A question about a dog nipping guests.
My husband and I rescued a 4 yr old dobergirl from a home where she was kept in a crate in an upstairs bedroom. “Schatz” (her new name) has bonded with me to the point of needing to touch me or be touched constantly. We have been socializing her as much as possible, walking daily, etc. For the most part she is a very sweet and gentle girl. She greets our guests, allow the guest to pet her and give her treats. When the guests stand to leave she nips the back of their thigh. This is her usual thing now. Not just one person but anyone who comes into our home. It is not a bite, no teeth marks or blood but it certainly is bad behavior and alarms everyone – including me. I don’t know what is causing this or what to do to stop it. She is our fourth dobe. First time I have had a dog with bad behavior of any sort. Help is appreciated. Jan
We can’t know what happened to the dog before you adopted her, but from what you described it seems to me that she has a wrong perception of the hierarchy in your house. If your dog is nipping guests, it sounds like she might think about your guests as “her guests”. To fix that I would show her “her place” in the hierarchy of the house. If she is a nice and gentle dog overall – it shouldn’t be difficult.
1. Don’t let your dog greet your guests when they come in. When guests come at the door, take the dog to a separate room and leave her there (you greet your guests at your house, not her). Let the guests enter and spend some time in the house (until the excitement of the greetings are done and guests are settled in the living room). Only then let your dog out and let her greet them. Let her socialize with them for a few minutes. Watch your dog nipping guests and if that happens – give her a firm “No” and take her back to a separate room. Wait for 5-10 minutes and give her a chance again.
2. Dog must stay at her place while you entertain your guests. Not to push her limits – let her socialize with your guests only for a few minutes (while she is still showing behavior you want) and then take her to her bed and give a firm command to stay there. Her bed should be in the same room where you with your guests are (living room), where she could have a good view of everyone. It shouldn’t be in the middle of the room, but rather at the corner. That way you show her “her place” in a pecking order. Make sure she stays in her bed and obeys. If she persistently leaves her bed to approach your guests, lock her in a separate room for 5-10 minutes, then take her out again and straight to her bed in the living room (no more socializing with your guests). This will teach her that the guests came to see you and that she is allowed to be with YOUR guests only if you let her.
3. Keep your dog away when guests are leaving. Before guests are ready to leave, take your dog to a separate room and lock her there until guests are gone. She is not allowed to say “goodbye” to YOUR guests. When you take her to a separate room, make sure it doesn’t look like you are punishing her. When you take your dog to a separate room tell her “good girl, you have to stay and wait here”.
If she is a nice, clever dobbie, like most of them – she’ll figure it out pretty quickly. Just use firm “No” when she leaves her bed or nibbles on your guests and stop that behavior firmly and immediately. And make sure to reward her with very calm “good girl” to let her know she is showing behavior you want. Good luck. Ping me if you need more help.