Imagine how, as a tiny Shih Tzu, it must be when whisked up at the whim of a human, touched and disturbed at the whim of a human without his consent.

Allowing choice

Actually with 18-month-old Ekko, they do sometimes allow him choice and when they do, and when they ‘listen’, he doesn’t snap. 

The young man has taught him ‘Up’ before putting his harness on. The little dog will stand and cooperate. He may occasionally do the same thing when he wants to carry Ekko somewhere.

Now they should both do this every time – and also use food.

There are certain things Ekko really objects to. One is having a shower. He attacks the water as it comes out and becomes very ‘aggressive’ (to quote). When they dry him, he bites.

Sometimes when they pet him he ‘lashes out’.

These things are being imposed upon the unwilling little dog. What can they do?

They can give him the chance to consent – or not.

He need not be showered at all. He’s small enough to wash in the sink. He doesn’t like that either? Then they can spend time getting him to love being lifted (with consent) into an empty sink. They can drop bits of food in there and then (with consent) lift him out again and put him on the floor. Make a game of it perhaps. Soon the sink can have half a puddle of water in it….. and so on.

At the moment they ignore his warning signals and scold him when he growls so he ‘resorts to biting’.

We want growling! “Oh, you don’t like this? Then I will stop”.  Now, we ask ourselves, how can I do this in such a way that he’s a willing participant? It will probably involve warning him, asking for the already-taught ‘Up’ and then using food.

Snapping when touched suddenly

He may snap if suddenly touched when resting, particularly by the young lady. This will be an automatic response so saying NO isn’t fair.

The more warning he has and the more choice he has, the more cooperative he will become, particularly if they are tuned in to what is scaring him and help him out.

They will now teach him to actively jump into their arms too – something he can actually ask for if when out on a walk a dog scares him.

An exercise in ‘Up’

The young lady can actively say ‘Up’ so he stands or looks willing; she can lift him, feed him and walk about, then put him down again. If he licks his lips, yawns or looks away he’s not giving his consent and before he has any need to growl, she should put him straight down again.

Soon when she picks him up he won’t be expecting a shower or the groomer or something he doesn’t want imposed upon him. He will be expecting something nice that he is willingly participating in and giving his consent. 

When they are petting him they can regularly ask him if he would like them to continue – with the ‘consent test‘. Just stop and see what he does. He may lean in for more, he may look away or he ay do nothing. Yes, no or indifferent.

Indirectly they have taught Ekko to snap because it’s the only things that work. The result is that they back off or they put him down.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help