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Aggressive in public, so embarrssed!

Rebelrage
November 21st, 2005, 01:51 PM
I have a rottweiler who is two years old, we live in the country so there aren't alot of people around. I recently took him to the vet and I couldn't even take him inside because every person or animal that he saw he would growl and bark at, even pulling me down on the ground once. Now before you start thinking he isn't trained, at home he knows and listens to "no", "sit", "laydown", "stay", "come" , "down", "back", and I am now teaching him "hugs" since he loves to bury his head in your lap (not crotch) or under your arm like he is giving you a hug. Anyway, at home he is very obedient and calm and loving, but once around others he freaks out and won't listen. How do I train him not to do this when he doesn't even seem to know I am there during these episodes? Any opinions or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Lucky Rescue
November 21st, 2005, 02:32 PM
It sounds like he was not socialized properly as a puppy with other people and dogs. Have you had him since he was a puppy, and did he go places and see all kinds of people then?

If not, you're going to have to start over, very slowly. You need to take him someplace that you can sit with him at a distance and where he can see people coming and going, like the parking lot at a mall. If he still freaks out, go further back until he's calm and is not reacting.

Put him in a sit and let him look. You need to gradually get closer to people, always backing off if he goes ballistic. When he is calmly sitting, praise him or offer a very special treat, that he gets only when he is looking at people and behaving himself.

Since he's already 2 years old, this could take quite some time. IN the meantime, be very very careful. An unsocialized and powerful dog can be very dangerous.

You might want to invest in a prong collar, if you feel there is a chance he could get away from you, but get instruction on how to fit and use it first.

If he's barking and lunging do not EVER try to soothe or comfort him in any way, since he will see that as praise for his behavior.

LavenderRott
November 21st, 2005, 02:56 PM
You say he is trained at home, so the question is - did YOU train him at home or did you attend training classes with him?

Part of the reason for taking your dog to classes is so that they can learn to behave with other people and animals around. If we are honest, most people can teach a dog to sit, stay, etc. in the comfort of their living room - the test is how the dog behaves in public.

My best suggestion would be to follow Deb's advice and look into finding a good trainer.

poodletalk
November 21st, 2005, 04:01 PM
Lucky, your advice is the same the dog behavorlist told me last week. It's not always the case you didn't socialize your dog well. My dog was well socialized, but she had a bad experience at the dog groomers which made her afraid of strangers. Her barking and lundging was away to protect herself, to make strangers go away.

Lucky Rescue
November 21st, 2005, 06:35 PM
Her barking and lundging was away to protect herself, to make strangers go away.

Exactly! So you need to show your dog he does NOT need to protect himself, and that YOU will make sure he's safe. What I recommended doing above will do that. Your dog will learn you will never put him in "danger" (as he sees it) and that he can relax, step back and rely on you. This is why you must never force a dog to face what scares him.

I assumed the Rottie in the original post is not socialized because the poster says the dog sees few people. If he wasn't exposed to all kinds of people and situations at a critical age, this problem will result.

tenderfoot
November 21st, 2005, 06:50 PM
What it comes down to is GREAT leadership from you. If he is nervous or insecure about a situation he should look to you for the answers and guidance to help him feel safe, NOT act out on his own. You can help him with this by giving him guidance and jobs when he's out of his element. You need to increase the work you are doing at home then do it outside, then introduce small distractions and work your way up to the bigger ones. You need to be a bigger distraction than what is making him nervous or upset. He needs to feel safe in the world because you are there looking out for him, and if you are working him enough then he doesnt have time to worry about the world. A busy mind/body doesn't have the energy or time to get distracted.

sudmedic
November 21st, 2005, 10:48 PM
My shepard mix was well socialized, very calm and eager to meet people and other animals. On a walk one day a stray dog attacked us (Pittie was with us too, muzzled). Since this incident my shepard has become aggresive toward other dogs, especially if they approach hard and fast! He is in training now, more for re-socialization and it seems to be starting to work. My trainer and the people in the class are very understanding and help me. The hardest part for me is to not become upset when the outbursts happen as I want to run away from embarrasement!!:eek:

mona_b
November 21st, 2005, 11:17 PM
I assumed the Rottie in the original post is not socialized because the poster says the dog sees few people. If he wasn't exposed to all kinds of people and situations at a critical age, this problem will result.

I have to agree with this.

Many people say how well their dog acts at home.That's great.But if they are not socialized with other people or dogs,guess what,they are not going to listen when a situation like this arises.That's like taking a dog who has never been around dogs to a dog park.Or a dog that hasn't really been around people and taking them into a crowd.

IMO,it's not that a dog is protecting themselves,it's that they have lost the "trust"

shannonRN
November 24th, 2005, 03:13 AM
This is more or less an academic issue, but even a dog once properly socialized as a puppy will likely 'lose' its social skills if it lives in the sort of setting that the OP does for years, especially when you're talking about one of the more protective breeds of dog. It's very difficult to try to maintain your dog's social skills if you live "out in the sticks" and you don't have many opportunities to exercise those social skills.

You do need to work on exposing him to distractions gradually while retraining those skills he knows so well at home, as discussed above. This will take time and patience...

In the meantime, schedule your visit to the vet for a time when the office is very slow--first thing in the morning or last in the day--explain to office staff your predicament when scheduling and ask them what would be best. They may have a back door you can use. I would put him in a muzzle to be safe. But don't neglect his veterinary care while you work on social training.

mona_b
November 24th, 2005, 07:25 AM
I can't agree with you more shannonRN.

As one who has a sister on a farm with 4 dogs(3 Huskies and a Border Collie)it was very important to her that she took them into town everyday.This kept them up on their socializing skills even though they were socialized as pups.This is very important.

Boubou
December 2nd, 2005, 09:10 PM
I have a dog that I adopted because she was going to be euthanized for those exact reasons. Whenever we walk her and she sees people coming, she starts whining, her hair perks up on her back, and the closer they get, the louder she gets. And if they are close enough, she will actually lunge at them and try to bite them. Very embarrasing!! I use the Halti and this has stopped the pulling. She is perfect at home. Love her to death. My question is, what excatly should I do when she does this? I know she lacked socialization during her crucial years (until 7 months old), but what corrective behavior should I do when she does this? Scolding her doesn't work, praising her neither. I know I should take her to obedience classe and it is on my agenda, but I don't know where to go, who to trust. Any suggestions, anyone? :confused:

Lucky Rescue
December 3rd, 2005, 11:06 AM
Whenever we walk her and she sees people coming, she starts whining, her hair perks up on her back, and the closer they get, the louder she gets. And if they are close enough, she will actually lunge at them and try to bite them.

You must not get close enough to the people for her to react that way. Anticipate when she is going to react, and before she does, just turn around and walk the other way or cross the street. Don't act panicked or rushed. Simply change direction with a happy "Let's go!"

Because you are allowing these people to get close, your dog feels you will not protect her, so she must do it herself. Each time this happens, her behavior is reinforced since - to her - her barking/lunging DOES make the people go away.

Never correct her for her fear. This will make it worse. Also do not comfort her. Just ignore fear and praise your dog when she doesn't act aggressively.

I wrote about how to begin to desensitize her in my other post in this thread.

Rebelrage
December 7th, 2005, 11:53 PM
Thanks to all for your suggestions. I have been trying to socialize him as much as possible (being in the country, this isn't easy), instead of putting him away when someone comes over I try to introduce him to them and let him know that it is ok. We had a breakthrough on Thanksgiving when my mother who doesn't visit often came for dinner. He wasn't aggressive at all toward her:thumbs up . I have tried others that have come to visit and there was a male aquaintance that came by and I brought him out and he only growled under his breath and sniffed his hand. It seems to make all the difference in the world when the person doesn't act afraid of him also, because the other guy that was with this man couldn't get anywhere near him and he was definitely acting afraid of Rebel. I do have one question though how do I go about correcting him when he acts like this. I know it was mentioned that when walking just redirect him, but when this is at his own house it is kinda hard to walk the other way. I want to gradually work him into the public to make sure he is going to be able to handle it. Is this right?

shannon1233A
December 8th, 2005, 08:59 AM
Dogs definately pick up on humans' feelings, and will react. There's a saying that says down the leash directly to your dog, so if someone is afraid of him he'll definately sense it and react, often using that to his advantage.
Why don't you try giving you visitor a treat that your doggy loves, especially those afraid of him. Ask your visitor to offer it to doggy with an open hand, something like Rollover that has a strong smell that Rebelrage will love. You have to associate good things happen when strangers come close, they've got some goodies for me and that's a good thing. I'd only do this in your home with people you know, and progress from there to the outside once Rebelrage has this exercise down firmly and can be trusted. By open hand, I mean hold in palm, and wait for Rebelrage to take it, not to shove it in his face!






Thanks to all for your suggestions. I have been trying to socialize him as much as possible (being in the country, this isn't easy), instead of putting him away when someone comes over I try to introduce him to them and let him know that it is ok. We had a breakthrough on Thanksgiving when my mother who doesn't visit often came for dinner. He wasn't aggressive at all toward her:thumbs up . I have tried others that have come to visit and there was a male aquaintance that came by and I brought him out and he only growled under his breath and sniffed his hand. It seems to make all the difference in the world when the person doesn't act afraid of him also, because the other guy that was with this man couldn't get anywhere near him and he was definitely acting afraid of Rebel. I do have one question though how do I go about correcting him when he acts like this. I know it was mentioned that when walking just redirect him, but when this is at his own house it is kinda hard to walk the other way. I want to gradually work him into the public to make sure he is going to be able to handle it. Is this right?

StaceyB
December 8th, 2005, 09:27 AM
I would recommend finding a trainer who specializes in this. I deal with dogs like this all the time and use several training exercises to get them out of the behaviour but at this point you may be nervous yourself and will not be too helpful if you are trying to do everything on your own. If you are going to use any type of corrective collar I would pick up a gentle leader. If you want I can instruct you on how to use and fit one properly.
This dog needs to re-socialize. There are ways in which it can be done that work very well and at the same time keep everyone around safe as well as teach you not to react yourself which is not as easy as it sounds.

Rebelrage
December 11th, 2005, 05:03 PM
I would appreciate any suggestions and instruction you'd be willing to give me, it would be greatly appreciated. I can't afford to take him to a trainer they are way to expensive for my budget since I have just recently seperated from my husband and he isn't exactly helping on a regular basis. How much do these training collars cost? And they don't harm him do they? Thanks again to everyone.

mummummum
December 11th, 2005, 08:12 PM
I bought "Gentle Leader" collars for my grrrls when they were dawglets after we had tried regular collars and chest harnesses (they're such pulllllllerrrrs, by the time they were two, they had shredded the rotator cuff in my right shoulder and broken both my baby fingers). I can HIGHLY recommend the Gentle Leader - it cuts the pulling (and therefore lunging) down to almost nothing and it's a HUMANE corrective tool. Not expensive - I think I paid about $19 (Canadian) and I can't imagine they've gone way up. The only way you could hurt your dawgy with them is by using it incorrectly ie. fitting it too tightly or yanking upwards with the leash when it's on. I think a Halti is much the same in construction if you are unable to find a Gentle Leader.

Rebelrage
December 11th, 2005, 09:17 PM
Thanks i will check them out online I have to check on a few other things for my doggy. I appreciate it.:)

StaceyB
December 12th, 2005, 11:59 AM
A halti does work the same as a gentle leader but it is more suited for long nosed dogs so it will not fit a Rottie too well because his nose is too wide. The Gentle leaders are now between 30-40. You will need a large.
I have a Rottie sleeping at me feet right now.
The trainer will cost a few hunderd but well worth it.