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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My wife and I have two dogs--one is a six year-old 25-pound Terrier mutt (Tonka), and the other is a 70-pound 9 month-old German Shepherd/Black Lab mix(Cash). We bought Cash on the side of the road in PA coming back from a vacation, and he's been the most loving dog ever since. He doesn't realize his own strength and likes to play a little rough sometimes (I don't help the situation because I like the play rough with him as well) but he's never shown any signs of aggression to my wife or any of my family and friends. He allows me to roll him over on his back and hold him down when he's being too obnoxious, and responds to my calls more so than my wife, so I know he sees me as the alpha male of the house.
Recently, we invited some of our extended family over and Cash did his usual excited behavior where he ran around to everyone, sniffed them, then took the rest of the time getting comfortable with them. My uncle, who is a self-proclaimed dog whisperer, kept wanting to pet Cash and Cash kept running away from him because he was shy. Eventually my uncle cornered Cash and Cash actually showed his fangs and barked in a certain way that I've never heard him bark before. He was fine with everyone else in the family that he had met for the first time but he seemed to have a really bad reaction to my uncle.
Now it seems he does that to everyone. And the weird thing is, he's okay if the stranger doesn't make eye contact and doesn't reach out for him. We had a few friends over this weekend to the house, and one of the ladies bent over and reached out with her hand to pet Cash. Cash paused for a moment when he made eye contact, then started barking like an angry nut again. I prompty threw him outside on the deck but he did the same thing again when she tried to pet him. One of the ladies was just sitting there and not making eye contact and he came up to her and licked her hands and was rubbing against her, but as soon as he acknowledged him, he growled.
When I tell you this dog is the biggest wuss, you have to believe me; he's afraid of brooms, vacuum cleaners, boxes...he's just a big ol' sweet baby. he lies on the bed with my wife and I and can be very gentle and loving, but we've noticed recently that he has this strange aggression toward strangers. Our oldest dog, Tonka, likes to bark at children and strangers when they're outside, but when they come inside, he runs away and doesn't want anything to do with them. I think Cash picked up on the barking at people from Tonka, but I've never seen him react this way before. It honestly frightens me to have people in the house that doesn't know well because I'm afraid he's eventually going to bite one of them.
My wife thought he was at first being protective, but he's not the type of dog to be protective; he'd rather run and hide if something bad was going on. If anyone can help, please let me know. We've taken Cash to puppy school and behaves well when he wants to and my wife and I don't treat him badly or anything so I can't see where this aggression is coming from. He plays well with other puppies but every now and then I think he overdoes it when he tries to assert his dominance; I merely yell his name and he stops whatever he's doing though.
Sounds like your uncle made Cash feel insecure in his role in the home and since then he wants to assert himself over everyone else.
A dog who approaches, nudging someone or licking their hands to be pet is dominant. He is the one who is telling that person what to do. When people approach him he reacts badly as the person is then asserting themselves over him which he doesn't like.
It sounds like he isn't a dominant dog by nature but needs some guidence and training to give him confidence in strangers.
As for your other dog Tonka, he needs some socilization as well. He is part of the problem even if you don't think so. Cash has no good role model to look up to as Tonka himself has issues with people.
I would get both dogs into an intermediate training class asap. The class will help with socialization of both dogs. Also read up on NILIF (Nothing in life is free) and put it into practice immediatley.
Now, if guests are going to be coming into your home, tell them the rules with both your dogs.
1. No eye contact.
2. Do not touch or talk to the dogs.
3. Do not give in to nudges, licks. ALWAYS ignore the dog.
Both your dogs need consistancy in training and unless you inform guests of the rules before entrance to your home, it will have negative effects.
I would umbillical train both dogs as well. Tonka needs to learn not to bark or run and hide at the first sight of a stranger and cash needs a good leader to follow being a young pup.
Thanks Dobestud for your post. My wife and I have been debating putting Cash through intermediate classes but I think we're going to just bite the bullet and put him in them. We've tried to take Tonka into similar classes but he just cowers in the corner and poops and pees. We were hoping to break that habit with Cash.
We actually do the NILIF training already: we make him sit and wait for his food until the command is given; he has to sit and wait at the door while my wife and I exit before he can come outside; he only receives attention when he's not being a brat, otherwise we ignore him or turn away from him until he calms down.
I'm just so surprised that Cash feels insecure. Is he always going to be this way? I don't want to have to worry about him getting loose and frightening children, or even worse, attacking them. I'm sure when my wife and I have children, he'll be perfectly fine with the child, but I fear for any other kids coming over with Cash in the house.
Cash won't always be like this. He is still very young and impressionable which is good. He is probably starting to react in this way in part due to Tonka.
Even if Tonka cowers in the corner and urinates you shouldn't dismiss him. He is part of your pack and needs training just as much as Cash does.
I would call all the training classes in your area asking if any specialize in fearful dogs. Tonka needs a major confidence boost.
As for your fears of Cash attacking someone; from what you've described it sounds like he is not outwardly aggressive but fear aggressive. I doubt he would attack anyone unless cornered and provoked. As long as children understand the rules of not looking any dog in the eye and running up to it they should be fine.
Tell any children entering the home to stand still (not facing Cash directly) and hold out a hand but not to look Cash in the eye. Cash may approach or may not. If he doesn't, tell the child he doesn't want to be touched and leave it at that. Leave Cash be and he will eventually wish to socialize.
It may be a good idea to size Cash for a muzzle for everyone's peace of mind. Make sure you make the muzzle a positive experience however using lots of yummy treats to coax him to wear it. (a soft plastic cage like muzzle would be best in this situation)
An addition, tell your uncle he is no dog whisperer and he is to stay totally away from your dogs! He has done a lot of damage and depending on the dog, it could take quite a bit of time to repair it. So if he comes over, put the dogs in their crates and make sure he does NOT go to their crates to bother them. People need to understand watching Cesar Milan on tv does not qualify them to do what he does. Dobe gave you great advice and with effort and time, you should be able to fix the damage done.
Agreed. I see too many people using Cesar's techniques that are doing it completely wrong. It's good to use his guidlines, but unless someone really knows what they're doing, they should leave the training to the experts.
If you want to let your Uncle down easier, explain to him you appreciate his intentions, but right now Cash and Tonka's training require consistancy. So you will be sticking with the trainers way of training over Cesar Millans.
Thanks for the advice guys. I'm just so surprised that my uncle trying to touch Cash made him react this way. It's funny too because my wife says that Cash only reacts aggressive like that in the house; while he barks outside, he always runs away and never stands his ground.
Your Uncle's persistence to catch your dog when he was obviously scared of him did nothing good. It may have even worsened the situation. First things first, trust needs to be established. Training your dog not to fear people through treats is a good idea. He must have had bad experiences before thus his fear and aggression -- just be patient with him
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