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Help with snapping ?scared behaviour

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by lizzystar, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. lizzystar

    lizzystar PetForums Newbie

    Aug 13, 2009
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    Our 8 month old staffie puppy that we have on a weeks trial from a foster home has started snapping when trying to put her halti on for example, but appears to be scared, as if she has been abused in the past. Also just snapped at me when trying to move her from the front door to answer it. Appears to be more scared of my husband than me - advice/help please!!
  2. rona

    rona Guest

    Can you get advice from the foster home?
    They obviously know the dog and are experienced people
  3. bucksmum

    bucksmum PetForums Senior

    Jul 19, 2009
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    Please don't give up on her and don't blame her(not saying you are x ).
    We rescued a male jack russell 2 years ago who was the same age as yours when he came to us.He growled and snapped,you couldn't do anything to him but with patience he started to trust us and also to respect us.Teaching her manners sch as waiting for her dinner,taking toys off her etc will help her become more confident and an much easier dog for you to handle.

    She will come right,good luck.
  4. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

    Jul 27, 2009
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    hi, one week trial is too short a period, they need a little long than that to adjust and settle in, recognise that there is nothing to be fearful of and get acquainted with the surroundings, the noises and the routines of the new household. having said that:

    re. the halti i would suggest to associate always the head collar with nice things like food and play. i have had the same problem with my big one and sorted with that method, don;t try to sneak from behind the dog with the halti as it would startle and make things worse. just play about with it maybe using the head collar as a "source of good things", give the odd treat and play with the dog when has the head collar on to make positive associations with it ...then walking is in itself a positive association and should reinforce the behaviour. when you'll stop during the walkies you'll find that the dog entertain him/herself, trying to take the halti off...in that case just moving along a few paces should do the trick as well...(in such case do not treat and do not pray as you'll be reinforcing unwanted behaviour....like: if i try to take this thing off while we are having a rest during walkies, i will receive a treat/praise...sort of thing etc.).

    re the nipping behaviour, i would suggest to make sure the dog understand your intentions before approaching, most of the times it is just a reaction they have when they feel insecure or a playful puppy-like behaviour (if they are particularly young). i agree in discouraging this behaviour as it can become dangerous. ignoring the dog in this occasion, i don;t feel is a good idea and snapping is usually a warning of the kind: get out of here or i'll bite....and by ignoring the dog or backing away, you'll reinforce his/her believe that his strategy is working...

    i would therefore suggest to leave the dog alone when is scared, approach in a playful way when is calm and learn to back off, gently, at the first sign of distress way before it reaches snapping likelyhood, then re-approach, still in a playful way. Do not back off when snaps but instigate play and redirect this sort of behaviour giving no notice when snaps.

    i hope this helps, seems textbook fearful behaviour, but you still need to be very cautious. if you are not sure of what you are doing or your immediate reaction is that of backing away involuntarily, please take a step back and enlist the help of a behaviourist, the people who gave you the dog on trial can certainly help, or seek the advice of a professional, it will cost a few pennies but will correct the situation appropriately (one can hope).

    good luck with it!

    clueless likes this.
  5. lynn9994

    lynn9994 PetForums Junior

    Jul 29, 2009
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    Oh i agree you should persevere a week is not long. with time and patience and gentle training she can turn into a really lovely dog. Yes she may have issues but with a persistant attitude from you and praise when she is good, she will soon fit in. Good luck let us know how she gets on.

  6. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

    May 12, 2008
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    Sounds like a fear type behaviour.

    I agree persevere and give her a chance.

    Sounds like you need to desensitize and countercondition her to the halti.
    Basically I would just randomly get it out during the day. Put it near her but don't try to put it on her. Click and treat her for interest in it. The hold it in your hand and move it very gradually towards her on the floor. Immediately give her treats and reward her. Then put it away and practice it again later or the next day. Don't even put it on her for the time being.
    You want her to get the message.
    Halti= Good things :D

    With the front door issue. I expect she was in a high state of excitment which is what made her snap. Could you put a stair gate up to prevent her from reaching the front door. Then teach her, calmly using treats (and clicker training too would be ideal) to go to her bed for a stuffed kong/treats/squeaky toy when the doorbell rings. That way she won't feel anxious at the thought of a stranger coming into the home.

    I'd recommend a book (booklet) called The Cautious Canine by Patricia McConnell. It teaches you how to help a dog get over its fears.

    Give her a chance and stick with her- it takes longer than a week for them to settle down.

    Best of luck :)
  7. Savahl

    Savahl Guest

    Agree with everyone who said desensitizing is the answer to the halti problem...buster used to hate his muzzle (he hates cats so wears one at the in laws) so we used clicker training to slowley introduce it, up to the point where he will actually put his nose in it off his own back, rather than it put on him. it was on the floor and he was rewarded for looking at it, then touching it, then built it up very slowely! I will try find a video of something similar :)
    #7 Savahl, Aug 17, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2009
  8. Savahl

    Savahl Guest

    YouTube - Muzzle Training

    Obviously with a fearful dog this would be slower but the idea is basically the same, and replacing the muzzle with the Halti
  9. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

    May 12, 2008
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    Really good video. Shows the desensitization perfectly!
  10. jilly40

    jilly40 PetForums VIP

    Oct 22, 2008
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    please dont give up :( lucy was a rescue she was 4 when we got her she was frightended of everything.refused point blank on a haltie so used a harness instead if you dont know the dogs full background ie stray you will never know what trauma the wee one has had.i took her to the vets the day after we got her 4 her jabs & she bit me ,i was shocked but the vet said she is just scared if she had meant it she would have broken your skin.with tlc & lots of love slowly but surely the trust & bond appears you will never have a more loyal dog.patience,kidness & treats.let us know how you get on please hugs to you 4 taking on a rescue xxx
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