With his warning signs ignored, he has little choice but to bite.

Published by Theo Stewart on

Their goal is ‘for Snoopy not to bite’.

What brought this to a head is that he bit their 7-year-old nephew.

MY goal is ‘for Snoopy not to feel the need to bite’.

These are two very different things. ‘For Snoopy not to bite’ implies that the humans carry on as before but the dog must change.

‘For Snoopy not to feel the need to bite’ implies that Snoopy’s own feelings should be regarded and the humans change how they respond.

By reading the dog, by respecting his feelings and changing their own behaviour, the dog won’t need to bite.

The four-year-old Yorkie Jack Russell mix is the sweetest, most loving little dog and only a problem in this one respect.

When certain things are stacked up and then when people ignore his warning signs, he bites.

Common factors surrounding each bite

  • Snoopy is already probably aroused or excited.
  • He has a chew – it may be hidden from earlier.
  • He has only ever bitten a male. Once a 7-year-old child.
  • He gives warning signs: he licks his lips, yawns, ‘gives the eye’ and when all this is ignored, he then growls.
  • His growls are ignored or scolded.
  • Each time he has bitten, despite warning signs that the human may not have read, a hand has gone to touch him.
  • Mostly he the lies on his back. They wrongly interpret this as an invitation to tickle his tummy. More warning signs ignored.
  • The only thing left for him now is to bite.
  • They shout at him and shut him away.
  • He is now even more alert when guarding his chew the next time.

Learning to read Snoopy’s warning signs

The whole thing can be resolved by the family learning to read Snoopy’s warning signs well before it gets to the growling stage.

They should allow Snoopy choice.

How would we feel if we had a pocketful of money and somebody came too close then put out their hand towards us?

We would make it clear. We may hope just looking away and moving away a bit would give the individual the message that the were not welcome.

A look-away from the dog is a polite ‘no thank you’. He thinks he’s made it clear too.

Ignored, he ramps up the warning signs until he becomes vocal.

The human response to a growl should be ‘Thank you for letting me know you’re not happy with this, I’m sorry. I will stop’.

Instead, they carry on. Snoopy bites.

They now need to keep track of his chews so none are left buried or hidden for future guarding.

If they would like to give him a chew when they have people to the house, they give it to him behind a gate.

Snoopy will learn over time that people are no longer a threat to his chews. His humans will learn to read his warning signs.

They need to be consistent that’s all – and do some work on the resource guarding.

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

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