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Is it possible to change aggresve behavior in adult dog?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Edstrom, Nov 11, 2020.


  1. Edstrom

    Edstrom PetForums Junior

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    Hi all!

    My 10 years old maltese Jackie is absolutely adorable... until you try to pick her up to groom her, which she absolutely detests.

    Her long hair requires daily brushing, so that might lead to some nasty tangles which then needs to be cut, something she also hates.

    She is mostly indoors with my parents and I admit she hasn´t socialized much. Not sure if this could have led to this behaviour. All I recall is that she would try to bite even before she had her first tooth.

    I am in charge of her brooming and cutting her nails (and I have a few scars on my hands and arms that gives proof of that :))

    I´ve asked two different vets and they both agreed that we need to show her we are dominant... right before she bit them. LOL.

    I´ve tried to give her treats when grooming her but she is way too proud and would refuse them, even meat, which she loves.

    My question is, is it too late now to try to educate her? I think of rescue dogs who are her age and I believe there´s still hope. What do you suggest?

    Thanks!!
     
  2. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    That is utter bollocks. The whole dominance theory has long since been disproved. Dogs need leadership, but that's not the same. And shame on those vets.
    You might get further grooming your dog if you do it with gentleness and understanding. Having your hair pulled hurts, and it's the same for a dog. Being held in place by a bigger, forceful human is bound to be objectionable. If someone did the same to you, who was as proportionately big as you are to a Maltese, you'd see it as assault.
    When you're brushing out tangles, hold the hair close to the body whilst you work on the hair further out - this stops it tugging and hurting the dog. Only do a bit at a time as she will have to re-learn what the grooming experience can be like - nurturing and enjoyable.
    And refusing the treats is nothing to do with being 'too proud'. It's stress. Stressed dogs refuse food.
     
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  3. LinznMilly

    LinznMilly Moderator
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    Hi. Welcome to the forum.

    Dominance theory has been thoroughly debunked. Even the guy who came up with it has renounced it. So no, you don't need to show her you are dominant over her.

    By saying she bit even before she had her first tooth suggests you bred her? Puppies do bite, but they should learn not to. Sounds as though you didn't teach her appropriate bite inhibition. However.

    Your post screams about a dog who's frightened and has learned the only way to make you stop (or at least pause) is to use teeth. Your dog isn't "too proud" to eat. She's waaaaay too stressed. An extreme, but relatable example would be the death of someone close to you - a beloved relative or pet. Very rarely can we eat after such devastating news.

    Your dog is the same. She's over threshold.

    With my chihuahua, I do what my mum did to me growing up - I hold her hair/fur as close to the skin as I can, and brush the end. If she needs a break, I let her go, even if it means doing her hair in stages. If she yells or screeches, I apologise, pause and then start again.

    I suggest you do the same.
     
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  4. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

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    Absolutely right and very succinctly put! :D:D:D
     
  5. Edstrom

    Edstrom PetForums Junior

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    Thanks all :) Yes, the poor thing just hates it SO much and is so smart that as soon as I open the closet where I keep the scissors and brush she goes upstairs and seek shelter under my mom´s bed.

    I can assure you I´ve never been harsh on her, I prefer to cut the tangles off rather than try ti brush them cause I know it´ll hurt.

    However she would groan even BEFORE I open the scissors.

    My Jackie is my first pet in a petless family. We are all newbies when she first joined us, and I guess we all just learned how to live trying to cause her as little stress as possible (meaning grooming just the necessary). I groom her in the garden and do a lot of pauses and stop altogether if she screams or something. I give her a lil tour around the garden and then resume...

    The funny thing is that she loves bathing. I know dogs who absolutely detest bathing, but my lil one feels like she´s at a spa.

    I wonder if she feels helpless in the water and then behaves.

    I´ll try to do a lil bit (and just a lil bit) of grooming per day and see what happens.

    Thanks!
     
    #5 Edstrom, Nov 11, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  6. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    You'd be better off learning to use clippers and keep her coat short enough not to tangle.
     
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  7. Edstrom

    Edstrom PetForums Junior

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    That´s the idea. Besides I love the "puppy" look :)
     
  8. mrs phas

    mrs phas karma is a funny old thing

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    If I'm wrong, I'm sorry, but please, I post with best intentions, as always, happy to be told I'm wrong, in a positive way

    Seeing as she's a Maltese and their fur is more 'hairlike', and, you say she loves bathing,
    have you tried bathing her with a tangle freeing child's shampoo (neutral pH and gentle) and then grooming her?
    Maybe, and I say maybe with trepidation of being wrong, using the untangling shampoo will help any fear of it hurting due to tangles
     
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  9. McKenzie

    McKenzie PetForums VIP

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    If it were me, I'd take her to a good, professional groomer who can get her coat back to a manageable condition, and start from scratch. You really want to be brushing her to AVOID her getting tangles, rather than trying to deal with them once they've occurred. If you are struggling to maintain her coat, consider a shorter style and more regular trips to the groomers.

    Bathing will make tangles and mats worse, so I would only bath her when absolutely necessary - i.e. if she has rolled in something smelly.
     
  10. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

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    I wouldn’t use kids’ shampoo regularly on a dog (and definitely never use human ‘regular’ shampoo). It’s ok to use kids’ shampoo if you have nothing else at the time, but dogs’ shampoos are optimised for dogs.
     
  11. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    I have used human shampoo on my dogs for ever apart from these two spoilt ones that sometimes get dog shampoo. I would be interested to know if you have ever seen a problem.

    I agree that you should take the poor dog to the groomers or if really matted then to the vet to be sedated and dematted. Then learn how to groom properly and brush and comb out the whole of the coat right down to the skin every day and go to the groomers to be clipped short again every couple of months.

    You do not need to teach her not to be aggressive, you need to take away her need to have to protect herself. As she has presumably been doing this all her life it is going to take long time to get her trust back and in the meantime I suggest you put a muzzle on her so you can hold her and groom her without either of you getting hurt. It is unlikely she will try and bite a groomer, for a start they will muzzle her to keep themselves safe.
     
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  12. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

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    “I have used human shampoo on my dogs for ever apart from these two spoilt ones that sometimes get dog shampoo. I would be interested to know if you have ever seen a problem.”

    I’ve never seen a problem because I’ve never used human shampoo on my dogs. I’ve never done it because from what I’ve read it’s inadvisable. What I do understand is that shampoo for humans is generally optimised for the acidity levels of human skin (as you’d probably expect). Excuse me for not remembering the actual pH levels, but as I recall, our skin is relatively acidic, whereas dogs’ skins are relatively alkaline and dog shampoo is optimised accordingly. So, by using human shampoo, one runs the risk of upsetting the dog’s relative pH balance; that, in turn, can create a ‘friendly’ environment for bacteria, parasites and viruses. The result can also be itchy skin and, as the dog scratches, abrasions can again create an environment conducive to bacteria. As the dog starts to smell (from the bacteria), owners may be inclined to bathe the dog more, simply exacerbating the problem, rather than resolving it.
    I can only accept that it has ‘worked’ for your dogs, but I still wouldn’t recommend it.
     
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  13. Edstrom

    Edstrom PetForums Junior

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    Hi!

    Hmm, actually I try to comb her hair and untangle/cut any knots before bathing, as it tends to get much worse after.

    Thanks!
     
  14. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    If you groom her every day I am a bit confused as to why she has tangles and matts. Daily combing should mean there are not any ever. If you have had her for 10 years and not learned how to brush and comb her properly and she hates it then clipping her short is the only sensible and humane option.
     
  15. Edstrom

    Edstrom PetForums Junior

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    Actually, I intend to do it daily, but if she lets me, I only do a bit each time, before she gets too stressed/unconfortable.
     
  16. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    Why don't you just have a good groomer shave her down so you stop having this confrontation with her every day, that can't be heathy for your relationship and poor girl must be miserable if she's that uncomfortable being groomed.

    Once you have her shaved down, start *very* slow with some low-stress handling techniques.
     
  17. Edstrom

    Edstrom PetForums Junior

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    Thanks! My dad has been very sick (and she´s been by his side most of the time) but I plan to start with this techniques soon! Awesome video!
     
    #17 Edstrom, Dec 1, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
  18. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    Have you found a groomer to shave the matts off and get her coat short as the first step yet?
     
  19. Edstrom

    Edstrom PetForums Junior

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    Hi, no not yet. Unfortunately, my father is sick and with the pandemic over here we want to reduce the interaction with other people to a minimum. She was groomed to have her pyometra surgery about a month ago, so she´s quite in a good shapre and I´ve been grooming everyday (for short periods several times a day) for the last week.
     
  20. Edstrom

    Edstrom PetForums Junior

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    Thanks so much for this video! I started grooming her everyday (with a brush, not a comb) a few days ago. The first time she tried to bite me, but I did as the lady in the video says... just small bits each time, trying at different places from the past and rewarding her after each time.

    I believe it really makes a difference. Now she actually lets me brush her (I suspect she even enjoys it, kind of a massage for her). I will eventually try and move for the comb and scissors soon. Who knows, maybe I can even cut her nails myself instead of the vet...

    My vet has always blamed me and my family for spoiling her too much, but I believe it was really our fault for trying to groom her until she was "all done".

    As the video says, maybe just cutting one nail at a time is OK for her. It´s for us humans that we "can´t accept it" not finishing the task we started.

    I´ll keep updating you on the progress I make with her.

    Thanks!
     
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