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Sporadically Aggressive Dog

March 17th, 2008, 11:35 AM

I have a dog, Tobi, who is just over 2 years old. We bought him as a 4 week old puppy from a farm owned by Mennonites in Wingham. They told us his mother was a lab/collie and his father was a collie which would make him some sort of a cross between a lab and a collie. He is very obedient and intelligent, and generally listens to commands. However, he had actually lightly bitten a few people (no blood) and recently actually bit a friend of the family on the hand very severely which required a hospital visit and stitches. The friend was actually lucky he could still move his fingers.

This aggression arises usually when people (who do not live in the house) are leaving and are by the door. Perhaps because he is a "herd dog", he is trying to keep the herd together or something along those lines. He is also very protective of the family members, i.e. at Dog parks if other dogs come up to meet us, he becomes very angry and snarles at them. I was wondering if anyone knows of a place that would be able to provide us with some professional help in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region (Ontario) and/or if there is any other advice that could be passed along regarding this issue. We really do not want to put him down as he is such a sweet dog around the house--and are willing to exhaust all possibilities--but if this persists and/or happens again, we will be left with no choice.

Thank you for your help!

March 17th, 2008, 11:44 AM
In order to give you the best possible answer, could you please answer a couple of questions?

Has your dog ever been to an obedience class?

How often do you go to the dog park?

What do you do when the dog becomes "angry" and snarls at people?

March 17th, 2008, 11:55 AM

We have never taken my dog to an obedience class. I tried calling a few places after the first biting incident (which was very minimal) but as soon as they heard he had "bitten" someone they refused to take him. After that I gave up calling and nothing came of it.

Dog park is usually once per week. It's actually my dad that goes with him.. I have only been once. He gets at least 2 walks per day. One very early in the morning with my dad, and usually either just one in the afternoon with myself or my mom or two in the afternoon.

When I am at home with him and he snarls at people, I typically respond with a smack on the bum and ask him to sit. He complies but it is still quite evident that he is agitated. A similar thing happens when I walk him and cars pass by on the road. He has a notion to just bark and run at them and really pull on the leash. To combat this I ask him to sit when we see a car coming towards us, which he does, but I have to constantly tell him to "stay" and even crouch down with him to keep him in the same spot.

I feel like he's fairly obedient and teachable. If I ask him to stay, sit, or lie down he will listen. Similarly when I'm walking I have taught him to walk slowly and not pull on the leash. The problem is when he is distracted by either a car or people leaving the house or just some people walking, it seems like a trigger is set off and his wild instincts take over. The other problem is that the behaviour of his owners is quite inconsistent. I treat him much differently from the way my father does, who spends the most time with him. I am very strict, whereas my father tends to let him do whatever he wants.

Also I was wondering if there's any way this might have something to do with nutrition? He eats dog food but he also gets a lot of people food from my mother and father.

March 17th, 2008, 12:09 PM
No. It isn't a nutritional problem. Sorry.

You are somehow going to have to explain to your father that if the dog continues to bite, the chances are that at some point he will be declared dangerous and need to be put down. Not to mention the cost to the family of any lawsuits.

Personally - the dog park would be out. Too much opprotunity for the unthinkable to happen.

When people are getting ready to leave your home, put the dog on a leash and have him do a down/stay out of the way. Praise for calm behaviour (and maybe a small treat or two) and an "ACK!" when he starts to get agitated. If he calms right down, be quick with a treat. If this is done consistantly, and patiently, he should get past this. But remember - this is going to take time. He has had two years to develope this bad habit.

Car chasing while on leash - this is rather simple if everyone is on the same page. When he starts to get "ramped up", quickly and without warning turn around and walk away from the distraction. A few times of this and he will learn to keep his eye on YOU and not what is around you.

March 17th, 2008, 12:14 PM
Alright thanks a lot for your help!

March 17th, 2008, 12:19 PM
Your Welcome!

Be sure to keep us posted and don't be afraid to ask any more questions.