Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ziggy's Issue

Several people have asked why Ziggy hasn't been adopted yet.  It's not just because he's a pit bull, and it's not just because he is deaf.  Those are two strikes against him, but I've adopted out other deaf pit bulls before.  It's the third strike that is the problem.  Ziggy has earned his nickname as The Land Shark for a reason.  I call him "chewy" because I don't really know the right term for it.  But I took this video in order to demonstrate the problem to the trainers at CASI.  I am at a loss as to how to stop this behavior, but as long as it continues I don't have much hope of anyone wanting to adopt him.  People want to greet him all the time at these events and I have to stop them and warn them that he will try to chew on them.  And he chews hard - kind of like a young puppy who has never been taught that people are not for chewing.  Only he's over a year old, and he's got very strong jaws, and I've been trying to teach him that people are not for chewing since he was four months old.  We're at the point where he won't usually chew on me, unless he gets really excited, but I can't get him to not chew on other people!  So THAT is why Ziggy has not been adopted.  All advice or suggestions are welcome.  And just to clarify, the person who was helping by demonstrating Ziggy's problem behavior in this video (since Zig won't chew on me) is another rescue volunteer and well aware of Ziggy's "issue".  She was very brave to donate her hands and arms for the sake of this demonstration. :-)

I hope you still like Ziggy after watching this video.  He's an amazing, wonderful, intelligent dog when he's not chewing on people!  But you can see why he needs an adult only home with someone who wants to give him a lot of exercise.  And now it should all make sense why Ziggy hasn't been adopted, and why I expect to still be fostering him a year from now!


Sara (and Layla) said...

Are you familiar with Gentle Leader headcollars? I find them very helpful with mouthy dogs, since you can more easily redirect them if the mouthing starts. Introduce the GL positively so the dog does not mind wearing it. There's a good video of how to do this on the ABRI website.

I have also had success teaching the dog to carry a toy in his mouth around strangers, since it's hard to mouth and carry the toy at the same time. You can click/treat him (using the flashlight as a clicker) for holding still while people reach towards him, and later for allowing people to pet him.

I hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.

- Kris

Erika said...

I still love Ziggy of course every dog comes with issues. Perhaps Ziggy could use my 4 little siblings as dog toys haha. Have you tried using a spray bottle to squirt him whenever he tries to chew? It does appear in the video that Ziggy might think it is a game and maybe just having more people pet him or approach him not directly from the front? just a thought

Cupcake said...

I will always love Ziggy, he's one of a kind! Maybe Zig doesn't like hands coming at him. Maybe if people stood behind him and scratched his back a little. Some dogs don't like to be touched a lot. I hope Ziggy will find his forever home!

Kristine said...

Aww, I think I love him even more. He looks so cute and playful while he's trying to chew her hand off.

I wish I could help you. But it sounds like you're doing a good job already. And you know him best. He's just a very challenging case. When they start up again, agility classes may help give him some focus for all that energy.

Lots of luck and pets for Ziggy!

Amanda said...

Definitely looks like he thinks hands/arms are play things. ;) Does he redirect onto toys well? Do you use any kind of correction?

I know in some circles the idea of correction is not popular, but personally I believe strongly in balance...much like a human child sometimes needs to know what he/she does wrong, sometimes a dog needs to know when something isn't appropriate. Of course, I give great precedence to positive reinforcement for the good behaviors, but I've seen some great strides with appropriate and well timed corrections too. Just my two cents Laurie.

And um YES, still love Ziggy! He's got a joy for life, it's obvious. =)

Anonymous said...

Okay, seriously, how could we ever NOT luv the Zigster?

As for Ziggy's special chewing talent, I'm gonna give this over to mom.

Hi Laurie! I feel funny giving you advice because I know you're actually learning to be a trainer. But something that always sticks with me is that it's easier to teach a dog to DO something than to NOT do something. Like someone else mentioned, maybe having him holding a toy. Or when people reach for him, have him do a behavior incompatible with chewing. Maybe shake or something? I don't know. This is just off the top of my head. I really do think he thinks it's a game. So if you could give him a DIFFERENT game to do, maybe that would work. Of course, I think you'd probably have to have a LOT of volunteers to make this work so that he generalizes it to everyone, not just a certain few.

Also, of course, making sure that NO ONE rewards him (negatively or positively) for his chewing behavior. I know that's easier said than done, though.

Okay, this probably didn't help at all but that's the best I can do. ;-)

Amber (and Mayzie)

Kari in WeHo said...

I still love him. I wish I had room and I would say send him to LA!


Anonymous said...

Maybe when someone goes to reach for him and he nips they turn away and ignore him. He thinks it's a game and he wants attention, but if the person DOESN'T give him attention he -may- learn that it doesn't get him any attention at all! And when he doesn't attempt to chew hands he should be given a treat reward to show him not being nippy = yummy treats.

Maybe have someone over and try practicing a bit so that when adoption days come around he can be more prepared. It's easier to start training in a calm environment rather then a hectic place.

Thats just my 2 cents. Good luck with him!!

Mango said...

I am wondering if he ever solicits physical attention, maybe to his flanks or belly? He seems really put out by the head on approach (that was an excellent movie). I bet there are experienced owners who could handle a dog that just didn't want his head messed with.

I do agree with the reader that there are some dogs and some behaviors that beg for a gentle correction.

Do you have a deaf dog equivalent of a clicker? Like a flashing light or something. I was thinking maybe if you can somehow teach him a "close your mouth" behavior.

Good luck. He is a handsome guy and deserves a forever home.

Mango Momma

Anonymous said...

First time here. I've just been approved as a dog fosterer in the UK and looking around at dog fostering blogs for tips. I love the work you do with deaf dogs :)

Ziggy is adorable. It does appear he is being playful with the chewing but I wonder if it's his way of trying to control people and keep their attention on him? Perhaps he doesn't do it now with you so much because he recognises you as 'pack leader' and anyone else is to be controlled. Perhaps you could try to ensure that all people who he comes into contact with uses the 'no' sign and walks away the moment he does it. It could also be the high energy too. Have you noticed if he does it less or just as much after a particularly energetic day?

Best wishes,