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Thread: Dog aggression problem

  1. #1
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    Exclamation Dog aggression problem

    My almost 4 yr old border jack mix has on multiple occasions attacked me, but he has only done this when others are present. Thus far I am the only person he has ever attacked, and I am constantly on my toes to his signals when he is out walking or in the house.

    When I finally put my foot down to my husband and said either you follow through with how he has been trained and be serious about giving him boundaries about appropriate behavior he has to go or you and he will. I won't put him up for adoption, and I will have no qualms about putting him to sleep if we can't find a solution.

    He prefers men over me, my daughter or any other woman over me if no man is around. We have been able to stop the attacks on me, but I have to watch him around strangers and other dogs, even our other 2. He still gives me the signals when he is on the verge of going off on me, but there are times he will wake up from sleeping and attack without the signs if I am too close to my husband or him.

    He seems to know he is doing wrong when he growls or grumps at me. All I do is give him the look, and he backs down, walks to me on his hind feet and gives me a kiss then goes to his crate for a time out. He will harumph and grump all the way over, but he hasn't been told to go there. He has been trained that aggressive behavior gets him a time out there.

    I have not been physically attacked now for over a year. I have scars where he has attacked me in the past, and I am super careful when out with him. Hence the halti wearing when on walks or outings.

    What have I done wrong, and is there anything more I can do?

    I have looked for a pet behaviorist in the area and the closest is a 3 hour drive away and charges 0.50 a mile each way to do the 3 in home visits she insists on. I don't mind spending money to get help, but that is a little out of my range when added to the hourly charge for visits and then the follow ups at her place of business and the gas to get there and back.

    My vet reccomended Petsmart, they recommended I find a local trainer but to find one that doesn't use aggression techniques. The non-aggression training exsists, but none are willing to take on this kind of behavior problem.

    Any help is much appreciated!


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    veterinary hospital

  2. #2
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    We got a new puppy a few years ago then three weeks later I left for a short notice 4 month tdy. When I returned the dog started doing the same thing. I read in a book that it was a dominance/protector thing. The solution was to lay the dog on its side and place one hand on its ribs and one hand on its neck. Do not choke the dog just restrain it. In a dog pack they put a paw on the ribs and bite their throat to show dominance. It stressed to restrain the dog don't hurt it. This worked for me.

  3. #3

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    We had a Great Pyrenees that developed very agressive behavior to other dogs and people late in life. We were about to have her put down after trying everything we could think of when my wife read an article in Tuft's University vet publication that mentioned Prozac helped calm agressive dogs. Our vet agreed to try it and it worked. She died of natural causes two years later. We were grateful for the option. Prozac is now generic and very inexpensive from Costco pharmacy.

  4. #4
    RMK
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    Unhappy You have a tough problem to solve

    You started the post with the words "my dog" attacked. But you quickly started referring to your husband, so I will guess that it's his dog.

    It sounds like you have an "alpha" male on your hands. He most likely buys in to the notion that your husband is the top dog, and he probably believes that he is second in the pecking order.

    The problem is trying to change a dog like this. Did you get him as a pup? A four year old dog is going to be pretty set in his ways. If he's a "dog fighter," you may never get that out of him.

    I too have a very aggressive dog. I have to keep him away from other dogs. My wife also went through what you are. We switched to her feeding him. We hoped that the dog would adopt the "don't bite the hand that feeds you" philosophy. For the most part it works. The dog has been much friendlier to her since she is his only source of food.

    I have heard of people successfully establishing dominance by putting a dog on his back. This comes with its own pitfalls. You could make the dog skittish, or injure yourself or the dog in the process. (my wife declined to try this even with hockey gear on)

    I have read Cesar Millan's stuff, and watched him on TV, and none of his techniques have been real successful with my Shepherd. He was about 2 years old when I got him, and set in his ways.

    A word to the wise. Dog bites are one of the leading causes of civil actions against home owners. Any emergency room visit for a dog bite, will get you an automatic visit from animal control, and most likely a quarantine. A rogue dog is a huge liability, and something to think pretty seriously about.

    If you try every technique you can think of, and he remains aggressive, it may be time for him to go. Both breeds in his make up are kind of hyper, and can be aggressive. You may want to consider something more docile like a golden retriever.

    Good luck, I feel your pain.

  5. #5

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    Did your husband have the dog before he met you? Did you get him as a puppy or from a previous male owner? That dog has bonded to your husband and is protecting him. He is second in command in your household. First of all, buy him a muzzel so he doesn't bite you. You can buy good, comfortable styles. Start taking him for walks and reward him with good treats like raw meat. Make sure you feed him so he knows where the food comes from. Your husband has to cooperate too. He has to show that you are second in command. Don't allow him(the dog) to sleep on your bed or sit in the front seat of your vehicle. Also, do you like this dog or do you feel resentment towards him? Dogs can sense if someone dislikes/fears him. Keep the muzzel on him and keep trying! You will be safe from future bites. Also, join dog breed specific forums and read up on/post about the problem. Many other members with that problem will help you. I hate to see dogs put down. I think you will do okay.
    Last edited by northtraveller; 02-09-2010 at 07:21. Reason: spelling

  6. #6
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Interesting answers. I remember my pops and our shepard getting into it years ago. They both came out bloody but it was the last time the dog ever tried to assert himself over the old man I don't reccommend that approach but a right hook to the jaw made a lasting impression on who was the boss! I had a pit some years ago and I did the knee on chest pin to the ground a few times w/ him and it worked well. He went from trying to ascert himself to family protector/servant pretty fast. Only downfall with that plan was that he was a bit too smart. He realized that if I was more dominant than him he didn't want any part of anything that could thrash me! That pup is on a short list of truly great dogs I have owned he saved the wife from being mauled by a Rot-great dane monster down in texas ever see a 55lb dog take a 200lb monster to the brink of death? That little brindle pit was all heart!

    Good luck with the dog and getting it to learn it's place. It is a hard balance to get an aggressive dog to respect you without making it scared of you. Lots of firm authority when doing things wrong and praise when doing them right.

  7. #7

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    Sounds like you are doing a lot of things right. But do you have help from your husband? Seems like you aren't from your own words. He also needs to set those boundaries. He also needs to discipline.
    Human psychology doesn't work for dog training. That is why those dog trainers you spoke with won't handle an aggressive dog. They simply don't have the experience. It is easy for them to handle a naturally subordinate dog. Those dogs react to the "Oohing and Awing, clickers and treat training which fall into that positive realm of dog training" Works well because it boost puppies egos and makes them happy and willing to work for a treat. Aggressive dogs with this method don't respond .....WHY......because they consider themselves to already be on top. I use positive method ONLY for initial teaching of obedience. After they have learned the command I am telling them what to do....I'm not asking. I don't ever want to go to the cookie bin to get an adult dog to come to me or to do what I am telling them.
    You can't have a conversation with your dog. Which is what positive training is. If you are....in most cases the dog finds you to be unstable and thus has placed themselves at the top of the pecking order. A lot of folks live with dogs that are Alpha. They just don't realize it. Alpha doesn't necessarily mean aggressive. It is a chain of heirarchy in the dog world. If you don't make your dog wait for its food (sitting and then releasing), if they claim the furniture, if they stand in your way appearing to block you, if you have to walk around them ( I make dogs move out of my way), if they bolt out of the door first before you go out, if your dog walks up in front while on leash. These are just a few behaviors that most folks don't think about or even consider that the dog has placed themselves as house leader.
    A tired dog is a happy dog. What kind of exercise does your dog get. Sometimes it means more than a walk. It has to be enough to take the edge off, especially with aggressive dogs. There is an old saying "You can't talk to the mind until the body is tired." Exercise, Discipline and then Affection. Affection comes when the dog is in a calm submissive state of mind.
    Alpha rolls(putting a dog on its back) has its place in training if needed but is not done in a violent manner. It is the same as how an alpha leader in a wolf pack disciplines a subordinate. If you have seen Cesar's show you have seen him do this. He never raises his voice or strikes the dog. The dog is the one reacting. The dog is arguing with Cesar's dominance. Once the dog lets go of the Alpha slot then the dog becomes calmer and Cesar can then teach. Most folks are feeling sorry for the dog while the dog is snarling and snapping at Cesar. They are saying "That Cesar is a mean man, leave that dog alone"....remember what I said about human psychology. That is a mind set and a prime example of why it doesn't work in dog training. A dogs social life is based on heirarchy just as in a wolfpack.

  8. #8
    Member byrd_hntr's Avatar
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    Default dealing with aggressive dogs sucks.

    I personally have only owned pretty easy going dogs. But I think a few of the suggestions here are on the right track. It sounds to me that the dog is showing its dominance. I may be mistaken but arn't Jacks incredibly smart dogs? If this is so he might be seeing right through your attempts to be Alpha. I have only had one trouble dog and it was a 7 lbs shih tzu mix (friends dog). I was sitting on the couch and the dog was laying next to me when the door bell rang. The little turd decided he was going ot eat my lunch right then and there. I was a bloodied mess by the time I even knew what was happening. After signing for the package with bloody fingerprints and some uber strange looks from the UPS guy. I put on a heavy coat and heavy leather gloves and call my neighbor to come ring the bell. When the door bell rang the dog did the same thing and I was able to force it down onto the floor and into the submissive possition (back or side). This instantly changed the dogs attitude and I never had trouble with it again, but I also didn't fear the dog and dogs sense fear. If your afraid, and I don't blame you with the dog is launching suprise attacks like he is. I think the muzzle and you inserting yourself into the dominant alpha position is your best bet but you have to talk the talk and walk the walk. Stern talking and dirty looks may not be enough, you may have to be physically restraining. And this may be a loosing battle unfortunately.
    I'm going to ctrl-alt-delete you so hard your mama's computer is going to reboot.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeL View Post
    We got a new puppy a few years ago then three weeks later I left for a short notice 4 month tdy. When I returned the dog started doing the same thing. I read in a book that it was a dominance/protector thing. The solution was to lay the dog on its side and place one hand on its ribs and one hand on its neck. Do not choke the dog just restrain it. In a dog pack they put a paw on the ribs and bite their throat to show dominance. It stressed to restrain the dog don't hurt it. This worked for me.
    Might be too late in this case.

    I've seen this a few times and I dealt with it by putting a thick glove on and holding the dog down and firmly holding the dog's muzzle closed.
    NOTHING humbles a dog more than having its muzzle held.
    With wild dogs the alpha will often bite and hold the subordinates muzzle closed.
    Dogs very quickly realize that their main offense and defensive tool--the mouth--is useless.
    They quickly submit.
    Proud to be an American!

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    I havent read every response to this post...and I'm sorry to have to say this...because people want to believe the best is possible...

    But in my experience, the best solution is....to put the dog down.

    This dog has attacked you, it will attack someone else someday...it may well be a child or an infant...I have learned to have ZERO tolerance for dog-human aggression past the age of say 1 or 2 years old...By that age they have learned that it is not acceptable behavior but still do it...and they will not unlearn it completely..that is my experience and there may be a dog out there who is capable of it, but I've not met one yet, and how will you KNOW that you can trust that dog??

  11. #11
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    We have to remember that small dogs react different. My large dogs will throw a fit if an adult walks up to my fence, but if a small kid walks up to my fence they try an lick them. Single situations do not cause you to put the dog down. This could be as simple as a women stepped on the dog and now it is afraid to get stepped on by women. Maybe the husbands girlfreind brings treats and the dog like her better. Could be the dog is protecting him from excessive nagging. If thats the case then its a good trait and we should give the little dog a treat.

  12. #12
    RMK
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    First the disclaimer: If my wife is reading this, I totally disagree with the previous post.

    Now that I got the disclaimer out of the way....it is true that dogs are capable of associative agression. My dog does hold a grudge. If you step on his foot, he will remember for a long time.

    It's hard telling if the origin of your dog's agression is some prior act, but it doesn't excuse the behavior in my book.

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