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Old 10-31-2015, 04:11 PM   #1
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Default Dog is nipping at ankles of people coming in the door

Griffin is a rescue Pomeranian and is about eight years old. We don't know anything about his past. We've had him four months and he has settled in with us fairly well.

The problem is when visitors or even my partner come through the front door, he will nip at their ankles. I can control it with visitors, but when my partner opens the door, he is inside the apartment before I can get to Griffin. Now Griffin only has two teeth at the back so it's not dangerous. But it is bad behavior and really startles people that don't know about his lack of teeth. I'm wondering how I can correct this? To date, it's been a resounding "NO!" which totally intimidates him. What else can I try?

I should also mention he does get very protective with me, even toward my partner. I am with him most of the day and my partner is working. It only seems to happen in the evening. We're handling this quite well as it can be anticipated... but the front door issue is stumping me.

Thanks in advance...

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Old 10-31-2015, 05:40 PM   #2
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Hi You are right it's not acceptable behaviour seeing as you don't know his past he has some bad experiences in his past and can't handle it so this is his way of reacting. You say you can control it when visitors call but not when your partner comes home! It's possibly a long learned behaviour that is going to be hard to break but I believe it can be broken He is 8 which will make it harder to sort out. You could try redirecting the behaviour (before it happens!) Does he like toys or high value dog treats or even pieces of Hot Dogs? Timing is very important on this so it's no use once he nips a some ones ankles then reward you only reward when you managed to stop the behaviour from happening!
Or could you train him to be on a place mat in the same room where he must stay till he is released then reward him.

As for the over protection (this is called Resouce Guarding) again this is not to be tolerated teeth or no teeth has he always exhibited this behaviour since you got him? and where is he in relation to where you are, on your lap or next to you on the couch? When he shows this behaviour he must be put on the floor each and every time he does this
no reward. Where does he sleep?. Now some members may suggest crateing him sure he won't be able to do either unwanted behaviour,
but the problem will still be there! Good luck and hope you can sort out Griffin's problems Let us know how you get on
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Old 11-01-2015, 08:48 PM   #3
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Not sure exactly what is motivating this behaviour. If it is just arousal I would teach an incompatible behaviour such as a sit to greet, greet with a toy in mouth, or run to mat.

If this is part of an aggressive display I would suggest hiring a trainer to discuss in person.

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Old 11-01-2015, 09:56 PM   #4
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Possessiveness is one of the most common triggers for this kind of behaviour, as is fear - more particularly directed towards strangers. It's seen as their way to control what comes in and out of what is theirs. I experienced and still to this day on the rare occasion do with my 8 year old Toy Poodle X.

Instinctively, when a dog comes towards our legs, we move (more so when this is in an aggressive manner), they pick up on this and sometimes see it as a sign of encouragement, therefore, the behaviour continues. If you feel this behaviour is fear-related, punishment (such as yelling) only reassures the dog that he is in a situation where he needs to defend himself/you.

What I found to be a great help was "counterconditioning" training. My girl loves to play fetch, so by introducing this technique I was able to redirect her attention to the ball and she forgot (to a degree) about the person she was nipping at.

Does Griffin have a favourite toy/toys? Leaving a toy or two out on the floor can help dogs when they're in a state of stress, anxiety, etc, as it's no secret they love to have something in their mouths. (Though I totally understand if you don't want toys lying around everywhere!)

I have heard of some people using the "deterrence" method where they use a range of products that leave an unpleasant taste in the dogs mouth, but I've no experience with this personally and the products can be quite costly.

On a quick side note - is this behaviour the same when out in public and others' approach/walk by? Sometimes socialisation can be an underlying issue.

If it comes to the behaviour not improving, I would consult with your Vet or a trainer. You are doing well, all the best!
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Old 11-02-2015, 10:17 AM   #5
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Thanks Bigboy. I did do a redirect yesterday. Not the ideal situation but I picked him up before the visitor came in and only put him on the ground when he had settled down... the dog that is! Once the visitor arrives, Griffin does get over it... it's just the very initial reaction where the aggression shows up. When I put him on the floor there was no aggression.

He's not a toy lover but I'll try some treat during the process of the person coming through the door and see how that works.

The Resource Guarding is when he is with me on the sofa. It doesn't happen all the time, just occasionally. He'll be going on the floor instantly when this happens from now on.

He sleeps on the bed when my partner is in bed, usually before me, but it quite content when I put him on the floor when it's my time to go to bed

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Old 11-02-2015, 10:26 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doglover24-7 View Post
Possessiveness is one of the most common triggers for this kind of behaviour, as is fear - more particularly directed towards strangers. It's seen as their way to control what comes in and out of what is theirs. I experienced and still to this day on the rare occasion do with my 8 year old Toy Poodle X.

Instinctively, when a dog comes towards our legs, we move (more so when this is in an aggressive manner), they pick up on this and sometimes see it as a sign of encouragement, therefore, the behaviour continues. If you feel this behaviour is fear-related, punishment (such as yelling) only reassures the dog that he is in a situation where he needs to defend himself/you.

What I found to be a great help was "counterconditioning" training. My girl loves to play fetch, so by introducing this technique I was able to redirect her attention to the ball and she forgot (to a degree) about the person she was nipping at.

Does Griffin have a favourite toy/toys? Leaving a toy or two out on the floor can help dogs when they're in a state of stress, anxiety, etc, as it's no secret they love to have something in their mouths. (Though I totally understand if you don't want toys lying around everywhere!)

I have heard of some people using the "deterrence" method where they use a range of products that leave an unpleasant taste in the dogs mouth, but I've no experience with this personally and the products can be quite costly.

On a quick side note - is this behaviour the same when out in public and others' approach/walk by? Sometimes socialisation can be an underlying issue.

If it comes to the behaviour not improving, I would consult with your Vet or a trainer. You are doing well, all the best!
Thanks Doglover24-7. It's only the very initial coming in the door that he is aggressive. He quickly gets over it. I'm going to try redirecting him with treats when someone comes in. But NO treats if it doesn't work and he goes for them!!

When we're out, he's a bit nervous with other dogs but he is interested in them. He's especially nervous of larger dogs. I've found that if I engage with the owner AND the dog then he relaxes more and will start the ritual sniffing around! He's a bit aloof with strangers in the park or on the road but not aggressive at all. I see this as a good sign.

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Old 11-03-2015, 07:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jshardalow View Post
Thanks Bigboy. I did do a redirect yesterday. Not the ideal situation but I picked him up before the visitor came in and only put him on the ground when he had settled down... the dog that is! Once the visitor arrives, Griffin does get over it... it's just the very initial reaction where the aggression shows up. When I put him on the floor there was no aggression.

He's not a toy lover but I'll try some treat during the process of the person coming through the door and see how that works.

The Resource Guarding is when he is with me on the sofa. It doesn't happen all the time, just occasionally. He'll be going on the floor instantly when this happens from now on.

He sleeps on the bed when my partner is in bed, usually before me, but it quite content when I put him on the floor when it's my time to go to bed
I do agree with your comment on this but it worked but now try the treats the higher value the better has he got a good recall/sit/stay? Also get your visitors to ignore him till he is settled It will take time but it will get better As for the RG (Resource Guarding) You will have to be consistant on this no second chances straight to the floor no speaking no eye contact, etc!! Nothing. He should learn that things will change he may not like it but tough love is needed on this. My Nipper once RG'd a chiar she was on she was about 3 years old prior to this fine and afterwards fine I came home from work and did my usual thing ponit to the floor and said down in a calm voice she didn't move changed my tone of voice a bit still didn't move off so gently touched her back to move her off and she turned round and growled and air snapped Bad move on her part my eyes changed from being calm and in a low pitched voice but quite loud I said 'OFF' and she shot off my chair and she have never done it since. in your dogs case this probably wouldn't work but Nipper was raised from a pup at 8 weeks old and this is her only home! And to this day she is respectful of my commands even though she does at 8 years old still trys to push her luck but not with Resouce Guarding I only have to shake my head or finger and say some thing calm to her and she understands
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