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We have a 2 year old new Zealand sheepdog, Staffordshire bull terrier, boxer mix.

We are currently having problems with her aggression towards other dogs and now humans. Previously she would be aggressive during and after heat but now its constant.

When she meets dogs she normally has her hair on ends. Sometimes after she greets them she will walk away but if the dogs follow her she will attack them. Not sure if this is nervous aggression or dominant.

Certain humans she instantly dislikes and will growl at them . we try and correct her with a firm touch the side of her neck and she normally stops.

When shes on the lead she bares her teeth when people try and stroke her. even when previously she loved that particular person.

For the people she loves she is always trying to put her paw on them and sometimes snaps her teeth and constantly lick them. Are these all forms of dominance?

We feel that we are very strict with her, no going on the bed, sofa, tricks before food. Sitting before walks etc.

Im just running out of solutions to stop this behaviour.

Please help

many thanks
 

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Ok, first forget the dominance stuff. Don't correct her for growling or bearing her teeth, that firm touch may aggrivate things rather than help. These are warnings, if the corrections work, and she stops doing that, you may not get a warning....which is a VERY bad thing. First thing I would recommend is a vet check to see if there is anything health-wise that could be making her act this way. If the vet finds no problems, and gives her a clean bill of health you should really contact a behaviorist (not a trainer) that uses positive methods, and have them help you with this. It is too significant of a problem (especially since it seems to be escalating) to give any solid advice on the internet. You could read up a bit about BAT and LAT, those may be of some help, but really, you need to talk to a behaviorist before it escalates further.
 

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QUOTE=

We are currently having problems with her aggression towards other dogs and now humans. Previously she would be aggressive during and after heat but now its constant."

Sounds like it's getting worse with your current methods?

"When she meets dogs she normally has her hair on ends. Sometimes after she greets them she will walk away but if the dogs follow her she will attack them. Not sure if this is nervous aggression or dominant."

This is probably fear, not truly aggression; forget anything you might think of about dominance or alpha dog - it's been disproven.

"Certain humans she instantly dislikes and will growl at them . we try and correct her with a firm touch the side of her neck and she normally stops."

Again, it's probably fear. You should feed her a series of tiny meat treats instead, so she learns that scary humans equals tasty treats appear.

"When shes on the lead she bares her teeth when people try and stroke her. even when previously she loved that particular person."

Maybe her fear of not having control while on the leash is getting worse. I would put no pressure on her to interact, just walk away and increase the distance until she's more comfortable.

"For the people she loves she is always trying to put her paw on them and sometimes snaps her teeth and constantly lick them. Are these all forms of dominance?"

She is showing forms of love.

"We feel that we are very strict with her, no going on the bed, sofa, tricks before food. Sitting before walks etc.

Im just running out of solutions to stop this behaviour."

Relax, let her be a family member and be a dog. Try less strict, more treats and praise; play with her, cuddle with her.

Please help

many thanks[/QUOTE]
 

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I totally agree with Swiss. 100%. I would not correct the growling behavior because all your doing is making the growling stop. That is not changing the dogs internal state at all. You're not reassuring them that they can feel safe you're just taking away the warning they'll give before biting or snapping. Sure it may APPEAR like something has changed but that's only because they're quiet now. It doesn't change how they feel or what they may do. If you're in a heated argument and the person you're arguing with says "stop yelling" you might stop, but you're no less angry. You just quieted down.

The advice regarding taking her to a vet is also solid advice. I heard a story once about a dog who was sweet as could be but growled and even snapped at her owner when she reached for her collar. Everyone was telling her it was a "dominance issue" when in reality the dog had a serious skeletal problem in the back of her neck that would cause her pain. The vet fixed it. And lo and behold these "dominance issues" just melted away.

After that I'd seek 1 on 1 help from an animal behaviorist. Patricia McConnell has great book resources for working with dogs with various problems. I'd check her out. Having strangers toss treats from afar might be helpful as well. Don't put anyone in danger of getting bit, instruct your stranger not to approach the dog at all. Start at a distance where she is comfortable still and have them toss treats. Don't do this if she is already riled though as you might unintentionally award the aggressive behavior. Start slow and far away. This is just my suggestion. Go slow and make sure everyone is safe though. Your dog, you, and the stranger and make sure your dog is comfortable throughout.

I wouldn't worry about being too strict. I have a pomeranian and I'm almost as strict as you except he can come cuddle on all the furniture. He works for a large portion of his food (by doing training) and we have a great relationship. He also has to sit before walks and wait as I open the door and walk out of the house. He sits and waits until he is released. This is so he doesn't get used to bolting out the door whenever it opens so hopefully he'll never slip out. His training is tricks but also general manners, leash walking, and agility (I have equipment in the back yard). He loves going outside "to play" because training is fun, not a chore. It's a great bonding experience for us and he generally gets to say if he wants to work or not. ( I actually ask him if he wants to do agility or not XD ). I'd never withhold food from him and he gets some meals directly but I just can't miss out on the great benefits regular daily training provides and over feeding with such a small dog is pretty easy to do unfortunately.


Anyone point being as long as you keep training fun and light I wouldn't worry about being too strict
 

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I wouldn't worry about being too strict.
As for the strict part, absolutely, don't worry about being strict. That said, some rules are important (and need to be consistent). If you look up 'Nothing In Life Is Free', it is a pretty good way to run things, and you can use it to varying degrees of 'strictness'. Basically, your dog has to earn everything. To earn dinner, at least a polite sit and wait until released. To get up on the couch, get a sit first (you can replace 'sit' with whatever you want, a down, 'speak', 'paw' etc....just something). Even to get outside for a walk, or just a romp in the yard. Some people require a sit, and to go out the door first. I personally just require Caeda to stay out of the way while I am going to the door and opening it, not scratching or pushing out the door. This is something she does automatically now, she doesn't get a treat for it, although the treat is to go outside. She is allowed on the couch so long as she doesn't jump all over us to do it, and can stay so long as she isn't stomping on us (unless we invite her to..lol). Basically, whatever the dog might want, is a reward to some degree, and they earn it, even just a little politeness can be enough to earn it. It seems you are using this approach to a degree, but you mention being strict, and that can mean a variety of things, which is why I reiterate this kind of approach.

The NILIF approach is something you can tailor to your life, your needs, your expectations for your dog as well as your dog's temperament and personality. The super important stuff, I'm more stringent with, especially while she was learning. The door thing, she used to have to sit at a particular spot until I opened the door, now that she has gotten the idea, I let her just stand wherever she wants, so long as she isn't jumping at the door or under my feet. The approach can use everything as a reward, the environment (she doesn't get to sniff that awesome thing over there if she drags me by her leash, I plant my feet and wait for her to not pull and stand politely), treats can be the reward, a toy, whatever works for you. I found using this approach there was a lot of positive in it, a lot of fun (minimal "No don't do that"), some patience involved, and it gave her (and our foster, who also got this kind of approach) a good amount of confidence, which can help with a dog that is nervous about certain things.
 
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