We recently adopted a dog. She is very aggressive with other dogs, barks and shows teeth. She is a lab 3 years old. The shelter did report that she did get along with one dog there but had a problem most dogs. They have no history on her. She has a scar on her nose and tail. Her neck area has patches of hair missing. She is fine with people. She is very aggressive with dogs. I want to do right by her and try and correct this. The adoption agency will take her back, but I would like to give her a chance. We have had her since this past Saturday. She follows basic commands, sit, stay (at times), lay down.
Type of Animal: Labrador Retriever
Pet's Gender: Female
Pet's Age: 3
Name of Dog: Cubbie
pulling her back...avoiding the situation, by removing her from the stimulus.
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The first thing that should be done is to rule out a medical cause for the sudden aggression. You can read about these here:
If there is no medical cause for the aggression, then it is strictly behavioral. Dogs are aggressive toward other dogs for a variety of reasons. It might be that they are fearful of other dogs and thus are aggressive before the other dog can be. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate the other dogs and be the alpha member of the pack. Other causes could be that the dog feels they are te alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (other dogs).Since she is new to you and had this problem before, it is likely not to be that she is trying to protect you, though that may come in the future.
Owners sometimes make the situation even worse by tensing up and worrying about what will happen. The dog senses the owner worry and feels that she is justified in her aggressive stance because you are obviously worried about the dog. They don't know you are worried about them attacking, they just feel that you are worried and assume it is the other dog.
For a dog like this, total contol is necessay. This means not only physical control but on a mental level, you must be the alpha. To accomplish this, you may want to have the dog wear a basket muzzle anytime she is not in your own house or yard. This will not only prevent bites but also allow you to feel more at ease when walking her. If she is not spayed, have that done.
Many dominant dogs are described as well behaved until you try to get them to do something they do not want to do, and then they reprimand you either with a growl or bite if you don't heed the growl. Things like taking away something they want, making them move when they don't want to, waking them up, etc can cause them to reprimand (bite) you.
Dogs that are allowed on furniture (even if put on the furniture) tend to feel that since they are elevated to your level or higher if on your lap, they mentally feel elevated as well in the pack order and thus are the boss. Keeping them on the floor can help lower them mentally back to a submissive position in the pack. So the first thing is to not allow him higher that the humans or even on the same level. In addition, humans shouldn't be on the floor with him either. A small short stool is enough to keep them higher than the dog when petting the dog.
You will need to have her obedience trained. If you can, I would do group classes (with the muzzle if necessary) and let the trainer know of the problem your dog has. It might take you a few months of basic training before she is ready for goup class. This will help socialize her around other dogs in a controlled atmosphere. She will learn that not all dogs are going to try and attack her or try and dominate her. . Before you can get into classes, I am including links to a couple of other sites that teach some good methods of training. Be sure and read both.
The following site is helpful. Be sure and click on the link to the left on obedience. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
You will also want to keep a leash on her at all times initially to grab if she should disobey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your dog does with training. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.
In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques on the previous website, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.
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Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 16+ years
Hi Joanie,I'm just following up on our conversation about Cubbie. How is everything going?Jane Lefler
Well, I have been spending 20 minutes a day just helping her with obedience. I have a scheduled appointment with a dog training facility on Tuesday. I explained that she has issues with other dogs. She will meet her with no dogs and will see what we can do for her. She actually is a good dog and follows commands. Such as sit, down and comes when called. I just hope we can help her with the dog aggression. Especially since we have so many dogs in our neighborhood that are not on leashes.Thanks...Joanie
Joanie,I'm glad to see you are following through. I hope you come back in a month or so and update me on your progress.