Signs of aggression?

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chelle784
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Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:51 am

We recently moved to a new area (less than a week ago).

To give you a bit of background, Pepper is shy around some people and she will usually show disinterest in them. Since we got phoenix, she is a lot more friendlier - I think she sees Phoenix excited and being petted by people and then wants the same for herself and now actively will follow Phoenix and seek attention from strangers. With dogs, Pepper is a submissive dog and will back down if they bark (even if it is a tiny dog). in fact Phoenix, being only3 months can make Pepper back down as well. Pepper is a very quiet dog and I don't recall the last time I heard her bark (before the examples I mention below).

Now, in this new area, Pepper is fine at the dog park and loves playing with dogs as usual. If we are walking on the leash and she meets someone, this is also fine. Our new problem happens when we are sitting still. There are 3 examples.

first example: a woman was running with her german shepherd towards us, we moved out of the way and stood there with both dog sitting to wait for her to pass (as I am sure Pepper would want to run after the dog). As the dog approached Pepper tried to lunge (we were sitting at least 7 feet away) and was barking really loudly. Pepper never barks but it scared the woman.

second example: I went into the store and my husband sat on a bench with both the dogs. When people got near her (a couple of people wanted to meet phoenix) Pepper barked a lot and was trying to lunge at them. Pepper never reacts to people and the people were scared at her barking. This happened the day before but the other way round with me waiting and my husband went into the store but she did this at a combination of people and dogs.

third example: A girl stopped to pet Phoenix with her french bulldog (I was walking Phoenix behind my husband who was walking Pepper). Pepper started barking and turned around but the girl unlike the other people was not afraid and went aww someone is jealous and pet Pepper who then stopped barking (I know this was reinforcing the behaviour and we will walk off next time this happens).

If it was just the dogs she was barking at I would maybe understand - when I have heard her bark its at dogs who are ignoring her and she's trying to get their attention to play.

Is this barking a sign of aggression? Or attention? Is it to do with 'protecting' Phoenix/ jealously/ new environment or all of them? This never happened before and I want to nip whatever this is in the bud before it becomes worse and people become more afraid.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Katlin » Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:18 am

It could be aggression or just protection. I remember you mentioning before that she tended to lunge at other dogs during walks... What are you using to walk her? I know my labrador was trained on a choke chain and he got a snap everytime a dog came near him (in order to get him to heel) but it just made his associate the snap with the dog so he became very leash aggressive. What we started doing was everytime a dog came by, move to the side and shower him in treats and praise. Soon he came to expect that other dog = awesome!

Wylie, however, doesn't think like Sam. Wylie has almost no drive for treats or praise so he would lunge at other dogs too when they walked by. I started quickly getting him to weave, play dead, any trick he knew very well and would do it without a command. Then when the dog walked by I would get him excited and happy. He's not lunging anymore but his tail will go up and begin to wag when he sees dogs. I HAVE to keep a loose leash with Wylie because if he feels tension on it when meeting another dog he will become very dominant and many dogs don't like that.

My guess is Pepper has become either leash reactive, or possessive of her new sister. I would try walking them separately for a bit and see if that changes things.

As for people coming up to pet my dogs...I tell them to wait, I get down to Wylie's level, and then say they can come pet him. I tell them not to stand or reach over him and most people know that already (we're in a very doggie community). I generally pass them a chicken treat to feed to him too. I tell him it's ok to take the treat and I've never had problems with him being shy or aggressive towards people other than natives (he despises natives for a good reason...my racist dog :lol: ).

Also as a side note, I strongly suggest taking them to a school park when kids come out of school or are playing and giving all the kids treats, then telling them to line up and pet / treat the puppy. That worked WONDERS for Wylie's shyness and he got completely over it at 11 weeks old :)
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by arianwenarie » Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:26 am

It's important not to confuse reactiveness and aggression. A reactive dog is a dog who will display a bunch of behaviors (lunging, barking, growling and carrying on) until the perceived threat goes away or he/she moves away from it. A aggressive dog is one who, without trigger will quietly and suddenly just attack - they rarely make noise because they are confident in themselves. A reactive dog is NOT confident in themselves when they see a perceived threat, whatever it may be, which is exactly the reason why they think (and learn) that if they go crazy and act like a lunatic, the problem will go away.

Some questions to ask in these scenarios would be: was Pepper tensing up or otherwise showed uncomfortable behavior (anything but calm, happy and relaxed body language) right before she started barking? how deep was her bark - was it a very deep throat-ey bark or a high pitched bark? How many seconds in, approximately, did it take for her to start lunging? Did the "problem" (not Pepper) go away following her display?

During or after these 'altercations', did you do anything to correct Pepper's behavior? One thing I'd recommend starting to do is to make her lay down and stand in front of her - block her view of the perceived threat. It's very important to gather up the slack in the leash so that she can't get past you - she should only have enough slack on the leash comfortably down and be right next to you (like glue). Stay calm and confident. She will likely panic the first few times and act like a fish out of water. Ignore her! Just wait for her to calm down - do not talk to her, no touch and no eye contact. Most dogs will calm down after about 45 seconds or so. If it takes her a bit longer, that is OK. Just stomp your foot on the ground - this is because alphas will exaggerate their motions to get their point across. You want her to calm down, stop barking and show her that you're in control of the situation and most importantly, she has nothing to worry about.

For the down, stand on her leash if you must, but only as long as she cannot pull the leash out from underneath you and you lose balance/control of her. If you know she can slip out of her collar, make sure you put her on a no-slip collar (i.e. martingale).

The reason why I tell you to put her in a down position is so that you can use that as a 'shut off' switch later when she reacts to something you don't want her to. Eventually, you don't want her to down if she reacts in public. You'd want her to go into the 'behind' position and hold a sit quietly and calmly. If she is sitting behind you calmly, then you can move off to the side and allow her to see. Because you're facing the perceived threat (problem), you're telling her that you will handle the problem. Many dogs will continue to react and not calm down if the handler is facing the dog because the problem is behind them - they're freaking out because the problem isn't going away and you're not aware (in their eyes - you're focused on them after all).

Training tips aside, yes...it is possible she is starting to claim Phoenix, your husband and/or you. What I mean by 'claiming' is that she thinks you belong to her and if something might take away her control, then it is a threat. Example: body blocking - if you're standing in an open area and someone approaches you. Pepper immediately puts herself between you and the person approaching - she is telling the person approaching (in her language) that you belong to her. In order for you to tell her otherwise, you need to put yourself between the person approaching and her; no words necessary - just actions and position. Believe it or not, position (literally) in the dog world is very important. ;)

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:13 am

Thanks for your reply :)

She is already in a down position - so whenever she sees a dog regardless of whether it is a new dog or a dog she knows and plays with, she will go into a down position. Then she will lunge suddenly. The lunges and barking will stop when we get in between/ body block her. We are always in between her before she lunges but she quickly runs around us or tries - her leash is 2 foot so she never gets close.

I didn't think it was aggression but one of the ladies said 'your dog hates my dog.' In all cases, the other dog is also trying to get to her (and all the dogs didn't appear aggressive they wanted to meet her). I think she is more frustrated at not being able to meet the dog because this only occurs when she can't get to the dog.

With people - I'm not sure why she has started doing this as it is new so maybe you are right - she is 'claiming?' After the incident we always make her lie down in an attempt to calm her. The 'threat' always disappears quickly because people have been scared (apart from the french bulldog incident where the girl approached Pepper and Pepper was licking her).

She never seems tense - I guess the word is 'aroused' as she almost appears to be excited as if she wants to shoot off/ tail wagging. I guess I have trouble determining what her barks mean as barking is very rare for her - it doesn't sound high pitched but it's not super low either but it is fairly frantic.

In terms of how many seconds, she will wait until the dog or person is right next to her which is why it is hard to predict if she will do it because she seems normal and in the case of the store, loads of people are walking by every second.

The problem doesn't occur when she walks by a dog in close proximity - she will look at them we say 'leave it' and she leaves it (she used to lunge when she was younger). This only happens if she/ we are still or waiting.

In terms of calming down/acting as if nothing happened, I would say 10 secs. It's like she snaps in and out of it.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:21 am

thanks katlin - we use either an easy walk or a head halti. The actual walk itself is fine - she doesn't lunge at passing dogs anymore it's ony when we are still. Also you are right - it's only when people suddenly come up to Phoenix without asking if it's ok.

If they are close to Pepper wanting to pet her - she is also fine - she stops barking if they get close enough (the girl with the french bulldog) which is why I wasn't sure if it was an attention thing but historically she only barks at dogs for attention. Also another woman who was talking to me came closer and pepper stopped barking when she got close to me and started chatting. It's really odd behaviour.

Also my husband said the same thing - the loose leash as opposed to tight helped.

We walk them separately as well but if Pepper is out without Phoenix she tries to get back to the house quickly (she has separation anxiety not from us anymore but from Phoenix). If we walk them separately at the same time, she is trying to find Phoenix and I can hear her from the next street along high pitched bark/whining for her.' If she's in the house and Phoenix is out, she is staring out the window the whole time. Also you are right - she is def leash reactive, just not when she is walking - but when she is still.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:01 am

Ok so just went on another walk - passed a busy street where all the clubs and bars are so passed dogs and people in close proximity. No issues but these are my observations.

- Pepper walked in front with my husband with Phoenix behind with me.

- Pepper is a good loose leash walker - she walks BEHIND my husband. Sometimes she walks next to him but usually she is walking behind him

- One dog was aggressivly barking at Pepper but his owners held him back and Pepper moved away from him. She has always avoided 'aggressive' dogs especially small ones that yap at her.

- Another dog went to greet Pepper first - if Phoenix was in front and Phoenix was greeted first I think Pepper would start barking. All 3 dogs were fine and the owner of the dog was petting Pepper. She did however, ask if she could approach Pepper before she actually did.

- Pepper ignored everyone/thing else and walked behind my husband the whole time.

Arianwenarie - I think we basically have to ensure what you said - when she is sitting/waiting, make sure we are in front facing the other person/dog which is the position that we are in when we are walking her (as she walks behind). The problem only occurs when she isn't moving.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Taz » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:31 pm

arianwenarie wrote:It's important not to confuse reactiveness and aggression. A reactive dog is a dog who will display a bunch of behaviors (lunging, barking, growling and carrying on) until the perceived threat goes away or he/she moves away from it. A aggressive dog is one who, without trigger will quietly and suddenly just attack - they rarely make noise because they are confident in themselves. A reactive dog is NOT confident in themselves when they see a perceived threat, whatever it may be, which is exactly the reason why they think (and learn) that if they go crazy and act like a lunatic, the problem will go away.

Some questions to ask in these scenarios would be: was Pepper tensing up or otherwise showed uncomfortable behavior (anything but calm, happy and relaxed body language) right before she started barking? how deep was her bark - was it a very deep throat-ey bark or a high pitched bark? How many seconds in, approximately, did it take for her to start lunging? Did the "problem" (not Pepper) go away following her display?

During or after these 'altercations', did you do anything to correct Pepper's behavior? One thing I'd recommend starting to do is to make her lay down and stand in front of her - block her view of the perceived threat. It's very important to gather up the slack in the leash so that she can't get past you - she should only have enough slack on the leash comfortably down and be right next to you (like glue). Stay calm and confident. She will likely panic the first few times and act like a fish out of water. Ignore her! Just wait for her to calm down - do not talk to her, no touch and no eye contact. Most dogs will calm down after about 45 seconds or so. If it takes her a bit longer, that is OK. Just stomp your foot on the ground - this is because alphas will exaggerate their motions to get their point across. You want her to calm down, stop barking and show her that you're in control of the situation and most importantly, she has nothing to worry about.

For the down, stand on her leash if you must, but only as long as she cannot pull the leash out from underneath you and you lose balance/control of her. If you know she can slip out of her collar, make sure you put her on a no-slip collar (i.e. martingale).

The reason why I tell you to put her in a down position is so that you can use that as a 'shut off' switch later when she reacts to something you don't want her to. Eventually, you don't want her to down if she reacts in public. You'd want her to go into the 'behind' position and hold a sit quietly and calmly. If she is sitting behind you calmly, then you can move off to the side and allow her to see. Because you're facing the perceived threat (problem), you're telling her that you will handle the problem. Many dogs will continue to react and not calm down if the handler is facing the dog because the problem is behind them - they're freaking out because the problem isn't going away and you're not aware (in their eyes - you're focused on them after all).

Training tips aside, yes...it is possible she is starting to claim Phoenix, your husband and/or you. What I mean by 'claiming' is that she thinks you belong to her and if something might take away her control, then it is a threat. Example: body blocking - if you're standing in an open area and someone approaches you. Pepper immediately puts herself between you and the person approaching - she is telling the person approaching (in her language) that you belong to her. In order for you to tell her otherwise, you need to put yourself between the person approaching and her; no words necessary - just actions and position. Believe it or not, position (literally) in the dog world is very important. ;)
I would agree that in most cases a dog putting on a display is most likely insecure.
But a dog that is reacting out of frustration isn't necessarily insecure.
And neither is one who is driven by territorial defence. Something I'm learning with one of mine.
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:46 pm

So as an update, over the past few days we have had 2 incidents.

We have narrowed it down to when people rush over/ come on strong 'AWW SUCH A CUTE PUPPY' type. The only incident we had since I last posted was when we came out of our front door and this drunk neighbour (who we have never seen or met) rushed over with her arms outstretched and Pepper started doing her crazy barking thing as she approached and the drunk lady tried to hug me and my husband (pepper barking at her all this time). The lady was like AWW (at Pepper and wasn't afraid) then tried to pet pepper who stopped barking and backed away (we told her not to touch Pepper). Pepper then snapped out of it after 5 secs as we walked off and acted calm as if nothing happened. Pepper stopped barking when the lady was close to her. It was the initial approach that made her do her barking thing and the attempted hugs.

The second was at a dog park where pepper was drinking out of a water bowl and another woman came up behind her and picked up the water bowl. It shocked Pepper who barked at her then ran off. The lady said that Pepper 'looked like she was going to nip her' then gave me 'a word of advice' on how to train my dog. I genuinely think Pepper didn't see her/ expect the water bowl to be taken and it took her by surprise as she has never had problems with anyone taking her food or water bowls as she doesn't resource guard even against Phoenix.

We spoke to our trainer who said it's likely to have been triggered by the move because we went from living in quiet neighbourhood where she knew people/dogs to right downtown Toronto and he gave us a few tips.

We stopped outside of a bus stop when my husband went to get a coffee and lots of people were coming and getting off the bus. She was fine/ no reaction but I'm not sure if this is because although people were passing really closely, nobody approached or because I was in between the people and the dogs.

If another dog also goes straight up to Phoenix, we know that Pepper will start barking so she gets walked away before any barking can happen and she doesn't look back anyway.

I am thinking it is also a jealous thing as well - if Pepper is playing with another dog and Phoenix tries to join and the attention of the other dog is on Phoenix, Pepper will do the same barking thing to the dog who then usually goes back over to play with Pepper.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Hawthorne » Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:54 pm

As for the first incident I think that's entirely normal behavior. Pepper probably sensed there was something wrong with the (drunk) lady. It can be difficult to nip these things before they happen but I have found I really need to put children into check very quickly to get them to greet my dogs the way I want them to. Raven was really frightened by a little girl (probably no more than 5 years old) who rushed her, screaming "puppy! puppy!" Yikes! I wanted to run the other way, too!

Anyhow, the fact that you see this behavior in Pepper is a great thing. Some people wouldn't see it at all or would ignore it. And you're taking it a step further and trying to help her. Kudos to you!

I honestly can't understand why a person would walk up to a dog and take away a water dish in a dog park. Huh. What did the lady expect? She probably startled Pepper.

Just keep getting her out there and give her lots of positive experiences. For all the socializing we have done with our dogs, there are always things that happen. Good luck!
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:24 pm

Hawthorne wrote:As for the first incident I think that's entirely normal behavior. Pepper probably sensed there was something wrong with the (drunk) lady. It can be difficult to nip these things before they happen but I have found I really need to put children into check very quickly to get them to greet my dogs the way I want them to. Raven was really frightened by a little girl (probably no more than 5 years old) who rushed her, screaming "puppy! puppy!" Yikes! I wanted to run the other way, too!

Anyhow, the fact that you see this behavior in Pepper is a great thing. Some people wouldn't see it at all or would ignore it. And you're taking it a step further and trying to help her. Kudos to you!

I honestly can't understand why a person would walk up to a dog and take away a water dish in a dog park. Huh. What did the lady expect? She probably startled Pepper.

Just keep getting her out there and give her lots of positive experiences. For all the socializing we have done with our dogs, there are always things that happen. Good luck!
Thanks Tracy! Yes I'm not sure either why she did it as there were no other dogs drinking from it and she ended up moving it 2 feet and putting it back on the floor. She asked me if Pepper has ever done that before and I said no but it still worried me because I can't really say 'Pepper would never do that' until she actually does it for the first time.

Yikes - with that little girl! On a couple of occasions we have had to keep the parents in check - once this lady carrying her child walked past and put her child (looked about 2) in front of Pepper with no warning and the child grabbed Pepper's nose. Pepper backed away and sat behind me but I was so angry - that could have been such a bad situation but the mum just laughed ?!

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by iamnic » Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:40 pm

This is a great and timely topic! Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. We've been having problems lately with Naima resource guarding/claiming my boyfriend and me.

Chelle, here are some tips that our trainer is having us practice...

Naima is extremely demanding, literally. She demands attention and petting, when and how she wants it, and lets everyone around her know it by barking and woo woo-ing. It has manifested in a lack of impulse control when meeting new people/dogs, guarding her owners and sister, and separation anxiety. She redirects aggression toward her sister if she thinks that Kona will get more attention than her when new people are involved. She has a tendency to lean on people's legs, sit on feet, and likes to lay down under our chairs when we're eating. We allowed her to get away with this for a long time, thinking she was just being affectionate and loving (which she is, but this was too much for her to mentally handle).

Our trainer has instructed us to not allow her to touch us unless invited (SO HARD) and she's not allowed to claim space near us when we're eating. In her mind, everything is "mine, mine, mine" and we need to radically change her outlook. She is also required to walk behind us with a loose leash and is not allowed to meet people unless we ok it. We always body block new dogs because she will pull to rudely meet them. We had to re-introduce crating to teach her that not everything in the house is hers and that we control the goods. We already do this so it wasn't a big deal, but she isn't allowed on the couch and bed. Altitude = attitude.

We have been working on this for a few months now, and I believe that reclaiming our space from her has brought some positive changes.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Katlin » Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:57 pm

That's awesome! Wylie also used to DEMAND pets, when he woo'd I'd tell him to stop and then he'd bark at me. That's why his nickname is Woo. After just ignoring him steadily for about 3 weeks he showed improvement. It's hard because he was so loud!

How is Pepper doing now? Any improvement?
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:51 pm

Thanks Nicole! We haven't had a problem with Pepper barking at us - just at randoms / other dogs as when she was 3 months ish we used to walk out of the room if she barked so she got the opposite result! She's not allowed on the beds or sofas but because of sheddy mcsheddersons reasons so maybe we should just ensure it stays that way. It's interesting that you mention the crate training - she has her crate but its always open so maybe we need to start the crating again in certain situations like if we go out. She is usually calmer in the crate so I think this is a good suggestion that will help! I think we need to also ensure that she is away from the dining table when we eat - she will sometimes lie under it.

The walking behind on a loose leash - she already does but we have had to go back to the head halti. We body block because like you said about Naima, she used to pull to meet other dogs in a rude manner and anticipates the body block so will walk calmly then suddenly speed up or slow down to dodge the body block and try go around this. The head halti means she doesn't try this anymore and will walk behind us - we have been doing this for a couple of months now. I think we need to ensure the body blocking happens when we are standing/waiting now as the walk is ok. One thing we have been adding is whenever a dog passes then we treat her so she looks for the treat when she sees the dog.

Katlin - I am not sure if there are improvements - the last incidents were the ones I mentioned above but it's hard to tell whether it seems to have improved or whether it's just because nobody has approached us since and when we anticipate it happening, we have removed pepper from the situation before she can start to bark - so for example when a dog ran up to Phoenix, Pepper turned around, looked as if she was going to bark/lunge but my husband carried on walking her and she didn't bother trying to go against him.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by iamnic » Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:13 pm

I think that half the battle is recognizing the situation and removing the pups before something happens that could leave a negative impression! Good job :) We've been giving treats whenever a dog passes for months, and Kona still doesn't look at us automatically. I'm envious!

Does Pepper behave the same way when you're walking her as when she is being walked by your husband? I've found that both Naima and Kona behave much better passing other dogs when my boyfriend is handling them. He's the primary disciplinarian in our household, so they don't test him nearly as much. They know I'm a sucker, lol.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by arianwenarie » Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:43 pm

@iamnic

A command that will help with the people/space claiming problem (if you ever need it) is the out command. I wrote a post about it some time ago in a jumping thread: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2552&p=69689&hilit ... nd+#p69689

I gotta head out, but will come back to this topic to write some more. I wrote a huge post earlier, but I lost internet connection when posting it, so all's lost. :(

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by iamnic » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:24 am

Oh no! For purely selfish reasons, I hope you can recover your post!

We have a command just like this, but we use "back off" instead of "out" and she will backpedal 3-4 feet. Would pushing to 8-10 feet make a significant difference? Totally open to trying it, just wondering what, if anything, it would change.

Thanks!

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:41 am

iamnic wrote:I think that half the battle is recognizing the situation and removing the pups before something happens that could leave a negative impression! Good job :) We've been giving treats whenever a dog passes for months, and Kona still doesn't look at us automatically. I'm envious!

Does Pepper behave the same way when you're walking her as when she is being walked by your husband? I've found that both Naima and Kona behave much better passing other dogs when my boyfriend is handling them. He's the primary disciplinarian in our household, so they don't test him nearly as much. They know I'm a sucker, lol.
I would say she is better walking with me as I do the majority of the walks and as I work from home half of the week I am with them longer - but they see him as being the 'fun parent' even though I care for them the most haha although I am not sure if this has something to do with Pepper loving men. When Pepper gets freaked out with people, they are 99% of the time women. Also I have always walked her with an easywalk or the head collar whereas my husband would walk her with a flat collar (up until recently) and she's always behaved better when wearing the halti. Although I would say he has more confidence walking her than me - so in some past situations I might walk across the other side of the road, he would be confident that a body block would be enough and pass the dog.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:47 am

we also have 'out' but that is for moving out of a room through a doorway. We have an open plan kitchen and she knows she's not allowed in there so she stands on the edge where the floorboards meet the kitchen floor and leans in. If we are eating on the sofa 'go away' wasn't meant to be a taught command but she learnt to do that without us meaning to... I wonder if we should be teaching something like 'mat' as in our new place we have the dining table, which she is not used and we never had one before, and she sits under it.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by arianwenarie » Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:55 am

@chelle
If Pepper is in a down when she reacts, then I'd suggest making her sit and putting her behind you (body block). In the reactive dog classes that I observed and assisted in, we never let the reactive dogs lay down because it gives them that much more slack to launch if they want (most people use 6ft leashes) - in other words, it's a trap! Don't fall for it. ;)

As for kids and the general crazies that rush you - in the dog world, it's rather rude for another dog to rush you to do a face-to-face greeting. So, to put that into perspective, let's say there's a creepy and eerily happy stranger bouncing around in the streets and when they spot you, then just make a made dash yelling and screaming their excitement to see you. To make matters worse, they then envelope you in a BIG bear hug (or shake your hand; any type of physical contact) and just babble nonsense in your ears and holds on for more than the socially accepted 1-2 seconds. Ain't that creepy? That's exactly what your dog feels when crazies and kids do it to them. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe it.

To combat the crazies, put your dog behind you - you can also teach them the behind command (it's a position). As the crazies are approaching, hold out the universal hand sign for stop and say: "Stop!! My dog is in training and needs space." If they continue their approach or otherwise give you a hard time and want to pet your dog, keep explaining to them that unless they calm down and ask politely to pet your dog, then you cannot allow them to do so. Do NOT give in! Make a fuss about it. If they cannot comply to your request/demand, then trudge forward. Be careful though: some folks will follow you.... Throw them a glare. ;)

Kids....oh DOG help us all on this one. @_@ Usually, you can use the same phrase above for kids if they're at the age where they understand what you're saying. Most kids who approach you when you have a dog merely want to pet your dog - use this to your advantage. Tell the kid(s) if they're running towards you that if they want to pet your dog, then they need to walk to you calmly and then wait for you to tell the kid when it's OK to pet the dog and most importantly, teach them how if they don't know! Kids who throw a temper tantrum and can't be calmed....you're gonna have to yell at 'em if you want to protect your dog. I've done the phrases "KID! STOP WHERE YOU ARE!!" followed up with "HEY!! WHO'S KID IS THIS?!" In my experience, parents have come running and given me the stink eye...my response to the parents: "Sorry. My dog is in training and is afraid of kids/does not like kids. He/She needs her space." Most parents understand and it clicks in their brain - oh, that dog is mean/needs work/is crazy.

When it comes to kids and dogs, my priority is the kids' safety and ultimately, in turn, my dog's life. It only takes a nip, unfortunately.

So, in the 2 instances that you described, I'd say Pepper was merely startled. Heck, I'd react the same way if I were her! LOL.

It seems that to Pepper, Phoenix is a resource - as funny as that sounds. She is claiming Phoenix and guarding her. While that is cute for now, you'd likely want to nip that in the bud. I have been taught there should be NO rank amongst your pack of dogs. If you have more than 1 dog, you have a pack. This way, there is no ladder to be climbed and no reason for any dog to assert their dominance over another dog. There are simply 2 ranks: all humans are the pack leaders, any kids under 12 are the humans' "pups" and there are the dogs - all in equal rank. You can use the "out" command as I described in my other post and, in a way, reclaim Phoenix as yours. lol. Pepper needs to understand that Phoenix does not belong to her and is not her puppy, so to speak.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by arianwenarie » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:01 am

iamnic wrote:Oh no! For purely selfish reasons, I hope you can recover your post!

We have a command just like this, but we use "back off" instead of "out" and she will backpedal 3-4 feet. Would pushing to 8-10 feet make a significant difference? Totally open to trying it, just wondering what, if anything, it would change.

Thanks!
As a general rule of thumb, if the dog turns his back to you and leaves the area, that is sufficient. So if that is at 3-4ft and she stops whatever behavior it was for, then that is fine. The point is for the dog to leave the space - most dogs will back off 8-10ft; I really don't know why...but that's what I've seen. :?

Let's say for example the dog is barking because someone knocks on the door. I don't correct the alarm barking - I want her to do that. But when I reach the door, I will tell her 'enough' (shut up!), 'out' (give me space) and then 'down' (as a shut off). If she leaves the area but continues to bark, then I will tell her "out" again and make her go even further away. I have done this with Abby and I have had to make her leave the room completely (I'd guesstimate about 20-25ft) O_O. Dang dog won't shut up. LOL. She learned quick though..if she shuts up like I ask her to and waits patiently, her reward is she gets to see the person come into the house, but she still does not get to greet until I tell her to. There are times where I will not let her greet a guest at all - mostly those who are scared of dogs and have too much nervous energy: cases like these, I make her keep a 8-10ft distance as we move around the house.

Other uses for my version of the 'out' command is excessive jumping on people, demanding attention (leaning, nudging, rubbing, placing themselves between people, etc), people mealtimes or multi-dog feedings.

I mainly use 'out' for when someone's at the door, MY mealtimes/cooking and when she demands attention. 8-)

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by arianwenarie » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:17 am

chelle784 wrote:we also have 'out' but that is for moving out of a room through a doorway. We have an open plan kitchen and she knows she's not allowed in there so she stands on the edge where the floorboards meet the kitchen floor and leans in. If we are eating on the sofa 'go away' wasn't meant to be a taught command but she learnt to do that without us meaning to... I wonder if we should be teaching something like 'mat' as in our new place we have the dining table, which she is not used and we never had one before, and she sits under it.
lol. She probably picked up on the "go away" from your body language - dogs do that. It's funny and amazing. :) I have also seen some dogs make the choice to go behind their owner/handler when something approaching is bothering them - most often, this happens with dogs who have been taught the behind command and owners have been putting it in action during real life scenarios. Praise your dog if you ever see this happening so that they know they made the right choice - they are showing LOTS of trust by doing this because they're letting you vouch for their safety.

It is your choice whether you decide to teach my version of the 'out' command and/or the 'mat' command. I feel it really doesn't hurt to have both. You could very well tell her 'out' when you're at the table and have her go to her 'mat'. I do this every day with Abby - if I'm eating, I tell her to get out and 'go lay down'. She can lay down anywhere as I did not give her the 'place' (same as your 'mat') command. In time, Abby has learned she is not allowed to supervise me when I'm eating - leave the room and don't watch me eat...it's creepy. It does sound very strict, but my mealtimes are peaceful knowing I don't have a drooling dog a room away. LOL.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Taz » Tue Jul 08, 2014 3:14 pm

I find an authoritative oi affective in stopping peoples out of control offspring, whilst simultaneously attracting the attention of their parents.
Though I don't tend to have this issue very often. I think people see the dogs, take a look at me, and change their mind, apparently I don't look very approachable. :lol: :lol:
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:48 pm

It has been 2 weeks now since we moved and we have seen a lot of improvement. I can wait outside coffee shops etc with both dogs and Pepper will just look and not react. A couple of times she has whined when Phoenix is getting attention but she's not doing frantic barking anymore.

We hope however, that there hasn't been a set back. On the weekend, we were walking the dogs and saw 2 male dogs - husky and a rottie (both a year old same age as Pepper) who she knows and likes to play with. The rottie went to see Pepper and the husky called for Pepper so we went over. Pepper ignored the other female dog that was hanging around (OFF LEASH in a leash only area) and went to the husky. Out of nowhere the other dog attacked Pepper (no warning growl or anything). One of the other guys pulled the dog off Pepper and helped us calm her down. Pepper has never been attacked before and she was so frightened she wouldn't let my husband or I touch her at all - she kept hiding behind Phoenix and yelping non stop.The woman who owned the dog said 'oh sorry my dog thinks she's male, so is aggressive sometimes.' I was too worried about Pepper to say anything to her but after we went home I was angry because if she knows her dog is like that - why is it off leash? Both our dogs were leashed. It looks like although Pepper's skin was broken/bleeding in 3 different places, the bites were not deep luckily.

The only thing we are now worried about is if it will affect her behaviour. She went to 2 dog parks yesterday and was fine in the first one acting normal and playful but in the second one she got a bit defensive at a dog who was trying to be dominant and we have never seen her defensive at any dog before.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Hawthorne » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:08 pm

Aw. The trick will be to introduce her to a friendly rottie (I'm assuming it was the rot tie who bit her?)

All of this sounds very familiar. I wonder if all the dogs talked about above are also alphas like Freyja. Just a thought. But I also wonder if this is just typical of a "pack-y" breed. Your Pepper sees your other dog as a pack member, for sure.

Years ago, I was walking Fenris (our lab mix) and Freyja all by myself. Freyja was maybe 6 months old at the time. On several occasions we ran into dogs who were not on leash / not contained in their yards. Fenris is such a weenie that Freyja felt compelled to protect him. And I'll be honest: a large breed dog charging us with no other people in sight is rather unnerving. So I know Freyja's reaction is partly my fault. The worst incident involved two small dogs who bit Fenris repeatedly. To this day both Fenris and Freyja don't tolerate ill behaved little dogs (which is most of them in my opinion! haha).

Just remember that dogs don't generalize well. Give them positive experiences and interactions in as many locations and different people / dogs as you can. If you do that, once you are through the adolescent stage, you will have a much more balanced dog than if you hadn't (such as in giving up and keeping the dog at home in fear of something else happening).
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:54 pm

The rottie was actually the friendly one - rottie (Max) and husky (Wilson) males know Pepper and are both young like her. It was a female that I had never seen before. Do you think that had anything to do with it? The fact that the other one was female? The female dog was larger than Pepper and looked like a Bernese mix. When the female approached her, Pepper immediately rolled over onto her back (Pepper always rolls onto her back whether it's a familiar dog or one she has never met) and the female jumped on her (with no warning growl or bark). Pepper responds to warnings very well - even if it's a tiny dog (which it usually is) then Pepper will immediately back off.

The owner said her female is the alpha. Pepper plays with Max submissively but just wrestles with Wilson - maybe because Wilson is a little younger. Pepper def is not the alpha but I'm not sure if the other 3 were.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:03 pm

And I'm glad you think the new/positive experiences are a good idea. The next morning after the incident we took Pepper to the lakes where she hasn't been before, a dog park she's visited once where she met new dogs and another dog park she had never visited before. She slept a lot that evening lol

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Taz » Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:55 pm

Imo, any dog that would go into attack a dog showing such obvious non threatening signals as rolling on its back, as yours did, isn't an alpha, its a bully and needs to have its interactions with other dogs carefully controlled.
I'm glad that I don't live in a country where dog parks are a norm, sounds like they can be a bloody nightmare.
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:48 pm

This didn't happen in a dog park :( It was on a grassy bit next to the pavement, or sidewalk as they say here, so that's why it was unexpected and also stupid to have an off leash dog near a busy road! We have never had an issue in a dog park - and generally I prefer them living in the city.

I see you are from the UK - I am too - I just moved to Canada last year and I don't think I have ever seen a 'dog park' in the UK but the number of dogs in the UK is definitely a lot less than I have experienced here!

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Taz » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:25 pm

I guess it's horses for courses. If I had dogs that were fantastic with all unfamiliar dogs, I might like the idea. One of mine would love that kind of environment, one would be fine if there were no adult entire males, and the other, would probably accept any dog that was already in the park the very first time he went in to it, but if he went into it regularly, no one else would be allowed in after him, unless I'm standing at the gate inviting them in.
The closest thing to a dog park I've seen here, is a fenced part of a normal park where dogs can safely go off lead.
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Hawthorne » Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:48 pm

Some dogs pick on other dogs just because they are submissive. That could be it…or it could be a number of other things we just won't know. But if you bump into another dog that looks like her take note of her behavior. Dogs can develop fears of other dogs of a certain color / size / breed.

And yes, I agree that Pepper is not an alpha--at least not yet. How old is she? Over a year now? Or not quite?
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:53 am

Pepper is 14months old. I reckon she will never be alpha based on how she is with other dogs including her littermates (when we have met up with them). Also Phoenix who is 3 months bosses her around - if Pepper is drinking or eating, Phoenix will push her out of the way and eat/drink from her bowl and Pepper lets her (it is why we need to feed Pepper separately. When we feed Phoenix, we don't need to put Pepper away - she won't go near Phoenix. In fact a couple of times Phoenix has barked at Pepper for coming too close while she eats and Pepper immediately backs off.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:51 pm

As an update on Pepper - she has improved since these last posts. She doesn't seem as 'jittery' and people are fine to approach her and Phoenix. She doesn't seem as shy around strangers anymore. Where a 'AWW SO CUTE' would usually make her back away and be nervous, this happened the other day and she went to the woman wagging her tail.

I think as we have been in our new place for a while now, time definitely helped. However, I think the thing that helped the most was putting her in a course for 'Canine Good Neighbour.' We never intended to actually take the exam for the simple reason that we both thought 'There was no way Pepper was passing it.' We just wanted to learn how to help her to be a more confident, a better dog, able to deal with strangers/ not have to go say hi to every dog that she saw etc. so enrolled in the course for that purpose only. However, we saw an improvement every week (she was so bad in the first week and wanted to play with all the other dogs!). We finished the course and this week she took a mock test and she passed it! I know that a lot of dogs could do this but for Pepper it is a huge deal and we didn't think she would be able to do this. Ok that sounds a bit mean but based on her previous behaviours!

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by arianwenarie » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:22 pm

chelle784 wrote:As an update on Pepper - she has improved since these last posts. She doesn't seem as 'jittery' and people are fine to approach her and Phoenix. She doesn't seem as shy around strangers anymore. Where a 'AWW SO CUTE' would usually make her back away and be nervous, this happened the other day and she went to the woman wagging her tail.

I think as we have been in our new place for a while now, time definitely helped. However, I think the thing that helped the most was putting her in a course for 'Canine Good Neighbour.' We never intended to actually take the exam for the simple reason that we both thought 'There was no way Pepper was passing it.' We just wanted to learn how to help her to be a more confident, a better dog, able to deal with strangers/ not have to go say hi to every dog that she saw etc. so enrolled in the course for that purpose only. However, we saw an improvement every week (she was so bad in the first week and wanted to play with all the other dogs!). We finished the course and this week she took a mock test and she passed it! I know that a lot of dogs could do this but for Pepper it is a huge deal and we didn't think she would be able to do this. Ok that sounds a bit mean but based on her previous behaviours!
that is fantastic!!! CONGRATS!! :D I know what you mean when you said you didnt think Pepper would pass. Lol. When Abby was tested for CGC, she failed the meeting a stranger and allowing to be groomed. But the one part I was so sure she wouldnt pass, she did - controlled separation. Heh.

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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by Hawthorne » Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:18 pm

Congrats to you for being proactive with Pepper!!! There should be a canine good owner award :D
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Re: Signs of aggression?

Post by chelle784 » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:35 pm

Thanks guys :D am really pleased with Pepper's improvement and it's amazing how much they can improve. I think CGN has been the best classes we have put her through so far.

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