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We have a Jack Russell, she's about 11 years old, was a rescue, is spayed, and in excellent health. My husband and his deceased wife got him before she died so my husband wouldn't "be left alone" when she passed. So he calls her the "legacy dog".

Even before we got married I paid much attention to this dog, got to know her and be friends with her before we introduced my 2 poodles to the household. She never gotten along with the oldest ("alpha") poodle, that poodle has passed, a year and a half ago.

In the meantime the Jack formed the habit, several years now, of jumping at me and barking whenever I move through the house. She bears her teeth and growls at me when I tell her know or thwart her way, for her own good. I never have hit or yelled at or abused this dog in any way. I feed her, I'm the chief dog feeder in the house! But if she knows, or even thinks, I have a treat or food in my hand she'll jump for it. She'll bite me to get what she thinks I may have, draw blood, cause real injury, though no stitches required, yet.

So I'm living with a dog I'm afraid of. She also is very aggressive towards the other dogs for no reason, will just bite one of them in the face when she's excited or agitated over the doorbell ringing, for example.

Husband will do nothing. No training attempts, no separation of the dog from the rest of us, no getting rid of the legacy dog. He just says, eh, that's "how she's wired, she's a Jack Russell".

What to do?
 

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It is how she's wired, she is a jack Russel. You've basically turned yourself into one giant rodent. You need to take power. There's a difference between "yelling at" the dog and a good, firm no.

You should not be giving the dog any reason to see you as food. Hubby needs to take over this duty.
 

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I know Jacks are like that, why I never would've owned one. He is feeding her now, I'm ingnoring her as much as possible. I don't yell at any of the dogs, I've had dogs all my life and understand how to train them. Husband thinks they train themselves, apparently.
 

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Even experianced trainers sometimes need help. I don't believe in bad dogs, only bad humans. When there's a conflict between owner-dog-other it's often the person that needs to change. Your husband can only do so much in this situation. If you don't want to "yell" at the dog, great...but you're going to need to show dominance in some way.

JRT's can be fun and quirky dogs. As a teen/young adult I really loved them for their trainability as far as tricks and such, but as I've mentioned on other things one of my JRT's had a prey drive so strong it would attack anything with the slightest bit of fuzz or fringe, from boots to blankets to well anything.

I'm wondering if this falls more into the category that "Click and Clack" would call a "Maratial vehicular dispute" only in this case it's a "Mariatal Canine dispute". In this case it's not really about the car (dog) its really about something in your marriage that's just not working for you. The dog is only a symptom of the problem.
 

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I would start phoning trainers, explaining the situation, and get her into dog class. You need to train the dog, and you need a trainer that can help you. It sounds like bad habits that have been inadvertently rewarded (that is, if after growling or nipping she gets the food anyway) and other things. Once biting begins (maybe it's very hard nipping if you don't need stitches) you really deserve to get real professional help from a trainer. Don't just sign up, ask questions, get referrals, etc. Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
And it has to be you taking care of this problem; obviously, your husband is not being co-operative (which is the kindest way I can put it).
Maybe JT is a diamond in the ruff, and you'll end up enjoying both dog and training sessions.
 

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Hello there,

The situation you describe is quite complicated I think, there's a lot of different issues going on and it needs to be broken down into smaller chunks and each issue tackled individually for any chance of improvement.

As far as I see it, these are the main problems:

The fact that she's a 'legacy dog'- I may be wrong but it sounds as though this dog has maybe been allowed to get away with this sort of behaviour for a while as, understandably, she's important to both you and your husband. I can totally understand if that is the case (and please do correct me if I'm wrong!) however a dog needs guidance, boundaries and consistency, not in a mean way, they just like to know what's expected of them, that in itself makes a dog calmer and easier to live with.

The timescale- She's been allowed to continue this behaviour for two years now so this is a proven, practiced habit that will take time to resolve as its now massively rewarding to her.

Possible guarding of territory- It may be that the behaviour she displays towards you is a territory issue or it could simply be a symptom of over-arousal, seeing as there's a few things going on here, it could just be that she's in a constant state of stress and this is having a knock-on effect.

Impulse control- Her jumping up when you have treats in your hand sounds like a lack of impulse control, this can be overcome with training, teaching a solid leave it will really help, and making sure you take the time to show her the behaviour you do want, so maybe throw her a treat when she's acting calm around you, over time she'll learn that the only way she gets that treat she wants so badly is to keep her bum on the floor!

Fear Agression- Your dog also sounds fearful around the other dogs which is causing her to lash out, it may be worth separating her from the other dogs if possible while you work with her for for two reasons, it's stops any accidents and it stops her from performing an unwanted behaviour which which just make it harder to stop in the long run.

Stress- With everything that you've described, it sounds as though your dog is having a very stressful time and so is everyone else in the house, this inhibits learning and her stress levels need to be brought down massively for training can be successful. You'll need to manage the situation at all times and in whatever way you can, more exercise is never a minus in any behaviour problem so taking her out alone may be a good place to start, make yourself really fun and exciting, play games, use a treat dispensing toy, anything that gets her brain working, her physically tired and helps the two of you bond will speed up the process no end.

Reactivity- There also sounds as though she's reactive to people coming to the door, our dog Jax is too, again this cam be managed, for example we don't have our mail delivered anymore, we go and collect it as it was just too stressful for him, this in turn brought down his stress levels enough to be able to cope with some training so with the help of some friends, I've done a lot of work with him and now when someone turns up, I simply throw Jax a squeaky ball and we have a great few minutes of catch and he's happy as Larry! It's about finding our what works for your dog.

Saying no- I'm not saying I never tell Jax no but I try not to make a habit of it, I'd rather spend my time saying yes by teaching him how I want him to behave in a situation and having a party when he gets it right! This strenghens the bond between you too, don't forget that when we say no or tell a dog off in some way, our tone of voice, body language and posture all change, I want Jax to see me as a super positive, fun person to be with so I try to be that at all times!

Your husband- This might be the hardest bit to overcome!! For this to work, you all need to be completely and totally on board 100% or one of you will have to take the reins at all times. We actually got Jax for my partner Lewis but after a few months I realised Jax wasn't being as stimulated as I thought he should be so over a time I naturally took over being his person aw it were, now he's 100% my dog but because Lewis is behind me with the way I do things, he follows my lead which means Jax is just as good for him as he is me and I can relax knowing Jax won't be ruined in any way training wise, it's a win-win situation!

So my advice to you would be to learn as much as you can about the issues above, I'm not saying I know what I'm talking about, just what I would maybe do if it was me and Jax but the best thing you could do would be to educate yourself as much as you can, especially about positive reinforcement and share everything with your partner, you're going to need his help but it's totally possible!

I hope this helps!

Good luck xx
 
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