by C R Raymond
I have a 10 year old Mario, Villa Malta from Marge. He is my baby. He stays at my side when I am home. We have Guido, a 12yr.old Maltese from a pet shop in WV. What a terrible temperament. We can not touch him with-out scars. Fortunately he listens to our vet. He will not let us do one bit of grooming, to the point that we keep him cut like a Schnauzer. We can't tough his eyes, ears, etc. The worst problem is Guido's 5th leg...... It drives me nuts. Do you have any suggestions? I have tried everything? His temperament is so bad the vet told us 12 years ago to take him back to the pet shop. I would appreciate any advice you might have for me. Thank you.
First of all you mention that Guido minds your vet. If I was you I'd take the dog to the vet and observe what the vet is doing that makes Guido mind: is it the tone of voice, the body language [very important]. My novice opinion is that Guido for 12 years has been the dominent one when YOU should be the dominent one or alpha figure. IF the marking is really a problem, I would crate the dog when you can't watch him, and have him on a lead at all times that he is with You. When you see that fifth leg start to go up, immediately say, looking straight into his eyes, "sssStop! and making a growling noise say "BAD!" Then take Guido outside to show him This is where I want you to go! As you are taking him outside providing that he stopped lifting his leg, I would say, "What a good boy that Guido is!" If he goes outside, praise him again with "What a good boy that Guido is!" A small bite of his favorite treat wouldn't hurt either. This may take some time and patience on your part, but you would be surprised that dogs re-learn very quickly and can "learn new tricks". Hissing as you say "Stop" proves to be very effective. For some reason dogs respond to this noise. Also saying "What" in front of the praise you give, really works. I don't know what it is about the word "What", but if works who cares? Always after disipline, immediately reinforce with praise and/or a treat. If you choose to try this, I would use treats for awhile because a dog needs a reason to want to do something for you. Eventually when the dog is doing what you want, a verbal praise and a pat or tickle will be enough. It would be very helpful for you to learn to think like a canine and communicate like a canine, specifically like an alpha canine [read Guido's body language--he does have one]. You mention that you've tried everything, but don't mention some of the things you've tried. Please forgive me in advance if the suggestions I'm giving you have already been tried by you. When Pixie Bella is misbehaving during her grooming, I take her muzzle in my hand, look her square in the eyes, and growl "sssStop"! I might have to do this a couple times in a row. When she stops, I immdiately praise her, "What a good girl that Pixie is! Pretty Pixie, Pretty Pixie!" My vet seems to know how to communicate with her too. On her last visit she had an allergic reaction from a shot. I had to take her back to the vet. When the vet came in to give her a shot to counteract the allergic reation, upon seeing the needle, Pixie whimpered, ears drawn back [fearful], and backed up close to me. The vet gave her the shot and immediately said, nose to nose with her in a firm and proud voice said, "Brave Pixie, brave Pixie". That's all it took for her to calm down. I was also tickling under her belly too. A good way to get a dog to calm down is to tickle under their belly or chest or ribs. I haven't seen a dog yet who doesn't love and respond to this. A Pug I know, when I tickle him, his back leg goes so fast that you'd think he was practicing for the ballet! I call this their errogenous zone! [LOL] Pixie is still considered a puppy, so she likes to nip and bite. I don't allow her to do this. I either in a firm alpha voice say, "sssStop Bite", or take my hand on her muzzle and look her in the eyes and say it. I immediately praise her when she stops and she always does. Another way to show Guido that you are the boss or alpha, is to take his muzzle, press it against your cheek looking the opposite way and either growl or stay silent for a few seconds. You're saying "I'm boss" and Guido's response is "Yes, you are." I've found these techniques proven on my niece's older Pomaranian. In less than 20 minutes with positive reinforcement and little bites of her favorite treat, I had that dog coming to me, sitting and staying for me, and was able to pick her up and carry her around, much to the shock of my niece [owner] and my sister who were watching me speak dogese to "Lady". I have never been able to hold or get near Lady because she is a nipper and a biter, including barking whenever you get near to my niece. She has not been properly trained and therefore she does whatever she pleases, much to the frustration to most everyone that is around her. I had made a new friend. She respected my authority and I in turn showed her love and praise which is all a domestic dog really lives for. Dogs do not have a conscience to know the difference between good and bad. They have to learn from us alphas what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Some excellent books I have read and can suggest are: 'No Bad Dogs by Barbara Woodhouse, 'How to Talk to Your Dog' [I don't remember who the author is, but the 1st chapter is called Talkier Than We Knew, so you know you have the right book]. 'How to Talk to Your Dog' is a fascinating book and proved to work for me. I'm telling you, If I could make friends with Lady, [I took a deep breath before I started with her, I have to admit I was skeptical with her], it would be worth a try with Guido. You may find your Guido to be very receptive. All it takes is patience, and a love and respect for who Guido is as a canine. I hope this gives you some encouragement. Feel free to reply either by post or email.