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Need advice about JRT's behaviour

(31 Posts)
MirandaGoshawk Wed 31-Dec-14 18:09:49

DH's dog. Just to paint a picture of him: He's three years old, he has a lot of hound in him and teeth like Jaws. He was the big one of the litter and likes all other dogs to submit. Once he flattened a neighbour's puppy, it sounded nasty but was over very quickly with no harm done and now they are best buddies and he is very patient with it. He loves chasing cats/squirrels/rabbits etc which is doubtless what he was bred for, but thankfully no disasters so far, but I do worry about what would happen if he did catch a cat. But at home he is a softie, insecure when DH isn't around, & he's always been fine with people.

Anyway, we have just moved house and I go out with him, hoping to meet new friends with dogs. Yesterday he attacked a beautiful puppy - I'd picked him up, it was a female (he's usually OK with girls) and he seemed fine but when I put him down he went for it. The woman was understandably irate. Doubtless if I'd let it continue the pup would've submitted, which was all he wants, but this isn't nice for owners. Today he went apeshit at another dog - the lady was initially friendly but quickly hurried away when he started snarling. So that's another potential friendship buggered.

We had a dog behaviour lady look at him and she said his behaviour is normal. Said not to have him castrated as that would make him feel under threat & therefore worse. Basically he needs to be top dog, and the hound in him means he won't be told what to do.

Any ideas?

Please be kind - he's not mine and it's not my fault he isn't trained!

crapcrapcrapcrap Wed 31-Dec-14 20:40:16

It's actually far more common for dogs to behave aggressively towards other dogs because they're fearful of them. Has he ever had a bad experience? For a small dog even just a big dog racing up top then can be really scary.

Buttholelane Thu 01-Jan-15 16:38:24

I'm no expert, but I would not say that is normal. At all.
Maybe it would be more normal if he had been attacked before and therefore scared, but you say he's done it since puppyhood and is fine when the other dog 'submits'.
Not normal dog behaviour at all in my opinion, I think you should consult a better behaviourist.

Needs to be top dog? The hound in him means he won't be told what to do?
Is this person actually qualified?!

For one, dominance/pack theory has been disproven.
He needs to know what is acceptable and what is not yes, but he isn't part of a pack, the alpha blah blah blah.

Hounds can be stubborn, so can a lot of breeds, that isn't an excuse for poor behaviour!
If hunt masters can manage to control an entire pack of hounds, I think it's safe to say it is possible to train one in a domestic setting on its own properly!

Buttholelane Thu 01-Jan-15 16:41:19

** also, you say he has a lot of hound.
But your title says jrt...?

Which one is he?
A jack Russell terrier or a hound cross.
I am confused, two entirely separate breeds.

BigusBumus Thu 01-Jan-15 16:52:58

I have 2 JRTs, one of whom acts this way. She was rushed at by 2 lurchers on her very first walk out, 3 years ago. I have never heard a scream like it coming from her little 16 week old mouth. It was like a human scream. I had to hold her high in the air, still screaming, whilst the owner of the lurchers tried to get them under control. Since then she has shown her teeth to all other dogs and will snarl and rush at them, until she knows their scent and knows they won't attack her. She has never actually bitten another dog, just a warning. We live in a small village and she now knows pretty much all the dogs here, there are no 'nasty' ones so luckily she has never been attacked back. It's tiresome, we have tried many strategies including distraction, but nothing worked. Now we know all the other dogs it's not that bad as all she does is play with them. I have no real advice, so this isn't particularly helpful, but you have my sympathy.

MirandaGoshawk Fri 02-Jan-15 11:25:35

Thanks Bigus. My comments about hounds etc. aren't what the dog lady said, they are what DH says. Butt - he was sold to us as a Jack Russell but he has a dachshound face & exhibits hound behaviour as well as terrier. Good point about the pack of hounds (although I have seen fox hounds out of control!) but surely the point is that they are in a pack and each one knows his place and the hunt master is 'top dog'? what you say about dominance & pack theory being disproven: I believe that the studies were carried out on wolves in a safari park and they had been taken from different packs. It was therefore realised that they weren'rt behaving like a pack. Of course dogs in the wild, or wolves, form a pack and have their own place & pecking order in it. haven't you read Twilight?!

The point with DH's dog (let's call him Jack) is that he is a top dog and wants every dog in the neighbourhood to know it. He hasn't had bad experiences - he has been like it since he was with his siblings. He attacks pups to put them in their place but doesn't hurt them. He attacks some adult dogs until they submit, even a bloody great mastiff, all of which have backed off so far, but I imagine it's only a matter of time until he gets hurt.

Gingerfudge Fri 02-Jan-15 11:55:57

Miranda - why has your dog been allowed to attack other dogs? Is he on a lead while he attacks, if not then I think you need to put him on one. If he is still managing to attack while on a lead, you need to muzzle him.

Buttholelane Fri 02-Jan-15 12:38:52

Domestic dogs don't form packs.
Domestic dogs who live on the street sometimes hang around in groups but the groups are very changeable, dogs are always leaving and entering.
When in groups, they have a loose social structure but much like people, it's more of a parent/older dog keeps younger ones in check, the structure is fluid i.e. One dog isn't always in charge,it isn't a constant battle of dogs trying to be top and over throw each other like old school trainers believed.
The species of wolf they originate from was extinct a long time ago and behaved very differently from the wolves we see today like the greys who do form packs.

What jack is, is a bully.
His behaviour is out of order at best and very dangerous at worse.
It is only a matter of time before he is seriously injured if this behaviour is allowed to continue.

Bear in mind, that if he actually bites another dog and causes injury or if a hand gets in the way and he bites accidently, you could find yourself in very hot water indeed.
His behaviour could affect other people's dogs negatively as well, as in they could become fear aggressive of other dogs.

If he isn't wearing a muzzle already he should be, and I agree with the previous poster in that he should not be off lead either.

crapcrapcrapcrap Fri 02-Jan-15 12:57:47

I completely endorse Butthole's last post. Dogs and wolves are not analogous. Dogs are not pack animals - and even if they were, they know humans aren't dogs and wouldn't ever identify one as their "top dog".

Mitzi50 Fri 02-Jan-15 13:09:57

Your behaviourist seems to have some strange ideas. First thing is to get him castrated. Also keep him on a lead and muzzle him if necessary.

Why don't you take him to a local training class - it would also be a good way to meet people in your new area.

crapcrapcrapcrap Fri 02-Jan-15 13:18:08

I wouldn't go rushing to neuter him. It may be that there is no fear aggression here, but it sounds like the behaviourist you saw thought there might be. If she's right, neutering would be potentially unhelpful. So that's something you want to consider carefully, possibly seek a second opinion for example, and have another behaviourist come and observe him on a walk. Make sure it's someone who's a member of the APBC so you know they are appropriately trained.

MirandaGoshawk Fri 02-Jan-15 14:18:12

We've sought loads of different opinions re neutering. My own instinct was to get him done early on but DH refused, and still refuses, but anyway most people seem to be of the opinion that he shouldn't be done. We know someone who has a very aggressive JRT who had the op and who is now worse.

From about a year old, Jack is never off the lead apart from on a friend's land, so all the attacking he does is when he's on the lead. But once we took him to the beach & thought we'd muzzle him and it would be OK &let him off. He saw a spaniel, ran at it and did a Jackie Chan-style drop kick onto its side and knocked it onto its back. So the muzzle seemed to make him more aggressive.

Mitz - I've been nagging about a puppy class ever since we've had him. But he's not my dog and I wasn't supposed to be his 'carer' - that's come recently. DH took him to a JRT fun day where they had races etc and said that ALL the dogs were snarling and eyeing up the others. DH spoke to the other owners, who were of the opinion that Jack is "fine". So normal for male JRTs. So I think if I did take him to a class it'd be no fun for anyone because he just wouldn't conform. But do you think it's worth a try?

Buttholelane Fri 02-Jan-15 14:35:32

I know your intentions were good regarding the muzzle at the beach, but hearing that story makes me so angry.
The sort of behaviour you describe with a muzzle is precisely how dogs end up with broken ribs.
A muzzle stops them biting, it doesn't stop them injuring in other ways.

I had the mother of all fights with some bitch of a woman ages ago who let her muzzled dog chase after and attempt to slam, muzzle punch and try and jump on top of my dog.
But hey, it's alright, because he has a muzzle on!!!
Never mind the fact my dog was absolutely terrified.

And the fact that all the other jrt owners think his behaviour is fine, well, I just hold my head in utter disbelief quite honestly.
If that is their attitude it is no wonder that jack Russell's have the reputation that they do.
It is not okay for a dog to be eyeing up, snarling and body slamming other dogs.
I am even more horrified considering the jack Russell's size, if they behave like that towards the wrong dog, it won't end well.

VeganCow Fri 02-Jan-15 14:37:05

I am going against most, but I think there is nothing wrong with him. Yes, he likes a snarl and to dominate but I dont think its a big problem. He never hurts dogs, no blood, no biting, just dominance.
Then again I have a 3 year old JRT boitch and she is a swine too. Never goes up to other dogs, ever. Completely ignores. But if they go to her do more than a quick sniff and she doesnt like them, she will go for them..few seconds scuffle and its all over.

She was also frightened by a huge lurcher at 12 weeks old, with the awful screaming you describe. she was petrified.That lurcher went on to kill a squirrel a bird then a cat, so her fear was not unfounded.

but, I do think JRTs can show aggression that is fear based. My vet, btw said my dog is completely normal, and a typical JRT.

Buttholelane Fri 02-Jan-15 14:46:34

Vegancow, a dog does not have to draw blood to negatively affect another.
My dog was not injured after her experiences, but now she is visibly anxious around sight hound type dogs, I won't let her interact with them at all now because I cannot guarantee how she would react.

Her fear probably was unfounded, lurchers are a hunting breed.
Bred to kill small animals.
You know another breed designed to kill small animals?
The jack Russell terrier.

I find you and your vets opinion concerning.

My mother in law has a 'typical' jrt - confident, self assured, wilful, stubborn, playful, quite highly prey driven.
It has never reacted aggressively towards another dog.

AmantesSuntAmentes Fri 02-Jan-15 15:34:24

Doubtless if I'd let it continue the pup would've submitted, which was all he wants, but this isn't nice for owners.

If you'd let it continue, the pup would probably have been psycholocigally scarred for life actually. Just as with a pp and one of her JRTs.

Highly irresponsible of you to allow your dog to behave aggressively towards others and to be so completely dismissive of the effect your dogs behaviour could have. Please don't underestimate the damage he could do.

He can't interact appropriately, so should never be allowed to attack or even threaten other dogs, regardless of the cause for his behaviour.

You seem more concerned about making dog walking friends but you're unlikely to make friends out walking, unless you are seen to be handling your little terror appropriately and safely.

Short lead.
Registered behaviourist.

AmantesSuntAmentes Fri 02-Jan-15 15:45:54

To clarify, short lead and muzzle. If a dog needs a muzzle, it should not be off lead when muzzled!

...and the theory that 'this is just what jrts are like' is absolute BS. Mine adores everyone and everything - but she's fortunately not been attacked by some idiots aggressive dog, thus far.

crapcrapcrapcrap Fri 02-Jan-15 17:22:34

I think the breed is largely irrelevant.

weaselwords Fri 02-Jan-15 18:32:46

Sounds like a typical Jack Russell. They are feisty little beggars. Probably best to stick to socialising with dogs you know he gets on with.

I have one dog who is fear aggressive to other dogs unpredictably and another who just wants to be left alone to chase his ball so will snap if hassled. They are both on a lead around strange dogs and I don't really let the unpredictable one near other dogs as she gets too stressed. Saves a lot of entirely avoidable injuries.

Gingerfudge Fri 02-Jan-15 19:26:53

But even if it is breed typical you still have to behave like a responsible dog owner, limit the damage by using a lead and muzzle whilst you work on fixing the problem by enlisting the help of a qualified professional. It's simply not on to allow a dog to intimidate other dogs especially puppies - who could be left with a life long fear of dogs, leading to fear aggression and a whole host of problems, similar to the ones the OP is dealing with.

MirandaGoshawk Fri 02-Jan-15 19:31:24

Thanks for all the views. I'll read it properly. Just to be clear, the muzzle was an experiment and was only ever used that once, and that was the last time he was off the lead in public.

VeryStressedMum Fri 02-Jan-15 21:58:31

You'll have to let people with dogs that you meet know your dog is aggressive and don't to approach them, especially puppies. I'd also get another behaviourist who will actually offer you some help with the
your dog.

crapcrapcrapcrap Fri 02-Jan-15 22:00:48

AmantesSuntAmentes Fri 02-Jan-15 22:59:21

Just to be clear, the muzzle was an experiment

'Experimenting' on other peoples dogs and placing them at risk by doing so is absolutely despicable.

Handywoman Fri 02-Jan-15 23:40:55

Interesting thread. I have a 4yo JRT bitch who is very, very, timid. Had her from 8 weeks, tried puppy classes, open-air puppy socialisation, took her out and about to get used to all sorts of things. My JRT was also attacked by a lurcher!! She is pretty much terrified of dogs, especially small, bouncy ones, puppies are her worst nightmare (slow, black, old mellow dogs don't cause her to worry). My JRT very, very rarely, if ever, approaches other dogs. I have tried everything with my JRT...

The thing that works best is staying very aware of who is about reading the body language, 'protecting' her by offering to put her on the lead when she sees another dog (which she readily accepts and slows down/sits for, she prefers to remain close to me) and making sure there is adequate space between her and other dogs. HOWEVER, sometimes this does not work, because other dog owners will often allow their dog to approach mine even when I indicate I would rather they didn't. They do this smiling, saying, 'don't worry, my dog is friendly'!!! aaarrggghhhh! cue scuffle.

Then of course you sometimes get caught out when a dog comes around the corner. However, what happens is my JFT snarls and snaps and tells the other dog to bugger off. There is no actual fighting. I do think that dog owners fail to see this sometimes, it's just a quick scuffle. OP, are you sure your dog is not afraid??????

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