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Agressive Dog Advice Needed(7 Posts)
Hello - I am hoping somebody may be able to give me some advice about what to do with our dog.
When we take her for a walk near our home, she becomes incredibly aggressive - barking and attempting to lunge at people. This is only for a short distance around where we live (in any direction). Once we are a certain distance from the house she will stop and become perfectly fine, so it is obviously about being protective of her home. She is a very small dog, flat faced and always on a lead - so she can't get near people and can't do any actual damage, but it is obviously completely unacceptable behaviour and also incredibly embarrassing. I am also worried that it may be triggering for children or people who have a fear of dogs, although as I say she doesnt actually get near them and I do always apologise.
We have tried stopping still when she does it, baaaing her (which is what a previous behaviour specialist told us to do when she was naughty), treats for distraction and good behaviour, and even turning around and going straight home - but nothing seems to help. Today I picked her up and she did stop barking at people but she was for a split second aggressive with me (not a bite just noise and barking) and I know this isn't a long term solution (in fact I suspect it would make it worse over time).
For context, this started after a man in a van became very aggressive with my partner and drove at her and the dog, almost running the dog over. Pooch became frantic (police called etc) and ever since has behaved like this in the same area.
She is otherwise a lovely temperament, and if somebody ever actually comes near her she is tail wagging, licking and joyful.
I am at a loss and incredibly low about the whole thing. Any suggestions very gratefully received!
it is obviously about being protective of her home
I don't think this is obvious. I think it has much more to do with the van incident than any protective instinct. Fear based.
Is she like it on the walk back home or just on the way out? If not I would be tempted to do something like:
- drive her away from home and walk her back for the time being. Give her zero chance of 'practising' this behaviour any more by not putting her in that situation.
- work on counter conditioning her to walking away from home by a series of opening the door, treat, close the door. Repeat ad nauseum until opening the door does not trigger anything but excitement for the treat. Then add the lead in your hand - repeat etc. Then add clipping the lead on her. Then add taking just one, single step outside the front foor, treat and step back in. Repeat. Then 2 steps. Repeat. etc etc. During all this time never ask her to walk out the door for a real walk - keep driving her away and walking her back. All the time, keeping super calm, confident and encouraging.
This could take days, weeks, months, depending on the dog.
Today I picked her up and she did stop barking at people but she was for a split second aggressive with me
This is because she cannot get to the real target for her aggression so she defers it to you, who is much closer. Picking her up does not make her feel safe, it makes her feel even less safe. Please try not to do that again - you'll just be pushing her even further over her threshold and increasing her stress.
Final thought. Fears like this have a good chance of spreading so does need tackling. It's not just embarassing, there is a real chance that the the things that trigger her reaction will grow and grow as she tries harder and harder to avoid the original fear.
You need an expert in dog behaviour to work with you both.
As a short term action, can you stop walking where this happened, and get in the car to walk somewhere else?
Thanks all - much appreciated.
missbattenburg - I totally realise that picking her up wasn't a good solution, but in the moment I needed to stop her barking at poor unsuspecting members of the public, and didn't have a different immediate solution other than to turn it on me. And yes, I think it is fear and protection rolled into one response.
She does it on the way home as well as she gets close to the house, but it isn't as bad (probably 50% level).
Taking her away from the home is a good solution, and her main walks are like this and she is absolutely fine on them. The issue is with the short walks that she needs before bed etc. for her wee.
Will also work on the counter conditioning.
Bless her, it sounds like she's suffering from PTSD. Does it start immediately you leave the house can you gradually build up with shorter walks? So maybe start by just to the end of your drive.
I agree the driving away is a good plan.
Is she treat motivated, maybe up the value of the treats for a while?