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Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

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Will1492
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Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Will1492 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 3:45 pm

Hi,

My aprox. 2-3 yr old male DS rescue has got me concerned. He has started getting aggressive with strangers and will lunge / nip at their heels as they walk past. He has done this 5-6 times over the course of a year. The person is always male. There no real similarities in the person or location of the incident. The first was in my apartment hallway as we were going out to play. One was 2 guys walking on the street toward me at the end of a 2-3 mile walk through the city. The most recent was at an outdoor café and he was sitting beside me. I did not see any body language cues (no Mohawk, ears, tail). I was not putting out anything or tense in any way. He was on leash each time and it was a total surprise.

Any thoughts?

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Owned-By-Hendrix
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:56 pm

Was he in a heel at the time? How's his obedience?

In general it could be defensive or prey drive, however, I've found with prey there is a very minor body language change (stiffening, ears forward, literally see them coiling) before a leap, however, I've also seen defensive drive hit so fast the signs are fluid into the motion. Is he growling at all during these?

Do you know anything on his background?
Kay
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Will1492 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 5:28 pm

The incident in the hallway was as we were coming out of my apartment and the guy tried to get by us fast, I kinda thought that was a prey drive, quick movement triggered thing. It happened right after I got him. There have been other times where I felt that he was going to "go for it" with someone else in the hallway and I redirected him and switched him to my right away from the person and he didn't really give them another thought once we were past.

He didn't growl, but barked a little as it happened.

I don't know anything about his background.

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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Tue Nov 24, 2015 9:06 pm

If it's a higher pitched bark, it's more likely prey. If it's a deeper bark, it's more defense.

I would hazard a guess at this time it may be a combo of prey and uncertainty when certain people pass him. You're right to get his attention and physically move him. I would work on a "watch me" or "look" commands and have him heel when you see him start to indicate he may go after it. This will have the added benefit of also increasing his confidence when passing people. Work slowly to passing people (use friends for this first) from a distance then closer and closer. Once he's good with people he knows try it at a distance with strangers. You want it to be solid before you try passing closer to people.

If for any reason you think it is something more serious, I would find a trainer and start working with them. However, as of now, I would try the attention heel and see if that helps.
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Will1492 » Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:17 pm

Thanks for hearing me out and offering advice.
I spent the long weekend with the dog at the inlaws (he has been there many times) and out and about in new environments. There were 20 or so people at the house, maybe half were new to him and he was happy and friendly with everyone (maybe a bit over active and doing laps around the house trying to get people to take him outside and throw his ball)
I was watching muttley's reactions to people outside and I'm getting the feeling it's a mixture of uncertainty and hyper protectiveness over me. I am aware of his "tendencies" and am actively trying to redirect if I see or feel it popping up, my only concern is that he feels me and is feeding off of it. I am trying to do a better job with my body language and lead handling (I want him close, but don't want him to feel "on guard" all the time)

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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:19 am

He may as well be picking up signals you're subconsciously putting out. H reads me like a book and reacts before I realize what I'm doing. One thing I did was start talking to him while be challenged - I made it clear first what was to be expected, then if I became nervous or anxious I would start talking him through the challenge (me putting off warning danger signals) and correct if he broke what he was supposed to be doing. So, in a really "philosophical" way, it was a very complex obedience lesson.

Trick is he first had to know what was expected of him. Let's take for example sitting when someone came up and talked to us. Had to run through that with friends a thousand and twelve times in all sorts of contexts, so he knew when I told him "sit" what that meant when someone walked up to me. Now practice with strangers (the less threatening kind lol) until that was solid. Now we moved to people who may make me anxious or nervous. At this point, H knows his routine, and I know I will be putting off signals. I personally went off my dog, I saw him stiffen at any point I would disengage with the person, and I would start talking to H, "no, no, it's fine, leave it" whatever in a calm voice. If he broke his command, correction. Pretty soon he got the idea - just because I got nervous did not mean that a threat was standing there. If he started to stiffen, a "it's fine" in the calm tone would calm him right down. At that point it was less about the command and more about the tone. Again, this was done after I knew his reaction was not fear based but more defensive from my signals.

For right now, I would keep doing what you're doing, and also set yourself at ease. Positive thinking and if you feel yourself start to become stressed, leave the situation and try again when you're calm. Set both of you up for success. You can also start talking him through certain things now too, to get the habit started. I talk (read blabber lol) to H anyways for it comes naturally to me to just start verbally supporting him through tough situations.
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Dutchringgirl » Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:11 pm

Did not have a chance to read the replies but quicly wanted to ask, how long have you had him? Pup? Adopt? Rescue? My Mal used to do this too, we got him at 1.5 Yo with protection training, they train to nip at the heals to keep the bad guys moving.
Lisa, Thalie CGC & Sadie, Cookie the Basset, CT
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Wed Dec 02, 2015 6:16 pm

Lisa - 2-3yrs approx and unknown background.
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Dutchringgirl » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:40 pm

I agree with what Kira wrote. I feel though its more protection then prey, if it moves quick, then its prey, but people dont move as quick as a critter to pounce on.

I always teach " look" this way the attention is always on you. We did this in protection training and I also taught Sadie, who is not in any "work" except a dog bed killer............ they make eye contact with me until I release them.

I took Sadie to town, and found a place to go off the side walk but where people would be passing, Say "Look: then as soon as they make eye contact, reward. Use marker training to mark the behavior. They pick it up super quick. Then hold it longer and longer. Now I dont have to say "Look" if I am waiting, Sadie knows she must make eye contact first and hold it until I release her.

This way, if a stranger or someone comes by, make him look at you and ignore everything else

They are super intune to you, more than you are of yourself. If I hear a noise in the house, all I have to do is not move to listen and Sadie is on the ready and will bark. They pick up cues that you dont even know you are giving off.
Lisa, Thalie CGC & Sadie, Cookie the Basset, CT
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Will1492 » Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:31 pm

Thanks again for the advice. I will try talking to him more, as if people don't already think I'm nuts :)

Oh, and he is between 2-3 yrs old. I have had him about 2 yrs and he came from NADSR.

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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Dutchringgirl » Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:02 pm

Ok, so he hasnt been taught anything. Thats good. at least you know its him trying to figure out the world than trying to undo something that has been taught.

Who cares what people thinkLOL. I talk to all animals. Ages ago when I was running horse farms, I talked to all of the horses, and yes, they talk back.......... there were some other guys there who mucked the stalls and such, one day, one of them said to me........ you talk to the horses like they are people.......I chuckled.
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Raven » Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:59 pm

If you don't talk to animals, that leaves you having to talk to people. :roll:

Some people don't believe in "talking" to any animal you are training; the thought is that extemporaneous verbal communication detracts from the purpose, dilutes the power of the spoken word in training. So, when in training sessions, yes, I agree, and keep words to a minimum, using only necessary ones.



....My animals are my companions and sounding boards. I swear they get to know more than what you've taught them. The other day I mumbled, "Squirrels: they make me crazy." Thor spun around and around, barking. He emphatically agreed.
Though I can only hope to become the person who my animals believe I am, the things that they have taught me have made me a better human being. ~~~Sharon~~~

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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Dutchringgirl » Thu Dec 03, 2015 2:01 pm

Talking to animals is not only done with sound, there are many ways to talk to them with out something coming out of your mouth :mrgreen:
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Raven » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:30 pm

Well, yes...but I thought we were talking about talking.
Though I can only hope to become the person who my animals believe I am, the things that they have taught me have made me a better human being. ~~~Sharon~~~

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Dutchringgirl
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Re: Nipping at strangers heels as they walk past

Post by Dutchringgirl » Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:58 pm

Raven wrote:Well, yes...but I thought we were talking about talking.
:lol: :lol:
Lisa, Thalie CGC & Sadie, Cookie the Basset, CT
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