Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Dog. Bites Ankles

    Posted 06-17-2019 03:25 PM

    We have an adorable Yorkie mix that was dumped under a bridge in Puerto Rico. She came in with a severe case of mange which has now cleared up and she’s now ready for adoption. She’s good with other dogs, loves to go to the dog park, but is an ankle biter— especially when someone’s back is to her. Any suggestions on how to deal with this problem?

    Problem 2: One of our female 5-month-old puppies— also from Puerto Rico— was adopted out to a wonderful family in NYC that has another rescued dog. Our puppy is having a terrible time adjusting to the noises and traffic of city life. She refuses to go outside the apartment and, in the beginning peed and pooped all over the house. Her people wanted to return her, not because of the mess she made, but because they were heart-broken that she was so unhappy. They consulted a trainer and she’s better on wee wee pads now, but going for a walk is still a problem. Right now, her owner carries her to the dog park in a satchel and she’ll walk around a little. 

    Sorry to go on and on, but I like the family—they’ve been so patient—and loved the puppy. Any advice on how to ease our girl’s adjustment into city life? Thank you


  • 2.  RE: Dog. Bites Ankles

    Posted 06-17-2019 08:59 PM

    Don’t have exact problem, but perhaps same solution can help.

    When I walk my dog, I carry treats with me. He was getting into this habit of lunging and barking at dogs he’d hear and see in their yards or see on the walk. I have taught him periodically to look at me even when no dogs are are around and feed him a treat. Now when we hear/see the dogs, I whip out the treats and have him look at me and reward him only if he stays calm. Now I try to reward him as we walk past the dogs. Gotta figure out his tolerance threshold though and not get so close to the strange dog’s that he’ll ignore me. He still needs work with dogs on the other side of the fence, for example. We are not there yet.

    I would take the sound-fearing dog out where and when the sounds aren’t so bad. Teach, “look at me” and as soon as the dog looks at the handler and is calm, reward. Get that down pat under those calmer circumstances. Once successful, try to slowly introduce to sounds at a   level the dog can tolerate and use the “look at me” command. I’d also consider perhaps giving the dog some calming supplement and perhaps dab some lavender on your person or on the dog’s leash. Alternatively, try a dog buddy who is extremely calm around noises and walk them both together. My dog used to be a calming influence on my parent’s dog when we’d travel by car. 

    For the ankle-nipper, does that dog nip when your back is turned and you aren’t moving, or when you are moving after the back is turned? If the latter, they might have strong herding instincts. If the former, they might be trying to get your attention. You can also try “look at me” or “sit” or have them heel and come to your side instead of standing behind you. Teach the commands under normal circumstances until they ace it. Then when they try to nip, make sure you first verbally correct (such as “nuh-uh” for undesirable behavior), turn around, give them one of the aforementioned commands, and only reward for a response to good behavior. Be careful of timing. You don’t want them to get rewarded for nipping or seemingly causing you to turn around and give them attention. You might also try give them the command when your back is turned and reward when they obey.

    Regarding housebreaking problems, I’d first have a vet check. Some breeds can get urinary problems and may need to be fed prescription diet food.

    When the dog goes on the pad, use a word while they are in the process of doing it so they associate word with action. Use a separate word for pee vs poop. Use some word that is acceptable in public. I tell my dog to “do his stuff” for poop. Then once they learn that, take them outside immediately after eating or drinking and say the magic word. Have some treats handy but hidden and whip them out only after they’ve completed the act and verbally praise. Once they go where desired, you should cut back on treats to relieve themselves.




  • 3.  RE: Dog. Bites Ankles

    Posted 06-18-2019 05:19 AM

    Your ankle biter definitely sounds like a herder.  Fortunately they are usually quite smart.  Here are links to a few articles on training



    Good luck,  with training this should be a wonderful dog.


  • 4.  RE: Dog. Bites Ankles

    Posted 07-16-2022 08:50 AM
    Thanks for the link provided above. We live in a farming/ranching community where herding breeds are often misunderstood in a home setting as well as work setting. Sadly, some are dumped on our highways. The link above provides excellent activities that "fulfill" herding dogs' instincts.

    M K Bdeir
    Fur Ever Yours Dog Rescue

  • 5.  RE: Dog. Bites Ankles

    Posted 06-18-2019 04:19 PM

    Thank you Joan and JC.  The article on herding dog biters is excellent. Our biter is a Yorkie mix, but I think the article advice still applies. Didn’t realize how important the “look at me” command is.

    Focusing on treat rewards, leash walking and heeling will work. Thank you for your practical advice, JC.