Understanding and Dealing with "Wild Child" Behavior in my Shikoku
  • I've recently come across an issue with my 8 month old male neutered Shikoku, Jack. Let me set the stage:

    I live in a city, so I've been working really hard at teaching loose leash walking and all of the other stuff that goes along with going on long walks in an urban environment where other people are walking, running, biking, etc. Jack has been progressing well and we've started adding short jogs so that he can eventually be my running buddy. He seems to prefer jogging with me to walking I'm assuming because he likes the faster pace. He keeps a loose leash for the most part and responds well to a verbal correction if he gets far enough ahead that it pulls on the leash ('ah-ah'). He either stays at a heel or slightly in front.

    WELL, two nights ago we were out doing our usual thing and he was staying at a heel and he sort of started to get closer and closer to me. Then he started to nip at his leash. Once he got hold of the leash (I had stopped running by now), he started to pull it hard and do his growl that he does when we play tug (Ian Dunbar's "Tug with Rules") and shake his head back and forth. And THEN it escalated pretty quickly into him jumping up at me and biting at my thighs and my forearm. The bites were hard enough to HURT and bruise but not puncture. He was growling, but he growls a lot when he's playing. I'm not sure, but I think he was still in play mode, no hackles raised or snarling or anything. It reminded me of like one step past where I would call him away and put him in timeout to cool off if playing with another dog, if that makes sense.

    I was pretty taken aback. First I tried a loud "OUCH" which worked for puppy mouthing. No go. I put him in the emergency hold thing I learned in my training class which is to face him away from me, crouch down, stabilize his body between my legs and grab his collar with both hands so as to prevent him from biting and turning his head but not apply pressure to his throat. I held him there until he calmed down and let out a big old sigh, but when I released him he started up again. I repeated the hold like five times with the same results. I finally tied his leash to street post and walked away from him and would only move closer if he was quiet and had all four on the floor.

    Anyway, we went out again later that night and basically the same thing happened. But then the next morning we walked and he was his usual self. He also went to daycare and got a glowing report. No further incidents to date, but clearly that's unacceptable behavior and I want to understand what's going on so I can squash it.

    Does anyone have any clues as to what's going on here? Experienced anything similar? Any input would be much appreciated. Thanks!
  • Jeez, sorry for the wall of text. I tried my best to edit...
  • This reminds me of when my dog Sage gets overwhelmed, or if I run with him on leash, say- to cross a street quickly. He also will bite the leash and jump up, grab my sleeve or steal my mitten. If I return to a walk and tell him to tone it down firmly ("Ah! Off!" ) he will chill out. Mind you he is almost 8 years old and still can relapse into this silliness. He doesnt growl, but he's not that talkative a dog. Both of my boys get mouthy when over excited.

    What this means is he wont outgrow it. It'll always be under there ("this is what I do when I don't know what to do") and if you want to run with him you'll need to teach him that mouthing and so forth is NOT what we're doing right now AND what you want him to do when he needs to tell you something. I assume since you already play tug with rules, that Jack gets playtime with you, so I dont read this as him not getting enough exercise or enough play. I read it like Sage- "I need to tell you that this is too much for me in a way that you'll hear it"

    The running could be too arousing as an activity. There could be something else in the environment - such as trucks passing by closely or something- that is too much to handle on TOP of the running. See what happens if you stop jogging and just walk, investigate, sniff, get down on his level. Does he enjoy that more?

    Reilly, my oldest dog, and Juno like to hold an object in their mouth when things get exciting- eg: someone comes in the door and they both walk around wagging and whining and look for a toy to hold. They don't want you to take the toy, they just feel comfort having something in their mouth. This is the same for Sage stealing my mitten. You could try having something for Jack to hold so if he needs a 'pacifier' it can be something that is acceptable. I have also met police dogs who carry a toy.

    But the most important thing is to determine if Jack is *enjoying* jogging itself, jogging on that route, etc...If for some reason, he just would rather do something else with you, honor that. because no small thing will erase that if you jeep making him do it IF he is uncomfortable. Jogging is more arousing than walking- just like rock n roll is more exciting than a lullaby.
  • tmdtmd
    Posts: 345
    How recently was he neutered? If recently he may have still been reacting to a female in heat nearby or that had passed through as it takes some time for the testosterone to leave the system. Whether that's it or not it seems like barrier frustration to me. Like @wrylybrindle said he should probably have something else to redirect his frustration or arousal on instead of you. It seems weird that he would calm down in the hold and then without an apparent stimulus like jogging again he would become aroused again, so it makes me think he was responding to something else in the environment. Did you jog with him that night too? Maybe there was some road kill he wanted to check out and he couldn't get to it because of the leash? Just some random thoughts. If you can find the source of the stimulus you could apply premack principle to get him to calm down before investigating.
    - Hanzo (Kai Ken), Pharaoh (JA/AA tweenie), Meg (Border Collie/Lab mix)
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    I wonder if he might have sensed something amiss and didn't want you to proceed? And it was worth it to him to bite firmly enough for you to stop? The emergency hold could have done double duty - keep you from moving on as well as calmed him (pressure wrap like a thundershirt).
  • CrimsonO2CrimsonO2
    Posts: 2215
    My female did this at around that age. She was also going through a heat so I chalked it up to juvenile restlessness AND hormones. Your dog is likely bored. If you take the same route every day, then he knows what comes next and is looking for ways to spice the walk. Do the reverse of your route, when he anticipates a left, go right instead. Find a few alternate routes. Add some obedience commands in between in the run and bring some treats to keep things interesting. He's being a Shikoku tween.

    Jesse Pelayo

  • WhiteGC8WhiteGC8
    Posts: 256
    I had a similar experience with my business boss's puppy doberman. We were out for a walk and he was fine one minute, then went after me like a piranha the next. I stayed calm but was unable to get him under control. Being that I'm disabled, he was too powerful for me. We were in a park, but the sun was setting and we were pretty much alone, so nobody could hear my calls for help.

    Anyway, I think he was bored. I obviously walk too slow for him. So after that day, I would wear him out mentally and physically: obedience and teaching him tricks plus playing games that involved running. Lots and lots of running. LOL

    Take this opportunity to bond and learn more about Jack. Once you do, both of you will be much happier. Good luck!
  • TrzcinaTrzcina
    Posts: 331
    Not exactly the same behavior, but I remember when my Finnish Lapphund was young (<2 years), she would "pinch" when she got overexcited while training or just about anything else. On walks, she usually didn't try to jump on me and "pinch" (nip and pull at sleeves, with no intention of hurting me but it still hurt because it was pinching--but nowhere close to breaking the skin)--she was more likely to try to bolt if she got overstimulated, and often the only way to get her back was to run in the opposite direction (or have a lot of high-value food on hand). I learned to keep a very good hold on the leash, lol (and I was only about 12 at the time, so... I was very much learning the ropes of being around a dog).<br />
    But the pinching she would mostly do in training, if she was either A) bored and frustrated by being asked to repeat the behavior too many times (usually heeling), or B) I responded too excitedly in praising her (remember, I was 12). So it was a sort of stress response of a sort, but not always because she was overtly uncomfortable--sometimes it was just that the positive experience was too exciting for her, too. When she was older, the leaping about me and pinching me turned into (often shrill) barking as an expression of frustration or overexcitement.

    Unfortunately, I don't really have any advice--with Emmee, it mostly came down to just not keying her up so badly when I wanted her to focus. It wasn't exactly a consistent problem with her, because the bigger training challenge was her was always that she would lose interest and walk away or, at that same age, acting somewhat skittish (especially to a stranger's touch anywhere behind her shoulders). Sorry that that's not much help :/
  • That's a good example, Trzcina!
  • Thanks for the advice everyone! A lot of things for me to think about. He was neutered about four weeks ago, so it could have definitely been a hormonal thing. Additionally, the road we were running on was busy...lots of cars, lots of bikers, other joggers, etc.

    I just take it because it's the shortest way to the park. I think that could be overwhelming for him, especially if I'm requiring him to blow right past everything without doing any sniffing or investigating.

    I would really really love for him to be able to run with me because that's my primary form of exercise and it would just make so much sense if we could get that exercise together, so I'm not going to give up on it just yet. I think I'm going to try a few things:
    1) Going through the neighborhood instead of taking the main road and switching up the route from time to time
    2) Doing more of a run walk thing with shorter periods of sustained jogging
    3) Maybe going to the park before hand sometimes so he can get his wiggles out
    4) Bringing along a tug toy so maybe I could redirect his craziness to something more manageable
    5) Me being less of a wuss about using my emergency "NO" voice--I'm pretty quiet, so it can be hard for me to raise my voice, but I can get better at that with practice

    UPDATE 11/25:
    SO this same problem has been happening on runs and walks now. I'm pretty convinced it's tweenage exuberance and him being pissed that he has to do some work before we have fun. The good news is, I've learned to spot it before he gets really crazy and have had almost total success with telling him "NO!" and getting him quickly into a sit and then playing our tug game for a second to get some energy out.

    Haha, I remember thinking to myself when he was six months old that he was finally settling down from being a crazy puppy and that my life was finally getting back to normal. Yea right!

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