Dog growling at people (not an APBT)

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Postby Wanderer » January 4th, 2007, 11:01 am

Our friends occasionally volunteer to transport dogs for area rescues. Last week they were supposed to be taking an American Bulldog to his foster home and they fell in love and decided to foster him for 2 weeks in hopes that they can keep him.

He is well behaved in the house, gets along great with other dogs, and has had a bunch of formal training (a month at doggy boot camp). Supposedly he was given up because he was not behaving appropriately the family’s kids. I am worried because he has growled at a few people, myself included, and he snapped at my neighbor (she was roughhousing with him, but still). They own a bike shop and want him to go to work during the day like their last dog. What can we do to correct this behavior? He will be fine one minute and growling the next.

They really want to keep him, but if he is growling at customers he really won’t work out. To be honest, I am uncomfortable around him, and that is unusual for me. We are all taking part of his training for the next few weeks, what can we do to curb this so he works out for them?
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Postby katiek0417 » January 4th, 2007, 11:16 am

A lot of growling towards strangers can be attributed to fear. Most people don't realize that many aggressive dogs are aggressive out of fear, rather than "evil." He needs to know that people aren't bad. My boyfriend has a dog that hates everyone (due to upbringing and spending the first 3 years of his life in a kennel run). However, he's now one of my best friends...how did we do it? Well, I would give him treats. I would hold a treat out for him...if he growled, I walked away....if he was nice, he'd get the treat, and I'd praise him (without touching him) by saying "good boy," etc. I said this in a calm voice, not too hig-pitched or overly excited. I also tried not to act scared when he did growl at me (yes, it's hard, but necessary)....at first, only a few people should do this (don't overwhelm the dog with hundreds of strangers trying to give him treats)...then as he gets better, more people can be added....

Also, I know some people who have had wonderful results by using a pinch collar and corrections. However, the corrections need to be timed right and sufficient to get the point across. For example, the trainer would walk with the dog past people, if the the dog growled, he would turn in the opposite direction quickly and pop the leash - much like the way Michelle wrote to have your dog have manners on the leash. With the correction came a "bad" or "no" command. If the dog walked past people without growling, the dog was given praise and treats from the owner (or trainer - whoever was walking with the dog at that time). After the dog was consistently walking past people without growling, he started have the more experienced students give the dog treats non-threateningly...basically, we would approach the dog from the front, but with either our side or back facing the dog (much less threatening than facing a dog head on)...when we got to the dog, we'd kneel to the level of the dog (still with our backs facing the dog), and put our open hand (with treat) close to the bottom of our back...this is hard to describe...so, I'm not sure if you're getting a mental picture of this...basically, everything was non-confrontational (not facing the dog, getting on the dog's level, etc). If the dog took the treat nicely, it was then praised by the owner....

I hope these help....
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Postby Marinepits » January 4th, 2007, 11:21 am

Get your friends to a trainer ASAP, especially if they are new to bully breeds.

Are your friends located in CT? I have been working with Mark Renick at CTK9 in Watertown and he's wonderful!

http://www.connecticutk9.com/

He is one of three trainers in the state who trains the CT State Police and Town Police K9 dogs and has lots of experience dealing with aggressive dogs.
Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.
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Postby Wanderer » January 4th, 2007, 11:50 am

(Oh good, I'm glad you recommended connecticutK9, I have been thinking about taking Rocky there just for regular obedience. It is not too far from us. I will definately suggest it to our friends)

This dog is strange, I gave him a marrow bone and he let me take it from him and give it back with no issues. Not 5 minutes later he left the bone and i bent to pick it up and as I did he growled. I was bent at his level and facing away. I was too stunned to give him a correction. The whole night I had been treating him like crazy to get him to trust me. Our friends don't use treats too much which I decided i will make up for :D I'm going to try to work with him some more, he had a few very busy and scary days when he first came to them (his second night at the house was new years eve and the house was full of people).

I hope as he becomes more comfortable in his surroundings this subsides, it seems like he hasn't had too much exposure to new people so I'm not surprized that this could be fear.

Edited to add: Their last dog was a Bordeaux and they had a pit bull before that...I keep reminding them that he is a bully, but I know they have the experience to handle him.
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Postby mnp13 » January 4th, 2007, 12:23 pm

Too much, too soon...

he snapped at my neighbor (she was roughhousing with him, but still).

Why was she rough housing with a dog she doesn't know and that no one is all that familiar with?

I gave him a marrow bone and he let me take it from him and give it back with no issues.

You already know he's "growly" so I don't think this was the best of ideas...

The whole night I had been treating him like crazy to get him to trust me.

A dog that does not trust you will not suddenly do so because you feed him hotdogs. It's a process. Right now he doesn't trust anyone, so you have to build trust with one or two people and then he has someone to rely on while he learns about other new people. Right now, you are all a bunch of strangers.

I'm going to try to work with him some more, he had a few very busy and scary days when he first came to them (his second night at the house was new years eve and the house was full of people).

I'll bet the was hell for a dog that was already fearful! So he's been around for less than a week? I'd give him a day or two to just chill. He needs to learn that his entire life does not have to be upheaval.

Is he loose in the house? If so, I would just let him be. When he approaches you (or anyone else) tell him good boy, give him a pat and a treat and let him wander on his way.

Katrina gave some great examples to try as well.
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Postby Wanderer » January 4th, 2007, 12:41 pm

Why was she rough housing with a dog she doesn't know and that no one is all that familiar with?

That is a darn good question!

I gave him a marrow bone and he let me take it from him and give it back with no issues.


Sorry, i should have been more specific...I didn't take it out of his mouth, I put it on his bed and realized it still had some plastic on it and took it back. I don't trust this dog, I definately wouldn't put my hands near his mouth.

Because he is not in my house i really have no say how they choose to acclimate him. I would have done things differently and I told them that. It was definately too much too soon, but again, he's not my dog. I just worry that because they want him to go to work in a public place every day it may not be a great situation for him.
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Postby mnp13 » January 4th, 2007, 12:50 pm

good points. I didn't mean to sound preachy/attacking but they need to slow up a little, I think.

What did they do with him during that party?
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Postby Wanderer » January 4th, 2007, 1:04 pm

He was loose in the house but during dinner he was locked in the living room alone. He had plenty of places to get away from people, but he chose to stay in the middle of things.
I havent seen them in a few days and I know he has been to he shop a few times, so I have to call and see how things are going. I really hope they slowed things down for him, they really want him to work out (if not he does have a family that the rescue already approved).
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Postby Wanderer » January 6th, 2007, 2:17 pm

Oh great, the dog has growled at Sara every day and has tried to snap at her a few more times. he has been grat with her husband, its just women he tries this crap with.

Now they want to try to put him in that submission position by holding him on his back (like Ceaser) the next time he growles! How can I talk them out of this...I just know she is going to get bitten! This dog outweighs her by almost 10 lbs, not that I would feel any different about her doing this either way.

What can I say to change her mind?
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Postby Marinepits » January 6th, 2007, 2:25 pm

Tell her that, if she continues to do "alpha rolls" and other such behaviours, the dog will kill her. Maybe that will get her attention.

Have they called a trainer yet?
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Postby Marinepits » January 6th, 2007, 2:39 pm

The problem your friends are having with this dog cannot be solved by forum advice alone. They MUST get a professional trainer involved before someone gets seriously hurt or killed.
Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.
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Postby mnp13 » January 6th, 2007, 3:02 pm

Yeah... alpha roll a dog that is the same size you are. Greeeeeat idea. when that dog decides he's going to bite, her face will be the closest thing to his mouth.

These people need to see a trainer NOW.
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Postby Wanderer » January 6th, 2007, 4:08 pm

That is pretty much what I have been telling them. I gave them the info for Connecticut K9. I hope if they decide to keep him they will call asap. My new mantra with them "no alpha roll unless you want your face ripped off...and please seek professional help"
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Postby Marinepits » January 6th, 2007, 4:24 pm

Well, I hope they call a trainer TODAY. The longer they have this dog and the longer they are trying the WRONG techniques on him, the harder it will be for anyone to correct the bad dog behaviour.

I would hate to see one of your friends injured or killed because they are forcing their too-much-too-soon unreasonable expectations on the dog. They JUST got this dog and the dog needs some time to settle in and relax.

And, in the long run, if your friends continue on this path, the inevitable will happen and the dog will either be pawned off on someone else or be euthanized for aggressive behaviour that could possibly be corrected by consulting a PROFESSIONAL trainer. This same story plays itself out day after day after day for many rescued dogs, as I am sure many rescuers can tell you.

Why should the dog pay with his life for your friends' unwillingness to properly address the "bad" behaviour?

I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but I am very frustrated with stories like this. If you give a dog a chance at a happy life by rescuing it in the first place, you are responsible for doing WHATEVER is necessary to MAKE SURE that dog remains a happy, well-adjusted family pet.
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Postby a-bull » January 6th, 2007, 4:37 pm

Agree with all of the above . . . and not to be a further "dark cloud," but once a dog figures out they can nip or bite to back people off, then you got yourself a party . . . one that usually ends up with a dead dog. :(

People expect too much too soon from rescue dogs.
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Postby Wanderer » January 6th, 2007, 9:47 pm

Well, I'm really glad to say that they are going to have him evaluated by a trainer. They both want to give him the best chance that they can and seem to be trying to do the right thing for him. They are planning on continuing to foster him for the time being and are willing to work him through some of his issues--safely (sans alpha rolls). The rescue group they are working with seems to be fairly supportive as well.

Thanks everyone for your advice. You backed up what I was already feeling. Now I feel better that I was not over reacting. :) I'm going to go hug my own very-well-adjusted rescue right now! :wink:
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Postby a-bull » January 6th, 2007, 9:52 pm

On January 06 2007, Wanderer wrote:Well, I'm really glad to say that they are going to have him evaluated by a trainer. They both want to give him the best chance that they can and seem to be trying to do the right thing for him. They are planning on continuing to foster him for the time being and are willing to work him through some of his issues--safely (sans alpha rolls). The rescue group they are working with seems to be fairly supportive as well.

Thanks everyone for your advice. You backed up what I was already feeling. Now I feel better that I was not over reacting. :) I'm going to go hug my own very-well-adjusted rescue right now! :wink:


Best wishes for you all!
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Postby iluvk9 » January 6th, 2007, 10:41 pm

:lurk: Off topic for a minute ~ a-bull, I can't stop laughing at your avatar!!!!

Okay....continue the discussion....
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Postby a-bull » January 6th, 2007, 10:49 pm

On January 06 2007, iluvk9 wrote::lurk: Off topic for a minute ~ a-bull, I can't stop laughing at your avatar!!!!

Okay....continue the discussion....


I'm such a computer dweeb that I thought I'd try to impress everyone with my "skills" lol . . . problem is, if he licks his way out, then I don't have an avatar anymore. :(

Discussion continued . . .
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Postby Wanderer » January 7th, 2007, 10:56 am

problem is, if he licks his way out, then I don't have an avatar anymore.


:backRoll: :ROFL2: :ROFL2: :ROFL2: :backRoll: He can come stay with me if he gets out! :D

Anyways~
Marinepits, I can't return your pm...apparently I haven't posted enough to be allowed to do that yet :| . I don't know the exact rescue but I am assuming it is the northeast section of the AB rescue...I will find out for sure.

Also, I called Connecticut K9 and when I told him I have a pit bull he referred me to pitbulltalk, how cool is that?! :clap:
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