clingy puppy - 2
I just got a week ago a Shih-tzu/maltese that is 4 months old. I am the only one she lets take her out to potty. If any one else does she just sits on their feet and will not go.
Also in the house she will not go to the kids or my husband. She will follow me and sit on my lap and if I sit down the kids can pet her but she gets nippy if they try to pick her up or she jumps right out of their arms.
If I leave the house for a few seconds she goes nuts running in circles, whining, and carrying on. Till she sees me then she runs right to my feet. I really like her but we need some ideas as so how to stop this behavior! She is to be a family dog and she is not allowing that to happen!
She also will not eat unless I stand or sit right next to her, she went 2 days with no food till I started to do that. Any suggestions?
It sounds as though your pup is very strong willed, and has a fairly dominant personality. It doesn't sound so much like clingy-ness, more like an attempt to exert control over here surroundings and 'people'.
At four months it's possible that she's finding it difficult to adjust quickly to her new surroundings, and is 'acting out' in an attempt to feel more secure.
However, allowing her to decide or dicatate who can handle her, how she's to be fed, who can take her out for a potty break etc. is definitely asking for trouble. Not just right now, but in the future too. If she has a dominant personality at this age, if she's allowed to exercise it you could be looking at serious behavior problems by maturity.
The good news is that she's still a puppy, and you obviously want to do the right thing, so with the correct handling and guidance you should be able to get this under control and everyone will feel better!
It's not healthy for her to be so attached to one person, the whining and crying etc. when you leaved is a precursor to separation anxiety which can cause all kinds of difficulty for the dog and the humans involved. You can check out my Separation Anxiety In Your Dog page to find out more about this behavior problem and how to handle it should it arise.
It's very important that she learn to tolerate other people handling, feeding, walking her etc. It will make her more secure and happier in the long run, and will take the pressure off you. From now on I suggest you and your husband take turns to feed, groom, walk her etc. If she sits on his feet and won't pee or poop, give her 10 minutes then take her back inside, put her in her crate or wherever you normally keep her, supervise her closely so she doesn't 'go' where she shouldn't, then take her back outside again in 10 - 15 minutes. Repeat this until she goes outside. Then give her lots of praise.
When it comes to feeding, don't pamper her. I know it's very worrying when your pup won't eat, but trust me, dogs will not starve themselves. She may let herself get hungry, she may not eat as much as you'd like, she may not eat at all for a little while. But when she gets hungry enough she WILL eat. It's similar to the food-battles you can get into with toddlers, it's never productive and can lead to all kinds of eating disorders and problems later on.
Think about it, do you want to have to stand next to her so she'll eat at every mealtime for the next 10 - 12 years? Of course not, so stand firm (sorry, no pun intended! :o) now and give her a bowl of food and leave her to it. If she's not eaten in 10 - 15 minutes, pick it up and don't offer her any treats etc. until the next mealtime when she gets the bowl of food again. Don't even be tempted to fancy-up her food with tasty gravies or tidbits, if she's on a good quality puppy food that's all she needs.
I would suggest you have your husband or kids give her her food bowl from now on too, at least until she accepts them. She needs to see all the family as the providers of her basic needs, that's how she'll learn to respect them and allow them to handle her.
Don't ever tolerate her biting, snapping or growling at anyone, especially the kids. She's treating them like littermates and trying to exert her authority or dominance over them. Always correct her with a loud, firm "NO BITE!" if she tries to nip, then stop any interaction with her and ignore her for a few minutes.
Puppy biting is usually an attention-seeking and/or dominant behavior, and in her case it's more dominant in my opinion. There's quite a bit of information, tips and advice on dealing with puppy biting on my Puppu Biting page that will help you understand and deal with this issue.
Your puppy is a pack animal at heart, and she's trying to find her place in her new 'pack' (that's your family!). She may already have a dominant personality and it's up to you, her human 'parents' to show her where her place is and what's allowed or not allowed. Dogs respect those that they feel are 'in control' and 'in charge', but if they don't feel that there's an 'alpha' in their pack (a leader) often a dominant dog will attempt to take that position upon itself. This is not what you want to see in a family setting.
You can be firm and consistent while still being loving and kind. Raising a puppy is kind of like raising a child, give it boundaries and discipline along with lots of love and approval and you'll raise a well-balanced child - four legged or two legged!
best of luck with your pup, if you have any more questions please feel free to ask.