Agression toward other people

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Agression toward other people

This is a discussion on Agression toward other people within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I have a bernese mountain dog that I got when he was 10 weeks old he is now 5. He was always friendly with people ...

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Old 01-25-2019, 03:01 PM
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Agression toward other people

I have a bernese mountain dog that I got when he was 10 weeks old he is now 5. He was always friendly with people but my husband and I separated and he kept the dog because I could not take the dog with me over a year ago rescued my dog from my husband the dog had got little attention from husband. I was finally able to bring him with me and my boyfriend. When I first brought into my boyfriend's and my home he was very friendly with people now all of a sudden when people come into the house he barks growls and will not let anyone near him. He either clings to me or my boyfriend which is very odd this dog finally gets all the love and attention he wants...there is nothing wrong with him health wise so I'm confused as to why all 9f sudden he is aloof with people when he never was before. I was hoping that someone might be able to give me some insight as to why he acts this way now..my thought was he lacked attention for so long and now he finally has two people that take care of him that we have become like his guardians and he is protecting us but I'm not sure what the reason could be or how I can stop this behavior.
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:23 PM
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How long has your dog been back with you at your home? How long had he lived with your ex husband?

Did your ex husband have visitors to his home often? How did he act with the visitors and your ex husband?

If your dog hasn't been with you at your place for that long, maybe he is just now starting to feel comfortable enough to show his true colors/ true emotions or feelings? Meaning, many dogs that are rehomed or switch homes suddenly go through a honeymoon period. They are on very good and polite behavior, for example in the beginning. Then as time goes in and the dog settles in, they feel safe enough in their new home to express their concerns or anxiety or fears, hence behavior that looks aggressive appears. Remember most aggression is rooted in fear, anxiety, uncomfortableness and stress.

For some reason it sounds like your dog is just not comfortable with visitors at this point. Maybe leery or worried.

So maybe your dog was uncomfortable with visitors at your ex husbands house at some point? If so, maybe that is why your dog is being aggressive to visitors now and not right at the beginning when you first brought him to your place.

I can't see your dog in action, so I can't say this is the case. But could you talk to your ex if possible and see how your dog acted towards visitors while he lived with him?
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:45 PM
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Some things to try with your dog to help him accept strangers in the home:

1)Do not let your dog go to the door and greet the person. That should be your job so that you can announce to your dog that this is your friend (or ac guy or hired help, etc) and that there is nothing to be worried about.

2)Have some amazing treats READY IN ADVANCE each time a visitor comes to your home. I would say something like this to my dog, "Hey, Gracie, my friend Sandra is here, isn't that cool? We loooove having Sandra visit, don't we? She is so nice. Etc" And then you give your dog lots of small delicious food bites when Sandra come inside. You want your dog's brain to think: Hmmmm visitor arrives= super yummy food appears


3)Have your friends gently toss treats at a distance to your dog. Or you can drop them at your friends feet. If your dog is uncomfortable still, this will help. This way the dog can take the food at a safe distance. Some dogs do not feel comfortable at this point taking treats out of someone's hand. Or they will go for the treat and then get a bit nervous and nip/bite at the hand bc they are conflicted. They want the attention/affection, but then are somewhat still fearful.

4) When guests come over, have your dog on a leash with you and let your dog sniff the person, then you give your dog treats for just sniffing. No petting at this point unless your dog is ok with it. Your dog will begin to think: "I am safe with Mom. She won't let people touch me unless I am ok with it. But I can sniff them without feeling threatened. Whew!"

5) Hook your dog up with an amazing chewy or dental treat or bone or something else long lasting. You can keep them on leash next to you or have them go their crate or a baby gated room to relax and get their special chewie thing. Again-- dog's brain should start to think "Hmmm, people come over, I get a favorite special bone to chew on while they visit!! Cool!!"

6) Some people will tell you to have your vistors ignore the dog completely when first entering the home. My shy dog Gracie actually is fine with direct eye contact bc I have rewarded her SO OFTEN for "focus" which is to look at me and then get a treat. And I initially trained her to go 'say hi" which means she can sniff a person (with their consent of course) and I won't allow the person to pet her/touch her at all while she is sniffing them or meeting them. But many dogs do better when completely ignored at first.

There are many other things you can do, but these are things I have done with my dogs to help them be able to relax upon meeting people or having visitors come over.

Last edited by AthenaLove; 01-25-2019 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:19 AM
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He lived with my ex for 4yrs and he never had visitors over but me czuse i would stop in and check on the dog and make sure he was ok. But there were two little girls that lived behind my husband's house that he used to play with all the time and now he wont go near them which is weird because he grew up seeing these little girls everyday. Im really concerned cause it seems like an odd behaviour for a dog that loved everyone...he has been with me now for over a year and he is really a good dog...the weird thing is i took him up to visit my ex cause he wanted to see him and the dogs reaction to my ex was like he didn't even know him and the dog was very clingy to me..the dog remembers the house cause he went right to his chair he used to sleep in...i will try the suggestions you made when visitors come in which we do now give him treats or have the visitor give him a treat i usually try to tell people just ignore him let him come to you but dont pet him.
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Old 01-29-2019, 08:38 PM
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Do you think there is any chance that your ex was harsh or punitive with your dog while the dog lived with him? Seems odd that he wasn't happy to see your ex, right?

Who knows about the playing with kiddos? Maybe something happened while they were all playing? Sometimes this can happen and then the dog becomes leery. So say the mom or your ex yelled at the kids or your dog, and thus the dog remembers the unpleasant moment and then stays away. Just a thought. Can you ask the girls' mom about it?

And since your ex didn't have visitors to the house, your dog was never trained on how to react to visitors or how to feel comfortable with visitors in the home.

Maybe your dog is simply uncomfortable and unsure about having people come over. Let him know that all is good and to watch you for direction. Keep doing the good work with the treats
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Old 02-07-2019, 03:58 AM
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If you have a dog that is acting aggressively toward visitors to your home or property, it’s vital that you consult a qualified behavior professional immediately. Catch it early if you can– if your dog appears uncomfortable, anxious, stiff, or is growling, then seek help before the problem escalates. Your first step should be a consultation with your veterinarian.
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