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Hello, this is my first post. I have a 2 year old Tatra who guards our sheep and goats, and is also a general farm dog who is very good with our pet dog and cats, and non aggressive to people, really just what we wanted. She’s wonderful, but nervous when there’s change with the animals, and aggressive to new animals, livestock or dogs, for a couple of days till she knows they belong. I’m assuming that is normal enough. She has NEVER been aggressive to people, especially not to me,, she is my dog and I am her person. However, we got a 4 month new Tatra pup, she at first was very aggressive as expected, so we kept them on other sides of a secure fence, Here’s the problem. On day 2, we had been taking her in there on a leash, all was progressing well. She decided to take a nap near the puppy. She suddenly woke up (no noise from the pup) and tried to attack him. Ok, my bad, I rushed it. But here’s the scary part. I tugged her back, she stopped, and I said no in a strong voice (guess I should have kept my mouth shut) and she barked extremely aggressively at me. I still had her on leash, and she did follow when I called strongly, but when I put her in the adjoining paddock she barked aggressively at me again. She didn’t lunge or growl, but VERY aggressive bark and body language. This is SO not like her, at least with people, and especially with me. I am sitting by her now in the adjoining paddock, she kind of hesitated when I came back and walked slowly to me and got in a submissive posture so I calmly gave her a little love and all is back to normal. But now I am worried, is this aggressive behavior toward a very involved owner normal? I’m sure I handled a couple of things wrong, but not so bad that she should get aggressive to me, right? Btw my the puppy wasn’t aggressive at all. Can anyone help? Thank you!!
 

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A couple things come to mind.

First, from her point of view with the napping incident, you were the randomly aggressive one. In her mind, she was doing what was appropriate [even if it wasn't], then you yanked her on the neck and "growled/barked" at her. So she told you to back off several times in several ways. Is it what we want? No. But my point is that it wasn't true aggression.

And puppies are very rarely aggressive. It happens, but not usually. Doesn't mean there won't be issues later, or that all dogs like puppies, and puppies can often be rude.

Going back, there are a few things that can help. You do need to rebuild trust between you and her. Being consistent, showing yourself as not scary, and working together all go into that. I also recommend positive counter-conditioning her to the puppy. Give them space, keep the routine, and when the puppy is in her vicinity, it means good things happen to her. Extra love, special treats, etc.

I would keep an eye on her being nervous though, that can escalate and cause problems. If you want, we can offer a few ways to help build her confidence.

Anyways, welcome to the forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A couple things come to mind.

First, from her point of view with the napping incident, you were the randomly aggressive one. In her mind, she was doing what was appropriate [even if it wasn't], then you yanked her on the neck and "growled/barked" at her. So she told you to back off several times in several ways. Is it what we want? No. But my point is that it wasn't true aggression.

And puppies are very rarely aggressive. It happens, but not usually. Doesn't mean there won't be issues later, or that all dogs like puppies, and puppies can often be rude.

Going back, there are a few things that can help. You do need to rebuild trust between you and her. Being consistent, showing yourself as not scary, and working together all go into that. I also recommend positive counter-conditioning her to the puppy. Give them space, keep the routine, and when the puppy is in her vicinity, it means good things happen to her. Extra love, special treats, etc.

I would keep an eye on her being nervous though, that can escalate and cause problems. If you want, we can offer a few ways to help build her confidence.

Anyways, welcome to the forum.
Thank you! I’m not sure I was clear, the 2 year old is the one who barked aggressively at me, the one I have had for two years and pulled back on with the leash, and she never has done that before or challenged me before. It really unsettled me when she barked meanly at me after I put her back in the adjoining paddock. She has always been nervous though and bad with introductions. So, I do now get what you mean, seeing it from her point of you, but you don’t think that’s too aggressive even for a dog who has been with its owner 2 years now? Just want to be sure I’m safe, and see if I need to take precautions for a bit, as I have always totally trusted her (at least with me and with family members) before, thanks!
 

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Just want to be sure I’m safe, and see if I need to take precautions
The tricky part of that is that not all dogs who bite are aggressive. While I don't think you and yours need to walk around on eggshells (I'm not there after all), I do think now would be the time for a refresher on canine body language. Because the beginning signs of discomfort can be very subtle to a human-a nose lick, a turned head, a yawn. And how do you tell all that from a dog that is just tired or is focusing on something? And when a dog gives all those subtle signs and thinks you are not listening to them, they speak "louder" by escalating. Which leads to the behavior a lot of people label as "aggressive," even if that really isn't the case. It could be a scared dog, a frustrated one, an overexcited one, etc. And given her nervousness; I'm wondering if the barking and "off" behavior is a one off, or actually a buildup of her being "unheard"/feeling pressured and that bubbled over. I would recommend reading On Talking Terms with Dogs by Taylor Raagass, giving her her space, sticking to the routine, and slowing the puppy intro for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all of the advice! I slowed things down, kept myself calm and gave the older dog a lot of love, and every day it has gotten amazingly better. They are together now, and the older dog only growls and snarls when the puppy is just being a bit too puppyish for her comfort! The puppy definitely backs off quickly then, so I think the job of establishing pack order has been done quite effectively. The older dog is responding as normal to me now, with obedience and love, so I think it was all just too much too soon for her. Again, I appreciate the help, and I think I am going to check out the book that was recommended.
 
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