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My landlord's dog is agressive towards me

1070 Views 6 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  AthenaLove
Hello everyone! I have a huge problem... My landlord's boyfriend moved in with us for a while because he's doing some works at his house and he brought his german shepherd with him. The dog is 2 years old and when they are home and they say to him to calm down is totally fine and just curious towards me, the problem is when i'm alone. I can't go out of my room/enter the house because he starts barking and growling at me and I don't understand why!! My landlord told me it's because he can feel i'm afraid of him and because i hide my hands and he feels i'm hiding something, but truth is he starts barking just hearing me coming home from the stairs or when i wake up and he hears me moving in my room. I spent time with him when his owners are home giving him food and caressing him, when he barks i tried speaking to him calmly and gave him my hand to smell so he knows it's me and that i'm not a threat but nothing works. Thank good my room and the exit are close so i just walk ignoring him but it's literally Cersei Lannister walk of shame!!! Do you know why his behaviour change so much like this? What can i do?

I should probably point out because i read the rules that the way they trained him is completely wrong. When he barks at me and doesn't stop right away when they tell him to calm down they hit him, and sometimes they threat him with a leash even though i never saw them hitting him with it. Beside this the dog he's totally in love with them and go crazy when he hear them coming back home... I don't know if this could explain his behaviour.

PS: i'm a foreigner so i probably made some grammar mistake :eyeroll:
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I am sorry, Nicole, that sounds really uncomfortable and stressful, too! I would be totally unhappy about having someone's dog barking and growling at me, esp in my own home!! Scary, too.

You could try counterconditioning this dog. The goal? Your voice/appearance predicts good, happy, safe predictable things!!!

Here"s how:

Maybe, when you first start moving around in your room, you could call the dog's name and have some very small yummy treats to toss to the dog. Use only highest value food that smells great like: small bits of meat, or chicken, or cheese, or liver, etc. No dry treats at this point. Eventually you can use less yummy food or kibble.

So call his name, and at a large distance toss him the treats. Tons of small bites are better than a few big ones in my opinion. Small like pea size.

Do not make eye contact with him. Don't stand facing him, but stand to the side if possible so he doesn't view you as a threat. Keep your body loose, relaxed and not tense. Hands down at your sides loosely,palms open, so he can see that you don't have a leash or anything to hit him with. Don't even talk, just let his brain re-path to think...Hhmm Nicole is awake, yummy treats will be coming to me soon!!"

If you have a baby gate to put in between you as you do this, even better!

Maybe do the same when the guys are there so he learns that you are very predictable and safe. So if you say "Hi doggie" say it in the same tone, same words each time. Pick a phrase or words that you can say happily and naturally.

If fear, stress or anxiety= aggression, then being predictable/safe is a great way to reduce his stress, and hence lessen the aggressive behavior.

You are so wise to want to be kind to this dog and help him to not use aggression to solve his problems! Good for you!! Thank you.

Good luck, and please keep us updated, ok?
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Use calming signals:

Also, you can try using dog body language/ calming signals to tell this dog that you are no threat to him. You can find many sites online about dog body language.

For me, when my shy/cautious fearful Gracie dog is looking "off" or nervous, I send her an exaggerated yawn to tell her I am safe. She usually sends me one right back:)

Or I will do a lip lick which is another calming signal.

Or I will look away from her for a quick moment, another calming signal.

Or I will show her my hands at a distance, to either show her I have treats for her to earn....and nothing at all to harm her with or scare her.

Or if she is barking at something that she doesn't need to worry about (like our cat) I might say to her in a silly, happy voice "whaaaaat? what's up? I don't see anything to worry about Gracie."

Much better than yelling at her to be quiet, which only is agreeing with her mindset and sends her the message that "Hey, mom is yelling now, maybe I should be worried about whatever I heard/saw."

Calming signals do help. Try them and see!
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Great to hear that the dog seemed happy about seeing you today! Progress, right? In my mind, baby steps really, really count in working with all dogs!

Also, I meant to mention, that even if the dog is barking at you, continue to toss the small yummy treats at him, keeping a safe distance.

Usually a dog will tell you when they are uncomfortable with your presence or proximity to them. (by growling more, or showing teeth, or barking louder....etc) If the aggression is increasing, move yourself further away from the dog... and toss tons of those treats.

If you toss enough, he will probably forget that he was worried about you and start treasure hunting those treats on the floor!!

Keep updating us on your progress ok? Sounds like you are on the right track!!
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