Rescue Puppy - Need Help with Biting, Running Away and Training - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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Rescue Puppy - Need Help with Biting, Running Away and Training

We rescued a Hav puppy that was 5 months old when we got him. The rescuers had him for 3 weeks prior to us getting him and told us he was not very social, but felt sure he would do better once he left the shelter (which was filled with dogs much bigger than him and scaring him at every turn). Charlie was so super calm and shy from the time we got him until night 3. He would lay in his dog bed or in the back of his kennel and be as content as any dog ever seemed. When we held him, he'd rest his head and allow us to love him with ease. On night 3, however, he started testing his limits and seeing how far he could go out of the cage. After a minute or so, these turned into super fast sprints from his cage to the couch, his cage to the kitchen and then everywhere else just to explore. He even went in the kitchen - when left alone - and ate and drink better.

After about 5 minutes or so of sprinting here and there, my daughter tried to pick him up to walk him outside and he ran into his kennel. She went in to get him and lunged his head at her hand. Nothing vicious or a real bite, but he did try and bite at her. The next day, this same daughter had him sit with her most of the day. He promptly began following her and has not stopped for the next week. When she's gone, he looks for her and when she's around, he wants her. That said, he's started biting and lunging at my 8 year-old son and this same 9 year-old daughter who he loves so much. Tonight, he lunged at my son as he tried to take the leash off of him. Now, mind you, lunge is the word I'm using, but the dog weighs 7 lbs. The point is, he's trying to bite and that isn't cool. Now my youngest 2 children don't want to pet him because they're fearful of being bitten. To prove a point that they just needed to be more sure of themselves, I tried to teach them a few ways to better act around him and he then tried to bite me as well.

In addition to the biting issues, the dog runs from all 5 of us. At times, he's playing, but after 2 weeks, he still doesn't want to come - ever - not even when he's ready to stop playing. We have to all work together to not intimidate and scare him and play the "calmly catch Charlie" game each time we need to take him out or put him in the kennel and it's become a burden already. He's pooped and peed in the same place inside 20 times because we either lose sight of him for a second or can't catch him fast enough before he goes to his special place.

Between the biting, running away and potty training, the fun of having this little guy has been non-existent. He wants to play on very few occasions, but only with 1 of the 5 of us. We've all gotten on the floor, bought toys, etc. and he has no desire. Having grown up with labs and a springer spaniel, I am used to friendly dogs that you have to almost fight off because they want to love you so much. This guy backs up from everything and doesn't want anyone to hold him. That said, he waits all of 2 minutes to fall asleep once you have him in your lap, so I know he's finding comfort at some point. We just need help to figure out if the dog is broken, we're a bad family for him, etc. and what to do next. Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 10:50 PM
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wow, I know there are going to be a TON of helpful suggestions, hopefully soon!

I don't have much time, but wanted to welcome you to the forum and let you know that he CAN be a wonderful member of your family, given time and PROPER training.
Get a GOOD trainer in immediatly. And if you don't already, get an x-pen for potty training, you're going to NEED it. like NOW. Hopefully others will post with steps and how to do things, I am in the middle of bed time for my kids right now!!

WELCOME TO THE FORUM!!

Tammy and Tillie
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 12:17 AM
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My thoughts on these things:

1. The dashing run thru the house is what we lovingly call RLH (Run Like Hell). This is natural for these guys. It happens at least once a day in this household, sometimes twice. Luckily we have a large backyard where we can let him loose to run like mad (it's totally secure).

2. The biting issues. I'm trying to envision exactly what you mean by "lunge" and "bite", but some Havs are more mouthy than others. Trooper used to be extremely bitey and mouthy, heck he used to come up to us and play tug of war with our clothes. We've done lots of training and he no longer does tug of war with our clothes, but he still bites at our feet if he wants to play. He still bites on my hands when he's in my lap on the couch. We're still working on that. They are highly intelligent and highly trainable, so depending on exactly what you mean by lunge and bite, hiring a good, positive trainer is probably a great place to start. There are some training experts on this forum that may have other suggestions. I just want you to know that it IS possible to work on that. Maybe you could upload a video of that behavior to YouTube and post a link to it here so that we can see what you mean.

3. Potty training. Giving him the run of the whole house is probably too much for him to "handle" as far as knowing where to potty and where to not. Have you tried gating off just the living room? Then you could watch like a hawk for the potty signs and take him out when needed, and you won't loose sight of him. During times when you aren't watching like a hawk, he needs to be crated or put in an expen setup. Slowly, and I mean slowly expand how much free space he gets.

I'm sure others will have many many suggestions for you. These are just a few things that come to mind.

WELCOME! Please stay and enjoy it here! We'd love to see pics of your little guy!

Angie and Trooper

Trooper is a Moptop boy! If only I could think up a registered name...

Last edited by angiern2004; 09-28-2012 at 05:36 AM.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 12:19 AM
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OOPS, forgot to mention that Trooper also does the "run away" from us thing. I think he knows when we're going to pick him up and put him in his crate, and although he loves his crate, he would rather be out and about, so he runs every time. Luckily he only does it for a little bit. "The chase" is a game to him. Trooper's favorite game is chase. We also taught him "stop", so most of the time he will if we tell him to.

Angie and Trooper

Trooper is a Moptop boy! If only I could think up a registered name...
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 05:10 AM
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5 months is a difficult age: they are at the adolescent age when they become difficult, start testing boudaries, stop listening, etc. It does improve.

I think you need a trainer/animal behaviour specialist. You need to have the right approach right off the top. It could be that he's nervous/insecure and lunging/biting as a reaction or it could be that he's dominant/aggressive. The management of both of these are very different and the wrong approach could make things worse.

You don't know his history. He was probably mistreated by humans and doesn't trust you. I would leave his crate as his "safe place" and avoid pulling him out of there or even petting him in the crate. When he goes into the crate leave him alone. He needs a safe place. trying luring him out with a treat when you want to interact.

I would try some positive based training. Lots of treats and teach him something basic like "sit". Positive training goes a long way to establish trust and a relationship with the dog. These are very intelligent, very sensitive dogs and he's probably confused about his interactions with humans up to this point in his short little life.

And, post some photos of the cute little guy! We all love photos!

Good luck


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 05:34 AM
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Where do you live?

Angie and Trooper

Trooper is a Moptop boy! If only I could think up a registered name...
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 07:27 AM
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Sounds like he is doing RLH.

What kind of training are you doing?
I also think it might be best for an adult to scoop puppy up and prepare him for a walk rather than a child. Pup needs to be made to feel safe and I think it is better for a responsible experienced adult to be his caregiver.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 09:58 AM
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over the years I have had rescue dogs with severe behaviors, like biting me on the leg when I corrected them, so thru the course of my dog ownership, I have worked with a few trainers and seen almost all of the training styles and types. I'm just a dog owner like you, who has spent a lot of money training and caring for my dogs. I want you to know that I am coming from a place of compassion for you and your family.

I have had my share of rescue dogs. the only dog I've picked out of the litter is my 1/2 hav, 1/2 shih tzu Ollie. He decided very young, like 12 wks old, he didn't like being picked up, and he learned to wiggle to get ppl to put him down. sounds like your new dog doesn't like to be picked up. also, my little stinker runs away from me too. always has, and yes chase is the top game in my dog household to play (I have 3 dogs). There are some behaviors you might not be aware of that you may or may not be doing intentionally.

Dominant moves: stand over the dog, go get the dog (pick him up). patting/petting on the head, also is dominant. a scratch under the chin is not.

calming signals: there are behaviors that dogs do to each other to say 'chill out'. they use it on us as well. licking, turning the head away, laying down, are calming signals, if you do it, or he does it, you are telling the dog to calm down, your energy is too much, or he's telling you.

like it's already been said, dogs respond well to positive reinforcement. my hav responds very well to food. I use natural balance 'sausage'. cut it up small.

one of the behaviors that you are having is that he does not want to be picked up or approached. possible solutions:

1) do not have humans stand over him (dominant), sit on the floor get on his level.
2) don't approach him, have him approach you - have everyone carry highly preferred treats in their pockets. when he comes up to a human, he gets a treat.
3) teach him basic obedience. teaching dogs tricks is a great way to bond. what does he know already?
4) don't pick him up.

If he wanted to bite to hurt you, you would have, that's the good news. he is trying to tell you he doesn't like whatever you are doing and he strikes me as a little dominante himself.

your daughter: seems like he is resource guarding her. dogs always prefer someone in the household over another. but he is guarding her. She needs to get some separation from him. meaning that she needs to end the play sessions and walk away not him.

when he behaves badly, try a time out. 3 minutes in a room with nothing interesting and no humans. no need to yell or scold. bathrooms work well. this does mean you have to pick him up. but hey, small price to pay.

If he has a bad behavior not as severe as lunging or biting, play and attention ends, and you or whoever was with him need to walk away and give him zero attention.
He'll get the message. Hav's are companion dogs and above all else they want to be with their humans.

I agree you should get a trainer, positive reinforcement type. like it's already been said, it's hard to know exactly why he's biting in each situation. I have a feeling that the biting behaviori serves different purposes in different situations. you have to look at the reason why he is doing the behavior, to be able to shape, change or extinguish the behavior.

Last edited by sprorchid; 09-28-2012 at 10:05 AM.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 10:14 AM
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My Ted is 5 1/2 months right now and has started the whole biting/not coming thing all over again. He is now getting his adult teeth in and it hurts. Lots of bully sticks and other things to chew on are a must. When he chews on you, replace your fingers with a stick. If Charlie is absolutely a bear and hasnt slept in about an hour and a half, he's tired. He should be napping in the am and pm in his pen in his crate. If he's in his crate, he's probably tired. Leave him there until he wanders out unless you need to bring him potty because you are going out.
Ted is finished his first round of obedience and is now in a puppy agility class (no jumping or weaving). I do all my training with Ted, with treats. The running around is def RLH syndrome. Happens once or twice a day with Ted. Watch carefully with your pup too, if Ted needs to poo he will growl to go out or ring his bells. If I try and bring him in before he has gone, he will again growl, if I try and pick him up to bring him in. He is not being aggressive but that is his form of talking.
It sounds too me like the little guy is over whelmed with a household with alot of people and his 3rd house. I doubt that he believes he will be staying. Get a positive based trainer that uses treats for training and they will help tell you with all the things that your are doing wrong! (no insult meant...we all do so many things wrong that we think are good but worsen things). Ted is pretty consistent in the last few weeks with potty but Ive been doing it since June 30th when I got him. You just dont know his signs. Ask the trainer about bell training, they like that! You may not know what type of potty training if any he had. Maybe he just went inside before or worse, was not trained at all.
Good luck! If you are consistant and at a minimum get a trainer you will be very pleasantly surprised at what a great dog that you adopted!
I'm no expert but Ted is the same age as yours!

Lise and Ted
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 10:46 AM
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Until I learned to "read" Quincy's cues for out, I had no clue what the lunging and clothes tugging was. Then I realized that it was him telling me he had to go out to potty.
Quincy is a little over five months old too and it definitely is a time for patience! It's like that two or three year old kid pushing the boundaries. I've noticed he's become a little more stubborn and has decided that he will test everything I ask him to do.
Lots of patience, lots of praise for good things, tons of chewies, and make sure he's not bored.
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