Is it kennel aggression or something else?

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Is it kennel aggression or something else?

This is a discussion on Is it kennel aggression or something else? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hi guys! Decided to join up here for some advice. A few months ago, I adopted a Husky/Shepherd female named Sasha. She was on the ...

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Old 12-22-2011, 11:34 PM
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Is it kennel aggression or something else?

Hi guys! Decided to join up here for some advice.

A few months ago, I adopted a Husky/Shepherd female named Sasha. She was on the emergency list and I managed to adopt her only days before her euthanasia. She's a wonderful dog 90% of the time.

The society said that she was a returned pet of at least three different people. I assume perhaps that most people have unrealistic expectations of dogs due to their depictions in fictional media of just being humans who look like dogs.

Sasha is a great dog except for a few bad habits. Her primary problem is that when she is resting or sleeping, she acts out aggressively if bothered. She sleeps in an extra-large crate at the back of my house at night. Unfortunately, she's gained the habit of aggressively acting out when I try to fasten the Kennel door. She will lunge and bite at my hand as I'm closing the door. She will also bear her teeth and growl if you simply look at her while she's in the kennel or sleeping around the kennel in the back room.

I don't know what her history is, beyond having been abused and neglected by her first owner.

I will admit that I did act aggressively with her only one time. After a month of her being fine with my cat, she suddenly attacked the cat and began to shake it. I struck her to save the cat(the cat needed medical attention and is fine). I have separated the cat and dog in my household so that it will not be a problem again. Otherwise, I have never shown her aggression. I just don't think this is the reason she is acting out while in or around her kennel. The rest of the time, she is completely lovable and comfortable with me.

I also have another dog of the same breed mix that is the complete opposite of her, having been adopted at a much younger age after very minimal abuse. She's also a rescue dog, which we named Claire. The two get along fine most of the time. Sasha's only aggression towards Claire has been when she is sleeping near or around the kennel, or over the food bowls(to which I will take the food bowl away and request that Sasha 'sit' to earn it back).

Any help is appreciated. I don't really understand why she acts this way with us.

This is Sasha on adoption day, with Claire in the background =)


Last edited by LazloValentine; 12-22-2011 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:10 AM
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Lovely dogs!

My bet is that there is some resource guarding going on.
Read this thread!
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior...fication-7511/

Quote:
Sasha is a great dog except for a few bad habits. Her primary problem is that when she is resting or sleeping, she acts out aggressively if bothered. She sleeps in an extra-large crate at the back of my house at night. Unfortunately, she's gained the habit of aggressively acting out when I try to fasten the Kennel door. She will lunge and bite at my hand as I'm closing the door. She will also bear her teeth and growl if you simply look at her while she's in the kennel or sleeping around the kennel in the back room.
What kind of kennel do you have? Could you poke a longer dog treat (perhaps chicken jerky, long biscuit, dried sweet potato fry, etc.) in the side of the kennel?
The longer treat would keep your fingers safe and also hopefully distract her/keep her head turned away from the entrance allowing you to close and latch the door.

I would also keep some high value treats close at hand. Practice looking at her when she is in her kennel. Each time you look also toss her a treat or two. Start out at a pretty good distance and slowly decrease it over time. This won't magically work in one or even two sessions. It will likely take time and many repetitions, but methods like this work to change the dog's emotional response and have the best and most reliable results!

Also try not to disturb her while she is sleeping. If you really need her, then try calling her name and offer her something really enticing to get her up and to come to you!

Quote:
I also have another dog of the same breed mix that is the complete opposite of her, having been adopted at a much younger age after very minimal abuse. She's also a rescue dog, which we named Claire. The two get along fine most of the time. Sasha's only aggression towards Claire has been when she is sleeping near or around the kennel, or over the food bowls(to which I will take the food bowl away and request that Sasha 'sit' to earn it back).
The Resource Guarding sticky thread will help you with this. In particular watch the video at the end for some management ideas.
I would recommend feeding the dogs from seperate dishes, in seperate spots, and on a schedule. Be sure to pick up the bowls, since some dogs do guard even an empty dish!
Also try and keep Claire away from Sasha's Kennel. Assuming they each have their own, you could move one to a different area. You could also block assess to the kennel area with a baby gate or x-pen to manage the situation better.
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:53 AM
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Yes! What Kmes said! I'll just add from my own experience...

The "cure" to this aggression is to toss her a treat in every instance where she has this issue. Toss her a treat as you approach the kennel. Toss her a treat as you reach for the kennel door. Toss her a treat as you walk by her while she is sleeping. Do this religiously! Within days to weeks, her EMOTIONAL response to these situations will totally change.

It is the emotions that control the behavior. The behavior does not even go through the "thinking" part of the brain. The aggression is more like a reflex. So when you change the emotional reaction, by making these events positive, the problematic behavior will gradually go away.

I have a dog with some similar issues. It has been remarkable how this "counter conditioning" works!

Oh, and my dog is remarkably sensitive to eye contact as well. He seems to know exactly where my eyeballs are "pointed"!
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:18 AM
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Does she only react when you are physically closing the door on the kennel or is it also a fight to get her inside?
My suspicion is that she is feeling afraid, vulnerable or frustrated in the kennel because she may have been neglected or punished with one. Many people keep nordic dogs in kennels for most of their lives. They can develop a fear of the space or a barrier frustration while locked inside because they feel trapped.
My advice, along with the crowd, would be some counter-conditioning her to kenneling and to people approaching her while she's confined so that these mean good things to her. Never force her inside, if this is indeed already an issue. Try to get her to go in of her own choice with some training.
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