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aggressive dog, help!

April 13th, 2004, 12:26 PM
We adopted Koko from the spca alittle over 2 years ago. She has always been aggressive towards other animals but recently she's been aggressive to humans too. She grawled at a small girl the other day who wasn't doing anything but petting her. She's always loved all kids and most adults (some exceptions but overall not a problem).
Alittle over a month ago my husband and I moved into a new home and this is when the human aggression started. I don't know if the two are connected. Talked to one trainer and he said no but that it probably just made things alittle worse.
She's scared of everything and always has been, my husband says she's protecting us...I don't know how if she is so scared. She hasn't bit anyone yet but I'm going to buy a mussle for public because lately I'm not feeling comfortable that it won't happen. Please help! She listens perfect inside but as soon as we go outside it's a different story and she could care less about any treat that I have.:( :confused:

Lucky Rescue
April 13th, 2004, 12:53 PM
IF she always loved kids and adults and this aggression is something new, I suggest you have her thoroughly checked out at the vet. There are some physical and medical problems that can cause this type of aggression - I believe thyroid problems is one.

The vet is the best place to start!

April 13th, 2004, 12:58 PM
we actually just went last week. She did have an ear infection that is better now, but while there she growled at the girl behind the counter, tried to fight a dog about 20 times her size. I had to dive after her, and just managed to pin her down just before something happened. Everyone is now scared of her there and they mussled her, which just made things worse. Any suggestions for a good vet in the Baltimore, DC area??? Do you really think all of this would be from an ear infection?

Lucky Rescue
April 13th, 2004, 01:48 PM
Extreme pain from an ear infection could make some dogs aggressive. However trying to give advice about aggression like this over the net is a dangerous thing to do.

In order to find out about any thyroid probs, etc - blood tests must be done to rule out physical causes. If none are found, I recommend a behaviorist who can observe the dog - her posture, what triggers the aggression, whether it's fear-based, and so forth.

I know this is very upsetting for you, and I hope you find some answers!

April 13th, 2004, 02:52 PM
Well thanks for the advice, I'd thought I'd try hear first the sight seemed very helpful for others.

It is very upsetting to me, especially since she is an angel inside and is very happy and loving toward those she is familar with. It's only in public when she just seems to turn into what my husband and I now call "devil dog", especially if a dog comes running up to out.
The hair is standing on her entire body, teeth showing, growling, low to the ground...just isn't the same dog.

Lucky Rescue
April 13th, 2004, 05:32 PM
From what you describe, it sounds to me like a fear aggression thing....

When dogs come up to her, does she have ears back and tail tucked?

April 13th, 2004, 05:38 PM
Is she on or off lead when this happens..close or far from you?

If she's close to you and does this she is trying to stand out to be leader (alpha) as she doesn't feel you are protecting her.

When a dog comes toward you, give her a command, sit and stay.
Tell her she is good, make her sit until the dog goes by.

You can slowly integrate her to be more social to a degree depending on how alpha she is and aggressive with other dogs.

April 14th, 2004, 11:41 AM
Her tail is definately tucked, as for her ears they flop down so i can't really tell you that.
As far as close or far from me, it could be either. Obviously when we are in public I have her on the leash, when I see a dog (or she does) I pull her in close and we usually walk the other way because she immediately gets upset (mind you the dog may be barely in view its so far away).
Is it wrong for us to be turning away every time we see another dog, it's just that she's so uncontrolable once she sees them?

Lucky Rescue
April 14th, 2004, 12:44 PM
The tucked tail makes this sound like a fearful reaction.

when I see a dog (or she does) I pull her in close and we usually walk the other way

When you pull her in close at the sight of another dog, you are signaling to her that YOU are anxious and afraid, and transmitting this to her - that she has REASON to be fearful.

Turning around and going the other way is good, but not the way you are doing it. What you are telling her is "OMG, another dog! Run!"

What you need to do is turn around BEFORE she starts reacting. Try and keep a loose lead, and use a happy voice "Okay! Let's go!"

How is her obedience? You can also give her something to do - like "heel", or "sit" when she sees another dog, and then praise and treat her for obeying. This will make a positive connection with other dogs.

If she pulls or lunges after you have put her in a sit or heel, then you correct her for DISOBEYING, and NOT for reacting to the other dogs.

In time, she will be able to get closer to other dogs, and have a good reaction cause she will know it means treats, toys or praise for NOT reacting.

If she doesn't know it yet, teach her the "Watch me" command as well.

April 14th, 2004, 02:07 PM
I agree with LR you're giving her the signal that hey lets get the heck outta here.

I saw Dr. Coren do it this way, and I know I've posted this a few times so I should just cut and paste but then I'd have to go look for my replies haha!

Anyway, when you see the dog in the distance you give her a command to come to you and SIT. Reward her with a treat, small kibble.

Keep her there, even as the dog approaches. Advise the other dog owner not to come closer then 10 feet from you.

Let the dogs greet eachother from a distance for no longer then 15-20 seconds. THEN you turn and go the other way.

Throughout this time when they are interacting you speak in a nice happy voice as LR suggested. Talk to the dog and talk to the other dog and walker.

It's helpful if you call to the other dog walker and ask them to participate with you. Most people do. Just explain your dog is learning to not be afraid or take control of the situation.

After doing this a few times, you let her get close enough to sniff the dog but ONLY if she's not snarling.

If she snarls or shows her teeth pull her back to your side and make her sit. This is taking the control from her. When she behaves you let the leash out a little so they can get closer.

A very quick sniff then a happy trot off on your way.

You are going to have to do this several times with several different dogs and I would NOT let her off lead unless there are absolutely no other dogs around at all. Not until this behaviour is corrected.

Dogs do this out of #1 fear and #2 taking control because they do not feel as if YOU will take control and protect them and you.

Wish you the best of luck and keep us updated on your situation.

April 14th, 2004, 03:20 PM
Thank you both for your help! I'm am definately saying lets get the heck outta here, to avoid conflict (especially when the other dog is not on a leash, problem in our neighborhood).
I will try this over the weekend and we will see, the dogs are good about not coming off there property line (i don't know if there is an electric fence or not) so I will do this at quite a distance at first.

Thank you again...wish me luck!:)

April 15th, 2004, 08:23 AM
Oh I got a Dal with wicked fear aggression. We are positve before we got her she was hit by a car of some sorts. i have it down to 2 things a Semi Tracker truck or a bus. When she sees these things or hears them she becomes agressive on the leash and actually tries to pull herself and me away but aggressively. She has gotten better with time and patience. But i whole heartedly agree that you show any signs of fear or avoidiance you make the matters worse. I either talk in a happy baby voice or a Sing...sounds weird but it works.