Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
792 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
We've had Mumble the Papillon for only about a week. He's 11 months old and neutered.

I've noticed that he is a bit dog-reactive (I'm not sure if I would call it aggression?). When he sees one of our neighbor's dogs through the fence or our window, he barks and growls (this is pretty much the only time he does this). He even reacts if he hears a dog on the TV. While waiting at the Vet's office, he let out a little growl at some Dachsunds that came in.

He has had similar reactions to small children (less than five years old). In general, though, he LOVES people. Every stranger on the street was clearly put there to say hello to him.

On a positive note, it seems to be fairly mild. When he's barking or growling at a dog, it's not too hard to redirect him, pull him away or bring him inside. I'm 99% sure this is fear based.
Last night, we were around some kids, and while he was definitely a little scared, there wasn't any barking or growling.
And two days ago, we took him to a park (I knew it wouldn't be too crowded) and there was a couple with their dog inside one of the baseball fields (behind a fence). He was interested in the dog, but didn't bark and growl, but this might be because I was trying to redirect him/keep him interested in other things (I was worried about him having a bad reaction, since I don't really know what to do about it).

With the children thing, I have a general idea of where to go. Last night, I had the kids feed him treats, and tried to keep them from making loud noises and sudden movements in his direct vicinity, and he seemed to do pretty well. I think it's just a matter of time and patience and practice.

With the dog reactivity, though, I don't know what to do. My first instinct is to redirect or distract him before he can react. I REALLY don't want to mistrain him or do something to set him back, and I would like for him to be able to interact with other dogs. Any advice is GREATLY appreciated.

I know similar questions have probably already been asked, but searching the forum for "dog aggression" brings up a lot of threads that can't really be applied to this situation.

I thought I should add, I spoke to his breeder about this. Apparently, it is a new behavior. She has several kids and dogs at her house, and he got along fine with everybody. I guess it could be that they were familiar, though.


I know it's always easier to give advice when there's a picture... ;)

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,262 Posts
Hi! What a lovely pup.

I'm having a similar issue with my poodle, so I'm eager to read the replies here. Folks here will have great advice, as usual.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,277 Posts
He's cute!

What I would suggest is take him to some classes - ones where he can learn some new things, attention being one of them, and be around other dogs without them being in his face. Because he's small you don't want to bring him around unknown big dogs since they can do a lot of damage to the little guy, but see if there's some dog daycares or playgroups in your area you can join, or even dogwalking groups etc. that might work out. A training club would be an idea too, many flyball groups would love to have small dogs to keep the jumps down and it's a good way to get him used to other dogs.

With kids, make sure they're under control and don't let them maul him. I wouldn't let them pick him up or give them the leash to walk him for example, but instead have them ask him to do a trick and give him a reward, pet him gently or that sort of thing. I have a rule that if the kids don't ask to pet my dogs, they don't get to - I'll stop them and say 'you didn't ask first, next time ask and you can'. My guys are good, but it does make the parents think when their kids have rushed up to my dogs and been told they should always ask first in case the dog might bite!

The barking at dogs out the window - did the breeder's dogs do that? It might be a habit more than fear or aggression, sometimes it's just what the dog has learned...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
948 Posts
Barking is one way for a dog to communicate. That's all it is. A dog indoors or fenced, will bark at dogs on the street. Many times it's a happy greeting kind of bark, or a territorial warning kind of bark, or an "alert the household" kind of bark -- none of these is indicative of any kind of aggression. Even a dog who would welcome you into his home with open arms might give you a territorial message in that situation. Just normal every day doggy communication. Same thing with growling, they are communicating, to us and to the other dogs and people.

Dogs distinguish between children and adults, and many dogs especially smaller ones are skittish around kids -- they seem to understand that a child is likely to hurt them unintentionally, and so will want to keep their distance. This is a good thing. What you're doing with the kids, that's fine. Don't try to force it, and if he's uncomfortable in the situation, allowing him to watch from a distance is a good alternative. Funny thing about dogs, if they're relaxed, watching from a little ways off, I think to them it's kind of the same as if they're participating.

A dog on a leash, away from his home territory, will behave differently. If you are tense, anxious, the dog will know it, but he won't understand that you're worried about what he might do. It's likely he'll think you view the other dog as a threat. You can't just pretend to be relaxed, you have to actually relax -- you can't fool the dog.

Not being there, I can't tell if your dog is behaving aggressively. I find a really good way to judge my dog's attitude is by observing other dogs around us; if a dog has aggressive intent, other dogs will react. I don't mean they come after you, but they go on alert, ears forward, hackles raised, tail high, legs stiff, you know what I mean.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
792 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
He's cute!

What I would suggest is take him to some classes - ones where he can learn some new things, attention being one of them, and be around other dogs without them being in his face. Because he's small you don't want to bring him around unknown big dogs since they can do a lot of damage to the little guy, but see if there's some dog daycares or playgroups in your area you can join, or even dogwalking groups etc. that might work out. A training club would be an idea too, many flyball groups would love to have small dogs to keep the jumps down and it's a good way to get him used to other dogs.

With kids, make sure they're under control and don't let them maul him. I wouldn't let them pick him up or give them the leash to walk him for example, but instead have them ask him to do a trick and give him a reward, pet him gently or that sort of thing. I have a rule that if the kids don't ask to pet my dogs, they don't get to - I'll stop them and say 'you didn't ask first, next time ask and you can'. My guys are good, but it does make the parents think when their kids have rushed up to my dogs and been told they should always ask first in case the dog might bite!

The barking at dogs out the window - did the breeder's dogs do that? It might be a habit more than fear or aggression, sometimes it's just what the dog has learned...
There's a little mom-and-pop pet supply/grooming boarding place near me. I'll definitely ask them about classes and/or playgroups.
I was definitely enforcing strict rules with the kids. They are not allowed to pick him up or walk him. They're never near him without supervision (and the dog is constantly supervised right now, anyway, since we're still housebreaking). Really I think last night went pretty well. He relaxed enough to get down on the floor and walk around, chewed on his bone a bit, and even ran around the yard with me and one of the older kids.

I don't know if the breeder's dogs barked out the window.

Barking is one way for a dog to communicate. That's all it is. A dog indoors or fenced, will bark at dogs on the street. Many times it's a happy greeting kind of bark, or a territorial warning kind of bark, or an "alert the household" kind of bark -- none of these is indicative of any kind of aggression. Even a dog who would welcome you into his home with open arms might give you a territorial message in that situation. Just normal every day doggy communication. Same thing with growling, they are communicating, to us and to the other dogs and people.

Dogs distinguish between children and adults, and many dogs especially smaller ones are skittish around kids -- they seem to understand that a child is likely to hurt them unintentionally, and so will want to keep their distance. This is a good thing. What you're doing with the kids, that's fine. Don't try to force it, and if he's uncomfortable in the situation, allowing him to watch from a distance is a good alternative. Funny thing about dogs, if they're relaxed, watching from a little ways off, I think to them it's kind of the same as if they're participating.

A dog on a leash, away from his home territory, will behave differently. If you are tense, anxious, the dog will know it, but he won't understand that you're worried about what he might do. It's likely he'll think you view the other dog as a threat. You can't just pretend to be relaxed, you have to actually relax -- you can't fool the dog.

Not being there, I can't tell if your dog is behaving aggressively. I find a really good way to judge my dog's attitude is by observing other dogs around us; if a dog has aggressive intent, other dogs will react. I don't mean they come after you, but they go on alert, ears forward, hackles raised, tail high, legs stiff, you know what I mean.
I did take into account that he was at his home and it could be territorial. I think that maybe because he is such a quiet dog, it seems so much more serious we he barks/growls. He did also charge at the dog when we were in our yard. It seemed aggressive to me, but I'm by no means an expert on dog body laguage, and there have been so few incidents that it is hard to tell. Next time we encounter a dog in public I'm just going to watch and see how it plays out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
792 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Now that I think about it, there was one time that we brought him into Petco and he didn't even blink at a Great Dane near the entrance. Maybe I am overreacting or misreading the situation. This is my first dog (on my own, separate from family dogs) and I'm just trying to make sure everything goes well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,350 Posts
I did take into account that he was at his home and it could be territorial. I think that maybe because he is such a quiet dog, it seems so much more serious we he barks/growls. He did also charge at the dog when we were in our yard. It seemed aggressive to me, but I'm by no means an expert on dog body laguage, and there have been so few incidents that it is hard to tell. Next time we encounter a dog in public I'm just going to watch and see how it plays out.
By watching his body language, you can learn pretty quickly what is "nervous" or "upset" body language is. Then, you can often distract him BEFORE he really has time to react much. Really, with reactive dogs, timing is pretty important! And, if he does react badly to another dog, it's ok to remove him from the situation. The reason most reactive dogs are reactive is FEAR. By taking them out of the situation you are letting them know YOU can control the situation, and take care of and protect them, if need be.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,074 Posts
Now that I think about it, there was one time that we brought him into Petco and he didn't even blink at a Great Dane near the entrance. Maybe I am overreacting or misreading the situation. This is my first dog (on my own, separate from family dogs) and I'm just trying to make sure everything goes well.
Ahhh Petco, we love Petco here :). I agree, he is very cute, others will give better advice then I can, lol, good luck with your boy :).
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top