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food aggression

March 11th, 2006, 08:58 AM
My sister has a year old Jack Russel who is only aggressive with treats or good toys. She allows my sister to take the treat away from her, but if anyone else or there other dog goes near she freaks out and tries to snap. so when the JRT has a special treats she has to go in the kennel. My sister would like to get advice on how she could help her dogs aggression.

March 11th, 2006, 09:54 AM
How old is your sister? Adult? Is this really a family dog?
First - this dog may not get special treats for a while. He has not earned them.
This little fellow needs some major attitude adjustment. A good trainer would help a lot. He needs to be on the leash in the house as much a she can stand it and working every ounce of his vocabulary for everything he wants in life. It would also be best to have other people working him as much as possible. He needs to learn to respect all people.
The 'drop & take it' command would be important as would the 'leave it' command.

Teaching 'drop it' and 'take it' is one of the very first things we teach. It is a matter of respect when it comes to dropping things to you on command. He needs to learn that all things belong to you - even if he found them first.
First, put your dog on the leash (for control) then get a stick or stiff toy at least 6 inches long - not a soft toy he can get a grip on or food he can break off and swallow. Start with an object that doesn't have high value to him and work towards an object that does have high value. Food will probably be the toughest challenge as it is easy for him to just swallow it and win.
Offer it to your dog and say 'take it' in a happy tone. let him chew on it for 15 seconds - do not let go of the item. Say 'drop it' short, sharp and firm in tone. Almost startle him with the command as you point quickly at the item and his nose. The startle alone should impress him. If he lets go then praise him and gently stroke his face and head. If he does not let go - ask again and vibrate the item in his mouth moving towards the back of his mouth. This should be strong enough to make him want to let go, but not so strong to hurt him. When he releases be very pleased and praise & pet.
Repeat this - holding the item and sharing it with your dog for longer times each round. As he gives willingly then allow the item to be his for just a few seconds, keeping your hand close by and then move your hand in and ask him to 'drop it'. Again increasing times until it can be his for five minutes and he still drops it nicely to you. Working him in his normal obedience commands just before you do this can help. It places him a submissive role and makes him more agreeable over all and ready to be more cooperative.
Practice a lot when you are just hanging around the house - get him to drop dozens of things throughout the day, don't wait to teach it when you need it.

The "leave it" command would be perfect for this situation. Again teach it in the house first. Get him to "leave it" with all of his favorite toys, treats, etc. This tells him to back away from the very thing he might be interested in - before it becomes a 'drop it' issue. Start with objects/food that he might want and put it in the middle of the floor and then move on to dropping things intentionally on the floor in front of him. Have him on the leash to ensure success. Tell him to 'leave it' in a firm tone and if he goes for it step towards the object with a stomp (throwing energy at the object and towards him - to get him to back off), and/or a correction on the leash as you say 'leave it' again. Pretend in your mind that the object is a baby bird and he absolutely can't have it. Use whatever energy that evokes in your voice and body language to get him to leave it alone. Then, while he is still on the leash, place the object between you and call him to come. He should put his own imaginary circle around the object as he comes to you. Now he is respecting your word and understanding that everything is not his to grab, but you call the shots and he needs to respect you.
Catching him before he rushes to something can make a huge difference. It's easier to stop him before he makes his move than to have to stop him in mid-stride. This gives you a greater vocabulary to use with him as well. Which gives you the chance to 'talk' him through his choices. Be sure to praise him when he makes the good choices - so he is clear when he has done the right thing.
Hope this helps.

March 11th, 2006, 11:55 AM
She just turned one and has lived with them since she was 8 weeks old, she has never been with out anything so it is not a case of neglect. And it seems it just started happening over the last month or so. I did e-mail her with the info so hopefully it will help.

March 11th, 2006, 12:37 PM
She is a full blown teenager now and anything that is missing in her training or relationship with your sister will be magnified. She is testing to see who she can be in charge of.
Often it is the dogs who have had everything they could want that act out the worst - just like kids. :D