if my 3 go out the door before me, in fact, I prefer it.
    When inside their toy box is on it's side so they can get what they want when they want.
    Any growling over them they get removed.

    I guess what I am saying is decide what are the most important things you wish changed back and don't sweat the small stuff.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Rural NSW


    Just my opinion again. Forums, whether for dogs/cats/birds, are rife with the thou shalt have to do this or not do something to be a good dog owner.
    The thing is, to have a peaceful co existence in your lives with a good meshing between all living there is to get all the advice that you want or need to, sift through it and take or reject what suits you and your situation, environment, family as well as animal/bird etc needs.

    Some people tend to feel they are doing wrong if they do not conform to certain ways.

    I really don't believe in the word spoiled.
    The "spoiled"ones are products of their owners lack of or too much attention etc in areas that then impact on their daily lives.

    I do many things that can be perceived as "wrong"
    EG my 3 dogs eat out of the same baking dish instead of having 3 bowls. Works well for us but not for others.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009


    I agree with both of Di's posts.

    I am not a trainer and my only experience is the years I have lived with dogs, a stint as a vet nurse, a rescuer and my own intelligence and understanding gained through all the above.

    Firstly, I have always disbelieved the theories of dominance and pack leadership that revolve around things such as not allowing your dog to go through a doorway first, not allowing them to sleep with you, ensuring you eat before them etc.

    I don't believe at all that my dogs see me as a 'pack leader' in that sense of the word. I am not a dog. I am human. My dogs recognise that I am not the same species. They recognise my leadership without thinking I am a dog or part of their pack. Therefore, establishing 'pack leadership' is of no value in my opinion. Establishing leadership and obedience is though.

    The toys are of no issue. Leave them out. The sleeping arrangements are of no issue either. Personally, I can't stand the thought of dogs in my bed, so they sleep in another room on their beds. I don't allow them on furniture either, but again, this is a personal preference and nothing to do with leadership.

    How old is your dog now? If he has reached the adolescent times, he may be exploring his boundaries.

    He obviously decided he did not want you to interrupt his activity. He growled as a warning and then he snapped. My personal advice: I would have immediately yelled a very loud and aggresive "no" at him. Your OH's reaction was also what I would do in that situation. I would have also then again tried to look at the foot and I would continue until I was able to. Just for good measure, I would then repeat the 'looking at the foot' exercies several more times over the course of the next few days and I would also poke, prod and look at other areas.
    A pessimist sees the glass as half empty;
    An optimist sees the glass as half full;
    A realist just finishes the damn thing and refills it.

  5. #5


    thanks for the responses.

    the measures we decided to take were a result of two things:

    - stuff we had changed or let slide over the last month which we thought might have encouraged this sort of behaviour - hence we are changing back like the sleeping arrangements etc.
    - info we read off websites about mitigating an aggressive/dominant dog

    the reason i posted here was to get feedback on the way we were handling the situation so any constructive input about what we can do to minimise this behaviour would be great.

    my greatest fear is one day my 3 year old niece who adores jax goes to pat him and he snaps and bites her. we just really want to re-enforce to him that kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and foster the more submissive behaviour he used to show.

    btw - jax is approaching 15months and has been de-sexed- and we did manage to check his foot and there was nothing wrong with it. we don't want him to become precious about people handling his feet etc. especially in the even he does ever get injured there.
    Last edited by azuresky; 04-21-2011 at 12:18 PM. Reason: extra info

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Rural NSW


    Oh, I totally understand the fear of dogs snapping at children.
    Mine I could never trust with them. If my Grandies visit I will have my dogs out in their pen and they will see them with me next to the kids through the wire. If I feel that one of the dogs will be ok (I already know which one it will be,)they MAY be able to have fully supervised interaction with him for a short time. Maybe.
    As I am in my 50's these dogs have not been near kids much so I am going to err on the side of absolute caution.
    My mother had a snappy little terrier that she would have to shut away in a room if kids were visiting. She could just not trust him not to snap.
    Last edited by Di_dee1; 04-21-2011 at 01:31 PM.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    1. never "correct" or "scruff" a dog for giving a warning growl.
    You need the warning growl. You don't want to train the dog to bite without warning - which is what scruffing or scolding him when he gives you a warning will do.

    2. you can reasonably expect an injured dog to bite or lash out. Again - don't scold for this. It's like scolding a child for being sick.

    3. instinct or not, ripping your hand away fast is more likely to result in a serious bite than holding it still, moving slowly and actually pushing into the dog's mouth should dog clamp on. If you push, dog will try to spit you out.

    4. If you do need to look at an injury, move slowly, invite the dog to show you, try giving the dog a treat or toy or other distraction if he will take one. If dog gives warning growl, go find some welding gloves and try again, moving slowly.

    You might want to invest in a book called "ruff love" by Susan Garrett which will give you a completely different approach to dog training based on learning science not "don't try this at home" Cesar Milan stuff.

    Ruff Love

    You don't want to allow unacceptable behaviour, you do want to train replacement behaviours in the bad's place. Ie you don't want to correct pulling, you want to train walking next to you. Ie loads of reward for walking next to you and none for pulling ie do not take a step forward (reward) until the dog comes back and stands next to you. You may want to use a head halter or front attach harness to get some control back - ie prevent the dog from dragging you.

    Rushing out the door - train the dog to sit, and if its bum leaves the floor when you reach for the door, put your hand back down. Ideally you want to practice this as part of a dedicated training session, not when you're in a hurry to go somewhere. Do not open the door until the dog can remain with his bum on the ground. Reward the sit (with treats or tug games). When you start to open the door, if the dog bum lifts up... shut the door. Keep working until you can get the dog to stay sitting while you open the door and then give him permission to go - when you're ready. Have a "release" word like "Go Through" or "Cats" or "allez" (frog for go) or "gates" (german for go - gehts) ie some word you don't use in regular chat or the dog will let himself out while you are chatting to the charity collector.

    You choose when the dog gets a toy and you choose when he's done. If you want him to pay attention to you, you actually put the toy away when the dog still wants it.

    if he mouths at all when we play or pet him (does this more with me) i will clamp his mouth shut with my hand and say 'no bite' and only let go once he's calmer
    Rough handling of a dog that is biting, will only encourage more biting - and as hard as you "bite". What I do is end the game, put the toy away and refuse to play or engage with the dog for at least 30 seconds, but often - that's it for the training/play session.

    he will not be allowed in or out of the back door unless he sits and stays and waits for our 'ok'
    good idea but I would not use the word "ok" because it gets used too often in chat. Ie you've got the dog at the door all ready. OH asks you a question and you say "OK" and the dog is off.

    It's good for a dog to have something it can chew available all the time, eg a nylex bone for inside, and a regular bone for outside. But I would make a 10 minute (or less) time limit for how long a dog gets to eat his dinner and if it's not gone in that time - I'd take it away unfinished. Dog obviously is getting too much food or is unwell.

    If he jumps on you, treat as for biting - turn your back, end the game or ask him to sit. Possibly best to ask him to sit, ie a replacement behaviour.

    any growling or other signs of aggression will continue to be corrected with a scruff and sharp 'no!'
    again - you will train him to give no warning. Can't agree to this. If you need to get dog off couch and he growls, put him on lead and drag him off so you are a safe distance from his mouth. Distraction and subsitute behaviour is good. For now, you probably can't let him on the couch or bed.

    My dog sleeps next to my bed and I feel slightly safer at night knowing nobody is going to get near my bedroom without her going off. I think if the dog has a place and is given loads of reward for being in that place ie a mat, crate, bed etc then it doesn't matter if one of those places is next to your bed. I do sometimes allow my dog a sleep in on my bed but no growling is involved and if she nicks the warm spot and I ask for it back there is no argument. If there was, I'd put her on lead and drag her to where I want her and give her a pat (but not a treat) for being there.

    Ideally you stop the dog from making a bad behaviour choice and reward the good choices, and set him up for success, ie make it easy for him to choose right.

    Digital Dog Training Textbook | Dog Star Daily
    Ruff Love

    PS Make training a game and fun for both you and the dog. And training is always. And as far as your dog is concerned, Susan Garrett says : "If your dog can get away with something (naughty) sometimes, your dog will try to do it any time". Ie "sometimes = anytime" in the mind of your dog.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 04-21-2011 at 02:59 PM.

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