Can These Vicious Guard Dogs Be Turned Into Stranger-Friendly Love Bugs?

I have two Puginese dogs- that’s Pug and Pekinese mix. I don’t know how to insert a link with my Chromebook, so here are their pics.


They are littermates, almost two years old, tiny little things, and mean as hell. Not to me, of course, they think the sun rises and sets on me, and they tolerate the other people that live here, but when anybody comes over, they have to be put up, or they will bite their ankles. They are really, really mean, even to people that have been here a lot of times.

I’ve gotten them to where they will go right into my bedroom when someone knocks and I tell them to go in there, and I’ll shut the door until the person leaves, so there’s that. But I would like for them to be able to retain their sanity and be out and not bite people, like normal dogs, if that’s possible.

I know that it’s the Pekinese in them-- we have two Pugs and while they do bark at noises, they’re friendly to people and do not have this problem. I read the other day that Chinese emperors used to call Pekinese dogs “sleeves”, because they would hide them in their sleeves and then go up to their enemies and fling their sleeves out and the dogs would attack. And knowing these dogs, it’s easy to believe. I didn’t know this about Pekinese when I got them, and they weren’t mean to us when we got them. I guess they sensed that we were all they had, and they were only a few weeks old.

Not only are they vicious like this, but they’re also very stubborn and willful. It took months and months to housetrain them, and still to this day, they are stubborn as hell, especially the black and white one. So I’m not hopeful that this can happen, but I’m willing to listen to any ideas anyone might have. The title was a bit tongue-in-cheek; I doubt that they will ever really warm up to other people, but if they’d just stop biting them, I’d be happy.

Serious question: do they like treats?

Well, yeah, who doesn’t?

Shock collars? Not a big favorite with dog lovers but cheaper than lawsuit from a kid’s parent and better than having to euthanize if they hurt someone seriously. I get that they’re small but you have dogs biting people just because they are in their space. In most cases domestic dogs with that behavior would be put down fairly shortly. Their tiny size is the only thing saving them at this point.

You need some hard core measures or live with locking them up and hoping a kid does not get in their way. Honestly you have two ticking bombs in your house that could wind up costing you a ton of money and grief.

I don’t know about love bugs but have you tried clicker training? Look on the web for it, there’s lots of videos. That’s the cheap solution. (Try Kristin Cresjeho or George Zak.)

The more expensive solution is to contact a dog behaviorist. If they were my dogs, I would look for someone who doesn’t use shock collars or anything like that, so forget about Sit Means Sit. But they’re out there. And pricey.

They are really cute, but they need to be taught manners.

There is a similar dog in my neighborhood. I see him on walks. He is friendly to my dog but not to me, but he doesn’t bite me–he just ignores me. He is very cute, and his owner sometimes has a problem with kids who want to pet him and will not believe her when she tells them he doesn’t like people, and she has worked with him so that he doesn’t immediately fly at those kids and bite them (as he would no doubt like to). She hasn’t been able to get him to sit politely for petting, but at least he doesn’t maul anybody. I know he gets lots of exercise, both in walks and in a large yard.

What a couple of bruisers, lol.

In some ways, this is ideal. The dogs go to their room; no one gets bit or scolded.

In other ways, however, it’s reinforcing for the dogs that People Coming Over is Weird and Uncomfortable. If you want the dogs to be comfortable welcoming people into their territory, well, you have to actually let them out and and accustom them to people coming over. That’s going to take time and a lot of constant reinforcement.

So before you start, you might want to think carefully about why you want the dogs to be nice to visitors. Maybe it’s just better to leave them in their room where they feel safe and your guests are also safe. Some dogs are just territorial and don’t like strangers. If you can accommodate that in a way that everyone is safe and secure, you might just want to call that a win.

If you do want to start teaching the dogs that visitors can be ok, you need to start slow. Find a friend who is comfortable and not intimidated by pushy dogs. Have that friend come over regularly (every day, if possible.) Ring the doorbell, come inside, sit down. Calmly greet the dogs. Dispense treats. Get up and leave. Like I said, this is going to take time and patience.

It’s going to be harder because there are two dogs, so they work each other up. It’s harder to get two dogs to learn something. So you might want to start working with your friend on one dog at a time (kennel the other dog out of sight, while you’re working on one. Then repeat.) This will have the added advantage of the single dog not feeling quite so brave on his own (but the added disadvantage of the dogs being nervous.)

Don’t hesitate to call in a professional, especially at the start. The pro can observe your interactions with the dogs and give you advice on how to proceed. As a dog owner, it’s important that you keep your dogs safe - and rule one of keep a dog safe is keeping other people safe from the dog. Getting some professional advice upfront - and I’m not a professional, just an internet dog lover - can save a lot of time and headaches latter on.

Good luck. I love a little dog with an underbite. :slight_smile:

Good advice here. I’ll have to really think about what I can do that’s really feasible. They go so nuts when someone comes in, that it’s hard, if not impossible, for them to even hear anything. They become a snarling, snapping, biting, yapping ball of teeth and fur. Now I wish I hadn’t gotten littermates, although I do adore them. I’ve since learned that’s a bad idea, as they will always have their own thing that’s stronger than anything they’ll have with you.

Awww, I had a Pekingese growing up and he was a sweetie. We have some amusing pictures of my baby cousin pulling his fur and Woo was clearly rolling his eyes and thinking, “Someone get this kid offa me.”

I wish I lived near you and could help train those little cuties!

They need serious training, and need it now before they get much older. Sorry to say this, but you haven’t been a good friend to them so far if you’ve tolerated this behavior. Things will not go well for them if they get loose somehow and injure a person. And they are freakin’ adorable too.

How brutal can the training be allowed to get? If a little dog came up and started chowing on my ankle, I would just kick him into the nearest wall. Maybe they can learn just how small they are compared to humans and that picking a fight with us is a really bad idea.

On the other hand, if you’re into home defense, you could get a couple dozen of them and have them swarm intruders like a school of piranha.

Ha, piranhas is about right. But no kicking- I kill you.

If we didn’t live so rural, I’d have either found some way to train then or gotten rid of them by now. But we live on top of a hill, and the only way to get up here is up a long gravel driveway. Nobody gets up here in a car unnoticed, Damn sure nobody walks up here, and the dogs don’t leave the hill in search of prey. So it’s very unlikely they’d “get loose” and hurt someone. We used to have visitors that would just walk in but we keep the doors locked now so that doesn’t happen.

But, I am seeking advice to stop this now, so I think that’s a good thing.

WTF? :eek: This is the exact opposite of how you train a dog.

The dog is biting because he considers the person a threat. If the person harms the dog, he just confirms that the dog’s idea was correct. The best possible outcome is that the dog will be permanently terrified of the human and will try to flee from any future confrontations (and will fight twice as hard if he sees himself as trapped). All you’ve taught the dog is that the Stimulus “Human” equals the Response “Pain.”

If the dog bites, the human needs to protect himself, of course. But then they have to follow that with socialization and teaching appropriate behavior. This means placing the dog in proximity to the human until he becomes accustomed to the human’s presence, and rewarding the dog when he remains calm. Most likely, you’ll need to crate the dog at first and progressively bring them closer.

The visitor also needs to be the one that gives the dog his food and treats, lets him in and out of his crate, and basically does the same jobs the owner normally would. That way the dog will perceive the Stimulus “Human” equals the Response “Food.” The dog perceives that he depends on the visitor the same way he depends on his owner, and that the visitor is there to take care of him rather than harm him.

In all likelihood, this is going to be a long and difficult process for a two-year old dog. Some breeds (such as Chihuahuas) are notoriously inclined towards hostility to anyone other than their owner. (These behavioral problems are, BTW, a big part of the reason purebred dogs are an incredibly dumb idea.) The key window for socializing a dog takes place when they are in the first few weeks and months of life. The dog needs to meet as many different people as possible when it is still very young. People who train service animals will just sit outside somewhere like a Wal-Mart with their puppies so the animals get to meet a tremendous variety of people and get accustomed to the idea of seeing strangers as a routine and pleasurable experience. If the dog has already missed this window, trying to re-socialize him at a later age is going to take a lot of patience.

You don’t need to hurt the dogs for them to learn. Animals (and people) learn best with positive reinforcement.

Fundamentally, you want to reward the behaviour you like (staying calm and quiet, no barking or biting when visitors arrive) and IGNORE the bad behaviour. That’s hard!

First, think about what behaviour you want to encourage. Maybe when they hear a knock or the doorbell, you’d like them to run to a certain spot away from the door, and stay there. The desired behaviour could be incompatible with the unwanted behaviour - if they’re sitting on their mat, they can’t be running at the door and barking.

Then, use a clicker to mark when the dogs are behaving how you want them to. The click means “YES! That right there is what I want, and here’s a treat.” And should be followed up ASAP (pref within 1 sec) with a delicious reward, something small and soft and very high-value. Again, it’s up to you to decide what the click point should be - looking at you, 5 seconds of quiet, moving away from the door. Even if they can’t manage the behaviour right away, you can reward their steps toward that desired outcome – successive approximations.

There’s a lot of great dog training info online, try here to start.

Good luck! And good for you for taking steps to help your dogs adjust. I have littermate sisters too, who just spent their first day apart - and did great!