Typical aggression or just a bad dog???

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Typical aggression or just a bad dog???

This is a discussion on Typical aggression or just a bad dog??? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; So...... about 8 years ago I rescued a puppy from a junk yard, not sure of the breed or what. It was a puppy in ...

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Old 05-27-2015, 12:20 PM
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Exclamation Typical aggression or just a bad dog???

So...... about 8 years ago I rescued a puppy from a junk yard, not sure of the breed or what. It was a puppy in need and I cannot say no to a sad face!!!

The dog was given to my dad and he has had her ever since. Since getting her she has mauled multiple oppossums that have made their way into the yard.

Also, and the situation that scared me the most, was when my friend had her daughter over. She was only 12 months old and still learning to walk, and the dog was there, and the baby stumbled and "fell" on the dog. I say fall but really it was she lost her balance and went forward how toddlers do when they lose their balance, and braced herself on the dogs back.

The dog pinned the baby down on the ground, with her paw in her back and her mouth around her neck. i have never been violent with an animal but that day i picked up a 70lb dog one handed and she ended up across the room.

From that day on I NEVER trust her around my kids. We have a 2 year old and a 5 year old, and I do all I can to keep them away from her (hard when you live in the same house)

My dad is convinced the baby did something to hurt the dog, and thats why she did it and doesnt believe me that it was as bad as i say it was because he wasnt here when it hapened.

She is always picking fights with our dogs (3 great pyrenees with the patience of Job) and then today we are baby sitting my sisters kittens while she gets her apartment ready and she lashed out at the kitten and bit its head hard. Thank god we pulled him away in time and there was no damage, but it could have been a lot worse.

My question is WHY is this happening. Our other three are so amazing, our 2 year old has stumbled across them so many times, as children will do, and they just look at her like "are you okay?"

Why is this behavior happening?! He thinks I am delusional and that this dog can do no wrong and I live in fear of something happening every single day!?!?!? Some one please tell me I am not crazy!!!
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:07 PM
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with the oppossum and the kittens it is probably preydrive. A dog with preydrive has aggression, but every carnivorous animal has that towards prey animals to some point. you wouldn expect a cat to be harmless around mouses wouldn't you?
preydrive can be managed, but it is normal for a dog to have it and if thex have it it won't go away miraculously.
I wouldn't call a dog aggressive just because they've got preydrive.
i know a lot of awesome family dogs, that would kill a rabbit when its close to them, but are very soft-tempered and nice around their family.

with the toddler: you shouldn't trust any child this small to be close to a dog without you being in direct reach and able to keep them away each other.
It is very likely that the child hurt and/or startled the dog, and thats why it reacted that way.
As a good owner you should be able to keep your dog safe from vicious toddlers landing on them and pulling their hair.
toddlers and dogs don't belong close together. never.
even the nicest dog can get accidently hurt or startled and by reacting hurt the child.
sounds more like parents not keeping their children under control than the dog being aggressive.
it speaks in the dogs favour though, that the dog didn't hurt the child and just did a warning bite. An aggressive dog would have plainly bitten or even killed the child.

with the dogs I'm not sure "picking a fight" is very unprecise in the description.
do you visit her ith her sdogs on her territory? then it could that she territorial.
it could also be that the dog is insecure or not so wellsocialised or she thinks having 3 big dogs coming towards her is very scary, so she tries to scare them away.
when picking a fight it is also a question on how she does that.
deos she bite them and leaved bleeding wounds? is she loud and barks? or more silent and stares at them?
a dog getting that doesn't get along ith other dogs is not necessarily aggressive, but there are cases were a dog is aggressive towards conspecifics.
What do you do to prevent them fighting?
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:12 PM
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To be honest, except for the fighting with other dogs, I wouldn't even call your dog "aggressive". Your dog has a high prey drive. Dogs are carnivores, predators. They're all hard wired to kill and eat smaller animals, like oppossums and even cats. It's very possible this dog is from a line or breed of dogs bred to hunt. This is natural, normal for many dogs. One of the BEST dogs I ever had was a hunter. She was gentle as anything with people, children and puppies, but anything else? That was lunch. And, though it might sound very disturbing to many people, some dogs view small children as prey. They're small, move like animals, make strange noises and are very "un-humanlike" in the presentation compared to adults or even older kids. Also, your dog clearly is not tolerant of discomfort or startling things like the child falling on her. Some dogs have high tolerance, some have low. Point blank, this is not a dog that is safe to have around small children or other animals. That doesn't necessarily make her "bad", just not the right dog to be around them. However, I will add that her behavior around that baby is totally unacceptable. I really wouldn't have her within ten feet of any child if I could help it.

You can't expect a dog to be like the other dogs just like you can't expect a person to be like other people. Dogs have individual personalities.

And has this dog had any training? If not, she needs some basic obedience like sit, down, stay, etc. If she has fights with the other dogs crate her or keep her separated if you can't monitor their interactions. The same goes for when kids are around. As for other pets, I just think you shouldn't take any into the house. Some dogs just cannot be kept in a home with animals they see as prey. As for wildlife...eh, is it that important? Let her have some fun hunting the little critters in the yard. It's normal and it gives her an outlet for that prey drive she can't aim towards children.

If all of this still really distresses you then maybe seek out a trainer. Good luck!
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:14 PM
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I agree with Mathilda. What's so bad about this dog? Going after prey animals like cats and opossums is normal dog behavior. Frankly, I think what happened to the kitten was your fault. You know the dog goes after other animals, why give the dog access to the kitten?

The toddler is the same story. Your dogs might be okay with small children falling on them. Not all dogs are, nor should you expect all dogs to be okay with that. You want to keep your children safe, you keep them separated from the dogs until they can be trusted to treat the dogs carefully and with respect.

I think this dog is just fine, but the humans in his life could use some training.
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:19 PM
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So it is not a question of irresponsible parenting she was sitting at my feet when it happened.

It isn't like we were hanging out in the office and were letting the kids do what ever the hell they wanted. kind of feel a little bit like i'm being called an irresponsible idiot of a parent. My children are never more than a few steps away even in our own home.

I would understand prey drive, and that does explain the opossums in the back yard but I would think it would be different when introducing an animal into the home as part of the family.

As for what the dog did, it only happened to be that because i was on top of her in moments and prevented her from doing any more than that. (because you know they ARE supervised around the animals......)

And to applaud the dog for ONLY giving her a warning bite seems a little ludicrous to me..... Maybe I'm stupid or something but how would it even be possible to have dogs and kids in the same house and NEVER let them interact for fear of something happening. If that is the case then I must have my children in danger every day then because they have 3 pyrs who they are always around and always supervised with.....
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:20 PM
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My children KNOW what not to do with the dogs but accidents happen. Thanks for making me feel like a completely useless parent. Honestly.
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:38 PM
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There are many cases of a parent being right there, within arms reach of child and dog, and the parent isn't able to prevent the dog from reacting. I'm glad you were able to prevent a serious injury to your toddler. This is a good example of why supervising dog-kid interactions doesn't work. It happens so quickly that most people can't prevent it. If you and your children live with this dog, I'd call in a professional. If you don't, take precautions and don't count on your dad or any other adult or child to keep your kids safe.

What I can suggest is that you convince your dad to condition this dog to wearing a basket style muzzle when your kids are around the dog. If he's unwilling, don't put your kids at risk. The dog and kids need to be kept separated at all times. I'll find a few things for you to read that might help.

This article explains why supervising can fail. It doesn't apply to the situation you described but it's good info for all who have kids and dogs.

Why Supervising Dogs and Kids Doesn’t Work | Robin Bennett

This is a good site with resources that might be of help.

Family Paws-Kids & Dogs our programs


Below is a tutorial on conditioning a dog to wearing a muzzle.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FABgZTFvHo
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:40 PM
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Sorry for the double post. I did note that you said you live with this dog. I missed that the first reading.

There are many cases of a parent being right there, within arms reach of child and dog, and the parent isn't able to prevent the dog from reacting. I'm glad you were able to prevent a serious injury to your toddler. This is a good example of why supervising dog-kid interactions doesn't work. It happens so quickly that most people can't prevent it. If you and your children live with this dog, I'd call in a professional. If you don't, take precautions and don't count on your dad or any other adult or child to keep your kids safe.

What I can suggest is that you convince your dad to condition this dog to wearing a basket style muzzle when your kids are around the dog. If he's unwilling, don't put your kids at risk. The dog and kids need to be kept separated at all times. I'll find a few things for you to read that might help.

This article explains why supervising can fail. It doesn't apply to the situation you described but it's good info for all who have kids and dogs.

Why Supervising Dogs and Kids Doesn’t Work | Robin Bennett

This is a good site with resources that might be of help.

Family Paws-Kids & Dogs our programs


Below is a tutorial on conditioning a dog to wearing a muzzle.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FABgZTFvHo

Last edited by Grabby; 05-27-2015 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:47 PM
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Was this dog at all raised with kids? Many dogs can be especially wary of kids unless they have been thoroughly exposed to them and really understand what to expect of them. When you are a dog and a strange creature 'jumps' on your back without your explicit invitation (ie, you're playing), it means you are probably in a life-or-death situation. I am actually blown away that the dog didn't legitimately maul the 12-month-old. Dogs usually do more damage than they intend to unless they have excellent bite inhibition.

That said, bites of any sort usually increase in severity each time they occur. It is sort of an 'I warned you once, I'll warn you harder the next time' mentality. This dog isn't bad per-se but I think that you are right in judging that toddlers are not safe in her company. Maybe older kids that are not so clumsy and understand not to grab her, but a toddler, no. Its not really the dog's fault but that doesn't make the situation any safer, even with supervision.

The best course of action would probably be to keep this dog totally separate from your kids, as you have been doing, and call in a behaviorist to see whether training will bring this dog to a place where she can trust young children a little more.
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:55 PM
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Dogs have no way of understanding what prey animals are being introduced as family pets. They're dogs and don't understand the distinction we have over domestic pets and wild animals.

In terms of the child, most dog bites do actually happen with parents supervising. The problem isn't supervision, it's that your average person doesn't know what they're looking for. For example, if yor dog turned away from a child, licked her nose, and held her breath, would you understand that means 'I'm stressed and I want this kid away from me, please remove her or I'll have to give her a stronger warning.'? Parents aren't taught this stuff! That's not yor fault.

I also notice you said this is a senior dog. It's possible she has some arthritis or soreness, as well as hearing going. So it's possible she didn't hear the baby, and just suddenly had a child fall on her sore back.
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