Fear Aggressive Dog - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-03-2014, 07:22 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Western Pennsylvania
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Fear Aggressive Dog

So..This is The Jig Man, Jiggy. He's a Boxer/pit/lab mix.

I acquired him from a high school acquaintence that bought him as an 8wk old puppy and treated him like a child, not a puppy, and could not keep him after moving in with her grandmother because she can't handle him jumping up on her (which is weird because he's only jumped up twice in the two weeks I've had him). He's now 8mo old, an easy 50lbs, and cannot focus on me after his huge amount of excitement. Both boyfriend and I usually ignore him until he calms down at home, but once I get to his crate he does it all over again..and again, I make him sit and wait in his crate until he isn't wiggling his whole body around. He's very loving, wants attention, and is for the most part obedient (sit, come, lay, and some stay).

The problem lies where other people are involved. HS acquaintence never socialized him. If he's on the leash, he will attack another dog or a person. I can take him to the dog park just fine as long as no one bothers him (fine with dogs off leash, and fine with our other pit/lab puppy that's the same age all the time). He'll be the guard dog I wanted the other to be (which the other won't, he'd rather lick anyone and everyone to death, lol) if I can get him to realize that I decide who is a threat and who isn't. I want to be able to let other people pet him out on a walk because the whole town loves him..until they get close. He's never actually bit anyone, but he tucks his tail, snarls, and gives fake lunges and snaps.

From what I've noticed, he's more scared of men than women. I also don't think he'll actually bite unless someone really pushes him, and I say this from experience with other dogs. His body language and mentality just leads me to believe it's an act.
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post #2 of 9 Old 06-09-2014, 03:02 PM
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First off, is he neutered?

I would definitely be enrolling him in obedience/training classes yesterday. Although the optimal time window for socialization has passed, you can still introduce him to new things and help him along with a good trainer. If he were to bite someone, because of his pitt heritage, he probably would be put down because of the prejudice against his breed.

Any dog breed with terrier in it (pitts included) are high energy dogs that were bred to have a physical job, such as digging and killing vermin. He needs some way to channel that pent up energy and keep his mind working - your vet and trainer will be able to help you formulate a good training and exercise program for him. I wish you the best of luck!
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-09-2014, 03:35 PM
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I'm going to assume he's neutered, but if not doing that ASAP could help you out.

I would suggest finding a trainer to work with so they can give you hands on advice with him. Like with horses, having someone on the ground with experience will be much more helpful than people on the internet.

That being said, here's my unprofessional opinion.

I would work on socializing him very slowly on the leash, starting with humans because you can ask them to do certain things. I would take him into situations where he can meet new people several times a week at minimum. Start by walking up to a person (I'd go with someone you know but he does not), stand close to them and talk to them while both of you completely ignoring him. Unless he starts escalating badly, I would continue ignoring him and talking until he has relaxed a little and then walk away. Keep at it on a regular basis until he will act quite and relaxed while you talk to someone he doesn't know, then you can start slowly moving to them acknowledging him, first just looking at him, then talking to him, eventually petting him. But GO SLOW. You want him to understand that you are not worried about the people, so neither should he be. Trying to do anything fast will only make things worse.

Once he's good with people, then I'd try a similar approach with dogs.

Good luck!
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-09-2014, 10:25 PM
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I swear my Chessie would sense my heart beating faster if someone I didn't know pulled up in the driveway because he'd suddenly become aggressive. If it was someone I knew and welcomed he'd be mugging for attention. This works with horses and dogs. Walk like a soldier, shoulders back, diaphragm lifted, look at where you're walking, not down at the sidewalk but a hundred yards farther. This exudes a lot of confidence and animals pick up on this. No matter what the dog tries to do, just keep going. If he tries to wander on leash, suddenly switch direction and pull him over backward if you have to but keep walking. He'll soon start paying mind.
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-09-2014, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Well, after having him longer than three days (when I posted, lol), he's doing much better, in general. He gets excited when I come home but as soon as he gets over that he's great, listens beautifully. Still excited to see me, but he listens to commands the first time and won't run off if I leave him off-leash.

He's great with dogs as long as we aren't on a leash, which we'll be working on once I find a dog that I can use.
He's doing better with people as long as they leave him be until he relaxes, then they can pet him without any aggression.

He's not neutered yet, I'm waiting for 1-1.5 years to neuter him. He has no interest in females at this point, so unless he gets too interested before then I intend to wait.

He walks beautifully on the leash (granted, he wears a head collar, but I don't need to touch the leash as long as it's on).

Tessa, that's what I've been doing, I was looking for someone with more experience with this than I have to confirm I was going about it the correct way. I don't think I remember to mention that in my OP though.

Saddlebag, that's also how I walk both dogs. I don't look down unless I trip or I'm praising them for being good.
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-09-2014, 10:57 PM
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Does he like food? How much? Or balls/toys? My female GSD was mildly fearful of strangers/shy when I got her at 7 months old. Then she learned that strangers gave her pup-perroni (disgusting things IMO, but stinky enough to sway her) and she began to associate them with treats and we never again had an issue with inappropriate fear. It was pretty easy and virtually all of the people I ever met were very willing to feed my dog a treat, or even just toss it to her from a distance, when I told them she was shy and I was trying to help her get over it.

She was still appropriately suspicious of suspicious strangers, if that makes sense, but for a dog to be a good deterrent, they need to be confident and relaxed around normal people and comfortable with normal social interactions. A fearful dog is useless and borderline dangerous to it's handler as well as anyone around if the poop hits the rotating device. A well socialized and relaxed dog with some protective tendencies (like my GSD) will bark/make a show when it's appropriate or you tell them to, while remaining happy, relaxed and socializing normally in normal relaxed circumstances.

My actually fear-aggressive male GSD is, to this day, 7 years later, still utterly useless as anything more than an 'alarm' dog. IE, he'll bark and alert us if someone comes to the door, but out on a walk, in public, etc, his fear makes him unable to react to circumstances appropriately, mildly unpredictable, and sometimes unable to even to listen to me properly when he's become overwhelmed.

While it's still 'early' the degree of fear you describe may be severe enough that your pup is never going to be confident enough in public to be what you want him to be. Are you okay with that possibility?
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-09-2014, 11:15 PM
Green Broke
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First off, I would NOT take him to an off leash dog park until you've had him for a longer period and you've been working on his fear aggression. Dog parks can be a hazardous situation even with well mannered dogs, so you should work on his issues before bringing him into such a situation.

As someone else said, sign up for obedience classes ASAP. If you sign up for a class with a competent instructor then not only will you provide the foundation for a well-mannered dog, but they will be able to help you with your issues. You will expose your dog to new people of all shapes, colors, and genders as well as other dogs in the presence of a trainer. Make sure that they know your dog is both human and dog reactive when you register for the class. Depending on the severity of the issues some may recommend individual lessons with your dog. I think that this is the best place to start. You'll usually be offered time at the end of class to discuss any issues you're having with your dog with the class and trainer after the training is done, so you can talk to things with them. Most of the classes I've seen are $100 or less for a 6 week course, and they can do wonders for a reactive dog.

Once you get the initial issues under control, expose him to as many people as you can in a controlled situation. Focus on men if he's more reactive to men. Have them give him positive attention when he's behaving, including treats. Good luck with your new fellow!
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-10-2014, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Iseul View Post
He's not neutered yet, I'm waiting for 1-1.5 years to neuter him. He has no interest in females at this point, so unless he gets too interested before then I intend to wait.
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Neutering a dog helps bring down the level of testosterone in the blood stream - this in turn can reduce aggression, among other unwanted behaviors. Since he is still young and this is already proving to be an issue for him, neutering would likely make a difference. Many vets that I know charge for spay and neuter by the weight of the animal - the older and bigger they are, the more expensive it gets for you.

I would also strongly recommend against bringing your unneutered male dog to an off leash dog park area. There are millions of animals killed in shelters every year because people choose not spay and neuter their pets for one reason or another. As responsible pet owners, we need to do our part to not add to that number.
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-15-2014, 01:11 PM
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Some dogs have leash aggression. Since the dog on a leash is restrained an not free to get away some dogs become hyper aggressive. This is especially true if one dog is one a leash an one dog isn't. My suggestion is when introducing your dog to a new dog if your dog is on a leash ask the owner of the other dog to leash their dog/ or if your are able to unleash your dog safely do so. This way both dogs feel like they are on the same level.

Your dog's body language is not true aggression but fear (tucking tail). Building his confidence and trust in you is important. Obedience classes are great!

"I tell you, my friend, there’s divinity in a horse"
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