Aggression Concern in Aussie

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Aggression Concern in Aussie

This is a discussion on Aggression Concern in Aussie within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hey everyone! I have decided to post on this site because we have had some recent concerns with our young, male Aussie. He is 7 ...

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Old 02-05-2018, 02:32 PM
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Unhappy Aggression Concern in Aussie

Hey everyone! I have decided to post on this site because we have had some recent concerns with our young, male Aussie. He is 7 months old and we have had him for about 3.5 months.

He is a fantastic dog at home (minus some hyper moments which are expected, he is a puppy) with my fiance and I and he is also well-behaved around adults (for the most part, occasionally he will become startled and bark like crazy but nothing serious). However, he does not seem to want anything to do with children. There have been multiple occasions where he has lunged, barked, and showed teeth at young children (ages 3-12). Sometimes it happens when they are running around and sometimes it happens out of nowhere. For example, last night he was completely fine laying under the table and a young girl walked by the table and he freaked out. It scares me because he turns into this crazy, mean looking dog out of nowhere.

We always have him on a leash when we are with strangers, especially kids. We have been taking puppy classes where they have taught us about making corrections using the leash and a training collar. I HATE the idea of possibly having to give him away because we want kids of our own one day. We love this dog to pieces and we are willing to do whatever it takes to make things better. We do not have much information on the breeder, although I wish I did. We want to work with him and we want him to feel comfortable around kids because it seems as though he is freaking out of fear.

Please - send us any tips, training information, anything to help! We live in Northeast Ohio where sometimes the weather does not allow us to take him on long walks like we would like to (any cold weather exercising tips would be great). I love hearing success stories about aggressive dogs becoming less aggressive. I can't express how much this dog already means to us, THANK YOU!
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:06 PM
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Hi!

Welcome to the forum! First of all, we love pictures, so show your little guy off!

Aussies (and honestly the majority of the herding breeds) can certainly be prone to reactivity (lunging, barking, growling, and generally just actin' a fool). It isn't uncommon and is arguably the most common complaint I get for clients.

What is a "training collar", like a cloth choke collar? If so I would HIGHLY recommend you stop correcting him. He is clearly nervous or afraid or both, and when you correct him (I'm assuming popping the leash with a stern no?) you're:

a) Not telling him what to do instead
b) Associating pain with the trigger (in his case kids)
c) Confirming to him that you don't have his back when the scary thing is around, so he has to be the defensive one.

Herding breeds in general can struggle around kids because they don't act like adults. They make strange noises and move in such unpredictable ways. I mean I don't get them either, and I'm an adult. :P

He may never LOVE children, but you can certainly work to get him to the point where he can tolerate them.

My Aussie loves just about everyone and everything, but kids make him nervous. They scream and run, so he tries to chase, and then they get upset and yell at him. As a result, he just prefers to hang with the adults or hide in his crate when children are around.

I'd suggest you find either a Positive Reinforcement trainer (CPDT List) or a behaviourist.
This site (CARE) will also be full of useful information for you.

As far as exercising, MENTAL stimulation is just as important, if not more than physical exercise. He's an Aussie, teach him all the things! Tricks, nose games, obedience, as much as you can think of. Personally my dogs LOVE hide and seek in my house (They're put in a down stay, I go hide and call them).

There's quite a few of us with Aussies on here, and lots of people with reactive dogs, so hang around and ask lots of questions.
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:21 PM
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@Shandula
Thank you so much for your reply. The training collar is basically what you described. It has small plastic indents that "pinch" him when he is being bad. After doing a lot of research on fear aggression, I am starting to think that positive reinforcement is something we really need to start considering instead. I would be okay if he avoided children and did not love them, I just get so scared when he lunges. Thank you for all of the tips - we have an "IQ ball" that dispenses treats and he loves when we give it to him. We also just purchased some other dog puzzles on Amazon that we are excited to try out this week. He is a very smart dog and us owners just need to be patient with him! Thank you again, I look forward to hearing from fellow Aussie parents!
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:26 PM
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I'll tag a couple of the members with Aussies, so you can be part of our super cool club.
@jclark343 @lindzydandsophie @TheAdventureK9
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:28 PM
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@Shandula Thank you! I couldn't figure out how to post a picture of our pup, Duke on the forum! However, I added a picture to the "dogs" section of my profile! Hopefully you can see the picture!
He actually looks a lot like your aussie!
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:36 PM
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@alexis112 - He does look a lot like my guy! Although I'm convinced my guy is a lab in an Aussie suit.

How big is he at 7 months?
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:38 PM
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@Shandula that picture is a little dated but it is all I have saved on my work computer haha! The last time he went to the vet which was about a month ago he was 33 pounds. He has most likely gained a few more pounds since then, he seems to be getting so big since we first got him.
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:45 PM
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It's so sad. It's literally one day they look like this:


then you turn around and they look like this:
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Old 02-05-2018, 03:55 PM
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@Shandula oh my goodness!!!!! your dog is GORGEOUS! looks so much like our Duke! but seriously - they grow up so fast need to handle these aggression issues now because ours is already like our child and we have only had him for 3.5 months!
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:03 PM
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@alexis112 Welcome! Your guy is super cute. Love his two blue eyes and those freckles! Can't wait to see and hear more about him so you better stick around! Lots of great people on here.

My Aussie just turned 11 months. I don't have much experience with this particular issue but I know others have, and Shandula gave great advice. I have two children (5 and 2) and luckily mine does not react around them but she went through a period of barking at everything, and is just finally coming out of it.

@Shandula - Levi looks absolutely dashing! He looks so fit and lean compared to my shorty. Sophie loves hide and seek also! Even the kids get in on it. Great for recall and impulse control (we make her wait downstairs while we hide upstairs).
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