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  1. #11
    Rugbysmom is offline Village Royalty
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    Hi & Lots of good advice here, I just wanted to add that I'm sorry you're not experiencing the "typical" pug behavior! They are pretty much noted for being good with children, and are usually happy, fun-loving little couch-potato characters! Sounds like you & your girlfriend are dealing with an exception, but hopefully you can find her appropriate help....I think the trainer/behaviorist is a great idea. It couldn't possibly be much fun to have a dog unexpectedly biting you out of the blue! Hopefully she can learn to get her nipping impulse under control so you can begin to enjoy her more. Good luck, & thank you for not giving up on her! Rugbysmom

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    puggner is offline New to the Village
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    Thanks! I appreciate the forums support.

    From what I have read, Lola's behavior is not typical. We are definitely not giving up on her. She is a very nice dog and always gives the 2 of us great company. Luckily, the dog does not bite every day. I guess she bites out of the blue on her bad days. For now, I think my girlfriend and I need to study her behavior to figure out when she is not happy and going to bite. But like I said before, I think the trainer/behaviorist is probably our best option at this point.

    Thanks!

  3. #13
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    First let me qualify by saying I am in no way experienced or smart about dog training..

    But..we had a black lab awhile back that had major issues with strangers. If they came in the house, cool, but anywhere else he just went balistic, to the point we were worried he'd go through a window someday. Unfortunately, my ex-husband ended up with him and I don't know how things ended up..very long sad story. But the point I'm coming to here is with all the reading I did trying to figure out how to fix this dog, the thing I saw over and over was trying to make people coming to your house a positive experience..so maybe a small training treat (cheerios and tiny bits of string cheese are popular around here) as people walk by when he doesn't bark, or if you feel safe enough about it and your guests are willing, let them give him treats (starting with just one person over of course, not a big overwhelming group). The thing with squirting him on your walks is that it reinforces that strange people/dogs are a negative experience for him. Not that I don't totally understand where you are coming from with your concerns. Our lab was a distaster waiting to happen.

    We've been working on that with our new pug Bently who we gave a home to from a gal who did not socialize him at all. Currently he barks his brains out at anyone new who comes to the house..the whole time they are here. It's a long slow process but we're getting better.

    Deana
    Last edited by AbbyGus; 03-27-2011 at 07:34 AM.

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  5. #14
    Zeake's Avatar
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    You need to read Cesars Way. The book will really give you an insight on how dogs work.
    Amazon.com: Used and New: Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems
    This book opened my eyes to how dogs think and act and why. The biting can be corrected.

  6. #15
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    Nilladakilla is offline Village VP
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    Hello Puggner, welcome to the Village!

    It's never too late to correct an aggression issue, Nilla came to us at almost 5 years old, she's now 8 and is continuing to make progress. Recently, she even made a huge step in her progress.

    Has Lola ever been checked by a vet for any physical condition that might be causing the aggression, such as thyroid issues or pain? If not, that should be the next step. Then after a vet check, the next step is to see a good trainer/behaviorist. Find one that uses positive reinforcement and, if possible, one that specializes in aggression. You'll want someone who can do one-on-one work with you, Lola's not ready for a class with other dogs yet.

    In the mean time, besides the N.I.L.F. training (which is great!) here are a few other things to get you started: Teach "Attention" as a way to distract her from lunging at other dogs or humans - the goal is for it to become a "default behavior" (when she is stressed out, she looks at you because she knows you'll take care of her). This might take a long time, but we found that this one little thing helped Nilla a lot. Keep in mind that this is NOT a natural behavior for dogs and it may take a while before she is comfortable with it! Here's one way to train: hold a treat to your nose and wait for Lola to look at your face (even for a brief second), say "yes" and give her the treat. After she has done this many times and is starting to "get the hang of it," slowly move the treat further from your nose and wait again for her to look at your face (not at the treat). Once she's reliably giving eye contact for the treat, slowly increase the amount of time that she has to give eye contact. It's very important that you only say "yes" while she's giving eye contact, if she glances then quickly looks away before you can say it, don't say it. It's also important to always reward with a treat when you say "yes" during training, even if you mess up and say it at the wrong time. If you like, you can use a clicker and "click" instead of saying "yes". After she is reliably giving eye contact by her own choice, add a word like "Look" to make it into a command.... so, when you say "Look" she looks at your face and gives eye contact.

    It would also be a good idea to learn dog calming signals and reward her for them, many people unknowingly discourage calming signals. They can be subtle such as looking away or a yawn, or not so subtle like lying down and exposing the soft underbelly. There are several good books that explain calming signals and how dogs use them, try to see if your local library has one or can interloan it for you from another library:
    Brenda Aloff, Canine Body Language Amazon.com: Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog (9781929242351): Brenda Aloff: Books
    and here's a link to Brenda's website: BrendaAloff.com Homepage
    Turid Rugass, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals Amazon.com: On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals (9781929242368): Turid Rugaas: Books
    And here's a link to Turid's website with questions and answers: Questions and answers from Turid Rugaas You can also look up Turid Rugass on YouTube and find some videos where she shows examples and talks about calming signals.

    One of my wife's favorite YouTube trainers is Kikopup, she has some great videos on various training techniques. Here is her video on Calming Signals: YouTube - How to communicate with a dog in their own language- dog training dog communication Be sure to read the great information under the video in the "Show More Info" part.

    Once you have a basic understanding of Calming Signals, start teaching Lola to accept touching ALL over her body. For your own protection, start this training while wearing gloves! (thick leather gloves or even an oven mitt works well). Slowly bring your gloved hand toward Lola's side or an area that she is OK with having touched (not her forehead, not her paws). Pat her with the glove, watch for calming signals, give her a treat/reward. When you think she's ready to move on, pat her in a new area, watch for calming signals, reward. Eventually you will be able to touch her feet, her tail, her forehead with your gloved hand. When she is accepting it then you can take the gloves off and start over with touching the side and progress to touching the other ares. Take it SLOW - this is not something to rush through in one day.

    Good luck and I hope this information is helpful.
    Andrew
    Dad to Wonka and Miss Nilla

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    Almost forgot, When she's trying to nip and bite, it's very important not to back down, backing down will only reinforce the biting and make it worse. This is why I suggested thick gloves in my earlier post. Of course, use common sense, if you get bit and need medical attention, stop what your doing and get it. but if you do get bit and it's not serious (skin not broken), try not to react to it and remain calm and finish what you're doing. If you get angry and stressed, it will only make Lola more stressed.
    Andrew
    Dad to Wonka and Miss Nilla

  8. #17
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    I read my hubby's post (above) before he submitted it, but I wanted to say that I know how you feel and I understand how frustrating, scary and draining it is. Fortunately, you can help Lola to stop this behavior!! It isn't hopeless. If you have questions about anything you've read here, please feel free to PM me.


    Quote Originally Posted by puggner View Post
    this is the first time I have ever dealt with dog aggression (and unfortunately being bitten). So it can be traumatizing for someone who has only known non-aggressive dogs. Traumatized might be a harsh word to use... but it has certainly been an eye opener for me.
    When we adopted Nilla, we already had Wonka who has more typical pug personality (although he initially had submissive-urination issues that I won't get into here)... getting Nilla was a real eye opener, and not in a good way. Traumatizing is exactly the word I would use. I had no experience with aggressive dogs and it took us a LONG time to understand what her issues REALLY were and learn how to help Nilla. Initially, it seemed that she was just "attacking for no reason," but really she just had a very low "tolerance threshold" and very subtle cues that told us when she was at threshold and had "had enough." Unfortunately, we had the added trouble of Nilla picking fights with Wonka whenever Nilla became "over-stimulated." Those first few months were awful and there were a lot of tears shed.
    Like Lola, Nilla had "sensitive areas" that she didn't want touched and she would try to bite... for Nilla it was anywhere near her head and that made "general pug maintenance" a nightmare - eye drops, ear drops and wrinkle cleaning all required two people. We started working on careful progression of handling Nilla all over (starting with her "comfortable zones") and we are now able to touch her all over with no problems and even the VET can examine her without issues which is a HUGE improvement!!! Most recently, she has started letting people who come to our Pug Meetup group hold her and carry her and this is another Huge step for her. We've very proud of her progress.


    Quote Originally Posted by AbbyGus View Post
    The thing with squirting him on your walks is that it reinforces that strange people/dogs are a negative experience for him. Not that I don't totally understand where you are coming from with your concerns.
    I agree with what Deanna is saying here. Squirt guns are great training tools for a dog that needs to be distracted from what it's doing, but in some cases they are not the best choice. It sounds like Lola is barking at people because she is frightened and wants to "scare them away." When a dog like this has a negative punishment (squirt gun) added to the negative experience (the "scary" person) that just heightens stress level even more. A better method in the short-term might be to "reward the good, ignore the bad" - until you can change the bad to good. While out walking, one quick and simple method of distracting a dog who is focused on approaching people is to simply say to the dog "Let's go!" in a happy cheerful voice while quickly turning and walking in the opposite direction - away from the approaching person. She may still try to keep turning back toward the person, but the nice thing about a pug is you can just sort of drag them in the direction you want to go. Keep it upbeat, cheerful and just turn away from the approaching person. When she sees someone and doesn't bark, throw a little party! Tell her what a good girl she is, give her a piece of cheese, make it happy! Here's a great video example of this method: YouTube - Barking- Episode 3 - barking on a walk -dog training

    Best wishes to you. I applaud you for recognizing that Lola needs help and for coming on PugVillage and asking. You and your girlfriend can certainly help Lola change her behavior with a little love, lots of training and lots of positive feedback (and cheese or yummy treats!).
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    Februrary 11, 2005 to May 10, 2020. Miss you, sweet boy!

  9. #18
    puggner is offline New to the Village
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    Wow... I have got to say that I am amazed with this forum and the help/support I have already received. Thank you so much!

    It looks like I have some reading to do, as those books are great suggestions!

    I think you guys are right. While out for walks, the squirt bottle is a negative way of getting her attention. She is probably now double scared of oncoming people because she is frightened by the stranger and the possibility of getting wet. I must say, it was working for awhile but I did not see it as a negative-negative situation. When we go out for walks, and there is an oncoming person, she will directly look back at me (most likely because she didn't want to get squirted) and I would gently say "No." Her hair would stand on end but she would not bark or go after the person. I have since stopped with the squirt bottle and we are now at square 1 again... she barks at strangers. So, we now need to try positive reinforcement.

    As for her nipping and biting - she has not administered any new bites to my fingers or anyone else's this past week :) However, this is my number 1 priority in terms of training. I totally agree with not backing down. When she Lola bites, many times we would just walk away and ignore her. But Lola is cute and the ability to ignore would quickly diminish. So I have since quit that and have begun to stand my ground. I think it is important for Lola to know that she is not alpha dog of the house and that her tiny teeth and mouth are no match for me (even though when she bites, it hurts). However, I am still uncertain as to what is the correct course of action for this type of misbehavior. As of now, when Lola tries to bite, I quickly grab her leash and she gets a nice tough tug from her leash and is lead to her timeout room (either the laundry room or a bathroom with her gate setup so she cannot get out). On most occasions she will whine because she is "behind bars" and by herself. We normally let her whine for a little and then release her after a good 10 minutes. However, I feel like we are treating her more like a child. Children can listen and understand their wrong-doing based on cognitive reasoning. I cannot reason with a dog. So... i am unsure that Lola knows why she is by herself in the bathroom/laundry room. Any comments on a correct course of action? Or is this what a pug parent should do?

    It is weird though... if we take Lola to get her nails cut or go to the Vet she will let the Nail Cutter or the Vet do whatever he/she needs to do to get the job done. Lola shakes the whole time because she is scared out of her skin... but she just let's those professionals do whatever they need to do. When it comes time for my girlfriend or me to look at a paw, or give ear drops (although she has since been okay with ear drops), or (god forbid) brush teeth.... we get a serious backlash.

    I am amazed (based on your above story) at how Nilla has turned around. I guess it takes a lot more patience than I had originally perceived. And that's okay... because I think this is meant to be a learning experience for all of us. I am sure it was a great experience for both of you guys (Nilla's parents).

    Thank you so much!

  10. #19
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    It is weird though... if we take Lola to get her nails cut or go to the Vet she will let the Nail Cutter or the Vet do whatever he/she needs to do to get the job done. Lola shakes the whole time because she is scared out of her skin... but she just let's those professionals do whatever they need to do. When it comes time for my girlfriend or me to look at a paw, or give ear drops (although she has since been okay with ear drops), or (god forbid) brush teeth.... we get a serious backlash.
    That is very telling, and encouraging. There are dogs who have brain malfunctions that cause them to be aggressive organically...they are clinically insane, just like their human counterparts who have organic brain issues which cause them to be aggressive. While drugs and training may help some of these dogs they will always be dangerous as they cannot control their impulses. If Lola fell into this category she would also bite the vet and groomer. Because she does not, gives me hope that she does have impulse control and with work, patience and good training will get over this behavior.

    Take care,
    Lisa
    In a gentle way, you can shake the world.

    - Mohandas Gandhi


  11. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by puggner View Post
    When we go out for walks, and there is an oncoming person, she will directly look back at me (most likely because she didn't want to get squirted) and I would gently say "No." Her hair would stand on end but she would not bark or go after the person.
    Even though she was originally looking back at you to see if she was going to get squirted, take advantage of that look! Smile at her when she turns to look at you, say "Good Girl" or "Yes" and then turn quickly and walk away from the stranger. You don't want to discourage her from turning to look at you, that's a good thing! Even if her original reason for doing it was out of concern that she was going to get wet, it shows that she's not SO focused on the approaching person that she can't stop to think and turn to you. That's a good sign. A dog that is totally locked in it's "fight or flight" mode wouldn't turn to look at you regardless of how much you soaked it with a water gun.

    Quote Originally Posted by puggner View Post
    As of now, when Lola tries to bite, I quickly grab her leash and she gets a nice tough tug from her leash and is lead to her timeout room (either the laundry room or a bathroom with her gate setup so she cannot get out).
    I know from experience that this next tip is easier said than done, but try not to yank on her leash or react emotionally in any way. Stay silent, pick her up and place her in her timeout area. Ignore her for 5-10 minutes or however long it takes for YOU to calm down and the adrenaline to feel like it's out of your body. Once you are calm, take her quietly out of her timeout space and immediately start some basic training... sit, lay down, eye contact. Do this for just a couple of minutes (less than 5) and then in a happy voice say "all done" or "finished" or "go play" or whatever you want to use for a "release cue" that returns everyone to normal life activities.

    Quote Originally Posted by puggner View Post
    I am amazed (based on your above story) at how Nilla has turned around. I guess it takes a lot more patience than I had originally perceived. And that's okay... because I think this is meant to be a learning experience for all of us.
    Nilla really is an exception in the pug world. MOST pugs are nothing like her in behavior. Fortunately, it sounds like Lola isn't nearly as bad as Nilla was so I expect that her turn-around should be much quicker. It sounds like she is just struggling with some fear issues and the right approach can make a world of difference.

    There are many, many methods in dog training and if you ask 10 people, you'll likely get 10 different answers. Some will say "yank the leash" and some will say "don't yank it." Most pug owners have found that pugs do not respond well to the traditional "dominance based" training methods. Remember, pugs were bred to be companions, not hunters or work dogs and deep down, they really just want to please their humans. Ideally, if you can afford some private training lessons with a dog behaviorist/trainer who uses positive methods then that's the best way to get you started on the right path and help Lola overcome her issues as quickly as possible.

    Besides learning more about the basics of Positive Reinforcement Training, there are several other things you can also look up and read about that may or may not help: T Touch (Tellington Touch), ThunderShirt or Calming Wrap
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    Februrary 11, 2005 to May 10, 2020. Miss you, sweet boy!

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