Snappy dog(23 Posts)
Have had NutterDog for just over 4 months now. In the past couple of weeks she has started getting quite naughty at stealing food, which she's never done before, but we'll just have to start putting it all away! The thing that is a little worrying is her snapping. 99% of the time she is fine, but occasionally she takes a dislike to someone and snaps at them. She's a Rottweiler so this is something I want to nip in the bud asap!
We've worked out that part of it seems to be to do with people touching her head or her back end, near her hips; I took her to the vet last week about that but she did it again the other day so I'm taking her back for another look. She seems fine apart from that - however, she displays some odd behaviour - eg upon meeting someone earlier (who is very experienced with dogs), she was fine, enjoyed a stroke, then lay down next to me. She later got up and went over to sit by the other person, who stroked her gently under the chin. Suddenly NutterDog decided she'd had enough and snapped at her without warning - no growl, no teeth bared, no tail up. She's done that a few times to various people and it's quite worrying, and I have no idea what causes it.... Any ideas??
Forgot to mention - she's a rescue, and is 5.
I'll start by saying that I don't yet own a dog, so when someone with actual, real knowledge comes along, feel free to ignore me and go with what they say!
As you've got the physical well-being side of things covered by visiting the vet, I wonder if this sounds a bit like something I read in this book where it talks about things that dogs find intimidating. Apparently, stroking on the head etc is something that dogs need to be trained to accept, along with other sorts of handling. Maybe have a read of this book and try some clicker training for the dog to tolerate different types of handling?
Hope you get it sorted
I've got a Rotweiller puppy - they do have a bit of a reputation for biting without warning, having seen people with mine I don't think that is the case, I think people don't notice when he's giving out what to me are very obvious I'm not comfortable with you doing that signals, and it's usually when people he doesn't know are stroking his head.
He's got better as he's been socialized, but if yours wasn't well socialized as a puppy, you'll basically need to work on it now.
Did you get her from a rescue? They should be able to help you.
I thought it would be a small toy type breed and was very alarmed to find it is a Rotweiler.
Rescue homes, usually test all dogs for behaviour and snapping would be high on their list of unsuitablity to be rehomed.
At 5 years old, it will be difficult to change her habits/nature
She may have been disciplined for more subtle signs of discomfort such as growling etc in the past and therefore goes straight to snapping when she becomes very uncomfortable. Until you've had some behavioural help I would not be letting people pet her, both for her benefit so she's not pushed out of her handling comfort zone and theirs in case she caught them with a snap.
No, I'm not letting people pet her now. It's so odd - she is generally a calm, friendly, happy thing, and has often been round people with no problem at all - eg ten or so friends at ours for an evening and not a hint of anything negative. She's probably done it 7 or 8 times since we've had her. The rescue didn't notice anything, apart from the first day when they were examining a painful cut. I'm just at a loss as to what's causing it.
I think it would be worth talking to a behaviourist asap. Unfortunately a small snap for a Rottie can leave big holes - colleague was bitten a few weeks ago and it was a 'small snap' , but she still had four holes in her arm all of which needed stitching and took over two weeks to heal.
I've got a four year old rescue and she hates anyone touching her paws (except when it gets really muddy and she asks you to wipe it - it's weird). The only times she has ever growled at me have been paw related. It's taken a year to get her to trust us enough to give paw on command and we're building up how long she'll let us hold it for. Despite normally being very placid, I think she would actually eat me if I tried to cut her nails! With a rescue you will never know whether its to do with previous bad experiences or just lack of conditioning them to accept it when they were young. Either way, don't feel bad about it, it's not your fault!
Oh and I don't think it is that odd. It doesn't mean she doesn't like people, it means she doesn't like being handled in a certain way by strangers. Which isn't at all unreasonable in itself, it's just not acceptable when dogs have to live in human society!
tab and Partridge give great advice.
Something you should have an honest think about is whether the thing causing it is something which, in your view or expectations, she "should" tolerate. It's entirely possible she just doesn't like being petted like that. I also agree that she is probably oozing with signals which are being overlooked. You're going to need to learn them. I work with dogs for a living and find Rotties one of the more difficult to read breeds but I'm sure you will be able to identify her signals with support.
I'd advise finding an APBC member locally to help you, and also give her a crate or 'haven' to which she can retreat if she's had enough.
Thanks everyone - a lot of really helpful points. I did post earlier but it was lost
I've contacted the behaviourist and will see what she says. The funny thing is that the dog will be fine for a couple of minutes like that, then decide she doesn't like it; I suppose I'd assumed that if she didn't like it she'd let us know pretty much straight away. It also happens when she has gone up to someone as though she wants to be petted, and also most of the time she is fine with strangers no matter what they do (within reason!). She has never shown even a hint of it to me or DH.
I am quite prepared to do my homework on reading signals - I want to understand them! I have to disagree though that it'll be impossible to change her habits because of her age; she's a lot better at following commands than when we got her, and while I want to be realistic I just think with enough work we can train her out of it. If not, then we'll rethink how to handle her around other people.
That's great about the behaviourist and that your are going to work with her. I agree she is not too old - too many people write off older dogs that could be trained and helped.
Re. her not reacting immediately, I would see this as a good sign as she is showing impulse control in circumstances that make her uncomfortable. Once you learn her triggers and signals you will be on the way to managing and resolving her issues. all the best with it.
With my pup - it's startlingly obvious to me that he's not happy, tail and ears are down, he starts licking the person and his lips and looking away from them...but I've had to several times tell people that he's scared as they seem to think because he's licking them, he's fine.
But he throws himself at strangers, then gets scared when they want to stroke his head - I mean, what does he expect them to do? Lol
Like I said, he's definitely getting better as he gets more used to it and Rotties are clever, I don't see any reason why with the right help it wouldn't be fixable or at least worked on enough that you can work round it.
Do you know what kind of life your dog had before he came to you? We had a rescue that couldn't bear his head being touched due to having had it hit regularly and it took a long long time of having a treat in one hand and gently stroking with the other. I used a big treat that she could lick and nibble while I held it. In time everything got a lot easier and that might have been because she started trusting us. She always wore a muzzle out though because she was too unpredictable (and strangers do just randomly sweep their hands over big dogs - very annoying) and very terrotorial over us.
Sorry, see 'he's' a 'she.'
My grandads last rottie was very unpredictable - Lovely and calm enjoying a fuss one minute and going for your face/arms the next - would quite happily draw blood and was never allowed off the property without a muzzle. He thought it was a neurological problem since non of his other rotties from similar lines were like it. He never did find out if it was neurological since she developed aggressive bone cancer and was pts at 2.
I'm a firm believer that a good dog trainer
hopefully one with a lot of experience with the breed can go along way. But if we ended up with any dog with such an unpredictable temperament I'd pts if training etc didn't work. It's not worth the stress of wondering if/when the dog will have the opportunity to do serious damage to a person or another animal
Ah tabulah, it hadn't occurred to me that licking us might be her being scared - I will watch out for that.
Behaviourist has quoted us £160 for 1.5hrs Is this normal or expensive?
To be fair - my monster puppy is very licky anyway...but it's a different kind of licking, hmm, maybe it is a bit subtle after all, lol
I'd imagine that cost includes follow up and phone support too so maybe not as pricey as it seems?
It is worth paying for a properly qualified behaviourist though. Anyone can call themselves a behaviourist unfortunately, which is why it is a good idea to look for the CCAB qualification or APBC membership.
I paid £40 for 2 hours with my ATPD behaviourist.
IMO the prices quoted by some behaviourists is ludicrous verging on taking the piss.
Join the discussion
Please login first.