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Aggression towards men

mollywog
April 26th, 2009, 10:38 AM
First off I should give some background for those who don't know: my husband and I adopted Molly at 6 months (approx) from a rescue in SW Ont, who rescued her from a high kill shelter in Kentucky. She was brought to the shelter in KY with a broken leg that had not been tended to. It has healed beautifully (thank the lord!). We have now had Molly for 1 year and have encountered several occasions where she has shown aggression towards some men. When we adopted her, her foster mom did not mention anything about it, and Molly has been great with my husband, and with a majority of men she meets, since day 1. However, there will be the occasional male (always male, but no other pattern) and she will look at him and its like a switch will go off; her hair on her back will stand up, and she will growl and bark aggressively. It is usually someone we walk past on the street,but last night we had a friend of a friend over, who Molly had never met before, and he leaned forward to get his drink off the coffee table and she lunged at him and barked aggressively. Luckily no bite and I was able to correct her and put her in her crate for a time out. But this is very upsetting for me to witness, and its very uncommon- she loves most men she meets and will practically sit on their lap for kisses and pats.
I really don't know how to correct this, or prevent it, other than keeping a close eye on her around strangers?
Any advice would really be appreciated. I am sure it has something to do with her upbringing in Kentucky. Poor girl. But I can't make excuses, all I can do is try to help rehabilitate.
Sorry for being so long winded.

Bailey_
April 26th, 2009, 10:52 AM
Sorry to hear about this, Mollywog. And good for you for adopting her! :thumbs up

It's quite possible that her reactions are caused by her past, but it's also quite possible that it's not. It's really, really hard to say - given the fact that you don't for sure know her past.

I have seen many a dog start to exhibit this sort of unexpected behavior, even after being raised in a loving home from the get-go.

Her behavior towards men walking towards you on a walk - by aggressive, could you explain in more detail what she does? (Barking/lunging is not neccessarily aggression in itself. 'Aggression' is quite a loose term for many different types of behaviors displayed.) And many times, as a puppy matures, she's going to start feeling the need to be on gaurd about different people or other dogs (in your case, men) that are coming her way. It doesn't neccessarily mean that she's trying to be aggressive, but insecurity about that situation can cause her to act like she is.
Again, before I personally can suggest how you should react with this, I'd need to know in detail what she's actually doing when she sees someone.

As for the coffee table incident, that situation as well is leading me to believe she's not trying to be aggressive; but rather is extremley insecure. I highly reccomend having a profesional behavioral trainer come to your house to meet Molly and assess her, which will give you all a better sense of where your dog is coming from and what you can do to help her. :thumbs up

mollywog
April 26th, 2009, 11:08 AM
Bailey, thanks for your advice. I will try to give some more details here.
You are right, it could be insecurity. Sometimes if we are walking past someone who is walking different or looks different- ie someone who has a limp or is shuffling along, or is wearing a hood over their head, like I said, she will bark repeatedly and jump at them and the hair on her back will stand up.
Sometimes she will hear a sudden loud noise and that will cause the same reaction. :shrug: so yes, she usually does seem to act out of fear. She has never shown any aggression towards myself or my husband- she will let us touch her food while she's eating, clip her nails, pick her up and rub her belly, etc. 99.9% of the time she is a sweetheart and a big suck.
unfortunately we live in a small isolated town of 5000 people and there are no animal behaviorists around.

pattymac
April 26th, 2009, 02:54 PM
It seems that your issue is quite common and takes some time for the dog to get over. My Bayley will react to men in particular wearing sunglasses, hats and or hoodies. now sometimes she'll react to a perfectly normal looking guy. When she does that I tend to think she's reacting to something I don't know.

When your guest leaned forward she may have seen that as a threat and reacted. Maybe the next time he comes over, give him a handful of something she really likes and starting with her a way off from him, have him toss treats at her. He doesn't need to say anything. If she keeps taking the treats, she's doing ok. Slowly let her move closer, may take a few times. If she stops taking the treats, she's getting stressed so you may need to slow down her approach. Eventually she should be able to get right up to him.

mollywog
April 26th, 2009, 04:02 PM
thanks for the reassurance Pattymac. It sure isn't a nice feeling when it does happen :sad: After I put her in her crate for a little while (in the same room as all of us), I brought her outside for a pee, then brought her back in, on a leash, and had him give her some treats. She still was looking at him in a strange way but did lick his hand which I thought was a good sign.
The scary thing is that I don't really know when it will happen, except with a new person. So I guess I just have to be extra cautious with new men around. Could she be doing this to "protect" me? or just out of fear?

mollywog
April 26th, 2009, 06:32 PM
* bump*
any other help, gang??

pattymac
April 26th, 2009, 07:24 PM
I would say you don't want to be to 'careful' as you might be sending signals to her to tell her to be nervous. With Bayley, sometimes I think she's a little nervous around men. It's just me and my mom at home. We have a male trainer though and she really likes him, so I think that's helping her alot. She does tend to be protective of me, so that's something we have to work on so she sees me as protecting her...the whole leadership thingy!

mollywog
April 29th, 2009, 07:02 PM
I have made a commitment to try to expose her to more, now that the weather has warmed up. We live in a northern community so there are always all sorts of folks wandering the streets (never had a "bad" experience.. its a pretty safe place). Good way to get molly acclimatized to different people and situations, while out walking and getting exercise too.
I have been talking it over with my sister (she is very dog saavy) and she has offered up some other great advice- lots of confidence building ideas for Molly.
Has anyone else been through this with their dog? I'm not giving up on Molly anytime soon!!!! :thumbs up

babymomma
April 29th, 2009, 07:22 PM
Well, 1 thing i have found very usefull in dealing with keely's Fearful aggression towards almost all other strangers, has been to pay very very close attention to her behaviour.. The little things that i didnt notice before.. Such as her different reactions..

A few to look for..

Licking of the licks
Widened eyes
not looking at somebody directly ect etc.


Just the wierd little things that i didnt notice before..

mollywog
April 29th, 2009, 07:36 PM
yes Babymomma, but as Pattymac said, you need to be careful that you are not sending nervous vibes towards her in anticipation of something happening. Its a very fine line.