Dogs are sometimes aggressive towards other dogs, cats or humans. An agression behavior often is based on the dog VS master treatment and relationship.
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Hello! New poster here, and I'm at ends with one of my two dogs, a rat terrier [possible mix] named Lyle. He is neutered and is maybe 3-5 years old.
We [my family and myself] went and got him a few years ago from the shelter. We introduced him to our rottweiler [a female, about 8 years old, spayed] and they get along fine.
The problem with the terrier is he is dog aggressive.
A few things he does:
-Barks at anyone who walks by our house; if a dog walks by, he freaks out.
-If anyone enters the house, he barks at them, and I advice them not to pet him until he stops.
-If one of us [the owners] come home smelling like another dog, he will bark and snap; he nearly bit me once. [Note: He only snaps if he is on the chair of a sofa next to the door, if he isn't on it, he just barks]
-In the car, if he sees a person, he barks/growls, depending on his mood. If he sees a dog, he will flip out and bark even after he can't see it anymore.
-On the leash, he is okay with people, though I don't want anyone to pet him until I'm sure he won't bite.
-If he sees a dog while we're walking him, his hackles raise, and he goes into a frenzy; if I pick him up, he'll continue barking, snarling, etc. trying to get at this dog.
I'm pretty sure this can only be handled by a trainer, but I'm wondering if I could train him not to bark at people who enter the house/when we smell like dogs? Thanks in advanced.
Hi CW and welcome to SeeFido.
Sounds like a rather typical rat terrier!! They are a very feisty dog and many are quite dog aggressive! He definitely needs training and fast. It would have been better if you could have nipped this in the very beginning but I am betting he is getting worse as he gets older, right? First of all, read up about NILIF on our site and put it into effect immediately with Lyle and your rottie too. It will help both but Lyle especially learn his place.
It is normal for him to bark at someone going by the house however, he needs to stop when told. For my girls, I use the term 'back down' and to enforce it in the beginning, they were leashed and once they were told to back down, if they didn't stop barking and move from the window, they were given a correction. Yeah, I spent a chunk of time sitting in the living room but they learned fast. They are still convinced dogs walking past the house are dangerous but if I snap out 'back down' harshly, they stop! When company comes, he needs to be leashed. This way you have control over him. Snapping isn't unusual for a terrier I am afraid but he needs to know it is unacceptable. I am pretty sure Liz or Peggy will have gentler methods than I do!
I still consider myself very much a novice, but judging from some of the described behaviors it sounds like he considers himself dominant. There are some simple things you can do to assert your authority: teach him tricks and require him to perform them prior to feeding, playing, taking him out, or pretty much anything he wants. When I take him out, I require my dog to sit before he can go pee; I give him permission and then he goes and does his business (I also don't make him wait unreasonably long). Being "fair and reasonable" in your expectations will make him perceive you as a fair and just alpha, so it should be easier for him to accept. And requiring him to obey you before he can have anything he wants should make it clear who is in charge. Oh yes, and maybe you shouldn't let him on furniture, at least for now. Furniture is your place, as the alpha, and he hasn't earned the right to use it.
I'm not saying that will solve all of your problems, but maybe it would be a good place to start? Hope it helps and best of luck to you! Dog-aggression can be a very frustrating (and frightening) thing!
I'll defiantly look at that NILF, and I'm already seeing I'll have to talk to my Dad. He technically 'owns' Lyle I guess you could say, and I know that the dog is getting the wrong impressions.
Would it confuse Lyle if I trained him to sit and wait while I put his leash on [I do this for both dogs, as well as with their food], while my dad has him jump on the furniture, all hyped up? I'm ot 100% sure this is true, but I want to make sure.
Even my rottie barks at people walking by, but tends to over do it, so I'll train her as well on that.
I fear that too often people want to think that the root of all behavior problems is canine dominance. About 12 years ago, I’d have been on the same page with that idea. But I’ve been reformed. I began my education with a Jack Russell Terrier named Cookie. Last year I wrote had an article published called Dominant or Assertive. That article was a finalist in the Dog Writer’s of America contest. I have it posted at my website. Since we are talking about a Rat Terrier, you may find that what you think is dominance is actually a highly assertive nature and a more reactive nature, which is somewhat common in a dog bred to hunt. This dog also sounds a bit fearful in his reactions.
author of Training the Hard to Train Dog
www.PeggysWager . com
CW, he sounds pretty confused too! If you are teaching him one thing and your dad simply lets him do as he wants, the dog will do as he wants. It's more fun. However, he isn't really going to be super happy about it. Considering also the terrier's tendency to snap, there will be problems...Talk to your dad but I have found many males of the species are stubborn and very difficult to train.
It sounds to me like most of his problems stem from barrier aggression - your dog is frustrated when there is a barrier between himself and whatever he is uncomfortable with (other dogs). In this situation, as in most, knowing the root problem is extremely important when trying to formulate a training plan for how to deal with it. Remember, your dog is frustrated because he can't get to something he's uncomfortable with in the first place.
So to solve this problem, treating him with any aversive methods (anything the dog doesn't like) is only going to cause more frustration and give him more reason to be uncomfortable around other dogs. Instead, I'd suggest first preventing him from being able to see other dogs out the windows in the house. You could keep the curtains closed, keep the dog off the furniture, don't let him in the room, etc. It's going to be important to prevent his frustration around other dogs at this point, until you can start teaching him that other dogs are good.
Next, I'd start working on teaching your dog to walk on a leash without pulling. When he starts pulling, it's going to raise his frustration level, with or without another dog in sight. You want to keep him calm and relaxed, so this means I'd suggest using positive reinforcement training to teach him that walking at your side is a good thing and will get him rewards (rather than teaching him that pulling will make bad things happen).
Next, I'd teach him that other dogs are good. To do this, I think you should read either "Click to Calm" by Emma Parsons, or "Control Unleashed" by Leslie McDevitt. These both have very specific (and similar) methods for teaching your dog how to be calm and relaxed around other dogs, and I think these are the methods you'll need to use with a dog with such barrier aggression.
LizzyInTexas: I've been working with him on walking [I stop when he pulls] and he caught on really fast!
And a bit of extra information: Where my house is located, it is not a cul de sac, just a straight road with houses on one side, we hardly ever get dogs walking by; but when he is in the car, or I walk him downtown [rare, since we are all the way on the other side of town] he goes berserk.
I'll work with him staying off the furniture, but the room in question is our living room, and he either sleeps in the sun or goes through to go outside. Closing curtains is my moms business, she'll just open them back up, but it wouldn't matter anyways, once my rott spots/hears a dog/person walking by our house, she'll bark [I'm going to start working on her with a 'back down' command] and he gets into it.
We also have two little dogs that live a few houses down. If they're outside, they'll bark at everything, and he can hear them, and starts to bark at them. One of them is pretty aggressive, and he has gotten out twice already. He comes over to our house because he knows our dogs are here, and he tries to bit your ankles when you try to shoo him away!
I'll defiantly look at those books, though, and I've found a near-by trainer who specifies in dog aggression, so I'm going to call them soon. Thanks again.
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