I know I've posted on this topic before, but tonight's incident (which I'll get to in a minute) just makes me want to vent for a second. My almost-3-month-old Sheltie has been overly playful since I first got her, and I've used every technique in the book to show her I'm "the boss" (because her growling and biting seem more like dominance issues than playfulness - see other post). She doesn't just "nip" and "chew" like a puppy - she snaps and bites at me whenever I try to pick her up - I can literally hear her teeth chomping together every time she opens her mouth to come at me. Well, tonight, I was trying to pick her up to take her outside, so I bent down and actually "caught" her (she's very difficult to catch). She didn't like that at all, and let out this serious, low growl (it was the first time I'd heard one like this from her) and she turned her head to bite me. It completely reminded me of a schipperke I once had, who tried to bite me all the time. Anyway, I grabbed her gently but firmly by the scruff of the neck (didn't hurt her at all, I barely did it and didn't even shake her like they recommend), and told her NO really loud, and she calmed down for a second, long enough for me to put her in her cage - again. My big question is this - why is my Sheltie (a breed who's known for not even needing super-firm discipline because they're really sensitive dogs) showing such signs of aggression? I lost my 11-year-old Sheltie a month ago, so I'm very familiar with the breed. Should I be concerned? And what the heck do I do next? Is she too young for obedience training? Thanks for any advice/understanding you can give. I'm at my wit's end at this point.
It should be a concern to the point that you should always correct and discilpine her to prevent it ffrom getting serious. I think one of your best bets is puppy classes. Make sure that you come first for everything- going through doors, eating, etc. When you play with her, don't always let her win. Try keeping her on a leash so when you want to give her commands or try to catch her, she's easily accessible and you can step on her leash to prevent her from running away. Don't allow her to get her way. When she snaps, grab her muzzle (gently) and tell her no, then hold her so she gets the idea (it worked with Frosty).Try a little bitter apple spray on her gums when she growls and bites you. I'm sure you've heard and tried this all before, but these are all the things I've heard. I have a kitty who hated being held as a kitten an dnow is the biggest lumpy ball of mush and she's constantly purring. It won't necessarily last forever, but it should be taken care of. You may have just ended up with a fiesty kid!
Frostygirl, your comments have helped immensely. No, I haven't heard of everything you suggested - I'll have to try those things. I'm taking a "time out" for myself right now, and my new motto is "Tomorrow is another day." It's hard sometimes, but I have to just let go of individual incidents and keep plugging along. Thanks again!
Some herding dogs can have big dominance aggression problems, and since shelties are herding dogs, I suspect that's what this is. Frosty gives some good suggestions. The leash on in the house is a great idea. But I noticed you said that she does it whenver you try to pick her up. Some dogs *hate* to be picked up, even small dogs. She may just hate being picked up so much that she responds to it as if it hurts her, in that case it might be a reflexive bite like a 'fear bite'. Why not try to avoid picking her up (Unless you catch her in the middle of pottying) and instead say, "Want to go out?!?" in an excited tone, and tug on the leash to encourage her along toward the door. If she is a chow hound, you can keep some of her kibble around and use them to reward her for correct behavior. Honestly, IMHO, there are few needs to be picking up a puppy. I was taught that picking them up could upset their stomach and hurt their ribs, so only pick them up if you have no other choice. Yes I know they're cute and cuddly (especially the tiny ones) but I've heard many chihuahua and terrier breeders in particular say that picking up their dogs and toting them around contributes to more anti-social dog behavior than anything else. That said, there's nothing wrong with sitting on the floor and encouraging your puppy to come sit in your lap. This of course doesn't stop her biting behavior in play, but it may help. If the 'no bite' thing Frosty suggested doesn't help, mix a 1/4 vinegar 3/4 water spray bottle up, whenever she tries to bite you, give her a squirt in the mouth and say 'no bite!'
My uncles sheltie was like this. Take the above advice it should help. I would add not letting her go above floor level, meaning not letting your dog on any furniture. Also when you look at her keep your eyes just above her head. This helps the dog see that you are not looking into her eyes which is threatening or below her eyes which means you are submissive.
one thought that came to my mind is that when picking her up you have to bend over her, which to a dog is a dominant gesture, and she could be reacting to that. i think the above suggestions are great. have her sit before any attention, food, treats, or just to sit.
Other suggestions Strict schedule for walking and feeding times The dogs own bed or crate A few training classes(for your education/sanity) When feeding NEVER leave food out for free feeding. This dog needs to know whos in charge of her food. If she comes and goes to her food , the floor is feeding her, and shes in control of when she eats, And then is rewARDED FOR IT WITH THE FOOD BEING THERE. (sorry caps accident) Call the dog to you, get her mabe to sit and reward her with her food. Give her 10 min, if she doesn't eat it, then take it away, try again later. Also when a dog snaps at you, you back down?, this also will prove to the dog that his actions worked....Hes in control. So follow through with everything. Use direct eye contact with training or when you are just talking to her. NEVER pet her or play with her unless she does something to earn it. This biting problem is about more than just picking her up. Try picking her up off the floor every day and just hold her gently(not far off the ground) Just hold her in mid air(feet dangling) till she calms down.(while doing this don't say anything till shes calm and seems to accept it then tell her shes "Good!" high pitch tone. Then put her down. Make sure you follow through. When you pick a dog up like this your taking away its control. A simple sit on command and then if she does it shes rewarded with a quick pat on the chest. Not to much praise, you want her to want to please you. If she gets it for free why work for it. And if you don't have to work for it your the boss. If your the boss your allowed to bite anyone you like!!!!! Your not supposed to just accept this behavior, you have to come down to the dogs level and make it beleive it is in its best interest to respect you. This will not happen by tip toeing around the issue and hope it goes away. This could escalate into much worse behavior. Good Luck, a sheltie is definetly worth the trouble of going through training.
When I first got my corgi at about 11 weeks she hated to be picked up, so we just didn't pick her up as much unless we really needed to. SHe also would growl occassionally, but I didn't let her get away with it. I would grab her muzzle for a few seconds until she settled down. Your puppy is still young. I am sure it will get better! My 6 month old pup has the same problem with running away from me, so I have tried the leash and it seems to work our just fine. I use the 24 ft leash when she is in the house. I felt the same way as you do now, but all my hard work is finally starting to pay off. My puppy has really inproved over the last three months, and I am sure your puppy will too. Good Luck!
Thank you, thank you to everyone!! You're helping me to feel that I'm not all alone in this. She's done better today, and I'm using a lot of everyone's suggestions. I'm determined to keep working hard with her - I think she's very bright and smart, and that with some strict discipline, she'll finally learn what's appropriate and what isn't. Thanks again, and if anyone else has anything to add, please do!
Chelsea - Even though our former Sheltie was not as active as your sounds. I do remember him not liking to be picked up. My mom was really frustrated too, cause she wanted that cute little puppy to sit on her lap in the morning as she drank her coffee. So she forced him to do it. Every morning, she would put him on her lap and he would squirm, but she just kept at it. Eventually, he seemed to tolerate it. This is when it gets funny. A few weeks later, Bart (the sheltie) must have gotten into a patch of poison ivy. Now it didn't bother him. But after my mom had him on her lap (it was summer and she was in shorts) she got a poison ivy rash all on her thighs where he used to sit. Needless to say, he didn't have to sit on her lap anymore. I still believe he knew how to get what he wanted and deliberately went into that poison ivy - hahahaha.
Tara - oh my gosh, that's so funny about the poison ivy incident. And you're right - I don't think Shelties in general are really "lap" dogs. Mine that died a month ago never did like to be "held" - she just got too big for it, and was too high energy. I've had a much better day with the puppy. I'm working hard on the discipline, and we're actually having some fun together. I know it will get better - I just have to hang in there!
a friend of mine has a sheltie and she doesn't like to be picked up either...though she doesn't snap she does give a lil growl to let people know she doesn't like it. i've heard that if you gently pin her/him down and hold her/him down by the neck that it would show your the one in charge. I did that to my bf's dog, cuz he was always jumping on me and wouldn't listen to me when i told him to get down. He listens to me now. and he hasn't needed a reminder at all. :) i don't know if I had it right, but it works:) hope it helps! :)