Dog Obedience for Dog that showed aggression

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Dog Obedience for Dog that showed aggression

This is a discussion on Dog Obedience for Dog that showed aggression within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Our family, which is me, my wife, 22 year old son and 16 year old daughter, adopted a puppy from a local animal rescue shelter ...

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Old 07-27-2017, 12:54 PM
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Dog Obedience for Dog that showed aggression

Our family, which is me, my wife, 22 year old son and 16 year old daughter, adopted a puppy from a local animal rescue shelter back in December 2016. He was 6 months old when we adopted him and at first he was shy and timid. We were told he came from an abusive household and he has always seemed more skidish around men.

He is what we think is a Liver German Shepherd mix that my daughter named "Constell".

Last week he bit my son pretty aggressively when my son was trying to get a hermit crab out of his mouth (from what I gathered, my son was trying to get it out of his mouth by jabbing at the crab with a ceramic coaster).

We have been pretty explicit with the kids that they should not mess with the dog(s) while eating, and especially not with the new dog if he has what he may consider food or prey, such as frogs, bones, etc.

When he bit my son, my son had to go to the ER, and they said they did not want use stitches to lower the risk of infection, otherwise he would have needed stitches. We took the dog back on Saturday, but everyone was heartbroken, and we decided to try some type of obedience training. So we went back Monday and got him. I made an appointment on Wednesday with a local dog trainer.

I will try to be as open and honest about what I was told and what happened when I took him to see the trainer.

When we entered the trainers shop, Constell latched onto my leg... something he does when he is scared. I tried to console the dog by telling him it was okay and petting him.

The trainer (who is female), came up to Constell, who was sitting, and was introducing her self and began to pat (with what I can only describe as using as much force as you would use to knock on your bathroom door at home to see if anyone is occupying it). He did a low growl.

She turned to me and said 1. I was part of the problem (I shouldn't have consoled him), 2. He need ongoing rehab because he is a troubled dog, 3. I am not prepared to do what was needed.

All of this within maybe 5 minutes of getting there. I am currently working on getting other consultations, but wanted to see what others can gather from what I have posted.
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Old 07-27-2017, 01:45 PM
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She sounds whacko to me.

Is this the only instance of aggression your dog has shown, or has he done similar things before? It sounds like resource guarding is what caused the problem, which doesn't always have to be difficult to deal with and it sounds like previously you were handling it pretty well. You can play various games to try and deter the guarding, trading games and such, which any trainer worth their salt can easily explain.

The most important thing is - you can't reinforce fear. You consoling your dog doesn't make him any more afraid, he's already scared.

I have noticed with my fearful dog that it does help to be more positive in scary situations. If I'm not, or if I console him, he doesn't become *more* afraid (and sometimes that's what he needs), but he does seem to benefit from fun little games. My favorite game is what I call the "just a" game, where he sees something scary and I respond with, "oh, Chisum, it's just a box. You're not scared of boxes. See, I can go touch it with no problem. etc." Sounds crazy but it works!

But yeah, I'd go with a new trainer ASAP.
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Old 07-27-2017, 02:15 PM
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Is this the only instance of aggression your dog has shown, or has he done similar things before?
At this level, yes. He has shown aggression by snapping maybe 2 other times. Once with my son and the other with me. Both times we were trying to take something from him.

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You consoling your dog doesn't make him any more afraid, he's already scared.
The trainer told me by consoling him, I was basically reinforcing that behavior, which I understand. I think this is one of the more valid issues the trainer made. It is just the rest of the comments she made that pretty much turned me off to anything she said.

Me and my wife both kind of agreed it is almost like she was using fear tactics.
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Old 07-27-2017, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by judsonc75 View Post
At this level, yes. He has shown aggression by snapping maybe 2 other times. Once with my son and the other with me. Both times we were trying to take something from him.
So it sounds like it's mainly a resource guarding issue. Pretty run of the mill, a good, positive trainer can easily help you.


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Originally Posted by judsonc75 View Post
The trainer told me by consoling him, I was basically reinforcing that behavior, which I understand. I think this is one of the more valid issues the trainer made. It is just the rest of the comments she made that pretty much turned me off to anything she said.
Fear is complex, but it is an emotion, not a behavior. The behavior is grabbing your leg, the underlying emotional state is the fear.

You can stop a behavior (i.e. the grabbing of the leg) but when it comes to fear, it's really not beneficial and doesn't do much good. One extreme example of this is when dogs growl out of fear and are punished - they don't stop being afraid, they just learn that expressing their fear with a growl didn't work/got them punished so they'll go straight for biting next time.

If you don't like the leg grabbing, there are different things you can do to teach alternate behaviors - "watch me" on command is one, Behavioral Adjustment Training (BAT) is another good protocol. It kind of depends on what works for you.

However, if you think it's worth your time, you can also undergo a process of counter-conditioning to try and help him feel more confident in unsure situations and try to get rid of some of that fear. A good, positive trainer can help with that as well.


I have a severely reactive/high needs dog - your dog doesn't sound like a lost cause, I promise. Just a few tweaks and he'll be fine.
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:45 PM
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I agree, it does sound like resource guarding and not generalized aggression, which is something that can be worked on.

Regarding fear and consoling thing, I feel it's and old school concept. The best analogy I've heard against it is if you were afraid of thunder and someone tried to provide you comfort during a storm, would it reinforce your fear of thunder? Probably not. Also, I think it was silly for her to encroach on his space and try to pet a dog with known issues is a recipe for poor outcome.

I personally would agree with your decision to go with another trainer. Hopefully someone with experience in positive training and dealing with reactive dogs or even a behaviorist to get a second/third opinion.


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Old 07-28-2017, 06:53 AM
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@PoppyKenna really hit the nail on the head with her analysis. Here is a sticky on resource guarding: https://www.dogforum.com/training-beh...fication-7511/


Please find a trainer who utilizes positive training methods to help you.
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Old 07-28-2017, 07:19 AM
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That trainer seems silly. Approaching a dog that is clearly afraid/nervous is a recipe for disaster - something every trainer worth their salt should know. She's lucky she didn't get bit.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:58 PM
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That trainer seems silly. Approaching a dog that is clearly afraid/nervous is a recipe for disaster - something every trainer worth their salt should know. She's lucky she didn't get bit.
That's the thing, he didn't even snap at her, just a small growl, after she patted him (with what I perceived as enough force to warrant the reaction). It's like she was trying to trigger him, and his reaction was a common "back off", as expected.
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:00 AM
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Update

So, we found another trainer that is willing to work with us. We went this past Saturday, and things went pretty good. We learned a lot about training dogs, and Constell seemed to be picking things up well. Then, the trainer wanted to work on "leave it", which she explained was the command to reserve for things the dog would never, ever be able to pick up again.

She started by using a treat, and we were using treats as the positive reinforcements. We would hold the treat (one not to give, she referred to as arsenic), and if he went we would say "aaant" close our hands. We all (me, wife and two kids), and he did well. Then the trainer wanted to have the "arsenic" on the ground. AS Constell would go for it, she would seperate him from it with her hand. After about 5 times, he latched on to her forearm.

We were all in shock, she had me use the lead leash to put him on the ground. During this time, Constell was acting frantic. The trainer was ok and said she was aware what was about to go down, and says this is just a case of resource guarding and not too uncommon. We set up the appointment for next weeks training session and headed to the dog store to get a lead leash for home training.

Me and my wife go into the store, and get the leash, and look at a few other things, and as we are getting ready to leave our daughter comes in and says we need to come on. The dog had bitten our son again. He was apparently reaching back to the back seat to roll the window down. I did not see the bite, but there was a good bit of blood, and they said it was pretty bad. So I am not sure this case was resource guarding. Now, our son is scared to be alone with the dog, and my wife is ready to get rid of him.

My plans are to at least call the trainer to see what her opinion is, but not sure it matters at this point is our son is scared of the dog and the wife is not wanting to continue with training.
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:17 AM
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First, don't do anything immediately, while your family's emotions are still running high.

I understand your son's and wife's feelings, but this still sounds like resource guarding, which can be solved with training. Also, your dog had just finished a stressful training session, and was in an excited state.

You should contact the trainer right away, and see what she recommends.
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