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Old 12-24-2009, 09:58 AM
 
24 posts, read 61,694 times
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I'm confident that I know what I need to do with my Shih Tzu, Benson, but wanted to get some advice on techniques I can use to help him and our family. We have owned him for just over a month. He is not quite a year old and is a 10 lb Shih Tzu mix. I rescued him from a local animal control facility and his owner gave no background information on him though it was evident he was not cared for at all. He was neutered a week ago so any benefit from that has not taken effect yet. He is an awesome little guy with such a good personality and is super smart. He's learning his commands very well and most of the time is very well behaved with my children. Always well behaved with adults. Problem is that he will bite children, mine and my neices, in the face. My neices live out of town and we don't see them often. They are also both under 3 and should never be alone with any animal...that was my sister's fault as she let him out the kennel while I was shopping. Anyway,my kids are 6 and 7 and are very gentle . I notice that they like to play on his level...down low. He is most aggressive with my youngest making me wonder if he understands her position in the family. My 7 year old is great at using a command voice and clapping her hands when she feels he needs to calm down. The youngest won't do any of that. They will try to pick him up from time to time and this action causes him to strike...though they are very supporting when they lift him. He did go after my 6 year old one night when she got on the couch to cuddle with me, he was on the floor resting and when she got on the couch he grabbed her arm and growled. That one surprised me and of course I smacked him off (bad reflex I know). The smack was not hard and was more of a quick, but not forceful, shove. He hasn't done anything like this again. Don't know if my action told him that was not acceptable or if he just hasn't been arroused to do this again. By the way, I do not condone hitting animals. Anyway, here is my plan of action and would appreciate any critiques or helpful advice.
1. Kennel him when I can't supervise him and the children
2. No more time on the couch or chairs...he's never allowed on the beds.
3. Children never to pick him up, lay on the floor with him for play.
Must keep their heads above him at all times and pet from under the
chin as opposed to the top of the head.
4. Continue with obedience training at home.

He is still a puppy and at the moment I'm not considering re-homing him. He has obviously had a difficult life to this point and we are willing to work with this problem. If we find ourselves needing a trainer then we'll go that route. I hate to think we can't break him of this and that we will need to find him a child free home. He does seem to really enjoy the kids. Again, I appreciate any helpful insight on how to break this problem.
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Biting Shih Tzu-benson.jpg  
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Old 12-24-2009, 11:15 AM
 
Location: On the Ohio River in Western, KY
3,322 posts, read 3,226,806 times
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You are probably going to hate me for this, but I do not tolerate man biters in my home, so if it were my dog, he would be PTS.

Re-homing is a HORRIBLE idea, IMO; and can I fuly believe that you can never rehab a man biter.
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Old 12-24-2009, 11:37 AM
 
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
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That's awesome that you are willing to work with him. Like you said you didn't know what his background is and desperately needs some training. Your children should get involved in the training too so they know what and what not to do. Maybe have a behaviourist come in and do an evaluation on him. I'm sure they can make recommendations for you. Make sure you tell them every little detail when an incident occurs. Best of luck! And thanks for giving him a chance!
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Old 12-24-2009, 12:09 PM
 
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I had a Shihtzu years ago and he was a wonderful dog.

I hate to say it but it sounds like your little friend would be better off in a single person, adult home... and with someone who has a lot of experience training dogs with behavior problems...

I would talk to a Shihtzu rescue group in your area and ask for their recommendations.
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Old 12-24-2009, 12:29 PM
 
24 posts, read 61,694 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cav Scout wife View Post
You are probably going to hate me for this, but I do not tolerate man biters in my home, so if it were my dog, he would be PTS.

Re-homing is a HORRIBLE idea, IMO; and can I fuly believe that you can never rehab a man biter.
No hating here ....if he were a bigger dog then he would be in a rescue group or put down (he does only weigh 10 lbs and has a very small mouth). He's still very young and I'm really hoping to be able to work out this problem. Too much goodness in this little guy to give up so quickly. AND, he does not bite adults at all so if I have to rehome him he'll be fine in a kid free home. He doesn't bite or nip at the kids everyday either, but when he does they are definitely too close to his face or trying to pick him up.

Still up for any suggestions from anyone who has worked with this type of behavioral problem before!!
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Old 12-24-2009, 12:47 PM
 
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You need to muzzle him with a humane muzzle -- the kind of muzzle that he can drink water and breath freely through - not one of the muzzles that are sold in most pet stores. He could suffocate or overheat quickly if left in the nylon muzzles that they sell in pet stores. Those nylon muzzles are meant for very short term use - a few minutes at a time.

In today's world more than ever.... you simply can never allow a dog to bite.

You are the one who is responsible if you allow a child to be injured.

Last edited by World Citizen; 12-24-2009 at 01:12 PM..
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Old 12-24-2009, 03:49 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
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He is young and you can work with him on this! No child nder the age of 10 should be left alone with a dog, new or not. I think you are on the right track with your plan so far. I strongly reommend the book "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell. I got mine used from Amazon but your library should have it also. She explains dog psychology in a way I never thought of before. Good luck and thanks for saving a life.
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Old 12-24-2009, 04:29 PM
 
166 posts, read 325,782 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuntB View Post
He did go after my 6 year old one night when she got on the couch to cuddle with me, he was on the floor resting and when she got on the couch he grabbed her arm and growled. That one surprised me and of course I smacked him off (bad reflex I know). The smack was not hard and was more of a quick, but not forceful, shove. He hasn't done anything like this again. Don't know if my action told him that was not acceptable or if he just hasn't been arroused to do this again. By the way, I do not condone hitting animals.
I am not an expert in this area, and I also do not condone hitting animals, and only use positive reinforcement methods when training my dogs. HOWEVER, I do believe that there is one reason that hitting a dog is acceptable, and that is when inappropriate biting is involved. I say inappropriate, because if the dog was biting for something appropriate, like protecting the child from a dangerous person who was doing the child harm, you couldn't fault the dog for that, and he would be acting appropriately. But what your dog did in this situation was a completely inappropriate use of his teeth and he needed to get a good understanding that there would be a consequence, which you gave him. I think I would use a pop on the snout so he would understand that biting leads to pain in the body part he is using to bite with. Now I may be competely wrong about this, but I did have a problem with one of my dogs using his mouth in a very rough fashion and he was causing pain when he did this (I honestly don't think he understood that he was causing pain and verbal correction was not working), so I did give him a little pop on the snout and he immediately understood that what he was doing was causing pain and he learned to be more gentle. Never had the problem again. It did not cause him to become hand shy - I only had to do it once, and I am talking about using very little force, just enough so he can understand that what he is doing is causing pain and has a pain consequence.

I would be very interested to learn what you find out to be the appropriate method of solving this problem. If my method is wrong, I do want to learn the correct method as well.

Good luck and kudos to you for hanging in there!
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Old 12-24-2009, 05:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj68 View Post
I am not an expert in this area, and I also do not condone hitting animals, and only use positive reinforcement methods when training my dogs. HOWEVER, I do believe that there is one reason that hitting a dog is acceptable, and that is when inappropriate biting is involved. I say inappropriate, because if the dog was biting for something appropriate, like protecting the child from a dangerous person who was doing the child harm, you couldn't fault the dog for that, and he would be acting appropriately. But what your dog did in this situation was a completely inappropriate use of his teeth and he needed to get a good understanding that there would be a consequence, which you gave him. I think I would use a pop on the snout so he would understand that biting leads to pain in the body part he is using to bite with. Now I may be competely wrong about this, but I did have a problem with one of my dogs using his mouth in a very rough fashion and he was causing pain when he did this (I honestly don't think he understood that he was causing pain and verbal correction was not working), so I did give him a little pop on the snout and he immediately understood that what he was doing was causing pain and he learned to be more gentle. Never had the problem again. It did not cause him to become hand shy - I only had to do it once, and I am talking about using very little force, just enough so he can understand that what he is doing is causing pain and has a pain consequence.

I would be very interested to learn what you find out to be the appropriate method of solving this problem. If my method is wrong, I do want to learn the correct method as well.

Good luck and kudos to you for hanging in there!
Here's someone who also agrees with you.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Dogs-701/shih-tzu-2.htm

Here's a link to another site that lists [SIZE=5]Top 8 Shih Tzu Dog Behavior Issues [/SIZE] and gives some information about how to deal with them.

http://www.allshihtzu.com/Nipping_Biting.html

I hope you understand that I'm not against your working with the dog. Having all of the children around him is a concern when the dog apparently has not been socialized around children.

Using a muzzle as one of your training aids is protection for both the dog and the children while you work on this behavior.

I learned the hard way what can happen if your dog even inflicts a scratch on the wrong person....

It's better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 12-24-2009, 06:03 PM
 
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Muzzles that fit shih-tzu's are challenging (it not impossible) to find as they have practically no snout, a friend was looking for one for hers b/c the groomer wouldnt groom w/o it but ended up going to another groomer (who had a tough time grooming the dog), anyway I don't think it's the answer, it might be better to find the dog a new home where they can work w/ the dog, it probably will take a while but can be done, it sounds like the dog sees the kids (esp. the younger one) as its sibling, personally I wouldnt chance it.
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