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Old 01-03-2014, 09:06 PM
The Dude The Dude is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2013
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Question Aggression

My wife and I became foster failures when we adopted The Dude (2yo Russel Terrier/beagle mix) 6 months ago. He has been very gentle and sweet with most people and very friendly and playful with most dogs. Lately however, he has shown aggressive behavior toward certain dogs and my wife. We have had a trainer come by to work on greeting another dog with our neighbor and her dog and have been giving lots of tasty treats that he only gets when other dogs are around which helps with most dogs, but there are certain dogs, that no matter what kind of treat we try to give him, he goes nuts when he sees. He pulls, barks, growls and tries to bite when he gets anywhere near them. Over the summer, we spent a lot of time at the dog park, but stopped going because he would stop playing nice when certain dogs showed up. Also, he loves my wife and snuggles up on her lap and enjoys having his belly rubbed by her, but when I am around he will show her his teeth and growl at her. He has even nipped her lip when she didn't back off. She has had success when giving him treats before interaction, but doesn't want to have to always have treats in order to pet him. Any advice?
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:07 AM
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gapeach gapeach is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ga
Posts: 3,097

I am no expert by any means. The only advice I can give is NILIF. Nothing in life is free. Have him do basic commands before ANYTHING. He wants to go outside/inside have him sit or down. I would also suggest having your wife be his main caretaker for awhile doing walks and feeding. She could hand feed his meals (have him do a command for each handful). This helped with food aggression with our dog, but I think it would help you also. When walking in/outside make sure your wife goes before him. With the other dogs, I can't really offer help other than maybe desensitizing him to the other dogs....start out walking him far away from them and slowly get closer as he shows no sign of aggression. Treats when he shows none.
I know others here could give much better advice than me.
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Old 01-05-2014, 08:16 AM
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Maxy24 Maxy24 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 8,038

Can you tell us more about the situations in which he becomes aggressive towards your wife? You say it's when you are around, but are you interacting with him and then she comes over? More information would be helpful for figuring out why he's acting like that.

With the other dogs I'd just stop letting him interact with them at all (unless it is a specific dog you know he likes). Many dogs seem to become less tolerant of strange dogs in adulthood. My own dog is fear aggressive towards dogs he does not know but loved other dogs as a puppy. In fact he used to bark when people walked by the house UNLESS they were walking a dog (he is aggressive towards unfamiliar people as well). Now he only barks if they do have a dog. The absolute best thing I did for his aggression was stop trying to let him greet other dogs. At first he was just a little nervous but would warm up. So I kept encouraging him to meet the other dogs. However he must have been having really bad experiences because it made him so scared (despite warming up eventually), and really bad aggression resulted. So now I don't let dogs anywhere near him so he knows he doesn't have to lunge and bark to keep them away. In addition I do something called counter conditioning. When we see another dog on a walk I start giving treats, a lot of treats, until the other dog is out of sight. This way he associated the positive feeling of getting treats with passing dogs. You can either stand still while the other dog goes by or you can keep the dog moving. What works best will depend on the dog. Some dogs do good if you hand the treat to them, others do best if you toss the treats in the ground so they have to find them. For Tucker I start by handing them to him when we first see the dog(to get his attention and interest) and then start throwing them on the ground once I have his attention and I can tell he's not likely to react. Finding them on the ground breaks his focus on the other dog more and allows me to not use up all of my treats since it takes him longer to find each treat. I can also toss them in the direction I want to go, so it moves us away from the other dog.

If you have a lot of trouble getting him to take the treats because he becomes so focused on the other dog you should try and put more distance between you and the other dog. There have been occasions when I take off running to prevent Tucker from reacting (actually works really well to get his attention back on me). I might look silly, but when my dog explodes into an aggressive fury I'm gonna look pretty bad too. A front clipping harness (like an EZ walk) or a head halter can help too because they help you turn the body or head away from the other dog, breaking that focus. Tucker has a no pull harness which is great for if he's about to react and I can't get his attention. If I quickly walk or run in the opposite direction of the other dog the harness will automatically turn Tucker in my direction, away from the dog (because the leash attaches to his chest). A regular collar would just rotate on the dog's neck so he can still face the other dog. If he does lunge the harness gives me a LOT more control when I have to drag him away.

I hope that helps some, aggression can be so upsetting. I hope we are able to help you guys out!

Thank you ~Dixie's Mom~ for my awesome siggy!
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:02 AM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: western Wa
Posts: 22,020

NILIF use to be the biggest thing since sliced bread, but this renown trainer as well as some others have found that taking it to the extreme can be pretty coercive actually. I have found myself that if over done, it seems to cause a lot of stress in the dog. So, I recommend looking at this link.

It sounds like the dog is resource guarding you if he only gets snarky toward your wife when you're around. You can try little exercises frequently where only the good stuff happens that your wife dishes out WHEN you're around. When you're not, nothing special happens. I'd also recommend the book, Click to Calm. It's a good one.

If this trainer doesn't help sufficiently, try getting a board certified behaviorist. I am hopeful this can be modified. Best wishes.
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