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Hello, I have a two year old spayed boxer that I adore

Hello, I have a two year...
Hello,

I have a two year old spayed boxer that I adore however she is becoming more aggressive to other dogs and has even growled at a neighbor recently. I got her at 8 weeks and I would consider her the perfectly obedient dog, she learned commands quickly and is almost what I consider needy, she wants to be touched or near me all the time. As I look back even when I first got her I asked the breeder which one was the sweetest and they said her because she likes to cuddle. This started about a year ago, I used to take her to the dog park where I could leave her off leash and she would run and play with other dogs, then one day she got into a fight, actually injured the other dog owners had, Since I did not see it I thought it was the other dogs fault and off we went, well as time goes on, she gets into more fights and now I can't even take her on a leash with a muzzle, she tries to go after almost any dog. We got a new puppy about 3 weeks ago, we had lost our older boxer back in May (The young one loved the older girl and often would lay down touching her). So all was well with the new pup until last night when the were playing with a bone together then she started fighting so bad we had to pull her off the pup, she was going to hurt him! Now I am so concerned about even taking her out of the house or having anyone come over! I have talked to my vet and they suggested a behaviorist however there are none in my state. I need help please.
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Answered in 11 minutes by:
9/21/2013
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20,048
Experience: Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
Verified
Hi JaCustomer,
.
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
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In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
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So the dog has not had any obedience training since she was a very young pup, is that correct?
Is she spayed?
How long ago did she attack the dog in the park?
Was it around the time you lost your other dog?
How old is the pup and what breed is the pup?
Is he neutered?
When she first started this aggressive behavior did you try and reassure her or how did you handle her at the time?
What have you tried besides the muzzle so far?
What zip code do you live in?


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Customer reply replied 4 years ago
It was about a year ago she attacked the first dog, but there have been many more attempts since then, including 3 actual fights. I have tried several different ways to take her out, we were even in petco once on a leash right next to me when another person stopped to talk she went after there dog. This behavior started well before we lost our other dog so I can not attribute it to that. She was spayed at about 6 months. When it happened the first time it really scared me and I pulled her out of it and we got out of there, I can't really remember if I pet her or if we walked away or what. We did take a puppy training class but continued to be very social at play times, going to the dog park several times a week, visiting family that has several dogs. I have not tried anything beside a muzzle and I don't really like those, they don't fit the boxer face really well. Our new pup is 13 week old Leonberger and for the most part they play very well, just this one incident and while I can see why she was upset, he was trying to take her bone, it was the having to pull her off him that scared me.
Customer reply replied 4 years ago
She also will growl aand bark at anyone that looks different, helmet, sunglasses, one lady was in a middle eastern wear and my dog had her hackles up. I live in Alaska, 99507
Valorie,
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I have received your reply and am working on your response. I hope you can be paitent.
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Valorie,

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Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. There are medical conditions that can cause sudden aggression in dogs. One is hypothyroidism and boxers are prone to this. Another cause is pain and boxers are also prone to cervical instability leading to disc issues in the neck as well. These can be painful as well. So before jumping to strictly behavioral in nature, I do think you need to rule out medical causes first.

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If medical causes are ruled out, then you need to make some changes. 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 the alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (other dogs). I suspect that your dog is a dominant female. Watch how she approaches other dogs. Is her tail or stub raised high in the air? Is she putting her head over the other dogs neck? These are dominant gestures and these alone can trigger a fight if the other dog is dominant.

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You can look at the following pages on dog body language and it might help deterimine if it is dominance or fear based.

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/canine-body-language

http://www.pawsacrossamerica.com/interpret.html

http://www.apdt.com/petowners/park/body-language/

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In addition, 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. Even experienced trainers sometime worry and the dog acts up.

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For a dog like this, you must be the boss. To accomplish this, you may want to have the dog wear a basket muzzle anytime she is not in your own house or yard. Not sure if you are using a basket style muzzle or not, but it is designed so the dog can eat, drink and breath normally. 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.

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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. I'm glad she isn't at this point.

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Dogs that are allowed on furniture tend to feel that since they are elevated to your level, 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 her higher that the humans or even on the same level. Attach a leash and use it to remove her from the furniture. Give a correction in the form of a quick tug and firm "NO" when she attempts to get on and a treat when she starts not trying to get on the furniture. Thus you are providing negative reinforcement for the getting on the furniture and positive reinforcement for the desired behavior (not attempting to get on the furniture). Hot dog slices or liver slivers work best as treats.

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You will need to have her put back in classes. If you can, I would do group classes (with the muzzle if necessary) and let the trainer know of the problem your dog has. Before you can get into classes, the following site is helpful. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

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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.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

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Obedience training serves various purposes. It helps a dog learn what humans expect of them when they state a command which leads to self confidence and less fear. Each time a dog obeys a command, even if it is for a treat, it makes them a little more submissive to that human in the future which helps with dominance aggression. It also socializes them around a variety of dogs and people. And since it is the leader or boss who is responsible for protecting the pack, if the dog is made submissive with training, you are responsible for protecting her, so that can reduce aggression due to fear and dominance.

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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 daily 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. Use the leash to reprimand her for any attacks on the puppy. Growls are fine and even small lunges but she should not connect with the pupp. I would not even allow lunges if possible.

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Since the pup is a male, you are liable to have more issues when he matures into a sexually mature dog around 7 months and then even more issues when he is a bit older and matures into an adult. Unless he is a submissive dog, he is likely to test the leadership of the boxer and then you are going to have a fight . So discourage all but mild growls from the adult female. In turn, you have to ensure the pup does not overstep his boundaries and keep him from taking things from her, trying to eat her food or jump her. Those are typical situations where an adult female will growl at a pup to show them it is unacceptable behavior. If she isn't allowed to reprimand him because she is too rough, you ave to reprimand unacceptable behavior. So start training him now as well even if you need to do it at home until he has all his shots.

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It will be helpful if you can find someone with an adult dog to help you once you have your dog listening to commands consistently. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their dog a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. The second you see her fixate on the other dog or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if she ignores the other dog, she gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until she is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.

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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.

http://www.apdt.com

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I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .

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Customer reply replied 4 years ago
Wow, you gave me a lot to think about, I never saw her as a dominant female though, she had not exhibited that with our other dogs and around dogs she already knows. She is not aloud on the furniture and doesn't even try to get on it but has occasionally been allowed on the bed, probably once a month. I am absolutely sure she knows I am in charge, and the leader as well as other family members because she never shows aggression toward us in any way and backs down when scolded and really does try to please. When she has done something "naughty" a firm voice is all it takes and you can see on her face that she knows. I am concerned because I have a two year old niece, the niece lived here for her first 6 months and has been back many times, but it's been awhile because I just don't trust my dog anymore. Like I said when hanging out, she wants to be near me and touching would be even better. If anyone is sitting with there legs crossed she will put herself over their foot so that their foot is touching her tummy.
Valorie,.She might have had that first bad experience and then since then you have been worried about her reactions and it has progressively gotten worse. There is one thing that you can try if you can find an experienced trainer to help you. What you would do is have an experienced trainer take her around other dogs and see how she reacts. The experienced trainer should be one that is confident and would not display any worry. If your dog behaves pretty good, then it is likely she is picking up on your worry. .Definitely have her checked for a thyroid condition. I would definitely monitor any interactions she has with small children to be on the safe side but try not to worry. She has grown up with your family and thus probably sees the humans still as the boss, but is definitely not seeing other dogs as in charge especially since your older girl passed. Get that health check done and start some of the things I suggested and let me know how it goes.
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20,048
Experience: Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
Verified
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Hi Valorie Booyer,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Jane Lefler
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Jane Lefler
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