Is this behaviour the start of significant aggression-or is my dog hormonal?!(11 Posts)
Ok please be gentle with me.
I'm a new dog owner but desperate to get it right.
We have had a rescue dog for about a year now.
Female and not yet spayed although booked for this week coming (had to let her have a season first then wait three months)
She is a staffy cross and about three or four the vet thinks. Never had pups and no apparent mistreatment when she was found wandering but she wasn't chipped or claimed. Appeared fed and cared for though.
When we first got her she would have many episode where she would bark at our feet and nip at them. This usually occurred during high energy or excitement like out on walks in a field off lead but also at home.
Rest of the time at the start she was very submissive- lots of rolling over and showing her tummy.
She really settled down and we got decent recall and impulse control training going and she was good off lead with other dogs although this took a while and initially she would bark at them a lot and nip them to try and instigate play but also seemingly a bit anxious. She can snarl too.
She has always been very toy and treat orientated but no growling about her food or basket (no crate).
She loves to chase but won't release the ball easily on return.
Since her season (ended 3m ago) she has started being very high energy again.
Has a lot of those mad moments of tearing around. Lots of feet nipping and barking out the blue.
She will get that look in her eye then lie with her bum up in the air and start barking quite aggressively and lunging to nip at feet. It can make it hard to move away.
If able to distract her it can be ended quite quickly.
She has become very chew toy obsessed although and the start of a bit of growling just occasionally when playing with toys.
She is also jumping the cushions a lot. This is new.
She is with us majority of the time, never left longer than a couple of hours at home and she gets loads of exercise both on and off lead (three decent walks a day of 1-2 hours each).
I'm on the waiting list for some one to one training sessions but wondered if there was any advice in the meantime?
Having settled right down I wonder what has caused all this high energy again
She sounds gorgeous, but is probably bored! There is often a great deal of misinformation about exercise - yes it's great that she's getting plenty of walks but to be honest, I'd cut the walks by at least a third and use the spare two hours to do some intensive training with her.
I do Rally with our dogs and one of the well known judges in that field has had Staffies for at least twenty years who are all terrific at field trials, obedience and Rally. They are a joy to see at events and illustrate how incredibly intelligent and under-used most Staffies are - not having a go saying this, it's very much a general observation.
Working that brain will provide plenty of mental stimulation and you'll find it's much more tiring for them. Look for ways to develop training as part of your everyday routine and build it up gradually - you'll find that both she and you really enjoy it.
Finally, I'd also review her food - maybe switch to one that is a slightly lower protein?
Humping can be a sign of stress or over excitement. From what you're saying about the nipping of the feet could also be over excitement as she appears to be performing a play bow before hand.
With both you don't want to punish but to redirect. With the biting walk away/stop play/put her on a lead and go home. "Bite inhibition" is wrongly assumed to mean the dog will never bite no matter how much it is provoked. In reality it's about the dog, if put in a position where its warnings have been ignored, will snap without causing damage (IE not locking jaws down and damaging skin - a warning bite). Puppy play biting is an essential part of that process.
As for the resource guarding. Persuade her to give it up for a treat, then immediately give it back. Your dog will learn it has nothing to lose by giving up items it values and eventually you can progress to taking it away for longer periods of time.
It sounds as though you're doing great with her but she's a high needs dog and She sounds a bit frustrated anxious and bored.
The barking with the bum in the air is a play bow. She asking you to play with her and getting frustrated so nipping when you don't understand.
Have you tried tug toys? A rope toy for s game of tug is great fun and it also teaches impulse control. When the dog is tugging, give a release command such as leave. If the dog doesn't release then drop the toy and move away. If the dog does release then 'good dog' and wave the toy to continue the tug game. The reward is the game, not winning the toy, as the toy isn't fun without the game. Your dog will quickly learn that releasing restarts the game.
Wow thanks both so much information
Wyld the problem is that it is largely impossible to walk away when she does it as she nips so much at my feet and sort of guards them. I can't get her on the lead as she dances away from me. I can sometimes encourage her to calm down with a treat and then it is all over and she will be fine.
Scuttle yes that rings true. She loves playing games and has loads of energy at the moment although for a couple of months after her season she was much floppier and didn't even want to walk much let alone play so the resurgence of this behaviour that she had when we first got her may well suggest she is back on form and needs more mental stimulation
I'll try some focused training today and am seeing the dog trainer next week one to one so will ask for advice on methods of training and play. Thank you
Any food suggestions?
Just to add - growling while playing is pretty normal, it's different from growling to warn you not to take toys, if she's just literally growling while happily playing, that isn't an issue at all, it's just part of the play.
Ah, she sounds lovely! Like a normal, playful staffy. But yes it does sound a bit mutch, you've had some great advice.
Re food: what ate you feeding at the moment, and what are her poos like?
Good luck with the trainer, make sure it's all positive reinforcement and steer clear of anybody spouting pack theory.
She has a really high quality allergy ok kibble we order that is grain free and no additives etx.
We were recommended it by a westie breeder.
Her poo is ok- firm and 3x day.
She has had some hit and miss moments (poos in house) and can have he odd softer poo- usually if she has snaffed some food she hasn't!
Thanks again for the advice
Sorry if I seem clueless
We just don't have much experience of being around dogs which I know means we prob shouldn't be owners but we felt so long as we took it seriously and took advice we could offer a good home to an unwanted dog.
When she isn't biting my feet she is very loving! She loves to bring us shoes and is great fun.
I'm just worried about having the kids friends over whilst this behaviour has ramped up.
Funny I thought it was just initial behaviour as it had largely stopped but last few weeks it's been few times a day
The humping has only just started but also very frequent.
Is the nipping her inappropriately trying to play? My collie used to mouth arms and ankles in play, fine with other dogs but I don't like it. We have had loads of progress with immediately stopping play, either turning my back on her or putting her out for 30 secs and saying very firmly "no teeth!". I don't think there was any aggression on her part, just over excited play.
My dog also growls continuously with me when playing, but it's completely good natured. I must admit I wasn't sure when I first got her! But now I know her it's obvious, her body language is all relaxed and wriggly and she tries to make me carry on if I stop.
The key with any undesirable behaviour is to completely ignore it - If she nips at your feet and you move them or look at her, you're inadvertently reinforcing the game.
If she nips for attention, do not react, don't even look at her - she needs to learn that nipping = no response.
Keep a toy or food reward with you whilst she's learning and ask her to sit, stay, lie down etc. or use a toy to play fetch/tug etc. intermittently.
In addition make sure that you give her lots of attention when she's calm and quiet and when she's doing as she's told. unfortunately we rarely reward calm quiet behvaiour in our dogs and often reinforce undesirable behaviours with attention. It sounds as if she's struggling with impulse control and you are likely inadvertently reinforcing unwanted behaviour.
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