Dog Owner Invents Training Techniques… Author Stumped

Please help! I am ready to give away my 6mo. old Maltese.
I grew up with one of these dogs- the most gentle and affectionate
dog I’d ever met so I bought one for my family at great expense.

I tried to find a good breeder and had the dog shipped.

The problem is this- He growls and snaps at my 4 year old whenever
he tries to pet him or pick him up, or if I’m watching saying, “Good
dog, no growl, it’s OK.. ” he will not growl but struggle to get away
and growl as soon as he’s down. He has bitten when I was not watching.

For a long while my son was the only one to
feed the dog, I kept him off the furniture and the kids owned the toys.
Nothing seemed to help , so recently I’ve been grabbing him firmly by
the scruff and growling “No” at him, then putting him in a small room by
himself for several minutes. Today when I went to correct him he
snapped and growled at me! He is now frightened of me and I am
angry at him.

The most upsetting thing for me is that I wanted this dog to be a friend
for my son like mine was for me when I was young. My son is a gentle,
quiet boy who loves animals and is saddened my this. Is there any hope?

– Stewart.

Dear Stewart:

I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a complete jerk,

The one thing you apparently HAVEN’T DONE is to CORRECT THE DOG’S
UNWANTED BEHAVIOR!!! The ‘pulling on the scruff of the neck’ is only for
young puppies, 8 to 10 weeks old. It’s ineffective for older dogs.

For correcting older dogs, I spend much of the book explaining the benefits
of the pinch collar. Remember the concept of motivation? Remember the
notion of associating a negative/correction with the dogs unwanted
behavior? Remember how I teach you to look at the corrections you’re
giving and decide if they’re motivational or not? Remember page 23,
page 38, page 59, page 62, page 155, page 173, page 174, page 181,
page 226, page 241, and page 260 ?

I’ll quote from the book, “After you correct the dog, immediately tempt
him to do the behavior again. Offer him the choice: If he does the
behavior again then most likely your first correction wasn’t motivational…
If he refuses to do the behavior, then praise him– as he’s just made the
RIGHT DECISION.” [Page 156.]

Now, if you have a specific question about how to implement any of
these techniques… then that’s another issue. But telling me that you’re
confining the dog in a bedroom as some sort of “Time Out” technique is
NOT something you’ve found in my book. And neither is, “”Good dog, NO
growl, it’s OK…”

Again, I’ll repeat: Praise the dog only when he makes the right decision
(staying calm). Do not tell him, “No growl,” if he’s already being quiet.

It’s very simple:

The dog does something good = You say, “Good dog,” and praise.
The dog does something bad = You say, “No!” and administer a
correction with the leash and collar.

I can only speculate why your question is not more along the lines of,
“This is what happened when I corrected my dog using the pinch collar
and tab for this obnoxious behavior.”

The only reason I’m being so blunt about this issue is that it’s a central
theme throughout the book. I stress over and over again the elements
of timing, consistency and motivation. In fact, many readers have
commented that my repetition of this concept is sometimes tedious.

Once you can explain to me how specifically you’ve used timing,
consistency and motivation and applied these elements to your
dilemma, you will (perhaps surprisingly) find yourself in the position
of explaining to ME how you will have fixed your dogs obnoxious behavior.