Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

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Briahna
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Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Briahna » Mon Jan 25, 2016 10:23 am

Long post. Bear with me, please!

My now 9 week old chow puppy, Royalty, seems to absolutely HATE strangers now.

She was comfortable and calm with strangers since she was about 6 weeks old. She wasn't friendly, just indifferent. She let people pet her, she would accept treats, she didn't growl, bark or otherwise seem irritated or frightened. However, a recent trip to PetCo (I take her with me when I go shopping when I need to get her new treats, food, toys, etc. and she has always really enjoyed it) has seemingly traumatized her. This was about 3 weeks ago.

Chow puppies are adorable and teddy bear like, so, of course, EVERYONE wants to pet them. I make a point to be very aware of what kind of attention she is getting so she doesn't get scared. However, despite my best efforts, one of the groomers at PetCo came by to help me find an appropriate brush and comb for Royalty and she proceeded to pet her and talk to her in a low, soothing voice. It seemed fine until my puppy started SCREAMING at the top of her lungs. She was yelping, whining, and OBVIOUSLY, very, VERY uncomfortable. I pulled my puppy away from the groomer's reach and she told me she had been "squeezing her butt and rubbing her *Censored Word* gland" or something. I looked at her like she was crazy.

She smiled and insisted that Royalty would "have to get used to this" if she wanted to be groomed. I NEVER once said that I wanted my puppy groomed there and even if I DID say that, I don't understand why she thought this was appropriate. I was even more bothered that she didn't even care that she was making my puppy cry so loudly.

Ever since then, Royalty HATES PetCo., she growls at strangers, barks, rears up on her leash, she won't accept treats (even when she does, she is still very nervous), she is VERY overprotective of me specifically in public (not as much for my husband), and she has even snapped at a few people (she didn't actually bite them, but she gave a very clear warning).

Some of the things I'm doing to help her:
1. I hold people's hands and say "its ok" and slowly bring the person's hand to her nose. She will then wag her tail and sniff the person's hand and sometimes give them a lick or very, very gently place the person's finger tip between her front teeth.
2. I allow people to give her small treats upon meeting her but she won't let them pet her unless I do step 1 (above)
3. I don't force her to calm down, I let her wander around the person and sniff them so she feels less threatened but if the person moves at all, she jumps and runs from them, barking or growling in the process.
4. I've noticed she feels cornered and threatened if I hold her while allowing people to pet her now, so I'm avoiding doing that as well. When she finally calms down, she sometimes will allow herself to be petted by strangers while I am holding her.

I know it will take time and patience (and some professional help) to get her through this, but am I being dramatic about my frustration with this woman? Was this not inappropriate? I know socialization (especially for chows) is a PROCESS and it's supposed to be a positive experience rather than a negative one. I used to train dogs and I specialized in training chows for a few years but I am not the kind of person who is too proud to hear another persons opinions or perspective.

Sorry for the long, long post, but have any of you dealt with this? I've worked with older aggressive/overly dominant chows, but I've never worked with a "traumatized" chow puppy. Any advice is welcome!!

EDIT: She is an absolute angel at home and has never shown any aggression or fear towards me or my husband. She wasn't even scared of me when we adopted her. She basically crawled into my arms and let me carry her around for 30 minutes without squirming or anything. She is very affectionate and playful at home. This probably goes without saying but here I go anyway: She is NOT an aggressive dog, she is just afraid.
Last edited by Briahna on Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Rory's Dad » Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:46 pm

1st off, you're right...that was a long post, but since I am well known for my long winded responses, I will chime in.

Realize that the pet groomers at the box stores are either beginning their careers or have been reduced to working there. Some are really good groomers, but are missing that 'extra' quality that allows them to move on to private practice. And, by the way, the structure of those stores results in really overpriced grooming rates. Just to relate, I own 3 Chows. 2 males and a female. My older male has always gone to Petco for grooming before shows, and he is comfortable with them so I continue to use them even at $100 per visit. I just don't have the time to do it the day before shows, since its a 5 hour endeavor and I have my youngest male to bath and groom at home (he's a smooth chow so drying time is way shorter). But I had a similar incident 2 years ago with my female chow. She was coming into heat and the Petco groomer picked her up out of the tub under her rear. She reacted, turned, and very likely nipped. I checked with the ACTUAL employee who assured me it was not a big deal and didn't even break the skin, but Amber was banned from Petco grooming services. I guess I understand on some level, but it really is an over reaction to a defensive move against poor handling. They were told ahead of time that she was in heat. Every bitch is 'not responsive' during the onset of heat and its a natural reaction. Anyway, it just goes to show that the inexperienced groomers that they employ aren't the best choice. To relate it to human terms, recent beauty school grads are generally found at Super Cuts and not your high end Salons.

Now, I would agree that a chow pup needs to be used to being touched. Not man-handled, but touched. Since I have show dogs, this is critical. My youngest has a quirk about his thighs. I grab on that area and scratch/rub constantly to get him used to it. But I make it a positive experience for him. I think it has more to do with him not seeing it coming. It probably surprises him since he is looking straight ahead, and since he's a smooth chow, I don't think its the peripheral vision issue. It's just he's focused somewhere else.

I think most of what you are doing to re-socialize her is good. I would ease off on how she meets others for the 1st time though. You should be able to tell her it's "OK" without actually guiding there hand. Back up a bit and still use "OK", but instruct on how to approach her so she's comfortable. Usually its from straight ahead, not from the side or rear. From underneath, not hovering over her head, and without a smothering lean. Treats are a great way to get her comfortable with a new person, but let her come to them for it. And have her actually earn it still. Oddly, none of my dogs will take a freebie. They have to be told to sit, stay, down, etc. And they will listen to a stranger for those commands. If they are just handed a treat, they will ignore it.

Keep letting her be independent and not being held by you for reassurance. That is really important. She needs to be confident without you. She should be protective, not reliant. As you seem to know, if she is feeling protective of you, she will react differently. Don't project anxiety with the situation or she will pick up on that and go into defensive mode.

You are right that it will take time, so find other places to take her out and get socialized. Get her around other dogs so she can see how they react. Find other person groups. Try a visit to a childrens center or a retirement home. She will find her comfort zone. Seniors tend to be less threatening to dogs, and kids are more touchy, so you should find it quickly. Women also tend to be less intimidating for pups (go figure with that one), so that might be an early option vs. a room full of men.

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by applebear » Mon Jan 25, 2016 10:24 pm

Sounds like she needs some counter conditioning personally. I got a nasty tempered chow, seriously 8 weeks and he was marking, humping and charging people growling, huffing/puffing...you name it. He'd also mark people and kick his feet huffing from a distance. Nasty little brat I tell you. :)

First you don't want people just touching until she is ok with it. This spoiled A LOT of socialization with mine. People like to go straight for the top of the head. Sniff, oh pet. MMM no. With Rolyx, I just took him at a distance and when people came, I waited for that exact moment he saw them and BEFORE reaction, shoved a treat in his mouth. As high value you can get. His attention and focus went directly on me then. Eventually I could move him closer to people, soon we could do intros and have the people give him treats and proper pets under the chin [he's start rubbing into them like a cat, and pretty soon they could pet him up the back to the head, etc].

It took a lot of work, and I still have to manage him...but over all, if you just let him sniff you first and pet UNDER his chin...he'll warm up to a person fast. I just sadly have to lay out these rules over and over. What it comes down to, never force her into a situation she is uncomfortable with or you get what you are getting. Work them into the situation slowly, let them come to terms it's safe and a good thing...counter conditioning and desensitizing became our best friends.

I remember the shelter insisting I bring Ro to meet this new pup I was looking at adopting [I knew it would be fine, Ro loves dogs]....and I had worked with him really hard but I was so nervous with the people part. I made the shelter directer and foster mom aware of his rules, and it went great. He walked in there like he owned the place, greeted them and they petted him where needed and he warmed up quickly. We were all on the floor with him by the end and he was just having a grand time.

But making my point that I still have to manage...a staff member came through who wasn't aware of the rules. Ro was willing to greet her, but she went straight for the top of his head and he just backed up and gave her this, "Uh....what do you think you're doing' look and I called him back to me to not risk any incidents [he's never bit or attempted, but I'd like to keep it that way]. It was a *little* humorous after, because he was so annoyed and paranoid about that staff member touching him on top of the head [a spot reserved only for those he approves of], he would not let it go and kept staring at her. I finally had to give him a little leash tug and tell him 'enough' and he laid down, letting it go.

Socializing is important, but just keep in mind you can't rush it. Look up counter conditioning some time. It's an excellent tool, even for stubborn chows. ;)
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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Briahna » Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:21 am

Rory's Dad, thanks for the advice and reassurance. I brought her to a class I teach a few weeks ago and she had a lot of fun. It's mostly high school and college aged students (which is weird for me sometimes since I JUST turned 23 lol) so they know better than to be grabby with a puppy who isn't naturally people friendly. I taught the class (it's about 30 trainees total) while she scoped the room out and got a feel for people. After about 15 minutes, she had settled and started playing with her toys near my feet. I gave all the students a small piece of one of her favorite treats in case they wanted to interact with her when/if she approached them. I told them to let her sniff their hand and then scratch her chest or the side of her face (she actually prefers this) and she had absolutely no problems at all. I might do this a few more times soon.

Applebear, thanks for your insight! Rolyx sounds like a character :) It sounds like you really helped build his confidence with people! Is he good on walks and around other dogs?

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Briahna » Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:27 am

Royalty just met our neighbor (a man) while we were on a walk today and thankfully he had experience with chows and he fell in love with her (called her "teddy bear" about 15 times lol) so he wasn't put off by her little gruffs/barks initially. I told him to let her sniff him and pet her chest or the side of her face. After he did this, she began wagging her tail and barked quietly a few times before she started playing with him and allowing him to pet her. She was still a little nervous...barking, nipping and growling a little bit (a mix between her playful growl and her nervous growl), but she was obviously enjoying his company. She has her good days and her bad days lol.

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Rory's Dad » Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:41 pm

Sounds like you have her on a good path. Keep us updated please.

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by applebear » Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:43 pm

Briahna, he was the most difficult chow I've ever had, but despite having to manage at times...the work is what made the difference. His confidence was all ready up, in fact he was quite sure no one was allowed on this earth but himself, me and those he considered special enough for his highness. What he needed to learn was people weren't bad, and that's where counter conditioning came in handy....it was about changing his mindset, "Oh people, I get a treat...happy!" Instead of, "Oh...people, kill."

He's great on walks, I pull him to my side and put him in a sit if I run into new people, who think they are going to do a drive by pet. I will block if they try to touch him without permission. I have no problem telling a person to back off, people have been petting dogs improper for years [think of it, how would you feel if some big burly man you didn't know came up squealing and hugging you in a store...it'd be uncomfortable, but at least you can say, "Stop." Dogs have to communicate other ways and most bites occur because those signs are ignored]. And he's great with other dogs, always has been. Leads me to believe he was never really socialized with people and learned dogs were what was safe as a pup.

Best of luck, just keep at it....you may not get perfect, but the work always pays off. :)
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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Briahna » Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:46 am

Thanks for your experience insight, applebear. It gives me hope...

Today was a discouraging day. I came home for lunch to walk Royalty (or Ro) and she was absolutely horrible on her walk (I think most of this is because my husband doesn't follow directions and he doesn't give her commands/structure when he walks her. We take turns. I'll have to talk to him about this...again...) and then we ran into an older woman and her therapy dog (who was being held and not on the ground).

Oh.
My.
Goodness.

Royalty was fine at first...gruffing a bit and barking every now and then. As I spoke to the woman, I let Royalty sniff her and scope her out. The woman let Royalty sniff her hand and allowed a scratch on her chest, but was still gruffing a bit and started growling a little (but she was wagging her tail from time to time). She was obviously still nervous. The woman would leave her alone, give her a treat and try again after a minute or so when Royalty approached her but she wasn't getting any better so we let it go. Just stopped trying.

We continued walking and we ran into the woman and her dog again about 10 minutes later (the dog was now walking around) and the two dogs (about the same size) started sniffing one another...they both seemed wary of the other. Royalty started getting aggressive and trying to charge at the dog and then she would growl. The low, threatening kind of growl. She wouldn't listen to me, she wouldn't calm down no matter how calm I stayed or what commands I gave her.

I was so embarrassed and disappointed. I picked her up, put her in the car and home. I'm trying so hard. I've never dealt with a puppy like this. I feel so discouraged......

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by applebear » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:57 am

Good days and bad, very common so don't let it discourage you or feel embarrassed. *hugs* Hey we both have Ro's for nicks. ;)

Honestly it sounds like she is being pushed a bit. Set her up for success and end on a positive note [for longer walks, don't be afraid to cross the street when you are going to run into someone until she is more on that level of handling more]. Often what happens is we want the end result much faster and push them past their threshold. I'm guilty of this myself, so please don't think I'm coming down on you. Just once a day, plan on meeting one person....there are many ways to go about it. Such as mine, starting at a distance. Or setting her up with people you know [but she doesn't] and just running into them in the street and having them completely ignore her as they talk to you, but 'oh my, they are casually dropping treats, how'd that happen?' Move it up slowly, take a step back if it turns negative.

Don't get discouraged. It can be managed, and you did great by knowing it was time to stop and give you both a break. :) I've never told anyone this, but when I first got Ro and realized what I had temperament wise, I spent a long time not being able to sleep and literally just breaking down crying...I even hated him for a bit, but then I just woke up one day. It wasn't his fault, and it was me who needed to adjust-once I did that, I felt ashamed for some of the thoughts I ever had and things started to change, for both of us. He's a great dog, has come a long way but he will never, ever be that "OH PEOPLE! LOVE!" guy. I had to become ok with that. I know how to manage and deal with who he is and he understands he too has to follow rules [ie obedience]. I don't force people on him, he sits nicely by my side with no snarky comments. If we do meet-meet someone, then his rules are followed [which are simple if the person has at least a couple brain cells-some don't, and I have learned when to say, "Sorry, don't pet." And yes, I will turn and literally block if they need a bigger clue].
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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Briahna » Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:06 am

Thanks, applebear for the continued reassurance. I'm sorry your Ro put you through so much, but it looks like it helped the both of you in the end. I'm glad you understand each other now :) Royalty definitely has her good days and bad days. Sometimes I KNOW she understands me, but she chooses to not listen. These are the times that get me, I think. When she gets the "puppy crazies" and bites the calf of my leg or steals one of my slippers and runs away with it. She knows better than that lol.

I gave Royalty a bath yesterday (I'll have to upload pictures) and she DID NOT like it. Haha but she was obedient and didn't cause too much trouble. She had gotten into some mud the day before so after brushing out the dried dirt, my husband and I gave her a warm bath. She looked like a completely different dog when wet.

Today however, I'm a little worried about her. She won't eat and she just seems depressed. I don't know if it's because she's just really tired or if she's sad because she's getting used to my routine and I've been leaving shortly after she eats. I hope she's not sick. She has totally regular poops, no blood or anything, she's drinking water like normal and she was running around during our walk and behaving very well....staying next to me and not barking at strangers we passed by. She seemed extra needy today though...and when we got home she insisted on laying in my lap while I did work on my laptop (she is typically a floor dog. Doesn't really like the couch or someone elses body heat lol). She got really calm and when I tried to get her to eat, she just laid down on my feet and wanted me to pet her.

I gently massaged her legs and her belly, her back, her neck, etc to make sure she wasn't hurt. I picked her up and she snuggled me and was just staring off into space. It was very weird. She is sleeping now. She is typically a hyper or at the very least, a curious puppy. Am I missing something? Can these be early stages of parvo (Before the diarrhea starts)? Worms? Or is she just sad?
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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Rory's Dad » Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:26 pm

Believe it or not, the bath may have just put her in her place to some degree. If she wasn't thrilled and you insisted on completing the process, then she probably learned a lesson.

She may also be adapting to you as her family. Even stubborn Chow pups want to be comfortable, so if she was getting happy rubs and all she may have decided she likes it. That would be a good thing.

The calf biting and slipper stealing is a look for attention. She wants you to play with her or chase her.

Many times a bath or a trip to the vet can wear them out. She is still pretty young, so this can happen pretty easily. Skipping a meal or so isn't a big deal. Just don't let it go more than two days. She could be objecting to the food itself, or simply not hungry.

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Briahna » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:30 am

Thanks, Rory's Dad. This makes sense. She did get happy rubs and I even gave her a few treats during her bath.

She has been much more well-behaved since then, but I don't know how long it will last. She's definitely not a bad dog, but she can be a lot when she gets the "puppy crazies" and the "zoomies" because then she sprints around, growling (playfully) and those are the times when she'll nip at you and if you scold her, she just keeps playing. No matter how much we exercise her and play with her, she always gets this way at about 7 or 8pm. I had a german shepherd puppy as a child that was the same way.

She still won't eat this morning though.

I also took her out at about 4am this morning and we came across two women leaving their homes and Royalty immediately started barking and growling. I was holding her (because she's small and I still have to hold her to go down the stairs outside of my door) so I just said, "No" firmly, but not loudly and held her mouth closed. She hates that and she looked at me, showing that she acknowledged my command, and then she didn't do it again. That was definitely easier than it has been for the past week or so, so I'm hoping that means we're making progress.

She didn't even chase after them after I put her down for her walk. She just waited and looked at me until I started walking. It was very refreshing. But it was probably because it was 4am and she was a little groggy and tired. :(

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Rory's Dad » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:38 pm

A couple things. Zoomies are going to happen. Its a sign of a healthy and happy chow. It's that burst on energy and nothing you can do about it. If it happens at a regular time it might be the result of a happy after dinner burst. I get that with all 3 of my dogs and my oldest is 4 now. I have them on a trolley run, so I just look to make sure I don't get caught up in the leash. I 'insist' that they put their teeth away. This is a constant commend. They all do it, and are not being vicious in any way, they are just trying to play, but I don't need any scrapes. For the most part they respect this. I will move my arm/hand toward them as a distraction though. Move toward the mouth and quickly move away. I know where I am going with it but they don't. I am not reaching into their comfort zone. Hard to explain, but its kind of a game.

Zoomies are not about exercise or amount of walks. They are just an energy burst or a sudden urge to be playful.

Chows are going to be protectful. Its their nature. A lot of how they react will come from your end of the leash. If you are stressed (either from the approaching stranger or over how your dog is going to react) it will add to their behavior. If she allows you to hold her muzzle, then you have made big progress. She may hate it, but if she tolerates you doing it, then she is viewing you as an authority figure. Eye contact and response is even better. Better progress will be made if all those who walk her are consistent.

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Briahna » Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:58 am

Thanks, for the continued support here.

Last week, I might have made a bold move. I brought Royalty back to PetCo and made a point to stay for an extended period of time so that she could meet/see/smell new people. I have been training her at home and she is very good at doing whatever I tell her on command (although she groans when she doesn't feel like doing something. Very funny lol). So I roasted a chicken for a big pot of chicken soup the other day and used some of the breast meat to make treats for her. She is OBSESSED with these treats and pretty much loses her mind when she sees/smells them. I've been using these treats to train her for the most part, but I brought a container filled with these treats to PetCo and whenever someone was interested in her, I gave them a few pieces of chicken to drop and then eventually give to her. I also used the treats to encourage her to walk next to me while in the store, to stay focused on me and not other people/dogs and I would reward her for being calm as well.

This was a pretty massive success. She started becoming very eager to meet people, to sniff them, even to PLAY with them. She even listened to commands from strangers!! And then she let them pet her! Hesitantly, I might add...and she still did growl a little bit, but nothing like the last few weeks. HUGE improvement.

After walking around for about 10 or 15 minutes, we sat by the register and this gave Royalty the chance to see a good amount of people coming and going, occasionally giving her a treat. She also got to see a few dogs and she was able to get used to the scary automatic sliding door. Within about 10 or 15 more minutes, she was relaxed and laying down. Her nervousness seemed to be gone completely. A store clerk even went and brought her a toy to play with and she played fetch with him (Yes, my chow can play fetch. Haha).

IT WAS AWESOME! She still needs improvement, definitely but this made me very, very happy.

My husband has insisted on having a superbowl get together this weekend and I'm going to handle it the same way, essentially. We will have 5 or 6 guests come over and before they all enter our home, I will give them each a few pieces of chicken to greet Royalty with. We'll go over some other rules as well, but I'm hoping this will be helpful for her. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Thanks again for your help and support Applebear and Rory's Dad :)
Last edited by Briahna on Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by Rory's Dad » Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:43 pm

Well done. You found a trigger and are using it. While she still not be 'easy', you are on the right path to getting her well adjusted.

I say the more people she meets and accepts the better. At home will be more of a challenge than a strange pet store, but I think she will do fine. You have a good method and it should go well.

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Re: Help! Chow puppy now HATES people

Post by applebear » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:29 pm

Sounds like you're getting a hang of things. :) Keep in mind that all dogs do go through fear periods too, so if she seems like she is back tracking down the road...don't let it freak you. She may just be going through a stage. Watch her thresholds, keep up the great work!

So how did superbowl go? I suspect well, sounds like you were prepared with some rules and had treats on hand so guests weren't being pushed on her, but seeing they are a good thing [treats!].
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