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I already posted this on the general dog forum, but I'm reposting here because I was unsure where it belonged.

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Hi All,

I'm a new dog owner and need a little advice. It all started on Thanksgiving when I rescued a dog that was walking on the freeway. He had no tags or microchip so after not getting any response from flyers we posted, a craigslist ad, or petharbor listing we decided the dog was ours to keep. He seemed like the *perfect* dog at first, he just had a little issue with not being housebroken. The house training is going well, but he has started growling at/nipping the air near children.

At first this happened with my daughter's friend whose behavior can be a little overwhelming so I thought it was just her being too crazy around him and my dog feeling nervous (he is just a little guy--probably a rat terrier and possibly chihuahua mix). I gave her some treats to give him and told her to give them to him after having him sit so that he could learn she was a nice person. This seemed to help.

Next he started growling at a couple of my kids when they would try to pick him up, usually when he was sleeping on the couch. I do tell my kids not to bother him when he's sleeping, eating, and going potty, but they're kids and they don't always do what they're supposed to. Then he started growling at them when they would approach him for kisses/pets. My kids can also get into this kind of chaotic energy so I thought maybe he was reacting to that.

Then today when we were on a walk a single girl asked if she could pet him. I said she could, but he growled quietly at her and even nipped the air when she tried to pet him. This girl was calm and quiet and did everything right. What do I need to do to help this little guy? I'm all for respecting his needs, but I also feel he needs to learn that kids are a step above him in this pack.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, he's not always like this with my kids. He'll also play with them and lick them like crazy, he misses them when they're gone and gets excited when they come back.

Thanks for any advice!
Vanessa and Tigger
 

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That's a tough one if he's escalating as he's getting more comfortable. I'm a big Cesar Milan fan, maybe he has some info. out there in one of his books on establishing the kids as over the new dog in the pack. I would avoid having them pet him, feed him, etc. when he isn't acting appropriate around them. Have them feed him under your supervision, making him sit and wait until they release him to eat, etc. so that maybe he'll start to see them as leaders. Goodluck and bless you for saving him!
 

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I agree with Dana, about the feed/rewarding. Having the kids feed him is a great way to start having him learn that the kids are above him in the pack. I'd also have them take turns and walk him under your supervision.
Also, I'd enroll him in dog obedience (sp) classes asap or contact a trainer and have them come to you. This is a good way to get him on the right tract especially since you know nothing about him and he might have been dumped for this very reason and his owners just never took the time to work with him.
If you have not done so, you may want to take him to your vet and have an exam done. I'd ask for the vet to look at his eyes and his ears to check to make sure he sees well and hears well. He may have an issues with one or the other. Also, if he does, then you will know how to focus his training to help you and the kids the most. while giving him a better chance at learing a proper responce.
I like Cesar Milan but I adore Victoria Stillwell. She is the trainer on the show It's me or the Dog. But remember, each person has their own preference for trainer and training style. Don't be afraid to look for a trainer that both you and Tigger are comfortable with.
Anyway, I think it's great that you opened your home to him. Best of luck to you and Tigger.
 

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Your dog is exibiting "fear aggression" or "fear biting"

Google those two phases for tons of info.

Basically your dog is being pushed over threshold and is defending itself. Its acting this way because of som' sort of trigger. The trigger is probably a combo of kids/ how the kids aproach/where the dog is when the kids aproach.

Forget cesars methods for this dog. Aversives DO NOT work on a fearful dog for fearful behavior (cesar trains using aversives). Corrections will likely make the behavior worse.

You need to VERY VERY SLOWLY countercondidtion the behavior. In the mean time that means do not AT ALL put the dog in a situation that it will act this way. YOu need to build up to that situation very very slowly without pushing the dog too far. You will need TONS of high value treats and lots of repetitions and time.

I have a dog that is fearful and you couldn't even touch her and now she is social and trustworthy. If you need any more explainations or guidance please feel free to ask.



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