Attacks the Man. Resource Guarding. Bites.
Sadie attacks the man. It sometimes looks like she attacks out of the blue. At other times I swear the little dog, a 10-month-old Pomeranian, sets him up!
She mainly targets him, though sometimes the lady too.
The little dog shares their bed and attacks them when they try to get in. She will do the same if one of them has to get up during the night.
She attacks them when they get ready to go out. Sadie will go for the man’s feet and hands even if he’s putting his shoes on to take her out for a walk.
Worst of all is her behaviour around resources.
They leave her food down all the time. She will take a piece of her dry food and jump with it onto the sofa, next to the man. Then, there is only one way of describing it, she taunts him with it! If he moves, she attacks him.
She also treats the lady as a resource and attacks him if he so much as leans towards her.
The poor man has bite marks over his hands and arms. It’s fortunate she not a bigger dog. They’ve had several dogs before, but never one like this.
I went to see them because, the other day, things got so bad that they decided enough was enough. They decided to re-home her immediately.
But they couldn’t do it.
With behaviour help they are going to work hard so that she attacks no more. It won’t be easy.
There may be more to it
Sadie was in a filthy state when they picked her up at 8 weeks old. I strongly suspect that genetics have something to do with it.
In addition, I reckon she is bored.
They live in a very small place with one room. There is nowhere to put Sadie apart from into her crate.
They have no garden. She does most of her toileting indoors.
Human reaction escalates the problem
Sadie doesn’t react well to being told No or anything confrontational which is probably why she targets the man. He will very understandably tell her off. It escalates the situation. Basically she’s up for it and ready to retaliate.
The man needs a completely different approach and it’s an approach that may not come naturally. He may see it as backing down. I see it as refusing to play.
In some ways he asks for it. She will lie between them on the sofa and he touches her. She quite clearly doesn’t want to be touched by him but he carries on.
We did a little consent test. In this way he should ‘ask’ her if she wants to be stroked, and refrain if the answer isn’t positive.
I suggest for now that he plays hard to get. His attention will become more valuable. If she values his attention she’s unlikely to bite.
‘I’m not playing that game!’.
As soon as Sadie shows any sign of turning on him, playing her guarding games or if she attacks, he is to get up and walk away from her in silence. Immediately. No words. He can’t walk very far in their tiny place but she will get the message.
Sadie guards objects in the fear (maybe hope!) that the man will try to get them off her. She deliberately sets him up! She plays him. If he were to show her he doesn’t want the item, there would be no point in guarding or parading it.
I have suggested he puts a sign on his wall to remind himself not to get sucked in and to walk away, ‘I’m not playing that game!’.
They won’t leave food down anymore.
They will collect up all resources and issue them to her one or two at a time in a ‘give and take’ exercise.
Bright and brainy without enough to do
I believe one reason she is doing this is because she is a bright and brainy little dog without enough to occupy her brain. It’s hard in such a small place and with no garden, but not impossible. I have listed some ideas.
Currently they muzzle her when out because she picks up everything then attacks when they try to get something off her. On lead, unable to explore and muzzled, the young dog must get very frustrated.
They will now take her out much more frequently (necessary for the toilet training) and just hang about on the nearby patch of grass. They need not muzzle her for this and she can be on a long lead. She can sniff about.
If they do this several times a day it should add some enrichment to her life.
Most attacks can be predicted
They know the pattern that leads up to her attacks.
On these occasions they will call her into her crate well in advance and give her something she loves – like a stuffed Kong. This will require lots of ‘crate games’ so that she loves going in there.
I can’t see any way they can share their bed with a dog that attacks them there. They will need to crate her at night.
More time in her crate will help the other problem – her indoor toileting. She doesn’t toilet in her crate.
It seems to me that they try to take things off her which aren’t dangerous or valuable. Anything she has should be ignored if at all possible. They now will do all they can to be seen as ‘givers’ and not ‘takers’. If they walk past her when she has an item, they should drop food as they move on.
Finally, they need better control over Sadie’s food in general. No longer will they leave it down. They no longer will give her little bits of their own food – unless earned.
Now they will reward with food every little thing she does that they like. Apart from her meals all food will be used for positive reinforcement only. After a while, she should quite literally be eating out of the man’s hand.
They saw how she was with me.
She’s a gorgeous little fox!