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  • Another dog-related question - change in behavior

    I have 2 dogs, a dachsund, around 2, and a big retriever/mutt mix, who's 7 (got him from vet when he was a pup).

    Both are inside dogs, and get along very well with one another, and in general the big one gets along with everyone in the family. Over the last few months, though, the big dog has given my wife a couple of scares, growling at her when told to heel when someone comes to the door. The big dog has also growled at my son, who's 11 and getting around to my height. Not when food is involved, just petting, playing, and he just growls, or bares his teeth.

    I'm really concerned with his change in behavior, and afraid that it will progress to him biting my wife, son, or on of the other kids (4 in all). He's not a huge dog, around 55lbs, but he could really bite if he wanted to.

    I've tried to give him more exercise, and fencing in our yard isn't an option at the moment.

    Any ideas?

    THEDOGWARRIOR... CALL ME DOG / WILL NOT RESPOND TO "HERE BOY" OR WHISTLING

  • #2
    Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

    It could be a variety of reasons, a change of perfume or clothing or some other form of indirect change coming from your wife that the dog doesn't like. Is your dog over weight, what are his eating habits etc? How often does your wife walk your dog? How often does your kid come with? Are you walking your dog correctly, do you have complete control over him during the walk (as in, not letting him run around ahead of you as you try to keep your arms from ripping out)?

    From the description, I think he views himself higher up in the dominance chain then your wife and kid. Dogs work and think in packs. You and your family are his pack, and it's important that you and your family establish dominance through different behaviors (NOT AGGRESSION!) so he knows his position.

    Maybe I'm telling you something you already know, but I need more details to help you out.
    USAR

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    • #3
      Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

      I have to say I don't have much experience with dogs, but just growling and showing teeth isn't per se aggressive behaviour I would think. It can be part of playing behaviour.

      It is certainly something you would want to keep an eye on though.

      It could be the dog is trying to establish a dominant position against your family members. I think the solution would be to clearly re-establish who the boss is (when you are away).


      ---
      Well I asked my girlfriend who is doing a course on dog-training/therapy and she says unequivocally:
      go to a dog therapist (jesus that sounds rediculous), now. She said the dog means "leave me alone, if you keep doing that I'll attack" when it is growling+showing teeth.

      One thing you should try and discover is whether anything set off this behaviour. What happened when he first showed this behaviour. Was a child born in the family? Someone's job/working hours changed? It could help you understand the problem, so you can find a better solution.

      If the dog doesn't show this behaviour with you (shows you are still the boss) then you could try keeping it on the leash even in the house. When he is showing the bad behaviour, don't punish him, but quietly go to another room/garden and wait a bit before you return. This is giving the dog a time-out. If he doesn't show the bad behaviour in the house, he should be rewarded immediately (have some dog snacks ready in your pocket ).
      Having the dog on a leash is a drag off course but it would also serve the function of restricting his freedom, not allowing him to be dominant in the household.

      She insisted though that it is very hard to understand a situation from text, and if the problem develops more, it would be best to find professional help (you can ask your vet e.g.).

      Well I hope this helps, if you want to you can post more details and I'd be happy to see if she can say more about the situation.

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      • #4
        Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

        IMO... the dog thinks you are the alpha male, which is correct, and when your not there he is the alpha male, the wife is the alpha female and the kid another pup...

        This is wrong in a household, IMO you should let your wife control the dog, walk him, train him, feed him, for a while... when he growls at her, she needs to lock him up with a quick sharp pull by the collar... and a direct and forceful NO... if he continues put him in a crate or patio or someplace alone, let him calm down, and have the wife go get him to let him back in... for a while she should be the primary care giver for the dog, and be the one that corrects him... tell her "no fear", if she shows the dog shes afraid, she lost.

        As for the kid, you and her correct him hard if he growls at a family member in anger.

        good luck...
        Magnum |TG-18th|


        We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.

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        • #5
          Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

          Magnum said it best. He must work with dogs or something..... :)
          that sounds like a good idea trooper.
          -Vulcan

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          • #6
            Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

            ;)
            Magnum |TG-18th|


            We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.

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            • #7
              Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

              Dog therapist? Are you kidding?

              Yeah, Magnum is right on. A pecking order must be maintained. Something has changed to make your dog think that he can move up in the pecking order. It could be something small that you'll never figure out, but Magnum has explained what has to happen to correct it. You don't even have to change any of your training methods (don't start hitting your dog or introduce any other new training methods), just be a bit more vigilant at adhering to it, and have your wife (and perhaps later your son, too) take every opportunity to establish herself as being dominant.
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              • #8
                Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

                My question would be, growled at you son why? What was going on? Growled when told to heel? Who was at the door? The instances you are describing need a little more elaboration, although I do agree with Magnum about re-establishing who is in charge. Also, can you define " in general the big on gets along with everyone in the family". In genereal??
                If this has all happened recently then you really need to look and see what has changed in the family recently.



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                • #9
                  Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

                  Thanks for the suggestions all... I've talked at length with my wife, and I'm not sure she is capable of overcoming her fear of him to tackle the training and actually being the one to handle him.

                  Just last night, I was working at my home office, half of our downstairs, and my son and his two younger sisters were playing with him. Jack, the big dog, was in the other part of the room, and came toward my son, basically forcing him into a corner with a low growl. I stepped in and he backed off right away.

                  As far as changes in the family, my wife and I have traced the beginnings of our problems with Jack to when we got our little dog, just 2 years ago. Not sure how we're going to get through this, but I do appreciate everyone's suggestions. I'm looking into local dog trainers for help and advice as well.

                  Thanks all. - BKH

                  THEDOGWARRIOR... CALL ME DOG / WILL NOT RESPOND TO "HERE BOY" OR WHISTLING

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                  • #10
                    Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

                    what about a shock collar? They make remote ones and they will learn really quick what not to do. Magnum can you comment on that.
                    that sounds like a good idea trooper.
                    -Vulcan

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                    • #11
                      Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

                      Originally posted by Trooper View Post
                      what about a shock collar? They make remote ones and they will learn really quick what not to do. Magnum can you comment on that.
                      I can imagine that would be just as effective on children :p.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

                        I 100% disagree with shock collars, and when I was a trainer in the Army my troops would request permission to use it for there stubborn dog, I said "sure, as soon as you put it around your neck and test it"... needless to say no one ever asked again. lol

                        If you can't get through a dog w/o using a shock collar, then you shouldn't have a dog... just IMO...

                        As for the problem, let the wife correct the dog, even in front of you, if he growls at the wife have her look him in the eyes, (but not to close, remember safety first), and say NO in a direct and stern voice, if you happen to have a lease on him, when he growls at her, have her rip him off his feet with one strong pull, saying No... not yelling it, but direct and firm.

                        If he continues have her put him in a crate or closed private area, let him back in the family in 15 o 20...

                        If he growls, besides a correct don't give him attention... he only gets positive, fun, family attention when he acts like family.

                        JMO
                        Magnum |TG-18th|


                        We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

                          cool magnum, i agree but i wasn't sure.
                          that sounds like a good idea trooper.
                          -Vulcan

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                          • #14
                            Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

                            I actually used the shock collar that I borrowed from my trainer on myself before I put it on the dog (and on a higher setting than I zapped him with it even) and I didn't think it was that bad. It certainly didn't deter me from using it on the dog and it very quickly solved some worsening aggression problems he was having.
                            sigpic

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                            • #15
                              Re: Another dog-related question - change in behavior

                              I agree, a shock collar can work... and usually quicker then positive re-enforcement... but IMO, it's the lazy way out... and again IMO only, I would walk out the door if a trainer of dogs suggusted a shock collar... lazy... not to meantion if over used or used incorrectly could ruin a dog.
                              Magnum |TG-18th|


                              We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.

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