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Unexpected aggresive behaviour

August 15th, 2011, 05:11 PM
Hi All, we have adopted an older 2 year old border collie lab cross about 2 months ago. We were dogsitting a little dog for my uncle. We had our uncle bring over the dog prior to him leaving and they got along great. We had her for 3 weeks and never an issue. Today the uncle was coming over to pick up the little dog and my wife was combing our lab collie dog, and she violently attacked the little dog. So much so that it is currently with the vet. This has upset us greatly and we are now afraid for our children as she has never given any behaviour to suggest that she would be so violent but when this comes out of the blue we are very concerned. Has anyone else had an issue simular?

August 16th, 2011, 08:36 AM
I have a medium sized manchester terrier and I cannot trust him with small dogs ever. It is totally unpredicted as well. Keep your pooch with big dogs only. I never had issues with kids and he's eight yrs old now. And try and go dog classes to socialize your dog.

August 16th, 2011, 11:12 PM
The honeymoon is over - BIG time.
Get into a good training program that focus' on relationship and leadership.
Your dog was probably being possessive of your wife. She needs to learn that it is not her place to possess or protect her. Your wife should do a fair amount of the training so that the dog looks to her for guidance and respects her as a leader in her life - not as a buddy to possess.
Yes, this could be a problem with the kids, but with good training this can also have a happy ending.

August 17th, 2011, 12:11 PM
A training program isn't going to do much. You need to see the underlining problem.

Your dog was put into a situation where he or she was uncomfortable and therefor this situation created stress in you BC, and what happens when a dog is under stress? Fight or flight, your dog unfortunately chose fight.

Now what happened.... I don't know. It could be a number of things :

1. Resource guarding - if the BC enjoys attention from people and the little dog came too close.

2. Combing the dog - something may have hurt the dog and redirected onto the little dog

3. Did not enjoy combing and felt cornered, became stressed and lashed out.

First off, please give more details to the scenerio as it played out, do not leave anything out. If you believe in the pack/leadership mentality, throw it out the window, because that will just get you further in a hole with the behaviour.

August 18th, 2011, 11:21 AM
I guess it depends on your definition of leadership.

To us leadership is about...
1. Who teaches whom the rules of the house? The two legged teaches the four leggeds the house rules.
2. Who makes the decisions in the house? The one with the bigger brain.
3. Who dictates the behavior of the others in the home? The adults teach the children and the animals what behavior is and is not permitted.
4. Who does everyone look to for advice? The leader.
5. Who does everyone listen to? The one who exhibits love, trust and respect to all and expects the same of them.

Leadership is not about...
1. Dominance
2. Being 'alpha'
3. Causing fear in others
4. Causing pain to others
5. Ego

If training is not the answer to this problem what is?

This dog needs to learn to look to his people for guidance and support when he is feeling unsure, fearful or insecure. The more communication that is developed through good training the more clear that relationship becomes and the more confidence the dog gains through understanding.

He should learn (through good training) to 'think' about a situation instead of just 'react'. When a dog is scared his choices are fight, flight, freeze or freak out, and it's all about right brained (instinctive) reactions and adrenaline. If you train him and teach him to hesitate and think, look to the leader for advice and choose the right reaction then your problems are solved.

He also needs desensitization training to learn to over come his resource guarding, his dislike of the comb or his fear of being cornered.

I am sorry you feel so negatively about the terms 'leadership' and 'training'. Do you feel the same about the term 'parenting' because it is all the same. A good parent is a good leader, good coach, good friend, good protector, good counselor, and good communicator. Just what every dog needs. :)

August 18th, 2011, 08:31 PM
Garnet, when my blue cattle dog, Cuddles was still with us she always exercised with my red boy, and never any trouble, until the day I groomed her with him there. I knew she didn't like grooming so kept telling him to move away (for his own good) but I guess he wanted attention too much. She went for him, didn't hurt him , just nibbled his cheek a bit, but yes, I wouldn't be grooming your dog with other dogs or children present.

August 18th, 2011, 09:07 PM
Garnet, if you can't find a good trainer in Calgary PM me and I will give you the name of a great trainer in Edmonton that works with a lot of mature "rescue" and "rehome" dogs. He has been a godsend when working with the same issues you are describing with both of my dogs. He is good enough that I will travel the 6 hours from Saskatoon to go for a training session when I am in need.

Dog Dancer
August 19th, 2011, 01:02 PM
Have to agree that a good training program will be a godsend for you. Positive reinforcement training only. I also agree that the dog was probably guarding you, and needs to learn, through training (the training is mostly about you by the way) that you are the leader and will direct him. You will decide who gets to do what. Tenderfoot is perfectly correct. In the meanwhile I would not groom him with other dogs or children around. It is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Good luck to you and bless you for helping this fella out.

August 19th, 2011, 04:31 PM
I'm a full time trainer and behaviour consultant, I've worked with behaviourists (phd graduates) and other wonderful trainers during my externship in college and I volunteer as the resident trainer at a rescue group where I rehabilitate shelter dogs, so I am very familiar with aggression in dogs and the proper training needed for them. The problem when someone says "leadership" in the media world is they automatically place themselves at the top in the household and the people that are power hungry take this term and turn it around.

You can't have a training program without first diagnosing the PROBLEM, why did it happen in the first place? Anyone could give you hundreds of commands to teach your dog but will that help the dog? You have a 50/50 chance, you're gambling here.

Something happened here, the dog was PUSHED OVER HIS THRESHOLD, he was stressed out about something and lashed out. You can't fix a problem without knowing what to fix. Example - you can't have a human aggressive dog and train a sit stay and expect this dog not to react to strangers, doesn't even matter if he will stay like that for hours, if the dog is put into a uncomfortable situation and feels threatened, obedience training goes out the window and the demon is back. You need to find the problem and get behavioural therapy to work under the dogs threshold, always making sure to have positive experiences.

You need an behaviour assessment - which a local shelter can provide you with ranging in price from $25-$60.

August 19th, 2011, 04:52 PM
A good behaviorist will give free consultations. I would never pay for a consultation. A consultation is a good time to judge whether you have found a knowledgeable behaviorist or not. No need to hand over money to someone that won't help. In my experience, most dog trainers and behaviorists aren't that good with "aggressive" dogs and a person has to hunt around to find a good one.

August 19th, 2011, 10:19 PM
Stinkycat- It sounds like you have lots of experience and I think you would agree that everyone is here for the love of dogs. The difference is that people have different ideas and levels of experience when giving dogs the best education in the best way possible.

Not every person is power hungry and it is our job as teachers to clarify the meaning of leadership. Ignorance is the enemy not leadership. Leadership has great value when it is held by intelligent, well balanced, caring individuals.

It is our belief that all problems come back to the same answer - relationship. Love, trust and respect. Love is rarely the problem. This dog has a lack of trust and perhaps respect (would need to know more details). Through good training she can learn to trust and respect her people and the dogs around her.

There are 4 levels to training.
1. Inside the house with no distractions.
2. Outside the house - where the dog can get excited by sights, sounds and smells.
3. Distances - how good is he at 5, 10, 30 feet away from you.
4. Distractions - how good is he around squirrels, dogs, kids etc.

Add to that - you can have distances and distractions inside the house. So there are levels within levels to help the dog learn how to fight his impulses and have a calm, patient attitude. Rather like taking a child from elementary school to college. If you take a fourth grader and put him into college he will fail and that is not his fault. So if you take this dog and press him too soon into situations that cause him to be aggressive then YOU have set him up for failure. But that doesn't mean you can't steadily and swiftly move him through the levels at the speed he can handle and succeed at.

Absolutely a dog can learn to handle scary situations if he has been well trained. If I am scared of snakes I can learn to tolerate their presence and then accept their presence with the guidance of a skilled snake handler. It doesn't mean I have to like them but I can certainly learn to accept them. If my dog learns to be calm during a sit stay in the four levels of learning then it doesn't matter if a high level trigger enters the scene, because we have practiced at all of the levels in advance. You don't show up for a competition without practicing if you hope to win.

This dog was not necessarily pushed beyond her threshold. This could easily be a learned response. Dogs do what works and when it works they do it more. It might be that this behavior has worked in the past and it has become an automatic response when a dog approaches too closely to her and her person. So in that case we need to focus on a new response that is socially acceptable.

My dog learns to trust that I would not put him in harms way, I will protect him if need be, and he can learn to breath and calm down from within. He also needs to learn that aggressive behavior will not be permitted. Just like a nervous child needs support and guidance to get through the scary stuff and every time he succeeds he takes a big leap in the right direction to being a successful social being.

August 19th, 2011, 10:26 PM
In my experience, most dog trainers and behaviorists aren't that good with "aggressive" dogs and a person has to hunt around to find a good one.

Excellent point! We know an astonishing number of trainers who will not work with aggression issues, and an equal number of trainers who think they can deal with aggression but only manage to make things worse, or simply quit - blaming the dog as incurable.

August 20th, 2011, 02:16 AM
Excellent point! We know an astonishing number of trainers who will not work with aggression issues, and an equal number of trainers who think they can deal with aggression but only manage to make things worse, or simply quit - blaming the dog as incurable.

The worst are the ones who think they can, but can't! :censored:

August 20th, 2011, 07:25 AM
In order to understand why a dog reacts with aggression one must first establish trust with the dog in order to 'search' for the source cause. If you are unable to physically make a connection with the dog then you will not be able to set up a controlled environment in order to test why the dog reacts in a certain way.
Basic training establishes just that - trust. Handler and dog working together to 'communicate' and establish a non intrusive trust.

I evaluate many dogs in shelter environments. Before doing any asssessments the first thing to do is establish this one on one trust. It may be short but it's not an 'in your face' approach.

If one is fearful, then there is no trust.

August 20th, 2011, 08:59 AM
Good point BenMax.

Myka - We recently worked with a very sad case. A people aggressive pitty who had been sent to boot camp at a local trainer who has been around for decades and whose motto is "just use praise". Well the people picked up their dog only to find it with multiple lacerations on his neck and a severe infection in his chest. When confronted by this the trainer looked surprised and said this was to be expected, normal in fact!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have encouraged the people to bring this to the media but because the trainer paid for the very expensive vet bills the owners dropped the issue. This dog was under intensive care for weeks to recover.

There are plenty of inept, jerks in the dog training field, thank G-d there are also plenty of great ones.

Oh, and in 2 sessions with us the dog is doing sooooo much better, and is fully recovered from his physical injuries. Yeah!!!!!!

August 20th, 2011, 11:10 AM
Tenderfoot, that is :censored: awful. Now that the vet bills have been paid and the dog is healed, they should be pressing charges. How are they going to feel when next year or maybe a few years from now someone else goes to the media and they find out that this trainer has done treated many more dogs like this? Boy are they going to feel bad!

This is one of many reasons why a person should NOT leave their dog with a trainer. The best case scenario the dog will only learn to respect the trainer, not the owner anyway. The owner needs to be doing the training.

August 20th, 2011, 11:35 AM
This is one of many reasons why a person should NOT leave their dog with a trainer. The best case scenario the dog will only learn to respect the trainer, not the owner anyway. The owner needs to be doing the training.

That is exactly how we feel. Sometimes a clients dog really needs some immersion in a pack of dogs so we will provide that and the changes that come from just living with a heathly pack are enormous. Plus we don't have to work as hard when our dogs are on the job. :D

Though I would love for there to be media coverage on this incident I cant force the client to do what they aren't comfortable doing. And lawsuits cost a ton of money, so that can be though to persue.

I am sorry :sorry: Marko, I think we have shot way off topic. :offtopic:

August 31st, 2011, 07:34 AM
Maybe your dog needs more socialization. try to expose him to different of animals.

August 31st, 2011, 07:50 AM
Tenderfoot, what is your thoughts on my dog being aggressive and maybe killing a small small furry puppy as if he's hunting? I get the cats, rabbits, and squirrel thing but why a dog? Doesn't he know it's his own kind? Since you deal in training I wanted your thoughts? Yes he's a ratter dog !!! Oh and he's very socialized and went to agility for 2 years.

September 13th, 2011, 03:56 PM
We know an astonishing number of trainers who will not work with aggression issues, and an equal number of trainers who think they can deal with aggression but only manage to make things worse, or simply quit - blaming the dog as incurable.

Thank you SO much for pointing this out. I only know this too well, seeing the two breeds that I work with.

I have to agree with your synopsis of the training issue also. Yes, while it's great having a succint diagnosis of what exactly is going on with the dog, sometimes just getting the owners into a training situation already will change the demeanour of the dog. ( I've seen this countless times myself), so I also don't believe that training should be discouraged even IF a character diagnosis hasn't been had.

Chances are great that ultimatly during the training process, the unwanted behaviour will make itself apparent anyways and most trainers will be able to adapt to the new situation. JMHO

This has upset us greatly and we are now afraid for our children
Also, just because a dog will engage aggressively with another dog, does not mean it will do the same with a human child. The dynamics are not the same, and neither is the language, or the situations, and basically any dog should be supervised around any child so I don't think you should compare the two the same way really.

Believe it or not, the most dangerous and aggressive dog I've ever had to work with was a Yorkie!!! and I've worked with some, "humdinger red zone dogs"