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Old 06-08-2007, 01:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi all my name is Stephanie and my 14month old is a boy named Snowball. I will learn soon how to post some pics of him. He is the sweetest boy most of the time,but in the last few months he is becoming more and more aggressive.This is my first dog and so I know I did something wrong to make him this way. I will do what it takes to learn how to fix what I did wrong.

What I mean by aggressive is if he doesn't like the way I'm brushing out a knot or if he is licking and I put my hand out to pet him when he's not expecting it he will sometimes growl. There are other times when he will steal a piece of human food and goes running and I get near him to try and take it away he lashes out in a very vicious teeth barred I will bite you attack.

We are a very loving family and have never hit him. He gets pleanty of good puppy food. I am very firm with a NO when he does this growling or teeth barred thing, but until he calms down it's scary. I know from what I have read this is not normal for a Maltese. What have I done that has caused this? How can I help him? Is it an emotional problem?

Some of what I read makes it sound like fear biting. Has anyone else had this happen? He did this some when he was a smaller puppy, but it seems to be getting worse. I know a 7 lb dog should be easy to handle when this happens, but I swear if you get close to him at these time he will bite you. He bit my husband when he tried to get a piece of human food away. It broke the skin. We told him NO very loudly and he ran under the bed. We have never hit him.

I would like to add that someone is home with him almost all the time. He is never left alone for more than a few hours at a time. We love on him and pet him to death. We praise him all the time when he is good. I guess my next step will be a dog trainer and then a dog behavior specialist who might recommend medication. I just don't know what I did wrong. Please give me any advice you have.

Sorry for the long post I just wanted to try and explain it the best I could. Thanks for any help you have!
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Old 06-08-2007, 05:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to SM! Sorry you're having a hard time with your baby. I think he figures he's been able to get away with that kind of behavior for so long that he just continues as he pleases and maybe even thinks he's the "alpha" in the family now. Have you considered hiring a trainer to help with the situation? Keep us updated and show us pictures!


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Old 06-08-2007, 06:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You are right, Snowball's behavior isn't normal for a Maltese. I don't know what his background is, but puppies from pet shops (who come from puppy mills) often show aggression like growling, biting, etc. when they reach adulthood, about the age Snowball is now.

You are right to worry about Snowball's behavior. Dog bite laws apply to fluffy little white Maltese just as they apply to bigger dogs. Even a little Maltese can do a lot of damage to a child's face. I gal I know adopted an adult Maltese who bit her husband in the face and he needed stitches.

Many of our members have had good luck using the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program:

http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/our_pets...techniques.html

Honestly, though, since Snowball's aggression has escalated to biting, I'd consult a behaviorist instead of trying to deal with it yourself.
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Old 06-08-2007, 09:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome to SM

I agree with LadysMom, consult a behaviorist! My family has delt with an agressive dog for many years (she's an english cocker spaniel - 40lbs) so I know how hard this is, it's terrible to have a dog that you love to pieces turn around and bite you. Cadbury has given all of us serious bites, she has calmed down with age...I think the last time she bit someone was about 5 years ago (she's also been losing teeth lately, but is NEVER allowed near Alvar when we visit). Make sure that when you're walking your dog that you do warn people who want to pet her that she is not the friendliest, warn groomers etc too (Cadbury bit her groomer at one point - it has always been impossible for us to groom her ourselves). A behaviorist is really probably the best way to go. Good Luck! Keep us posted and share pictures!!!!
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Old 06-08-2007, 10:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Welcome to SM

I agree with LadysMom, consult a behaviorist! My family has delt with an agressive dog for many years (she's an english cocker spaniel - 40lbs) so I know how hard this is, it's terrible to have a dog that you love to pieces turn around and bite you. Cadbury has given all of us serious bites, she has calmed down with age...I think the last time she bit someone was about 5 years ago (she's also been losing teeth lately, but is NEVER allowed near Alvar when we visit). Make sure that when you're walking your dog that you do warn people who want to pet her that she is not the friendliest, warn groomers etc too (Cadbury bit her groomer at one point - it has always been impossible for us to groom her ourselves). A behaviorist is really probably the best way to go. Good Luck! Keep us posted and share pictures!!!![/B]
Thanks for all the good advice. I think everyone is right, it's time for a behaviorist to come have a look at him and help me get this under control. He is 95% of the time a very sweet loving furry baby. I just don't want this to get any worse.

I know the timing isn't good, but we have commited to buying a little girl in two weeks. She will be 14 weeks old. The breeder says she has been socialized, but so did the breeder where I got Snowball.( Different breeder of course). I'm kind of hoping a play mate will be comforting, but at this point who knows.

We are going on our first family vacation(tues for a week) since we got Snowball. I was going to have him stay in a kennel, but now I think the best place will be at home. I have a college student staying the week at my house with him. When we get back I will work on getting the expert to help. Maybe they can make the transition with the new puppy eaiser as well.

Again thanks for all the help.
Steph
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Old 06-08-2007, 11:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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[Hi,
My husband and I share your same problem with biting. My Precious is 9 years old. She was the PERFECT PUPPY. She started showing teeth when she was about 3 years old. Over the years we all said 'leave her alone' when the tail went down, whites of eyes or teeth showed. She has been very spoiled and has turned very ALPHA. Our children are grown and she is like the only child. She used to be wonderful with my children and grandchildren, but now she bites everyone,sometimes bringing blood! Some family members think I should have her euthenized.
We have been taking classes to turn her around. Unfortuneately, she has been biting someone almost daily. We have NO WARNING, she never growls, just strikes out and bites. Has a hissy fit. She bites
me the most because I do the grooming and care and I'm home all day. We took her to a vet and she is 100% healthy. The vet had mentioned calming medication or a muzzle. I opposed both. Today she really bite me on my wrist and it is bad. I made another appointment for the vet. I am going to meds and muzzle now til something works. I am devastated. Like you, we never hurt her, never hit her. She was never bred. She was neuterd young. I'm at wits end because we cannot trust her anymore;
any suggestions? Every breeder says Maltese are sweet and she was til now???
Thanks for listening to me.
BTW lamb and rice food helped her with tearing years ago. Her eyes have never teared since her diet was changed 8 years ago.
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Old 06-08-2007, 09:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi Stephanie, This subject is near and dear to my heart as I went through some of this with my first Malt, Rosebud (R.I.P.). She was my first puppy, I was clueless, and back in 1990 I didn't have the Internet to turn to for help. I never really understood the whole alpha thing back then but I knew that she was the alpha of the two of us. I used to joke and say that she runs things here ... and it really wasn't a joke!

After Rosebud went to the bridge in 2002, I got Kallie and she was, by nature, very submissive; so right away I got to experience what it was like to be in charge rather than the other way around. And I saw what a difference it made and how much better it was for me to be in charge. And since she was my 2nd Malt, I felt more confident and I think that my confidence came across to her.

And more than thinking "alpha" it was that she looked to me for guidance. So much of it was just my demeanor around her. She just knew that I was in charge. It's the same with Catcher, who I got when Kallie was two. He tried to be alpha to her and they go back and forth as to who is in charge but they both know that I'm in charge. All it takes is a look from me. And I have to be careful not to look too sternly because their little ears go down if they even think I am unhappy with them, so I have to actually pull back and be very gentle in my interaction with them.

I agree with LadysMom and I think that you and your husband should try the Nothing in Life is Free program where you have him do something such as sit for everything he gets from you... treats, food, attention. It's great that you "love on him" but in the state he is in, in thinking he's alpha, I would first ask him to come to you (rather than you going to him) and sit or do another command and then love on him.

I personally don't think this is that unusual of behavior for a Maltese. We have had a lot of people here on SM telling of aggression and biting and it all stems from, IMHO, your giving them the upper hand and them not seeing that you are in charge. It's hard to judge your situation just by what you have told us but if you put effort in to it I think you can turn things around.

One thing you can do right now to help is not let him on the bed until the situation has totally turned around and you are sure you are in charge. Then from now on ask him to "sit" before giving him is meals. Put your hands in his bowl while he is eating. He should have no problem with this. Be carerful at first, since you don't know how he'll react. Once he knows you are in charge you will be able to take things out of his mouth, etc.

Grooming can be a challenge. That seems to be where so much aggression comes out. I would groom him on a table and have some treats with you. Just groom him for a few seconds and praise him and give a treat. Then extend the time day by day and give treats when you finish and I think over time he'll accept the grooming. I always give Catcher a massage after grooming and he knows the word. When I go to groom him I mention the word "massage". He loves getting a massage and if I ask him if he is ready to get off the table he won't budge. He wants more, more, more!

I'm sorry this is so long but I hope some of it is helpful. Don't hesitate to PM me if you have any questions, etc.

Here's another NILIF site:
Nothing In Life Is Free - Information
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Old 06-08-2007, 10:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Hi Stephanie, This subject is near and dear to my heart as I went through some of this with my first Malt, Rosebud (R.I.P.). She was my first puppy, I was clueless, and back in 1990 I didn't have the Internet to turn to for help. I never really understood the whole alpha thing back then but I knew that she was the alpha of the two of us. I used to joke and say that she runs things here ... and it really wasn't a joke!

After Rosebud went to the bridge in 2002, I got Kallie and she was, by nature, very submissive; so right away I got to experience what it was like to be in charge rather than the other way around. And I saw what a difference it made and how much better it was for me to be in charge. And since she was my 2nd Malt, I felt more confident and I think that my confidence came across to her.

And more than thinking "alpha" it was that she looked to me for guidance. So much of it was just my demeanor around her. She just knew that I was in charge. It's the same with Catcher, who I got when Kallie was two. He tried to be alpha to her and they go back and forth as to who is in charge but they both know that I'm in charge. All it takes is a look from me. And I have to be careful not to look too sternly because their little ears go down if they even think I am unhappy with them, so I have to actually pull back and be very gentle in my interaction with them.

I agree with LadysMom and I think that you and your husband should try the Nothing in Life is Free program where you have him do something such as sit for everything he gets from you... treats, food, attention. It's great that you "love on him" but in the state he is in, in thinking he's alpha, I would first ask him to come to you (rather than you going to him) and sit or do another command and then love on him.

I personally don't think this is that unusual of behavior for a Maltese. We have had a lot of people here on SM telling of aggression and biting and it all stems from, IMHO, your giving them the upper hand and them not seeing that you are in charge. It's hard to judge your situation just by what you have told us but if you put effort in to it I think you can turn things around.

One thing you can do right now to help is not let him on the bed until the situation has totally turned around and you are sure you are in charge. Then from now on ask him to "sit" before giving him is meals. Put your hands in his bowl while he is eating. He should have no problem with this. Be carerful at first, since you don't know how he'll react. Once he knows you are in charge you will be able to take things out of his mouth, etc.

Grooming can be a challenge. That seems to be where so much aggression comes out. I would groom him on a table and have some treats with you. Just groom him for a few seconds and praise him and give a treat. Then extend the time day by day and give treats when you finish and I think over time he'll accept the grooming. I always give Catcher a massage after grooming and he knows the word. When I go to groom him I mention the word "massage". He loves getting a massage and if I ask him if he is ready to get off the table he won't budge. He wants more, more, more!

I'm sorry this is so long but I hope some of it is helpful. Don't hesitate to PM me if you have any questions, etc.

Here's another NILIF site:
Nothing In Life Is Free - Information[/B]
Thanks for all the advice! I wish I had found this site sooner! Your 2 babies are adorable by the way.
Steph
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Old 06-08-2007, 11:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have also dealt with this problem but not with a maltese. My husband and I had a Cocker spaniel who ran us. She was with us until her death at the age of 14 but the behavior worsened through the years. Groomers would not allow her and we used to groom her with thick snow gloves on our hands. I am sure that we were largely to blame because we let her get away with the behavior. At that time, cocker spaniels had been overbred BADLY and we were not the only ones who had this problem.

When she died and we got our bichon and then our Maltese, we were determined that we would never, ever live like that again and we did much research and taught ourselves to be the bosses. We don't spank, or threaten, though our voices are sometimes rather loud with a sharp "NO"

As for your new puppy - I would suggest that you not leave the two dogs alone together for a very long while, until you are sure of their behavior. My Sadie has never once snapped or growled at me, but the puppy irritates her to the point that she can be rather poopy. I never leave them alone together when I am out of the house, even though Hope has been with us nearly a year. I've seen Sadie when she gets after Hope and she doesn't quit, even though Hope has gone into a submissive position.
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