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Author Topic: confused about Chihuahua behavior  (Read 8499 times)
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Yorkiesrus
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« on: January 03, 2008, 08:57:52 PM »

I am new on this site. We just got a Chihuahua from a shelter who was abused by a woman. She used to kick him we are told. He is two years old (approx) and weighs only 3.5 lbs. He was in the shelter for about a month before we got him about a week and a half ago. It took him about two weeks before he'd go to the female but went to her husband immediately. They thought it'd take him some time when he came here too but took to me pretty much right away.

One thing we've noticed is he doesn't like to be touched near his back side. Probably where she abused him. BUT...we (Charlie and I) have been getting along just fine till tonight. He has growled at me about three different times. He wanted me to hold him so i did and went to pet him and he snapped at me. Scared me to death. He has not acted like this since we've had him. I am totally baffled by his behavior tonight and a little hurt too. Hurt because i thought we were getting along (me being female and all) and now this. I am so clueless.  Does anyone have any words of wisdom for me on how to handle Charlie?

TIA
Cindy
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Yorkiesrus
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2008, 09:33:15 PM »

Thanks for your welcome and reply. Yes we've had him to the vet and he says that he seems normal to him. Charlie wouldn't let the dr near him so could only listen to his lungs while i held him otherwise showed his teeth and growled. I don't want him biting me nor anyone else and it seemed like we were getting along and then this tonight. I am so dumbfounded.
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Mandycat
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2008, 09:39:24 PM »

Charlie probably should be checked by a vet to be sure that there is no significant problem causing him pain so that it can be treated if necessary.  Perhaps he is just scared right now and it will take patience for him to trust you.  When my cat first "adopted" us 14 years ago, she was injured but we did not know how it happened.  She appeared on our porch, and when we could not find her owner, I took her to the vet for evaluation, shots, etc. and she became part of our family.  Although she was friendly, she did not like to be picked up off of the floor and held in our arms.  She would squirm and meow and made it quite clear that she wanted to be put down.  We just allowed her to come to us and determine just how much physical contact she wanted.  It took a while, but now she loves to cuddle, be held, and is definitely a lap cat.  Sometimes it just takes a little time and patience for them to forget their abusive past.  We thought that probably being picked up from the floor reminded her of some past bad experience and just allowed her to gradually get over that.  Good luck!  And welcome to the forum.
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Mandycat
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2008, 09:42:25 PM »

I was writing my post when you answered and said that he had been to the vet.  Just my opinion, but if there is pain in the back area, maybe the vet should do an x-ray, just to be sure there is no injury.  Otherwise, patience is probably going to have to be your primary recourse - and lots and lots of love!   Smiley
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Yorkiesrus
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2008, 09:51:49 PM »

Thanks for your thoughts on this. I agree, patience and LOTS of love. How people can treat animals like this is beyond my comprehension. They don't forget either it seems. So so sad but know he has a great home now he just needs to learn that not all women are mean as she was to him. I'm surprised she didn't kill him when she kicked him around. I have tears typing that, it hurts me so badly knowing how awful his first two years of life were. But for him to cuddle with me, kiss me, letting me pick him up, play with him, and then tonight all of a sudden turn on me, that is what gets to me. I just don't understand the turnaround with him. Kinda like this (maybe a bad example but just to illustrate my point better), you and i had dinner tonight, talked, laughed, talked about old times, new times to come, etc etc, then one of us calls the other and tells the other that i looked at you wrong, etc. That you wished we hadn't even had dinner. That may be a very bad illustration but hopefully you can get how bewildered you would be if this were true. You'd be saying to yourself, "What on earth happened to her, i had no idea." This is how i feel with little Charlie. He is so tiny and so adorable but now afraid he will bite me, for what? I've done nothing wrong. Unless spoiling him, loving him, taking good care of him is wrong, then i am guilty! I am so hurt by his actions tonight. I know his soul has been severely wounded but why would he turn on ME once he and i were getting along so well for the past week or so.

Thanks for your welcome too. Good to be here and get the support that i desperately need right now with this. I am so frustrated and hurt but love him with all my heart. I just don't want to be bitten again.

Cindy
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Yorkiesrus
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2008, 09:57:50 PM »

Klondike: Yes i will have him checked out by a vet again soon. Dr couldn't look at him first time in since Charlie would snarl, growl and snap at him. He could only listen to his lungs or heart (whichever he could do from his back) while i held him. Then he went and hid under a chair in the room. Poor poor baby.

No there weren't any different sounds or smells. We were watching TV and he was sleeping once. The other time tonight he had come upstairs to where my office is, and wanted up on my lap and then i went to pet him like is normal to do and i have done b4, then he snarled, growled and snapped at me. For what? I can't imagine what on earth he "thought" i was guilty of. I am soooo gentle with him knowing full well that he has been to hell and back the first two years of his young life. Now i'm almost afraid to touch him and i can't imagine having a dog i'm afraid of but now i have so much emotion invested in him already in the week and a half that we've had him.
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Mandycat
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2008, 09:59:56 PM »

I can understand your confusion, Cindy.  Why not see if tomorrow is a better day?  If the behaviour continues, I can only think that for some reason he is hurting and the situation deserves a more thorough evaluation.  I doubt that it is you, but rather some physical problem, or, as Klondike suggested, something in the environment that triggered a bad moment.  Keep us informed.
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Yorkiesrus
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2008, 10:12:41 PM »

I like the treat idea. How do i treat him though when he's been sleeping and i go to pet him or he climbs into my lap and then he growls at me? I don't want to treat him then to have him think what he's doing is a good thing. One person said here, forget who now, but they said he may be hurting. I will have him checked out. I pray it is not that. I don't want him hurting physically in addition to all his emotional pain.

On another note about Charlie...he holds his urine and BM's for most of the day. Not for lack of putting him out of course. In fact, we are almost obsessive about him going out. Dr said he thinks the reason for this is she punished him severely for going in the house (for who knows what reason, maybe he was left for HOURS at a time or something). So now he's afraid to go. I wish i knew how to send pics i would send you all one so you can see him. He is just adorable.
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Yorkiesrus
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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2008, 10:15:09 PM »

Good night for now everyone. Thanks so much for your comments and ideas. What a terrific site here. Thanks for letting me be a part of it. I will check back in tomorrow and let you know how he is.

Cindy
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catmom5
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2008, 04:41:55 AM »

I am not a vet or vet tech, but have been with animals for my whole life. I agree that the first thing you need to do is to get a thorough medical exam. You may need to muzzle Charlie until you figure out what's going on and/or can do some training. To allow him to continue to snap and growl is allowing him to practice bad behaviors. I also agree that a work to earn for everything is appropriate. As much as we feel bad for them, particularly when they have been abused, dogs are much more comfortable and confident when they have a "pack leader" ~ that would be you. You will need to reinforce that all the time. One dog trainer on Best Friends forum suggests that you enter a room first, don't allow them furniture or bed privileges, etc. You have to be the alpha. It might sound "mean" but it's really not. It's like having kids and setting no boundaries ~ giving in to anything and everything they want to do. You can imagine how those kids turn out.
Good luck and don't give up. Also, don't take it personally. Charlie has had a rough start in life and then a lot of changes in a short time. Get the help you need and I'm confident that things will turn around.
catmom5
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lesliek
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2008, 06:37:51 AM »

Cindy- Make sure the vet checks his anal glands,chi's usually need them emptied frequently. Also check his tail & xrays for his back & back legs. When we got our beagle,she had been abused. She would yelp & cry if we picked her up or moved her. Turns out she had a broken tail & an old disk problem in her neck. I agree with positive reinforcement & treats for good behavior. Just be careful about looking threatening & your tone of voice when you correct him for bad behavior.You don't want to remind him of the old situation.1 thing that helped with our beagle was to have a blanket if she was on our lap. If he's on the blanket,you can slide him over if needed without touching sore areas.When he does go out & go for you,make a really big deal about it.If he associates going when taken out with being told he is good he should relax about the waiting. The good thing is his mouth is small,so just keep your face away from him & the worst that will happen is cut fingers. Chi's do tend to growl & snap when they are scared. Also watch out when new people approach him or come to your house. He will get very protective as he starts to feel at home.
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Orange Fuzzball
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2008, 08:17:15 AM »

Hi Cindy,

I'm not experienced with dogs so I don't have any useful advice, but try not to take his growling and snapping personally. He's not mad at you; he's probably reacting to pain or to the memory of trauma. I know it's hard for us humans since we don't speak fluent dog - but you're listening to him, and that's a good thing.

If you want to post a pic - check the Suggestions/Help forum at the top of the boards. There's instructions in there on how to do that.
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catbird
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 08:35:01 AM »

Cindy--I am not a dog person, but do have experience with traumatized/abused cats.  If physical problems are ruled out, it just takes time and patience.  Six months to establish real trust in you is about average for the traumatized cats.  It takes a lot of positive experience over time to diminish the effects of the past negative experiences.  It's not always steady progress--there are steps forward and steps back.  And like people, many animals carry body memory of past trauma in the spot where pain occurred, even if no physical problems are present.

Kudos to you for caring about Charlie and giving him a good home.
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JustMe
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2008, 08:42:29 AM »

Yorkiesrus,

Just my untrained opinion from experience with my own dogs:  Try not to put your hands behind his head where he can't see you or touch him without him seeing what you are going.  He obviously has trust issues or is in some sort of pain or is scared, so you don't want to startle him.

If he checks out okay with the vet (with muzzle on for now), try and find a good dog trainer who uses gentle methods of training.

Vet should have his own muzzles you can use if vet can't put the muzzle on him.  Be careful.
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Yorkiesrus
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2008, 09:06:29 AM »

Thank you so much everyone. You have each given me food for thought. I will stay in touch esp re this problem. Poor little guy. One thing some of you said that has helped me is to NOT take it personally. I didn't even realize i was doing that till you mentioned it. WOW this is one great site!
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