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Tiny little dog with massive attitude

(13 Posts)
Molecule Wed 26-Sep-12 15:44:33

Bit of background. Dh is a farmer and we have always had dogs;German shepherds, collies, a border terrier, and at the moment we have a springer spaniel, a very elderly yorkshire terrier and now a Pomeranian.

I've never had any problems with our dogs and have always managed to train them, and they've all been happy, nicely behaved members of the family.

The Pom is a different matter. My dd3 wanted a pug, but dh and I felt that a) two dogs were quite enough, and b) they are far too expensive, especially as dh is a typical tight farmer and has never yet had to pay for a dog (the yorkie was a deposit for a tractor and the springer's mother killed the dc's pet rabbit, and so the mortified owner said they could have one of her puppies). Mil then heard of a Pomeranian looking for a new home as he'd been chasing sheep and cars, and was going to be put down if a home couldn't be found, she thought "sweet little dog, dd3 wants sweet little dog, I'll say they will have him."

His chasing stock and cars are the least of his problems, and in fact he rarely chases livestock now, although any new animal is fair game until he's been told off. He seems to accept his telling off for chasing and takes it on board. It's his behaviour in the house which is more difficult, though generally we have worked around it, so although we think he's much better, something happens and you realise he is still not quite the happy family member we would really like.

I want to say now that we love him to bits and will not be getting rid or have ever contemplated such a thing, but we would like some ideas as how to modify his behaviour and reactions. He is really quite aggressive, hates being woken up (but does like to sleep snuggled up to you) so before moving off the sofa you have to start talking to him to gently wake him up, and you cannot stroke him once he's asleep next to you. He's very aggressive when he's got food, though takes it from your hand very gently. He can be aggressive with visitors, though as his mouth is so tiny he doesn't inflict much damage, but I do feel it's not terribly acceptable to have a dog that tries to bite.

I did ask visitors to give him a little titbit when they came in and this appeared to help, until one day he happily accepted the snack and then nipped the leg of the giver. We generally now put him in his crate when we have guests, but it would be nice if he could be a little more pleasent to them.

Today someone was coming through the front door and he tried to dash to them. I put my leg out to stop him and he attempted to savage it. I told him off (deep fierce voice, which would have made my springer think the end of the world had come) and he just looked at me, little lip lifted and a low growl. After a time he did take himself to his crate, but really seemed more like a stroppy teenager than a contrite dog.

My four dc are all teenagers and well used to animals, so I don't have to worry about little children, and if any vist we always put him in his crate, but we would quite like a little less touchy dog. He is clever, and seriously cute, but I do feel a bit of an idiot not being able to control this very tiny dog.

Any ideas? All will be much appreciated.

Toughasoldboots Wed 26-Sep-12 16:24:13

Don't feel an idiot, I know a few and they are exactly the same. We have to give them a very wide berth if the youngest dcs is around as she wants to stroke the cute little dog and they attack her!

I am not an expert on training them but hopefully someone more experienced will be able to help.

I am laughing at your description though grin

Molecule Wed 26-Sep-12 17:00:32

Thanks Touughasoldboots. We can't let anyone stroke sweet little doggy when we're out, and he's even worse when we pick him up as then he seems to be defending us.

I'm sure he must have been treated as a baby when he was a puppy, as he would have been an adorable, fluffy little thing, and it was probably quite cute to see him savage things.

Incidentally, he's 19 months old and we got him when he was 13 months.

EdMcDunnough Wed 26-Sep-12 17:03:38

Oh God. I'm not very good at dog stuff but with something looking at me like that, if it were not my own child I'd try to pass it on to someone else tbh.

Molecule Wed 26-Sep-12 17:24:08

We're in for the long-haul Ed, and he does have many good points; can dance on his back legs, loves being out on the farm, chases off any rogue male dogs that come calling (our other two dogs are bitches, he's been neutered) and is good fun to play with. Because he's so tiny we can cope with the attitude, but would just like some pointers on how to deal with it. If he was a big dog it would be a lot more serious, which is no doubt why he's got away with it.

Bubblemoon Wed 26-Sep-12 17:30:35

Sounds like this chap has been able to get his own way with previous owners as he's so little and cute and when they realised they'd created a monster they ditched him. I'd suggest a complete restart with discipline with everyone I'd not let him on the sofa with you until things improve as he's seeing it as his bed and guarding it. His crate's his place, I'd send him there and I'd reward him for doing as he's told until he does it every time. going there. When that's sorted and he goes to his crate on command every time you'll be able to send him there when you have callers. When the doorbell goes you might even be able to get him there automatically as he'll associate being good in his crate with reward. Hopefully the discipline and knowing his place will calm things down and help you regain control of the little bugger. Obedience classes might be really helpful and the trainer might be able to help with his chasing of all moving stuff too.

EdMcDunnough Wed 26-Sep-12 17:33:24

You are very good people. Massive admiration!

Molecule Wed 26-Sep-12 18:02:09

Thanks Bubblemoon, we've done quite a bit of the crate thing and he does go, so long as there's a tasty treat, but someone at the door is far more interesting (perhaps not helped as we do not have a doorbell, callers just open the door and shout). He's not terribly motivated by food, has to be very hungry before he deigns to eat his own dog food.

I did ring up a couple of obedience class people, but one was only for puppies, and the other would not accept dogs with aggressive tendencies, no matter how small the dog.

Toughasoldboots Wed 26-Sep-12 18:42:49

What about getting a behaviourist in? My vet has a list of recommended people. Do you think that would be an option from your vet?

<dances on back legs sounds very cute>

Molecule Wed 26-Sep-12 19:15:18

The dog behaviourist in this area is a bit of a local celeb, and very much of the "dogs are pack animals and must be at the bottom" school of thought, and I'm not sure that's what I want.

I do sound really negative, so apologise for that. I really need some lessons from our cat who has got him sorted. She got fed up with being chased so one day stood her ground, hissed and swiped at him. He now respects her so much that he doesn't even try to steal her food. He does get quite annoyed when she walks past him and pats his nose with her paw, but still doesn't try to chase her.

SrirachaGirl Wed 26-Sep-12 19:20:01

I don't have any advice for you but he sounds marvelous. I bet he's very entertaining when he's not savaging people grin.

Bubblemoon Thu 27-Sep-12 10:32:27

I tend to think all of that bottom of the pack stuff is codswallop - our dog completely knows who's in charge and is very obedient mostly, but when there's a fun looking dog or a squirrell in the offing I can see her mentally stick two fingers up at me and chase off regardless. She's a 3 year old Jack Russell/Chihuahua cross who is completely her own girl, can be a complete pain in the jaxy, but so glorious 99% of the time she's worth every moment - must be a small dog thing. Stick with your little fella, he'll settle down and eventually he'll treat you all with the respect he does the cat. I think that's a good thing.

Molecule Thu 27-Sep-12 14:01:08

Bubblemoon, I think it must be a small dog thing, though our yorkie has never shown any aggressive tendencies, she's always quietly done her own thing. She's got away with it because she's small, sweet and placid, whereas the pom, though small and sweet(ish) is decidedly not placid.

I think he may have taken on board yesterday's telling off. This morning he made a dash for the door, I said a commanding "no!" and he slid to a halt. However there wasn't a juicy visitor to savage so that might have helped the reaction.

90% of the time he's great fun, and I am sure he has settled down quite a bit, we certainly aren't going to be abandoning him or anything, we will just keep trying to modify his behaviour.

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