Aggression or Startle reflex?

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Aggression or Startle reflex?

This is a discussion on Aggression or Startle reflex? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hello, everyone! I've been lurking on this site for a while as a guest, and I see a lot of helpful advice come from users, ...

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Old 11-29-2017, 06:42 PM
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Aggression or Startle reflex?

Hello, everyone! I've been lurking on this site for a while as a guest, and I see a lot of helpful advice come from users, so I thought I'd give it a try as well.

I adopted a bluetick coonhound about 3 months ago, 8 months old. He's extremely smart, lovable, and pretty well mannered. He came with the name Cody.

Now here's the thing. My daughter is 3 years old and is really good with animals, and I ALWAYS supervise the two of them, but (and this happened twice now) sometimes when Cody is sleeping, if he's disturbed, he'll nip.

The first time he was in the middle of the floor and I was taking my daughter to brush her teeth and he let out this loud yelp (she didn't step on him, didn't even touch him) and nipped at her ankle. No broken skin, but I got worried and as a new rule, I've been training him to only nap in his crate (she knows that's the puppies "home" and not to touch it.)

I believe in positive training, no hitting, and so far it's been going good, but today we came home from the store and Cody was on the couch hidden in blankets so we didn't see him. My daughter sat on the couch (again, not on him, but by him) with her back to him and just like last time, he let out a loud yelp and bit her on the shoulder, this time breaking a layer of skin. Almost instantly he let go, jumped down and took a submissive stance whinning before I told him to go into his cage.

I don't think he's doing it on purpose, but my first priority is my daughters safety. He's never so much as growled at me or my husband when we woke him, but then again we make sure he knows we're there before touching him. He's a good dog otherwise, loves playing fetch with my daughter and he's my morning running buddy, but he also shows signs of past abuse (marks on his legs of missing fur, cowering at sudden movements, goes ape-**** when he sees a broom, and things like that.) Is there something more I could do, or would it be best to see if I can find him a new home? I'd hate to do that, but I have to do whats best for all of us, him and my daughter included.

Thank you all!
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:02 PM
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I personally wouldn't look to rehome him but I can appreciate your concern for your daughter as priorities are exactly as you described.

This speaks loudly " Almost instantly he let go, jumped down and took a submissive stance whinning before I told him to go into his cage."

I think you already know the solution but getting your daughter to tread more lightly and be observant might be more demanding than it is for you and your husband.

There is merit in the old saying "let sleeping dogs lie" literally.

I'm going with your offering of "startle reflex" coupled with the unknown of his past (broom example you gave). 3 months is long enough to know what you have as the dog should be decompressed but changing the kneejerk reaction you are experiencing which may have been caused by his past during a critical phase might take longer to alter that. He sounds like a good dog that wants to rely and trust you but is carrying some baggage perhaps.

Once again, I appreciate your priorities and wonder if through temporary management practices you could get your pup to where you want him and avoid any more startled bites.
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:42 PM
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Do you have an extra room or area he could go in while sleeping you could leave the door open. Maybe check the room for him before your daughter goes in there. You know the solution and he sounds very enjoyable. I wouldn't re-home him. He had a bad past now has finally got you for a good home. I would just work with him some more.

Your daughter sounds like a lovely child with very loving parents your doing a great job

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Old 11-29-2017, 08:00 PM
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Thank you guys. We've worked so much with him from training him to walk on a leash to house training and everything in between in such a short time, he's come a long way!

Dogs sometimes have bad moods and get nippy, I know this, I just got worried that maybe it may have been more than getting scared, you know? I appreciate the advice and kind remarks! I'll probably gate him in our dining room and let him out for a few hours a day for some family time, that way he can have his naps in peace and still get his love.
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Old 11-29-2017, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dingo43x View Post
Thank you guys. We've worked so much with him from training him to walk on a leash to house training and everything in between in such a short time, he's come a long way!

Dogs sometimes have bad moods and get nippy, I know this, I just got worried that maybe it may have been more than getting scared, you know? I appreciate the advice and kind remarks! I'll probably gate him in our dining room and let him out for a few hours a day for some family time, that way he can have his naps in peace and still get his love.
Anytime!! That is a very good plan You got this!!

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Old 11-30-2017, 07:34 AM
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I agree with above posts, probably reflex action, I dont believe I would even try to correct the dog......he probably did it without thinking and theres a good chance the dog felt bad about it once he realized.....
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:37 AM
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You know, my wifes lab is a nervous dog, and there are times when she's not expecting it, you just touch her and she'll yelp like something bit here. Y'alls dog may be kinda the same way
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Old 11-30-2017, 06:29 PM
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Lightbulb I'd crate him for naps, in a room inaccessible to the child.

.

There's a very good reason for the old adage, 'Let sleeping dogs lie.' // IOW, don't disturb a sleeping dog.
Personally, I'd crate him for his naps, & i'd also put his crate in a room that my child couldn't enter.

I'd also use an airline-approved shipping crate, not a welded wire-rods 'show' crate.
Shipping crates can be purchased used in like-new condition online, for approx half the cost of 'new retail'.
Many owners toss the crate as soon as their pup is housetrained, which is a real pity, & sadly shortsighted.

CraigsList, FreeCycle, Gumtree, PreLoved, eBay, etc, are all good places to check.

- terry

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