The Chinese Shar-Pei was bred as a guard dog- this makes them very territorial. They are very protective of their home and family. This makes them an excellent house dog, but can present some problems when strangers enter the home. While it is desirable to have a dog that protects the home, it is risky to have a dog that is too protective. Here are some suggestions:
- When people come over to the house have the dog crated – this avoids any confrontations. Otherwise, have the dog on a leash and slip collar. Have your guests ignore the dog for the first few minutes and let the dog get used to the fact that strangers have entered his domain. Then have the guests offer some treats to the dog – again, under your supervision and control.
- Many Shar-Pei will guard the door. Use baby gates to restrict this activity. Crating is also useful for this problem.
- Spray bottles containing water are useful to control some unwanted behaviors since most Shar-Pei don’t seem to like water.
- It’s always a good idea, with any dog, to have friends phone before they come over to your home. This allows you a chance to prepare for the interaction of friends and your dog ahead of time.
- Keep a good supply of treats on hand to reward good behavior.
- Use common sense. Remember that not all people like dogs or know how to act around dogs. Don’t let your dog be a nuisance to house guests. Young children often don’t know how to behave around dogs – be especially alert when youngsters come to the house.
Shar-Pei display the following behaviors which seem to be characteristics of the breed:
- They display a behavior known as “sharking”. This is a circling, staring behavior characteristic of fighting dogs and used to intimidate their opponents. This occurs when the dog is nervous or unsure.
- When crated or otherwise confined they have a tendency to “bury” their water and/or food.
- They don’t like to be petted on top of the head. This is probably due to poor peripheral vision caused by the excessive skin folds around the eyes and the heavy brow.
- Many Shar-Pei, particularly the horse-coats, don’t like to go out in the rain. They may have to be kicked out the door to make them eliminate.
Shar-Pei and Other Dogs:
The Chinese Shar-Pei is a very alert, intelligent and highly responsive dog breed. They have a lower aggression threshold to other dogs as well as a lower proximity tolerance around other dogs. This translates into the following recommendations:
- It is highly advised to begin obedience training at as early an age as possible. Early socialization is to be encouraged and the earlier this begins the better.
- Always maintain control of your Shar-Pei in the presence of other dogs. Bear in mind that other dog owners may not control their dogs and be prepared for the unexpected.
- Use of positive reinforcement (treats, toys) to reward good behavior and paying attention in the presence of other dogs is absolutely necessary. It is difficult to use punishment when the dog is already excited by the presence of another dog – learning is not occurring when the adrenalin is flowing.
As far as your dog is concerned, the crate is not a cage or prison, it is:
- Their own room in your house
- Their “safety” area
- Their den or home
More importantly, it keeps your pet out of trouble and helps to control problems such as housebreaking, destructive chewing, problems with visitors in the house, and it can be used to keep your dog safe when traveling. THE CRATE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR HUMAN ATTENTION AND COMPANIONSHIP! Crates can often be purchased cheaply through garage sales and from newspaper ads. General guidelines are as follows:
- Remove any collars and tags before putting the dog in its crate.
- Put the crate in a “people” area such as the family room, kitchen, etc.
- Place an old blanket or towel in the crate for the dog to rest on.
- I recommend Little General® crates both because the spacing between the bars is the best and the doors have a double latch on them – top and bottom. They also fold down for easy transport.
The crate is to be a positive thing – not used for punishment. Your dog needs to be introduced gradually to the crate. Feed the dog in the crate, put them in the crate for short periods of time when you are present (“crate practice”) and crate them at night to get them used to it. Be sure to use plenty of special treats to reward desired behavior and don’t hesitate to use a little negative reinforcement to let them know what the rules are concerning the crate. The effort to crate your dog is well worth any early temporary inconvenience.
The following guidelines in restraint should be followed:
- Due to their powerful physique and low center of gravity, they are very strong and powerful dogs. Excessive use of force in restraint will usually result in extreme aggressiveness by the dog. Use of chemical restraint before this point is reached is highly recommended.
- Most Shar-Pei do not like to have their feet handled or their nails cut. They often tolerate blood drawing from the jugular vein better than from the cephalic vein. The lateral saphenous vein is easily used as well.
- A gauze muzzle works better and is more reliable for this breed than use of a leather or nylon muzzle which buckles behind the head. Due to the excessive head wrinkles and small ears, the buckle muzzles can slip off at a bad moment.
- The client with a new Shar-Pei puppy should be encouraged to pursue Puppy Kindergarten Training and basic obedience classes. Early use of dominance exercises and socialization probably benefit the Shar-Pei more than any other breed.