New dog is fear aggressive and I'm struggling.

(46 Posts)
VivaLeBeaver Tue 30-Apr-13 22:35:27

Got a six month old dog at the weekend so I'm aware it's very early days. Dog came from a breeder but hadn't sold, however it seems very unsocialised. But he was lovely when we saw him at the breeders house.

He is fine with my 12yo dd all the time. He follows her round like a shadow.

He is always fine with me if I am on my own or if its me and Dh. If dd is there as well he will sometimes growl and snarl at me when I come in a room.

When dd is at school he follows me like a shadow and is fine with me. But then if Dh comes in a room he snarls and growls and lunges at Dh.

If Dh is home alone with the dog then the dog is fine with Dh and follows him around.

We've read up on dog body language, our body language. We're ignoring bad behaviour and praising him for not growling/been good. If he growls we turn our back on him and move away.

We've got the dog a dap collar and he has a crate so he could retreat there if he wanted to. I've made an appt to see a dog trainer on Thursday for a one to one.

I spent all day yesterday with him either by my feet or on my knee.

He's fine with people coming to the door but occasionally lunges snarling at random objects like bags. He lunges at other dogs on walks when he first meets them but will then walk alongside them fine for ages. But if they start playing with each other amongst themselves he will start barking and leaping about, like the excitement tips him over the edge. He's kept on his lead and other dogs are off their lead....which he's ok with as long as they're walking nicely. Do I keep walking him with these dogs for socialisation or take him on calmer, quieter walks?

Dd had a friend round tonight and dog was mainly ok with the friend. I wasn't here so didn't witness this but apparently dog was doing occassional growling at friend and then nipping at her trousers. Dh got fed up with this and ignored all I'd told him and pinned the dog to the ground. Dog then bit him.....has left a bruise but not broken the skin so not a proper bite. I've pointed out to Dh that he's probably made the dog even more scared now so it won't have helped.

What do we need to be doing to resolve this? Will it just take time and effort? Is he beyond hope if he's not been socialised by six months?

LostInWales Tue 30-Apr-13 22:38:15

Sounds like you are doing all the correct things, it is, as you say, still very early days. Sounds like you need to rehome DH if he can't stick to the plan wink. I'm so pleased you got your dog btw, I'm sure you will get through this, the dog is only a puppy after all.

Not enough experience to give any advice, sorry. What breed is he? I would be very wary of a dog whose first response was to bite, and he sounds scared, which is so sad.

How lovely that you are giving him a chance.

Yay to rehoming DH. I am thinking of swapping mine for another hound

VivaLeBeaver Tue 30-Apr-13 22:43:10

Well his first response isn't to bite. It's to growl, which I think is a big difference. But yes I am worried, thankfully he's fine with dd and seems to worship her.

I really hope we get through this. I think an 8week old puppy would actually have been easier!

VivaLeBeaver Tue 30-Apr-13 22:44:13

Dd texted me this eve to say that Dh was looking at houses to rent as he was sick of the dog. I actually rang Dh to see if it was true as I thought it might be!

Sorry. I meant when your DH pinned him to the ground his response was to bite him. Our hound would cower.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 30-Apr-13 23:00:42

Ah yes. Mmmmm, but it was a restrained bite, didn't break the skin <desperate to be positive here>

Sending positive vibes

VivaLeBeaver Tue 30-Apr-13 23:04:20

Thanks both of you. Am really hoping the trainer can help.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 30-Apr-13 23:05:13

Someone at work has a fear aggressive dog and they've spent a fortune on trainers to no avail.

TataClaire Wed 01-May-13 05:22:16

Dogs kept on by breeders beyond the normal 8 weeks are often under socialised, the breeders normally have so many dogs they don't take pups to classes etc and just rely on them getting on with the other dogs at home as their socialisation.
You're absolutely right to call in professional help asap as this could go either way inadvertantly.
If this dog has missed being socialised during the critical period which ends around 14 wks old from memory, then the task is infinitely harder and will require a lot of work from the the whole family at sticking with the plan. Is it a straight dog trainer or behaviourist you have contacted? Ensure it's someone who trains using positive methods and ideally have someone registered with the APBC or APDT and that they have the proper insurance - as remember anyone can wake up and set up as a dog trainer/behaviourist and with a problem as potentially serious as this you need to make sure they've got the proper credentials and cover.
Good luck!

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 05:58:35

Its a straight dog trainer, there aren't any behaviourists anywhere near me, nor anyone registered with those organisations...I have searched via their websites.

He does come very well recomended by several people.

ginauk84 Wed 01-May-13 07:26:02

I would be a little worried to be honest and this sort of thing takes a LOT of work, you're doing the right thing by calling in a behaviorist but you need to be prepared there isn't going to be a quick fix for this type of behaviour.

Wish you all the luck with it.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 07:40:13

Thanks, I'm worried as well. Worried he'll never improve, worried dh will say that enoughs enough and the dog has to go.

I emailed the breeder two days ago just asking for advice and haven't heard back. hmm

ginauk84 Wed 01-May-13 09:01:25

I think once you have seen the trainer you do have to make the decision, thinking about what's best for you, your family and also the dog. Don't think you are a failure if it does end up being taking the dog back. I am not saying you should or that there's nothing that could be done and don't want to come across negative, only that you will really need to think about it properly once trainer has been.

I have a nervous aggressive dog but it's only with strange dogs so I can manage that, have trained dogs for years and taken advice for him and nothing has helped. However I am lucky because I can just avoid those situations.

I hope it works out well for you.

isitsnowingyet Wed 01-May-13 09:09:59

I would be very wary of a dog who growls as a first instinct like this.

Our dog was 6 months old when we got him, but only growled and bit sad our toddler when she had crawled onto his bed when he was trying to sleep. I wanted to get rid of him then, but am glad that we perservered as he is now a lovely family dog and if anything is over-friendly.

Sorry - not that helpful - as I haven't come across a fearful aggressive dog like that.

ginauk84 Wed 01-May-13 09:32:26

However the growling can also be seen as a good thing, at least the dog is warning you and you have time to react. My NA dog does not growl & goes into full blown attack, as a result we can't really do anything for him as we have no way of telling when he's about to attack - his body language does not change.

Therefore please be careful about telling off for any growling as this is a warning and should the dog then think he shouldn't growl and jut goes into bite mode straight away you are really in trouble. So I would suggest for now when dog growls to distract and not to reprimand until the trainer is with you. If trainer comes along and is telling you to reprimand him when he growls that should really set off alarm bells as it is a really risky way of dealing with it.

finickypinickity Wed 01-May-13 10:03:50

Viva are you sure the pup hadnt been returned to the breeder because of behaviour issues?

It seems an odd age for a breeder to home a pup unless i have missed the back story on another post its also not so good they havent contacted you back straight awayconfused

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 10:31:33

I suppose its always possible he'd already been returned once. She said he and one of his brothers just hadn't sold.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 10:32:22

And he was fine with us at the breeders, no sign of a problem at all. She left us alone with him for quite a bit while she sorted out papperwork. He was happy to sit on my knee, have a collar put on, etc.

Was he kennelled, Viva? Or living in the house?

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 10:46:57

He'd started off living in the house but then was kennelled. She had done some stuff with him, so maybe its wrong to say he's totally unsocialised. He's been to a dog show and came first (so I was told).

He's been for another walk today with my friends and their dogs. Spends the first five mins lunging and snarling at them but then trotted along happily for the next hour.

I reckon he'd be returned.

My dog was fear aggressive but towards dogs. Took a few weeks but I got him socialised. He hates toddlers though and can't change that but I just keep him away from them. Also off the furniture as he was snapping at dcs when eye level with them. But he's lovely and so much better than he was. I got him at 16 months.

Good luck with yours. I used the dog whisperer techniques with my dog. I know he isn't popular on here though wink

*been returned not be!!

You didn't say his breed?

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 10:54:24

He's a Portugese Podengo.

Can I tell from his mircochip number if he's been registered with someone else?

My dog is fear aggressive towards other dogs, mainly on lead, but I have no experience of fear aggression towards people. I use BAT techniques for the on lead fear stuff, but I don't think you can avoid people in your own home. Hmmm. I hope the trainer can help. Be aware, though, that unless they use wholly positive training methods, they might well make the situation worse. A fearful, anxious dog will only get more fearful and anxious with punishment imo. My dog is ridiculously sensitive to even a raised voice.

Underdone Wed 01-May-13 10:55:52

In all honesty, if you can return him to the breeder I think you should do. Unless, you can get help from a behaviouralist (not just a trainer) then you are in for a world of pain. The issues that he has will probably never go away completely. You may learn to manage them but that will take a very long time and a lot of commitment from everyone in the family.

Pinning the dog to the ground has got to be just the worst thing to do in terms of rehabilitating behaviour. I know it is very confusing when there are so many opinions (rather like child rearing!) on how to discipline and teach your dog - but the most modern force free methods (APDT) really are the way to go. But unfortunately, it does not sound like he is happy being a family pet. He may well be happier living with just one person. If you do decide to keep him best of luck.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 10:59:53

I wonder if the breeder knew there was a problem?

She said to me to be careful that the dog didn't get to attached to one person as then he might be snappy towards other people. I just thought maybe it was a breed thing but now I think it should have rung alarm bells? And of course after a 3 hour journey back home sat in the car next to dd he was totally besotted with her.

Why am I so bloody stupid?

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 11:01:30

And I really thought it was a good breeder. She's the person who introduced the breed into the country, has won with them at Crufts and loads of other shows.

Try not to panic. Easier said than done, I know. What's your gut instinct about this dog?

finickypinickity Wed 01-May-13 11:14:18

Viva you have been through a lot with losing your other dog it might be worth gritting your teeth and stepping aside for someone else to have this pup and hand her back to the breeder.

I dont think i would personally want to get myself into a big battle like you could have ahead of you with one to ones and behaviour experts so early in your pups life when there is a quick get out clause by handing her backsad It sounds very defeatist advice from me i'm afraid.

The micro chip might hold some answershmm

VivaLeBeaver Wed 01-May-13 11:16:56

My gut instinct is that he's not a bad dog.

And that with time and work he will get there. I'm scared I don't know what to do as I've always had trouble free dogs before. This is one hell of a wake up call.

I know all about the not telling him off for growling, etc. But I've had to tell him off when he's been snarling at the cats as the cats are now living in the garden, too scared to come in and they're used to dogs. (breeder said dog would be fine with cats).

He does seem to be understanding "no" and is getting better with them. One cat came in today and after an initial erupttion and then I said "no" he was quiet. Then sat on my knee watching the cat with me praising him for been good.

Imsosorryalan Wed 01-May-13 14:41:14

I feel for youhmm my dog was very nervous and scared of everything when we first got her. The best thing we did was crate. You may not agree but this is her safe place when it gets a bit too much. She even has a blanket over it to make it dark and den like.
She is now so much better. After a month or so of having her she bit my dd1 who is 4 and growled twice at my dd2 (2). I flipped and got a behaviourist in straight away.
The crate means she can retreat in there if not happy and I actually close her in so she doesn't follow me round all the time. This stops her getting seperation anxiety.
It's also a good visual cue for my dcs. They know never to disturb her if she's in there.
Please take some advice from a behaviourist if poss. And just to add its a long road with a fear aggressive dog. We have had ours a year and there's still lots to do. I've really had to rethink my 'vision' of a family dog.

idirdog Wed 01-May-13 16:31:14

VivaleBeaver I would not be too worried at this stage. You are right it is very early days.

Your new dog is actually being very well mannered in his communication to you. He lets you know he is unsure and could have bitten you OH hard but again used restraint when the dog was terrified.

I think you are right to highlight your concern to the breeder BUT do give things time.

I would not be taking him out and about just yet. Let him get used to household things first so let him potter, you have given a space to retreat to praise him when he does. Keep everything very low key and do not ask anything of him except the right to remove himself if things get too much. Big ask but could your DC's go to friends houses this week instead of having friends round to yours.

See how things are in a week when all pressure has been removed from the dog - he has a lot to get used to just in the house and no need to add to his stress levels at the moment. When he trusts and is happy with you going out will be easier.

Keep your voice and actions upbeat if he shows fear as you would with a toddler, "don't worry it is just a scary plastic bag, lets go"

I would generally at this stage ignore a lot of his behaviours, ignore the following.

Is he happy in his crate?

Things may look very different in short time - be careful with any trainer who makes him face up to his fear or uses aversives in their training - I promise you that will make things 100% worse.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 02-May-13 07:35:57

I do think we're moving in the right direction. He hasn't growled at me this morning though dd is still here. He only did one tiny growl at Dh.

I told dd to not have friends round and have told her again. She promised me she wouldn't. Then last night while I was at work she had two over, they were running round the garden shrieking and not surprisingly he was chasing and growling. They ran onto the trampoline for safety and he wouldn't let them off!

He slept through last night and didn't bark at a cat in the house this morning. I was holding him and praising. I think if he'd been on the floor he'd have gone for her.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 02-May-13 07:37:23

He is happy in his crate btw. I'm trying to ignore as much as possible. The one thing I can't is the cats.....but I'm not shouting at him or anything, just saying no firmly and picking him up. Then praising him when he stops.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 02-May-13 12:26:17

Session with the trainer went well. He was getting me to focus on when the dog is been agressive towards other people/dogs to put him behind me while telling him "enough". Trainer thinks the dog is quite terratorial but he needs to learn that its up to me to decide it other people/dogs are a problem not him.

He's already walking on the lead better, walking past other dogs without going nuts and seems to be picking up "come" as well. Need to keep practising all this. But I feel a lot more positive.

Glad things seem to be improving and I applaud your patience.

<off to google the breed>

Sweeeet. Is he shorthaired or wiry?

VivaLeBeaver Thu 02-May-13 13:07:49

Wiry. Looks like a little fox.

My dog looks like a fox too. He's a rescue small lurcher though.

I've uploaded a pic of my ddog. He's so photogenic grin

VivaLeBeaver Fri 03-May-13 15:13:00

He's beautiful Jumiper and does look a bit like mine. I've uploaded a photo of my mad hound.

Aww he's so small, hard to believe he can cause so much bother smile

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