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Old May 17th, 2011, 10:34 PM
Apple_hun Apple_hun is offline
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My Chi is showing aggression

My chi now 11months old, has started to show aggression all of a sudden. It seemed ever since i got her spayed, she doesn't trust strangers. Whether adult or a child. I brought her out in public and an adult went to pet her and she lunged and tried to bite her hand as she growled and barked. I couldnt believe she did that. She never used to be that way....the same day a child came up on her quickly and she barked and tried to lunge at him as well. I was so embarassed. I'm thinking she is scared and feels threatened and is trying to defend herself and maybe me as well? I am taking her on her first camping trip and i am so terrified that this will be a horrible experience. I am fearful she will try to attack a stranger. What can i do to let her know this is unacceptable? When i call her she stops and commands me...she knows i am in charge, so she has respect for me. ALso when i leave the home and come back she has torn apart a pillow in agression there too...please give any input here i would grealty appreciate all! Thank you!
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Old May 18th, 2011, 08:05 AM
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Hi, Apple_hun and welcome to the forum.

We have lots of dog savvy people on here that I'm sure will give you some suggestions soon once they see this thread so keep checking back.

Again welcome.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 05:39 PM
SamIam SamIam is offline
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Hi Apple_hun,
Changes are normal in dogs as they mature. In any breed and regardless of whether they are spayed/neutered, they go through a maturation period at 6-12 months and another at 24-36 months. Breeds that are stand-offish, one-person, guard-suitable, and loners can be just as friendly and outgoing as love-everyone dogs are when puppies. If you got your dog from a breeder, what were the parents like? Chihuahuas are a breed with vast differences in temperament, and they do tend to inherit the behavioural patterns of their parents. If you got your dog from a rescue or shelter, you would not have had the opportunity to choose one temperament type over another.

However, there are other possibilities as well, and it is important to have a good idea of what is causing your chi's behaviour before I offer suggestions on how to work through it.

A second possibility is a health issue. You will know for humans, when you are ill or injured, it can make you quite grumpy, and the same is true for dogs. If the problem developed suddenly and immediately following or shortly after her spay surgery, there could be complications that are bothering her or even an irritation due to the stitches. How long ago was the spay done, when did the behavioural issues start, and have you seen the vet since the spay was done?

A third possibility is a traumatic event. Some dogs only react to actual physical harm, but chihuahuas are a highly intelligent and sensitive breed who can be traumatized simply by fear. Can you think of any event where she was injured or frightened, or are there times when she was looked after by someone else when you suspect something might have happened?

Can you also tell me her size (as chihuahuas do vary a LOT), how long she is left home alone in a typical day, and whether there are any children who live with you or visit you.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple_hun View Post
My chi now 11months old, has started to show aggression all of a sudden. It seemed ever since i got her spayed, she doesn't trust strangers. Whether adult or a child. I brought her out in public and an adult went to pet her and she lunged and tried to bite her hand as she growled and barked. I couldnt believe she did that. She never used to be that way....the same day a child came up on her quickly and she barked and tried to lunge at him as well. I was so embarassed. I'm thinking she is scared and feels threatened and is trying to defend herself and maybe me as well? I am taking her on her first camping trip and i am so terrified that this will be a horrible experience. I am fearful she will try to attack a stranger. What can i do to let her know this is unacceptable? When i call her she stops and commands me...she knows i am in charge, so she has respect for me. ALso when i leave the home and come back she has torn apart a pillow in agression there too...please give any input here i would grealty appreciate all! Thank you!
The statement I bolded above concerns me. How did the adult go to pet her? Were you holding the dog? Was the dog close to you? Did the adult bend over to pet the dog or get down to the dogs' lever? Did the adult ask permission to pet her first? With the child again, same question. - Was the dog close to you?
I highly doubt being spayed has changed her behaviour to that extent. I would think instead it is more the age she is at. She's in the bratty teenage years where she is going to push buttons. She needs training. Strict training. The way a dog turns out has to do with the training the dog gets. Yes, breed does play a part but - with proper training even a "bad" dog can be turned around. Small dogs have a tendency to be "bratty" if not handled correctly and promptly when misbehaving.
Have you heard of Nothing In Life Is Free training? Here is a website that explains it for you - http://k9domain.org/leadership.aspx There are many other sites out there too. If you google NILIF you will find them. It is very important during training (and afterward) that you are consistent.
One of the most important things you need to do until your dog has realized you are the one in charge, not her, is to keep her away from all outside stimulus. Do not allow people to pet her when you are out with her. Watch for the child running up to her quickly and react to it by turning away. Etc..... When she listens to and responds to you on a consistent basis then you can slowly start adding the outside stimulus.
I'm sure some of our members who have tons of experience training dogs will be along soon to give you more ideas. The important thing for you to do is to start training with your dog asap.

Just to add a bit - the tearing apart of a pillow at home may not have been aggression. It could have been playing, separation anxiety, or boredom. Or it could have been bratty teenager wants to come out and be bad!!
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Old May 18th, 2011, 10:24 PM
Apple_hun Apple_hun is offline
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ok well I will start by answering your questions SamIam...I bought her from a breeder and he parents are both well looking chi's...she grew up with a brother and sister the short time it was and played with them in the yard...a very happy dog.
She has been back to the vet and her spay went well no complications,and was checked. She has been back to get her heart worm test/prevention meds,and when i took her in she had to be muzzled as they wouldnt work with her otherwise. She was aggressive with them. Which makes sense to me because she wasnt happy to be there for the spay,and when i picked her up, she was only clam tomy touch not theirs at the time.
Its been about 3 mos since the spay..
There isnt any particular event i can think of to make her upset all of a sudden....except for being terrified from the vets..
She is a 7.5lb Chi....she spends most days with me only....then the kids after school....gets along great with them...and the husband only for shorter visits as he works longer hours.
I recently came home to her having shredded a couch pillow...in anxiety and maybe anger for leaving that night with an event...when i was trying to leave she was trying to jump up at me as she wanted to go...so there is what i can tell you, and thank you for taking the time to help out!
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Old May 18th, 2011, 10:30 PM
Apple_hun Apple_hun is offline
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Ok now 14+kitties....
The adult came up to her quickly, and she was on my lap...which i can now understand she was most likely scared had no where to go and maybe even partly wanted to protect me..
same with the child....
My family and I are out and about alot with camping, sporting, etc
I want to be able to get her into the swing of things...
she is a part of the family and i want her to get along with everyone, its a part of who we are.so socializing is a good way to get her used to new people, but of course i need to inform people to keep a distance for now as she is un certain of them and could nip...which is my fear
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Old May 18th, 2011, 10:35 PM
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TeriM TeriM is offline
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It is very common for dogs to have a second "fear period" between the ages of 6-14 months http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/dev...talstages.html

Usually this is a short stage but you should be careful to manage your environment to avoid any negative experiences. I would suggest perhaps attending a positive methods training class. It could also be a bratty stage but I think she is probably a little young for that. Either way you need to work through it.

14+ had some important information to consider as well. Were you holding her when she had these reactions? If so, another thing to consider is that she might be resource guarding you. That is an important bit of information because you would handle that situation much differently.

Definately consider a possible health issue.

Implement NILF but be sure to pair any NILF training with lots of positive reinforcement for any good choices that your dog makes.

Dogs do not get angry, vindictive or other "bad" human emotions. They do get scared, overwhelmed. Shredding a pillow is usually boredom, not enough exercise or seperation anxiety. They do not think my darn human left me so I am gonna pay them back by shredding this pillow or pooping on the floor.

Good luck.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 11:46 PM
SamIam SamIam is offline
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The first and most important thing is to prevent the bites/snapping incidents from happening. When you are on your camping trip, do not leave her unattended or wandering loose. Keep her confined to her kennel or on a leash with a responsible adult on the other end. If anyone comes up to pet her, stand in front of her to block the interaction, and go ahead tell off kids and adults alike they should always ask before petting a dog. It's for their own good, your dog isn't the only one that might bite them. If they do ask, the answer at this time will be no. You can say no she bites, no we're in a hurry, or just plain no. Only pick her up and walk away if absolutely necessary, as picking her up at that time will send her the wrong message. Use the same caution around guests to your home.

If you did a good job of socializing her as a pup, I am going to suggest you do it all over again, but in a very controlled manner. The best people to start your work with are people who know dogs, are comfortable with dogs, are unlikely to get bitten. For example, the doctors and staff at your vet clinic, staff at your local pet store or groomer, and some family and friends. When going to a public place, try to go at a quiet time so there won't be many customers or clients there.

Tell them what you are doing to make sure they are comfortable with it. If they agree to help, go get your dog and walk her in on leash. Keep in mind that stress runs down the leash. If you are worried that she will bite, she will sense this and she WILL bite. Being calm will take practice on your part, but remember you have carefully selected good people to work with. Reach out your hand and say hi it's nice to meet you. Talk about some cheery aspects of your dog, so that you and your helper are both looking at her. Shake hands again before you leave. As you are doing this, watch your dog for signs of fear, nervousness, or acceptance of the stranger. We would like your dog to focus on you and follow your lead whether a person is okay or not. Do this with several people and several times with each if you or she is nervous at all until you are both comfortable.

It is not important that every stranger off the street can touch your dog, but it is important that she can be handled by you, your family, and your vet. Give your dog a massage and mock check-up. Touch every part of her body, poke and prod as if you were a vet feeling for anything unusual, look in her ears, in her mouth and eyes. Pet her in ways you don't normally pet her, on her head, backwards, imitate the actions of a potential stranger or small child. Pick up a foot and pull gently, touch the hollow between each of her toes, pull gently on her ears and tail, grab your hand around her muzzle and apply gentle pressure. She may resist you, she may even yelp out of surprise. Practice, practice. When you are sitting on the couch or floor, help her relax and lie down and gently roll her onto her back. Repostion her legs and head all different ways until she becomes completely comfortable with you doing whatever it is you want. Once you've had success with it, teach your husband and then your children. Help your dog to learn complete trust in her family and to lose any inhibitions to touch.

Back at the vet (or groomer), you will then be ready to have someone else touch. You may wish to have a cloth muzzle on her the first couple times as the gentle touch and pressure on her muzzle will help her be calm, and her inability to bite will help you relax. Greet the person with a cheery voice and hand-shake, pick your dog up and put her on the counter, talk a moment, then give explicit permission for the person to pet your dog. If she merely tolerates it, progress very slowly to more of the all-over touching you have practiced. If she enjoys it, allow a greeting with her on the floor and if she wants, to approach the person for more petting.

It will be a wait-and-see whether strangers on the street will ever be a part of this. Chihuahuas have a reputation for being stand-offish with strangers and many chihuahuas are that way. If that's the case for her, your goal will be for her to be comfortable around strangers rather than lunge, and to sit calmly at your side as you have a conversation. But some Chihuahuas are very outgoing and friendly, let her tell you which sort of dog she was born to be. Understand that her growling means it is time for you to leave, but work towards increasing her comfort so it doesn't reach that point.

The pillow is a completely separate issue, boredom, loneliness, separation anxiety, or a difficulty distinguishing between her stuffies and your items.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 12:21 AM
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Goldfields Goldfields is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamIam View Post

It is not important that every stranger off the street can touch your dog, but it is important that she can be handled by you, your family, and your vet. Give your dog a massage and mock check-up. Touch every part of her body, poke and prod as if you were a vet feeling for anything unusual, look in her ears, in her mouth and eyes. Pet her in ways you don't normally pet her, on her head, backwards, imitate the actions of a potential stranger or small child. Pick up a foot and pull gently, touch the hollow between each of her toes, pull gently on her ears and tail, grab your hand around her muzzle and apply gentle pressure. She may resist you, she may even yelp out of surprise. Practice, practice. When you are sitting on the couch or floor, help her relax and lie down and gently roll her onto her back. Repostion her legs and head all different ways until she becomes completely comfortable with you doing whatever it is you want. Once you've had success with it, teach your husband and then your children. Help your dog to learn complete trust in her family and to lose any inhibitions to touch.
Excellent advice, all of it , SIA. I have people tell me they can't get their sheltie to lie down for grooming, or that they don't lie them down, yet if the dog is trained to it and is comfortable with it, as you say, they also don't mind lying down for a vet to go over them. A tip I was given for showing shelties nervous when up on a table might help with little dogs too. I was told to stand them on my lap, front feet on one leg, back feet on the other, then while holding them gently and talking to them, move one leg up and down slightly at a time so they get used to balancing . Just makes them feel more secure up high on a vet's table.


Teri M, you wrote

It is very common for dogs to have a second "fear period" between the ages of 6-14 months .


Golly, I've even seen big strong male cattle dog pups become nervous around that age. The smart exhibitor just leaves them in peace at home till they get past it.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SamIam View Post
When you are sitting on the couch or floor, help her relax and lie down and gently roll her onto her back. Repostion her legs and head all different ways until she becomes completely comfortable with you doing whatever it is you want. Once you've had success with it, teach your husband and then your children. Help your dog to learn complete trust in her family and to lose any inhibitions to touch.
I'm afraid I disagree with this advice and especially if done by your children etc. The "alpha roll" can have very negative effects on the dog's confidence and trust with its owner. It can also cause the dog to become very defensive. In fact the original recommend was from the Monks of New Skete who have now apologized and no longer recommend this procedure. The top behaviourists in the field of dog training/agression such as Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar etc all agree that the alpha roll is a poor training option.

I have no problem with your dog needing to allow you to handle it but I would hope the only time she is on her back is when she is offering her belly for a nice tummy rub.

A good alternative is to work on teaching your dog commands like a sit stay/down stay and a "go to mat/bed" command. Gradually work up from very short sessions until your dog can hold the position for long periods of time.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 07:30 AM
Apple_hun Apple_hun is offline
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When I call her and want her to stay, she will stop and look at me so she can listen to my command for this. I have her stay in our big bathroom while I am away on occasion,and yesterday she didnt want any part of being left behind. She was jumping up on me and barking with anxiety. I felt bad but told her "No" and "Down" and when I came home she was just fine and happy to see me. I think this will definetly be a wait & see situation with strangers,as I believe she is fearful of whom she doesnt know. It seems some people frighten her more than others...and i will be informing all adults & kids around this trip to no pet as she can;t be trusted yet. We are going with a group of people so i am sure they will be understanding....and i will have a crate for the trailer to keep her in when she is left inside. I will definetly keep her a short leash for the first bit to see how she act.She loves the outdoors, so i hope this experience will teach & calm her to new people and surroundings.I also have a travel crate that i can out on my shoulder that i will bring and keep her in if she is scared and gets nippy....i'd hate to crate her in the trailer for longer periods of time. Thank you again for taking the time to help..

Any more opinions/suggestions most definetly welcomed!!
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Old May 19th, 2011, 11:59 AM
SamIam SamIam is offline
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Originally Posted by TeriM View Post
The "alpha roll" can have very negative effects on the dog's confidence and trust with its owner.
I am not suggesting an alpha roll. I am suggesting a dog who develops complete comfort with and trust in her owners without fear or avoidance of handling.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by TeriM View Post
I'm afraid I disagree with this advice and especially if done by your children etc. The "alpha roll" can have very negative effects on the dog's confidence and trust with its owner. It can also cause the dog to become very defensive. In fact the original recommend was from the Monks of New Skete who have now apologized and no longer recommend this procedure. The top behaviourists in the field of dog training/agression such as Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar etc all agree that the alpha roll is a poor training option.

I have no problem with your dog needing to allow you to handle it but I would hope the only time she is on her back is when she is offering her belly for a nice tummy rub.

A good alternative is to work on teaching your dog commands like a sit stay/down stay and a "go to mat/bed" command. Gradually work up from very short sessions until your dog can hold the position for long periods of time.

TeriM, thank you for your post I found it most informative. I have a friend who uses the alpha roll and I have always felt icky about it when I see him do it. I did it once with our female Rotti (Kenya RIP baby girl) and a friend of mine who is a behaviorist explained why she felt it wasn't an appropriate training option, therefore I haven't utilized it since.
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