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Hello everyone, I’ve been trying to get rid of our dogs agression for years now. It’s 6 years old jack russel terier. He’s sweetie, he is playful, cheerful and really kind, but I fully don’t understand the reasons behind his behavior. I hardly know what triggers his agression. Usually it happens all of suden. For example he came to me playful, waving his tail, wanting to cuddle, we cuddle, he’s licking me, he’s happy and then he snaps all of sudden. He used to even bite, but now he only snaps. I’m trying to understand what triggers him, but it’s really hard for me to understand the reasons behund this so I can avoid such a situations. I’ve had 3 dogs in my life so far and none of them never showed such a behavior and they were well behaved. He’s like something goes wrong in his mind all of sudden and he goes crazy for no reason. He goes from happy to agressive monster in 1 second. I’m really woried about this and don’t know what to do. I usually try to calm him down, screams no and give him shower which calms him down, but I just want to get rid of this behavior of his. Is there any way?
 

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Has he seen a vet for this behavior? I'm thinking maybe some lesion in the brain - many tumors are NOT cancer & are treatable. Anyway, that sounds dangerous & I would want to have more understanding of the cause!
 

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My friend has a cat with similar issue. Puss has a questionable temper in general, but sometimes it just doing this trick (cuddling and purring at first but then violently biting and scratching and running away all of a sudden). But in that case it's really just a bad temper. You can do nothing but to adaptate yourself to it.
 

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I wonder if he wants contact but only up to a point. Have you heard of the five second rule? If a dog initiates contact, you stroke or rub ears or whatever for five seconds, then stop. If the dog initiates further contact, for example by nudging you or pushing his snout in your hand, you pet for a further five seconds then stop. Continue the five seconds and stop pattern only as long as your dog keeps asking.

What this does is to give your dog control over the amount of touching he gets; and builds his confidence by knowing he can make it stop at any time so he won't be forced into unwanted contact.
 

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I wonder if he wants contact but only up to a point. Have you heard of the five second rule? If a dog initiates contact, you stroke or rub ears or whatever for five seconds, then stop. If the dog initiates further contact, for example by nudging you or pushing his snout in your hand, you pet for a further five seconds then stop. Continue the five seconds and stop pattern only as long as your dog keeps asking.

What this does is to give your dog control over the amount of touching he gets; and builds his confidence by knowing he can make it stop at any time so he won't be forced into unwanted contact.
Great answer JoanneF! Please recommend what kind of goodies do you use for training dogs?
 

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I use a hierarchy of rewards. Sometimes it's an ear rub, sometimes food from his allowance, sometimes cheese or liver cake.
 

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I wonder if he wants contact but only up to a point. Have you heard of the five second rule? If a dog initiates contact, you stroke or rub ears or whatever for five seconds, then stop. If the dog initiates further contact, for example by nudging you or pushing his snout in your hand, you pet for a further five seconds then stop. Continue the five seconds and stop pattern only as long as your dog keeps asking.

What this does is to give your dog control over the amount of touching he gets; and builds his confidence by knowing he can make it stop at any time so he won't be forced into unwanted contact.
This is a good point. My dog didn't like being handled at first. He would often "snap" without any visible change in body language. For example, I was watching TV one night, the dog got up on the couch and curled up next to me. I touched his head thinking he was coming for some attention and he snapped at me.

Normally the "snarl" or the "snap" is telegraphed by a number of escalating verbal and body-language cues. In the case of my dog, when he was a year old he could go from serine to snarl in a nano-second.

In order to get a grip on this we started doing a few things:

1) We designated "no go" zones. In our case there are two. The dog has a bed that he can lay on in the living room. If he's laying in the bed we don't pet him. The other no-go zone is his crate. This is his real "leave me alone" space. If he goes in the crate then we don't interact with him at all. This gave the dog a safe and/or quiet place to withdraw when he doesn't want to be sociable.

2) We started only petting the dog when he asked for it. He only started doing this once he caught on to #1 and realised that it was his choice. In our case if he want's to play he'll bring a toy to you or if he want's to snuggle he'll come up and put his head in your lap or your hand. It was a conscious choice to let the dog come to us and not the other way around. Fortunately our dog caught on to the game.

3) Building on #2 we used the 5 -second rule that Joanne is talking about. If he wanted to interact then we pet him for a 5 count and stopped. We still do this. If he want's more he'll remain in place and/or nuzzle your hand. If he's had enough then he just walks away.

He just turned 3 the other day and he hasn't snarled at any of us for a long time. In fact, he's become quite the proficient snuggler. Part of it is just the dog maturing but part of it, I believe, has to do with the structure I outlined above.

I hesitated to suggest this to the OP because I'm not sure that's what's going on with his dog. That's also why I asked for a video if he could get one. Nevertheless, someone might be helped by the suggestion so I'll post it anyway.
 

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Just one thing to add to that. There is petting and there is petting. The HOW is important. If you make short quick strokes on the top of his head the dog will experience that differently than when you pet him in long slow strokes from the back of his head to the tail.

In our case we make a conscious decision to use long slow strokes because we found early on that when we did that he would ask for more.

Not all dogs will react to touch the same way so it's really something that you need to be mindful of and explore consciously. The more you "figure out" what the dog likes the more relaxed the dog will become.
 
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