HELP!!! My dog is aggressive with my roommate!

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HELP!!! My dog is aggressive with my roommate!

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Old 08-22-2017, 02:53 PM
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HELP!!! My dog is aggressive with my roommate!

Hello! Unfortunately, this may be a bit of a long thread so I'll try to condense the message as much as I can.

I adopted a dog named Jetson back in March (he is now a year old). I immediately noticed that he was a very dominant male dog with a very strong personality. He has surprisingly been a pleasure to train and is extremely intelligent. He loves kids, loves most dogs, and some people. He doesn't trust most adults but given time warms up to them.

Recently, my boyfriend and I acquired 2 new roommates approx 2 months ago. Jetson has taken a specific dislike to one of them let's call him Bob.
Bob seems to be very very uncomfortable with Jetson. I am unsure as to the reason why. I don't know if he ever grew up with dogs or if he had a traumatic moment in his life with a dog and ever since then has been hesitant around them. I'll list the moments:

1. I have an extremely specific training regiment for Jetson, as he is a dominant male. All of his commands are kept consistent, bad behavior receives a correction, key praise word and then a high value treat. I have spent a good amount of time teaching Bob the correct commands and correct him when he uses them incorrectly. For example, Jetson knows the command "down" as to lay down. Bob uses "down" as a command to get off of something. I have repeated corrected him and it doesn't seem to be changing. It is frustrating to me because I spend a lot of time training Jetson and that fact that he isn't keeping things consistent confuses Jetson.

2. Jetson under no circumstances responds to yelling, screaming, or any type of scruffing or physical advances. He responds to a calm assertive leader. Bob is under the impression that if he scares Jetson, he will start behaving and submit to him. I have seen Bob raise his hand and fake hit Jetson as well as fake kick him while he's laying down. He calls him names, calls him stupid, and when Jetson barks at him, he yells and screams at him and tells him to shut up (Jetson barks at him A LOT while he's sitting in his room playing video games).

3. Bob is also very awkward around Jetson which may have something to do with his being scared of and discomfort around dogs. When Jetson responds to his command, he holds his hand open with the treat and just kind of throws it at Jetson, or throws it on the ground because he doesn't want Jetson to "bite him." He also pets him awkwardly. He puts his hand out to pet the top of his head and when Jetson lifts his head to meet his touch, he pulls his hand away and tries to go behind his head. Jetson will then turn to meet his hand again and Bob pulls his hand away all together.

4. Whenever Jetson gets up on the couch to sit next to Bob for pets, Bob just pushes him off.

PLEASE HELP!! I'm unsure of how to handle this situation. The fake hitting is kicking is NOT okay and I will not tolerate that kind of behavior. I believe that this whole thing is a negative feedback loop. Bob makes Jetson feel uncomfortable and Jetson lashes out which then makes Bob uncomfortable etc. I can't get Bob to understand that he can relax around Jetson. Jetson is very much a pack animal and his excessive barking might be his way of pushing the "weak" ones out of the pack. I have tried everything to control Jetson barking at Bob in his room and nothing is working. If Jetson does in fact do something good, he gets no positive reinforcement. When he does something bad, Bob just yells at him and again gives no positive reinforcement. The barking is starting to get to Bob and Jetson is starting to get more aggressive. I don't think this is a male problem because Jetson likes a lot of males. What's a good way to handle all of this?

If you made it through all of that, I give you major kudos! Thanks for reading it.

Gabby
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Old 08-30-2017, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmart008 View Post
Hello! Unfortunately, this may be a bit of a long thread so I'll try to condense the message as much as I can.

I adopted a dog named Jetson back in March (he is now a year old). I immediately noticed that he was a very dominant male dog with a very strong personality. He has surprisingly been a pleasure to train and is extremely intelligent. He loves kids, loves most dogs, and some people. He doesn't trust most adults but given time warms up to them.

Recently, my boyfriend and I acquired 2 new roommates approx 2 months ago. Jetson has taken a specific dislike to one of them let's call him Bob.
Bob seems to be very very uncomfortable with Jetson. I am unsure as to the reason why. I don't know if he ever grew up with dogs or if he had a traumatic moment in his life with a dog and ever since then has been hesitant around them. I'll list the moments:

1. I have an extremely specific training regiment for Jetson, as he is a dominant male. All of his commands are kept consistent, bad behavior receives a correction, key praise word and then a high value treat. I have spent a good amount of time teaching Bob the correct commands and correct him when he uses them incorrectly. For example, Jetson knows the command "down" as to lay down. Bob uses "down" as a command to get off of something. I have repeated corrected him and it doesn't seem to be changing. It is frustrating to me because I spend a lot of time training Jetson and that fact that he isn't keeping things consistent confuses Jetson.

2. Jetson under no circumstances responds to yelling, screaming, or any type of scruffing or physical advances. He responds to a calm assertive leader. Bob is under the impression that if he scares Jetson, he will start behaving and submit to him. I have seen Bob raise his hand and fake hit Jetson as well as fake kick him while he's laying down. He calls him names, calls him stupid, and when Jetson barks at him, he yells and screams at him and tells him to shut up (Jetson barks at him A LOT while he's sitting in his room playing video games).

3. Bob is also very awkward around Jetson which may have something to do with his being scared of and discomfort around dogs. When Jetson responds to his command, he holds his hand open with the treat and just kind of throws it at Jetson, or throws it on the ground because he doesn't want Jetson to "bite him." He also pets him awkwardly. He puts his hand out to pet the top of his head and when Jetson lifts his head to meet his touch, he pulls his hand away and tries to go behind his head. Jetson will then turn to meet his hand again and Bob pulls his hand away all together.

4. Whenever Jetson gets up on the couch to sit next to Bob for pets, Bob just pushes him off.

PLEASE HELP!! I'm unsure of how to handle this situation. The fake hitting is kicking is NOT okay and I will not tolerate that kind of behavior. I believe that this whole thing is a negative feedback loop. Bob makes Jetson feel uncomfortable and Jetson lashes out which then makes Bob uncomfortable etc. I can't get Bob to understand that he can relax around Jetson. Jetson is very much a pack animal and his excessive barking might be his way of pushing the "weak" ones out of the pack. I have tried everything to control Jetson barking at Bob in his room and nothing is working. If Jetson does in fact do something good, he gets no positive reinforcement. When he does something bad, Bob just yells at him and again gives no positive reinforcement. The barking is starting to get to Bob and Jetson is starting to get more aggressive. I don't think this is a male problem because Jetson likes a lot of males. What's a good way to handle all of this?

If you made it through all of that, I give you major kudos! Thanks for reading it.

Gabby
Bob sounds like an abusive **** and it sounds like Jetson is very uncomfortable with being yelled at and physically reprimanded even if it's "fake." He's not being dominant, he's probably scared/defensive.

Your roommate is going to have to change his behavior, and if he starts treating Jetson with kindness and respect, that will probably change Jetson's behavior.



What YOU can do as far as behavior modification is give Jetson REALLY high value treats (like hot dogs or cheese) whenever Bob is around, whenever he sees Bob, etc. You want him to associate Bob with really good things. That way, even if Bob doesn't change his behavior, maybe the positive association will take the edge off of Jetson's anxiety and reaction. But really, if Bob's not going to change, you should really think about kicking him out or having the landlord kick him out if possible, or maybe finding another place to live. Your dog should not have to put up with that crap. If someone treated my dog like that I wouldn't stand for it.

Are there any activities that Bob likes doing that you could involve the dog in like playing frisbee or going for a hike? Maybe that will make him more comfortable around the dog.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:59 AM
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Question Who needs the aggravation?

I wouldn't bother trying to re-train the roommate -
nor would i try to pair Good Things with the roommate's presence.

If this were my dog, i'd put MY DOG in MY ROOM, away from the unpredictable, threatening, scary, scared roommate - i'd LOCK my door to prevent the dog accidentally exiting, or the threatening roommate from not-so-accidentally entering.

______________________________________
I had a similar situation, years ago -
when my younger sister, her ADHD eldest son, & younger son, all visited our apartment in Virginia - for 3 solid weeks.
Normally, the apt was quiet - my mother, myself, & my Akita; the boys arrived 1st, for a week on their own, & they fought frequently, verbally & physically both.

My dog already lived in my room when i wasn't at home, simply because my mother at 85+ could not handle her, & might fall over her.
For the 3-weeks of their visit, I locked my bedroom door & the connected bathroom, & kept them locked - the boys, & later my sister, only saw my dog on her way out the door on leash, or returning on leash to my room. Period. // They were never even introduced.

When my sister arrived, the fighting escalated - especially the screaming, swearing, obscenity-laced, loud arguments. // Suzy arrived on Sunday - by Wednesday, my dog was so stressed, she was LIVING IN HER OPEN-DOORED CRATE, came out only to eat, or to go outside on leash with me.

Wed was my day off; that afternoon, ONE MORE QUARREL erupted in my mother's bedroom among my sister & her sons; I walked into the room, shouted SHUT UP!, & told all 3 of them that i'd had it; if they wanted to fight from now on, they could do it outside - in the parking lot, no matter if it was 2 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning; i wasn't going to have any more fights in the house.
I told them my dog was miserable & so was i; this constant fighting was intolerable, & if they really wanted to kill one another, i'd give each of them a hunk of 2x4 & they could go to it - OUTSIDE.
I left the room to a ringing silence. // The quarrels & physical fights stopped when i was present, but for the next 10-days, they continued when i wasn't home.

I actually left; i moved-out temporarily, & spent a pleasant, expensive week --- in a motel down the street, with my dog, & her crate. // It was blessedly quiet, except for traffic noise. And it was closer to work! - WIN.
______________________________


to the OP:
I'd also be looking for a new apartment ASAP.

good luck,
- terry

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Old 08-30-2017, 12:02 PM
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First, I commend you about being diligent and consistent with regards to training your dog.

Second, I'm about to play a little bit of devil's advocate. Bear with me. What if Bob really doesn't have any experience with dogs, doesn't know how to act around them, maybe is even afraid of them? You acknowledge as much yourself. Maybe he's fake hitting and kicking Jetson not to get Jetson to submit, but in the mistaken belief that he can scare Jetson away and leave him alone. Ditto the yelling and screaming at Jetson and throwing treats at him and pushing him off of the sofa when he's too close.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmart008 View Post
Bob seems to be very very uncomfortable with Jetson. I am unsure as to the reason why. I don't know if he ever grew up with dogs or if he had a traumatic moment in his life with a dog and ever since then has been hesitant around them. I'll list the moments:

2. Bob is under the impression that if he scares Jetson, he will start behaving and submit to him. I have seen Bob raise his hand and fake hit Jetson as well as fake kick him while he's laying down. He calls him names, calls him stupid, and when Jetson barks at him, he yells and screams at him and tells him to shut up (Jetson barks at him A LOT while he's sitting in his room playing video games).

3. Bob is also very awkward around Jetson which may have something to do with his being scared of and discomfort around dogs. When Jetson responds to his command, he holds his hand open with the treat and just kind of throws it at Jetson, or throws it on the ground because he doesn't want Jetson to "bite him." He also pets him awkwardly. He puts his hand out to pet the top of his head and when Jetson lifts his head to meet his touch, he pulls his hand away and tries to go behind his head. Jetson will then turn to meet his hand again and Bob pulls his hand away all together.

4. Whenever Jetson gets up on the couch to sit next to Bob for pets, Bob just pushes him off.
All of those bolded parts really suggest to me that Bob has fear issues with dogs.

If Bob were a dog afraid of people, what would we advise? Keep people away, give him plenty of space, wait for him to come to you, be patient and gentle, etc. And yet it seems Bob is a person afraid of or at least not comfortable around dogs and Jetson, not knowing any better, is often near him and attempting to interact with him and even barking at him. I think you should respect your roommates discomfort even if you don't understand it. Just like a fearful or insecure dog doesn't need to be friends with other dogs or other people, a person fearful of dogs shouldn't be forced to interact with dogs if he's not ready to do so.

Bob yelling at screaming at Jetson is like a fearful dog growling and barking to tell people/other dogs to stay back and give him space. Fake punching/kicking is like a fearful dog air snapping to say, "Hey, I'm scared and I have teeth; don't make me use them."

Obviously, Jasper is your pet and Bob is your roommate and you all have to learn to live together peacefully. Bob will need to learn to show some respect and tolerance for Jasper, but I think you need to teach Jasper the same amount of respect and tolerance for Bob. After all, there are plenty of people in the world who aren't comfortable around dogs. Chances are, Bob won't be the only one Jasper ever encounters.

I don't think it would be inappropriate to teach Jasper not to bark at Bob or to go to a specific place (bed, mat, etc) when Bob is playing video games, or to sit on another piece of furniture or quietly at the other end of the sofa (depending on how big your sofa is) when Bob is on the sofa.

If Bob is willing to give Jetson a treat, teach Jetson "wait" or "leave it" so Bob can put the treat on the floor and then take a step back out of range and tell Jetson "ok" or whatever the release word is so that he'll know Jetson is under his control and won't come too close without his permission. Bob may learn to be less uncomfortable around Jetson if he knows that Jetson's not going to behave inappropriately and will always be calm and in control around him.

As long as Bob is unsure or afraid, though, the less he has to interact with Jetson, the better.

Quote:
I can't get Bob to understand that he can relax around Jetson.
If it's a legitimate fear or phobia, you may not be able to get Bob to understand or believe that just from you saying so. The fear may be so ingrained that even if he rationally knows you're right, he can't control his reactions. You and Jetson need to demonstrate that Jetson's not a danger by showing Bob that Jetson is calm and in control and won't behave unpredictably.

Quote:
I have tried everything to control Jetson barking at Bob in his room and nothing is working.
What, specifically, have you tried? Just curious. There are lots of methods for teaching a dog not to bark. Also curious because I have a very barky dog and am always on the look out for other things to try.

Also, I can't help but notice that you're talking a lot about dominance and submission and pack mentality, and your mention of "calm assertive leader" is raising Cesar Millan warning bells in my head. You may want to do some research on current studies regarding dominance theories. It's pretty much been debunked. Unfortunately, Cesar Millan's dominance based training techniques are often more harmful than helpful.
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Old 08-30-2017, 12:42 PM
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"If this were my dog, i'd put MY DOG in MY ROOM, away from the unpredictable, threatening, scary, scared roommate - i'd LOCK my door to prevent the dog accidentally exiting, or the threatening roommate from not-so-accidentally entering."

Above bears repeating, but yes, it could be that Bob is being borderline abusive and engaging in risky behaviour only because he is being put in a situation he finds scary and he is being left to try to take care of things himself.

Jetson is your dog, and your responsibility. Keep him out of Bob's reach (and Bob may like him more or at least dislike him less). Teach Jetson how to behave in a visibly calm and safe manner and make sure he stays out of Bob's zone.

This is one of those situations where a comfy crate (in your room out of Bob's sight) is a really good thing to have, & for times you want to be all together, teach him down on a mat, just move the mat to your feet, or your corner, or your side of the couch away from Bob. Don't let Jetson up on the couch without it.

You ensure that Bob never has to tell/command/request/ask Jetson to do anything and you ensure that Jetson never has to tell/command/request/ask Bob for anything either. I'd skip the petting & making friends & asking for petting stuff for now. No one needs to love your dog, your dog is not required to love your room mate, they just need to learn to respect each others space.

So you need to give Bob reassurance that Jetson won't get into his space, no pawing, no contact, no jumping up on the couch beside him, and you need to reassure Jetson that he does not need to solicit friendship or activities from Bob, translation, all good things come from you, ignoring Bob gets goodies from you, laying down on his designated mat gets peace, relaxation, comfort & goodies from you.

If Bob continues with his crap when Jetson is not seeking him out, it's abuse, you need to get him/Bob out of there.

If Jetson keeps getting into Bob's zone, you need to be more proactive, a leash, obedience, a crate. Jetson is going to need a lot of walks, outdoor training/play/fun time in return for all the good calm behaviour that will be required.

If Bob continues, this is bad. He's scaring your dog--scared dogs that can't escape have only one other option, he might bite think he has no other choice. Jetson needs some peaceful options.


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