GO!

HELP! Rusty has become aggressive and is attacking people!

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Rusty

Be A Lover, Not- A Biter!
 
 
Barked: Wed Oct 15, '08 9:21pm PST 
Background: Rusty is about 3 yrs old - I've had him for 10 months or so. He weighs 18 lbs and is part chihuahua, pug, jack, & misc. terrier mix. He IS neutered, and is NOT food or toy aggressive or dominate. He has developed aggression towards strangers in our condo development only. He loves ALL other dogs - but will attack people in our condo devel.. When they come to our door or are outside in the parking lot, he sees them through windows & goes completely crazy wanting to attack & bite them. If we are outside, even on a lease, he will lunge at strangers barking & trying to bite. Since he is so small, he usually goes for their heels but it's very aggressive. It scares people that don't know him or don't like dogs. He has bitten people (though never hard enough to draw blood or leave marks). I now try to either avoid the situations altogether, or whenever possible I correct him right away. But, I can't always guess when he's about to do it & sometimes I don't see the people; often, it surprises me & catches me off guard. He does this with both men and women and even children. Anyone in our neighborhood, walking, jogging, or biking, is "fair game" in his mind. Now, if he knows the person then he doesn't care. So, some of the neighbors close by that he has gotten use to, he just ignores (unless they come to our actually door - he tries to attack EVERYONE except myself and my husband if they come too close to the door). If we are outside of our development he is almost always fine (almost). But within our boundries, he thinks he owns the whole thing. I know that this is a dominance thing and he is trying to protect "his" land or whatever, but I don't know what to do. Please help - I'm afraid he will hurt someone & I just don't know what to do. I need practical & constructive advice NOW! I know many would say "just hire a trainer" but all a trainer is going to do is "train" me and instruct me on how to handle each situation - so I am really hoping that I can get some of that same instruction and advice from people here, or through books & training material (instead of paying somebody lots of money to come over and say "do this"). Please, especially if there are any trainers or vets reading this, share your advice and training tips for my situation. I want to learn what I can do.
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Sakura (Chi Chi Baby)

Everyone Loves a- Chi Chi Baby
 
 
Barked: Wed Oct 15, '08 9:39pm PST 
I'm taking a shot in the dark- but it sounds like he is only like this on, like you said, "his" land. So, my guess is- he thinks he owns the place. And, when many dogs begin to think this, they become terriotorial. That's why guard dogs guard. They learn the property is theirs to guard. So, in Rusty's mind, it seems like he thinks he's guarding your property. thinking Another Dogster might correct me. But, like I said, I'm taking a shot in the dark.

What YOU need to do is teach him that the property is NOT his. Maybe a little NILIF (nothing in life is free) training to begin with. Make him do something to earn everything. I'm thinking NILIF training because- maybe- you can make him sit before entering the house and make him sit before leaving. (or any other trick) And, in doing so, this could help him learn that the place is YOURS and that he has to behave to get in or out and that you control what goes on. Also, make him do something to go for a walk. So that he'll learn that without you, he cannot go on the walk. Etc.

Still thinking. thinking

Crate training might help. I know most people find the idea cruel. But, I'm not suggesting you leave him in there ALL the time. But, maybe, get a crate and teach him that that's his place. So that he'll learn the entire apartment is not.

As far as socializing goes, another DOgster is gonna have to help you out there. Sorry. I'm not good at socialization problems. You could probably do a quick google on how to socialize a dog, though. You might find something.
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Chipper

That's MR.- Momma's Boy to- you!
 
 
Barked: Thu Oct 16, '08 3:18am PST 
Honestly, the best thing to do would be to hire a behaviorist (or a really, really good trainer who has experience in aggression). The behavior is very hard to discuss on line. In order to solve the problem, you need to identify the root cause of the problem. Why is he reacting? Could be resource guarding of your house or you, could be fear, could be lack of structure and leadership from you. A good behaviorist will observe your body language and that of your dog and try to identify the root cause. It may only take a session or two, but it would be worth it.

They will also show you how to distract/redirect at the very first sign of a reaction. Chipper gives off so many signs before he barks/growls/lunges and I need to distract him then or it is too late and he is "in the zone" past where I can logically redirect him. My trainer showed me so many signs that Chipper gives that I would never, ever have noticed on my own.

All that said, there are some things you can do. Do you practice NILIF with Rusty? If not, implement it right away.

The key to stopping the behavior is to prevent it while you desensitize him. Carry a bag of treats with you every time you leave the house. When you spot a person at a distance he can handle, give him treats. Soon he we realize that people=treats. When he can handle people approaching, have people toss him treats at his feet.

Also, work on the "big three" commands/cues: sit, down and eye contact ("look" or "watch me"). These three commands are counter-productive to a reaction/lunging. If you can proof these 100%, you can ask for one of them when you notice a pending reaction and stop the reaction by asking for one of them. Eye contact works best for Chipper, but I also use Sit for Chip.

Pay attention to the "little signs" of a reaction such as change in breathing, eye changes, hair changes, posture changes, ear changes, stiffening and so on. This when you have to distract/redirect, otherwise it may be too late if he has gone over his threshold.

Work on obedience and loose leash walking. It's so cliche, but the better his obedience and walking is, the less reactive he will be since he is "working". If he does well and walks past a person and doesn't react, give tons of rewards and throw a party every single time.

Come visit our group for some more information and support: DAA: Dogsters with Aggression Anonymous
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ARCHMX Asher RL1X RL2X RL3X RL

we will dance in- the ring without- words
 
 
Barked: Thu Oct 16, '08 4:01am PST 
I am in 100% agreement with Chipper. Hire a behaviorist to walk you through all of this.

But let me ask you one question. If he meets people off lead, so you find his behavior to be different?

It sounds like a barrier frustration that may have escalated to aggression.
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ARCHMX Asher RL1X RL2X RL3X RL

we will dance in- the ring without- words
 
 
Barked: Thu Oct 16, '08 4:07am PST 
I am in 100% agreement with Chipper. Hire a behaviorist to walk you through all of this.

But let me ask you one question. If he meets people off lead, so you find his behavior to be different?

It sounds like a barrier frustration that may have escalated to aggression.
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Rusty

Be A Lover, Not- A Biter!
 
 
Barked: Thu Oct 16, '08 7:52am PST 
Thanks guys - and keep the advice coming! Rusty, if off lease, will run and attack people as if he were chasing a squirrel! On lease, he goes as far as he can on it before I stop him.
Somethings we do practice already: he has to sit to have his lease put on. He is ALWAYS the LAST to cross the threshold going in and out. Also, when we come back in to the condo, he has to wait at the bottom of the stairs for us humans to walk up into the main area first. He has no problem with any of these - he will wait at the bottom of the stairs until I am all the way at the top and then he knows he may follow. In the house, he has sit, stay, down, roll over, and "give paw/give other paw" all down pat. But, he is very resistent to commands outside of the house which I am working on now. Also, he thinks "come" is a loose suggestion. Which I am trying to work on as well.

Here is a big part of the problem, which I am aware of, but not sure how to handle. My husband and I work opposing schedules and are almost never together (whole 'nother story). But, that leaves Jeff with Rusty during the main part of the day, while I am at work 9-5. Jeff does NOT want a dog and does not want to put forth effort into much and constantly complains about the dog. Now, he plays with Rusty ALL the time (you'd think they were best friends) and he gives him treats and people food and walks him 2 times or so daily. But, at the same time, Jeff complains when I request him to practice training with Rusty, and Jeff has a hard time correcting Rusty when Rusty needs it. He'll say "No, Rusty, don't do that, that's not right," in a real non-assertive, almost girly tone. I tried to tell him how to properly correct and give an assertive "no" or proper tug on the lead but then Jeff just gets pissy with me and complains that he never wanted a dog and its my responsibility. Yada-yada. So, the idea of having Jeff walk Rusty with a treat bag and in proper heal position is an extreme fantasy that won't happen.

I am left to work doubly hard by myself, which I don't mind because I love my dog and want him to be healthy and well trained. I definitely think that he is trying to gaurd our property but I need more suggestions on how to show him its not his to gaurd.
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Rusty

Be A Lover, Not- A Biter!
 
 
Barked: Thu Oct 16, '08 7:53am PST 
Something is wrong that is multi-posting...

Edited by author Thu Oct 16, '08 7:56am PST

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Rusty

Be A Lover, Not- A Biter!
 
 
Barked: Thu Oct 16, '08 7:53am PST 
smile

Edited by author Thu Oct 16, '08 7:57am PST

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Rusty

Be A Lover, Not- A Biter!
 
 
Barked: Thu Oct 16, '08 7:53am PST 
still multi-posting...sorry.

Edited by author Thu Oct 16, '08 7:57am PST

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Rusty

Be A Lover, Not- A Biter!
 
 
Barked: Thu Oct 16, '08 7:54am PST 
snoopy

Edited by author Thu Oct 16, '08 7:58am PST

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